Water, Water, Everywhere , Which is Better to Drink ?


Where does your water from?   I know that people who suck plastic bottles are sure that they are getting something better than tap water, something worth paying more  than for gasoline, worth many times more than tap water.


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OK, I give up–except on one point:

Who knows where that miraculous bottled water has come from?  Anybody reading labels?

In front of me on this hotel room desk is a 5 ml. bottle of water labeled to come from “protected springs” at various Pennsylvania sites.  Niagara Bottling LLC is shown to be in  Ontario, Canada.  Their web address is given where you can read this:

UPDATED – Tuesday September 8, 2015    Niagara Bottling (“Niagara”) issued a voluntary recall of spring water produced at our two (2) Pennsylvania plants from June 10-18th, 2015 because the operator at one of our contracted springs failed to notify us that there was evidence of E. coli bacteria at the spring source.

As of September 7, 2015 Niagara has found no E. coli contamination of any kind in our finished products or in the spring water that was delivered to our bottling facility. We are pleased to report that all samples received from consumers have tested absent for E.coli.

I’ve seen bottles with a notice like this–SOURCE:  Such a Spring, Such another Spring, and other sources.

I cracked up when I check the label on water bottle at our last hotel–SOURCE:  Public Water Resource, Plymouth , Michigan.  Tap water, damn it!  They are selling tap water, and admitting it!     rjn



Tap Water vs. Bottled Water

Why Tap Water Is Better Than Bottled Water

  • Bottled water is not safer than tap water. In fact, more than half of all bottled water comes from the tap.
  • Buying bottled water is like pouring money down the drain. Bottled water costs from $0.89 per gallon to $8.26 per gallon, compared to fractions of a penny for water from your tap. That makes bottled water thousands of times more expensive than tap water.
  • Water bottle garbage is a major source of pollution.
  • Buying a reusable bottle is an easy way to save money and help the environment.

Is My Tap Water Safe?

FACT: Bottled Water is Not Safer Than Tap Water

Did you know that tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water? In fact, in the United States, our drinking water is continuously monitored and treated according to federal standards. If local tap water is unsafe then water companies are obligated, under federal law, to notify the public.

But My Tap Water Tastes Bad, What Should I Do?

How To Check Your Tap Water Quality

Contact your local water company to request a copy of the Annual Water Quality Report, also known as the Consumer Confidence Report. These reports are intended to help people make informed choices about their drinking water. These reports contain a lot of useful information but are often overwhelming or confusing to read. We’ve put together a helpful guide on how to read your report and choose the best filtration system for your home.

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald


One summer we visited a friend who was working as a ranger at Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore on Lake Superior in Northern Michigan.  I remember just one thing of that trip.

The rangers were living in a former Coast Guard station where I went to the 2nd floor for the bathroom.  When I sat down there, I was facing a plaque that said, “You are sitting in the radio shack that received the first distress signals from the S.S. Edmund Fitrzgerald.”  There was the story of the  Great Lakes freighter that went down the horrible day and evening of November 10, 1975, with its crew of 29.

Image by R. LeLievreImage by R. LeLievre

The reason for the sinking has been argued, but I’m interested in the theory of the Three Sisters. ” Perhaps the most romantic theory about the wreck of the Fitzgerald is that the ship succumbed to the forces of the Three Sisters, a Lake Superior phenomenon described as a combination of two large waves inundating the decks of a boat and a third, slightly later monster wave that boards the vessel as it struggles to shrug off the effects of the first two.”

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Gordon Lightfoot song

SS Edmund Fitzgerald underway, photo by Winston Brown

Edmund Fitzgerald in 1971
Name: SS Edmund Fitzgerald
Owner: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Operator: Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company of Cleveland, Ohio
Port of registry: United States
Ordered: February 1, 1957
Builder: Great Lakes Engineering Works of River Rouge, Michigan
Yard number: 301
Laid down: August 7, 1957
Launched: June 7, 1958
Christened: June 7, 1958
Maiden voyage: September 24, 1958
In service: June 8, 1958
Out of service: November 10, 1975
Identification: Registry number US 277437
Nickname(s): Fitz, Mighty Fitz, Big Fitz, Pride of the American Flag, Toledo Express, Titanic of the Great Lakes
Fate: Lost in a storm on November 10, 1975, with all 29 crewmembers
Status: Sank because of weather conditions
Notes: Location: 46°59.91′N 85°06.61′WCoordinates: 46°59.91′N 85°06.61′W[1]
General characteristics
Type: Lake freighter
  • 13,632 GRT
  • 8,713 NRT (from 1969: 8,686 NRT)[2]
  • 26,000 DWT
Beam: 75 ft (23 m)
Draft: 25 ft (7.6 m) typical
Depth: 39 ft (12 m) (moulded)
Depth of hold: 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)
Installed power:
  • As built:
  • Coal fired Westinghouse Electric Corporation steam turbine at 7,500 shp(5,600 kW)
  • After refit:
  • Conversion to oil fuel and the fitting of automated boiler controls over the winter of 1971–72.
  • Carried 72,000 U.S. gal (270,000 L; 60,000 imp gal) fuel oil
Propulsion: Single 19.5 ft (5.9 m) propeller
Speed: 14 kn (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Capacity: 25,400 tons of cargo
Crew: 29

Tubman on $20 Bill–the Argument

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This group wants to banish Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill.

March 3, 2015  Washington Post  source

Andrew Jackson’s portrait has held its place on the $20 bill since Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland in 1928. For the organizers of Women on $20s, that’s quite long enough. “A woman’s place is on the money,” the Women on $20s campaign says. The new group has come up with a list of 15 women it would like to see on the $20 bill instead, including Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman.

Campaign organizers are targeting the 20 because 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

But there’s another reason: Jackson’s authorization and enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830  (Remember the Trail of Tears ? rjn)  which forced several Native American tribes to give up their land to white farmers and move to Oklahoma — makes his continued presence on American currency controversial. Slate pitched the idea of doing away with the seventh U.S. president’s face on the $20 bill last year, writing: “Andrew Jackson engineered a genocide. He shouldn’t be on our currency.”

Jackson, Women on $20s executive director Susan Ades Stone said in a phone interview, also hated paper currency anyway – much favoring gold and silver. “The guy would be rolling in his grave to know that every day the ATM spits out bills with his face on it,” he added.

The Women on $20s campaign aims to “literally raise the profile of a woman in a male-dominated field,” the nonprofit’s founder Barbara Ortiz Howard wrote on the site. Right now, the only woman on a currently circulating piece of U.S. currency is Sacagawea, on the dollar coin.

The U.S. Mint lists two other coins depicting women: Helen Keller is on the reverse side of the 2003 Alabama quarter, and Susan B. Anthony was on the dollar coin until 1981.

Organizers are asking visitors to vote for one of 15 women they’ve selected as possible candidates to replace Jackson in a survey that is also doubling as a petition. The group hopes to collect enough signatures – about 100,000 – to justify sending a petition to the White House on the issue, asking the president to recommend the change to the Treasury. Stone said that the group collected about 8,000 votes in the past 60 hours.

“The goal is to get it done, but it’s not only about that. It’s about raising awareness and making sure people get to know these women,” Stone added. The group envisions the campaign lasting through March, which is Women’s History Month.

But, Stone added, “If President Obama says tomorrow that he wants to do this, we’re not gonna say no.”

Although the new campaign still seems a longshot, a similar petition also prompted Britain to announce in 2013 that it would put Jane Austen on the 10-pound note.

As Buzzfeed’s write-up notes, Obama has generally supported the idea of putting a woman on currency. “Last week, a young girl wrote to ask me why aren’t there any women on our currency,” the president said in a July speech in Kansas City. “And then she gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff — which I thought was a pretty good idea.”

The organization whittled down a list of finalists based on two main criteria – the individual’s impact on society, and the difficulty they faced in doing so, Stone said.

Here are the 15 choices of Women on $20s, which Stone hopes will, as a group, “tell a great American story of women not only helping other women but helping to improve the lives of all Americans despite facing enormous obstacles along the way:”

  • Clara Barton‎, the founder of the American Red Cross
  • Margaret Sanger‎, who opened the first birth control clinic in the US.
  • Rachel Carson‎, a marine biologist who wrote the hugely influential environmental book Silent Spring
  • Rosa Parks‎, the iconic civil rights activist
  • Harriet Tubman‎, the abolitionist activist famed for her journeys on the underground railroad
  • Barbara Jordan‎, a politician who was the first black woman in the south to be elected to the House of Representatives
  • Betty Friedan‎, feminist author of the Feminine Mystique 
  • Frances Perkins‎, the Secretary of Labor under FDR, who was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet
  • Susan B. Anthony‎, women’s suffrage movement leader
  • Shirley Chisholm‎, the first African-American woman elected to Congress
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton‎, early women’s rights activist and abolitionist
  • Eleanor Roosevelt‎, human rights activist and former first Lady
  • Sojourner Truth‎, African American women’s rights activist and abolitionist
  • Patsy Mink, the first woman of color elected to the House, and the first Asian American elected to Congress
  • Alice Paul‎, women’s suffrage movement leader

At least one of those choices is already rather controversial, as noted by Breitbart, whose headline about the campaign reads: “NEW GROUP WANTS TO PUT PLANNED PARENTHOOD FOUNDER MARGARET SANGER ON THE $20 BILL.”

Elmore Leonard and Mom


Image result for photo fat book

Today, while I was working on a story, I remembered several things.  For one thing, I remembered how our mother ripped through books very quickly.  When I remarked on that she said, “Oh, I only read the talking.”

Second thing, there are several writers like Tom Clancy making a lot of money writing big fat exciting boooks. Remember Hunt for Red October, book or movie?   Once I picked up one of these with the idea of reading every third page.  I enjoyed the story, never felt I had missed anything.

These thoughts led me to Elmore Leonard”s 10 rules for writers, specifically #10: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Come to think of it, I think I stepped on #6 today.  I’ll have to check,


Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good Writing

Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good Writingd. 2013                                                                      
Elmore Leonard started out writing westerns, then turned his talents to crime fiction. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, he’s written about two dozen novels, most of them bestsellers, such as Glitz, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob, and Rum Punch. ( Books of reasonable length, often funny about crooks)  Unlike most genre writers, however, Leonard is taken seriously by the literary crowd.  (A lot of his work has ended up in the movies or on television. rjn)What’s Leonard’s secret to being both popular and respectable? Perhaps you’ll find some clues in his 10 tricks for good writing:

  1. Never open a book with weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.



Charlie’s Heart

Image result for photos human heart

My cardiologists are recommending heart surgery for me.  Makes me remember Charlie P. Anderson, a good guy who taught with us at Niles Township High Schools.

Some 50 years ago, Charlie had just had an artificial heart valve installed (a pioneer!),  when we were both appointed the union’s bargaining team.  For the first  recess in negotiations, the school board team withdrew from the room.

Someone on our side took out a deck of cards and said, “Who’s playing?”

Charlie, several others, and I sat down, and the first hand was dealt. And then, Charlie started ticking . . .and everyone knew he had a good hand.

The sound of Charlie’s new valve was not noticeable until he got excited and his pulse sped up.  A handicap, but Charlie stayed in the game.


Indian Nations of Oklahoma

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Oklahoma: Reclaiming Native America?

Listen to Radio show (52 min.)    BBC News Hour Extra                           Experts discuss relations among  Indian nations, the U.S., and the state and the  conditions of life for the people.


How did the Indians get there?  They walked!

The Trail of Tears was a series of forced relocations of Native American nations in theUnited States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The relocated people suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route, and more than ten thousand died before reaching their various destinations. The removal included members of theCherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States to an area west of the Mississippi River that had been designated as Native Territory.  Wikipedia

See a map of tribal lands in Oklahoma.

Someone might wonder about my using the term Indian instead Native American. For one thing, Indian is easier to say or type.  Further, I have heard Indians on the radio refer to themselves that way in serious conversations.  Also, on the radio show noted above, one Indian, a university professor,  listed acceptable terms, including Indian.  An intolerable term she said is redskin, which refers to a time when there was a bounty for killing Indians.  Killers seeking to be paid would present a red skin.

By the way, Joanne and I lived in Oklahoma in 1958-9 while I was in the army serving at Fort Sill in western Oklahoma.  Once we attended an exhibition of Indian dance in which Joanne noticed a delightful boy about 9 years old.  She wanted to take him home.

Susan was born in the Commanche County Hospital.  It was interesting to see one white baby in the nursery among the Indians.  They all had black hair 3 or 4 inches long.

I remember that rural gas stations had 3 outhouses in back labeled WHITE, COLORED, and INDIAN.

In the city of Lawton, the black people, army or civilian, lived on the other side of the railroad tracks.

Fort Sill was racially integrated–President Truman had fixed that by executive order in 1948, integrating all the armed forces.




Ronald Reagan–Origin

Image result for ronald reagan photosWe are trying to get unemployment to go up, and I think we’re going to succeed.

I’ve been hearing on the radio that Donald Trump has the same appeal to people that  Ronald Reagan did.  People loved Reagan regardless of what he said or did.

Once I told our mother about one of Reagan’s typically ridiculous remarks.  I thought it was very funny and would amuse her.

She got teary and said, “You mustn’t say bad things about that good man.”

I sort of agree with Reagan’s rich friend who didn’t do him any good with this pronouncement:

Shortly before the president  left office, Peter Grace, who chaired the Grace Commission to recommend efficiency in government, introduced Reagan at a banquet of anti-abortion advocates.  It took a man like Reagan, Grace explained, to point out the simple truth that “all living people started as feces.”  When some listeners gasped, Grace repeated himself forcefully: “Yes, even you started out as feces.  And now dinner is served.” 

Reckoning with Reagan; America and Its President in the 1980’s, Michael Schaller. 1992.



Most Challenged Books

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Shortly after Niles North H.S. opened, I was working in the library when Art Colver, a kind of assistant principal, called to ask if we had the title Candy, said he’d had a complaint about it. I said I’d check.

I had read a very entertaining, raunchy, crazy book by Terry Southern titled Candy that no competent, sane librarian would buy for a school library.

When I checked, I found Candy,  an innocuous “young adult novel”, about a high school girl who volunteers at a hospital, a “candy-striper” because of the uniform.

I called Art back, told him we had a book titled Candy but nothing anyone would complain about.  He said, “Get it out of there ” and hung up.

I just went on with my work, but later I wrote a complaint policy statement that had  a form for the complainant to complete, including the question, “Have you read the entire book?”  I don’t remember hearing of another complaint about any of our 20,000 volumes.

We did have some questionable books: a history of the U.S.  occupation of Japan, from which our head librarian from Minnesota  had excised the pictures of nude entertainers and a slang dictionary which she kept under her desk.

She lasted a long time–until she slapped a student.

Most libraries have a policy statement  giving the mission of the library, the  principles of book selection, and a complaint process.

I’ve just remembered that in the 60’s maybe into the 70’s at the Glenview Public library we had visits from the FBI asking who had borrowed certain books, notably Chairman’s Mao’s Little Red Book.  The boss’ response was always, “The library will obey a valid court order.”  I don’t know of such an order ever issued.

These days libraries clear the record of a loan electronically soon as a book is returned.




‘The Holy Bible’ Makes Library Association’s List Of Most ‘Challenged’ Books  source

Many books are challenged because of "sexually explicit" content or content "unsuited for age group."

Many books are challenged because of “sexually explicit” content or content “unsuited for age group.” Courtesy of American Library Association

The Holy Bible, along with several other books that incorporate aspects of religion, made the American Library Association’s list of top 10 most challenged books in 2015.

At No. 6 on the list, the Bible was challenged for “religious viewpoints,” based mainly “on the mistaken perception that separation of church and state means publicly funded institutions are not allowed to spend funds on religious information,” said Deborah Caldwell Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom — the organization that tracks the book challenges.

But the Bible wasn’t the only book on the list to be challenged on religious grounds.

The novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was challenged for religious viewpoint and “atheism,” as well as for offensive language.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, a children’s book about a little girl trying to get an education in Afghanistan, was also challenged for religious viewpoint and violence.

The book was challenged in at least one community in Florida because the child protagonist in the story says a prayer to Allah. At least one parent felt that it was indoctrinating children with Muslim beliefs and therefore challenged the book.

The ALA defines a challenge as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

Stone says 275 such challenges were made last year — lower than previous years — and while that’s something the association views as a positive, Stone says not all challenges make it to the Office for Intellectual Freedom database.

“It’s a snapshot,” she said, explaining that the organization relies on voluntary reporting of challenges and its own monitoring of news reports.

The presence of the Bible on the list for the first time, along with the other books challenged on the basis of “religious viewpoint,” show that faith is “very present on the minds of many people in society,” Stone said.

“As a society, considering an ‘index of complaints’ helps us to understand who we are and where we’re going,” James LaRue, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom wrote. “Cultures change over time, and the things we fear, or celebrate, change with them.”

In fact, last year, the children’s book about a transgender girl called I Am Jazz (No. 3 on the list) sparked controversy, discussion, and ultimately, more inclusive school policies in Mt. Horeb, Wis. (where the cave and the mustard museum are,  west of Madison.  rjn)

There was a transgender girl in a classroom of a local elementary school and the teachers were going to read I Am Jazz to the students as a way to introduce the issue to the students and make the transgender girl feel less alone, Stone said. But when a parent found out and raised the issue with a Christian advocacy group, the group threatened to sue the school if the book was read. When the school board capitulated, however, the “community responded in a beautiful way,” Stone said.

The Wisconsin State Journal covered what happened next:

“In a turnout that stunned organizers, nearly 600 people filled the library here Wednesday night to hear a public reading of a children’s book about a transgender girl, with many in the crowd expressing strong support for a local family with a transgender child.”

Ultimately, the school board changed its policy and allowed the book to be in the schools.

“In an ideal world we would have more tolerance for the idea that people have different ideas, different beliefs and live in different cultures,” Stone said. “Books are a way of exploring these different worlds and can help us appreciate the differences between us.”

The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 are:


  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

Guns, Concealed Carry, and Care

One of our little boys went missing for part of an afternoon.  Scary.  When he eventually turned up at home, he explained that he’d been playing at a friend’s house–beyond our neighborhood, a friend we didn’t know.

Joanne called the friend’s mother and asked her to call us when our kid was there.  That mother said, “You don’t have to worry.  Our  house is safe.  We have a gun in every room of the house.”  rjn

NPR logo

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Does Carrying A Pistol Make You Safer?

There is a pistol-packing revolution going on in America. Nearly 13 million Americans have permits to carry concealed handguns — triple the number just nine years ago — and that figure is low because not every state reports.

It’s puzzling that so many Americans are choosing to arm themselves at a time when the FBI tells us violent crime and property crime have been falling dramatically for two decades.

In search of handgun permit holders, I drove out to the Texas Firearms Festival, an outdoor gun extravaganza held near Austin where firearms fanciers get to shoot everything they see.

“If you’re in Paris and you see people coming with AKs into your rock concert, that sucks. But it sucks worse if you’re unarmed,” says festival producer Robert Farago. “I’m not saying that being armed is gonna save your life, but at least you have an effective tool to mount some kind of defense.”

High school counselor Janna Delany, who carries a Ruger LC9, is more concerned about crime than mass shootings.“It’s more just for me personally to give myself a little bit of peace of mind, somebody trying to carjack me or hold me up at a gas station or stopped at a red light or something,” Delany says.

Retired Houston homicide detective Brian Foster has a booth at the festival where he sells “politically incorrect” books.

“Police cannot take care of citizens,” he says. “They react after the fact. I spent many years dealing with cadavers.”

How Does Carrying A Gun Change You?

One thing is certain: Carrying around a loaded weapon and being prepared at a moment’s notice to use deadly force changes how people perceive their environment. Of the 20 handgun carriers I interviewed over several months, most of them say they’re more aware of how people look and how they act.

“I pay attention to different people, weird people, maybe stereotype people,” says Sam Blackburn, a diesel mechanic from Georgetown, Texas, who attended the firearms fest in an NRA cap. He carries a 9 mm Smith & Wesson.

What is he looking for, specifically?

“Gangbanger-looking guys, maybe guys that look like they’re up to no good or somebody that may think they’re a Muslim extremist or something like that,” Blackburn says.

Carrying a 2-pound steel appliance around like a cellphone doesn’t only change the way a person thinks, it changes the way they move.

“It’s exciting. I won’t lie to you. There’s some visceral response that you get from carrying a firearm,” says Doug Miller. He owns a small IT company in Austin and teaches Israeli self-defense classes on the side. “But after about 30 seconds, it becomes, ‘Is this gonna be comfortable when I sit down? It’s digging into my hip because my car has upholstered seats. That’s really not that comfortable.’ ”

What Do Women Think About Guns?


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A Girl & A Gun is a women’s shooting league that started in Central Texas and has now gone national.

Robyn Sandoval, executive director of A Girl & A Gun, aims a rifle.

Robyn Sandoval, executive director of A Girl & A Gun, aims a rifle.  Courtesy of A Girl and A Gun

Executive Director Robyn Sandoval says carrying a handgun has become an extension of motherhood, a way to protect her children.

“Family situational awareness is a big deal,” she says. “When we go to a restaurant, my 9-year-old [is thinking] who looks suspicious? What are people doing? What’s an anomaly. Let’s point out people in their cars. We make a game of it, of who can find somebody in their car just sitting there.”

The gun girls talk about their firearms differently than men do. Guys speak of them as tools; these women talk about them like pets.

“We name our guns,” Sandoval says, “I have Francesca, Dolly, Gracie. And we talk about ’em like, ‘I’m takin’ Gracie to the mall with us.’

“My small one is my Baby,” says schoolteacher Bettylane Chambliss. “And my dad will say, ‘Do you have your gun with you?’ And I went, ‘Oh, yeah, I got Baby with me. I’m fine.’ ”

When Can You Pull The Trigger?

Despite the pet names, there’s nothing casual about getting a license to carry a pistol.

A gun in the home? The owner may have it primarily for hunting or target-shooting. A concealed gun out in public? It goes with the explicit understanding that the owner may kill someone they feel threatened by.

Michael Cargill, a popular handgun instructor in Austin, had this to say: “You pull that gun out, your life is gonna change.” He’s right.

Of the millions of Americans who get a concealed handgun permit, only a tiny fraction ever use them. Pro-gun folks compare it to a fire extinguisher in the home — you have it just in case.

Image result for photos concealed gun

But what happens when someone actually fires their weapon in self-defense? I met three concealed handgun permit (CPL) holders in Detroit who pulled the trigger.

Life-Changing And Traumatic: Darrell Standberry

“I was parked at the pump right in front of the gas station. I exited my vehicle and before I could even get to the door of the gas station, the young man was already sitting in the driver’s seat of my vehicle,” says Standberry, who just earned a degree in green energy technology. He’d left his Yukon XL running with the key in the ignition.

Darrell Standberry — from Detroit — shot and killed a 19-year-old who tried to steal his car.  Courtesy of Darrell Standberry

He says he told the young man to get out of his car. The young man told him to step back. That’s when Standberry says he saw the carjacker reach toward his pocket.

Standberry unholstered his Sig Sauer .45, reached through the passenger-side window, and fired one shot. He hit the carjacker in the torso. Gravely wounded, the carjacker drove away, crashed into a tree and died. Police found a pistol in his pocket.

“It changed a lot in my life,” he says. “Matter of fact, in my English class, I just did a report on it. I named it, ‘The incident that changed my life forever.’ ”

Standberry went to counseling. He became fearful of gas stations. And he carried the burden of killing a 19-year-old.

“You know why? Because my son was 19 at the same time. It really bothered me that I had to take a 19-year-old’s life. His life was just beginning. But he was into the wrong things. To this day, I still ask God for forgiveness,” he says.

Caught In A Gunfight: Alaina Gonville

Gonville is a mother of three, a big woman who works as a bouncer at a Detroit bar.

Alaina Gonville works as a bouncer in Detroit. Gonville was shot after being approached by robbers outside a grocery store.  Courtesy of Alaina Gonville

Gonville was coming home from work late at night. She’d stopped at a store for a bottle of papaya juice. A scrawny guy walked up, pulled out a pistol and demanded her money. His accomplices were watching from a car behind him. As it happened, Alaina was carrying her pistol openly on her hip.

“I’m assuming they saw my gun. That’s when they opened fire from their vehicle. I heard the gunshots coming at me. That’s when I pulled my gun and returned fire,” she says.

She doesn’t know if she hit them or not. The robber bolted. His henchmen sped out of the parking lot, spraying Gonville and her car with military-grade bullets.

“I got shot with an AK-47, and it basically blew my arm off. It was dangling. I carried it into the hospital. After four surgeries and a lot of prayer it’s healed about 70 percent,” she says.

Did she think that having a handgun that night saved her life or endangered her more?

“That’s a good question. I replayed the situation in my head over and over. I can’t say, but I’m glad I had it,” she says.

In Trouble For Thwarting Shoplifters: Tatiana Rodriguez

Born in Colombia, Rodriguez owns a small tree-trimming business in a Detroit suburb. Last October, she was outside a Home Depot loading some materials into her truck.

“A lady comes screaming through the door for help, and somebody [was] running,” she says.

A man was running into the parking lot pushing a shopping cart full of merchandise. Rodriguez used to work at Home Depot, and she knows the company policy: Don’t pursue shoplifters. But she says she thought this was more serious because a lady was screaming.

She saw the shoplifters getting away in an SUV. She had her Heckler and Koch 9 mm.

“So I take my gun out and I point at the car when he was coming towards us. I jump to the side and decide to shoot out the tires to stop them,” she says.

In Michigan, it’s illegal for a citizen to use deadly force to stop a property crime. Rodriguez got 18 months of probation for reckless discharge of a weapon and had her gun license revoked. She thinks the punishment would have been harsher, but the cops caught the shoplifters after she shot out their tires.

Her story got lots of news coverage. It turned into a case study of when not to use your pistol.

“It was not my intention to do anything wrong. I was just trying to help somebody who really needed it. And it backfired on me. So what do you learn? It’s like you have to think a lot before you help somebody,” she says.

For this story, I contacted firearms instructors and lawyers who reached out to dozens of handgun carriers who had pulled the trigger in self-defense. To my surprise, very few wanted to talk.

Some had been arrested by the police or sued afterward, and had spent thousands of dollars on legal fees. They didn’t want to be dragged into the media spotlight again. Others were just traumatized by the whole experience.

Gonville urges people to think long and hard before they carry a gun.

“A lot of times I believe people are just playing around and they think it’s cool to have a gun,” she says. “It’s not just about being cool. It’s real life. Life and death is serious. Getting shot is serious. Shooting somebody is serious.”

Is It Safer To Carry A Gun?

An eye-opening Gallup poll released late last year revealed that 56 percent of respondents said they’d feel safer if more Americans could get permits to carry concealed handguns. Jennifer Carlson, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, wrote a book about handgun carriers in Michigan called CitizenProtectors.

“This is what I think is really fascinating,” she says. “It’s not just the idea of if I conceal carry then I’m safer. It’s the idea that if I just imagine there’s people out there who are conceal carrying then the world is safer.”

All the trigger pullers I talked to for this story said the range time required to get a handgun license is grossly inadequate in terms of being prepared to defend themselves from an active shooter. They believe they’re alive today because they did extensive practice on their own.

Mark Cortis, a veteran firearms instructor in Detroit, urges all of his CPL students to get more training. But he says hardly any of them ever do.

“One of my concerns about the [Michigan] state requirements for getting a CPL is they don’t really include the tactics and the strategy that one will need to win or prevail in an actual gun situation,” Cortis says. “A hostile attack by a violent criminal is a fight.”

Not only are most handgun carriers in America totally unprepared for a gunfight, but gun-control activists hasten to point out that more guns lead to more suicides and accidental shootings.

Three years ago, Detroit’s new police chief, James Craig, made a startling public announcement. He encouraged law-abiding citizens to consider carrying concealed weapons as a deterrent to violent crime.

In an interview, I asked Chief Craig if he ever worries about the citizens that he has urged to arm themselves?

“What concerns me, more than anything else, is guns in the hands of criminals, guns in the hands of terror suspects. That’s what keeps me up at night. Not armed citizens,” Craig says.

Meanwhile, Cortis reports so many Detroiters are seeking concealed pistol permits, classes are booked for two months out.

Read a Dogcatcher Story ?

Well, so he’s not just a dogcatcher.  He’s a Humane Officer officer who loves animals and works hard to enforce laws protecting them in the deteriorating neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.  In Pelecanos’ many stories set among the D.C. poor: the good, bad, black, white, loving, selfish, the fascinating element is the author’s insight to encounters among people and people and dogs,   rjn

Drama City by         George Pelecanos

Drama City
Lorenzo Brown just wants to stay straight. After eight years in prison on a drug charge, he’s come “uptown”-back to the Washington, DC neighborhood where he grew up, where his old cohorts still work their corners and their angles, trying to get ahead and stay alive. But Lorenzo’s had enough of the life: Now he has a job as a Humane Society officer, policing animal abusers and protecting the abused. In the dangerous streets he used to menace, Lorenzo plays a part in maintain- ing order-and it’s a role reversal some of his former friends don’t appreciate. Rachel Lopez, Lorenzo’s parole officer, tries to help him, even as she battles her own demons and excesses. Trying to stay one step ahead of her troubled past is a daily struggle. It looks like they both might make it, until a malevolent young killer, working for the powerful local drug boss, changes everything with one violent act. Now Lorenzo finds himself caught between the light and dark sides of the street, struggling to stay legit-or throw everything away to exact revenge.  source