The 2nd Amendment Needs Revision.

I am about as anti-gun as they come. Friends and family know this. And since many members of my family are pro-gun, whenever the topic comes up, I usually admit straight up that I can’t have a rational discussion about guns because I am so completely opposed. That usually does the trick. And I’m not lying when I tell them this. It’s one of the few topics I can’t keep a rational head about. I just get so worked up, I stop making sense. It’s as if my brain won’t even consider the other side.

I liken my intense opposition toward guns to those staunchly opposed to abortion. You know how there is NOTHING you can say to a person who, at their very core, believes abortion is wrong? They see it their way, perhaps irrationally so, and you will never, ever change their mind? That’s me when it comes to gun ownership.

I have learned not to discuss it very often. And I realize that’s a bit of copout. But back when I did actually argue with people, nothing changed. I still remained staunchly opposed; they remained very much for; and both parties left the situation feeling agitated.

(To quote my previous post: What good can come from this? Probably not much.)

So, I don’t really talk about guns anymore. But I will say this here and now: if I could amend the U.S. Constitution, I would. I would change the hell out of the 2nd Amendment. I don’t agree that people should have access to the guns we’re capable of making today. I don’t believe people need more than a rifle for hunting. In my perfect America, guns (all but those used for hunting) would be a thing of the past. They’d be melted down and turned into playground equipment, new (electric!) cars, art, jewelry, anything that isn’t a gun.

The recent shooting in a Florida movie theater has me remembering why I became so opposed to guns so many years ago. I lived in DC at the time. Two “soccer moms” got into a massive fight while driving. (If memory stands, both were on the Beltway in Virginia.) Their road rage escalated to the point where both ended up on the side of the road. (I can’t remember if they got into an actual accident or simply wanted to duke it out one-on-one, but they pulled over.) Well, it ended with one of the soccer moms shooting the other. She lost her cool and, blink! just like that, ended someone’s life. (She basically ended her own as well.) That story haunted me for years. An otherwise calm, normal mother lost her shit and shot another mother. It seemed so… easy?

It pains me knowing that a man felt the need to bring a gun into a movie theater. Had he lived in a state where carrying a concealed firearm in public was illegal, chances are this 71-year-old father/husband/grandfather wouldn’t be spending the rest of his life in prison. And another father wouldn’t be dead. And a 3-year-old girl wouldn’t be without a dad. That’s the thing with guns: a quick, irrational reaction can leave us with a most final, tragic result. And I feel so sad for everyone involved including the shooter and his family.

We all lose our temper. I know I do. (Especially these days with all these surging hormones.) I have seen people get into fistfights on the subway. I have seen people fight in bars, restaurants, at birthday parties, soccer games, in line at Starbucks. People lose their cool. We all do. And when we do, we can only hope the other person isn’t armed. Because it’s so easy to get lost in that moment of pure rage and simply react. And a gun makes that outcome horribly final yet surprisingly easy to get to.

I loathe your guns. And your right to bear them shouldn’t trump my right to adamantly and loudly oppose your right to bear them.

New York City Bans Smoking in Parks, Beaches.

How awesome is this?

“This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts,” —Bloomberg

Opponents believe the government is meddling too much. I am rather pleased with the fact that our beaches will no longer look like giant ashtrays and that one day I might visit a park and not have to worry about my kid (or your dog!) eating a discarded cigarette butt.

Personally, I think this makes more sense than banning it in bars and restaurants because this is a public space. But I’m OK with the restaurant ban as well.

Remember: this comes from a recovering smoker. I smoked for over a decade. I smoked a lot.

Yeah, this law pleases me a great deal.

“Pay to Opt-Out” Advertising

I hate the circus. I will not be taking my kid(s) to a circus. I reckon this will warrant an eye roll from some. I’m OK with that. That’s how much I hate the circus.

There are few things I am passionate about. There are even fewer things I have deemed off limits when it comes to how I raise my son. My kid is allowed to watch TV. He is allowed to play with iPads, iPhones, and computers. He’s allowed to play games. He eats candy, drinks cocoa and consumes dessert every day. He’s allowed to stay up late and sleep in his clothes sometimes. I’ve taken him to Disney World. He’s even been to the Bronx Zoo.

But circuses (and Sea World!) are off limits.

I realize this might open me up to attack. Given what I’ve written above, it likely stinks of hypocrisy. But until the circus stops enslaving/abusing animals, we won’t be giving them a dime.

Today I was cleaning the apartment while Em was playing. He brought out a bunch of books and started building a “car” around himself and a stuffed bear. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “We’re going to the circus!”

I laughed and then asked, “Where did you hear about the circus?”

“On the television.”

“Which show were you watching about the circus?”

“It was a commercial, mama.”

Em doesn’t watch much live TV. We will rent family movies via our AppleTV. He watches shows on OnDemand or previously recorded TV shows. Very, very rarely do I turn on Nick Jr or PBS, but they don’t show circus advertisements. They don’t really show advertisements at all. So I wondered, again, what had he been watching that showed him a circus?

“Do you remember what TV show you were watching?” I asked him again.

“Nope.” He answered, still playing.

My guess is that it was one of the seasonal shows we had on during the holidays. We do watch soccer and football together, but they don’t usually show circus advertisements. They show fast food advertisements (almost as bad) and ads featuring chesty, hot women and beer toting idiots, but that’s a different type of circus, one he doesn’t yet care for or understand.

“Em, we won’t be going to the circus as a family. I will take you almost anywhere else you want to go, but the circus is a no-no.”

“I’m just pretending, mama.”

And then I just felt bad—too political and uppity for a 3-year-old and his active imagination. He has no desire to actually go to the circus. He was just pretending. But his mama had to get all indignant.

I felt like an ass.

Networks often refuse ads from certain companies. In 2009, NBC refused to air a Super Bowl ad created by Peta. It was deemed too sexually explicit. (Which is hilarious given what they show every other year, but that’s a post for another day.) I was annoyed with NBC’s decision to block the Peta advertisement. But as a cable consumer, I am nothing.

Peta wasn’t the only company turned away. In 2010 an ad from the gay dating Web site ManCrunch.com was rejected as well.

Talking to my son gave me a brainstorm. Since cable companies pick and choose what it is we’re shown, would you, the cable consumer, pay your cable provider a small amount each month to opt out of seeing certain advertisements from certain companies? Like, say you could tell them, “I don’t want to see anything from McDonald’s.” Behold, no more McDonald’s ads.

Now, I obviously have no idea what type of software and/or programming would go into such a thing, but the idealist in me wonders: if it were possible, would people use it?

Because I would.

And I’d start with the circus. ;]

No Strollers Allowed!

I wrote the post below instead of doing what I should have done which was to call the establishment directly and ask them about the sign. Instead, I did what I can’t stand and got passive-aggressive about it on the Internet. (I am currently punching myself in the face for this, btw.)

I’ve decided to leave it as-is. But wanted everyone to know that I was the one in the wrong here. And I apologize for how I handled the situation. Furthermore, I would like to thank Amy 2 for actually doing what I should have done in the first place.

Yay, sweet stranger!

______________

I usually stay away from topics like this one because I’m too much of a pussy anymore to deal with online backlash, but I can’t help it this time.

My lollipop adventure has me frequenting a baking supply store in Manhattan. This store has everything I need and at relatively decent prices. Plus, they sell in bulk. They’re also fairly convenient for me to get to—a mere 8 blocks from the 6th Avenue stop on the L.

A few weeks ago, Toby Joe, Emory and I headed into the city together. It was a Saturday morning. When we arrived, I saw the following sign:

I was annoyed, but fine—whatever. Toby Joe was there, so they waited outside while I rushed around for what I needed.

Fast forward to this week. I had rush order that had to get out. I wanted to get there quickly and immediately. I was preparing to take Emory into the city on the subway with me (I only have the nanny for a few hours each week) and remembered the sign. Since parking in that area during the week is impossible, I had three choices: I could leave the stroller behind and make him walk the 8 blocks from the subway which, as many of you know who’ve spent time with a 2-year-old, would take us forever; I could bring leave the stroller outside and hope that it doesn’t get stolen; or I could just not go and wait until I had someone to watch him.

I opted to wait. The order would have to wait. This is a “First World” problem. I know that.

But this is what I kept thinking: Why? Why are strollers banned from the store. Would a wheelchair be banned from the store? How about a walker? Why just strollers. And so I started to get upset about it—probably a little too upset because, considering in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a deal.

Someone suggested I ask the store owner if I could fold the stroller up and leave it just inside the store somewhere. And I could try that. I’m not sure they’d agree but I could try.

A few people suggested I leave the stroller outside and use a bike lock. Which, yes, is a great idea, but that adds one more relatively heavy item that I must carry around with me. Navigating the subway with a stroller and a toddler is hard enough, adding a paperclip into the mix can sometimes tip the scales.

See, that’s the thing: it’s when you start to add it all up—all the hoops you have to jump through when you have kids, that seemingly irrelevant situations like this one turn into the straw that breaks the sherpa’s back.

I understand why bars want to ban strollers. I’ve written about this before. There was a bar here in Brooklyn that put up a sign and were met with quite a backlash from those in the community with children. Granted, on the flip side of that fight (and boy was it heated for a while), there were a great number of people singing the bar’s praises because a lot of people believe that babies or toddlers should not be in bars. And I get that. I may not agree all the time, but I get it. But baking supply stores? There really aren’t many of them.

Here’s the bigger deal, however. I don’t believe this is about strollers. I believe this is about children. And if my cynical assumption is true, that’s discrimination discriminatory in nature.

I know myself. I won’t say a word to this establishment and hopefully once I figure out what I need every month, I’ll start ordering everything online. But I’m still annoyed. I’m annoyed that additional and unnecessary hurdles like this one are out there waiting us when I think we have enough to deal with.

Tuesdays With Murray: Chapter 118 (Oreo's Law.)

I had a pretty great video to post today, but I really need to use today’s Murray post to talk about something else. I do hope you’ll forgive me, my fellow animal lovers.

You may already know this, but Murray was a feral kitten. Which means he had two options: he could have ended up the way that he is, which is to say loving and awesome; or he could have ended up becoming a feral cat, which is to say distrusting of humans and unfriendly. Thankfully, some kind and patient humans gave Murray a second chance.

Please note: THIS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY. :]

The Story

In June of this year, Oreo, a one-year-old pit bull was thrown off a six-story Brooklyn apartment building. Oreo suffered broken ribs and several broken bones, but miraculously survived the fall. She was rescued by the ASPCA and nursed back to health. Happy ending, right? Nope.

*Jul 31 - 00:05*

A few weeks ago the ASPCA deemed her too violent and beyond emotional repair.  They ended her life. The dog that healed physically and still had a great deal of trouble trusting humans, was not given the chance to heal emotionally. This pains me beyond words. The thing that gets me the most about this story is that several smaller organizations begged the ASPCA for a chance at rehabilitating Oreo. Pets Alive, a reputable organization from New York state, offered to take Oreo and give her a second chance at life. The ASPCA refused and instead chose to end her life.

The Proposition

Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner and Senator Thomas K. Duane have come up with “Oreo’s Law“. This law would give animals the second chance they deserve.

From Mr. Kellner’s Web site:

The bill, modeled on an existing law in California, is named Oreo’s Law in memory of the pit bull mix who became well-known after she survived abuse at the hands of her former owner, including a fall from a six-story building, but was eventually euthanized after the ASPCA determined that she was untreatably aggressive. Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill animal shelter located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, specializing in the rehabilitation and care of abused animals, offered to take Oreo, but the ASPCA refused the request.

As a dog owner and a foster parent for an animal rescue group, I was heartbroken to learn that Oreo was euthanized. When humane organizations volunteer their expertise in difficult cases, shelters should work with them to the fullest extent possible. This legislation will give tragically abused animals like Oreo another chance at life.

The Call To Action

That’s where we come in, my friends.

Please contact Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner and State Senator Thomas K. Duane and thank them for giving a voice to those without one. You can leave a comment. Or you can contact Micah Kellner one of the ways listed below:

315 East 65 Street
New York, NY 10065
Tel 212-860-4906
Fax 917-432-2983
Email KellnerM@assembly.state.ny.us

If you’re a New York State resident, please take a few minutes out of your day and write to your Assembly Member and/or State Senator and ask them to support Oreo’s Law. If you know any New Yorkers, please let them know about this law and have them speak up about it. Even if you are one of those folks wary of pit bulls, this is about every animal out there—every last one.

This law will make it so other organizations are given the chance to give abused animals a second one.

If you have a blog, please write about the law and help get the word out. The biggest concern right now is getting some voice behind this. They need to know that we care. This law needs to come to life, in the absence of Oreo’s. If you need some more information or a link, Empty Cages Collective wrote a great post.

Other Ideas?

If you can think of other ideas, please post them. If you think of anything I missed, please let me know. I am new to this. And believe me, I know how hard it is to find time to reach out to people, so if there is anything I can do to make it easier, let me know. We need to get the word out there about this law.

Because really, who doesn’t deserve a second chance?

———————-

P.S. The video scheduled for today, will be published next week. I promise.

NaBloPoMo: Maclaren Stroller Recall

Yesterday dozens of people sent me emails about the Maclaren stroller recall. I appreciate the thought, and I do hope that people continue to send me stories like this in the future because I do want to know. But here’s the skinny on this one: I’m just not getting it.

I have the Maclaren Techno XT. I’ve used this stroller every single last day the last 2 years. It’s been perfect for us. It’s lightweight and easy to use in the city. And it’s really durable. I haven’t once had to have anything replaced, not even a wheel. I’ve put this stroller though a great deal of work. No complaints here.

So, yesterday I’m combing through the articles that were sent to me, searching for the urgency. Some of the pages loaded, some did not due to too much traffic, but I eventually pieced together what I think this is about. My understanding is that it has something to do with a hinge. I read that 12 toddlers lost their fingers while mom or dad (or caregiver) was opening the stroller. And I looked; I looked long and hard at my stroller and I still have no clue what I’m supposed to be freaking out about.

So here’s my question: Is this a legitimate concern or is this another overhyped, hysterical reaction to 12 (albeit horrible) careless mistakes? Because in that case? I have seen a dozen kids get hit by swings on the playground. Better remove the swings too. And while you’re at it, recall all doors. Those pesky bastards are always catching a finger or two.

On Mississippi and the Murder of a Pregnant Woman

I read this article on CNN this morning and I’m left pondering something about Mississippi’s law regarding murdering a pregnant woman and being charged for two murders.

If the murder victim was not yet visibly pregnant and the killer had no idea the woman was pregnant, does that still count as taking two lives in terms of murder?

CNN visitors: Please read the comments before jumping to conclusions about how I personally feel regarding this case and issue. Also, please make sure you understand what it is I’m asking.

Health Insurance And The Independent Worker

Forgive me ahead of time for not posting a Mom It Down today. I have had the flu for almost three days; eating has been difficult, baking and cooking even more so. I promise to do something awesome next week, assuming I’m not dead.

Speaking of good health (or lack thereof), my question today is one that Toby and I have been asking one another for years: How do people who work for themselves cover health insurance? How can someone running a small business afford the premiums today? How do you do it? What does a monthly breakdown look like to you? Do you have deductibles? Is it just you or do you have kids?

If you have minute and you happen to be an independent contractor or you run your own business, please take a minute and discuss your health insurance. I find it troubling that in a nation founded by independent, hard-working people individualistic entrepreneurs are becoming a dying breed largely due to the cost of healthcare.

So, how do you do it?

Using Social Media to Freak Out Brands

Jonathan sent me an interesting article from Adage about how a few vocal people can give an impression that something is a much bigger deal that it really is. (Remember the Motrin scandal?)

From the article:

“The data is a really compelling reminder that a lot of our target consumers are not the people who are sitting on Twitter freaking out over a packaging design that they don’t like,” said Diane Hessan

So, I find I’m asking a number of questions. For starters, why is this happening? What compels a group of people (in the case of the Motrin ad—Mommy Bloggers) to get so worked about something relatively meaningless?

The internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to get their opinions heard — and for marketers to listen. But it also creates real challenges: Do marketers know who they’re listening to? And at what point does the echo chamber of social media drown out the real opinions of the people who buy your brand?

Lastly, why are brands so completely afraid of these (relatively few) vocal people, so much so, that they’re willing to yank ads for them? 

(Thanks to reader Jonathan for the link!)