Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Night I Almost Killed Someone

Me in my Phoenix uniform

   It’s been a long time since I posted anything to this blog, partly because we’ve been preoccupied with looking for a place to live but mostly I just didn’t feel like it. What’s been going on in the US this past year is, to say the least, depressing and these days any thoughts or arguments you might want to share end up just preaching to the choir. But this latest school shooting in Florida has made me consider that my experiences could have some value and that by sharing at least one story, people might understand my attitudes about guns in general and why I’m glad to be living someplace now where this is not an issue.
            I wrote this essay over ten years ago and it was published in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. I think I titled this “The Night I Almost Killed Someone” but the paper ran it under the headline of “Seconds of hesitation, a lifetime of what-ifs” and the continuation page headline of  “Haunting lesson about the terrible power of guns” and I’d agree with that. I tried to find a link for this but it seems to be in the archives now so I took the time to rewrite it, making a couple of corrections.
            This single incident, which lasted probably all of a minute, if that, scared me for years. I’m happy about the way it turned out but at the same time spent the rest of my career hoping I’d never find out whether my next hesitation would kill me. The weapon I carried almost every day of my life for over 25 years was never much of a comfort and more of a curse. The awesome responsibility that goes with the carrying of a firearm is something I never minimized. This thing ruled my life for almost 30 years and one of the happiest days of my life was the day I turned it in. Ever since I’ve considered the extreme gun culture of the United States to be so much hot air and mostly macho bullshit. Unfortunately, the consequences of this is the world's largest gun death count. 
            I’m glad I never had to make the decision again. Read this and ask yourself if this is something anyone should have to go through because, if the NRA and Republicans have their way, a school teacher will have this to consider. And is this the life you want for your kids?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bon Soir, Je m'appelle Caleb

    Well, that worked like a charm. As you might recall, my last post was a plea for American voters to do the right thing. They responded with a resounding “Get Bent” and day after tomorrow we’re going to inaugurate the odds on favorite for worst President ever. As a Pennsylvanian born and raised this is good news as he will undoubtedly supplant fellow native son James Buchanan, the current title holder. And from now on this blog will no longer concern itself with American politics. This does not mean, however, that I’ve given up bitching and whining about the state of the world.  I just won’t be doing as much here. To that end, I’ve launched a new blog, a companion you might say, to this platform called “The Rockefeller Democrat” and it can be found by clicking a link somewhere over there on the right.

    We now return you to this blog’s regularly scheduled content.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Election 2016

This blog was originally intended to cover two subjects, our lives as ex-pats in France and my life with the trombone. However, as an American who’s been over here through two election cycles, I feel compelled to say something about this one if for no other reason than I'm still an American and this is a much better platform for expressing my opinion than Facebook. For one thing there’s no limit to the number of characters I can use. For another, if I shut off the comments I won’t have to deal with anonymous dickheads or the opinions of people I don’t know but have for some reason friended me on Facebook and have turned out to be dickheads or, worse yet, people I do know who have turned out to be dickheads. So I might as well get right to it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I'm Alright, Jacques

Me at last year's Andernos-les-Bains Jazz Festival

    Well, here we are again. Once more, some shit-heads trying to make themselves right with the god of Abraham (one killing randomly and prolifically and a couple more singling out some poor old priest) because some other thugs applying the logic of the criminally religious helped them to believe it was just the thing that would please said deity. Ironically, the first poor soul, plus 30 others, run down by the not theretofore particularly observant killer in Nice turned out to be not infidels but other Muslims.

    After all of these incidents going back to Charlie Hebdo, Cynthia and I have gotten messages from friends in the States worried about us and, while I appreciate the concern, I usually respond the same way. I thank them then tell them that no matter what happens over here, we’re still probably a whole lot safer than they are considering we don’t have to worry about anyone nearby stockpiling weapons and ammo for future use in dealing with whatever petty grudge he’s been harboring. In any grievance related occurrence here, the worst cast scenario I anticipate is something like an old 1930s comedy - Henri the chef of the restaurant we’re patronizing, having endured his insults long enough, chases Jean-Luc the maitre d’ around the dining room with a meat cleaver until getting brained with an empty wine bottle by Geneviève the serveuse as the gendarmes arrive in time to carry his unconscious carcass into the night.  In short, I don’t plan on changing a thing about the way I go about life. This, by the way, is not false bravado but reflects the realization that, on both sides of the Atlantic, we’ve all got a better chance of being struck by lightning than becoming a victim of terrorism.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Three Years On

Window of women's spa in Kingwood, TX
         As I mentioned in the last post, we just got back from a 3 week stay in the States and right before we left Marianne gave us the okay for another year in France. It’s over three years now so I thought a bit of reflection was in order, especially since my first trip home in two years gave me the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast.

After gaining an astonishing amount of weight during my last trip home I was determined to limit the damage this time, but it wasn’t easy. In fact I swear I could feel my belt tightening as soon as we entered American airspace. Compounding the problem is the undeniable reality that an aging body doesn’t shed the excess like it once did. However my adoption of an increasingly sedentary home life at least mitigated things somewhat as I came in at a higher weight anyway. So all in all it had to be considered a minor triumph that I only picked up 5 extras pounds stateside.