Friday, July 20, 2012

Regarding Gun Control

The internet has given me a platform.  Posts on FB throughout today have given me fodder.  Here I go blogging for the second time today.  

Number one, I am not for criminalizing guns.  As a matter of fact, I happen to think that the level of gun control in this country is fairly appropriate.  Events like happened 24 hours ago in Aurora tend to get both sides of the issue to raise their voices.  Honestly, this individual went through appropriate, and (as far as has been reported to this point) legal channels to obtain his weapons.  How he got the ballistics gear he had, I don't know, but nonetheless, tighter firearms regulations are not the answer.

I've seen a few postings on my FB news feed declaring that if they'd been in that theater, they'd have been packing because they have their CCP (Concealed Carry Permit).  Claims were made that they would have been able to return fire and lessen the casualties.  Really?

Let's paint a picture.  It's a dark movie theater.  You're already caught up in the adrenaline that you (like me) have been waiting years to see.  You're heart rate's already high.  You find yourself more fidgety than normal because DANG, this movie is even better than you'd imagined, or at the very least, you're getting to see it first.  As the action builds in the movie to a climax, someone bursts in an exit door and throws in what turns out to be a tear gas container.
Your first thought is that this is a cool promotion by the theater, or a harmless prank, but then you hear gunshots which are somewhat concealed by the fact that this is a state-of-the-art theater with the latest and greatest sound system.  Oh, and the scene on screen happens to contain gunfire.  HUNDREDS of people are now trying to protect themselves.  They are knocking things into you, or knocking into you themselves.  Fog from a nearby canister clouds your vision on top of your eyes' natural defense mechanism, tears.  
In the screaming and chaos, you decide to return fire because you're packing.  Your CCP training prepared you for this.  The adrenaline coursing through your body causes your hands to be more unsteady than you can ever remember.  On top of that, you lost sight of the shooter in the chaos and he's dressed in black.  In a dark movie theater.  Now, every person in black is a suspect.  Who do you shoot?  Even if you can get a bead, what if an innocent bystander trying to escape suddenly pops up or crosses your path as your finger squeezes off that first, fatal round?  The fog is starting to clear, but there are people every where.  Chaos is an understatement.  Unless you've been in that situation (and let's be very clear, I have not), you have no idea.  It's a mass of bodies, and screaming, and people, and debris.  In the theater last night, the floor was slick with soda, food, and blood.  


I know our military and law enforcement are trained for these types of situations.  I don't know what protocol would be, but it seems like there are too many innocent lives at risk in this particular situation.  

One of my buddies asked me today if I thought that teachers should be allowed to carry in schools.  I don't.  There are various and sundry reasons for this, and it's possible that a teacher with a firearm might have prevented some casualties in some of the horrendous tragedies that have taken place around this country.  It's also possible that a teacher's firearm could have been responsible for many more.  That's not really the reason I'd be against it.  My opposition comes from the idea that a teacher would have to make the decision on when to pull the trigger.  We are in the classroom to improve the lives of those we come in contact with, not (possibly) end one.  I don't want the responsibility on my head of making the choice to either seriously injure or kill another human being.  Ever.

I intend to own a firearm some day and will most likely get a CCP.  That's for the protection of my family.  In that theater last night, the best thing for the protection of my family (based on witness accounts from various newscasts today) would have been to get down and out of sight.  I can't do that if I'm trying to shoot back.  Frankly, I am glad that some people have that fight reflex, and I'm glad that they're friends of mine.  However, it seems mighty cavalier to think that you might be the one who saved all those lives.  

In this time, I'll be praying for those who have been affected.  I ask that you do the same.  I withdraw my earlier request for prayer for James Holmes.  It was a spiteful, mean thing to say.  Pray for the people whose lives were, and still will be, irrevocably changed by the choices of this young man.

Praying for Aurora

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy.  I include families and friends of the dead and injured as victims, as their lives are forever and tragically changed.  I will also pray for the "alleged" (I hate that we use that word when he turns himself in with blood on his hands) perpetrator, but only that he realise the full gravity of what he's done.  I do not ask for forgiveness for his soul, I just pray for him to come to terms with what he's done.  I pray for HIS family.  This is not their fault.  Whatever you believe, please pray for the people whose lives are affected by the choices of this man.

Why Colorado?  Why do we have to set the precedent for these things?  Columbine was the deadliest school shooting for a long time.  Now this attack on movie goers in Aurora.  My heart hurts for the people who went to see this movie at The Town Center at Aurora yesterday.  I wanted to go to the midnight showing here, but didn't get to it.   Much like when Alana, Alex, many other friends and I watched the midnight of Harry Potter 7, I want to have a Batman movie marathon before I see The Dark Knight Rises.

My good friend Mikeal Hocevar and I have some experience, some familiarity, with that particular mall.  Mike was the store manager at the Finish Line store in that mall.  We opened that store with him and we also released the original Jordan Defining Moments package.  Some of the customers of that store were scary.  Parts of Aurora are dangerous.  Ironically, parts of Aurora are incredibly affluent.  Only once in my life did I think I was going to get shot.  It was in Aurora, however it wasn't at the mall.  While neither of us can be sure, both Mike and I are pretty sure that the dude who was confronting us had his hand on the butt of a gun under his coat.  There are a series of circumstances the lead to this conclusion and I won't go into them on here.  I'm really just trying to paint a picture of Aurora for those who don't know it.

Aurora is the third most populous city in Colorado behind Denver and Colorado Springs.  It is a suburb of Denver, on the east-southeast side of the metro area.  It has grown positively in the last 10 years.  Aurora has a reputation for being full of gangs and gang bangers.  Many who know of Aurora, but don't live there, would tell you that being outside after dark in the town is unsafe.  I have to be honest, compared to a few of the towns I've been through, it's not terrible, but not great.  I lived in Denver for a year, but was less than a quarter mile from the line between Aurora and Denver.  I heard sirens 2-3 nights a week.  We lived in a beautiful gated community.

I am not a psychologist, and I have very little knowledge of psychology.  The gunman seems to have many indications of psychopathy.  This is another reason why my mind has drawn so many parallels to the attack on Columbine High School in 1999.  Fortunately (?), this person was caught and can be questioned.  If his mental health is as fragile as is being hypothesized, we may never know the answers.

A big part of me wants to treat this like a terrorist attack.  This person acted alone and it seems it was totally random.  There is no appearance that this is a wider conspiracy against people choosing to see this movie.  I will still see this movie, and I hope everyone else who wanted to see it will go see it, too.

This is a bit disjointed.  Prayers for the families affected by this.  Be safe, tell your loved ones you love them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Challenge Accepted

So, I've come to the realisation that I've gone away from the original intent of this blog, to keep you up to date on my life in Omaha.  Well, once again, I've been inspired to write a blog, and it's nothing to do with the goings on in my life.  However, that'll happen at the end of this blog.

I spent 9 amazing days in Colorado.  I started in Grand Lake with Keya, my mom and dad, and Jeff and Abby.  We had a freakin' blast.  I got to waterski, something I've not done almost two years.  It was... cold. Shadow Mountain Reservoir is COLD.  I got to do it though.  The second part of this trip was working the Total Player Camp at Regis University.  Now, I could easily spend time talking in depth about the camp, but the stated goals of the camp are what got me thinking about challenges.  We want to teach them skills, get them better, help them have fun, and challenge the campers/players who spend the four days with us.  My group had a wide variety of abilities.  My background and experience as a teacher allows me to take each camper where they are and help them improve, but my experience with a camp in June had told me that wasn't what they wanted.  I was encouraged to ask these girls to perform skills they didn't have the fundamental skills for.  (That sentence is awkwardly worded)  As I was winding down camp, I thought about the ways we challenged the athletes we were working with.

Honestly, at a lot of camps, there is an athlete or two that I want to buy piano lessons for.  Not everyone has what it takes to be an athlete.  I don't say that to be mean, I say that honestly because we all have abilities that make us more capable in certain arenas.  I, for example, am not terribly artistic (and that's being generous) whereas my brother is.  My strengths lie in instructing learners and athletes. That being said, I had at least one (really more like three) in a group of 12 that probably should look at music and drama rather than athletics.  At the other end of my group, I had girls who had played club volleyball and had been instructed by many (I assume) talented coaches.  I had to push some girls in the very basics.  I had to challenge them to perform in a way most of us in volleyball take for granted, they're things we tend to do without thinking.  These athletes found themselves challenged physically to perform not only in isolation, but later in camp in 4-on-4 and 6-on-6 competition with these skills that they'd just mastered earlier that week.  At the same time, I challenged my more experienced players (4/12 in my group) intellectually.  They were tasked to be positive, encouraging leaders with players who were far below their level and were often negatively affecting the outcome of their points, games, and matches.  I was incredibly proud of three of the four of them, they rose to the occasion.  Sadly, the fourth wore her disappointment on her sleeve during team play, and made it hard for her team mates to have the courage to test their newly acquired skills.  While mostly I was so happy with the four days worth of work we put in, it's illustrative of how challenges aren't always explicitly stated, but situations are presented to us regularly and we get to decide how we handle them.

It all got me thinking about the ways I've been challenged in my life.  By and large, I feel like I've responded well, if not always appropriately, to all the challenges.  I'm really thinking of my life since I left Fireside Elementary.  Ultimately, it's been moving to Nebraska that's been the high point of this challenge.  They say that God never gives us more than we can handle.  Let's be honest, I've lived a pretty charmed life.  Then I got to thinking about it.  Have I?  One of the speakers at the camp (and I'm paraphrasing here) said that we make our own luck.  I think that's true.  I've worked hard to be where I am professionally.  I have made good connections that have helped, but those only take you so far.  I've definitely felt a challenge from God of late.  It's been everything from my personal to my professional life.  Most recently, it was when I had planned a trip to Okoboji with Keya and her sister, Meredy.  The day before the trip, I find out I have an interview in Lincoln on Thursday (we were at Boji Wed-Fri).  What'd I do?  Drove to Boji, left Boji at 5:30 Thursday morning for my interview in Lincoln.  Oh, it's 4 hours from Okoboji to Lincoln.  I interviewed and drove back.  We played.  I told Keya it was the best interview I'd ever had.  I got the job.  It was awesome.

When we're young, we're challenged daily by parents, teachers, and coaches.  As we age, our relationship with our parents changes to the point that they don't necessarily challenge us as overtly as when we were little.  Hopefully, the lessons they taught us start to pay off.  Sometime between the ages of 16 and 25, we no longer have teachers challenging as we move on from our school days, save those of us who return for advanced degrees, or schooling to advance our careers.  A very few of us end up having a career with a coach, so by the time we hit the "real world,"  the dynamic changes.  That authority figure who challenges us is almost always our boss/manager.  Often, this person challenges us in a way that causes us to be defensive or shut down.  They have a lot of people they are responsible for, and not enough time.  They often aren't great with relationships, and don't take time to see how we should best be challenged.  In that case, we have to challenge ourselves.  Think about your friends who've advanced their careers and reached the goals they'd set for themselves when they were young.  Are they self-starters?  Are you challenging yourself everyday?  And I don't just mean at work.  If we're going to be happy in our lives, personally and professionally, we have to challenge ourselves to be better, to do better, than we would have done that morning.  I'm not saying this to brag on myself or say that I'm a prime example (by and large, I'm DEFINITELY not).  It just seems to me that the most satisfied people aren't just people who love what they do, but people who push themselves to be better.  They make mistakes and rise from them.  They even find challenging bosses and co-workers as just that, challenges.  When faced with a challenge, they attack it.  I spent three days in June feeling like the coach who was running the camp was breathing down my neck, like I couldn't do anything right.  This camp?  I compromised what I thought was right with (not FOR, but WITH, an important distinction) what he wanted for the campers.  He left me alone and was happy with my work, and I was satisfied with my results.

I also didn't intend this post to be advisory to you, my loyal readers.  It just kind of evolved into it.  Again, find little places to challenge yourself.  Date someone you'd never have looked at before, do the job before the boss sees it.  Don't push for credit, credit will come.  If you're not feeling challenged, challenge yourself.  You'll be surprised with the results.  Look more closely at barriers and obstacles, they may just be challenges issued by God or the universe that'll lead to wonderful things.  I have to be honest, I never could have dreamed that this move would have been so fruitful.  I also thought I'd be done with teaching.  As it turns out, God brought me here for a reason, and teaching was part of the reason.  Part of the reason I'm SO excited about the move to Lincoln is the fact that Markeya will be there, as she starts school in mid-August and UNL.  We will not only be two hours closer (as we originally thought), but in the same city.  As it stands right now, hopefully about a mile apart.  We're both rather excited.

On to the update.  I guess the only thing missing from this is the fact that I will also be working with Calvin Jones, former Husker great, writing for his website,  Okay, I THINK I'm going to be doing that.  It's not for sure yet, but we have a verbal agreement in place.  It's a long story that I'm happy to share later.  I may also do some sales for him to help supplement my income.  In case you're wondering, I will be commuting from O-town to Linc for a few months because I have to finish this lease here, or it will get expensive... fast.  I would owe an extra month's rent as I moved in under a special that included a free month's rent.

Okay, I'm off to check on Micah and Dan's dogs.  Don't worry if you don't know who they are, it's Keya's sister and brother-in-law.  They live less that 10 minutes from me.  Enjoy the rest of this summer, and STAY COOL!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This One's for the Girls

I won't spend too much time telling you where this one came from.  I have a feeling many of you will sort that out without my help.  The realisation struck me this week that I've not necessarily kept this blog in the spirit I originally intended it.  Really, the original intent was kind of a news stream of what's going on in my life.  I know there's still some of that here, but It's also become a venting ground for my ramblings and meditations. I am anticipating posting a couple more in relatively short order, as I've had a lot of time to think and reflect on a lot of things.

Back to the heart of this particular post, this one's for the girls.  Basically what I'm doing is giving insight while at the same time imploring you all to look at us differently.  Guys, feel free to read on and (either on facebook or in the comments section of this blog) post agreements or disagreements.  For the first time, I'm admitting that I'm more like most guys than unlike them.  I may be revealing some deep secrets of the guy book (I haven't referenced my copy of the Bro Code), but I hope that maybe, MAYBE we'll make it easier for us to sort each other out.

Girls, I realise we suck some times.  I get that we can be jerks (Also, trying to keep the language on this blog PG as best as I can).  and seem inconsiderate.  While in the age range of 16-24 (or so), some of us are intentionally.  You make us believe that's what you want.  For most of us, that's actually hard to do.  We are not like that by nature.  Like you, we are looking for companionship.  We are doing what we think you want us to do.  While our pressures don't quite compare to yours (body image, etc), we have similar pressures.  We are expected to be strong when others can't be, be logical yet emotional when you need us to be, be taller, etc, etc.  Yeah, some of it is incredibly superficial, but guess what, we put pressure on ourselves internally the same way you ladies do.  We're not that different from you, it's just that the pressures are different than yours, a reason we often have a problem of understanding what's bothering you.  Your problems seem small to us, but I hope that ours seem small and insignificant to you as well.

Guys don't like to share.  Now, I realise that I sort of addressed this a couple of weeks ago (mostly imploring my gender to share more of our feelings), but I want to explain as well.  That part earlier, where I said we're supposed to be logical and strong?  We have taken that to heart.  When we have a problem, we find ourselves wanting to work through it on our own.  We are not intentionally being distant.  We get that you want to help and how much it helps you when you share, but that's not necessarily in our program.  Understandably, it's frustrating when it seems like we're being distant and disconnected, but we're trying to do it in our way.

In a similar vein, I realise that we can be inconsiderate.  Again, not intentional.  We get excited when we think we can solve a problem.  We also like being able to do things that we think are going to make our relationship better and bring us closer and taking that stress off of you.  Want us to stop?  Don't get so upset with us.  You're not all this way, but when we get snapped at, we get defensive.  Think about what happens when that goes on: voices get raised, fights break out, and that closeness and strength that I referenced earlier in this paragraph gets injured.  This feels a little like the way we work with kiddos to avoid conflict, but "I" messages are a great tool here, as well as talking specifically about the behavior, not general statements.  "You never think about me/us" is a killer.  "I feel like this was kind of inconsiderate" will get us more involved in the conversation and lead to better communication in future decisions and conversations.  We're not a terrible enigma ladies, and we're a hell of a lot smarter than we've been credited with.  We just are often driven to primal reactions that are at our base.  We need to learn how to be partners and communicators.

Guess what, you do, too.  Relationships with your partner are different than they are with friends.  Relationships differ from one to the next, even in the romantic context.  I am not like your ex, nor are you like mine.  Small tangent, but we get so caught up in the Hollywood romantic ideal, that we forget that relationships require work.  If you're waiting for that perfect man that Channing Tatum, Matt McConaughey, etc play in their movies... HE DOESN'T EXIST!  If you ask the couples who stay together 30, 40, 50+ years, they'll tell you how important work and communication are in their love.  We both need to learn how to be in this relationship.  We live in a society of instant gratification and now expect it in all aspects of our lives. Guess what, true, meaningful love will not come that way.  Hell, nothing worth having will be instant gratification.   We will work if you will also work.  Wow, that was a terrible side tangent that originally started as a parenthetical addition to the last sentence in the previous paragraph...

That being said, we're also not good at advocating for ourselves.  We don't want to seem needy.  It scares us because we don't want to seem weak in your eyes.  This is especially true when it comes to someone that we're so close with, we need to advocate for ourselves.  I get that this is a bit confusing, so let me try and clarify.  When we are with you, we want nothing more than to hold you tightly.  We feel safe, and we know you feel safe and loved.  Those are the arbitrary gender roles in our society.  Man protects woman.  Well, sometimes I want to be protected by you.  Once in awhile, we need to be held and protected.  I love being big spoon, but sometimes I want to be little spoon.  How, as guys, do we express this to you?  By turning our backs.  Yes, from time to time, we get frustrated and just need to turn away, but most of the time (especially when your intuition tells you something's wrong), we're expressing that we need to be held.  We won't say we want to be little spoon, but if you put your arms around us, and we settle into you, you got it.  Should we tell you when we need you to be "the guy" for just a second?  Yeah.  Will we?  Probably not.

See?  We're not that hard to figure out.  I answered all your questions in a (fairly long, but relatively short) blog.  You have other questions?  Just ask.  I am seriously considering starting a column wherein I address the questions of the people who read my blogs.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  Let me know.

As always, thanks for reading.