The Victims of Prejudice and Discrimination…

…at the risk of pissing everyone off.

My friend Erin over at Lurking Rhythmically posted this interesting piece on her blog. She quotes the insight of one of her friends and explores a fascinating discussion concerning alternative sexual orientation and the gun community. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing. I started to comment there but it turned into a rant. Since this little blog is often neglected, I thought I might as well drag my rant over here instead.

One evening, Jenni and I met another man and woman at a bar and began chatting with them. Nice people. It turned out that they were close friends and he was waiting until his ‘husband’ got off work. A little later the four of us convened to his place to meet up with his other half and hang out for drinks and conversation. When he got home, he seemed a little surprised by the crowd, but nevertheless happy and welcoming to the impromptu party. As much fun as we were having swapping stories and all, when I ducked into the kitchen to top up my red Solo cup, our hosts were in there and got a little makey-outey, like slurpy sounds and all. I will not lie. I got a little grossed out. Of course, I didn’t say anything nor show any outward reaction. This was their home, and I was a guest. And, that’s about as much as needs to be said about the situation. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness in their own way, as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights or freedom, even if I personally think it’s gross to witness two dudes making out. And, that’s where I firmly stand.

Additionally, I don’t like the fact that we are all put in little category boxes, and I hate the fact that society as a whole likes to cram us into those boxes. I’ve met plenty of ‘black’ people who are no less European than I am by heritage, but social pressure causes them to feel a divide. Conversely, I have a friend who is a fellow pale ginger who is married to a quite dark-skinned black girl. Their kids are beautiful, BTW. I had a conversation with a different friend who expressed frustration at the LGBT community because she feels shunned by them. She is actively bisexual, in an open-ish long-term relationship with a man and feels like the LGT’s act like she’s ‘not really one of them’ since her primary is a man. I’m a registered Republican so I can vote in the primaries, although I am more of a get-off-my-lawn libertarian. One of my friends from our local gamer group is a self-proclaimed Obama-voting, liberal Democrat whose car sports a “Democrats Care” bumper sticker. When he and I ill-advisedly talk politics, we find that we are really both centrists in about the same flavor, supporting gun rights and all. It is my opinion that divisional categories for people are often more damaging than helpful. Somehow cephalopods make you hot and you like to smear mustard on yourself while wearing a diaper? Yeah, that’s pretty weird, but I fail to see how your proclivities are the business of the public at large. But, you like Star Trek and beer? Hey, me too. Does that make us Trekkie beer fans or does that box oversimplify and cut into the value that makes us individuals? What do you in the diaper/mustard/octopus community call yourselves anyway? How sad is it that cisgender is even an awknowledged term in a society that calls itself accepting for that matter?

As if all of that wasn’t already bad enough, they’re always moving the goal posts on us and coming up with new opportunities for us to offend each other. I can clearly remember when “oriental” was a perfectly appropriate and accepted way to describe a person from The Orient. *gasp* I’m not sure exactly when that became improper and we started using the less accurate term “asian,” which should more appropriately umbrella Russia and a huge freaking chunk of the Middle East, including several -stans and Israel. “Colored people” became offensive so we started saying “black.” And then, they decided that we needed to say “African American” which is stupid, because I’ve known black people that weren’t actually American, and I’ve known many white immigrants from Africa. Now, I see people referring to “people of color” and so it seems that we’ve gone full-circle there. And, if you can’t keep up with the whole stupid game, you are guilty of microagression.

They’ve redefined “racism” so that it can only be perpetrated by white people against “minorities.” If a ‘person of color’ discriminates against white people based on their race, it’s apparently something other than racism. At least they stopped calling Caucasians “Anglos” whether or not they were of Anglo descent. That was pretty racist if you ask me, and family tracing seems to suggest that I don’t have much English ancestry at all.. And if you want to compare minority cards, I’m a freaking blue-eyed ginger! We make up less than 1% of the world’s population and depending on who in history you listen to, we’re either witches, highly libidinous, bad tempered, alien hybrids, or have no soul, or all of the above. You ever have anyone ask what color your pubes are? Because, that’s not at all awkward or anything. I met a native in Spain who was a fellow blue-eyed ginger. So, would he be “white,” or “latino”? Or should we just call such a person a “white latino,” since the media was nice enough to invent that term to vilify the defendant in a well-known self-defense case?

Because you know, it’s the whites that are all bad. Or the queers. Or the gendernormatives. Or the republicans. Or the Obama supporters. Or the truthers. Or the gun nuts. The Christians. The Muslims. The Zionists. The atheists. The patriarchy. The feminists. The mustard/cephalopod/diaper people.

Do you know what I call my black friend? Brother. Do you know what I call my gay friend? Friend. What do I call my Japanese cousin? Cousin. I don’t call my atheist friends “godless heathens” unless I’m making a good-natured joke even if in bad taste. I don’t care if you voted for Obama or the RINO or neither. Take a guess at how many cisgender pride parades I’ve marched in. Guess how many slaves I’ve ever owned. Is it anyone’s business what flavor of freakiness goes on in my bedroom besides Jenni’s? Would you even want to know? There are people who would use all these categorizations and more to divide us against each other. And by and large, we are letting it happen. We are all the victims of prejudice and discrimination when we let them divide us with the petty details, or when we question ourselves because we don’t fit squarely into one of their pre-defined categories. Can I think it’s gross when two men get intimate with each other and still appreciate them as people? You bet! Will I watch cephalopod and mustard porn with you? Probably not, but thanks for asking. There are so very few situations that can ever really be distilled into an us-and-them. So next time you see an us-and-them scenario come up, I’d encourage you to ask yourself why it’s important for the distinctions to be there; and who, if anyone, has something to gain from that kind of division.

Edited to add: I attempted to post a link to this entry in Erin’s comment section, but it appears that now requires a Disqus, FB, Twitter, or G+ account. Since I didn’t want to sign up for Disqus, or post with my account from one of the other three, I did not. I suppose I understand why many bloggers are getting away from name/url commenting, but I still find it a little irritating.

This Popped Into My Head This Morning

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

James 1:23-24

Long ago it was explained to me that mirrors were uncommon in the ancient world, and that it was only on occasion that anyone would see their own reflection. Because of that, if you had a chance to look into a mirror, the natural inclination was to study it and take note of how you look. It strikes me that if you took someone from that old world and showed them today’s world, with universal internet selfies, it would blow their mind. I can’t help but wonder if we would have a similar reaction if we took a peek 2,000 years into the future.

Enjoy the Silence Redux

My lovely wife posted a song that we ran across while we were on a YouTube wander together last week. But, she didn’t post the version of the video that we saw. It’s quite a bit more chilling with the WWII imagery, as seen below. I recommend viewing in full-screen mode.

I was never much of a Depeche Mode fan, but it is truly beautiful when musicians rework a well-known piece into something so fresh and relevant. Jennifer’s Granddad, who was in the infantry in WWII, told me on his death bed with earnest tears in his eyes, “war is hell.” With current global tensions at a level that have not occurred within my lifetime (including the U.S. and Soviet Russia with doomsday missiles pointed at each other), I can’t deny the feelings of dread that we may be heading inevitably into another world war.

God help us all.

I’ve Been Biting My Tongue On This Whole “Privilege” Thing…

I’m not providing the links here for the sole reason that it seems that anywhere I click on the internet people are going on and on about “privilege.” It’s apparently the new, hip point of contention to talk about lately. The context in which I’ve seen it used insinuates that being a pale-faced male puts me at an inherent social advantage over all non-pale-faced, and/or non-male individuals. This stance automatically assumes that there is universal sexism and racism ruling our society that overwhelms all other forms of discrimination, in every meaning of the term.

When I was young, we lived in a not-so-nice part of town. My friend, Reefer, would bicycle to my house with his Crown Royal bag full of marbles and we’d play in the driveway. My dad ran off a hooker getting high on spray paint on the sidewalk in front of our house more than once. Sirens were ubiquitous and the rowdy bar down the street provided the white noise to my sleep. One time, some guy driving a school bus stole the push mower out of our back yard. It wasn’t even a nice lawn mower. At my school, either the Latinos or the black kids had the whites outnumbered at least three to one. The term ‘minority’ didn’t make any sense to me until we moved the summer before I attended second grade. I’m not about to claim that I didn’t get special treatment back then. I was a good kid, but my teachers kind of babied me. Whether that was because I was sweet-natured and well behaved, or whether it was because I was shorter than the other students and looked like Opie Taylor, I have no way to say at this point.

Jennifer and I once ran a youth hot-rodding/performance tuning group at church. We modified and tuned cars for performance with the kids, and talked to them about personal character and God. It was a pretty special time. While we were working on an engine swap in a Civic, one of the boys called from under the car, “turn it to the left to loosen it, right?” One of the kid’s fathers tried to donate a Porche 944 Turbo to the group, but complications kept that from being finalized. Since this was a decently affluent part of town none of these kids were from extremely bad backgrounds, but we had a pretty good spread of upbringing. A couple of them lived in trailers and would not be seeing the halls of higher education without hard work and scholarships on their part, and others had dads with spare Porches that they wanted to donate to the cause. I can think of two particular guys in the group that became pretty good friends that could not have been from much more different upbringings in life, but on Saturday morning, with wrenches in hand, they were equals, and they were buddies. Both of these young men were white. It should be of no great surprise that one of them is a Representative in the Oklahoma House, and is running for the U.S. Senate. He was set up for success from the day he was born. I’m not saying that the other one has no chance as such accomplishments in life, nor am I saying that Mike hasn’t worked hard for what he’s done. I might not agree on every point in Mike’s political stance, but I’m proud of both of those guys.

It is a true, unmitigated fact that some individuals start in a better position to succeed than other people. I know that I had a better start in life than my young friend Reefer. To that end, I’ve known a lot of people that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth that caused me the ache of jealousy. To claim that race is the sole contributing factor to an inherent life advantage is unadulterated, petty racism. Anyone who claims that boys are set up for greater success than girls have evidently never been in, nor even heard of a classroom; and that’s only one example to illustrate the fallacy of their sexist stance. If you believe that being a white male grants privilege over anything else in life, tell that to Sasha and Malia Obama. Those girls will get whatever education and career they ever want, and they’ll have an armed detail for the rest of their life. Now, that’s privilege. Indeed, “check your privilege” is a loser’s excuse. What the assertion boils down to is, “the only reason you’re successful is that you were born into it and I’m not good enough to seize the American Dream and make a better life for myself now.” I would be personally horrified to make such a statement. First of all, never compare yourself against anyone else. They didn’t steal the success that should have rightfully been yours. Secondly, if you’re jealous of a guy like Herman Cain because he’s such a successful businessman, instead of tearing the other guy down, tell yourself, “I haven’t made my first million yet.” Incidentally, I’m still personally in the process of making my first million.

Yesterday, after getting soaked in the rain and eating hamburgers with Jennifer’s parents, we settled down with Teen Bot and were enjoying some video games. The doorbell rang and I saw my neighbor from down the street in the monitor that feeds from the camera on the front door. He took a drag from his cigarette and immediately rushed toward the gate into my back yard. When I got to the door, I opened it to find multiple neighbors from all down the block walking in my front yard. Needless to say, I was a little confused. As I stepped through the door, the smell of wood smoke filled my nose. The man who lives across the street from me, let’s call him Joe, asked me, “is your house on fire?”

“No,” I said, “I didn’t smell it until I came out just now.”

“Well it’s coming from somewhere,” Joe said as I came out into the yard.

Just then, the other neighbor came back into my front yard with his cigarette, laughing, “it’s somebody’s grill. They’re across the fence trying to get some grilling in between the rain.”

In my confusion, I probably looked aggressive. In the rush, I failed to pull on a cover garment, and my M&P45 was in full view. Joe raised his hands toward me, and with big eyes he said, “I am SO sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“No,” I smiled and shook my head, “I appreciate you Joe. Thank you for looking out for me. That’s what neighbors are supposed to do.” I’d like to think that I’d do the same thing if the roles were reversed. I don’t know if he saw my gun or what, but he did seem alarmed there for just a moment.

Because of the topic on hand, I should mention that Joe is black. His recent bride is also black. Their kids are the best on the block, well-behaved, respectful, and confident. I’ve caught Joe when he didn’t know I was watching, gently giving them words of reproach or advice. They’re good people and a great family. His next door neighbors are another black family. She is the daughter of my next door neighbor. They were also in my yard, investigating the source of the mysterious smoke. On the other side, our neighbor is Native American. Frankly, I like my black and indian neighbors more than many of my white neighbors (but the one with the cigarette is a good guy too). :) I would hate to think that any of them resented me because I’m a white male, with “privilege,” in the same way that it would be quite bigoted of me to look down on them for their ethnicity. I like them for who they are and feel like they deserve no less opportunity than is granted by the privilege and benefit of living in this, the very Land of Opportunity.

The phrase “check your privilege” is insulting to all of us, all races and gender, and it should be an affront to any who ever hear it spoken. It’s a tool the talking heads and race-baiters use to fan the coals of the race war they want so badly. I don’t have time for people who give up on themselves so easily because they think their pigmentation has them locked into some kind of caste. That may be the way other societies work, but not this one. It’s an excuse to hate white males. It’s a way to give up and claim that everyone else is racist, although it is incredibly racist in and of itself. It claims that it’s impossible for me to have four out of eight adjacent neighbors that are very much not white. It’s a lie, and an ugly one at that. It’s a suggestion that when I do finally make my first million, I’ll have done it on the backs of minorities and not by my own talents, skills, and hard work; and that demeans us all, male and female, of all races. Check my privilege? No, check your attitude, friend.

*edited for grammatical and spelling errors 5/28
**and then again for the President’s daughter’s name.

Fifteen Years

In college I met this gal in the music department. She seemed to get along with my friends.

15.01

She and I got along famously. I found her quite irresistible.

15.02

When we got married, I was a skinny kid with red, flowing hair. I wore platform shoes with my tux because I was self-conscious about my height. I put on another few inches over the next few years.

15.03

I got a dog-in-law. She was a really good rottweiler. We’d like to have another large breed when we have room for it.

15.04

I was driving a tricked-out 1983 Honda Civic station wagon. It was the prettiest example of the model. I miss that car.

15.05

Obviously, they decorated it for us during the service. Jennifer told me that her dog didn’t like the guys she had dated previously. I didn’t seem to have that problem.

15.06

We drove everywhere in that little car. Do you know how long it takes to get from Oklahoma City to Sacramento, then to San Fransisco and into Yosemite? I do. The odometer rolled across the 200,000-mile mark on that trip.

15.07

Of course we had our differences and our struggles, but you would have never known it from the outside looking in.

15.08

We enjoyed life and had a lot of fun.

15.09

And, we were in love.

15.10

That was probably pretty obvious though.

15.11

For our five-year anniversary, we scrimped and saved and I took her to the swankiest restaurant in town. We got dressed up for the occasion and I had everything planned out in advance. It was prefect.

15.12

Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted, but we always tried to keep eyes on each other.

15.13

To have fun together, and grow old together.

15.14

So we kept having fun together, and we kept growing together.

15.15

For our ten-year anniversary we had a private restatement of vows and then had a two-person range session with our rifles.

15.16

As of today, we’ve been married for fifteen years. And, what are we doing now?

15.17

We’re basically having fun and being goofy together, just like always.

15.18

And, it’s getting better all the time.

15.19

We have a fifteen-year-old bottle of our favorite wine on the rack (a Spenker Zinvandel), and a package of smoked salmon. Maybe we’ll celebrate low-key this evening.

Happy anniversary, Jennifer! I love you.

An Open Letter to Grandma

Grandpa was so angry at my parents and aunt when they took his keys away. As you have recently said, he loved his little truck. Jennifer and I got it started on Saturday, and it has quickly become a part of our family. There was a wire coming from the starter relay that had a little over an inch missing. There were rodent droppings near the location, and I suspect something ate that piece of wire. I had my brother solder in a piece of wire to replace it, and it starts again. The engine was a quart or so low on oil, and I topped it up. The tires were running at 10 psi, and I aired them up to 35.

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As much as I love Grandpa’s truck, I think that Jennifer might love it even more. She drove it to her chiropractor appointment yesterday, and then she drove it to work this morning. When we borrowed the truck for a week last year when I rebuilt our Sentra, she wasn’t strong enough to man-handle the manual steering. She’s come a long way since then. Since Saturday, the little truck has been out to the farm already, and we’ve knocked the carbon off the valves.

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We are planning to replace the bent body panels and missing driver’s side door handle. I’m not done wrenching on it and hope to get that odd starter issue ironed out. I’ve been looking for a used camper shell. I’d really like to build a platform that will stand 12 to 14 inches off the floor of the bed, that we can store stuff under and put an air mattress on top of it for when we camp. Once we have straight sheet metal and a bed cover on it, I’m thinking of painting the whole thing in bedliner. I don’t have a problem with the classic red, but the paint is quite worn, and I don’t presume that I’ll be able to color match the replacement body panels. I got a copy of the key, and Jennifer put the key on a miniature Bible keychain. That seems fitting.

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I did a major cleaning on the interiors of both the car and truck yesterday. I chuckled at the various tools, gloves and rope that were scattered about the cab, so indicative of Grandpa. A couple lengths of rope were uselessly short, so they went to the garbage. I lovingly coiled up the rest of them and placed them behind the seat. There were a lot of candy wrappers in the cab. I had no idea that Grandpa had a sweet tooth. In the ash tray I found some folded papers. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be three used targets, evidently shot with .22 caliber lead. Did Grandpa have some range sessions in his twilight years? If so, I wish he had invited me to join in.

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We will cherish Grandpa’s pickup. I didn’t realize how badly I miss him until organizing his truck. He did love his little truck, and it was worthy of his affections. It is proving to be a real blessing to us in its utility, but it’s also wonderful to have it around as a reminder of the man who owned it before.

Couldn’t Have Said It better…

Jennifer wrote a post addressing the death of my paternal grandfather this last weekend. As she said, he wasn’t supposed to make it past thirty, and he managed to more than triple that expectancy. He followed his heart and followed God through life and passed away in peace. He should be remembered as an inspiration to us all. Thanks to all of you who have already offered your condolences, and thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

KTKC – That’s My Final Offer

Alright people, I’m in a pretty solid third place right now, not too far behind Stingray. JayG has handily whupped the lot of us in this deal. I told you that you’d get catsuit videos if I made first place. That goal seems loftier and loftier as we head towards the finish. So, how about this: If you put me in second place, we’ll still do the video of Jennifer in PVC with the M82A1. As of this writing, that’s less than $500. However, if we get our Christmas miracle and I finish in first place, not only will we do the Jen in PVC video, but at Blogorado, at the Sooper Sekrit Raynge, I’ll shoot in drag. Forget the kilt, I will put on a skirt or a dress, or something pretty. :P There will be photos. There will be video. It will be hilarious. We are close to the end, but this thing is not over yet. You can help by donating here. The donation website has been acting a little overloaded the last few days. Probably a good thing. If it’s giving you trouble, please be patient and try to reload it. Thanks again!

September 11

Of course I will never forget. Although, April 19, 1995 was far closer to home; and September 11, 2001 had me feeling “Oh no, not again.” The images on the television and the reports on the radio were eerily reminiscent of the bombing in Oklahoma City. I lost friends in the 1995 bombing though. I had close friends that lost family, and in fact, I provided much comfort to one dear friend who lost a father. My beloved wife, who I had not yet met, was entirely too close to that explosion.

And yet, life does go on. Things happen and scars fade. Years ago, everything I hold dear was threatened and I was helpless to an onslaught that I dare not detail in these pages. Oh September 11, 2004, the nightmare ended. It wasn’t the lid on the coffin so much as the light at the end of the tunnel. After personal events in 2004, September 11 has ceased to be a day of mourning to me, and has instead become a day of hope and joy, of new life and thankfulness. My heart and sympathy go out to all of those who carry deeper scars from that perilous anniversary than I do. I will always remember the hurt, the injured, the killed, their families and loved ones, and the rescue workers that sacrificed themselves to save others.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

However, to me, September 11 will always be a day of celebration and victory, for personal reasons and in the broader, because the tragedy brought out the best of what Americans have to offer: Bravery, selflessness, empathy, and love. We showed the world that we will not be brought down by even the most brutal of attacks. On the contrary, it only made us stronger. I have much regard for the fallen, but I choose to honor the brave, and I choose to be thankful for the blessings I’ve been granted.

In remembrance this evening I plan to eat grilled pork, drink alcohol, and hug and kiss my wife and son, and thank God for all that He’s given me. I will also say a prayer for all those who have been affected by terrorism, but I choose to focus on the positive and not the negative. God bless our liberty, God bless our families, and God bless America.

Hunting Redux

Unless this is your first time to visit my blog, you have probably read that Jen and I are starting to hunt. When we went out to the farm last Saturday, I had this idea that we would sit there for a couple of hours, shoot an animal, process it, and then take it home. When that didn’t happen, we largely regarded it as a failed hunt. Since then, I’ve begun to think differently about it.

We set up our bait on Friday and returned to hunt on Saturday morning. Not only did we not see any hogs, we also saw no sign that our bait had been noticed by them. This was curious and noteworthy for certain, if not a little discouraging. Still, we’d seen so much sign of them that it seemed improbable that they would simply turn their snouts up at our offerings. So, when Jennifer got home from work on Monday we loaded up the car and drove out to do some more scouting. It’s usually about a thirty to forty five minute drive, it’s about a ten minute walk into the baited area from there, sunset is at 6:00, and Jennifer gets home around 5:00. We brought rifles with us, but thought it was unlikely that we’d actually get to shoot anything.

The pigs still had not rooted out the corn and stuff that was underground, but had pretty well cleaned up all the surface bait that we left in our primary location. When we made it to our secondary, it was a similar story, with the bait even more thoroughly gone through. And, I swear I heard oinks and grunts from the woods at the second location. We had to check the bait by flashlight, as it was after sunset and starting to get dark. This gave us a renewed charge. Our hog hunt had not been a failure after all, as it turns out we just aren’t done yet.

I’m not sure when we’ll make it out next, but we do plan on keeping both bait stations maintained. I figure that if they know that they can expect a supply of corn and treats in those two locations, they’ll keep coming back. Eventually, they’ll get shot. In other news, squirrel season just closed with us collecting but one. It did make a nice dinner though. I’m pretty sure Jennifer will post pics on her blog of it on the grill. I don’t think that anyone enjoyed the grilled squirrel more than Wee Bot. I know he’ll be looking forward to the next time we have tree rats. Also, we located another clear cougar track and attempted to photograph it with a cell phone, but the pic didn’t come out very well. As in, you can’t really tell that there’s a print of any kind in the photo. Yeah, I really want one of these! They cost about half of what they were last time I looked at them, and I’ve got a birthday coming up in about seven months. :P