Breed Bans

“End Breed Bans” – a bumper sticker I saw today with a stylized puppy logo.

There are certain breeds of dogs that have been historically engineered (bred) for aggression and winning-in-a-fight. They’re quick to anger, their jaws lock on when they bite, requiring some real effort to separate them. Kids have been savaged by these dog breeds. Individually, I’m sure every one of these dogs is a fine upstanding puppy, and I certainly have met a few real sweeties.

But I don’t think you can be for breed bans and against gun bans (or vice-versa).

There are certain types of guns that are engineered for winning-in-a-fight. Just like dogs.

It’s not the gun or the dog that’s the problem. It’s the owner. You take certain steps when you have a dangerous thing in the house, whether it’s a dog (solid training, training for people around the dog) or a gun (gun safe, ammo safe, ammo safe not in the gun safe, training for people around the guns, whatever other training you get for guns because I’m not trained for them). You take these steps because you acknowledge that what you have is dangerous and its scope for danger is much higher than other objects in its class (the dog is not necessarily more likely to bite when it gets angry but the bite could do more damage, or maybe it is more likely to bite because this breed is quick to anger. the gun is not more likely to go off, but uses bigger bullets that can really rip up a body). A responsible human recognizes extra dangers and takes steps to mitigate them.

The problem is that we’re not all responsible owners. And I can’t trust each one of you to be a responsible owner, whether of an especially dangerous gun type or of a fight winning dog breed.

I don’t think this is a reductio ad absurdum argument. Both things are subsets of a bigger group, and within that group, each class I’ve listed is engineered to be more dangerous than other items in that group. Each dangerous class requires special caution. I don’t think this is a strawman argument. I think there are people out there who are against puppy-bans and are pro gun-bans.

I’m just saying you should be consistent.

Personally, I’m against breed bans. But I’m more likely to worry if Miss K is over at a friends house and they have a (fighting dog breed) as opposed to a (non fighting dog breed) because I don’t trust the owners. I also think you should have whatever gun makes you happy, as long as you’re being safe with it. However, I’m not arguing for or against dogs or guns. I’m just saying that you should be consistent. Oh, also realistic. I don’t think we’re going to get the guns back into Pandora’s box.


I read today that Barnes and Noble is closing stores after a “terrible” Christmas season – store sales have declined almost 11% and NOOK sales have dropped 12.6%. This article partially blames Barnes and Noble itself, but specifically calls out “Showrooming” where people look at a book in the bookstore and then buy it at Amazon.

I’m not very conflicted about Amazon. I like it. I know they have shady employment practices, and they’re aggressively competitive with other bookstores, even other kinds of stores. I really like their Prime service, which enables me to order (cheap) gifts for random people and have them delivered for free. I usually like using their affiliate links to earn a few dollars here and there. (Last year I didn’t even clear $200, by the way, so don’t get the wrong idea). But their main competition is probably bookstores.

I love bookstores. Once upon a time I wanted to own a bookstore. In fact, if I ever won the lottery and decided to settle down somewhere (unlikely on both counts), I’d probably open a bookstore/internet cafe someplace warm near the water. Or even on the Oregon Coast. I think neighborhood bookstores are as much an integral part of a healthy city as a thriving nightlife. Nena, over at St Johns Books, has readings, book clubs, and parties, she supports the schools, she gives discounts to educators, she orders books for people. Powell’s has readings, book clubs, story times, all sorts of stuff.

I think, even though people enjoy Amazon, they should support their local bookstores. I don’t believe it’s an either-or situation, I think you can do both. But that requires a commitment to go to your bookstore and browse.

(I’m also a huge fan of public-domain books, like ones you find at Project Gutenberg)

Dark Industry

Dark Industry, thanks to SoulRider.222 @ Flickr
The last few months have been very rough. I’ve been fighting the worst case of depression I’ve had in a number of years. It’s tempting to keep a journal of my outlook; hard to call it a “mood” when I just want to be left alone to sit and stare at a wall. But keeping a journal would get depressing in and of itself. Part of the problem is the weight of the current thing, so when I look back and see “day 23, still down” it might be difficult to find a brighter spot in the day.

It’s starting to cost me dearly though. How do I tell people “I didn’t do your stuff because I was too busy being depressed?” One way to climb out of the hole is to set small goals and then meet them. A small goal like “yup, I’ll do that for your website” — and I don’t meet it. And the weight of that failure gets added to world on my back.

Today feels about the best it has though, in really, the last three months. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine yesterday or what, but right now I’m feeling like I can accomplish something. So let’s start by putting some work down and getting it done. It would really help if I could go running again too, and get back on that habit.

Sucky Running

It’s funny to consider my run today of about 4 miles a failure.

On the one hand, I’ve been running for over a year- actually almost a year and a half now. I’m still slow and can’t run for longer than 40 minutes without stopping. By “slow” I mean, I run about 11:30-12:00 miles. Lately it’s been cold and dark and really hard to get out and do it. So today when I woke up I put on my tights (for the first time this season) and shorts and played Batman with Miss K for a little bit before finally going out for our run. First one this week. We (the dog and I) made it about 20 minutes before stopping for a break, and then about ten minutes, then five, then three, and finally I couldn’t see myself running any more and headed home. A far cry from the 7 miles I did a few weeks ago.

When I run, I almost always do intervals. Just because I can’t run that far.

However – it’s funny because I’m running. I mean, I’m really running it out. I’m not quite as active as I was in high school, when I biked everywhere and was on swim team. But since high school, this is probably the most active I’ve been. I live a pretty sedentary life. So, on that road, it’s a definite win. I was out there again today.

Christmas Cards

I read with glee this reddit post: ..just received this letter…. What a great idea! I thought. And I started thinking about all the previous employers and friends I could randomly send unmarked cards to, with just that message on the inside. I was getting pretty dang excited about it. I could do him, and him, and definitly him…

But then I thought … why? Why would I do that? It would remind me of those times. And I’m sure the situation was completely the same on the other side- they must have thought I was an asshole too. What if, instead of that, I just sent a card, wished them a happy solstice / new year, and instead of leaving it anonymous, signed it, and made sure to put in a personal note so they knew it wasn’t a fluke. What would the result of that be?

It would be madness. Madness I say. And yet. How would it feel to no longer be carrying around the label of “asshole” for those guys? What an interesting experiment.

Naito Gas

I drive to work down Naito. It’s quick to get downtown – down highway 30, over to Naito, into downtown along the river. Driving this morning, someone flashed his lights at me a few times Puzzled, I checked my lights, then my speed. Nothing out of the ordinary. No flashing lights from police ahead. So when I saw something in the road, I was prepared. It was a propane tank! I figured it had dropped off a truck or something. I don’t like big things on the road, especially after the VW died, so I checked for traffic, put on my hazards and got out of the car. I pulled it off the road, it was light, it was probably empty.

A guy yelled down at me from the roof above me to thank me, apparently he had dropped it from the roof (three or so stories, it’s a warehouse) and was worried that someone would run into it. He was pretty relieved that it was moved. And then his assistant came running around the corner to take over.

It didn’t occur to me until I got back into the car … it didn’t have to have been empty, that could have been scary. Natural gas all over the highway? Or the gas shooting out and decompressing and dropping the temperature. Or just a fire or explosion? Now that I’m safely at work, I’m free to worry. Although I would probably have noticed “explosive decompression” (plumes of condensation around escaping gas)

Chimney Park Dog Park

Took Mr Akamaru to the dog park tonight. It was our first time at the off-leash park, and this one’s practically within walking distance. He was running around the house driving everyone crazy. Sniffing the cats, barking at the door, just being underfoot and crazy. I was going to take him for a walk but decided to take him to the park instead.

I’m glad I did. He started off kind of reserved, and then stopped when he saw a loose dog. (Good Boy!). Then he checked with me and I told him to “go play.” Not that he’s a good listener or anything, but he took off like a shot. He spent the next forty five minutes or so running at top speed with a pack of other dogs that tolerated his craziness. It was terrific.

I hear that Chimney park’s slated for some upgrades! That’s exciting. We’ll be returning soon!

VW is Toast

Ms B ran over what she describes as an exhaust pipe along I-5 and cracked the transmission. State Farm has totaled the vehicle.

First, replacing the transmission is expensive! Luckily, since she hit the pipe, it’s covered under insurance. We took the car to Steve’s Imports to have the transmission repaired or replaced. They were awesome. We borrowed a loaner car which was not a beater; it was a nice 2006 Toyota. When we found out that State Farm was not going to repair the car, we borrowed their car for an extra two days. This was a big help, and I took them cookies because it was so awesome.

Second, I went back to First Tech credit union and asked for a new loan, and we went car shopping. We’re getting GAP insurance through First Tech this time. With the GAP insurance from Wentworth, I have to submit a big stack of paperwork; police report / insurance report / adjuster’s report / payment history / outstanding balance / copy of check from State Farm. It’s offensive. GAP insurance is for the “gap” between what we owe and what State Farm is giving us. None of the rest of that is actually germane to the discussion. At any rate, I have to submit all that paperwork. With the GAP insurance from First Tech, they’ll take care of that for us.

We found a couple of nice cars at Dick Hannah in Vancouver. One was sold before we got there, and we took a Honda for a test drive. It was spotless, and had a warranty. In fact, all of their cars had some kind of warranty; the newer used cars have a 3 month warranty. The salesman thought I was weird for making sure the Honda had windshield wiper fluid. And a jack, and a spare tire. You know why I checked that? Because the VW from Wentworth did not have those items. But Dick Hannah really stood by their cars. Part of that is the state-mandated testing, and part of that is because they want us to come back.

It’s been a real hassle replacing the VolksWagen. But I think we’re winding up with a better car, and there have been a lot of helps with the stress of the situation.

Wedding Presents

I have a few friends and a family member getting married this summer. In all three cases, they’ve been living together or there’s two of them combining their houses and they have a lot of stuff.

When Ms B and I got married, we registered at Meier and Frank and they (M&F) gave us a little scanner to walk around and scan stuff for our registry. We “had” to have plates, bowls, all that stuff. But it didn’t really mean a lot to us as we went through the process. It was just this “thing” we did. What did mean a lot to us was having one person donate a platter of sandwiches, another person paying for the flowers- another person paid for the wedding dress. We felt that people were helping us get together without plunking down a bunch of cash.

So this summer, I look at this stack of invitations and I have to wonder; does this person really want a frying pan? Where did these people get registered and what do they really want? And I don’t see these other people often enough to know what to buy them. What if I just sent them cash – and did it before the wedding, so they could use it for wedding expenses.

Is that tacky? I vaguely remember someone telling me that giving cash is tacky. But as I age and as I compare my experiences with “tacky” against what other younger people are doing, I have to ask – do I really care if it’s low-class to hand out cash? Maybe it’s “tacky” to go to a reception without a present (which is the way I presented it to a friend: do you want this cash now, or a wedding present at your reception?)

I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a lot of extra cash lying around. I want people to have a great wedding day. If that means that I help pay for some flowers, then that means a lot more to me than buying them a frying pan.

I wish all my marrying friends to find the happiness that I’ve found with Ms B. What’s the best way for me to value their wedding day?