Of Guns and Banana Peels

Of Guns and Banana Peels

If not now, when? Yes, we are in a collective state of mourning for this latest hunting of young children. Now is absolutely the right time to set politics aside and ask why the average citizen needs to own semi-automatic weapons and mega-clips in our complex society?
At all??

I heard this as part of the argument today,  ”Banana Peels Kill People,” the argument presumably being that people inadvertently slip on banana peels and are injured or die as a result. But we don’t legislate bananas.

However, we have legislated: cigarettes, drinking and driving,
airbags, motorcycle helmets, seatbelts, baby crib slats,
lead in toys and candy, drugs, standards of municipal
drinking water, etc., all to the chagrin of those fearful of losing another right or fun thing to the collective well-being of a free society. (The disgruntled players are not as vocal, powerful, savvy nor do they possess the financial and political firing power of the NRA) Besides, if you really want to knock yourself out, you can still enjoy tobacco in the privacy of your own home–don’t say we didn’t warn you…

The NRA arguments against semi-automatic gun bans are holding hostage, the will of the majority of Americans. I am a second amendment supporter, for the record, so was our Supreme Court in 2008, but they left “reasonable regulations” on the table.

If banana peels were smoked, if they killed thousands of US citizens a year, we would insist on training, licensing, insurance, warning labels and probably a doctor’s note to possess them. If banana peels were weapons of mass destruction we would send in Seal Team Six to take out their source. The more that people have bananas,
the more people are going to slip on banana peels. (simple math)

If the collective recent mass murderers (or even your average everyday urban thug variety murderer) chose a banana peel as weapon of choice we would not have the dreadful gun-related statistics in this country we accumulate every day, although we might face the wrath of Dole.

Wait a minute, let me grab my rocket launcher, someone’s ringing my doorbell. Oh, I take that back, I don’t own a rocket launcher or my own drone. Darn you Supreme Court!!   Let me keep my bananas and my musket, but please get these semi-automatic weapons and their high-velocity clips out of our houses and off our streets. Their only purpose is to kill, and that is a sport we can no longer afford as a sane society.

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Kids and Super Bowl XLV

After several weekends of playoff games there is both elation and disappointment in the air as the Lombardi trophy is awarded. I extend a virtual hand and congratulate MVP Eli Manning and the New York Giants for their competitive Super Bowl XLV win today. Their game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots was close and exciting. My home team–The Chargers—after giving us a one heck of a ride in December–came up short and missed the playoffs altogether. Consequently, local football fans were actually able to relax during the playoffs and this ultimate competition without throwing something at the TV. For the losers today, it was often a case of the throw that got away. Sometimes things turns on a dime. Thus is the beauty of football and other sports, as well as the myriad games we play in life. No matter how skilled we are, or how prepared, sometimes it comes down to a doink on a helmet, a blown whistle, an askew lace, a gust of wind, the twelfth man, or perhaps someone’s secret talisman. Revealing, will be the sport message boards and blogs on both the winning and losing sides of the NFL tonight. These will be, presumably, written by adults. The range of emotions displayed will give one pause for thought —from bitter vitriol, name calling, tears, tantrums, blame, and gloating, to genuine congratulations and hope-springs-eternal for the next season! I’m sure fans will eventually return to some stable equilibrium whether next week or next season! Tomorrow morning children will be returning to school after being exposed to this range of emotion. What we teach them about winning and losing, is playing itself out in cyberspace tonight. Kids have picked up the fact that winning is exhilarating from nearly every aspect of our society, but need roll models to learn that it’s tolerable (however unpleasant) to lose! How we conduct ourselves in the aftermath of our games, plays to our character. A good coach understands the strengths and weaknesses of each player. So does a good parent or teacher. One of my all-time favorite cartoons by Roz Chast, addressed the collective angst of the home team in a New Yorker cartoon a number of years ago. “It’s our fault,” resonated the players, the ump, the fans. The caption: “Guilt Day at Shea Stadium.” (It’s in her book THEORIES OF EVERYTHING Selected, Collected, Health-Inspected Cartoons 1978-2006 By Roz Chast. Check it out) As great as it must feel to be a world champion, I still believe the journey is a big part of the reward.

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If Kids Ran for President

Magic

It’s that time again. The 2012 Republican Primaries are upon us. You can’t turn on the news, the radio or a late night comedy show without hearing something about the Republican presidential candidates competing for the nomination. You better believe that kids are listening too. What are they thinking? Politicians pay attention!
Lin Jakary, (author of I Lost My Sock, and The Jakry Kids: Curiosity Shop) asks kids the intrepid question:

If you wanted to be president, how would you get people
to vote for you?

Colin M.
Age 5
Future Policeman

You have to know lots of magic tricks to be president. I know how to make magic. I know how to take a bunny and I put it in a box and slide it out and make it disappear. I can make him come back. I can put a ball into a big black box, it’s plastic and it doesn’t break. I say magic words and make it disappear. I can make it come back. I got a big thing with flowers on top, you pull part of it, and the whole thing goes whap, and it falls down. I guess I’d have to learn a few more tricks to be president.

Carrie W.
Age 5
Future Brain Doctor

First, I’d win three gold medals so my name would already be in the
paper. Then I’d tell people that if you were really a poor person, you could go into any restaurant and say, “I’m poor,” and they’d have to say, “Okay, go on in, it’s free.” I’d drive around the country and talk to people so they could see that I was a nice person and that I could treat them good and give them things that they need. I’d change a few of the rules and make a few new ones to make life better. Don’t throw sticks and stones at people. Don’t shoot cowboys. Don’t catch Garibaldis. They want to stay in their homes just like you do.

Kevin W.
Age 4
Future Policeman

I’d go on a loudspeaker and talk through it and stuff, and tell people what my name is. I’d fight a war, and whoever won would get the country or something. So I guess I’d just win. Like the time England wanted to be California. There was a war with bombs and airplanes and stuff. The rule is: whoever wins it gets it, and gets to keep the name they want. That’s why our name is California. I’d make a lot, a lot of promises. I’d tell people if they saw those round things—what do you call them—flying saucers– I’d tell them not to be afraid. Hey,
I’m really a nice guy.

Rusty D.
Age 6
Future Actor

Well, first I’d be on a game show. When I become very famous and win all the money, I’d just slip into the election. I’d always appear on television. Do you know what I’d do? I’d just tell the newspapermen, “I want to be President of the United States.” They’d just write it down and just deliver it. So in the paper the next day it says, “Rusty D. wants to be President of the United States.”
It might say U.S.A., you know, you can abbreviate it like that. Actually, it would appear big. They may have a different bigger name right across the top of the paper, but mine would be right up there. People would know me.

Claire V.
Age 7
Future Model

I’d do favors for them, like say if I was in the White House and I was going to the Laundromat and my neighbor needed her laundry done too, I’d take it for her. When you’re a woman, it’s best to be on television with a bunch of judges with a bunch of those hammer things. They’d be banging them one at a time and saying, “Vote for Claire.” Each one would make a speech or me. Then I’d get up
and say, “Vote for me, don’t vote for George Washington or Ronald Reagan, or whoever’s president now.” I’d promise I wouldn’t send anyone to the dungeon.

Sara S.
Age 8
Future Paleontologist

Who wants this and who wants that? Who wants a golden ring and who wants a silver necklace? I’d talk to them on a television movie.
I’d say, “Today, some people dug up some very special fossils. Now I’m going to give them to someone else, so please call our phone number this instant. If they wanted the fossils they could call up and get them. I‘d give away things that I got tired of. I’d say,
“Unfortunately, there is another president fighting against me. He’s asking the people for gold, silver, copper and all the riches in the land. It makes people greedy. Sara S. wants to be president, and she deserves it!”

Aisha H.
Age 7
Future Ballerina

Probably by being nice and letting some people work half day. If they needed to work all day, they could. I’d take a train and go around to different states. This is sort of funny: I’d throw cigars out to the men first, and then I’d make my speech, I’d say, “Hi, I’m Aisha H. I’d like to be president and you would get paid for working half a day. I’ll be a nice president. I’d also make some rules in restaurants like, “You can’t smoke in this area, but you can in this other area, and here’s an area where you can have a birthday party.” Being a president wouldn’t be fun. I’d like to be a ballerina.

Brian W.
Age 8
Future Artist

I’d go up to their door and say, “Who you going to vote for?” I’d tell them, “I’m Brian W., and I’m going to be on stage to be voted for.” I’d give them a lot of money if they voted for me. I’d do good things, like make the stores not have their items for very much money. You know, especially food and stuff. Food and art stuff–glue, paints—they cost too much money now. I’d let people go on trips whenever they wanted and it wouldn’t cost them any money. I’d say, “I’d be a better president.”

Charlie A.
Age 7
Future Fireman

I’d try to impress them, show them what I could do—that I could be a good president. That’s a hard question. I’d give speeches. I’d drive…no, I guess I’d fly around; be on television. I’d be kind. I could help people that were really poor. I’d go around to meet people and I’d shake their hands. I’m not sure what I’d say, something like, “I am Charlie A. I can be a good president for this country, and will you vote for me…please?” Something like that.

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‘Tis the Season.

Santa Pinata

‘Tis the Season. If you are last minute gift gathering, re-gifting, writing out cards to the people you forgot the first-time-around, mulling cider, inviting people to drop by, and—oh yes—still managing to show up for work Monday (if you have a job) and being someone’s secret Santa, then it has dawned on you that it is indeed Christmukwanzaa. (the season of Christmas and Chanukah and Kwanzaa) How did this happen? It seems as if only a few weeks ago I was in a sunny warm Midwest, now a freezing, sloshy, slippery winter wonderland. Here, in Southern California I have run into more than one disappointed tourist surprised at how chilly it can get here at night. It is windy as I write, on this perfect 70 degree afternoon. Yes, I have a tree—a noble fir, this year, all gussied up with sea ornaments and pearl lights, and brown paper packages tied up with blue string. Years ago, a local sea shell shop sale selling shells (I dare you to say that fast 10 times) was going out of business. I hot glue-gunned clam shells together into a long strand of clipper lights, and tied thread on sea stars and little sea horses to hang on the tree. I do not always have a sea-shell tree, but this year the box marked Sea X-Mas, beckoned to me from a high shelf. We had intended to haul up the fake tree from the garage, when the smell of fresh cut pine wafted to the office from the local hardware parking lot. No contest. I was just saying to a friend that I wish there was “Leap Christmas”—that is, I wish this holiday season came every four years, and perhaps I would be better prepared. I have talked about growing up in a large family, and how that influenced the Jakry Kids.
One year, back in high school my mother realized she was Santa-short. That is, there were still gifts that needed to be bought for my younger siblings, and she sent me out on the hunt for Christmas Eve bargains. I was in a Montgomery Wards, the sales people were eager to go home, the store was a few minutes from closing. I picked up a very substantial bag of marbles. Cruel prank, or odd fate, I shall never know. There was a hole in the bag and cat’s eyes and peeries, and colorful clay commies, went shooting in all directions—I dare say, bouncing, rolling, pinging, flying down store aisles. I momentarily froze like a deer in the headlights, when a tall handsome man—a total stranger– came to my assistance. No, this isn’t one of those stories where girl meets boy in some odd fashion, they part, and later she meets him on the Empire State Building and marries him. This particular picking-up-of-marbles incident was a kind gesture that lead to french fries at McDonald’s, and a much needed hot chocolate. When I see a harried person scrambling for a parking space, or last item gift I try to pay-it-forward with some small act of kindness.
A couple of days ago, one of our own Wocto staff had his car window smashed, and a prized bass guitar stolen, among other things. I ask myself, “Who does this kind of thing with such callous disregard?” We consoled him with a piece of tamarindo candy from a Santa Pinata. I think of that lovely stranger who helped me pick up the marbles, one-by-one, and I know that the spirit of the season will prevail if we enable it. Times are a little harder this year for so many people. Be nice to one another. Happy Holidays!

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Trick or Treat

Halloween seems to be a blend of superstitious old Celtic and Roman traditions, and
I will leave the detailed explanation to www.history.com. Type “Halloween” in their search engine, for a highly informative read. In short, it’s that time to get dressed up with your kids, be a kid again yourself, and enjoy! My own childhood Halloween invokes memories of great fun, costumes and trick-or-treating. My mother encouraged our creativeness, and “doing-our-own-costume-thing.” When looking at the old family photos, I am still perplexed as to what I had been thinking most years. Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. It meant free candy, before we collectively became worried about tooth decay, sugar hyperactivity, diabetes, child abductors and razor blades. I am not minimizing the potential of negative influences and evil in the world, and advocate heads-up, and watching your children, keeping in mind that the world turns because most people are good, and want the same positive outcome for their life as you do. My beloved father kept the key to the workshop where our Halloween booty was kept and systematically doled out after dinner each night. While other friends went through their candy in a week or two, we managed to stretch our Smarties, and Tootsie Rolls, wax lips, and Squirrel Nut Zippers out ‘til the first crocuses of

Trick or Treat

Spring showed their lovely faces. I lived in a house once, where the former owner died on Halloween night, with a basket of apples in her lap. This is only relevant, if you are among those who were sorely disappointed upon receiving an apple. Was there a miscreant trickster who booed her, and caused her heart to jump? Or, was it just her time? The moral here: be good, have fun. Remember to say thank you! We need more civility in life. Kids follow our example. I am including in this blog, the Wocto poster of the Jakry Kids, trick-or-treating, and I wish all my readers a very Happy Halloween!

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Wocto Law

You'd Wake and Be There!

Winston Churchill once said, “If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.” During his first term in office, President Barack Obama has undoubtedly had to grapple, with the nuanced implications of law. How about a little help from a group of intrepid elementary school students to whom I posed this question, If you were president, what laws would you make? Here’s what they had to say:

Christian S., Age 7, Future Policeman

For me, I’d cut inflation. I’d lower the price of milk, cheese, rocky road ice-cream, celery, lettuce and salad dressing. No shooting animals of any kind. Stop all wars now so nobody would get killed or hurt. It would be the law. I’d burn the weapons that we could burn and the metal weapons like tanks and airplanes and bombs, I’d take them apart. It’s a big job. It would help the economy. I’d hire a lot of people and put them back to work helping me. If I had the money I’d pay them a hundred dollars a month. Kids would be allowed to play outside more unless it was raining.

Kristine S., Age 7, Future Nurse

All cars must be off the freeway by 2:30 AM to cut down on noise and pollution—that goes for out-of-towners too. Groups of volunteers would gather at this time to sweep the freeways. Cities would have to install street walls, one side for cars and the other side for people. It would be safer for both. There would have to be alarms everywhere, night and day, underground, under streets. They would only be sensitive to burglars and not to regular people. I think it could work. Burglars are always heavier because they’re carrying stolen things on their backs. Sick kids and people would have to stay home and not go out to school and work and breathe on other people.

Becky S, Age 8, Future Waitress

It would be against the law for kids to steal anything—candy, soda or bread. Right now only adults really get into trouble but bad kids don’t. Grownups would be allowed to help kids when they were hurt, without suspicion. I was riding my bike uphill trying to hold two ice-cream cones and three bottles of Coke. I fell down and broke my collarbone, and a total stranger helped me. Smoking would be illegal ‘cause it kills people. No fights of any kind would be permitted. No party poopers—you know, like you’re having a party and someone comes along and says, ‘Ooh, your party is stinky,’ or, ‘Your friends are ugly.’ It starts arguments.

Michael R. Age 7-1/2, Future President

All policemen will have to be real tall. I think if they were taller they’d be waling the streets protecting people instead of just driving around in their cars. Kids who didn’t obey the street-crossing patrols would be put on probation if they got reported twelve times. Then they’d have to have their parents walk them across the street. My mom’s very nice—put that down—but I’d make a law that all kids would have their own phones, so if parents were mean they could run into their room, call the police, the police would come , surround the house, put the parents in jail, and the child could go to a foster home and be treated better. I had a friend whose mother was very mean. He moved away and I worry about what happened to him.

Becky E., Age 6-1/2, Future Gymnastics Teacher

People would be allowed to live in parks. You could wake up in the morning and you’d already be there to play or do whatever you wanted to do. If anyone is caught writing on picnic tables, walls and doors, they would have to clean it up before they could go home. I wouldn’t put them in jail or anything, because it might be your friends who are doing it. If you needed a job, you’d just go to the job you wanted and if you like the take home price they’d have to hire you that day. You wouldn’t have to wait for them to call you back because you know they never will.

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Hello World!

This is my first blog. I’m Lin Jakary, children’s book author. I Lost My Sock, and Jakry Kids: Curiosity Shop are two of my published books. More are in the works. I have a wonderful editor. I thought she was great before, but now I’m even more impressed. Last Sunday she had a baby. I know, if you are reading this, you might be thinking, “Whoop de-do, I was born too.” (or maybe you had quintuplets, in which case I admire your courage, and I hope you get to appear on Ellen, and get free diapers for life.) Maybe some of you were even born at home to a soothing Mozart concerto. However, I bet you weren’t born on the front lawn of your home. Yes, my always prepared, ever-detailed editor, a perfectionist, right down to dashes and hyphens–rushed around looking for her flip-flops, trying to get out the door. With her husband in the car. engine revving, she got as far as the sidewalk, when it became apparent this baby wasn’t going to be born in the hospital, and there was no turning back. Babies have a way of arriving on their own time. Everyone stayed calm, and they improvised the best they could, off the concrete, onto the lawn.

Hello World

(never mind that they were also shooing away mosquitoes) In the end, mother, child and daddy were just fine. I love stories with twists and turns, where everything works out. So, congratulations little Maeve for making a grand entrance. I hope that some day you’ll think your mom is as brave and as cool as I do!

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