Monday, December 31, 2012

"The Final Countdown"

It's hard to believe that in just a few hours 2012 will be over. The year has flown by, as so many of them do. They go by even faster when you are making up for lost time, as I am. I'm sure many will be glad to see 2012 go into the dustbin of history and start 2013 afresh and new. However, 2012 has been pretty good to me, so I'm not as eager to see it go. There were a number of highlights for me :
  • I celebrated the fifth anniversary of my heart transplant. Following that, I celebrated another anniversary with my wife (our 17th), another birthday, and another Christmas. 
  • This blog reached a milestone of its own with its 500th blog post and will reach the 600 mark shortly after the first of the year. Not bad for an amateur. In addition, I'm quickly closing in on the 50,000 page view mark.
  • I went to my first NCAA Baseball Tournament game in Tallahassee, FL as Florida State played Samford in the regionals.
  • I saw KISS in concert for the first time ever.
  • After a disappointing defeat in 2010, I was blessed to be one of several who volunteered their time to help re-elect Susan Lynn to the Tennessee House of Representatives.
  • I shot four deer during deer season, including my biggest buck ever, and my first with an AR15 (that story to follow).
  • I saw the non-profit organization I founded in 2011, Tennessee Organ Donation Foundation, Inc., complete it's first, full calendar year of operation.
So, as I said - 2012 was good to me. However, I think 2013, even with all the economic uncertainty and chaos, shows even more promise. It will also bring some very minor changes to The Second Chance Sheepdog blog. The content, topics, etc. will not change. However, the frequency of articles posting will. They will be more random. There will not always be multiple articles every week, and some weeks will not have a Music Monday.

The reason for this minor change is simple. As I mentioned above, I founded the Tennessee Organ Donation Foundation, Inc. back in November 2011 in order to more effectively advocate for organ and tissue donation. I have realized over the last few months that I need to put more time into it in 2013 in order for it to grow into the effective advocacy organization I envisioned when I founded it. In order to do that, I cannot devote as much time to The Sheepdog blog. However, do not be concerned - The Sheepdog will still be around watching and growling at the wolves. He just won't do it as frequently.

As I started thinking about a song with which to wrap up 2012 and 2012's Music Mondays, I wanted something fast with a metal sound. While watching some movies with friends over the weekend, I was reminded of a song I felt was perfect for the task - "The Final Countdown" by the Swedish rock band Europe.

Europe released "The Final Countdown" on it's 1986 album of the same name. It quickly became the song that put the band on the map. As we closeout 2012 with Europe's first Music Monday appearance, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a 2013 full of blessings. Today's video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Enjoy and have a Happy New Year.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Hobby Lobby vs. ObamaCare

English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio
English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hobby Lobby has filed a lawsuit seeking protection from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more appropriately known as ObamaCare, mandate that will require employers to provide coverage for the so-called "morning after pill." Hobby Lobby's founder and CEO David Green feels that the mandate requires the company to violate it's religious beliefs which are in opposition to abortion. A U.S. District Court Judge ruled against Hobby Lobby back in November, but the company is appealing that ruling. At the time the company originally filed the lawsuit, the company's CEO compiled a statement ** (below), which appeared in USA Today (link to USA Today column here), to explain the company's position.

** - There are multiple versions of Mr. Green's statement floating around on the internet. However, each of them has the same basic theme.

A Letter from Hobby Lobby Stores CEO
By David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn't much bigger than most people's living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God's word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation's largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We're Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I've always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God's laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that's what we've tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week's biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God's grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We've not only added jobs in a weak economy, we've raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that's raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It's not right. 

I know people will say we ought to follow the rules, that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don't like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American and no American business should have to make.

David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

It is going to be interesting to watch this case and see how it turns out. Will the courts allow the federal government to infringe upon religious freedom once again, or will the courts finally say "enough is enough" ?

No matter how it turns out, I applaud Hobby Lobby for standing up for what it believes in and what it thinks is right. Too many times too many of us sit on the sidelines and take whatever is being dished out upon us no matter how wrong or how unfair it is. In my opinion, that is one reason our country is in the mess it is right now. More of us need to show some courage as Hobby Lobby has done. 
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Music Monday

Well, it's upon us - Christmas 2012. Today's song and video was made for a TV movie that aired back in 2011. The title of the movie and today's song and video is "The Heart of Christmas" and it is performed by Christian artist Matthew West.

Before you watch the video, please visit these two links - click here and here - to learn more about the movie, including the characters, and the plot. The video will make more sense once you do, because it contains footage from the movie and reminds us of what is truly important at Christmastime. I needed the reminder. I think it will be good for you, too.

Enjoy the video and have a Merry Christmas. It's embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Season of Miracles

The Christmas Season is a joyous time of year. Most of us look forward to it year in and year out. We take time to catch up with family and friends and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmastime is often special for another reason, too. Every year we hear heart-warming stories about special happenings. Some of them we see on the news, while others are learned of by word of mouth. Typically, these stories have to do with giving, and generally involve someone going out of their way to help someone less fortunate. People often refer to these stories as "Christmas Miracles."

The term "miracle" used in a spiritual sense is something that was unlikely to happen but occurred because of Divine Intervention. Generally, Christians believe that God can be seen at work when a miracle such as a miraculous healing or a deliverance from a dangerous situation transpires. "Miracle" in a secular sense is generally used to refer to something that is a rare occurrence, may not happen again, is statistically unlikely, or simply can't be explained - i.e. The Miracle On Ice, the Music City Miracle. Today on The Sheepdog, you will experience a "miracle" of this type.

I am known for holding politicians on both sides of the aisle accountable for votes and / or policy decisions that I don't agree with. Oftentimes, I am harder on the Republicans than I am on the Democrats, because I used to be a GOP'er myself. However, I also try to be fair and dispense accolades on a politician and stand with them when they are on the "right" side of an issue and it is appropriate. Today is one such day.

I have been a frequent critic of Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers (at right). In the past, I have poked fun at her and called her out on votes that I have felt were hypocritical and less than conservative. (You can read some of my past article about her by clicking here.) I know I am not on her Christmas Card List for these reasons. I have, however, on a few rare occasions agreed with her and supported her, particularly on issues affecting gun owners.

The other day I read an article on the online version of The Lebanon Democrat titled "Lawmakers to Consider Event Ticket Bill".  The bill's official name is the "Fairness in Ticketing Act". Bascially, the bill would regulate the resale of event tickets, such as football games, basketball games, concerts, and other events. Many are concerned that the bill would prevent a private individual from reselling tickets they purchased to someone else. For instance, let's say you buy tickets to a concert, but a week or two before the event you find out you can't go. The bill might prevent you from reselling your tickets to someone else to keep from having to eat them.

In my opinion, the fact that TicketMaster supports the bill makes it a bad bill. I have always felt that they have a racket going in regards to ticket sales. They charge outrageous fees on top of the already outrageous ticket prices for any event ticket. In addition, many times they are the only ones selling tickets to certain events making them, in my opinion, a monopoly. TicketMaster's opinion is that the bill is needed to prevent ticket brokers a.k.a. scalpers from buying up large blocks of tickets and then re-selling them at huge profits. However, that's not the whole story. There are special exemptions in the bill for TicketMaster. Surprise, surprise.

According to an article I ran across on titled "Fairness in Ticketing Act Benefits Ticketmaster over Fans", one provision in the bill requires ticket resellers to list their name, face value of the ticket, and the asking price. A second provision could allow TicketMaster to take control of the resale market in addition to the primary market. Furthermore, there is a specific exemption in the law to the requirement to the first provision above. Guess who qualifies for that exemption ? Yep, you guessed it - TicketMonopoly, ... oops. Sorry. I meant TicketMaster. Isn't crony capitalism great ? I bet if you started reviewing the campaign financial reports of Tennessee Legislators, you'd find several campaign contributions from TicketMaster

My wife and I attended the Steelers / Titans football game back in October with some friends. The day the tickets went on sale at 10 a.m., I was sitting in front of my computer attempting to purchase four tickets. As soon as the sale opened on the Titans website, all the tickets were gone. I will admit it was frustrating, but I started looking for them elsewhere. The four of us had set a limit for what we were willing to pay for a ticket. I found many tickets available that were above that limit. I finally found some great seats in our price range, bought them, and we went to the game. Others can do the same thing.

Movie or concert tickets symbol
Movie or concert tickets symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In addition to TicketMaster, concert halls and sports arenas support the law. Personally, I don't buy that for two reasons :
  1. They are in business to make money. So, why would they care who buys the tickets as long as they are bought ?
  2. If they are truly concerned about making sure that Joe Six Pack gets a ticket to a game or concert at a reasonable price, then they could simply refuse to sell the tickets in large blocks to the brokers.
Instead of more government regulation, I have a better solution to the problem the Tennessee Legislature is trying to solve. First, the "gubmint" should stay out of it and allow the free market to work out a solution. Second, one solution would be for the ticket industry to "self-police" itself. For instance, the concert halls and sports arenas could simply choose to sell the tickets ONLY to individuals, and maybe set a limit, such as 4 or 6, as to the number of tickets one individual could buy. Then, consumers could decide if they are willing to pay the prices the venues set. If they are, fine. If not, simple economics will force the prices down to a level consumers are willing to pay.

In the article mentioned above, Senator Beavers says that she is opposed to the law, because it would take away the purchaser's property rights. She goes on to say that, in her opinion, "Once you buy a ticket, what you do with it is your business." I know many will be shocked, but I agree with Senator Beavers 110% on this issue, and I hope the state legislature quickly puts this bill in file 13 after session starts.

I am sure that today's article and my agreeing with Senator Beavers for once is surprising to some, particularly to people in Wilson County. A few may even wonder if a Sheepdog imposter wrote this article. I can assure you the author is I. I just want to be fair to Beavers, Obama, and other politicians by not only criticizing them when they are wrong, but by also applauding them when they are right.

Perhaps this article and the fact I agree with Beavers for once can be considered a "Christmas Miracle" in their own right. To Senator Beavers, I say good job and thank you in regards to opposing this legislation, and in the spirit of the season, I wish her and her family a Merry Christmas.

And before anyone asks, the answer is no - hell has not frozen over ..... yet.

Bad Sheepdog. Ruff !!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Music Monday with Kutless

Today's Music Monday features a Christian band, Kutless, that has not appeared on The Sheepdog before. They released their first record in 2002 and achieved relatively quick success. Today's song and video is of their hit single "What Faith Can Do" from the band's 2009 album It Is Well.

The lyrics of the song are about hope making it a perfect one to feature as we head into the last week before Christmas 2012. Hope is what Christmas is all about, and I hope each of you will receive a little hope and encouragement from the lyrics of this song. The music video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Deer Season - Part 2, The Election Day Buck

November 6, 2012 was like no election day I had ever experienced before. It is likely I will not experience another one like it. Many people were extremely unhappy at day's end, because their candidate lost. Many were upset that Obama was re-elected. I may have been one of the few happy conservatives when I went to bed that evening. I tell the story of why below.

I love deer hunting. My appreciation and enjoyment of it has grown since my heart transplant. For about three years prior to my transplant, I was too sick and weak to deer hunt. No matter how badly I may have wanted to, it was simply out of the question. The body just wouldn't go. I also have a new understanding of what the phrase "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" means now, too.

I usually go deer hunting with some buddies, as I've mentioned before. However, I've got one little spot that I will occasionally go and hunt during the week, when they can't. It's also a place where I'm picky about which deer I will take. It has to be a trophy buck, or I let it walk. There are two reasons : 1) the area is small, so the deer are likely to be spooked for the rest of the season if I shoot one, and 2) if I shoot a deer, I have to get help getting it out. So, I want it to be worth the trouble.

The little area is surrounded by thickets with a little clearing in the middle. I've created a natural blind with an old, downed tree at the edge of the thicket where I can hide yet see the clearing and anything coming into it. If a good buck walks into the clearing, the farthest my shot will be is about 15 yards. It's basically a slam dunk. That's a good thing and a bad thing all rolled into one. The good thing is that you can't miss. The bad thing is that if a buck comes in, it will all go down fast, so you better stay on your toes. It's wham, bam, thank you ma'am and the hunt's over, or you go home thinking about what might have been. You're either gonna be a hero or a zero. I like that challenge.

Mr. 8-Pointer about 4 weeks prior to election day.
I had been keeping tabs on an 8-point buck on two different trail cameras as he cruised back and forth through the area for two years. I had hunted him a few times but never seen him. On Saturday, October 27, 2012, I got my first real life look at the dude. I saw him out moving around that morning around 8:30 a.m. The temperature was about 40 degrees at the time, and it was wet from a rain the night before. I remembered having this dude's picture on the trail cameras several times over the last two years either after or during rains. So, when I saw him out that morning, I stored it back in the memory bank. The first morning I had a couple of hours free after a rain the night before, I was going in after him. It seemed this ol' buck had a thing for cool, damp mornings. I needed to try to use it against him.

I had voted during the second week of early voting, because there was no way I was gonna fight the crowds and stand in line on election day. Plus, since my friend and now State Representative Elect Susan Lynn had won the Republican Primary back in August, and was unopposed in the general election, I was free for most of the day. Since my October 27th sighting of the 8-pointer, I had been watching the weather forecast religiously. The forecast for Monday, November 5th, was for rain up into the evening with a temperature of about 40 degrees at daybreak on election day. These were the exact same conditions I had seen Mr. 8-Pointer out in about 10 days earlier ! So, I decided election day was going to be my best opportunity to get him. The rut was ramping up. He should be out chasing does. Usually, deer hunting for me is somewhat of a crap shoot, but I felt really, really good about election day. It was an unexplainable feeling. Something I had never experienced before. It might just be "the day."

On election day, I was up early and in the woods, set up, and ready to go before daylight began breaking. I hung up a couple of scent bombs of Tink's 69 buck lure, popped a top on my usual morning Mountain Dew, and began to get the muzzleloader settled onto my Primos' Trigger Stick. Then, I realized I had a problem. It was only a few minutes before daylight began breaking, but my Trigger Stick was too high even though it was adjusted as short as it would go. I realized I had forgotten to adjust the length of the legs on my stool before setting up leaving them too short. What do I do ? I usually like to keep my gun up on the stick, so that all I have to do is ease my cheek over to the stock and squeeze the trigger without moving very much. It's wise since the little hunting area is so tight that if you move and a deer is standing in the clearing, you are busted, and it's game over. I decided it would require too much movement and too much noise to raise the stool height. So, I elected to lay the stick down, lay the muzzleloader across my lap, and just do the best I could to raise it swiftly, smoothly, and get it on target without getting busted, if an opportunity to take Mr. 8-Pointer presented itself.

Smoke begins to clear after the shot on Mr. 8-Pointer.
Things were slow. Shooting light was available a little before 6 a.m. but nothing was moving. Then, suddenly at 7:30 a.m., I hear and see movement coming straight at me. "It's him, it's him," I thought to myself. He was at 30 yards and coming fast with his head and nose only about 18 inches off the ground. He was getting a snootful of the Tink's 69. He was looking for "the doe." As soon as I saw him, I began to smoothly, but quickly, raise the muzzleloader, cocking the hammer as I brought it to my shoulder. Since the buck was "distracted" by the hot doe he was smelling, he did not see me raise the gun. Just as the buck stepped into the clearing and stopped, about 12 or 13 yards from me, the butt of the stock hit my shoulder, the scope's cross hairs settled on his right-front shoulder, and I squeezed the trigger - all simultaneously. KA-BOOM !!!!! White smoke filled the little clearing, and I heard the buck run off, seemingly back where he had just came from. Then, I heard a crash. He was down.

Many hunters talk about buck fever, and how they get nervous and shake when a deer comes in. I have never experienced it. I don't know if I just get so focused on the fundamentals of shooting and the objective, or what. When it came to this 8-pointer, though, there was no time for "buck fever." In the time in takes you to read the following - there he is, raise gun while cocking trigger, settle cross hairs on shoulder, and squeeze trigger- it was over. Wham, bam, thank you Tink's 69. He's going in the freezer and on the wall.

After the smoke cleared, I got up and went over to where the buck was standing at the shot to look for blood and began the tracking process. I found a good amount. However, while I thought I knew which direction the buck had run, there was not a good blood trail leading in that direction. I began to track the best I could. At one point, the blood trail seemed to indicate that at first impact he had ran right at me and then swerved to his right, my left. Unfortunately, the trail ran out quickly. It must have just been splatter. So, I went in the opposite direction. Nothing. I've now been looking for 30 minutes and not having much luck. The area is thick, so I know I've got to pick up the trail if I am gonna find this deer. Tracking him is made even more difficult by the fact that the rain from the night before has left all the leaves dark brown making it difficult to see a blood trail. Not good. I do know that he didn't go far, because I heard him go down.

I decide to start looking in the direction I thought I heard the buck run after the shot. The smoke from the muzzleloader was so thick I couldn't see him run off, but I could hear him. Next, I look right behind where he was standing at the shot and find blood. I go a few steps further and find more, then more, but then I wonder if it could have been left by the bullet exiting his left side. (I would find out later that there was no exit wound.) I continue on still finding a drop here and a couple there stopping every few steps to look around trying to find him. At this point, I know I am about 15 or 20 yards from where he stood when I shot. I look up to my 11 o'clock and see white. Could it be .... yep, that's him. I got him !! I did it !!

The buck had made it about 50 yards after being shot. When looking at his pictures on the trail cameras, I had guessed he would field dress about 125 pounds. However, as I now looked at this dude up close and personal, I realized he was huge !! I would find out exactly how huge about two hours later.

I grabbed him by the antlers, picked his head up, and looked at him. He was beautiful and easily the biggest and best deer I had ever shot. Two years of watching the trail cameras, monitoring the weather, and simply doing my homework by studying this deer's activities had paid off. My CVA Optima Pro muzzleloader, the Triple 7 Pellets, Remington Clean-Bore Primers, and PowerBelt 295-grain Aero-Tip bullets had all done their job. The Tink's 69 had done it's job, too. The 8-pointer came in throwing caution to the wind looking for the hot doe he was smelling, and I had made the right call hunting the cool morning after an overnight rain. As Hannibal Smith from The A-Team used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together." One sure came together election day morning.

It was now time to get the big dude out of the woods, so I went to get some help. We took some pictures, loaded him into my truck, and I took him to Lebanon Locker to check him in and get him processed. I did not field dress him in order to see what his gross weight was. He went 181 pounds. After the guys at Lebanon Locker dressed him, he was still 150 pounds. The 9-pointer I shot in 2010, exactly two years prior, was only 118 pounds field dressed. This big 8-pointer easily by-passed him as my best deer ever. He is a big, big deer for Tennessee, and I know it will be very difficult to top him.

Thanks again, Kent !
I took some time that morning, in the woods, when it was just me and the buck to thank the Lord for restoring my health and blessing me with the "second chance" to hunt again. I do not take it for granted. I am grateful for the meat that big buck provided and for the memories of spending two years chasing him. This marks the first time I ever set my sights on one particular deer and did my homework to get "him." It was a neat, rewarding experience, and one I won't ever forget. I also thought about my heart donor, Kent. He had a big part in this. I would not still be around to have experienced this wonderful day without him.

On November 6, 2012, my deer season was only four days old, as I do not bow hunt, and I already had three deer down. The most deer I have shot in one season is four, which I accomplished in both 2007 and 2008. Could I be on my way to beating those two years ? We'll see.

In the five weeks since I shot Mr. 8-Pointer, I've thought about some things. First, 2012's election days have been really good to me. They have brought me a lot of joy. Back in August, I had been part of helping my friend Susan Lynn win re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives on primary day. A lot of work by many people went into that. Then, on general election day, I had shot my best deer ever. Secondly, I realized that two years of work were complete. Now, I will start the process over - find a buck, study him, stalk him, and figure out a way to get him. Mr. 8-Pointer taught me a lot about big bucks and how to successfully hunt them. I will use that knowledge to get the next one.

With Mr. 8-Pointer's steaks, roasts, sausage, etc. now in the freezer and his head at the taxidermist, it was now time to work on accomplishing another one of the goals I had set for the 2012 deer season - taking a deer with my AR15.  
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Monday, December 10, 2012

A Third Day Double Shot on Music Monday

I've decided that over the next few weeks, as we head into Christmas, Music Mondays will solely feature Christian artists. My reasoning is that if it wasn't for the birth of Jesus, there would be no Christmas. I may bring some Christmas music into the mix on the 24th, Christmas Eve, but I haven't decided for sure, yet.

I will start the consecutive Mondays of Christian music with one of the genre's most popular, and one of my favorite, bands - Third Day. It's been quite awhile, January 17, 2011, since Third Day appeared on The Sheepdog. Since it's a double shot Music Monday, I will play one of the bands early tunes and one of it's latest.

We'll start with "Consuming Fire" from Third Day's self-titled debut album released in 1995. The song's video, which is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here, won a Billboard Music Award for Best Christian Music Video.

For video #2, we will look to Third Day's most recent album release, Miracle. The album was released earlier this year, and it's first single "I Need A Miracle" has quickly climbed the Christian charts. In fact, "I Need A Miracle" hit #1 last week making it Third Day's 28th #1 song.

All of us go through things at one time or another that are tough. If you're having a tough time today, or are hurting, or just need some encouragement, I hope you will watch this video and listen to the words of the song. I pray it will provide what you're looking for. The song's music video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

I hope everyone enjoys today's Third Day Double Shot.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taking A Positive Stand

I am a football fan. I love the game. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I watch every one of their games that I can. As a Florida State Seminoles fan, I likewise watch every one of their games that I can. I am glad that they won the ACC Championship and are going to the Orange Bowl. Both teams can make me cheer, make me mad, and drive me crazy - but, that's football. Florida State is a good example of the "drive me crazy" part. Their season will be remembered for what could have been. Fewer turnovers against North Carolina State and Florida would have resulted in victories in both of those games. Then, they, instead of Alabama, would be 12-0 and playing Notre Dame for the National Championship. But, I digress.

English: Exterior of Arrowhead Stadium in July...
English: Exterior of Arrowhead Stadium in July 2010, after the renovations were completed and unveiled. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was saddened to hear about the shocking tragedy that the Kansas City Chiefs football family endured last week. I can't imagine the emotions the team endured after learning that their teammate, linebacker Jovan Belcher, shot and killed his girlfriend, and then turned the gun on himself at Arrowhead Stadium. They persevered, though, and won their game in Arrowhead Stadium the following day against the Carolina Panthers. The victory was likely the best therapy the team could have received. I'm happy for them.

One thing that never ceases to piss me off is when people exploit such a tragedy for their own gain. Oftentimes, we see politicians and other talking heads do it to score political points or to spew political propaganda. Unfortunately, it happened with this tragedy, too. However, in this instance the exploitation came from a surprise source - NBC Sunday Night football. During Sunday night's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas decided to blame guns for the Belcher tragedy and went on to quote, and agree with, another anti-gunner who said, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." If you did not watch the game and see Costas' comments, the video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

The ones of you that have been reading The Sheepdog's blog for awhile know that I like guns as much as football. You also know that, even before I say so, I completely disagree with Costas. I would like to know how he came to the conclusion that this would not have happened if the gun is taken out of the equation ? Doesn't it stand to reason that Belcher could have used some other weapon, if he "didn't possess a gun" ? If Costas can guarantee with 100% certainty that his hypothesis is correct, then I want to get a recommendation from him on which PowerBall numbers to play at the next drawing. The fact is that no one knows for sure that removing the gun from the equation would have prevented this tragedy. No one.

We do know, though, that this is the same argument the liberals and anti-gunners have been using for years. Its the old "guns kill people" argument. They used it after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' shooting, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and for years before any of those tragic events. The ones of us with at least a speck of common sense know that his argument is bogus. A gun is completely harmless until a human picks it up, puts bullets in it, and then aims it at something and squeezes the trigger. A gun is basically a paperweight until it receives some human interaction. People are killed in car accidents, too. Should we get rid of cars and walk or ride horses everywhere we go ?

The anti-gunners who use this argument over and over again ignore the positive aspects of firearms to do so. People use firearms for hunting to provide food for their families and others. Statistics show that annually firearms are used 2 million times for self-defense. Most of those times a shot is not even fired, because the mere presence of a firearm is enough to send a thug fleeing. In other words, 2 million times a year, guns actually save lives and injuries by helping people prevent muggings, rapes, murders, and other crimes. Next time you hear someone spewing anti-gun propaganda, take a moment to educate them on the 2 million incidents mentioned above.

Image representing NBC Universal as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase
Another problem I have with Costas' gibberish is the fact that he, or NBC, or both chose to make their political statement during a football game. Americans, myself included, enjoy football for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's to follow our team. Sometimes it's just because we love the game and watch whether our team is playing or not. On some occasions we watch a game just to get away. It might be an escape from our jobs, to get a break from the kids, or for some alone time. For whatever reason we're watching, the last thing we want shoved down our throats is politics. So, shut up and let us watch the game !!

Sunday night's incident reminds me of a U2 concert that I attended in July 2011 at Vanderbilt University's football stadium. I like U2's music but had never seen them in concert. A friend got some tickets and invited me and a couple of other guys to go. The concert was going good. Stage show was good. Music was good. Then, U2 decided to dabble in politics. They began playing one of their classics, "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Very quickly I realized something was different. Instead of being about the conflict in Ireland, as it was originally written, they were now performing it about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict instead. Worse yet, the images on the jumbotron made it very clear that U2 supported the Palestinians !! Pissed does not even touch how I felt. The puzzling part about it was that 3 of the 4 members of U2 profess to be Christians. So, why are they not supporting Israel ? Maybe they don't read the same Bible I do. Mine is very clear. In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham regarding the Israelites, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." I wanted to leave the concert, but the other guys were enjoying it, and I didn't want to ruin it for them. Plus, one of them had driven, so I was kinda stuck. However, that will be the last U2 concert I will attend.

For those of you who enjoy my Music Monday's, this is also the reason U2 hasn't appeared again. I played them once before this concert, but not since. They will not appear again. Just like with football, when I'm enjoying a rock 'n show, I want to see what I came for - music and a show, not freakin' politics. A concert, like football, is a type of escape from the rat-race. Don't ruin it.

I saw today where Costas has issued a half-assed (sorry) apology in regards to his commentary Sunday night. In it, he said he supports gun ownership but then continued his anti-gun monologue by  asking why we need semi-autos ? And, what are they good for anyway ? I'm not surprised, though. He does work for the NBC Network, which I "affectionately" refer to as the Nothing But Clinton Network. We all know how the Clintons feel about gun ownership.

His "apology" shows his complete ignorance of firearms. Thousands of Americans have semi-auto pistols in their homes and carry them for self-defense purposes. Others, me included, use semi-autos for hunting. Mr. Costas, I hope this answers your questions. May I also add that in regards to semi-autos used for defensive purposes that many of the thugs walking our streets carry semi-auto pistols. Therefore, doesn't it stand to reason that in order to properly defend ourselves and our families, law-abiding Americans should be at least as well-equipped as the "predators" are ? Just sayin'.

As I begin to wrap up this article, I have a proposal for my fellow gun owners. I'm sure everyone remembers how the left usually stages a "protest." Generally, it's obstructionist in nature. Think about the sit-ins of the '60s and '70s. More recently, the occupiers obstructed things, too, by taking over various pieces of public property to pitch their tents, use drugs, engage in illicit sexual activity, and even defecate on the American flag. In the last few weeks, unions and other groups have blocked and shutdown ports on the west coast in order to get their way. That's the way the left attempts to get their point across. However, gun owners are conservatives. Conservatives do things the right way - positively in a non-obstructive fashion. My proposal follows.

NBC Sunday Night Football logo
NBC Sunday Night Football logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For this Sunday night's game, December 9, 2012, on NBC between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, I am proposing a "Gun In." Get it - "Gun In" vs. "Sit In." Anyway, I'm sure you are asking, "Sheepdog, what the heck is a "Gun In" ? Well, there is two parts to it. First, we will boycott the football game. Yes, no football Sunday night. Get your fill during the day. That goes for you Cheeseheads, too. Second, during the time the game is on, which would be from 8-11 PM EST (7-10 PM CST) do something gun related. For instance :
  1. If there is a gun range near you that's open during that time, whether indoors or outdoors, go shooting.
  2. If you have guns that need cleaning or lubing, do it then.
  3. If you have recently purchased a new accessory, such as a scope, sight, laser, or grip, for your favorite gun, install it then.
  4. Get family or friends together and do 1,2, or 3 together.
  5. If your local gun store is open during this time, go shopping. Pick up some ammo, a new accessory, or go ahead and buy that new gun you've been thinking about. If they're not open, go visit Gander Mountain, Academy Sports, etc. and do your shopping there.
  6. If you like the shopping idea in #5, but there's no store convenient to you, do it online. Or, if there is a store convenient, but you'd just rather shop online, that's cool - just do it.
These are just suggestions and are not all-inclusive. Some of you will think of other things to do that I haven't. The important thing is to boycott NBC's football game and do something fun and gun-related. Personally, my recommendation is if there's a gun you've been wanting to buy but haven't, Sunday night is the perfect time. Better yet, to really drive the left nuts, go buy it online. It drives them absolutely crazy when they think about the fact that Americans can buy guns online. Costas even referred to it in his apology. What they either forget, or most likely simply choose to ignore, is that it is perfectly legal under Federal law. There's no "loophole," because the gun has to be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee who then does the required background check before you can take possession of the gun. I think this is the avenue I may go Sunday night, as I've been thinking about buying one of the new Sig Sauer P938's. If I buy it online, it will drive the lefties nuts !! I make sure to never miss an opportunity to aggravate them. Afterall, they are such an easy mark. He, he, he. By the way, if you do buy a gun online, make sure to thank your FFL for allowing you to have it shipped to them. You might even thank them by tipping them in addition to paying the applicable transfer fee when you go pick your gun up.

Some may argue that my proposal shows an "insensitivity" to the tragedies of gun violence. I would argue it does not. My heart aches every time I hear about another shooting. However, I know that such incidents are not because of a gun problem, they are because of a moral and spiritual problem within our society. If people want to kill and maim each other, they will find a way to do so whether a gun is available or not. The thing to remember is that as many as 2 million such tragedies are prevented each year because a gun was present at the time someone could have become a victim. Plus, my proposal causes no problems for anyone but NBC and their ratings and will actually "stimulate the economy" at a time when it needs stimulating. Better yet is the fact that it won't cost taxpayers a penny.

I hope gun owners and other conservatives will stand together Sunday night and participate in The Sheepdog's Gun In. One week of millions of gun owners not watching NBC's Sunday Night Football game will send the message. Their ratings will drop and advertisers will be unhappy. The best part will be that the left will go nuts as ammo, gun, and gun accessory sales soar. Gun stores across the country will boom, and the left will go nuts even more !! It'll be awesome.

Please join me in taking a positive stand.

Source - article titled "NBC's Bob Costas Interrupts Sunday Night Football With Gun Control Lecture"

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Music Monday on "Gypsy Road"

For about two months, The Sheepdog has toned down the volume on Music Mondays. However, today he needs a metal fix, so instead of Music Monday, it will be a Metal Monday. The featured band is one of my favorites from the '80s - Cinderella.

Today is Cinderella's second appearance on this blog. I featured them the first time back in February 2011, shortly after beginning this series. Then, I featured my favorite Cinderella song "The Last Mile." Today I feature my 2nd favorite and another of Cinderella's hard-driving, fast and loud tunes. It's "Gypsy Road."

Cinderella recorded "Gypsy Road" on their 1988 album Long Cold Winter, their most successful album. I was fortunate to see Cinderella play in Knoxville, TN during their Long Cold Winter Tour supporting the album. That concert remains one of the best, and loudest, I have ever experienced. Today's video is embedded below and can also be watched by clicking here. Crank it up and enjoy.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Congratulations, .... You Killed the Twinkie

Just before Thanksgiving, we heard the news that Hostess would be shutting down. It meant that over 18,000 people would lose their jobs and that Twinkies, HoHo's, and Wonder Bread were gone. We saw an American tradition quickly go from endangered to extinct, virtually over night.

Box of Twinkies
Box of Twinkies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hostess had been in financial trouble for a while. It filed bankruptcy in 2004, emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, and then filed again in 2011. The company was in big trouble. Some of it due to labor and benefits costs. The labor dispute Hostess has endured over the last few months with the Teamsters and other unions didn't help things any, either. Interestingly, all the unions involved, including the Teamsters, reached agreements with Hostess, except for one - the bakers. Each agreed to pay cuts and other concessions in order to help keep the company afloat and allow people to hold onto their jobs. All of them that is, except the bakers.

Just before Thanksgiving, Hostess gave the bakers union a deadline for reaching an agreement. The company advised them that if an agreement was not reached, then the company would be shut down. Then, themselves and all of their fellow employees, over 18,000 in total, would be out of a job. The last report I saw said that the bakers refused to take a pay cut of 5%. In essence, they chose no pay over taking a 5% cut. That makes no sense to me.

Up until a few years ago, I was indifferent in regards to unions - I could take them or leave them. In fact, several years ago, for a very brief time, I considered joining a union. I had been unlawfully discriminated against at work, and I considered joining the union in order to "stick it to the man." As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that doing so would only make matters worse and lead to retaliation by management. Instead, I decided that since I was young and had a degree and my CPA, I would take responsibility for myself and go find another job. Why stick around that environment, be miserable, and depend on the union to look out for me. Nope. I'd take of myself. Screw "the man" and the union.

Over the last few years, I've been watching unions more closely and looking more into what they are about. The argument can be made that at one time in this country, there was a need for them. Workplace conditions were unsafe. Workers were mistreated. However, nowadays, I don't think that argument holds any water. There are plenty of labor laws and other regulatory requirements on the books to protect the American worker.

The more I've looked into unions, I've realized that the heart and soul of the whole idea of unions is rooted in the concept of "collectivism." In other words, unions work "for the good of the collective." Anytime you hear the word "collective," you should get chill bumps. Anything that is "good for the collective" removes individualism from the equation.

For instance, think about the term "collective bargaining." Under collective bargaining, the contract formed by the union with the company binds all the union workers under that umbrella. What if some of the benefits, such as health insurance choices, are not the best option for a particular employee ? Too bad. So sad. That employee is stuck with them. Bye, bye individuality and individual liberty and freedom. By joining the union, you basically forfeit your right to negotiate your own wage and benefits with the company. You give up your right to get what's best for you and your family.

Hostess Donettes And Honey Buns
Hostess Donettes And Honey Buns (Photo credit: Phillip Pessar)
Here's something else to think about that many don't realize. Most Americans have a negative view of communism, right ? We don't want it here in our country, and for many decades, we have fought to prevent communism's spread into other countries. The thing is that this whole idea of "the good of the collective" is the very heart and soul of communism. Communism removes individuality from all parts of society and the collective becomes the focus. So, we know most Americans disapprove of communism, right ? So, then why do so many of them rely on the communist-born idea of collectivism in regards to their livelihood ? It baffles me.

Lastly, folks who have read my blog for any length of time know that I am a firearms enthusiast. I hunt, target shoot, and carry guns for self-defense. Firearms are as much a part of my every day life as food and clothing. I am often amazed by the anti-gunners who claim that guns need to be banned because "guns kill people." The fact is that is not true. A gun is basically a paperweight until a human picks it up. Evil people kill people. If you follow the gun banners logic, then we need to ban cars, knives, baseball bats, ropes, fatty foods, and other things that lead to humans dying, too.

Additionally, if you follow that logic, then I propose that perhaps it is time to ban unions, too. Afterall, a union killed the Twinkie, and the HoHo, and Wonder Bread, and .........  
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