Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Change Must Happen

As I’m sure you’re aware, there was another mass shooting on Tuesday. This time it was at a Texas elementary school. Yes, thoughts and prayers are needed for the families and friends of the victims and the entire Uvalde community. I can't imagine what the parents of kids that were killed at school are going through. But thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. We’ve decided as a country (or at least our country’s leadership has decided) that gun violence and mass shootings are acceptable. Just look at your own life. Unless you live in Uvalde, you're probably reading this post from home or work like a normal day. No sporting events or concerts or trivia nights were cancelled last night because of a national tragedy. We just acknowledge that there is another mass shooting and watch the NBA or NHL playoffs or the series finale of This Is Us

There was a shooting in my high school when I was a senior. This was 30 years ago this fall well before Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland. This was a big story in Pittsburgh for a few days, but no one died and only one person was wounded (and returned to school several days later), so I don’t believe it was reported elsewhere and was out of the news rather quickly. Metal detectors were installed pretty quickly but was a logistical nightmare for starting the day on time. There were other problems too, but that's not the point of this post. 

Whenever there is another school shooting, I wonder what would have happened if the shooting at Woodland Hills High School was worse. How would my life have been different? Would there have been any type of changes to national policy? At least for the second question, based on the last 30 years, the answer seems to be no. We have mass shootings at schools, nightclubs, concerts, colleges, places of worship, grocery stores, and workplaces. Basically, everywhere. They happen in red states and blue states and purple states. There were even mass shootings at a Congressional softball practice and at a meet-and-greet event for a member of Congress and nothing changes. Hell, I wrote a similar post after the Tree of Life shootings a few years ago.

So what are the solutions? I'm not a policy-maker and have no idea what could work. Background checks and firearm registration seem like a start. But how about we fucking try SOMETHING. Anything that can help stop gun violence. I know that some people will say that if criminals want to get guns, they will get guns. So does that mean that we don't try to make it more difficult to get guns? If people are going to ignore any law, why even have them, right? How about we try doing something and see how it works?

What other suggestions are out there? Arm teachers? Some of the same people who are scared about critical race theory being taught in schools and established anonymous tip lines to report teachers now want these same teachers to have guns? Seems like a bad idea. I'd be worried about kids getting access to guns not properly stored. Besides, I'd guess that the vast majority of teachers aren't comfortable with weapons in the classroom. Just let them teach. You want more security in schools, fine. Find a way. However, if murderers like the ones in Buffalo and Uvalde have body armor, I'm not sure how that will help. Actually, maybe make body armor illegal. There's nothing in the second amendment about that.  

I guess the bottom line is this: How can we say we live in the best country in the world when kids can get killed at schools? We can't. And things have to change. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

New Trivia Tuesday

I don't think I've done a Trivia Tuesday in years, but today is a special day. It's time for the return of Trivia Tuesday (at least for one week)! Your challenge is to name that band based on the "and the" name. For example, if I wrote The Pips, you would hopefully know the answer is Gladys Knight. If I wrote The E Street Band, you would answer Bruce Springsteen. I think you understand. 

1. The Machine

2. The News

3. The Tantrums

4. The Scene

5. The Night Sweats

6. The Furious Five

7. The Dominos

8. The Funky Bunch

9. The Vandellas

10. The Waves

11. The Range

Please leave your answers in the comments below and don't use the internet to cheat. Phoning/texting a friend is accepted. Good luck!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Life Updates

This is basically a Random Ramblings post, but I wanted to call it something different.

Wednesday was the 25th anniversary of my college graduation. Even though there have been notices about a 25-year college reunion and I know that 2022 is 25 years after 1997, this still came as a bit of a shock and surprise to me.

I might be a little addicted to online games. My 65-day streak on Wordle ended earlier this week when I couldn't solve DELVE. My favorite game might be Quordle where you have 9 guesses to solve 4 puzzles. I just reached a top streak of 24. Worldle, where you try to identify a country, is really difficult. My winning percentage is just over 50%. Finally, Heardle, in which you have 6 guesses to name a song in about 15 seconds, was made just for me. I'm at 83%, though I think that it counts as incorrect if I don't play on a given day.

If the Penguins held on to win against the Rangers on Sunday night and went on to make a deep run in the playoffs, this Jake Guentzel goal would be remembered as one of the best in team history. Oh well.

I'm friends on Facebook with someone I was friends with in junior high and high school. While he has always been a Republican to my knowledge, he seems to have turned into a big Qanon and conspiracy theory guy. After the recent hateful and racist mass shooting at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, he wrote a post with pictures of over 250 people accused of conducting mass shootings in 2021. Many of the people pictured are not white. His point seemed to be that the media doesn't cover all mass shootings equally and that money and political power drives the narrative. At least that's what I think his point was. I replied that maybe he should be more concerned with the unreal number of mass shootings instead of the media coverage and asked if he thought guns could be a problem. He has not replied.

My life is all about kids baseball these days. The Moose and Pedro Tulo have games or practices three days a week often at the same time and in different places. It's a lot of running around. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

TMI Thursday: Karma

I shared a story over a decade ago about how I moved into a new home, immediately clogged the toilet, and had to go out and buy a plunger. That plunger had an amazingly long run of over 17 years but needed to be replaced. We now are proud owners of a brand new Korky Beehive Max Toilet Plunger. This thing is nice and easier to use...especially for a certain 11 year-old who seems to need a plunger at least once a week. 

We spend way too much time worrying about #2s in my house. Between the oldest masculine child clogging toilets, the middle masculine child having some stomach issues recently, and the youngest masculine child still not mastering the entire process, this is clearly karma from years of my own toilet adventures

This is a short blog post, but I felt the need to share this!

Monday, May 09, 2022

The End of Celebrate Fairfax

The Celebrate Fairfax! Festival is not happening in June, and it doesn't seem like it's coming back. The Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. (CFI) organization posted this message on Facebook last month:

Similar to many other organizations we are embracing change as we evolve. Along those lines, we will not be hosting the traditional Celebrate Fairfax! Festival at the Government Center. Instead, we will be focusing more broadly on Fairfax County as a whole, by bringing a part of the festival into each of the County districts. This approach allows us to focus more intently on our mission and our ability to truly celebrate the 1.2 million citizens of Fairfax County!

With the CFI organization pivoting to other events, I think it's safe to assume that the formerly annual festival is over. 2019 marked the 38th year of the festival and my 18th year being involved with the event. The festival didn't take place in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID, and it's difficult to see how the festival can resume after a 4-year layoff. It would basically be starting over since many attendees, sponsors, and volunteers have moved on. More importantly, Fairfax County transferred a portion of the Government Center parking lot to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority to potentially develop affordable housing. I'm not going to criticize the county for this decision. The Government Center campus has a lot of unused space for 11+ months of the year. Plus, affordable housing is certainly challenging in Northern Virginia. Although there hasn't been any development on the site yet, and I can't seem to find any information about the status of the project, the housing will take up a significant portion of the festival site. 

So what is CFI doing instead of the festival? The organization created "shop local" market events with exhibitors in the Tysons areas and is planning on hosting an event for dogs (and their people). All of these events and a few others on the schedule are on a much smaller scale than the Celebrate Fairfax! festival or even the Fall for Fairfax children's festival. I understand that the organization is doing what it has to do to survive, but I'm going to miss the festival. I really enjoyed seeing the same volunteers, staff, and vendors each year. I looked forward to taking my kids to the event and watching them experience different parts of the festival as they got older. Plus, it was the only place where you could see national musical acts along with entertaining up-and-coming acts for under $15. This is a huge loss to the Northern Virginia community. There just aren't any other events on this scale in the area.

I wrote dozens of posts about Celebrate Fairfax over the years, and if you have nothing to do for the next 1-30 minutes or so, please check them out here. Some "highlights" from reading these posts are remembering when Flavor Flav provided commentary to fireworks, taking Pedro Tulo to the first-aid tent and subsequently in an ambulance ride to the emergency room for a burned hand, and saying hi to Pat Benatar's husband, Neil Giraldo, in a restroom.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

2022 Steelers Draft Recap: The Missed Picks

The 2022 National Football League draft took place last week, and the Steelers used their first two selections on QB Kenny Pickett from the University of Pittsburgh and WR George Pickens from the University of Georgia. With no disrespect to the remaining draft picks of Demarvin Leal, Calvin Austin III, Connor Heyward, Mark Robinson, and Chris Oladokun, the Steelers missed an opportunity for a truly historic draft. Here are just some of the people the Steelers could have "picked" instead.

Wilson Pickett - Rock and Roll Hall of Famer best known for his songs Land of 1,000 Dances, Mustang Sally, and In the Midnight Hour. No one will get the Steelers energized like Wilson Pickett! Seriously, go to 1:50 of this video and try not to nod your head or tap your feet. It's impossible.

By the way, Pickett's WikiPedia page might feature the best thing I've seen in a long time. Are there a lot of people who confuse Wilson Pickett and Wilson Phillips? I'll "Hold On" while you get back to me.

T. Boone Pickens - Billionaire oil magnate and hedge fund manager. While I'm sure the Rooney family is doing just fine financially, this selection would infuse some money into the organization. 

Jean-Luc Picard - Captain of the USS Enterprise. There was no better leader available in the 2022 draft!

Kellie Pickler - She's more than an American Idol contestant. Sure, she can sing, but Pickler can also write, act, host, and dance as evidenced by her Dancing With the Stars win. She's a 5-tool player!

Tobias Picker - Grammy-award winning composer and current Artistic Director of the Tulsa Opera. He's versatile and looks to have a long career!  

Andrew Pickens - American Revolution militia leader and member of the US House of Representative. If you want a fighter and someone in the trenches, Pickens is your guy. Unfortunately, he's undraftable because he was a slave owner 

Joe Picker - He's an Australian rugby player. Those guys are tough. He would have fit right into the Steelers culture and locker room.

Tommy Pickles - Rugrats character. He's very young (and a cartoon), but Tommy has a good motor and a high upside.

Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz - While the guys from "American Pickers" aren't ready to play in the NFL, they'll be huge additions to the scouting team. They will be such an asset to film study and finding things others might miss.

Ben Johns - He's the #1 pickleball player in the world and just won the US Open Pickleball championship. Proven winner!

Overall, the Steelers draft seems fine and could become great, but there were definitely some missed opportunities here.

T. Boone Pickens photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP. Joe Picker photo by Anthony Johnson in the "Sydney Morning Herald."