Friday, July 27, 2012

18th Century Cures For 21st Century Ills?

This is pure sacrilege, but maybe it is time that we consider repealing the second amendment to the US Constitution.

With all of the senseless killings that seem to be happening more frequently, perhaps it is time to look at the second amendment and how it relates to us today.

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.

When this was written in 1789, our country was still brand new and very weak. We didn't have the strongest military in the world as we do now to protect ourselves. The most recent memory of this country was that it had to fight for its independence and that fight began with a militia of farmers from Massachusetts being our only line of defense. In the war that followed, much of our fighting was done by volunteer militia as opposed to (what passed for) professional soldiers.

Ironically it was Barry Farber, a conservative talk show host, from whom I first heard the statement that you cannot cure 20th century (this was in the 1980's) ills with 18th century medicine. He was referring to laws and procedures that were created in the 1700's for conditions that existed at that time. The issue then was "cruel and inhuman punishment" and how the framers of our Constitution were referring to tossing a prisoner in a cold, damp and dark dungeon and possibly questioning him using a form of torture. He didn't believe that they would see revoking a modern day prisoner's television rights as "cruel and inhuman."

Does anyone actually believe that we have (or even need) a "well regulated Militia" (as comprised in the 18th century) for the security of the United States of America? What possible purpose could personal ownership of an automatic assault weapon serve in today's world? Just mention the names of Columbine or (now) Aurora, Colorado. What images do those names now bring to mind?

Yes, I have heard the argument that if these firearms are illegal then only the criminals will have them, but if they are unavailable through simple means as is now the case in the state of Colorado, most criminals would not be able to obtain them. Stronger background checks? The strongest background check would not have prevented James Holmes from obtaining his weapons under current Colorado law.

We Americans are proud of our Bill of Rights, and rightly so. It was the first time that any government had ever codified these basic rights in this manner. Religious freedom, freedom of speech and of the press, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, due process of law and the right not to be forced to self-incriminate, the right to a speedy and public trial by a jury of one's peers, and the protection against cruel and inhuman punishment are very high ideals that we as Americans live by and are still relevant to us and our times. But the second amendment is dangerously outdated. The authors of the Constitution gave us a mechanism to change it when necessary. Shouldn't we bring ourselves into the 21st century?


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Mask

It's time again to link up with Thea of A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of Mask. (Why don't you join us as well?)

The Snap

This goes back to (probably) October 31, 1980 ... my daughter Trick-or-Treating

The Set

The Song

Bonus Song

When I was setting this page up, the first song that came to my mind was one I heard often during our first Club Med vacation in Eleuthera in the 1980's. I had the cassette of the music years ago, but it is unavailable now. I made a quick search on You Tube for it, but since this had been such a busy week did not really spend time looking and came up short. Today is a quiet day here and I did manage to find a single You Tube entry for this song. Hope you enjoy it - after all these years, I know I did.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Orange

It's time again to link up with Thea of A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of Orange. (Why don't you join us as well?)

The Snap

Florida is a major producer of oranges - but here is a Florida orange that doesn't come first to mind.

The Set

This is what most people think of when they think of Florida oranges - with the recently reintroduced Orange Bird - the mascot of the Florida Orange Growers Association.

The Song

Okay, I may be pushing things a bit here, but you can hear the song/jingle of the Florida Orange Growers Association in this TV commercial from the 1970's.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Déjà Zoo

When my kids were young, we often went to the Bronx Zoo on weekends. It was a place that I had gone when I was a kid and it had just undergone a major redesign/update when my own children were young. We became members of the NY Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society) so that we could go to the zoo and the aquarium as often as we wanted.

As youngsters, my children loved and spent a lot of time in the newly opened Children's Zoo and of course I took many pictures of them - in a bird's nest, in a turtle shell, on a spider web, and listening with fenic fox ears.

Now jump ahead to this week. My wife and I had the grandtwins for the day and decided to spend our day with them at the Bronx Zoo. Naturally, one of the first places we took them to (after becoming members for the first time in 22 years) was the children's zoo. It had been more than two decades since we were here last, but it seemed like just yesterday as the memories came flooding back from the moment we approached the entrance. The first thing we saw was the "birds nests" built for children to climb into and have their picture taken. The photograph of my son and daughter in that bird's nest popped into my mind and I could see it clear as day! Unfortunately, a large camp group was there having their turns so rather than wait, we moved on.

As we moved through the magnificent area that is the children's zoo, the memories kept coming and coming. I remember my kids crawling through the prairie dog tunnels and popping their heads up in the children sized holes. And the hollow log which the twins crawled through, over and over and over. With each new area, I mentally pictured my son and daughter playing in that area or spending time watching the animals on display. It was as if time had suspended here and waited for us to return. What two and a half year old wouldn't want to climb - and bounce - on a huge rope spider web? Our grandtwins were no exception. And if you think that grandma and grandpa weren't having as much fun as the boys, think again! Watching them explore and discover - new things at every turn - was a treat for us.

They were fascinated to watch the wallabies hop and stood waiting each time one was standing still - wanting to see it again. And of course, they had to show me that they could jump as well. When they came to the tortoise enclosure they stayed for a long time. These tortoises were so much larger than the one their dad has at home! They stood and watched them and reported to me on their every move. Next they saw the fenic foxes and had a chance to recreate another of the photos that I have of their father - listening to the world through the ears of a fenic fox. (My son would again encounter fenic fixes when he was a zoo volunteer in another zoo during his college days.) Next were the reptiles, and I was a bit concerned since one of the twins used to have nightmares about a snake, but he was fascinated and stared at the snake for quite some time.

Then there are the shots of my kids in the turtle shells - so naturally I had to photograph the grandtwins like that as well ...

Unfortunately, the photos I took of my kids at this age were way back in the non-digital photography era and still sit with thousands of others I took over the years and have not yet digitized. One of the advantages of digital photography is that they are easy to file, store, categorize and have at your fingertips. (But that is the subject of another blog post yet to be written.)

To see more shots of our day at the Bronx Zoo - and the children's zoo - click here.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Up

It's time once again to join Thea at A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of Up.

Naturally, my first thought was of the Disney/Pixar movie, Up, so balloons quickly came to mind.

The Snap

(For more balloons, have a look on my photo blog, Gathered Images)

The Set

One of the things that we have enjoyed doing in Downtown Disney, is taking a ride on Characters in Flight. When up in this balloon, you can see the entire Walt Disney World, including the theme parks. The last time we took a flight was just at sunset and here you can see the West Side as darkness falls. (Clockwise from top left: Planet Hollywood, Disney Quest/Cirque du Soleil/House of Blues, Team Disney (where my daughter's office is) and the AMC movie theater.

The Song

There are clearer versions of this song on You Tube, but none of them scream 1960's quite as well!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Snap, A Set and a Song - Fairytale

It's time once again to join Thea at A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of Fairytale.

The Snap

Every fairytale needs a castle ... so here is my favorite - Cinderella's Castle.

(Trivia question: How many bricks & tiles were used to build Cinderella's Castle?)

The Set

The Song

(Answer to trivia question: None - the castle is made entirely of fiberglass)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's Their First Day

Today my grandtwins arrived at their first day of their first experience with summer camp. Just 3 months short of their third birthday, wearing their brand new water shoes, they walked to their room with their parents. The director met them at the door and said to one of them, "Hello Lukas" to which Lukas replied, "I'm two!" They proudly handed him their backpacks and sat down with the other children - never looking back.

That is how their first day in a school type setting started. Right now they are completing their first hour and mommy and daddy have the first of three hours to themselves. The boys have always been around other children so that setting is not new to them. They have taken part in library classroom settings before so that is not new either. While we won't know how the whole first day went until they come home later today, I am expecting that it will have gone well.

The boys are growing up!