On December 14th, 2012 my grandchildren spent the day at their elementary school and came home safely. But sadly 20 of our children didn’t make it home that day. Horrifically murdered by a lunatic we lost 20 of society’s most precious assets. Make no mistake those children that were lost belonged to me, to you, and to all of humanity. With that loss now comes the time for us as a society to take a stand against violence.1 Ribbon copy

A lot of the discussion in the media is about gun control. While gun control is one very important part of taking a stand against violence it is not the entire solution. To effectively take a stand against violence we must come together and face the underlying culture of violence that pervades our society. From the television shows that our children are exposed to, the movies that they watch, and the video games that they play, and more importantly the everyday behavior of the adults in their lives our children are exposed to violence on an alarming scale. If you can’t hear that alarm then you need to wake up.

What can we do? Where do we start?

We can start with the person in the mirror. As you examine your daily life ask yourself if you are routinely watching those television show that show graphic violence. If you are, maybe it is time to turn those shows off. Once you do, you will not only be taking a step to end violence, you will also be taking a step towards a calmer, more caring self. It is especially important to monitor the shows on your television if you as an adult have the television on and it is tuned to such shows when there are children in the room. Far too often parents use the television as an electronic baby sitter with little care exercised about what is on that television. Children, especially young children are emotional sponges who soak up the emotions around them. Let’s not fill those sponges with undertones of violence. Turn that damn television off and read a book with your children.

We need to be more selective about the movies we take our children to see and the movies we purchase or rent to watch at home. Even Disney movies are filled with violence. Most parents slough off the violence in children’s movies saying it is only cartoon violence. A young child’s psyche isn’t developed enough to understand that the cartoon violence they are watching isn’t real. I recently took my grandchildren to see Disney’s Wreck It Ralph. Many of the scenes in it were so intense that my seven year-old grandson covered his eyes, clenched his arms in front of him because that cartoon violence scared him. Don’t buy into the theory that if it is from Disney that it must be appropriate for young children.

To me video games are a large part why our children are becoming desensitized to violence. Unfortunately many adults not only let small children play violent video games, the play them with them. Some of the video games that are sold in America are so graphic that I don’t think that anyone, young or old should be playing them. Recently I was at a Christmas party were Santa Claus made a visit. Before Santa’s arrival the parents of the children present snuck presents into Santa’s bag for the kids. One by one the kids sat on Santa’s lap and opened the present that they thought was from Santa but was really from the child’s parents. One eight year old boy received a video game entitled Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The game was rated 17+, which means that it not only wasn’t intended for young children but that it was illegal for anyone under the age of 17 to even purchase it. The rating label listed the following items which the game contained: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs. Are these the type of games that we should let an eight year-old child watch? Far too many parents are purchasing those violent video games for their children. And what is worse; they are playing them with their children. When parents spend time playing with their children it has a huge impact on them. What little child isn’t going to think that all that violence, gore, and mayhem is accepted behavior when they are experiencing it by playing a video game with dad!IMGP2163

The point is, we have a culture of violence that is threatens the very fabric of our society. If we as a society don’t decide that a change is needed it will only get worse. How many more children have to die before we say that it must stop?

While gun control is getting the lion’s share of the media attention there are many other facets of violence in our society that need our attention. Besides those already mentioned, we need to address the mental health problems in today’s America. For several generations now funding for mental health care has been slashed. As a result far too many people are on the street that should be institutionalized. Had the shooter at Sandy Creek received the care he needed maybe those children would not have died.

I feel that one very important thing we must do is to combat the disproportionate influence of the National Rifle Association and others such as the radical members of the Tea Party. Their pressures on our elected officials have given them much more power than they deserve. We need to stand up to those who would keep us from being heard in the debate concerning the future of our children. If we must, we should borrow a page out of the NRA’s playbook and let our elected officials know that if they succumb to the pressure of the NRA and the Tea Party that then they will face a greater pressure from those of us who truly care about the future of our country.

The debate concerning violence in America is currently a hot topic. If you truly care about our children please keep that debate going. For the sake of our children don’t let the passage of time silence that debate.

Eating My Mistakes


The following post was first posted by me at .


A few years ago my wife had some serious health problems and I took over the household duties, which included doing the cooking. Other than desecrating a hamburger once in awhile I pretty much let my wife handle the cooking for the previous forty years of our married life. Learning to cook has been one of my life’s most daunting learning experiences.

The first thing I learned about cooking is that you are pretty much committed to eating your mistakes. This means munching on burned meat, mushy overcooked veggies, and the remnants of that omelet that you tried to flip like the chef on television. And therein is one of the main problems of learning how to cook. Those know-it-all chef’s on television don’t live in the real word. Alton Brown has no idea what it is to try to cook on a limited budget funded by a small retirement income. Rachel Ray would quickly loose her plasticized smile trying to cook on a thirty year old Kenmore range that has the temperamental controls of a woman in the middle of menopause. The only “Bams” Emeril would hear are me slamming a pan into the kitchen sink when I forgot a main ingredient in a recipe and the result was chicken cacciatore that tasted like the chicken got run over by a semi as it crossed the road.

This Sunday’s dinner is what started this discourse. I made pan-seared sirloin steaks, duchess potatoes, and curried peas. The steaks and the store bought rolls were the only edible items of the dinner. The duchess potatoes were the result of watching a cooking show during the afternoon on PBS. Another of my learning experiences has been to take all these TV cooks’ advice with a grain of – nay a hearty pinch of salt. The nice lady with the perpetual smile told me that my russet potatoes would be cooked to a delicately tender state after simmering for only twenty minutes. It took my Sear’s range a full thirty minutes just to bring the water to a simmer. Forty-five minutes later the potatoes were finally tender enough to be put through their paces in my potato ricer. Trying to work quickly and not get scalded too badly by the hot potatoes I managed to pipe them onto a cooking sheet and into the oven at somewhere near 400 degrees. I put the steaks into a hot skillet and went to work on the curried peas. Following the recipe I dutifully made a roux that resembled something a diarrheic dog might leave on my sidewalk. Adding peas, beef broth, and powdered curry let me believe I was on my way to a meal worth bragging about. I later learned a good deal about curry powder and that is; a little curry powder goes a long, long way.

Finally, almost three hours after starting the meal was ready and I called my wife to the table. If the state department ever needs a skilled diplomat I want to recommend my wife. She sweetly said that the meal was very good as she crunched tough overcooked duchess potatoes; a result of being extruded too thinly through a pastry pipe. She even had a second helping of the eye-watering curried peas.

In return I did the dishes. That brings me to today’s final learning experience about cooking. Cooking for two is difficult enough with the normal problems of shopping for two. But it is exacerbated by the mess you make. Cooking for two still makes a mountain of dishes to wash and that can be a disheartening experience after a dinner gone wrong.

Next Sunday – Pizza!