Saturday, December 15, 2012

Remember the Victims, Not the Violators

Yesterday, the world witnessed yet another senseless act of violence in the mass shooting carried out at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  I first began to see the news on the event while I was working at the public middle school where I am employed, and when I came home later yesterday evening, I found myself unable to watch the details unfold on the nightly news.  It wasn't only that I didn't want my own young son to hear the words "children dead" or "teachers killed" spoken repeatedly on the broadcast—although that was certainly a factor—I just could watch the video clips being shown over and over with both moving and still images of children running away from their school, crying and terrified, or parents being tearfully reunited with surviving children or being comforted upon discovery that their children had not been spared.  It is terrible.  It is heartbreaking.  It is horrific.  And I cannot begin to imagine the devastation of that community.

Unfortunately, these types of incidents continue.  I don't know what the solution is.  Is it more gun control?  More investment in identifying and treating mentally unstable people?  Arming school faculties?  More security at schools?  More religion?  Less press coverage?  All of these have been bandied about on the news after each terrible act of violence carried out against innocent people over the last several decades.  But to tell the truth, I don't know, and I don't profess to have the answers.  I don't think that I can find a perfect solution for senselessness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Red Leaves of Autumn

© Les Taylor Photo (Thanks, Leslie!)
What exactly would be the seasonal opposite of "Spring has Sprung"?  I'm not sure what cute name it would be given, but I saw a lovely example of it today.  See, here in the South we have relatively mild falls and winters, and many of our trees never do the color change routine that is so common to places farther north.  To see a tree in full fall "bloom" is somewhat of a rarity here.

It rained—well, drizzled—for most of the day today. There was very little blue sky, and what did show was in little bits that were quickly swallowed up again with more dark clouds.

Shortly before our school dismissed today, the rain finally let up in that part of town.  As I was loading my bags into my car to head home, I glanced over at a tree in the center median of the faculty parking lot, and immediately wished I had had my camera in my purse.  There, in the parking lot of the school, one of our small and normally-green trees had burst into a full coat of red leaves for fall.  I took a picture with my phone, the only camera I had available, and wanted to share it here along with a poem I discovered a few years ago!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Useful Lessons I learned In Church

For the most part, I don't really give much thought to the time I spent in church as a child.  I can't honestly say that I have more than a handful of good memories from my church-going days, and I'm certain that the many bad memories outweigh the few good ones.  (Although, I fully admit that much of this may be due to the fact that I was an all-around miserable child most of the time back then.)

While the overall church experience didn't leave me with any warm fuzzy feelings, I can say that I did learn some practical life lessons there, and I've decided to share them here tonight.

1.  Church taught me that no group of people, no matter what sort of people make up the group, is free from cliques and rude people.  In fact, I can say with absolute certainty that the meanest, cruelest, most unkind people I ever encountered were people I met in church.  This fact has no age limit and knows no gender bias.

2.  Church taught me that there will always be leaders and followers.  Not all leaders deserve to be followed.  If you are a follower, choose carefully who you will follow, as allowing yourself to be led down the wrong path is still your own fault.

3.  Church taught me that many people never look beyond the outside of an issue.  Because of this, one can often create an illusion to satisfy others with only one quarter the work it would take to create a new reality in the place of the illusion.  People like to believe that everything is as it appears at first glance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bumper Stickers 2012

People who know me know that I have long been a fan of bumper stickers.  I last blogged about my bumper stickers back in September of 2010 in this post.  Back then, I was still driving my Nissan Sentra.  Sadly, courtesy of a lady (not myself) who decided to run a red light, that poor little Sentra ended up like this just 6 weeks later:

These days, I'm driving an '02 Chrysler Voyager, and it has a whole new collection of it's own stickers that get a great deal of attention.  When stickers get old, they are rotated out for new ones.  A few of the current stickers are almost ready to be replaced, so I thought I'd document the current collection before making any changes.  And I decided to show them off to my readers!  Take a look!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blown Up [Guest Blogger]

**Quick note from Sarah, the blog owner**
I invited my dear friend to post this entry today because his story needs to be heard, as far too many stories of our wounded soldiers aren't.  However, this post will contain a very frank recalling of wartime situations and, as such, may be disturbing to sensitive readers or inappropriate for children.

Hello, Red! readers.  My name is Jack Jarrell.  Some of you have seen me mentioned in other of Sarah's posts.  For any readers who have never heard of me and would like the background on how Sarah and I met, this link will take you to her post on that very topic.  In fact, that "how we met" story would eventually become the end of the story I'm going to tell here today.

Before I begin, let me say that I don't spend much time writing.  My words aren't as pretty and my grammar isn't as perfect as Sarah's.  She offered to edit this for me but I told her I'd rather it be all me so pardon what i'm sure will be my numerous errors here.  Also understand that when I talk about my military days I tend to "swear like a sailor" so there'll be some of that in here too.

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I joined the Marine Corps in October of 1994 as most of my fellow high school graduating class was starting college.  After spending 13 weeks climbing mountains at boot camp, I went on a 7 year tour of the world on the Grunt Travel plan.  I saw MCB Kaneohe (HI), Camp Fuji (Japan), the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center (CA), Camp Lejeune (NC), and Camp Pendleton (CA).  By 25, I was a fairly average Sgt.  I worked my ass off following orders from those whose stripes outnumbered or outshined mine.  I marched and mustered when I was told to march or muster.  I could run my 3 miles in under 18 minutes every time without warning or prep time.  I was promoted a very little bit ahead of schedule, but this was nothing remarkable among those of us who gave our all to the job.

I was at Pendleton on Sept. 11, 2001 and by January 2002 my crew and I found ourselves implanted among the mountain villages of Afghanistan.  Among the locals were folks who welcomed us (although these were few), folks who hated us, folks who feared us, and folks who shot at us...and all to often we didn't know who was who.  To put it bluntly, that place sucked.  I was among the early arrivals living with those bare essentials they trained us with back in boot camp.  It's not the sort of working vacation I'd recommend.