Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day 2023

Today is a day for remembrance. To remember the sacrifice of those who have served and gave the last full measure of devotion. To honor their legacy.

"As for us, our days of combat are over. Our swords are rust. Our guns will thunder no more. The vultures that once wheeled over our heads must be buried with their prey. Whatever of glory must be won in the council or the closet, never again in the field. I do not repine. We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.

Three years ago died the old colonel of my regiment, the Twentieth Massachusetts. He gave the regiment its soul. No man could falter who heard his "Forward, Twentieth!"

I went to his funeral. From a side door of the church a body of little choir- boys came in alike a flight of careless doves. At the same time the doors opened at the front, and up the main aisle advanced his coffin, followed by the few gray heads who stood for the men of the Twentieth, the rank and file whom he had loved, and whom he led for the last time.

The church was empty. No one remembered the old man whom we were burying, no one save those next to him, and us. And I said to myself, The Twentieth has shrunk to a skeleton, a ghost, a memory, a forgotten name which we other old men alone keep in our hearts.

And then I thought: It is right. It is as the colonel would have it. This also is part of the soldier's faith: Having known great things, to be content with silence. Just then there fell into my hands a little song sung by a warlike people on the Danube, which seemed to me fit for a soldier's last word, another song of the sword, but a song of the sword in its scabbard, a song of oblivion and peace.

A soldier has been buried on the battlefield.

And when the wind in the tree-tops roared,
The soldier asked from the deep dark grave:
"Did the banner flutter then?"
"Not so, my hero," the wind replied.
"The fight is done, but the banner won,
Thy comrades of old have borne it hence,
Have borne it in triumph hence."
Then the soldier spake from the deep dark grave:
"I am content."

Then he heareth the lovers laughing pass,
and the soldier asks once more:
"Are these not the voices of them that love,
That love--and remember me?"
"Not so, my hero," the lovers say,
"We are those that remember not;
For the spring has come and the earth has smiled,
And the dead must be forgot."
Then the soldier spake from the deep dark grave:
"I am content." "

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Closing Remarks, The Soldier's Faith, Memorial Day, May 30, 1895

May we never forget their sacrifice.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Indy 500 2023

Today is the Indianapolis 500.  Not something I normally would have kept up with, but living here, it's hard to ignore.  There are yards that have been decorated all month for the celebration.  And references everywhere.  And you will be able to hear it for miles.

It remains one of our goals to attend to feel like we've really experienced Indianapolis.  Hopefully next year.

For now, hopefully, it's a great race.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

To The Graduating Class of 2023...

Generally, yesterday represented the end of the school year.  The last day of class and many graduations across the state and country.  And my thoughts go to the wisdom that many will try to impart last night and today through those ceremonies in commencement speeches, while the newly free minds will be focused on one thing and one thing only: walking across that stage so that everything is finally finished.

I know of no reason why I would ever be asked to give a commencement speech, but were such an occasion ever to present itself, this is what I was say.  (I should note, that the speech itself probably gives good reason why I'll never be asked to do so.)


Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends, administration and faculty, graduating class of 2023, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you tonight.  I hope you know how much of an honor I consider this to be, to be given the opportunity to impart one more lesson on this special night.

Though I realize it was [cough - mumbled inaudible number of] years ago when I was in your position, that time seems to have galloped by.  And remembering how I felt that night, I will try to keep these comments brief, and hopefully a little entertaining, so that we can get to the part of the ceremony that everyone is truly here for.

Tonight is a moment of transition.  The point where a chapter closes and an entirely new chapter begins.  For some, that is continued academic pursuit through college or trade school.  For some, that means the enlistment in the service of our country.  For some, that means the beginning of their profession.  Many, many different chapters, different stories starting here.  Tonight. 

In that vein, I want to impart a few wishes for you as you new story begins.

First, I hope you fail.  
Good and hard.  At something you really wanted to achieve and worked for.  

I know this sounds harsh, but it serves a purpose.

It means you stretched yourself outside the known and comfortable.  You tried something new.  And you cared enough to give it your all.  

It means you are growing.  That you are continuing to be and develop.

And it you do, you would be in good company.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas."  After that, he started a number of businesses that did not last too long, ending in bankruptcy and failure.  He lost his only creative success at the time to a rival, when Oswald the Lucky Rabbit went to Universal.  But he kept plugging away and found a recipe for success that worked, all thanks to a little mouse.  Walt would later state "It is good to have a failure while you're young because it teaches you so much...and once you've lived through the worst, you're never quite as vulnerable afterward."

In fact, you can see this occur repeatedly in the lives of people that we find successful now.  Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she "wasn't fit for TV."  The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording because the company "didn't like their sound" and stated that they "have no future in show business."  Albert Einstein's teachers said he would "never amount to much."  J.K. Rowling was rejected by publisher after publisher until she found one that would finally publish her little book series.

What we see from each of these people is that failure is only a problem if you do not learn anything from it.  If you never try again.  If you give up.

So when you fail, approach it like a scientist.  That particular experiment did not work, so change the variables.  

Or approach it like an artist.  Revise and go back to the drawing board.  

Or like an athlete.  Get back up off the mat and keep swinging.

Whatever metaphor works for you, use it.  Let it be your drive.  Try, fail, try again with changes from whatever you have learned.  And then repeat the cycle.  Just keep at it.

Similarly, I hope you get fired.  
From a job you like. And for unfair reasons. 

Because it removes the fear of the act. 

And it allows you to stand up when it matters. 

To speak up when those around you are being mistreated.  When you are being greatly undervalued. When you are being taken advantage of.

When you need to do what is right. 

Being fired frees you from the fear that it is the worst thing that can happen to you. That it is a final end. 

It’s not. It’s a change. It can be a new beginning. And speaking from personal experience, it can be the exact needed change at the exact right time. 

Further, being fired provides you a more intimate knowledge of your worth.  You now know exactly what you will and will not put up with in your employment.  It frees you to more directly seek that promotion, that raise, that benefit. After all, what’s the worst they can do, fire you?

Next, I hope you get your heart broken.

Because it means you have one.

And this is not just about romantic love.  Far from it.  It's about all kinds of love.  Love and kindness towards friends, family, strangers.  

It's about being willing to be charitable and gracious to your fellow man.  To look for the good in those around you.  Being open and a part of the community around you, rather than an isolated individual.

People today are able to be more connected to one another than ever before in human history.  We have so many communication tools that enable us to remain in contact on a global scale like never before.  But we are also more lonely and distant from one another in our unplugged lives.  

This dichotomy cannot remain.  

Human beings were not meant to function as islands.  We are social creatures - science shows we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed.  C.S. Lewis described humanity as "one great need."  We are all apart of this need and we need each other more than we would care to admit.

I know there are many of you here tonight who have reason to be cautious, reason to be distrusting because of what has occurred in your lives.  I recognize and understand.  Do be cautious, do be measured, but please do not let your past and the bad actions of others completely isolate you from the world.  There are resources available that can help.  And there are avenues and causes to which you can contribute.

So care.  Be passionate and embrace your causes and those around you.  We've seen where division gets us.  Let's try a new approach.

Additionally, I hope you question everything you believe in.

Because only then will you know what you truly believe.  What you are willing to stand for.  What will remain when everything else falls away.

Part of growing up is learning who you are.  Discovering you identity.  And what you really believe.  All to often we try to hold on to "inherited beliefs,"  those that were passed on to us by our parents, our teachers, or the community we grew up in.  The problem with "inherited beliefs" is that they rarely take root because they are not earned or experienced, just observed.

James Baldwin wrote "people are trapped in history and history is trapped in them."  Far too many people are trapped in the beliefs of others around them.  They live the lives they believe they are supposed to live.  And are doing so half-heartedly, at best, or begrudgingly at worst.

My hope is that from this day forward you start exploring the world around you in such a way that leads you to formulate your own firmly held beliefs derived from experience and knowledge.  And for you to keep refining them.  For you to read, read, read, read and explore any areas you have questions about.  For you to ask others and listen far more than you speak.  For you to continue to re-evalute, refine, and refresh your beliefs based on new information and experiences.

I hope you to travel.  Mark Twain put it best when he said "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."  Go see the world and explore places you never thought you would visit.  Get to know the people there and let them inform your understanding of the world.  Let them change you.

I hope you make a variety of new friends.  You do not need more friends that think and act exactly like you.  Make friends with people who challenge you.  Who disagree with you.  And who aren't afraid to discuss these differences with you.  Iron sharpens iron only when it meets at an angle; from a different perspective.  

Discover who you are and from here on, live life only as that person.

Finally, I hope that high school represents the worst years of your life.

Because, I hope, your best days are ahead of you.

I hope none of you have had any truly horrific experiences from these past four years.  To any that have, my deepest and heartfelt condolences.  I pray for healing and comfort for you and those affected.

I wanted to address this topic to specifically address a mindset that can become all too prevalent.  To view high school as "the glory days."  "The greatest years of my life."  

Your best years should be ahead of you.  Tonight should represent merely the closing of an early chapter in your book, in which I pray you have many, many more chapters ahead.  And that is where the plot should get really good.

I know some of you here tonight are waiting, almost impatiently, for something different than high school.  You never quite fit in, never felt you belonged, you were just ready to get out.  And I can say, that while somethings never change, generally, yes, it does get better.

For those of you that are not ready to leave this behind, let me challenge you to run toward the new opportunities in your path.  Remember, there are so many ways now to keep in contact with your roots here.  Cherish those connections, but make new ones as well.

And to those of you that feel trapped by your current circumstances, please know that it can get better.  It may take a fight and it may be long and hard fought, but there is a way.

Because truly, I'm counting on you all to make this a better world.  Your generation has shown a remarkable resilience and desire to change things for the better.  I need you to go out and do incredible things.  To make new inventions, to write new music, to make us laugh, to enact new policies and laws, to raise incredible children.  To protect us.  To defend us. To entertain us.  To correct us.  To lead us.

So go live your story.  And then tell us about it.  

I cannot wait to hear how it turns out.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Last Day of School 2023

It's finally here...

Today is the last day of school.  It's hard to believe it is already that time, and yet, it feels like so much has happened in this past year.   It's easy to imagine why the kids and teachers are so ready to be finished.  

Just as with every year, I think it is important to show our teachers that we recognize how they continue to be challenged and that we appreciate how much they have done.  Instead of constantly second-guessing their professionalism and ability.  Instead of continuing to heap on requirements that make their jobs more challenging, and less rewarding.

Hopefully everyone has a teacher that they can thank in their life for inspiring or motivating them.  Recognizing the impact teachers have on the lives around them.

I feel blessed to have had so many wonderful teachers throughout my lifetime, at all levels.  There really are too many to mention here in any meaningful way.  I'm proud to have so many teachers that I would consider family and I'm proud to have teachers that I call friends.  I'm especially proud to have married one.

The hours go way beyond whatever you imagine a regular school day is.  The pay is far too low for what we ask of them.  They cobble things together from duct-tape and baling wire to make sure they have what they need for the class.  And they succeed in spite of the ridiculous tests that we ask them to prepare students for.

They do it because it is a calling.  Because they know that they have the potential to reach someone.  To make someone else's life better.

So go hug a teacher. Go shake their hand.  If one of them truly made a difference in your life, please let them know.  You cannot imagine how much it means to them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Most Happy Birthday!


While her party was a few days ago, today marks the birthday of a very special lady in our family.  Our matriarch. Our cinnamon toast maker. Our harmonizer (I know she’s why I can hear a tenor and alto line so well).  Our boss. Our rock. 

My Grandy. 

Today, Grandy Sheppard celebrates another birthday and another year of memories, life, and love.  These are the times that the distance gets tough for us, because this is where we’d love to be a part of the party.  But we are thankful for the technology that allows us to video in and celebrate. To share our well wishes and love.  And to spread that to all we know.

We hope today was truly a Grand one and hope to physically celebrate together soon.

We love you Grandy Sheppard!  Many blessed and happy returns of the day!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Mother's Day 2023

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  Thank you!  We love you! 💕

One bright and guiding light
That taught me wrong from right
I found in my mother's eyes

Those faithful tales she told
Of streets all paved in gold
I found in my mother's eyes

Just like a wandering sparrow
One lonely soul
I'll walk the straight and narrow
To reach my goal

God's gift sent from above
A real unselfish love
I found in my mother's eyes.

To the best Mom and Granna anyone could ask for.
I wish we could be together today and cannot wait until we can all be there.
We love you, we miss you, we are thinking of you, always!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

If I Were Disney CEO - AstroDisney

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts.  I honestly thought I exorcised all of these ideas already.  I admit, I've wanted to touch up the old articles so I could submit myself for the role now that Iger has a two year limit (tongue firmly in cheek), but there hasn't been a lot I've felt I've needed to express in this area. 

Then, over the past couple of weeks, I've watched an AstroWorld documentary, highlighting the rise and fall of that park in Houston.  That lead me to the Wikipedia rabbit hole of articles on AstroWorld and the Astrodome.  That lead me to investigating the current use of the land in the former AstroDomain and learning how much is sitting unused or ill-used.  

Combine that with a healthy dose of nostalgia, and the news that Universal is getting into the regional parks business with a park in Frisco and a year-round haunt in Las Vegas, and the gears started rolling in my head.  I kept thinking through how best to use the current NRG Park-former AstroDomain area to its fullest.  And in that process, my brain kept coming back to one owner who could truly maximize the potential of that area.


I've written before on my thoughts for a Disney park in Texas, but that focused on starting from scratch.  Building an entire resort in a new location somewhere around Central Texas.  The thought was to give Texas a resort somewhere between Disneyland and Disney World.  What makes more sense to me now, is for Disney to look for an area in which they could quickly ramp up and entire the theme park business in Texas. 

Especially when Disney is reconsidering where to spend its $17 billion in park expenditures given its current fight in Florida.

What's better for that, than an area that has an empty theme park parcel of land, plenty of parking, the infrastructure needed to move people across a highway to the theme park, a light rail stop, and current venues that would generate revenue from day one?

With that in mind, I think it's time for Disney to buy the AstroDomain from Houston.

Welcome to AstroDisney.

What's great about this proposal is that Disney gets plenty of space to maximize to its fullest for the construction of a one park resort, with the infrastructure work already in place.  Because Disney is essentially re-establishing the AstroDomain as it had previously existed, the work can go a lot quicker.  Building a true resort area - theme park, hotels, shopping and dining area, and a parking garage, all while leaving the existing buildings.  And possibly adding a water park.

This is how I think it would work.

First, Disney leaves NRG Stadium, the AstroArena/NRG Arena, and the NRG Center as is.  There's no need to mess with what is working, and this can guarantee Disney income from the start to being recouping their investment.  I'd buy NRG out of their naming rights, so that Disney could start relabeling things with the Astro- label (AstroArena, AstroCenter, etc.), but otherwise this all works.

The first thing Disney builds is a parking garage.  In looking at Disney's work in California, Disney built the Mickey and Friends Parking Garage, which was at the time the biggest parking garage in America.  It can hold 10,500 cars.  And thankfully, there's plenty of space for Disney to build something similar here in the lot adjacent to the Astrodome and above the AstroArena, as indicated in the image below.  That will free up a lot of surface parking for expansion.

From there, I would suggest Disney remodeling the Astrodome into a luxury hotel/mixed use space.  It would be a great way to preserve the structure, but make it work in context with the other buildings around the AstroDomain and there have been proposals for similar conversions that have already been suggested to Houston.  Disney could create the rooms around the outer ring, converting the old field into the pool and slide area.  With the roof, they could do a pretty amazing projection fireworks show at night and make this a really special hotel to stay at.

I would then build a version of the Downtown Disney area from California from the AstroDome to the pedestrian bridge across to the theme park plot.  The area from California perfectly fits, including the Grand Californian.  If Disney so desired, it could build a second hotel - the Grand Texan resort, in which they could add their time share component, the Disney Vacation Club.  This adds hotel, dining, and retail space to the area, enhancing the athletic and convention space and leaving some surface parking in addition to a new garage.  Win, win, win.

Then across the street, in the empty space, Disney has a blank canvas.  They could build any park they desired, but for nostalgia, I would go with AstroDisney.  A Disney theme park themed to their space related properties.  The image below is crude, but it conveys the point of the massive space Disney has to work with.  Disney could add their entire Tomorrowland from Disneyland in California, Pandora from Animal Kingdom, Star Wars Galaxies Edge from Disneyland, a version of the Avengers Campus from California Adventure (including the expansion space), and Mission Space/Space 220 from Epcot.  All with room to spare.  The land is there and its open, though I did bring in a car lot that has entered that space.

Additionally, there's land available around the space for admin and offsite back of house.  They could likely even acquire land close to the park for a version of the Star Wars Starcruiser boutique hotel if they desired.

Again, land available, ready for prime investment. 

Now if I could just convince Disney to do it.  

It makes sense to my brain if nothing else.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Limerick 2023

A bit of silliness today, to ignore the news of the day for discussion tomorrow.  Today is Limerick Day, celebrating Edward Lear, who made the short poems widespread.  Born on May 12, 1812, he wrote 212 limericks, not all of which follow the strict construction we think of today, but nonetheless helped popularize the short poetry.

To celebrate, I thought I would share a couple.

First a favorite of Lear's.

"There was an Old Man of Peru,
who watched his wife making a stew; 
But once by mistake, 
In a stove she did bake, 
That unfortunate Man of Peru."

And then, the clean version of perhaps the oldest, and most famous American limerick.

"There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
But his daughter, named Nan
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man,
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.

Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
Where he still held the cash as an asset,
But Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran,
And as for the bucket, Manhasset.

Of this story we hear from Nantucket,
About the mysterious loss of a bucket,
We are sorry for nan,
As well as the man - 
The cash and the bucket, Pawtucket."

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Vivat Rex Carolus

"Long live King Charles"

Saturday, May 6, 2023 marked the coronation of Charles Phillip Arthur George as King Charles III, reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and fourteen other commonwealth realms.  The ceremony, which also crowned Camilla Parker Bowles as Queen, was held at Westminster Abbey, full of the pomp and circumstance expected from such an event.  

King Charles ascends with several notable features.  He is the oldest person to ascend to the throne, and had served as the heir apparent for the longest tenure, thanks to the long reign of his mother.  He was also the longest serving Prince of Wales.

This marks an interesting transition in the United Kingdom and the world.  Queen Elizabeth had such a long tenure that she almost became a stabilizing force across so much.  It's like the changing of the Pope; a monumental shift.  I think back to John Paul II, the pope during much of my early life and the third longest serving pope.  We've had two popes since, each representing change.  With Charles ascending to the throne at 73, it's likely we'll see another coronation within a generation or sooner.  Unless the entire British monarchy is disassembled, which would be an even bigger shift.

Interesting times indeed.

Charles will serve, in many ways, as an interim monarch.  Following the grand long reign of his mother, and potentially preceding a long tenure by his son.  He certainly has interest that will likely guide him in this tenure, particularly in urban development and environmental sustainability.  Those would guide him well in our times.

However long his tenure, I pray it is a prosperous one for him and the people of the United Kingdom.

God save the King.

Monday, May 8, 2023

It's The Guns

Once louder for those in the back, and for those who are intentionally refusing to listen...


When, when can we admit that the guns have at least some part to play in the continued rise in deaths from gun violence.  Are we that far gone?

This is tough to write, as the topic continues to make me want to swear or be uncharitable.  My anger over our inability to act continues to rise with each and every event.  Particularly following the ridiculously predictable response we get every single time.  Even down to being able to write the tweets our leadership will share.

Saturday afternoon, May 6, 2023, a gunman opened fire at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, murdering eight people and injuring seven.  The victims range in age from 5 years old to 61 years old.  The attacker was killed by the police.

There have been 199 mass shootings in the country since the beginning of the year.  This is the second most deadly shooting this year.

And just like always, we see the same response.  Thoughts and prayers.  It's not the guns, it's mental health.  We can't do anything about the guns.  

Blah, blah, blah.

All such drivel.

First, I don't want to diminish thoughts and prayers.  They are powerful.  Prayer can move mountains, truly.  I can point to the times of my life where I have been prayed through.  Where I only survived because of the prayers of others.

But we belittle the very purpose and power of prayer when we make it the very least we can do and leave it there.  When we leave it as a simple bon mot response.  If we do nothing else, the faith behind those prayers is dead.  Our faith should be compelling us to some kind of change to make this stop.

And second, I'd believe the line about mental health being a genuine attempt to affect change if the people making that statement weren't also the people voting down every attempt to improve our mental health system in this country.  It's almost as if they know mental health alone is not the solution and they are just looking to deflect.

At some point, and who knows when, we have to be honest and admit that the guns are part of the problem.  

To admit that we, as a country, have a problem with guns.

Specifically, that we have an addiction.

We're addicted to guns.

It's the definition of an addiction, right.  I'm mean, when you propose that the solution involves more of the problem, that's an addiction.  We'll solve gun violence with more guns?  Just like I can solve my overeating with more cake?

We're addicted to guns and we're butchering the Second Amendment to foster that addiction.

Let’s start by clarifying what the Second Amendment actually says. It does not just state “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The full Second Amendment reads “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” This is important because the “well regulated Militia” and “necessary to the security of a free State” are so often ignored, when they are so closely tied to the right in the text itself.

That's because, prior to 2008, the Second Amendment was not recognized as a personal right to bear arms protected by the Constitution.  The Constitutional Second Amendment, prior to 2008, tied the right to keep and bear arms into the well-regulated militia, making the right a collective right of the people to organize into militias and protect themselves in that fashion.  The individual right existed for the benefit of the collective, not the other way around.  Further, there was not a right to organize private militias (i.e. groups of people creating a militia for their own purposes), militias were intended to be individual state militias (i.e. the Texas militia, the Louisiana militia, etc.) which could provide for a state’s defense and protect an individual state from a tyrannical federal government.  The Second Amendment was not recognized as a codification of a common-law right to self-defense.  We did not start treating it as such until the 2008 District of Columbia v Heller Supreme Court case, in which the court determined that the Second Amendment did recognize a personal right.  This means that up to 2008, when looking at whether the Second Amendment had been infringed, courts did not look at whether any one person’s right to protect themselves had been impaired.  They looked at the restriction on the weapon under the context of a state militia.  Conceivably, the Court in the future could overrule Heller and determine that the right to bear arms is inextricably tied to the well-regulated militia.  That's the way it worked for Roe v Wade.

Even if the right continues to be a personal right, like most other rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.  To have a functioning society, we have agreed that there are certain limitations that can be placed on nearly all of the rights we have enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  Your right to free speech cannot be used to yell “fire” in a public theater.  Your right to free press cannot be used to commit libel.  Your right to the free exercise of religion does not include human sacrifice.  Likewise, the government can put certain limitations on the right to keep and bear arms; it has always been in the government’s power to do so.  Most often these restrictions occur when one person’s right to keep and bear arms runs up against another person’s rights.  We see examples of this with gun-free school zones, prohibitions on fully automatic weapons, background check requirements.  Semi-automatic weapons seem to be the cause of a lot of current discussion and it’s important to note that they were themselves part of heavy restriction from 1994 to 2004, so there is definitely precedence for government action in this area.  It would not be that great of a stretch for the government to reinstate a more effective version of this ban (with fewer loopholes) in the future.  And there is large scale support for such a measure in this country currently.

We just have the willpower to actually make a change.

If we did, we might discover the impact guns have on us goes way beyond the mass shootings that really bring the issue to our attention. We need to explore the impact of mass homicide, on domestic homicide, and on suicide.  On accidental gun violence.  

Additionally, it's important to note this isn't a zero sum game.  We do not have to do only one thing.  It's far past time we put everything on the table.  We should be looking at mental health care.  We should be looking at bullying.  We should be looking at the family structure.  We should be looking at socio-economic status and mobility.  AND we should be looking at sensible gun control.  We're a big country and pretty good at multi-tasking.  We're more than capable of looking at it all.  

But we should be at the bare minimum doing something
It’s way past time to do so.

I'm just not hopeful we will.   I think I gave up hope after Sandy Hook.  Once that shooting and then Uvalde happened and we did nothing, once we saw it at an elementary school and did nothing, we've just accepted it as a cost of life in the United States.  We've accepted that the number one cause of death of American children and teens is just going to be firearms.

The really sad thing is, we know what would actually work.  We know what steps we should take with gun control.  We know what steps for gun control have popular support.

The first step, is admitting we have a problem.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Free Comic Book Day 2023

Today is one of the great days in nerd culture - Free Comic Book Day.  First started in May 2002, the day is an annual promotional event for North American Comic Book publishers to attract new readers to independent comic book stores.  The event is typically held the first weekend in May and generally coincides with the release of a new comic book movie.  This year sees the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

To truly make it a free comic book opportunity, each year, the major (and many minor) publishers create special comics designed to be given away by the comic book stores.  Sometimes, this new offering just contains reprint material of popular comics made by the publisher that tie into their promotional activities for the year.  Often though, they create an entirely new offering that sets the stage for their events for the year.  Either way, it's possible to find a store and rack up several completely new comics that you can obtain for free.

Stores usually join in with sales, promotions, and the like to help make it truly an accessible event for all.  This event is really for the local comic book shop after all, helping to drive traffic their way.

So, if you have one, support your local comic book shop today.  If you need to find one, you can use the link below to find one near you.


Happy reading everyone!

Friday, May 5, 2023

Cinco de Mayo 2023

Today is the fifth of May.  A day marked on the calendar for a Mexican holiday to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.  The victory of the smaller Mexican army over the larger French army was a boost in morale for Mexico.

The holiday has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, and has spread to the greater United States.  It is virtually ignored in Mexico - it is not a statutory holiday, though the schools are closed.  It is an official holiday in the Mexican state of Puebla and the neighboring state of Veracruz.

In the United States, it has largely become a celebration of Mexican food and alcohol.  In fact, in 2013, more beer was purchased for Cinco De Mayo than for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick's Day.

It should be a celebration of Mexican culture.  It should be an opportunity to learn about the history, heritage, and culture of our neighbors to the south.  To see how intertwined our histories and destinies are.  To celebrate the music, the art, the food, the dance, and the style of Mexico.  There have been proposals to this end, including a resolution from Congress dating back to 2005.

Hopefully, we will make that official soon.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday, May 4, 2023

May the 4th ... 2023

If you traveled back 46 years, little could anyone imagine how big Star Wars would become.  At that time, Star Wars was just a movie that was set to premier 20 days later.  Given the recent performance of sci-fi at the time, it wasn't expected to have much of an impact.

And yet, here we are, with Star Wars a global phenomenon.  A multi-billion dollar, multi-media franchise.  Star Wars land, aka Galaxy's Edge, has finally opened.  Jediism is even a registered and recognized religion.

Yes, the movies can be clunky, they can be corny, they don't always work that well.  But there is still a magic in them.  Particularly in the original trilogy.  Lucas stayed so close to the mono-myth, to Campbell's Hero's Journey, that he created a new mythology that still resonates today.

We still connect to hope.  We still want to see good triumph over evil.  To see the evil Empire fall.  We like seeing Nazis lose, even if it's space Nazis.

Plus, the story, the world is so big, there is room for all kinds of storytelling, witnessed recently by the success of the Mandalorian and Andor, especially.  Since we've viewed a lot of Akira Kurosawa, we can see his influences on Star Wars.  The touches from Hidden Fortress, from Yojimbo.  We talked about how we now want to see Seven Samurai in Star Wars or what Throne of Blood looks like.  What Casablanca looks like in Star Wars.  A more James Bond inspired Agent of the Empire.  You can tell almost any war story, any samurai story, any western in the world Lucas created.

If you are looking for ways to celebrate, for the best content, may I suggest the Original Trilogy, the Clone Wars television show (particularly the later seasons), The MandalorianThe Book of Boba Fett, and Rogue One, Andor, and Solo of the newer material.

Or just dive in fully and embrace the weird parts, like Caravan of Courage or Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.  I mean, even the Star Wars Holiday Special has its moments, particularly the animated ones.  Look it up on YouTube.

Enjoy the day.  Remember, there is hope, even when the world looks its darkest.  Look for good to win out in the end.

And of course, may the Force be with you, always.

Or, for my more orthodox Jedi,

May the Force be with you.
And also with you.

Monday, May 1, 2023

May Day 2023

Sing a song of May-time.
Sing a song of Spring.
Flowers are in their beauty.
Birds are on the wing.
May time, play time.
God has given us May time.
Thank Him for His gifts of love.
Sing a song of Spring.

Today marks May Day, a traditional holiday celebrating spring. Though it really doesn't feel like it here.

We’re still in that last cold snap, with today being the coldest and wettest.  Barely 47 for the high.  But it is spring nonetheless. 

The flowers are starting to bloom. Everything is getting lush and green. Kids sports are in full swing. Tuesday night there were baseball and softball games all around us, a track meet at the high school and lacrosse practice in the fields just a block down the road. 

We’ve cut the grass for the first time. We're spring cleaning.  Plus the town seems busier. As if everyone has just been waiting to be outside. 

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this weather. I hope where you are it hasn’t gotten too hot yet. I hope you’re having pleasant weather and can see the beauty of nature. 

It’s what this time is for. 

So put up the maypole and spin around. Crown the May Queen. 

Spring is finally here. And may it be a long and pleasant spring, before summer gets just unbearable.