Letters to Holly

Friday, February 18

Letters to Everyone

Instead of waiting the full ten days I promised myself after I emailed my derby liaison, I emailed the derby's PR people about the logo confusion. I'm waiting to hear back.

The paper ran my letter yesterday, and it was edited slightly. I feel the last paragraph lost some punch, but here's what I sent:

In his Jan. 31 guest column, Mr. [removed for privacy] argues the Second Amendment should be clear to advocates of gun control and goes on to declare gun control is actually “people control.”

All laws are people control. We don’t rely on the kindness of strangers or the better natures of our neighbors. We legislate to maintain civility, and, most important, we employ good people such as Mister [removed for privacy] to uphold those laws.

To denounce gun-control laws, he cites automotive deaths, stating “no one calls for car control.” But we do call for “people control” regarding their operation. We call for laws regarding speeding, signs, baby seats, impaired driving, maintenance, etc. Those laws aren’t designed solely for the occupants’ safety but also for the safety of others on the road. Gun-control laws are based on the same philosophy. They affect people on both sides of the trigger.

Mister [removed for privacy] noted the Tucson assailant’s mug shot shows him to be “simply yet obviously evil.” That in itself wasn’t what made him a threat; people are arrested for doing bad things, not simply for being bad people. Now that would be “people control.”

Being evil and armed -- willing to firing dozens of bullets without reloading – that combination made him a danger. And, unfortunately, that made him very effective in his violence. Not everyone who has access to a gun has Mister [removed for privacy]’s respect for them, and our laws are designed to protect people like [removed for privacy] and myself from those folks. 

While [removed for privacy] rightfully notes that the fault for the attack falls on Jared Loughner, he argues that banning a high-capacity magazine is a flawed response, calling the bullet count “irrelevant” and noting that even a novice can quickly reload his gun. But that shooter was tackled while reloading, when bullets were no longer an immediate danger. Had that respite come a dozen bullets earlier, so many wouldn’t have been injured, some mortally. 

Perhaps all gun owners should take Mister [removed for privacy]’s firearm instruction and eliminate the reliance on high-capacity magazines to feel protected from harm. That’s a degree of people control I would support.
I finished drawing page 17 of the comic last night. That brings me within eyesight of the end, and then I'll ink it. I also will start drawing the cover and work on that between inking sessions.

Moving Picture of the Day
Here's the new Thor trailer. I was amped until I saw the announcement of 3D, which I can't see. The biggest change I see so far is changing the Natalie Portman role from a nurse to a scientist. This was necessary back when Thor was exiled to Earth inside the body of a frail doctor. When the doctor realized he could become a swaggering thunder god, he would smack his walking cane on the ground and Thor it up.

Thursday, February 17

Just This Side of Identical

Because I suspected the girl assigned to take care of Your Parents' cat wasn't, I went by the house again today to snoop. The litter boxes look like they haven't been cleaned since they left. I scooped them out and put the bag in the outdoor trash can. The top of the cat food bucket was off, suggesting she forgot to close it, which suggests she's at least feeding the cat. It didn't look in any way like the cat had gotten to it.

On the way back to the office, I stopped in Starbucks. There I spied the flyer for the local roller derby season opener and finally got a good look at the altered logo.

Recap: I sent them this logo.

This was the version the derby representative and I agreed to back in August. As of the teams' new year's party flyer, this was the b-team logo. But, last month, when the poster for the season-opening bout was released, the logo turned into this.

I have yet to hear from the roller I talked to, and I'm giving her another week or so to respond to my email. Then I contact the team through other means. Again, my concern is whether my logo is still considered the winner of last year's contest and whether I get the promised prizes. That design is still mostly mine. I would have made those changes had they asked, and, honestly, I would have made it look better. The braids are lost in the background. 

+  +  +

According to the newspaper, my letter runs today.

Picture of the Day
Stethoscope-style headphones.

Wednesday, February 16

Slow Progressions

Your Sister took the boy to the doctor yesterday to see about his runny nose. He's had a filthy nose for about two weeks now, and she was worried an infection might spread to his ears. He has been tugging on them for a few days. The doctors found no sign of a virus. He responded well to Orajel last night when he awoke, suggesting he's teething after all. He's also starting to pull upright in his crib, and we'll need to lower the mattress height so he can't climb out. He loves pulling himself to his feet now. It's all he wants to do when you approach him.

When will we remember that we installed cabinet locks so we won't tumble backward when we try to fetch a cutting board? 

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Very late in my workday yesterday, I heard from the newspaper about my letter. They said I had to whittle it down to 350 words before they'd run it. I appreciate the chance to edit it myself; I've seen enough of their handiwork to trust them with cropping my submission. I had to make a new ending, and went through about five snarky conclusions before finding one that seemed polite but confident. They don't run their letter criteria often. Had I known about the word limit, this letter might have been printed already. The most recent edition had a secondary response letter, and it was the usual "cold dead hand" rhetoric about gun ownership.

I'm not arguing the right to have a handgun for safety. I'm arguing that the ability to fire 30 bullets without reloading isn't a defensive strategy. When I took martial arts classes, both instructors advised that you do just enough to end the threat and leave the situation. That's the kind of defense a six- or nine-bullet capacity provides. Anything more, and you're escalating the situation and creating an arms race with everyone else packing a gun.

Again, I hope the letter shows that one can advocate gun-control laws while honoring the right to protect one's self and property.

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Picture of the Day
We're watching the Jeopardy! episodes pitting the two top all-time winners against IBM's Watson computer. It's astounding to behold this black, vertical screen standing behind the podium. 

He's good at treating each clue as a search listing, although he's not infallible. In a question regarding U.S. airports, he answered Toronto. He's competed strong, but I wonder if he has an increased advantage with a quicker clicker response. The human contestants, as always, run the risk of locking themselves out if they buzz in too early. Watson won't do that. 

Still, a computer is competing on Jeopardy! The mind boggles. 

Tuesday, February 15

Lock Down

Because the boy is starting to scramble, we're locking down the kitchen. I'm picking up a new baby gate today to block the door to the library. We should get one for the laundry and cat room, but the cat can't jump like he used to. The sidekick managed to crawl all the way into there while Your Sister as distracted, and she learned of it when he started spitting out cat litter.

The previous residents of the house used baby locks on their cabinets and removed the pegs when they sold us the house. We decided this weekend to put new pegs up but use the catches that remained. The cabinet doors still have the screw holes, and it seemed like an easy enough chore. But the new pegs are set wider and can't use both old holes. Also, attaching baby locks to a lazy susan is a torture out of Greek myth. We both got so frustrated last night -- me with the locks, she with the sidekick-- that we traded. She finished off the lazy susan in no time, and I had the boy asleep within 15 minutes. I still need to get her bathroom cabinet locked. My cabinet may not need it. The only thing inside is toilet paper. How much damage can he do? [gets Dead Zone-like premonition; resolves to prevent paper holocaust]

+  +  +

I was contacted by the local paper to confirm they got my letter. They did not however ask me to confirm I wrote the letter. That was standard at the papers I worked for, even (or especially) the university one. I'm also still waiting to hear about that derby logo.

Picture of the Day
I think Russell Brand wants to be the Freddy Mercury of comedy.

Monday, February 14

Tripping Lights Fantastically

Although the sidekick doesn't show any new teeth, he sure acts like he's expecting them. He pulls his ears. He's cranky. But there's no action on those gums. We suspect he's experiencing a mental growth spurt. He's suddenly pulling up to a standing position (albeit wobbly), bridging while on his back, and climbing over our shoulders when we hold him. He's found traction all over the place. I started installing cabinet locks in the kitchen.

We hired a babysitter for Saturday night and accompanied Kathy and Travis to her dancing competition. The local arts council held a charity version of Dancing With the Stars, and Kathy used a mash-up I gave her years back to dance with an area instructor. There were six couples competing, and the winners were determined by how much money was donated in their name. Bookending the dance competition were two open-floor dances where people were encouraged to try their had at certain dances.

Now I haven't had any dance instruction since high school. My girlfriend at the time attended dance classes with her parents, and she taught me the steps they learned. That was 20 years ago. When I asked Your Sister to dance, she demurred, and I assured her we would only "prom dance," tha aimless, slow movement during ballads. During the pre-event dinner, Your Sister told them about being a young left-handed batter; she was taught to hit right-handed and failed miserably until an umpire stopped a game to move her to other side of the plate. She immediately made contact. Hours later, as I talked her into a slow dance, she stumbled over my feet until we realized she was dancing right-footed. We changed stances, and she had no problem.

When the DJ played 'The Twist," Kathy couldn't get a dance partner, and I volunteered. It's the easiest dance to do. I almost joined in on a line dance once I watched and figured out the pattern. It was such an infectious atmosphere that I'm considering joining in next year. In fact, one of my theatre cohorts participating in this event asked me to sign up, and I told her I'd consider it. Some other people I shared the stage with said hi, and at least one didn't know we had a baby.

This event was done right, and it looked sold out. The only hiccup was with the last dance couple; they didn't test their CD before the show, and the DJ's equipment couldn't play it. They had to use a song he had that fit their dance style.

Kathy won. She got a heavy trophy and the chance to do her routine again. I hope she defends the title next year. If she does, I won't compete against her.

We had forgotten how convenient it is to use a sitter, and I think we should have a night out about twice a month. There are some films she's very eager to see.

+  +  +

I sent in the letter to the editor. I hope it doesn't lay an egg.

+  +  +
I started page 14 of the comic today. That keeps me on pace to work a page with the same number as the date. I won't be able to maintain that -- I did four pages this weekend to catch up -- but I aim to finish these 24 pages before the 28th. I'm thrilled with how well most of this is coming out. I'll have to touch-up some faces and feet, but this is half a comic drawn in two weeks. That's not bad for a household with a baby.

Picture of the Day
My card for the next comic show.