Sunday, January 24, 2016

Phrase of the Day: BLIZZARD OF 2016

We here on the Mid-Atlantic/eastern coast of the U.S., have had our first a-lot-of-snow-in-one-shot storm of this Winter.  The sun is out, bright and sunny today, but the after-effects are still present.  The Blizzard of 2016/Winter Storm Jonas, however, did not just affect the east coast; the effects were felt as far north as Massachusetts, as far south as North and South Carolina, and as far west as Kansas and Tennessee.
Just an idea of the breadth of the storm.
Much of the snow totals are higher than the predictions shown above.

The following two reports give you a good idea of this storm, from a 35-mile traffic backup in Kansas to a traffic ban in New York City where, in a rare occurrence, pedestrians were far more prevalent than vehicles.

Where I live was lucky with just over a foot of snow.  You might not consider that lucky, and I am not looking forward to shoveling at all, but I consider myself lucky when looking how bad other areas were hit.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Word of the Day: VOCABULARY

[Before I begin, I want to note that on January 1st, this blog passed 7,000 pageviews!  My thanks to all of you, dear readers, so very much!]

Today's post is about the issue of gun control here in the United States.  It was just over a month ago that I
posted on this subject and am returning to it following President Obama's executive action on the issue.  In his news conference two days ago, he showed his emotions regarding the issue in the light of several too many mass shootings in this country ... anger, sadness, frustration.  

Gun rights advocates, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), which was a focus of my post last month, immediately cried foul.  Their far-too-familiar, broken record scream was that the government was "coming to take your guns".  Again?  Really?  What exactly is the government waiting for?  For current gun owners to give permission?  An alignment of stars?  A preset time that has yet to arrive? 

Mind you, would I put that past any Congress or administration?  No, but as bad things are in this country, it would seem it is, and has been, a good time for such an illegal and unconstitutional overreach to take place.  While this country's Constitution has been chipped away and nicked bit by bit for years, such action still has not occurred. 

Perhaps a vocabulary lesson is helpful in light of the past two days, and the years of gun control arguments.  The key points of President Obama's executive action will be my focus, keeping in mind the screams about the government coming to take people's guns.

* Anyone who is involved in the act of selling firearms must be licensed and conduct background checks on all buyers. 
Keyword: selling
"selling" - the act of exchanging goods or products, typically for money
If you are a gun owner, not an owner and seller, but simply a gun owner, this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* Background checks must be required for heavy duty firearms being bought through a corporation, a trust, or any legal entity. 
Keywords: corporation, trust
Key term: legal entity
"corporation" - a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law
"trust" - a person or group legally recognized as
the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of one or more others
"legal entity" -
a collective having legal capacity to enter into agreements or contracts, to assume obligations, to incur and pay debts, to sue and be sued in its own right, and to be held responsible for its actions
If you are not a corporation, a trust, or a legal entity as defined above, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* The U.S. Attorney General has already contacted all fifty states' governing bodies, focusing the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence. 
Keyword: disqualified
"disqualified" - to declare ineligible or unqualified; in past tense used here, it means such action has already taken place
If you are already a current gun owner, you were not disqualified.  This does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* An overhaul of the background check system, including the improvement of notifications to local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. 
Keyword: prohibited
"prohibited" - not allowed
If you already own a gun, you were not prohibited.  This does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* A renewed focus on more effective enforcement of current gun laws. 
Keywords: enforcement, current
"enforcement" - to
compel others to observe and comply with a law, rule, or obligation
"current" -
belonging to the present time 
If you are a gun owner who is not in law enforcement, and you agree gun laws already on the books need to be enforced better, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

The budget for fiscal year 2017 will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.
Keyword: budget
"budget" - an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time
If you do not directly affect the governmental budget, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* The Internet Investigation Center for tracking illegal online firearms trafficking has been established, in addition to new monies to be allocated for the
improvement of the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
Keyword: tracking
"tracking" - keeping informed and/or following in pursuit (in this context, of illegal activity)
If you are not involved in the tracking of others for law enforcement, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* Establishing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit.
Keyword: dealers
"dealers" - Those engaged in the act of selling
If you are simply a gun owner and not a dealer, then this does affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* Renewing domestic violence outreach efforts by U.S. Attorneys.
Key phrase: domestic violence
"domestic violence" - violent or aggressive behavior within the home against a spouse, a partner, or children or youth
If you are a gun owner who does not engage in domestic violence, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* P
roposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.
Key phrase: mental health care
"mental health care" - the treatment of, and care for, individuals with mental issues that affect them in a negative way by skewing their perception of reality and/or causing them to cause harm to themselves and/or others  If you own a gun and do not have any mental health issues, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.  (As a safe gun owner, you should want to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who are mentally challenged, anyway.)

* The Social Security Administration will begin the process of including in background checks any information regarding beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.
Keyword: prohibited
"prohibited" - not allowed
Again, you were not prohibited if you already own a firearm.  This does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove any unnecessary legal barriers that prevent States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.
Keyword: remove
Key phrase: unnecessary legal barriers
"remove" - to do any with or get rid of something
"unnecessary legal barriers" - any law or legality that prohibits any further action that is, in fact, deemed necessary

If you are not involved with the legal process of removing legal barriers and you see that those same legal barriers are in place only for the stifling of public safety, then this does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

* The U.S. Department of Defense, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have all been instructed by President Obama to conduct and sponsor research into gun safety, as well as regular reviews of "smart gun" technology to further its use more broadly.
Keywords: research, reviews
Key term: smart gun technology
"research" - the systematic investigation into, and study of, materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach conclusions
"reviews" -
formal assessments or examinations of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change, if necessary
"smart gun technology" -
technology that allows a gun to be fired only when in the hands of its registered owner

If you do not conduct research or reviews for any of the aforementioned departments in this field, and you are not against making inoperable guns that are stolen from police officers or found by children, then this, too, does not affect you at all.  Your guns are left alone.

The final tally here is . . .
Does not affect gun owners at all (including not taking your guns):  13
Does affect gun owners at all (including taking your guns):  0

Here ends the vocabulary lesson for today.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Phrase of the Day: DON'T TAKE FOR GRANTED

Happy New Year, dear readers!

If you are anything like me -- and, for Heaven's sake, I sure hope you're not -- after any year that has been rough, the prospect of a new year being better than the one past is an appealing one.  Sometimes, that better year comes, sometimes it doesn't.  Still, we still hope for it.

I would like to get a little personal here.  This past year has been a rough one for me.  I will spare you all the details, but I will say that I am one of many who are glad to see 2015 end.  There were a number of highlights, to be sure.  I don't want to paint a picture of  a year-long festival of failures, but it did involve financial issues, emotions, and day-to-day stresses at home.

While it can be said that there are those whose year was far worse, which is certainly true, and I should have a better outlook because of the up moments, some things still weighed heavily.  I am thankful for those happy moments, and they were not few and far between, but the over-arching issues were never far away from my thoughts.

I am used to being the one to help others, whether it was money, buying something, or simply being an open ear and a shoulder to cry on.  I have been in situations this year where I had to ask, and did so, but it was very difficult for me.  When someone could help, they did.

There were times when I was surprised by unexpected generosity by some dear friends.  There was one of those unexpected times in the Fall.   This Christmas was a double unexpected surprise.  Dear friends stepping up to help when a friend is in need.  Tears were shed.

It is not because my friends are intentionally dismissive of someone in need; most of my friends are simply unable to help due to their own situations.  That is what made this Christmas so special.  It was as though Santa Claus is not always one person and my years-long wish for a Santa finally came true.

I have never taken my good friends for granted.  I have helped them whenever possible and, more specific to what I have shared here, never expected any help.  My message for you, dear readers, at the start of a new year is to never take your friends (and any loved ones) for granted.  Being a friend is not a contract of indebtedness; friends help when can because they want to help. If you can help a friend, a loved one, or even, perhaps, a stranger, whatever help in that situation may be, do it.

Do not take your life, including your abilities and gifts, for granted -- perhaps an opportunity to help has come into your realm of attention for a reason -- and do not always assume someone else will help.  Do not take your life, and life in general, for granted.  I wish all of you a wonderful, blessed, satisfying, and happy new year!