Official State Gun??

California Gull
Image via Wikipedia

This is a reprint of an article from yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune:  I want to personally thank  Tribune columnist Robert Kirby for a welcome reality check.  In an era of absurd news items this is one of the more absurd of late.

The State Bird of Utah is…. the California seagull(!?!) And now they want a state gun!

“A bit of personal disclosure seems in order before I start. Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, is a friend of mine.

Carl and I live in the same neighborhood. I used to be his home teacher. His wife Sherry is a wonderful woman, who, like my wife, struggles daily with the misfortune of being married to a lunatic.

That said, I do not share Carl’s uber-conservative politics. He knows I don’t vote for him. In fact, whenever I see Carl on TV, I want him to shut up. He won’t, though, but then neither will I.

Carl is currently sponsoring a resolution that would make the Browning model 1911 handgun Utah’s official handgun, a move I find completely ridiculous.

First, because we need an Official State Firearm like we need a hole in our … um, never mind. We just don’t need one.

But if we did, it shouldn’t be the model 1911, even though famed Utah gunsmith John Moses Browning invented it.

I get that we have some official state symbols, including a few which actually make sense — the state animal is the Rocky Mountain elk, state fish the Bonneville cutthroat trout, and coal is the state rock.

Then there are the head scratchers, such as the state cooking pot, fossil, tartan, vegetable, HISTORIC vegetable, star, anti-depressant, grass, dance, colonoscopy, hymn, etc.

Note: I made up a few of those. I’ll let you figure out which ones.

I’m against the proposed Utah state gun for the same reason I’m against the California gull as the Utah state bird — it’s a poor fit and representative of Utah only by the thinnest of margins.

The seagull (flybyus excretus) became the Utah state bird not because it’s indigenous to Utah or, frankly, even motivational. It’s because of religion. Seagulls reportedly once ate all the crickets threatening Mormon pioneer crops.

Religion is also behind the official state emblem (beehive), state bug (honeybee), state flower (sego lily), and state vehicle (minivan). None of these are particularly inspirational or even solely specific to Utah.

Carl wouldn’t agree. According to him, the Model 1911 is “an implement of freedom that has defended America for 100 years. … This firearm is Utah.”

With all disrespect, no, it’s not. If you want a gun that is Utah, it should be the Hot Glue Gun. After all, more Utahns own one of those than a .45-caliber automatic.

Scrapbooking, church crafts, weird hobbies and jury-rigged fixes, the hot glue gun has contributed far more to making Utah what it is today than the Model 1911.

Like an actual firearm, a glue gun can be used inappropriately by fools and criminals. I’m both. Following a hiking accident last year, I tried fixing a split toenail with a hot glue gun. I immediately wished for a Utah state burn ointment.

On the bright side, perhaps there’s a loophole in Carl’s Utah state firearm resolution. If it is adopted, maybe then, like the California seagull, it will be against the law to shoot them.

Robert Kirby can be reached at

A Brilliant Way to Understand the Price of Educational Tunnel Vision

I have long gnashed my teeth at the state of our educational system.  As a teacher and a life-long student it has always struck me that trying to fit people into the cubby holes of a system that tells you not only what to learn but HOW you have to learn it seems backward and, as we have seen by the recent dismal statistics, ineffective.

Now we are seeing the damage being done to whole generations of children, and by extension to our society,  by the very system that is supposed to be preparing them for creative, purposeful lives.

Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally renowned educational expert, speaker, author and advisor to governments, non-profits and arts organizations has created an astonishing new view of public education; why it is failing and how we must change our concept of how to teach our children.

I am passionate about information, communication and how the two interact.  This “Animate” – a truly brilliant form of presentation – is created by a company called RSA.  The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.  (

I sit here as I write this totally blown away by what I have just seen.  For those interested in the visual arts this animate is a hugely successful form of communication. I am awed and impressed by the genius behind the creation of this technique and its application in clarifying and reinforcing the words you are listening to.

For those interested in education, Sir Robinson gives an explanation that so clearly and completely explains how we got here, what is wrong with where we are and what we need to get to a better place that it is worth every second of the 11 minutes and 40 seconds it takes to watch this video.

RSA Changing Education Paradigms

I would love to hear your thought about the information in this video and of this form of communication.  Please leave your comments or contact me at

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

There is a whole lot of the pot calling the kettle black going on these days. Now, before you react to that statement read on.

 For those of you in what we call the “younger generations” who may not be familiar with it, that phrase has nothing to do with skin color. In my grandparents generation most frying pans were made out of iron. Which is a black metal. Most tea kettles – which sat on the stove opposite the frying pan – were silver. Probably made out of aluminum. So the pot calling the kettle black is a reference to those statements where you project your own choices, deficits or actions onto others. Generally others who might have the power to point out to you your own hypocrisy. Here’s one of my favorite Jewish teaching sayings meant to encourage you to look at yourself through other’s eyes before you decide what your reality may or may not be:

“If one person calls you a horse ignore them. If two people call you a horse think about it. If three people call you a horse buy a saddle.”

I’ll end this with one of the wisest statements I’ve ever heard anyone say. “Don’t believe everything you think.”   Dr. Wayne Dyer

Important Resources for Performing Artists

This information was just published through the Actor’s Equity Assoc. Newsletter. Since I know a lot of starving singer/songwriters I wanted to help get the word out:

The Performing Artists’ Medical Clinic offers free medical services to low-income musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists. It is staffed by doctors of the Venice Family Clinic. Prescription medicines and referrals to psychiatric services are also available at no cost. This service is offered twice monthly. Contact Dan Kitowski at The Actors Fund (323-933-9244 ext 32) for eligibility criteria and appointment information. Income requirements apply.

A New Year: 2011 Reasons for Hope

2010 was a challenging year.  Everywhere I looked. Everthing I read. All the comments from people, fellow-bloggers, writers of commentaries. It was a tough year all around. In the words of one of my favorite songwriters, Dave Morrison, 2010 was a “Mo-Fo”.  Well said.  But inspite of all the drama, all the injustice, all the greed and corruption we have been witness to, as the year’s end approached I started to see reasons to hope that 2011 will be a better year for us. 

The rain caused a lot of headaches for some but out of that will come a beautiful spring and a relief from the threatened drought of the past years.  Our political scene was more contentious than ever but President Obama has accomplished tremendous things for the American people in two years, and also more than any other president in decades during just the beginning of his “Lame-Duck” session.  And there are signs that the insanity of magical thinking among our elected representatives is finally being shown for what it is.  Now that they have the power they so rabidly sought they will have to actually GOVERN!  They have no one left to blame if their agendas lead to dead ends. 

 And the movement toward greener living and green technology has passed the tipping point.  There may still be resistance from the established big-business entities that like the status quo but they can’t put the genie back in the bottle anymore.  Commercials for the new electric car, the Chevy Volt, are appearing on national TV. The kids are being taught how to think and live green.  And they WILL influence their parents.

Make no mistake, there will still be challenges and obstacles and injustices.  But these are the times when more and more of us start to understand where reality really lies and begin to look for ways to live our lives with just a little more heart. 

 I just finished reading “Eat, Pray, Love” (Yes, I know I’m behind the times on the best-sellers list) which I really, really enjoyed. I was struck by one passage in the book where the leading lady, after having spent months in India meditating in all sorts of formal, serious ways, was told by an Balinese medicine man to lighten up. His form of meditation:  Sit there and smile.

Whatever 2011 brings I plan to remember that advice.  I’m going to work hard,  learn as much as I can, be there for the people I love and continue moving forward toward my goals. But, as often as possible, I’m also going to just sit there and smile.

Optimistically Yours,