Trucking and Firearms – Caution: Political.


I have a Colorado CDL. Commercial Drivers License. That means I can drive large trucks around. It started with a 4 week introductory class where we learned what it took to become a driver, from the tires up. And because I was going to drive explosives and possibly small amounts of radiation around I had to have extra training to hold certifications for Haz-Mat (Hazardous Materials). I needed to go to the local Sheriffs Office and be fingerprinted and have a full background check by the state FBI guys. There was an extensive test by my employer and by the state DMV. So I am regulated by my employers requirements, Colorados requirements, any other states that I drive into-their requirements, and the Governments requirements for having not only a regular drivers license but also a Commercial Drivers License. Atop all of that is the strict requirements for Haz-Mat transportation. If I was a Union driver there would be other requirements. If I drove for the Government there would be other requirements. If I drove for a large corporation that hauled sensitive or very large loads, there would be other requirements. The trucking industry is heavily regulated and stiff penalties are incurred for violations. Every time a trucker stops at a mandatory weigh check station, these credentials and your logbook are scrutinized. So a trucker is constantly being regulated while using the roadways.

At the moment, in Colorado, when you purchase a firearm at a retail store you fill out paperwork and it is submitted to the states FBI for a cursory inspection. If you purchase a firearm at a gun show or from another individual, there is no such check. This is the ‘Gunshow Loophole’ you hear talked about. This is how we are currently handling firearm purchases, a kind off 50-50 approach. Not all-encompassing. We as Americans are very concerned about this. Some want a complete regulation and checked process like what I described for the trucking industry, and some want a hands-off approach to gun-ownership. There is very little middle-ground. A lot of this discrepancy comes from a 240 year old document and how we try to interpret what the founders meant when the words were written. Some take a very absolute strict stance when reading it and go word for word with no interjection of meaning. Some try to inject meaning into it and try to read minds from 240 years away.

In my trucking analogy, we as people are regulating the people while making sure the equipment is safe and road-worthy. In the gun analogy, we are regulating the firearms while making a half-hearted attempt to regulate the people. And in my 2nd instance we have groups and individuals at both ends of the political spectrum with very strong opinions on how this should be regulated (or not) and by whom. There is no coming together for the common good to find ways to alleviate this.

The discussion starts with a decision on how to frame the questions. Do we decide to regulate the gun industry as we do the trucking industry? Or do we decide it is a given right to own any gun, in any circumstance, with no regulation? Can we regulate the industry just a little bit, but not fully? If we decide to not tightly regulate firearms, then should we relax the regulations on the trucking industry? The drug manufacturing industry? The explosive manufacturing industry? The chemical manufacturing industry? Fair is fair, right? How can we have very strict rules for some industries that can kill you, but not all of them? Or maybe we need to take a more libertarian stance and de-regulate all of them. It is now the responsibility of the individual to decide what to use, or not. Get the government out. There are now no industry regulations. Do what you want. Where would we be in that instance? Isn’t the government there for the common good? Im asking these questions in a Black and White way, while the gun debate is all Grey issues.

There are no easy answers to these questions I pose. But if our elected officials cannot even find a way to have discussions, then we are not even going to get started. We will continue this cycle over and over again until something really horrific happens. Something so huge it eclipses all the others. Will we look back then and wonder why we didn’t do anything? Or will we say something like “Laser-guns don’t kill people…”

So if we are to fix this problem in any direction, a few things must happen. First is get rid of any PACS and Special Interest Groups throwing money at politicians in order to sway a vote. Both sides can realize that this one action would clean up politicians and let them vote as their constituents want them to. If the politicians are free from the weight of lobbyists then they should vote as you want. Whether your district voted in a Democrat or Republican, they should be listening to you, not the pro- or anti-gun groups with money to spend. Just the people who voted them in. The next one  is on you. Become engaged. Read up on your politicians. Read up on the matters that concern you. Talk to people about the issues that concern you. Be polite and listen. We can disagree and still be civil to each other.

But I’m pretty sure none of the above thoughts will get done. There is too much money involved and we are too divided in this country for civil discourse.

Why can’t we as intelligent human beings agree to limit the damage to other human beings with the things we make? We have decided to closely watch some areas, but have decided to not closely watch others. This is infuriating to me. There needs to be a better way.

Here are my (current) thoughts on gun issues. Subject to change as I learn more…

1) Not every individual should be able to own guns. There are some people who have bad intentions and want to watch the world burn, and they shouldn’t own firearms. There are some people mentally incompetent and should not be around firearms. We need to find a way to locate these people and make sure they can’t do harm with firearms to other people. If they are not allowed, because of past incarcerations or mental evaluations, to drive or fly, perhaps they shouldn’t own a firearm. If a government agency has, for any reason, questions about the validity of a certain individual, perhaps they shouldn’t own a firearm. Yes, if a person really wants to cause injury they can do harm with other things -knives-vehicles-explosives-biologics. But lets start on this list by agreeing that we can do our best to find the people that do not need to own firearms. Keep enforcing the current laws, and make damn sure guns are out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be owning them.

2) There are certain firearms that are not suited for individual ownership. Right now we have limits on specific military type items, and fully automated firearms and some accessories like silencers or large capacity clips. But where do we draw that line in the sand? Its not a calibre issue. Its not really a magazine load count issue. Its something else. This would be covered in whatever regulations we come up with if we wish to regulate guns as we do trucks. Or we don’t regulate. We pussy foot around this a lot. Maybe the answer is one or the other. Fully regulate, or don’t regulate anything. This half-assed way we are doing it now sure isn’t working well enough now.

3) Make sure we hold any individual, retailer, government agency, accountable for their actions. If a child is shot with a firearm, and that firearm has not been locked up in some way, the parents need to be held accountable. The parents/guardians should be jailed as if they shot the kids themselves. If a retailer or gunshow is irresponsible in their security (stolen guns) or due-diligence (background checks as required) they need to be held accountable. Lack of security is a big one. Its expensive to make sure tall the guns are locked. But if the retailer can’t afford to do this, perhaps they don’t need a FFL license to sell guns. If a government agency decides to sell, or give, or otherwise arm groups of people outside of America, and then the guns come back and kill Americans, They should be held accountable. Perhaps a few jailed politicians who are so short sighted should be taken off the decision making carousel as an example.

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McDonalds Hot Coffee


First catch up on what actually happened here. Its a quick synopsis. And here is my point. When you go to a restaurant now and order something that should be delivered to your table hot, and it is not?FrenchOnionSoup3[1]

Like maybe a bowl of nice French Onion soup. My premise is that since the McDonalds verdict, that restaurants are super scared to serve anything over about 80 degrees. You have to specifically ask for it to be made hot, or send it back to be heated up.

My wife and I go out often and we are always surprised at how often this happens. Is it a blowback from the suit? Or is it the quality of restaurants we visit? Hard to say. More investigation needed.

Chickenshit


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I’m reading this book and it pisses me off. I can do a chapter or so and then I have to take a break. Because I am a direct victim of the 2008 financial crises, and this book explains why not one bank executive was brought to task for their egregious errors!

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From about 2003 up until November of 2008 I was managing this fun little Gallery on Main Street in downtown Grand Junction. We were just getting our feet under us. Lots of foot traffic and good sales and promotions. We were gearing up for a good Christmas season.

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We also carried some photo related retail products.

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So the mortgage crisis hits summer and fall of 2008. The owner of the gallery was independently wealthy and had numerous accountants and lawyers at his disposal. As soon as the financial markets started to fall, his advisors recommended for him to divest and hunker down.

He walks into the gallery one morning about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and asks to go out with him for coffee. Over the small table in the bagel shop he informs me of his decision to close the gallery. Just like that. No big preamble and I could not talk him out of this decision. He was stricken and visibly scared.

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I had a staff of about 6 people who I had to inform of this decision. And then I needed to start figuring out what steps to take to close this business in a hurry.

And I was out of work also, with no other marketable skills, other than running businesses for 30 years. But no other businesses were hiring because they were scared also. My wife and I were very concerned about losing the house. Jeez what a time.

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But there was one company hiring. And so I started in the fall of 2008 as a hired hand in the oil and gas industry, where I am to this day. It has worked out just fine. Of course it is not where I expected to be. Of course it is sometimes difficult to work for a giant corporation. But we kept the house. And life goes on…Goliath and the Princess.

Long ride


Very nice ride on the Goldwing. Looped through western Colorado and eastern Utah. Temps were moderate this early. I’m the kind of rider who wants to keep going, so stopping to take photos was difficult. But I got a few in when I needed to stretch. It was a beautiful day and the bike ran great. This is the first time I’ve posted from my iPhone. Pretty easy. I’ll do it more often. 

Enthusiasms


 

 

img_5344From the movie-The Untouchables-1987…
Capone: A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiasms, enthusiasms… What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? Baseball! A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Teamwork… Looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don’t field… what is he? You follow me? No one. Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I’m goin’ out there for myself. But… I get nowhere unless the team wins.
Hoods: Team!
[Capone beats one of the men to death with a baseball bat]

I owned my first watch when I was a schoolboy back in the late 60s. It was an inexpensive wristwatch. It barely fit my thin wrist and hung loosely when I wore it. I remember it being a battery watch, but I do not remember anything else about it. Fast forward a decade or so and it is my high school graduation. My father gives me a really nice skeleton watch. One with glass and front and back so you can see the works from both sides. It still means the world to me. It has no intrinsic value other than the memories of my father.

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And I still collect watches. My mentor was the great Mancil Page of Page-Parsons Jewelry. (No relation) A tall elegant man with piercing eyes and a keen intellect. He started me on Wyler watch. Im not really sure how it started, but here I am. I have close to 2 dozen pocket watches stored, most of them Wylers. None of them are worth very much on their own, but collectively? Who knows. In another few decades, when all the cool collectables are gone, they may be worth more. The watch at the top of this post is my only wristwatch. It, like most of the others, was built in the late 50s-early 60s. It has a classic look and still functions perfectly. Not a battery to be seen. In my current work I am based in Prudhoe Bay Alaska. We wear a lot of clothing there. And because of that I am not always able to get to my pants pocket or a vest, because of all the clothing. So a wristwatch is the easiest to reference.

We live in a digital world. I use computers at work and at home. My iPhone becomes more important to my work life and home life all the time. My wife’s car is a marvel of imbedded computers. The Computers are all around us. And yet I own a manual shift truck from the late 80s. And I choose to wear manual watches. I like the thought of manual. I enjoy the collecting of these things from another era. It feels right to me, these old things. Pulling a watch from my pocket to check the time instead of looking at my phone. Turning my wrist to look at a device built by hand. Still working well and looking good. And as I get older I am appreciating these things more and more. I am quite nostalgic and these things give me peace. A small connection to another time and place. An enthusiasm for a man getting older and looking back more often. An enthusiasm.

I See Ghosts


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13 Photo Front Desk

 

The obituaries are becoming one of the first things I look for in our paper. As a man ‘of a certain age’ I look for them now to see if I knew anyone in there. And increasingly I am seeing former customers. For awhile now I have kept a list of past customers and company reps who worked with me. (I’ll post it at the end of this entry.) Most of the time I recognize the person from the obituary photo. Sometimes I recognize the name, or think I do. Sometimes I have to be reminded from another long-time friend that I may have missed someones passing. But every time I feel a twang. Sometimes it is deep remorse. Someone passed who I will miss. Sometimes its just a small sad remembrance. But each one pulls a small thread. The small thread that connects all of us. Threads that go back through time to my early days at Taylors. Maybe it was some connection to Gunnison and my father. Or maybe it was someone whom I should have known better. Should have spent more time with. Its hard to say anymore. As I age and memories come fast and furious, often I mix up times and people. I will almost certainly see people give me a long look as we pass on the street. They obviously know me, but I may not recognize them anymore. Too many years away from retail and the life in front of people. Too much time in the oil field away from real society. Sometimes a person I recognize will recognize me also. We may nod and smile. Or actually greet and shake hands. Rarely will I know their name, unless they tell me. Jenny will ask who that was, and I’ll say CFTS. Code for ‘customer from the store’. She knows what it means. The threads are getting more tenuous and thinner by the year.

 

 

 

Photographers Remembered – Some are passed-some are not. I may have missed obits if they have passed.

Guy Stephens owned Stephens Sporting Goods on Main Street, downtown Grand Junction. He employed LeRoy Wyler as his photo salesman. Classic guy. Unkempt, brash. He was a packrat. The counters were cluttered and unorganized, But he knew where everything was!

Al Ligrani was a local pro photographer. He was the first pro photographer to come in to GT and assist me with knowledge. Mid 80’s.

Wes Edfast. Owner of a local mortuary. A very serious customer. Later in life came in after he had a stroke. Could barely speak but I could feel he really wanted to have another photo conversation.

Gene Bruce. One of my mentors. Was manager right before I took over in ‘85. Thin and wiry. Very energetic. We had a mercurial relationship. After he quit GT he started a home business developing E6 and BW.

Frank Bietz. Another classic old timer. I worked with Frank for decades. Another unkempt, brash salesman, like Wyler. Occasionally would upset customers with his direct delivery. Was one of Genes first hires in the late 60s. Midwest Camera Supply. Passed Oct 2013.

Hans Kunz. German to the core. Tons of knowledge. A leader of one of the local photo clubs.

Gil Wenger. Great customer. Would walk in and greet us at the counter with a yodel. Later also had a stroke. Never made it out of the hospital.

Bob Bishop. Local pro. Had a very successful postcard and poster business during the 70’s and 80’s. Digital cameras killed his business in the 90’s. Now has Alzheimer’s. (2009)

Bob Grant. Longtime head photographer for Daily Sentinel. Tried to get Mt. Garfield in every one of his shots. One of my earliest customers

Dr. Morales. Local dr. big time enthusiast. Would be constantly looking for the next best camera body. Gear head. Lots of fun.

Rich Martineau. Mr. and Mrs. Photo. Short time in GJ. Cancer took him quickly.

Doc Ross. Avid photographer and very good. Incorporated his photography into his Veterans assistance. Won some awards too. Passed November 2012.

Herb Saunders. PVC Communications. Local commercial photographer and developer. Especially Cibachromes.

Dillard Jenkins. Commercial photographer. Was City Markets in-house ad photographer until they sold out to Kroger.

Dave Canady. Studio 119. Classic, big guy. Enthusiastic and genuine.  Was very sharing with information.

Matt Chambers. Ran a small photo business/portrait studio for years. Always happy and fun to be around. Very involved with Scouts. Just an all-around nice guy. Passed July 2010.