Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Category Archives: Random Rants

Who has it right?

Being a citizen of the United Kingdom who lived there for the majority of his life, I often still look to the BBC for unbiased news reports of events around the world.

Tragically, today we were presented with two reports of people attacking multiple school children. One in China, where there are very strict gun controls (and gun ownership by private individuals is illegal), and one in the United States of America (where gun ownership is a constitutional right, and while some ownership controls exist, gun ownership is not illegal).

In the case of the attack in China (see, the headline is…

“A man with a knife has wounded 22 children – at least two of them seriously – and an adult at a primary school in central China.”

In the case of the latest attack in the United States of America (see, the headline is…

“A gunman has killed 20 children and six adults at a primary school in the US state of Connecticut, police say.”

Both stories are unthinkable to us, and In both cases the mental stability of the person responsible might be questioned, and in both cases you can argue that a person determined to dish out this kind of mayhem will do what they can with the tools available to them, but the outcomes of the two stories are drastically different, because the person in the United States had easy (and constitutionally defended) access to guns whereas the person in China did not.

You can argue all you like about the constitutional right to carry arms here in the US, but facts are facts – in the US there are 26 families who are suffering a tragic loss because guns were easily available to someone, whereas in China, 23 families still have their loved ones because someone had to resort to less effective weapons because guns were not available to them.

The solution to the problem is not simple though. You can’t just outlaw gun ownership and fix this – there are too many guns out there already for that to work. It is clear however that the time for doing nothing and living with the consequences has passed. I just hope that something is done before we find ourselves posting about yet another mass shooting and lamenting that we have a broken society while being unwilling as a nation to do anything about it.

What does daylight savings really save?

Why do we still have all this “daylight savings” nonsense? Twice a year we need to adjust our internal body clocks by an hour, and change watches, clocks in cars, clocks on cookers, microwaves, cameras, sprinkler systems, ac/heating systems… and for what? How much time do we collectively waste with this twice-yearly ritual? What is the real benefit of daylight savings in this modern world?

What the f*ck?

I’ve been missing in action from here for a while… real life (a summer of volunteering, work, family, and a failing attempt to try and get some work/life balance) has resulted in me having no time (or inclination) to post stuff here… so it’s time to break my silence with a little rant!

I had promised myself to not make any kind of political statement out on the internet, but as the latest round of pre-election party campaigning has just landed directly in my inbox, I think it’s time to say something.

I guess the Republican Party is either desperate, worried, running short on money, or all of the above and more…. I just received an e-mail spam message from them asking me to rally behind the Republican Team and donate money to them.

In the message they say “This is a time for us to come together as a nation, and move past the divisiveness and bitterness we’ve seen over the last four years.” My response to that is… WHO THE F*CK WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THAT DIVISIVENESS AND BITTERNESS? It sure wasn’t the Democrats? The Republican Party stood in the way of pretty much EVERYTHING that Obama has tried to do over the past 4 years despite attempts to reach compromise. It’s no wonder we are where we are, because the Republican Party has basically allowed the country to get into this mess by blocking everything that would have helped get it out of that mess, on the grounds of holding a party line regardless of the consequences, as opposed to doing what might actually help this country.

I can’t vote in this election, because this country, rightly or wrongly, only allows citizens (as opposed to legal permanent residents) to vote, but if I could I certainly wouldn’t be voting Republican, and I’m sure as heck not donating $50 to your fund! You have more than enough money anyway!

Feel free to comment or not as you see fit – I’m not going to respond to anything whether I agree with it or not! This is me having a little rant – I’m not looking for debate!

Where is my parachute?

This has been wearing me down for some time now – I’m not one to moan about stuff like this, but I need to vent, so here goes…

I love my children, and my grandchildren, but as I approach my 50s faster than I would like, the last thing I expected to be doing at this time in my life was to be still living with, supporting, and helping to raise them!
Our youngest two daughters are both at an age where they ought to be out on their own – supporting themselves, and living in their own place. Our eldest two managed it – my wife and I managed it (with a kid in tow), and yet for some reason (love, fear of change, not wanting to upset the apple-cart?) we continue to provide somewhere to stay, something to eat, support for life’s mistakes, and the luxuries of a modern life for them, all for free.

I know it’s hard out there, but it’s no harder than when our two eldest daughters made the transition to being self-sustained, and it’s no harder than when my wife and I did it, and yet we don’t seem able to push these last two fledglings from the nest. What makes matters worse is that they seem to sense this, and they are taking advantage of us. They don’t pay for anything they are getting – they live rent free, they don’t need to pay for food, heating or electricity, they are still using phones that are a part of a family plan that I pay for. They get use of our internet and TV services. The only things they need to provide for are things they want as ”luxuries”.

They seem to think that because they have rich friends who have parents who give their kids everything that we should be doing the same, and act like they begrudge us when we spend some of what we earn on ourselves or take some time out to do the things we want to do without them tagging along… My wife and I have worked hard to get where we are now. We’re a lot more comfortable than we used to be, but we’re not rich either, and because of the continued drain of supporting our two youngest daughters (and our two youngest grandkids) we’ve not been able to invest in our own futures the way we really should be at this time in our lives. They don’t seem to see this though, and they continue to take advantage of us and our support.

What they don’t seem to realize is that because of the ongoing strain they place on our resources. Were I to lose my job we would have probably enough to be able to live as we do for a scant few months before our way of life would change significantly for the worse.

It’s not just the money though… they don’t look after what they have (or what WE have). They don’t make any effort to do things around the house to help unless we have guilt-tripped them into it (and then it usually doesn’t last long). They don’t clean up after themselves, their rooms are messes, they leave trash abandoned around the house, they don’t put away thing s they’ve used. They continue to expect us to help them out of the messes they have made, showing no efforts to change their behavior and help themselves.

For our youngest daughter that all boils down to money management – I’ve lost track of the amount of times (or the amount of money) we’ve bailed her out – she spends more than she earns – spending on luxuries she could do without rather than paying the things she needs to pay, getting into situations that require us to provide bail-out after bail-out because she can’t act like a sensible member of the public when behind the wheel of a car (either paying for fines she can’t afford, or for repairs that she has needed because she wants to drive as if she were a racing car driver). We’ve paid for books and college tuition for classes that she says she wants to succeed in because of the career she wants to pursue, and yet she does the bare minimum in class, doesn’t make an effort to complete homework, and has as a result flunked out on many of her classes and finds herself on a final probation because she can’t be bothered to make a sustained effort to study. Her academic record is such that she’d likely never be accepted into any of the colleges she’d like to go to, and all because she seems to think the world owes her an education. Well – the world is not like that – you need to work for that education. You need to study. You need to make an EFFORT, and you need to do so consistently – not just when things have slipped so much that you are in trouble! You have demonstrated in your approach to your education that it isn’t really that important to you. I’m at the end of my tether with providing ongoing financial assistance to support you if you can’t be bothered to make an effort to achieve the things you say you want in a responsible way…

For the elder of the two here with us we find ourselves acting as free childcare and as surrogate parents because she wanted all the fun of sexual relationships without considering the consequences… and because she couldn’t bring herself to act like a decent human being to the people involved she’s found her as a single parent with two young children… except she’s not acting like a single parent. She spends much of her day sat around – doing as little as possible with her kids, and instead plays on her laptop with stupid games or chatting to people she’s never met on Facebook (or other chat services). She seems to think it’s OK to have her very impressionable and inquisitive 2-year old daughter sit and watch TV all the time rather than interact with her in a way that will help her develop. She is constantly leaving things around the house – trash, partly eaten food, partly drunk drinks, clothes (clean and dirty), she uses her kids as an excuse to not make an effort to do things, and in the times where she is clearly not burdened by them she’d rather sit and watch TV or prat around on the internet than deal with the things she needs to deal with. Because she only seems to treat people nicely when things are going well for her she’s alienated a number of the friends she had made since we all moved to California. She makes no effort to go and meet people in real life – instead she retreats into a fantasy-land of internet chat-rooms, interactive on-line games, and social media sites, and gets upset at us (her parents) when we suggest she needs to be playing a more active role in the upbringing of her own children.

The stresses of all of this have built up to a point where I find myself conflicted. I don’t want to put members of my family into harm’s way, but at the same time keeping them at home is doing nothing to help them learn to live without parental support. The stresses that are being put on the lives of my wife and I are such that we risk health problems if we continue to live with them as things are, and it is straining our own relationship into the bargain. We are at a point where on the one hand we want them out of our house, but at the same time we fear for what will happen, as neither has demonstrated the good sense they need to make it on their own. More than anything we worry about what it would do to our grandchildren’s lives. Were the underlying economy not in such a screwed-up state we’d be less worried, but as things are while we are struggling to live with them in our home, we wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves were something to happen to them if we pushed them out.

What should I do… ? I’m damned if I know. I can help guide a multi-billion dollar company to ‘do the right thing’ as it ‘grows up’, but I don’t know what to do for the best with my own family. Where is the parachute that will save me from this free-fall of a life?

Bureaucracy 1, small business 0 :(

Wipeout, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

Yesterday evening I had my first experience of sitting in on (and speaking as a member of the public at) a local council meeting in the land that likes to think of itself as the home of democracy and entrepreneurship. I attended to support the Santa Cruz surf schools in trying to make the Santa Cruz City Council realize that the ordinance they were voting on would hurt more people than it would help.

Unfortunately the ordinance was passed unchanged, and as a result two local businesses will be losing their livelihood. Thankfully though the surf school that Camp Butano Creek uses will not be significantly impacted and the camp will be able to continue to use them in the coming years. So on a selfish level I was happy that my little world wasn’t really impacted, but on a bigger scale it was just another slap in the face for small business in the face of the rich and vocal!