Monthly Archives: January 2013

Does God Care About the Super Bowl?

About 26% of Americans believe God plays a role in who wins sporting events, like the upcoming Super Bowl. Politically, this belief is split pretty evenly between Republicans (25%), Democrats (28%), and Independents (26%). I don’t know if this knowledge adds value to our lives.

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Randy Moss’s Delusional (but Effective) PR

Otis Taylor of the 1970s Chiefs.

Otis Taylor of the 1970s Chiefs.

Amazing how an underachiever like Randy Moss can make a totally ridiculous statement–that he’s the greatest wide receiver of all time–and announcers on ESPN TV and radio spend multiple hours discussing a statement everyone knows is false. (Randy: kudos for getting people to talk about you.)

Another thing: Mike&Mike this morning were comparing Moss to who they thought were the greatest wide receivers of all time–Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter. Astonishingly, the wide receiver position actually existed before the 1990s.

Mike Greenberg said the NFL had never seen speed like Randy Moss at the wide receiver position. Uh–Olympian Bob Hayes? World-class sprinter Cliff Branch? Oh yeah, that was before 1990.

I realize they didn’t throw the ball as much in earlier years, so wide receivers didn’t rack up the stats like today’s receivers. But there are a bunch of guys who might have had amazing stats if they had played with Montana and Young: Swann, Stallworth, Hayes, Biletnikoff, Largent, Berry, Lofton, Joiner, Maynard, Pearson, Alworth, Warfield, and one of my personal favorites who never makes “best” lists, Otis Taylor of the Chiefs (anybody remember him? Len Dawson to Tayor–great combo.).

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About the Names on that Wall

Viet Nam Memorial Wall

In October, Pam and I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. It was my third visit, Pam’s second. It’s easily my favorite of the war memorials. David Atherton recently posted some interesting facts about the wall. I thought others might be interested.

  • There are now 58,267 names on the wall. They are arranged according to the date on which they were killed, and alphabetized within that date.
  • The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, from Massachusetts. He was killed June 8, 1956. His son is listed, too–Sept. 7, 1965.
  • There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
  • Over half, 33,103, were age 18. There were 12 soldiers age 17, and 5 age 16. One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock, was 15 years old.
  • 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.
  • 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.
  • 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.
  • 54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.
  • 8 women are on the Wall.
  • Of the 244 soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, 153 are on the Wall.
  • West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation, losing 711.
  • All 9 graduates of Morenci High, in an Arizona mining town, enlisted in the Marines, starting in 1966. Only 3 returned home.
  • The most casualty deaths for a single day was January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.
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Share If You Agree

facebook-shareLately on Facebook, I’ve been asked to “Share” in these situations:

  • I support cancer research.
  • I see the hidden horse in a picture.
  • I think some children need to learn the meaning of respect.
  • I support a pastor imprisoned in Iran.
  • I believe water is good for you.
  • I love my mom.
  • I believe in the power of prayer.
  • I have some amazing friends who mean the world to me.
  • I think it should be unconstitutional to use tax money to help other countries.
  • I support the troops.

I didn’t share in any of those situations, which obviously means I’m a non-praying, unpatriotic, friendless liberal who opposes cancer research, doesn’t care about persecuted Christians, isn’t health conscious, disrespects authority, hates horses, and has mommy issues. And, I obviously don’t like to share.

Sorry, but I don’t do the “share” thing on Facebook. At least, not if somebody asks me to share, or tries to make me feel guilty if I don’t share (“Share if you love Jesus”). Tell me to do something, and I won’t. Not on Facebook, anyway.

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Cats That Find Their Way Home

Holly the cat with her owners.

Holly the cat with her owners.

Stories like this are not uncommon, but they always amaze me.

Holly, a four-year-old indoor house cat, got lost 200 miles from home. The owners, Jacob and Bonnie Richter, were attending an RV rally in Daytona, and one night Holly bolted out the door. They searched for several days in van, and finally returned to their home in West Palm Beach.

Two months later, Holly turned up at a home one mile from the Richters’ house. A family found Holly in their backyard, “barely standing” and struggling to meow. The pads on her feet were bleeding, her claws worn; she was dehydrated, and lost nearly half her weight, falling from 13.5 pounds to 7 pounds. This family fed her for a week, took her to a vet…and that’s when the embedded microchip was discovered, with information on Holly’s real owners.

I’ve heard many such stories involving dogs returning to a far-off home. Why? Perhaps because dogs are more often taken on family trips, and thus, they more frequently get lost. But it happens with cats, too. Here are some other stories. Perhaps some of them didn’t happen, or didn’t happen exactly this way–I’m not gonna try to verify these stories. But there are too many to discount.

  • In Boulder, Col., a man moved fives miles across town. His indoor cat fled and showed up, 10 days later, at the previous house.
  • In Russia, a cat was left with relatives, but traveled 325 miles over a year’s time back to the owner’s apartment building in Moscow–hungry, dirty, pregnant, and missing the tip of its tail.
  • A year after a family moved from Utah to Washington, their cat showed up back at their home in Utah.
  • In Australia, an indoor Persian cat left with relatives traveled 1000 miles to get home.
  • In England, a Siamese cat hopped a train and got off at the right place, walking another couple miles to get home.
  • In 2002, a cat disappeared while vacationing with his owners in Wisconsin, but showed up at their home in Minnesota, 350 miles away, 140 days later.
  • In 1973, a couple gave their cat to a friend when they moved from Georgia to South Carolina. The cat traveled 200 miles to show up at the South Carolina home, which the cat had never before seen.
  • In Louisiana, a 17-year-old cat traveled for three weeks and 300 miles–including crossing the Mississippi and Red rivers–to be reunited with his owners.
  • In 1985, in Dayton, Ohio, a cat named Muddy Water White jumped out of a van driven by his owner. Three years later, the cat showed up at his home in Pennsylvania, 450 miles away. “He came and flopped down like he was home,” said the owner. She fed him for three days before realizing it was her lost cat.
  • In France, a family lost their pet cat, who showed up 8 months later at their summer home on the French Riviera, 480 miles away.
  • In 1949, a ginger tomcat named Rusty traveled from Boston to Chicago–950 miles–in just 83 days to return home.
  • A family in Australia lost their cat while traveling. The cat showed up 9 months later at their home in Melbourne, 1472 miles away.
  • In 1981, a Turkish worker in Germany returned for a visit to Turkey, but his cat, Minosch, disappeared at the Turkish border. Two months later, Minosch was found scratching at the family’s door on the island of Sylt in northern Germany–1485 miles away.
  • When a family moved from California to Oklahoma, they left their cat with a neighbor. Fourteen months later, Sugar, a two-year-old Persian, showed up on their doorstep in Oklahoma, 1500 miles away, having averaged 100 miles a month to a place Sugar had never seen.

To me, the most amazing story involves an English Terrier, whose owner left England to fight in France during World War 1. Somehow the dog crossed the English channel and showed up in his owner’s foxhole on the battlefield. Or so the story goes. Believe It, Or Not.

How would our cats, Jordie and Molly, do? When Jordie is outside, he just spaces out; he starts walking in a direction, and keeps going. I highly doubt he could find his way home. But Molly–yeah, I think Molly could. But she’s so scrawny, and so skittish and afraid of everything, I wonder how well she could survive in the wild. She’s an indoor cat for a reason.

How do pets do this? Here are some explanations.

  • Some animals have a “mapping” ability, remembering landmarks, scents, sounds, etc. In the wild, some animals hunt over a vast territory, but still need to find their way back home.
  • Birds are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field. It is suggested that cats are, too, though to a lesser extent.
  • Many animals have keener hearing than humans, taking in ambient and other sounds and remembering them as a way to orient themselves. Likewise with smells.
  • Perhaps animals take in the stars as a directional guide.
  • And, of course, there are theories about psychic connections between pets and owners.
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The Guns Used at Newtown, and Lame Conspiracies

bushmaster

Throughout the internet, including numerous posts on Facebook, you’ll find conspiracy theorists claiming that a Bushmaster was never used in the Newtown shootings. That Adam Lanza went into the school with four handguns, and the Bushmaster AR-15 was left in the car. All of which is bunk, perpetuated to defend the AR-15.

They often post an article which begins, “So they finally had to come out and admit it, now that the Coroner has released some info along with police.” And with it is a link to an NBC video. That video report, though, aired on December 15, the day after the shootings. It apparently aired before the police press conference that morning, when reporters were scrambling to learn anything and got a whole lot of things wrong. But the conspiracy theorists, charging a liberal media coverup (while, ironically, simultaneously citing an NBC news report), take this single video as the Gospel Final Word on Newtown.

It is SO intellectually dishonest. The only conspiracy is from the gun crowd wanting to put out disinformation in order to defend assault weapons.

As for the people who lap up these tales about the supposedly falsely-accused AR-15 rifle: have they considered the difficulty of shooting accurately with a 9mm or 10mm pistol, compared to a rifle? If the principal and school counselor had rushed Lanza when he was only brandishing a pistol, they may have had a chance. But not when he was armed with a Bushmaster. It would certainly not have been easy to shoot so many small targets–and to kill every one of them, often with multiple hits. But a Bushmaster could–and did–do that.

The State Police were prompted to issue this restatement about the weapons used on January 18. It drips with frustration about the false information going around, and refers to previous press conferences when they “clearly identified” the weapons used.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2013

** UPDATE **

STATE POLICE IDENTIFY WEAPONS USED IN SANDY HOOK INVESTIGATION;

INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

In previous press conferences, the Connecticut State Police clearly identified all of the weapons seized from the crime scene at Sandy Hook Elementary School. To eliminate any confusion or misinformation, we will again describe and identify the weapons seized at the school crime scene.

Seized inside the school:

#1. Bushmaster .223 caliber– model XM15-E2S rifle with high capacity 30 round clips

#2. Glock 10 mm handgun

#3. Sig-Sauer P226 9mm handgun

Seized from suspect’s car in parking lot:

#4. Izhmash Canta-12 12 gauge Shotgun (seized from car in parking lot)

This case remains under investigation.

I’m against the assault weapons ban. But I’m even more against people believing or perpetuating lies about what happened to 26 innocent victims at Sandy Hook.

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In My Wisdom….

I have some chicken strips marinading at home in lemon-pepper sauce. My well-thought-out plan is to grill them tonight…outside, in -20 degree temperatures. Sometimes, I wonder how I ever graduated from 5th grade.

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Sick, or Not?

Because it’s so doggone cold outside–something like -19 with windchill–I wondered if I should call in sick. Because you’ve gotta be sick (in the head) to go out when it’s this cold. But alas, a conundrum. If I went to work, it was proof that I was sick. But if I stayed home, it was proof that I wasn’t sick. So I needed some new rationale.

Now that I’m at work, I could declare myself sick, and have them send me home. But I don’t think any of this will work.

So…where’s that to-do list?

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Shooting Shotguns in the Cold

Me, shivering, with the target I used for shooting 12 gauge shotgun slugs at 50 yards. Those are really big holes. Three out of five on the target--I'm happy with that.

Me, shivering, with the target I used for shooting 12 gauge shotgun slugs at 50 yards. Those are really big holes. Three out of five on the target–I’m happy with that.

Pam and I went out to Roush Shooting Range yesterday afternoon after church (Sunday, Jan. 20) with Paul and Sarah Neher, friends from church. It was bitterly cold. When Pam and I arrived, nobody else was there, and the office door was locked. I tracked down the rangemaster in a separate building, where he was working on something (I think target stands).

“Is the range open today?” I asked.

“If you’re crazy enough to shoot,” he replied.

We were crazy enough. “You’re really hardcore,” he told us.

Pam and I practiced with our handguns for a while, and then Paul and Sarah arrived. Paul brought two shotguns–12 gauge, and 20 gauge. We went out to the trap-shooting area, where Paul introduced us to trap shooting. Neither of us had ever fired a shotgun before. And we had certainly never tried to shoot a plastic plate flying through the air.

So Paul taught us how to load and prepare his 12 gauge, how to stand, how to step on a foot pedal to launch the trap. And we got started.

I promptly wasted several traps (if that’s what they are called) by failing to remove my foot from the pedal. One would fly out, I would fire, and then another one would suddenly launch unexpectedly. I would fire again…but nothing would happen, because I hadn’t ejected the previous shell. Another time I launched a trap without having ejected the shell, treating the gun like a a semi-auto.

But I got the hang of it. We would each take three shots, then hand the gun off to the next person. About 15 shots apiece. I think I hit one out of three every round except once, and one time I got two out of three.

After that, we moved to the regular range, where Paul let me shoot his 12 gauge with slugs. (By then, a couple other crazy person had come to brave the cold). Ummm, there’s just a little bit of a kick to a shotgun slug, I discovered. I took five shots at 50 yards, using the gun’s built-in sites (no scope). I managed to put three on the target, which both surprised and pleased me. And they made some mighty big holes.

Pam decided she didn’t care to try shooting slugs. Probably for the best.

Anyway, it was great fun. Thank you, Paul Neher, for the new experience.

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My First Letter to My Congressman

Well, I wrote to my Congressman. The first time I’ve ever done that. He’s a Republican in a very Republican district, though I don’t know much about him. Does writing to your Congressman make a difference? I don’t know. But I did it. And here’s my letter, which I submitted through his website.

This is my first letter, ever, to a Congressman.

My wife and I enjoy shooting. We own guns, and we both have concealed carry permits.

That said, I hope you’ll be open to the President’s proposals. I read through all of them and found very little that I would object to. There is a lot of hysteria about a war on the Second Amendment, and the government taking away guns, and the need to fight a tyrannical US government, but you and I know that this is an over-reaction. Too much of what is being said by gun rights advocates lacks intellectual integrity, and that angers me.

The President’s proposals dealt minimally with new gun restrictions, and placed much emphasis on issues of information sharing, school preparedness, and mental illness. These make good sense, and I would encourage you to support them. It would be a shame to see his proposals killed purely for partisan reasons, or to satisfy the gun lobby.

I do not support renewing the Assault Weapons Ban; it is an artificial category of weapons. However, I’m confident the Republic can survive its renewal. We, after all, seem to have weathered the previous 10 years of the ban without seeing the American way of life crumble before our eyes.

I am much more open to a limit on magazine capacity. While I do have some high-capacity magazines, and would like more, I can live without them.

The prevalence and accessibility of guns in American society means that, inevitably, massacres like Sandy Hook and Aurora will happen again. More innocent children WILL be slaughtered. It is an inevitable side effect of a society which reveres gun ownership. But there are common sense regulations we can impose which could cut down on the number of children and other innocents who are killed. The President outlined many good steps to take. I encourage you to give them the consideration they deserve.

Thank you.

Steve Dennie

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