Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gun control in the United States of America

If you ask me what gun control is, I'm going to tell you that it is how well you handle your firearm.  Are you shooting on target?  Or are you missing it altogether?  Now, you might be thinking that I'm missing the mark on what gun control really is, but am I?  Or are our legislators in Washington, DC missing the mark like you think I missed the mark?  Think about that for a minute or two...

I understand the current outcry for more and stricter gun legislation.  Guns are bad.  They are evil.  They kill people.  They take loved ones prematurely.  Assault weapons are the epitome of all the evil guns in the world.  They are loud and they look mean and menacing.  Just the very appearance of them brings fear and trembling into the hearts of the masses...  Whatever.

First of all, guns are like any other dangerous tool or instrument.  They must be treated with respect.  I have a Husqvarna 371 chain saw (it is a 71cc, two stroke motor with a 24" bar on it that will run chainsaw chain at 10,000 RPM).  The thing is a beast.  I cut down and limbed a tree in my back yard in 15 minutes with this saw on Saturday.  It took me longer to load the tree into my pickup truck to haul it off to the dump than it did for me to take it down and cut it up.  That saw is a freaking awesome machine.  If you are stupid, it will maim or kill you.  If you don't have respect for it, it doesn't matter who you are.  It will eat your flesh faster than you can say, "Ouch!".  Yep.  Its dangerous, but it doesn't mean it isn't a useful and helpful tool.

Guns are evil.  No, they aren't.  Guns are, well, guns.  They are highly precise machines that shoot metallic projectiles from their barrels.  There is nothing bad or evil about guns.  There are evil people who do bad things with guns.  There is the press and others that wish to villainize guns so that we can outlaw the guns so that we won't hurt ourselves.  No, guns aren't bad.  The people who use them maliciously are bad.  The press and legislators that villainizes them are bad.  But guns in and of themselves are not bad.  When used properly, they are like my chainsaw, useful instruments.

Guns kill people.  Nope, they don't.  People kill people.  If someone gets stabbed with a knife we say, "George killed Mary."  We don't say, "The knife killed Mary."  That's just stupid.  The knife can't do anything on its own.  Neither can the gun.  Someone has to pull the trigger and the person pulling the trigger is the person responsible for the bullet that comes out the end of the barrel.  The gun cannot think.  It cannot act.  It only does what someone else wants it to do.

Guns take loved ones prematurely.  Nope, wrong again.  It isn't the gun's fault it fired a bullet when someone pulled the trigger.  It is doing what it is built to do and that is to fire a bullet and send a projectile down the barrel and out the end of it.  The person who pulled the trigger is responsible for the premature death, not the gun.

Hopefully by now you are realizing that I'm not a real big fan of gun control.  I look at the legislation that is in Congress right now and honestly, I'm not impressed with what I see.  Let me explain why:

Banning high capacity magazines:  Would a ban on high capacity magazine have prevented the tragedy that happened at Columbine High School, or Sandy Hook Elementary, or the shooting at the movie theater in Colorado?  The answer is a resounding, "NO!"  But why not?  Because if you ban the sale of high capacity magazines, you still have millions of magazines in circulation that people can buy.  The only thing the magazine ban will do is cause the price of high capacity magazines to go up because the supply will go down and demand will increase.  Those that don't have will want and they will be willing to pay good money to have what they cannot have.  The only way a high capacity ban will actually work is if the United States government actually bans the sale, manufacture, and ownership of those magazines and then goes door to door to confiscate those magazines from its citizens.  Do we really want the police to go through our houses to search for high capacity magazines?  Do we really want to make felons out of people who are currently law abiding citizens?  Anyone heard of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution?  Because we the people are protected from unreasonable search and seizure.  Our legislator know this.  They know that if they ban the high capacity magazines now, sooner or later the ones that are in circulation will wear out and go away.  This will take many, many, many years to happen.  This feel good legislation with little or no substance.

Banning "assault" weapons:  Assault weapons are those weapons that are used by the military.  The types of guns that normal, everyday people can buy are not assault weapons.  Why is that?  Because real assault weapons are machine guns.  The average person cannot simply buy a machine gun.  Real machine guns are extremely expensive and you have to go through a six month background check in order to buy one.  The AR15, M&P15 and all the other M16 style rifles are semi-automatic (one shot is fired for every pull of the trigger).  The way that they fire is like any other semi-automatic firearm out there: one bullet fired for every time the trigger is pulled.  The reason why legislators want to ban these is they are scary looking.  They look like their military inspired cousins.  They are used in movies to mow down people.  They are dangerous.  Yep, my chainsaw is dangerous.  My car with a drunk person driving it is dangerous.  My razor sharp kitchen knife is dangerous.  Alcohol is dangerous.  The item itself in and of itself isn't dangerous, but how it is used.  Banning one type of gun is just feel good legislation.  Gun manufacturers will find ways around the legislation and still manufacture guns that are just as lethal as they were before.

It is getting late and I must go to bed so I can go to work tomorrow.  But I want to make one last point. Alcohol is abused much more than guns are.  Alcohol kills more people through drunk driving fatalities, disease, cirrhosis of the liver than guns do.  Alcohol is bad stuff.  But you don't hear the drum beat of people wanting to bring back Prohibition.  Would we be better off if we were a dry nation?  Probably.  But we went through that experiment once and it failed miserably. We had our assault weapon ban from 1994 to 2004.  It really didn't do anything for us.  It didn't make us any safer.  We still had Columbine.  Regardless of what we do, we will always have Columbine, Sandy Hook or some other place.  Today, at the Boston Marathon finish line, someone got a burr in their bonnet to kill a bunch of innocent bystanders with bombs (no guns, but bombs).  The guns here aren't the problem.  The problem is with the people.  The people have to be fixed, not taking the guns away from the people.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T

I am the proud owner of a 2009 Toyota Camry base model car.  The car is a 2.4L four banger with 155 horsepower.  The car is nice.  It has a nice stereo and a nice ride.  It is quiet to ride in it.  It seats four people very comfortably.  But I don't like my Camry because it is boring.  Disgustingly boring.  I had a 2003 Corolla that was faster than my Camry.  The Corolla wasn't as refined as the Camry is, but from a pure performance perspective, it had the juice.  I missed my Corolla.

Over the years I've gone to the car dealer and I have test driven numerous Mustangs and Camaros.  Some of those cars were nicer and more fun to drive than others, but for the most part, they are frivolous cars.  All fun, but just expensive toys.  I had a girlfriend that called those cars "f-dude cars".  OK, whatever.  That's why she's an EX and why I never married her.

The last six to nine months, I've really been looking at the Hyundai Sonatas.  In 2011 Hyundai redesigned the Sonata into its current form.  I've been very pleased with how awesome those cars look.  I have several friends and neighbors and friends that have Hyundais and they've had really good luck with their cars.  So I've gone to the dealership and take a few for a spin.  I'm not overly impressed with the normally aspirated Sonatas, but the Sonata turbo is a totally different animal.  I've driven a few of those and they are fun to drive.  (As a side note, I've driven the Hyundai Genesis Coup with the 2.0T and the Sonata with the 2.0T and the Sonata was more enjoyable to drive than the Genesis Coup and was FASTER!)

I have learned in my married life that there are little windows of opportunity that float by.  If you are not ready to pounce on that window of opportunity, it closes rather quickly.  That window of opportunity came in 2010 when I got my first (and only) ATV.  In February this year, that little window of opportunity came back.  At the time we owned two vehicles - the Toyota Camry and a Chevy Suburban.  I drive the Camry to work and my wife drives the Suburban.  The Camry gets 30MPG, whereas the Suburban gets about 16MPG.  My wife has been using the Suburban extensively and it was costing us a ton of money to drive (in gas) and we were quickly adding miles.  We still have many children home and at the rate of use, we were going to use up the Suburban before we could realistically give up the large SUV.  So my wife said that she would like to have a small car to drive around.

Watch the window of opportunity open...  So I immediately go to the local Hyundai dealership and test drive several different vehicles in earnest.  I found the car that I wanted, but it wasn't at the dealership.  It is in transit from the factory to the dealership.  So, I bought the car sight unseen.  Not something that I typically do, but I did it because that car could be sold from underneath me if I didn't buy it before it arrived.

That car is fun to drive.  It is quick.  Normally turbos have a bit of a lag, but this one does not have much of a lag.  The only time the lag is very noticeable is when the car is first started and you romp on it.  You really need to get the car warmed up to operating temperature in order to appreciate the power of that motor.

So, how does it do on mileage?  Well, when I'm driving it like a maniac, it will get mid to high 20s.  However, if I am careful in how I drive, I can usually get about 30MPG out of it.  One day I filled it up and then drove to work with the cruise control set to 70 MPH.  I drove about 45 miles to work and I ended up getting ...  get this ... 41MPG.  Yep.  41MPG going at 70 MPH down the freeway.  In reality, I don't get that because my wife likes to drive my car around town and use my gas.  Just a warning...  The Sonata Turbo is NOT the car to buy for driving around town.  It is very thirsty in stop and go traffic.

Some technical specs about the car:

Engine:  2.0L turbo (twin scroll Mitsubishi turbo) with intercooler
Horsepower:  274 (same as my 5.3L V8 Suburban!!)
Torque:  269 ft-lbs
Heated front seats

Bottom line:  The car is fun to drive.  So if you're looking at a Hyundai Sonata, take one for a spin one day.  It might end up following you home...

Busy with changes - The movie 42

Life has been busy crazy since the last time I wrote.  Work has been busy crazy.  Always something to do and really never enough time to get it done.  Kids are in school and consume copious amounts of time to go and support them at their events.  Church comes a calling and you spend time there for the benefit of those that are around you...

This weekend was one of those rare moments that you get where you actually feel like you had a weekend.  Friday, we were scheduled to have some friends over.  Things didn't work out so that little get together got postponed until Sunday, which was a really good thing.  My wife and I haven't had a date in a while and so we went and saw a movie.  The movie we saw:  42 - The Jackie Robinson Story.

Short movie review:  Great movie.  Go and see it.  Reward the movie studio with lots of money so they make more inspiring movies like this instead of the garbage they've been making for the last 12 months.  It makes you appreciate how far society has come since the late 1940s.  Highly recommended.  Warning:  If you are offended by the use of the "N" word, then you will be offended by this movie.  It is probably time to grow up and take the diapers off and grow a little bit thicker skin.  The use of the "N" word is to show how disgustingly racist people were in the 1940s.  If you can overcome your "N" word sensitivity, this is a powerful movie which shows the determination of a young black man and a bunch of white men who are willing to endure hatred to start bringing blacks into professional baseball.  Truly groundbreaking.  Harrison Ford does a great job in this movie.  One of the best Hollywood movies I've seen in a long time.  And I'm serious about making this a box office hit.  If the public will support good movies like this, then we won't have a Scary Movie XV in the year 2025 or Saw XXXII.