I thought we were going to get more snow yesterday. A few days ago, the weather gurus were calling for it. I keep the shutters pulled down in my office, so I didn’t pay attention to the weather. It obviously warmed up a lot during the afternoon, because by the early evening, a lot of the snow had melted. That means that when the sun is up, and I go dog poop hunting, there will be a lot to collect.
I kind of hate this part of a snow event. When it all melts, everything becomes really sloppy and wet. But, the alternative is that it stays really cold, and the snow sticks around for ages. It gets all dirty and dog piss stained. I like to watch snow fall, and I enjoy seeing it on the trees and covering the ground, but it can be messy when it melts. It’s doubly bad when it melts and freezes, causing sheets of ice. I’m getting too old to fall on my ass and not worry about injuries!
I hadn’t meant to repost two blog entries yesterday. In fact, I’d had every intention of writing something fresh. Somehow, I just never managed to get around to it. I couldn’t think of a good topic, and then Bill and I watched several movies on our “good” TV. Usually, I watch the TV in our bedroom, which is fine. We also have a really nice television in our “entertainment/Noyzi’s room”. Until Christmas 2022, we only had one chair in there, plus the rugs were full of Noyzi’s hair. But then I got a new office chair (which I put back in the entertainment room) and a new vacuum, so I could clean up the tons of dog hair in there. The room is more comfortable now.
Yesterday, we watched Airplane!, Arthur (1981 version), and International Falls. Of course, we’ve both seen the first two films many times, but neither of us had seen International Falls. I downloaded it some time ago and completely forgot about it, never having watched it. It’s an interesting, quirky, and slightly depressing film. Bill liked it a lot. I didn’t mind it. Watching the 80s era movies in high definition was a weird experience. I was inspired to buy more tech gadgets so we can have better sound in that room. I’d like to get a couch for in there, but I’m put off by the prospect of getting it up the stairs to the room.
I’m also thinking about getting a new TV for the bedroom, now that I’m reminded of how nice our “good TV” is. I’d move it to the bedroom, but it’s too big to fit on my dresser, and we have sloped walls. We have an old TV in our guest room that we bought in 2007, when flatscreen TVs were new. I remember we spent $900 on it. Now, you can get a really nice TV for a third of that price. I think I’d like to buy a new TV; then I realize that buying one will mean more electronic waste. We already need to dispose of several old computers and a broken freezer. And… it’s also about time to get a new desktop, since the one I currently use is starting to have problems.
Sigh… such boring first world problems. I could be writing about the depressing news of the world today. Maybe that would be the more socially responsible thing to do. I didn’t sleep well last night, though. I woke up at 2:00 am to pee, and Arran got up. He wanted food. Then I couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I started reading more of my latest book. Reading the book ultimately lead to seeing the news, which led to reading the moronic comments.
Seriously… it’s so frustrating to see how people always have complaints about everything, especially regarding politics. Nothing ever gets done, especially when it comes to gun violence. The end result is that more people died, thanks to some unhinged idiot with a weapon. 72 year old Huu Can Tran got a bee in his bonnet, for some reason, and took it out on people at a dance hall he used to frequent. Now, ten more innocent people have died, and more are in the hospital. At least Huu Can Tran is also dead. He took a coward’s way out, but at least he won’t be killing anyone else. Sadder still is that, once again, I find myself more apathetic than shocked. Shootings in the USA are much too common these days.
I also found out from my friend, aunt of Abby Zwerner, that some jerk made a Facebook page pretending to be her. The person was probably hoping to scam money from well wishers. It’s too bad that people can’t get fucking jobs, so they might earn money the honest way, rather than trying to steal it.
These things, along with being tired, make me cranky on a Monday morning. But things can always be worse. We have much to be grateful for, in spite of the bad news. Younger daughter sent me a nice email this morning, which was really great. I love getting emails that have nothing to do with business or spending money. 😉 Plus, it’s just nice to get to know her, at long last. She’s a lovely person, in spite of everything. She wanted to know more about my days riding horses, of all things.
Anyway… I think I’ll sign off and play my guitar. Then, I think I’ll go back to bed and see if I can catch an hour or two of sleep… or maybe read more of my latest book.
I’ve never been very good at coming up with good titles for my posts. Sometimes, that means I get fewer readers than I might. Other times, my posts end up being more “click baity” than I would prefer. I think my posts on my travel blog have better titles, mainly because they are usually about something specific. I get tons of hits on my posts about attending nude spas, for instance.
I’ll also admit that sometimes, I deliberately title something a certain way to yank people’s chains. There’s a post on my travel blog titled “Enjoying some extra dick tonight”. I know what it sounds like… but it’s actually about extra thick pommes. In German, “dick” means thick. So, when I buy extra thick frozen fries at the store, it literally says “extra dick” on the packaging! I’m sure more than one person has been disappointed that the post isn’t pornographic, but it IS a travel blog. The blog’s title itself mentions “travel”, so they probably shouldn’t be expecting anything sexy.
I did something similar a few years ago, when I saw a stray cat walking through our rural yard in North Carolina. I titled the post, “Looking for pussy…” or something like that. Sure enough, people clicked. There are a lot of pervs out there. 😉 And I’m sure they were sad that I wrote about actual cats instead of what they were obviously looking for. It was a very short post, and my good friend, Alex, even left me a comment congratulating me on the “clever word play”. Mwahahaahaha! Because it’s such a short post, I’ll even repost it here, for the curious…
Looking for pussy…
No, not THAT kind of pussy. I was just sitting at my desk and noticed a black cat cutting through the yard. I decided to go outside to see where it was headed, but by the time I got out the front door, the kitty was gone. It’s just as well, I guess. My hounds would love to go out there and chase that cat and Bill is allergic to them anyway.
I came back inside and Bill asked me if I went looking for the cat and I said I was looking for pussy. That made him laugh. The dogs were whining up a storm and Arran brought me a toy when I came back inside. That’s one of his more adorable doggy behaviors. Whenever anyone comes home, even if it’s just after a few minutes or so, he responds by giving them one of his chewed up toys. In this case, he brought me a stuffed duck that makes a quacking sound when you squeeze it. All of my dogs have loved the stuffed duck toys… probably even more than they love the toy squirrels I’ve brought them.
The packers are coming to pack up our house on July 23rd and will load the truck on the 25th. I guess we’ll leave on the 26th or 27th and start our long ass drive to San Antonio.
I bet this blog post will get a lot of hits because I used the word pussy… People have such dirty minds.
In other news, this post is my 700th. I’ve been a busy little beaver. 😉
I included the above video of an armadillo I filmed when we lived in Georgia, then added to the end of the above post, “Or, since we’re moving to Texas, I should say I’ve been a busy armadillo.“
Arran doesn’t bring us toys anymore, mainly because we no longer give him free access to them. That’s mostly Noyzi’s fault, because Noyzi has been known to eat toys, and we don’t want to have to have them surgically extracted. But, when we give Arran a toy, he will still play with it for a minute or two. Then he demands a treat.
This post seems really random, but I do have a point to make…
I need to get better at coming up with post titles, because sometimes the titles I come up with encourage people to comment before they read. And, as some of my regulars know, that’s one of my pet peeves. It happened the other day, actually. I wrote a post called “But we really don’t need gun control, do we?” I included a screenshot of the sign for Richneck Elementary School, where a six year old child deliberately shot his 25 year old teacher last Friday. At this writing, that post has just nine hits.
I have a whole lot of friends who are teachers. One of them commented on my Facebook link for that post. Below was our exchange:
My friend must have thought my post was a liberal and impersonal rant about gun control, based only on the post’s title. For the record, I do think we need more gun control in the United States. I don’t see how we can continue to go on the way we have, where people don’t feel safe carrying out their usual tasks of the day, because they don’t know who is packing heat.
When I titled that post, I was thinking about how absolutely terrifying it is that a six year old CHILD got his hands on a firearm and KNEW HOW TO USE IT! He was skilled enough that he could aim that gun at a teacher and seriously injure her. And he carried the weapon into the school and pointed it at a beautiful 25 year old woman who was just doing her job. By so many accounts, Abby Zwerner is a much beloved and respected teacher. She could have been killed by a six year old. How scary is that? And then I found out that I’m actually kind of connected to Abby, simply because I lived and worked for so many years in the area where she lives.
In my original post about that incident, I mentioned that Abby and I have a mutual Facebook friend. She teaches in a city near where I grew up, and where I still have a lot of friends. I was born in Hampton, Virginia, which is adjacent to Newport News, where Abby teaches.
It turns out our mutual Facebook friend is a woman I knew in high school. We were in a lot of classes together. I used to sit with her at lunch, when we were ourselves students in public high school, back in the 80s. I remember her stepmother was a substitute teacher, getting her own teaching credentials. Abby’s aunt, my high school friend, is also a teacher with a doctoral degree who teaches in the same geographical area. One of her best friends is an Air Force colonel, who also went to school with us. I just got a Christmas card from her the other day.
So now, I feel even more connected to that incident, even though I moved out of the Tidewater area of Virginia about 23 years ago. It’s still “home”, even though I don’t really have a home to go to down there anymore. Not only do I still know a lot of people from that area, but I also have connections because of so many of my friends– people who have never lived in the Hampton Roads area– who are teachers. And what happened to Abby, could have happened to any one of them. I’m sure all of my teaching friends are feeling a special kind of terror about this case.
My dear friend who wrote the above comments is very special to me. I would be absolutely DEVASTATED if she got seriously hurt while on the job, never mind if she was killed. She doesn’t teach in Newport News, but she is a Virginia teacher. I can’t even fathom how scared she must be to read about gun violence in schools. Because of where I went to college, I know a lot of teachers. I remember watching them prepare for their careers in our dormitories at Longwood University. Their coursework often involved a lot of reading, papers, and tests, as well as complicated art projects. I never even knew what contact paper was until I went to Longwood and made friends with budding teachers. They were constantly using it to make learning aids for their students.
There is so much preparation and dedication involved with becoming a teacher. It’s a lot of work for not that much money… but at least in the early 90s, there weren’t constant gun related events in schools. In those days, my friends were blissfully unaware of the bloodshed that was coming to America’s schools from 1999 onward. My friends who became teachers all have one thing in common. They are kind, caring, creative people who love working with young people. But now, they have to fear for their lives as they do their jobs. My friend wasn’t the only teacher who wrote about how teachers get blamed when kids do crazy things. Another former high school classmate– not someone I was friends with– wrote something similar about the crisis in public schools.
Maybe I don’t really want people to read what I write…
There is a certain freedom in writing things that people don’t think they want to read. I do use a headline analyzer, which gives me a “score” that shows how “good” my titles are. I aim for the green score, which I usually manage to attain, even though my post titles are often kind of cryptic.
After years of writing blog posts, I’ve come to realize that there’s a certain freedom in not giving too much away in a post title. I’ve frequently mentioned that I don’t write this stuff for money, so I don’t necessarily want to upset people. Sometimes I do make people angry, and they have a right to their feelings. I don’t want to deal with hate mail, though, nor do I want to be targeted by criminals. True crime posts often invite lurkers, which is unnerving. I’d rather my readers be people who know and like me, than the random person who jumps to conclusions.
So… maybe, for my mental and physical health, my post titles should stay the way they are… But then, that might lead to people continuing to assume things before they’ve read. I don’t think my friend has yet read the post she referenced. If she had read it, she’d know that I don’t blame teachers for what that little boy did. I don’t even necessarily blame the kid. The adults in his life have failed him. At least we know that he won’t be going to juvenile hall… at least not for this crime. He’s too young. But he probably will end up in foster care, which may or may not be a good thing. Foster care is a mixed bag. If that boy doesn’t get some serious help, he may very well go to juvie soon… and that will probably lead to prison.
Anyway… I’ve found that I often have connections to the things I write about, and that’s what compels me to blog. I want to put my thoughts down somewhere. I don’t mind when people read, especially if they get something good from my insights. However, I also don’t want to be a target. So… maybe these crappy blog post titles are really just a form of cowardice. Maybe it’s time I stopped blogging for the public. Or maybe I should just write book reviews, although even those can be controversial. I wouldn’t be able to post every day, either.
Today’s post probably won’t necessarily attract a lot of readers. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But I do feel better for having written today. I hope one or two people enjoyed my insights, such as they are. Or… at least had occasion to think about them a little bit…
This morning, as I was taking down all the Christmas shit in my living room, Bill read me a very tragic news story coming out of Newport News, Virginia. I am very familiar with Newport News, as I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia, which isn’t that far away from there. I used to think of Newport News as kind of an exciting place, as it was a lot more populated than Gloucester was, and it had shopping malls. Now, I kind of think of it in less glowing terms, as there’s a lot of crime and random violence there, not to mention too much traffic. That’s been the case for a pretty long time.
The shocking story Bill told me about today involves a six year old boy. The first grader somehow got his hands on a firearm and took it to Richneck Elementary School. Yesterday, at about 2:00 PM, the boy shot his teacher, a woman in her 30s. Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew says they don’t know how the child got the handgun, but the shooting was not accidental. It happened in a classroom, after the child had an altercation with the teacher. She’s now at Riverside Regional Medical Center, being closely monitored by doctors, as she recovers from the wounds delivered by a six year old child. I am familiar with Riverside, having been there as a patient a couple of times myself.
ETA: Last night, I read that the teacher was identified as 25 year old Abby Zwerner. She is a fairly recent graduate of James Madison University and current resident of Williamsburg, Virginia, a town I know well. We even have a mutual Facebook friend.
ETA 2: It turns out our “mutual Facebook friend” is Abby’s aunt, whom I was friends with in high school. Six degrees of separation, I tell you. My friend shared a GoFundMe for Abby.
Richneck Elementary School serves about 550 students. There are metal detectors at the school, but up until now, students were checked randomly. I’m sure that policy will change, thanks to this incident. That will mean more hassles for the students, and another reminder that schools are not as safe as they once were. It’s also one more example as to why many talented adults might not want to go into education. Imagine this teacher, whose charges are among the youngest in school, being shot by a six year old! She probably thought she was working with a relatively safe population of children. Obviously, she can’t think that anymore.
I wish I could say I was rendered speechless by the news Bill delivered about this latest shooting. Sadly, having watched the violence unfolding in US schools over the past twenty plus years, I can’t say that this development is super surprising anymore. I don’t know what the hell has gotten into people in the United States, but it’s definitely a much more violent place than it was when I was coming of age. When I was in school, we didn’t need cops to be permanently stationed there to keep the peace. Sometimes my classmates would bring their guns to school, but only because they were going hunting, not because they wanted to shoot people.
Now, the boy has been arrested, and his future is in serious jeopardy. Fortunately, only the teacher was injured; no students or other staff members were hurt in the attack. The teacher’s condition is said to have improved somewhat over the course of the afternoon. I’m not sure what that means, as the teacher’s actual injuries haven’t been disclosed, other than to report that they were initially believed to be “life threatening”. One news report included the 911 call, which mentioned that the teacher was shot in the abdomen.
The superintendent of Newport News Public Schools, Dr. George Parker, said at the news conference that “we need to keep guns out of the hands of our young people.” Yeah, no shit. There are too many guns in our communities, and too many children are being exposed to gun violence. I don’t know a thing about this little boy, except that his life has now been forever altered. Does he even realize the seriousness of what he’s done?
I also wonder about his parents. Were they responsible for the fact that their child got ahold of a weapon and took it to school? Or was it a friend or a relative? Somehow, an adult let this child down, and now he’s going to have to pay for this action for the rest of his life, even if he doesn’t spend the rest of his childhood incarcerated. How did he learn how to use a gun?
“I cannot control access to weapons,” Dr. Parker said. “My teachers cannot control access to weapons.” He added, “Today our students got a lesson in gun violence and what guns can do to disrupt not only an educational environment, but also a family, a community.”
Dr. Parker said school would be closed on Monday “as we work on the mental health of our staff and our students.”
It’s going to take a lot more than a day off school for the children to heal from this scary situation. Schools should be safe places for children. But then, homes should also be safe, and it doesn’t sound like the boy in this story has a safe home. I hope there will be criminal consequences for the person responsible for allowing this child to get his hands on a gun. This is a situation in which I do think prison time is entirely justified. Not only did this person put everyone at that school in danger by allowing a six year old access to a weapon, but he or she also ruined this child’s life before it’s even really begun. And that is tragic and, indeed, criminal!
If there is a bright side to this story, it’s that even though school shootings are very much on the rise, shootings perpetrated by very young children are still very rare. According to the New York Times, at this writing, there have only been 16 incidents since 1970 involving a child under age 10. This is based on research done by David Riedman, who founded the K-12 School Shooting Database after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018. According to Riedman, there has only been one school shooting incident that involved someone younger than six years old. That incident happened in Memphis, Tennessee in 2013, when a 5 year old kindergartner discharged a firearm in his school’s cafeteria. No one was injured in that incident.
Anyway… I still don’t like Newport News, because it’s always been kind of crime ridden and congested. Now it has the distinction of being a place where a six year old can bring a gun on school grounds and open fire on his teacher. That is extremely and profoundly heartbreaking on so many levels. I pray the teacher is able to recover, and this child gets the intense help and intervention he obviously so desperately needs. I also wish the staff, students, and faculty at Richneck Elementary School all the best as they process what has happened. No wonder so many parents would rather homeschool these days!
I don’t want to just offer thoughts and prayers, because that seems to be a very trite thing to do… but I don’t know what else to do, other than shake my head and feel completely shocked and dismayed at the state of the world these days. It’s just terrifying, and so very sad.
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