Monday, December 30, 2013

Save one

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one.” ― Loren Eiseley, American anthropologist, educator, philosopher and writer

IMAGINE an elementary school in your town that has eight classrooms with 24 children in each room. Now imagine that over the course of a year, someone shoots and kills all of them. 

That's the equivalent of what's actually happened. In the last year there have been at least 194 children aged 12 or under killed by guns in our country.

I've had several discussions with friends via Facebook about whether there's any use in writing, calling, tweeting, making personal visits and otherwise harassing Congress to enact laws to curb the slaughter while Congress remains owned by big-money corporate and private donors. 

I sympathize; oh my god, do I sympathize! I've been haranguing for voter-owned elections for years and years. I don't feel like we're going to have much effect until then, but that doesn't mean we can't have some effect. Because every life saved is worth it.

I feel like we have to try. 

Below is the famous starfish story by Loren Eiseley as a reminder that each one saved — is one saved! And below that, pictures of some of the 194 children, assembled by Mother Jones Magazine, who have been killed by guns in the last year. (Click here to go directly to the Mother Jones article and photos where you can see each child's name, age and city.)

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, "It makes a difference for this one." I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.” — Loren Eiseley

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wired up

"I remember the first time we all sat around and watched the pilot. We all turned to each other and said, ‘Man, I don’t think this shit is going anywhere.'" — Wendell Pierce

TIME TO CONFESS. Since we got back from NOLA, Paul and I have been binge-watching The Wirethe HBO series that ran from June 2002 to March 2008. We don't get HBO, and oddly enough I hadn't heard much about it until one of my newer Facebook friends raved about it.

She works for the Actors' Equity Association in NYC, and has studied the craft at National University of Ireland, New York University and NYU Tisch School of the Arts, so I figured she might have an opinion worth respecting.

I can tell you that the show gets its hooks into you from the very first episode and doesn't let go. I also have to warn you that it's WAY violent, WAY sexual and WAY profane. Yikes! 

Paul either fast forwards through scenes when it's too much to take, or I leave the room until he gives me the all-clear. There have been many a lesser movie or series that I wouldn't watch on the basis of objectionable content, but the writing, character and plot development and acting on this one are so good, that I've put on blinders and hummed really loud in order to see how it turns out.

Created and written by former police reporter David Simon with assistance from former Baltimore detective and public school teacher Ed Burns, the series shot in and around Baltimore relentlessly pursued authenticity. It's fiction, but not, and it's eye opening.

There were five seasons, each one dealing with a different dysfunctional, corrupted, failed or failing institution: 1) the illegal drug trade (and the police) 2) the harbor and seaport system (and illegal drug trade and the police) 3) governmental bureaucracy (and illegal drug trade and the police) 4) the school system (and illegal drug trade and the police 5) the newspaper business (and illegal drug trade and the police). 

There are five actors I think are the bomb.

Idris Elba 
He's British for crying out loud, but you wouldn't guess it for one single second. There's not a moment that he's not 100% believable and riveting.

Dominic West
Also British, and again you can't tell it ever. Watching him in this role is like watching a fire burn.

Andre Royo
He plays Bubbles, a drug addict, and there's never a moment that he's not that guy. It's hard to pick a best-of, but he's my pick.

Aidan Gillen
Aiden is so spot-on as Councilman, and later Mayor Thomas Carcetti that it makes me want to abandon party politics altogether and go back to being strictly an issue woman like I started out. And this guy is Irish. I never guessed it for a second. 

Michael Kenneth Williams
I've read that Michael did one read and was cast on the spot. He channels Omar Little, who may in some ways be the most honorable guy in the hood — cops included. He's incredibly violent, but in a Robin Hood-esque way so that you can't help but like him and want him to come out okay. 

I just like him, and he's from NOLA and making a difference down there. Here's a little from Wikipedia about what he's doing:

Inspired in part by Michelle Obama’s initiative to bring more supermarkets to “food deserts” – where residents lack easy access to fresh produce – Pierce, along with 2 partners (childhood friend, Troy Henry, and James Hatchett), started a chain of grocery stores, Sterling Farms, in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans in 2012.[15] Sterling Farms also has a convenience store division called "Sterling Express." The stores are named after Sterling Henry, his business partner's father who ran a pharmacy for about 40 years at the Lower 9th Ward.[16] Sterling Farms opened its first store, a 30,000-square-foot supermarket, in Marreo, LA.

Sonja Sohn
She's another one who nails her character, and who also — as a Washington Post headline says, "After The Wire ended, actress Sonja Sohn couldn’t leave Baltimore’s troubled streets behind," so she started a non-profit organization called Rewired for Change to help Baltimore's troubled youth.

We'll be free soon because we only have three more episodes of the final season to go. Watch at your own risk.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gigs from hell

My life flashed before my eyes as we turned tail and fled down the crowded corridor — strangely, still playing the damned song! — Christopher Smith, trombonist

AS YOU KNOW my husband Paul plays jazz trombone, and over the course of his career he's played a wide variety of gigs — parades, dances, weddings, wedding receptions, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, political mash-ups, church services, even funerals. He almost always has a tale of some kind to tell after every gig, but nothing on the order of the one you're about to read. Written by brother trombone player, Christopher Smith, this story is from a Facebook group to which both belong called Gigs from Hell

I was booked with a Dixieland band (what IS it about Christmas tunes played in Dixie style that the bookers go nuts over?) to play a parade at Carrefour Laval, maybe the largest shopping mall in the Montreal area. We were dressed in elf costumes and of course mine was too small. I am 6 foot 7, perhaps the tallest free-standing trombonist in Canada. (There are taller ones, but they use guy wires.) 

The booker thought it would be a great idea to have Santa enter in a sleigh drawn by a sled dog team. I don't think he ever saw sled dogs up close. They are somewhere between Malamutes, huskies, and wolves, and they are definitely NOT house pets. There were nine of them pulling this sled, and the lead dog was BIG! He was also mean as all get out, scarred and had part of an ear missing, because the lead dog stays the lead dog by beating up on the other dogs to show them how tough he is, which he did a couple of times while we were waiting. 

I watched in apprehension as the trainer pulled him off. Then the dog caught me looking at him. Rather like catching someone's eye in the New York subway, this is not done with dogs, as they think you are challenging them. I stared in fascination at these light blue eyes, reminding me so much of Hannibal Lecter's eyes in "The Silence of the Lambs", when I noticed that his shoulder muscles were bunching up and he was emitting a low growl. I was about two seconds from being taught my proper place when the trainer yelled, "Hey!" and ran over to grab his collar and drag him away. "NEVER do that to a dog!" he shouted at me. I didn't need telling twice. 

The band was supposed to go first, then the sled. We got in position. I glanced behind me and saw Cujo, the dog, staring at me steadily. Uh-oh. I could practically read his mind. "There's that guy who challenged me before, and I never got to teach him who's boss. Now he's in front of me, but I am the lead dog. Wait until I get a hold of him." 

The band struck up "Here Comes Santa Claus" and we were off. The musher called "Mush!" and we were drowned out by the barking and baying as the team tried to come up to speed on the terrazzo of the mall floor. Dog teams don't have a "medium" or "stroll" setting; they are either full speed or off. Nine dogs were WAY overpowered for one sled, even if the one passenger was a fat guy, and there were four men hauling on ropes attached behind the sled to keep it from taking off at 30 km/p/h down the mall corridor. 

The band was accelerating the tempo and marching faster than any parade band I have ever played with to keep ahead of the dogs, who were slavering to get past us. I was imagining the headline; "Trombonist killed by dog" and the picture of me in a pool of blood in the ridiculous red and green costume showing my hairy belly button. Imagine Will Ferrell in "Elf".

We entered the mall proper and I was horrified to see the corridors LINED with children three deep on each side. The band got around a corner and we noticed that the sounds of howling were farther away. We turned to see what was going on (I had visions of some four-year-old losing an arm to a hundred and fifty pound wolf-dog) and realized that the sled couldn't get around corners! 

A couple of guys were hauling on the dogs, a couple were pushing the sled around, the college students in elf costumes were herding the crowds back, and they were trying to get aligned for the next straight trajectory. The lead dog caught sight of us (me, I think) and took off without a "mush" and the rest of the pack followed. My life flashed before my eyes as we turned tail and fled down the crowded corridor (strangely, still playing the damned song!) but the handlers were able to get back on the drag ropes and slow them down before we were caught. No injuries (except my pride) but the parade was not repeated the following year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

WE HAD our Christmas with Virginia tonight and ate WAY too many treats. Ah well, what would the holidays be without a little overindulgence?

Below find an extra cute talking-animals video Kitte Noble found that's bound to make you laugh and smile just in case you haven't done quite enough of that as yet.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A very purry Christmas to you

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” — Albert Schweitzer

I'M HOPING each of you had a warm and wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid Al-Adha, Bodhi Day, Festivus, winter solstice or any other day you celebrate. Several of you probably also had birthdays.

Christmas Eve we went to Paul's parents for a soup and homemade candy buffet. When we came home, we hung out in our AP (all-purpose) room because that's the one with the heated floors, and we had all three cats around us. When we went to bed, they all trooped into the bedroom behind us. It gets a little crowded sometimes with three cats and two people in a queen-sized bed.

I mention our cat brigade because I think cats get a bum rap. Those who've never shared a life with one often accuse them of not being affectionate or loyal. So not the case. Not if you raise them right. (Boy Boy and Shye are keeping me company as I write this post.) You know how moms of little kids talk about not being able to go to the bathroom without one of them coming along? That's how it is at our house, except it's kitty cats. 

Christmas day Paul and I listened to Christmas music on the stereo and wrote Christmas cards, and Shye and Shiva helped. Yup, we've been naughty; our cards are going out late this year. I lost my address book, so we had to wait until we received cards in the mail to get addresses to send ours. 

Enjoy the rest of the week and weekend. I'm hoping lots of you have it off and aren't having to work. Ho ho ho.

Pictures below.

Paul's mom made a basket for us,
and Shiva thought it was a perfect Shiva-sized nest.

That's our adorable Shye-girl being helpful, with
Shiva in her basket in the background.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Teddy

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” ― Hamilton Wright Mabie, American essayist, editor and lecturer

TEDDY, the talking porcupine, wishes you a very merry Christmas — and so do I.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

TCJO holiday concert

“I wanted an electric train for Christmas but I got the saxophone instead.” — Clarence Clemons, American musician and actor 

HAPPY almost Christmas. Or depending on where you live, if it already is Christmas — ho ho ho, merry Christmas. Or whatever greeting brings you comfort and cheer, consider it sent your way.

As promised, here are a few more pictures from Thursday night's Turner Center Jazz Orchestra concert. 

We had between 90 and 100 in the audience — an almost sold-out house. It was also kind of a mini-Rotary Club of Des Moines meeting. Besides me and Richard Early, who plays in the band and manages the organization, RC of DM executive director Kitte Noble and guests, Joyce and Rick Chapman and guest, Bob Olson and guest, Terry and Kathy Lebo, Chuck and Lynn Kuba and Mike and Jane La Mair were all present and accounted for.

Big thanks to David Stein for being my able driver and serving assistant and to Karl Schilling for taking pictures.

This is how the room looked pre-crowd.

Paul fronted the band.

Janey Hooper was our musical guest artist.

Terry and Kathy Lebo and Lynn and Chuck Kuba were front and center.

Santas hats donned for the closing number.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dogs never bite me

“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Below is an adorable video, a reminder of how special the human/animal bond can be.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Helen's Pajama Party

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas A. Edison

MOST OF YOU haven't heard of Helen's Pajama Party. It's a charitable non-profit I started a few years back with the goal of supplying enough new pajamas to every domestic violence shelter in Iowa to make sure there's always a pair ready and waiting for every woman who arrives. 

How I came to start Helen's is a little bit of a long story that I'll tell another time.

Don't think I'm a star, though. For one thing, I've been doing a pretty crappy job of it the last year, and for another, it's caring groups and individuals around Iowa donating new pajamas who actually make it happen. Here's an example: the swimming club moms at the Ankeny YMCA held a drive with no assistance from me, and Friday Paul picked up 150 pairs they collected. 

Yesterday Paul and I went into the office and sorted, tagged (with Helen's Pajama Party tags) and binned by size 108 pairs of women's and 16 pairs of children's pajamas and delivered them to Children and Families of Iowa Domestic Violence Shelter

Monday volunteers at the shelter will wrap up a pair for each resident as a gift to be given on Christmas. We sent more than twice the number they'll need because the goal is to make sure the shelter never runs out, plus I like to provide enough variety in style, size and color so that staff members can make an appropriate selection for each resident. 

Last year we gift-bagged a pair for each resident and included a little self-esteem building book, but this year shelter volunteers are doing the wrapping. I appreciate the help. I'm so bad at asking for it.

Because Helen's has had national publicity in the past — Ladies' Home Journal, radio talk shows and the International Rotary magazine — I've received calls from shelters all over the country asking for pajamas. I've held drives in Arkansas and Las Vegas, and the Rotary clubs in Fargo do an outstanding job as a coordinated effort between their clubs and Helen's at supplying every shelter in the state with all the pajamas that are needed, but the reality is that the logistics of supplying every shelter in the country with pajamas from a central location are unworkable.

Plus shelters need more than just pajamas; they need pillows and towels and bedding and toiletry items. A few months after we delivered pajamas last year, we had a small drive for the Des Moines shelter for towels and pillows, but the need goes on and on — at every DV shelter all over the country.

So my goal has changed. 

I want to partner with a national chain like Target or Kohl's so that anywhere in the country where there's a shelter, they'll be a designated store where people can buy and leave whatever items each shelter currently needs.

What has hung me up is the federal government. I've been waiting for a year for my 501c3 status to be approved, and I got discouraged and stuck. But going to see Santa arrive Friday night and delivering pajamas last night has gotten me up on my feet again willing to try some more.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The band man and the bag man

“My wish and hope for the Christmas Holiday Season and the New Year is we all learn to be kind without regret, gentle without weakness, generous without expectation, gatherers without greed, winners without attitude and losers without resentment. May next year be better than all the rest and bring health, wealth and happiness!” — Gregory Cusimano

LAST NIGHT Paul and I went to the Children and Families of Iowa Family Violence Shelter to watch Santa arrive and pass out presents. I took pictures that will be turned into framed photos for the moms, but because everything must be 100% confidential for privacy and safety, I can't share any of the pictures with you.

It cheered me up to be there, but it made Paul sad to know that those sweet little faces had to run for their lives, and that that's where they'll be having Christmas — but he was also inspired by the moms for having the courage to escape and get their children to a safe place.

Tomorrow (which I see is now today) we're going to the office to tag and pack pajamas that the shelter residents will get on Christmas. We picked up 150 pairs yesterday that the swimming team moms at the Ankeny YMCA collected for us. Thank you Ankeny Y, swimming moms and Melissa!!!!

BTW: The Turner Center Jazz Orchestra holiday concert that was this past Thursday, for which Paul played lead trombone and directed the 18-piece band, was a big hit!!!! 

More pictures and blah blah blahs from me later — and special thanks to Karl Schilling for taking pictures. He does a way better job with my camera than I do!

Janey Hooper singing and our friends (center table, left to right) Terry and Kathy Lebo and Lynn and Chuck Kuba. Paul and I did all the decorating including stringing the lights!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


"I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.” — Gabby Giffords on the Senate’s failure to pass the gun background check bill

I WAS TALKING to Paul about having inadvertently started a debate on Facebook about whether the Newton massacre could have been prevented by a background check law. Smart man that he is, he pointed out that a) there's no way to know the answer to that and b) whether or not any particular past single event could have been prevented doesn't mean that events in the future can't be prevented.

The discussion got me to wondering whether debating the unknowns surrounding a mass killing diverts our attention from the cumulative number of people killed by guns in individual incidents.

It's always tragic when someone is shot to death no matter the circumstances, but particularly so when those dying are children. When it's a child's death, we may be so saddened by and focused on the individual tragedy that our vision narrows, and we might not see the commonalities between that particular child's death and one in Missouri or South Carolina or California and so on and so on.

Evidence creates patterns we need to acknowledge and face. For example the New England Journal of Medicine reported that people who have guns in their home are 43 times more likely to kill a family member, friend or acquaintance and 22 times more likely to kill themselves — than kill an intruder.

Below is a report written last week by Mark Follman for Mother Jones magazine analyzing the deaths of 194 children shot and killed in the year since Newtown.

At Least 194 Children Have Been Shot to Death Since Newtown

By Mark Follman — Tue Dec. 10, 2013 3:00 AM GMT

The NRA says arming more adults will protect kids—but most are killed at home, our investigation shows, often with unsecured guns.

You've heard this story before, the one that played out again the week of Thanksgiving—this time in Lakeland, Florida—where 2-year-old Taj Ayesh got his little hands on his father's loaded pistol, pulled the trigger, and crumpled to the ground. You may have heard about 9-year-old Daniel Wiley, who was playing outside his house in Harrisburg, Texas, when a 13-year-old mishandled an unsecured shotgun, blasting Wiley in the face. You may also have heard about 2-year-old Camryn Shultz of Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, whose embittered father put a bullet in her head before turning the gun on himself. Maybe you didn't hear about the case in which a child shot others and then committed suicide, but that also happened this year. Twice.

A year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mother Jones has analyzed the subsequent deaths of 194 children ages 12 and under who were reported in news accounts to have died in gun accidents, homicides, and suicides. They are spread across 43 states, from inner cities to tiny rural towns.

Following Sandy Hook, the National Rifle Association and its allies argued that arming more adults is the solution to protecting children, be it from deranged mass shooters or from home invaders.

But the data we collected stands as a stark rejoinder to that view:

▪ 127 of the children died from gunshots in their own homes, while dozens more died in the homes of friends, neighbors, and relatives.

▪ 72 of the young victims either pulled the trigger themselves or were shot dead by another kid.

▪ In those 72 cases, only 4 adults have been held criminally liable.

▪ At least 52 deaths involved a child handling a gun left unsecured.

Additional findings include:

▪ 60 children died at the hands of their own parents, 50 of them in homicides.

▪ The average age of the victims was 6 years old.

▪ More than two-thirds of the victims were boys, as were more than three-quarters of the kids who pulled the trigger.

▪ The problem was worst over the past year in the South, which saw at least 92 child gun deaths, followed by the Midwest (44), the West (38), and the East (20).

Our investigation drew on hundreds of local and national news reports. In some cases specific details remain unclear—often these tragedies are just a blip on the media's radar. As with previous reports in our ongoing investigation of gun violence, Mother Jones has published all the data we collected in downloadable spreadsheet form. (For an ongoing tally of reported gun deaths, see this Slate project.)

As I reported in May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over the last decade an average of about 200 children ages 12 and under died from guns every year. But those numbers don't capture the full scope of the problem, due to inconsistencies in how states report shootings, and because the gun lobby long ago helped kill off federal funding for gun violence research. Our media-based analysis of child gun deaths also understates the problem, as numerous such killings likely never appear in the news. New research by two Boston surgeons drawing on pediatric records suggests that the real toll is higher: They've found about 500 deaths of children and teens per year, and an additional 7,500 hospitalizations from gunshot wounds.

"It's almost a routine problem in pediatric practice," says Dr. Judith Palfrey, a former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics who holds positions at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital. Palfrey herself (who is not involved with the above study) lost a 12-year-old patient she was close with to gun violence, she told me.

No other affluent society has this problem to such an extreme. According to a recent study by the Children's Defense Fund, the gun death rate for children and teens in the US is four times greater than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, and 65 times greater than in Germany and Britain.

The pediatric community has been focused on elevating the issue. Public health researchers have found that 43 percent of homes with guns and kids contain at least one unlocked firearm. One study found that a third of 8- to 12-year-old boys who came across an unlocked handgun picked it up and pulled the trigger. On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a video emphasizing physicians' role in keeping children safe from gun violence. The academy also issued specific recommendations this fall, including making sure firearms have trigger locks and storing them unloaded and under lock and key.

State legislators around the country have sought to require such precautions for gun owners, but the gun lobby has fought them vigorously. The NRA and other groups downplay the dangers firearms pose to children—in part by citing deficient federal data.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, research has shown that when doctors consult with their patients about the risk of keeping firearms in a home, it leads to "significantly higher rates" of handgun removal or safe storage practices. Here, too, the NRA has done battle: It backed the so-called "Docs vs. Glocks" law passed in Florida in 2011, which forbid doctors from asking patients about firearms.

That law may have come with a price: Among the 194 child gun deaths we analyzed, 17 took place in Florida. Seven were accidents, including three involving unsecured weapons in homes. "The children were covered in blood," a shaken witness told a reporter after toddlers in a Lake City home played with a gun and fatally shot an 11-year-old boy in the neck.

Florida's tally was second only to that of Texas, which saw 19 children killed over the last year. By comparison, the other two of the four most populous states, California and New York, saw 11 and 3 deaths, respectively. Already known for strict gun regulations, California and New York both passed additional restrictions after Sandy Hook. Texas, meanwhile, enacted 10 new laws deregulating guns, including weakening safety training requirements for concealed-carry permit holders and blocking universities and local governments from restricting firearms. Florida tightened mental health controls this year—one of 15 states to do so—but has otherwise operated as a de facto laboratory for permissive gun laws, including its Stand Your Ground statute made famous by the Trayvon Martin case.

In scores of the cases we studied, the type of weapon involved was either unknown to law enforcement authorities or not specified in news reports. But at least 76 involved a handgun, while another 34 involved long guns. (Semi-automatic handguns are also the most common weapon used in mass shootings.)

Often when kids are killed in gun accidents, public outrage focuses on the parents. But legal repercussions are another matter: While charges may be pending in some of the 84 accidental cases, we found only 9 in which a parent or adult guardian has been held criminally liable. And in 72 cases in which a child or teen pulled the trigger, only four adults have been convicted.

According to the nonpartisan Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which tracks state regulations closely, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have strong laws imposing criminal liability for negligent storage of guns with respect to children. (Florida, Texas, and California are among the 14.)

What happened a year ago in Newtown is still in some ways hard to fathom. The nation mourns again for the victims and families. But as Palfrey also puts it, "Newtown concentrated the horror in one place." Whether by malice or tragic mistake, the day-to-day toll of children dying from guns goes on.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The year since

“It always seems impossible until it's done.” ― Nelson Mandela

SATURDAY, December 14 marked the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. In the months that followed, I wrote often about the need for all of us to work as hard as we can to reduce gun violence in our country. 

Eventually I got discouraged and gave up, but my Facebook friends have been reminding me that we can't do that. 

Below is a December 14, 2013 report from Salon with relevant statistics about what has transpired in the year since Newtown.

Photo credit: Reuters/Latin Times

Number of people killed by guns, including homicide, suicide and accidental death since Newton (that have been reported by the media): 11,437

Estimated real number of people killed by guns, including homicide, suicide and accidental death since Newton (using most recent CDC estimates for yearly data): 33,173

Total gun deaths in 2010 (the latest year for which there are CDC records): 31,672
 number of those who were children or teens: 2,694

Number of school shootings since Newtown: 26

The Guns

Number of guns in the US: 310,000,000

Number of guns per person: About one gun for every American

Countries with more guns per person: None

Runner up: Yemen, with about 11 guns for every 20 Yemenis

Percentage of Americans with a gun in their home: 42

State with the highest rate of gun ownership: Wyoming, 61 percent

State with the lowest rate of gun ownership: New Jersey, 10 percent

Number of licensed firearms dealers in the US: 134,997

Number of grocery stores in the US: 37,053

The Money

Total spent by the NRA (2011): $231,071,589

Total spent by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the largest gun control organization (2011): $2,844,489

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I'm an introvert

“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it.” — John Green, American writer

I'VE BEEN saying for years that I'm shy, but what I actually am is introverted. There's a difference. If you want to check out whether you're introverted or not, you can take the quiz attached to this link to a previous post to find out.

In the meantime, for those of you who already know you're an introvert, here's a list of 18 things that introverts, me included, appreciate.

1. A long stretch of weekend time with no official plans.


2. When parties are canceled.

You would have been gracious and cordial if 
you'd gone, but you're SO much happier staying home.

3. Being at home with just you and your pet.

 Because furry friends never interrupt 
you or finish your sentences.

4. Staying in your jim jams all day long.

For everything else, there's MasterCard.

5. The relief you feel when you don’t have any plans after work.


6. Reading a book from start to finish in a day.

Because losing yourself in a book makes your tail wag.

7. Going to the beach by yourself.

Walking where the only footprints in the sand 
are yours, allows you to breath.

8. Ignoring your phone.

Turning the ringer off works too, and it's cheaper.

9. Your idea of kicking up your heals is NetFlix night at home.

Binge-watching a whole season over 
a weekend makes you purr.

10. When your work or school project isn’t a group one.

Ah ha ha ha hahahahahahah!

11. Having the hobbies of a senior citizen.

Narrowing your focus quiets your inner dialogue.

12. Hanging out with one person you feel safe with.

Having a group of people around is stressful.

13. Shopping alone.

Trailing around with others is work, not fun, and you're 
much more likely to be talked into buying something you don't even like that much.

14. Driving solo for long periods of time.

Because you can get so much thinking done and blast 
whatever kind of music you want.

15. Recharging after a long stretch of socializing.

Being around people is exhausting.

16. Actively avoiding icebreaker games, because they’re the worst.

You want me to tell you what?????

17. Being patient with your thoughts.

It takes time for you  
to process what you think and feel.

18. Writing what you want to say.

Because it's easier than trying to talk.