I might own a gun shop one day. So I’ve felt like an outsider when my friends and peers from our ultra-liberal town have advocated for strict gun control. Their pleas, bleeding with fret and emotion, populate my Facebook feed. They often post pictures of the innocent children who were murdered in Newtown. When the subject comes up–and it always does–at my neighborhood book club or at various get togethers, I try to keep my opinions to myself. If I get into how I really feel, I’m afraid I’ll be asked to leave.
When Newtown happened, I cried just as much as everyone else. I hold sadness in my heart for the victims. I keep picturing the brave principal who tried to stop the crazed shooter. I see her pretty face in my dreams and wonder why she and so many others had to die.
But the vast majority of people who own weapons legally are not crazed. I do not believe guns are bad. I grew up with guns, and when I was 7, my dad taught me to shoot with a Bearcat revolver one day after school. He currently owns a gun shop in my hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, a small river community on the Kentucky border. (See left.) He would be the first to say that he is not a young man. So I hope he doesn’t get mad when he finds out that I’ve already pondered what will happen if he dies. Along with my brother, I will inherit his busy, popular gun shop and gunsmith business.
You know about Caine’s Arcade? Caine is the 9-year-old boy in East Los Angeles who made an elaborate arcade out of cardboard boxes in the front of his dad’s used car parts store, see left. He was dying for customers, and he had only one. That one person made a video about Caine that went viral–making the boy very happy and also a little famous. We shared it here.
To inspire other kids, Caine helped create the first ever worldwide Cardboard Challenge on October 6. A little boy named Jake in Caldwell has made his own arcade, and so far, only his dad has RSVP’d to visit it.
Jake’s Arcadewill be open Saturday, October 6 at 11 a.m. We hear he built 10 games including Raceway Challenge, Claw Machine, Toss-Throw-Score and Mini Soccer. “There’ll be fun passes, prizes, balloons and good times. So come on out, play some games, have some fun and help raise money for a great cause,” his dad stated on his Cardboard Challenge post. Jake will donate his proceeds to the Imagination Foundation, the group that is sponsoring the event.
Click to the jump for Jake’s address. Also, there’s still time for you and your kids to make an arcade, keep reading.
Ever wonder what a paleontologist dig would be like? Or mining for real gemstones? Families can find out when Dinosaurs Rock visits Essex County Turtle Back Zoo this weekend. This exciting presentation features genuine and life-size fossils, pre-historic items and hands-on activities where visitors will learn about fossils and gemstones. This exhibition of giant ancient reptiles is part of Essex County’s year-long celebration to welcome the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest modern day lizard, to Turtle Back Zoo.
The Turtle Back Zoo Dining Pavilion will be transformed into a museum with a stunning and diverse arrangement of pre-historic fossils and hundreds of other items. Included in the display will be life size skulls from a T-rex and a triceratops, a nine-foot high Ice Age Mastodon leg, and fossils from a 22-foot pre-historic whale specimen and mastodon. In addition, kids will be able to dig for fossils in a simulated excavation site and go gemstone mining with a rushing water sluice in a simulated mining activity. There will also be a rock and mineral exhibit with crystal-filled geodes, giant amethyst and citrine towers.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You know that old Staples commercial with the dad dancing through the aisle as he shops for school supplies with his kids who are miserable because summer is ending and school is starting? Well that’s how this dad feels about football season. More specifically, fantasy football season.
I’m willing to bet most men feel this way about fantasy football. At the risk of sounding cliche, a majority of women I know – my wife included – have no idea why this is so important to us. So let me explain…
First off, there’s the gambling. Men like to gamble. Not only does fantasy football provide an outlet, it is socially acceptable. (And perfectly legal.) So we’re not degenerate gamblers, spending all night in a casino feeding our debit cards into the ATM because we feel a hot streak is coming. Speaking of legality, according to a recent ruling by a federal court in New York, poker is a game of skill and thus not considered “gambling,” I am willing to apply the same reasoning to fantasy football. Sure, plenty of luck is involved. But there is also skill and strategy. Most important, money is on the line. And the only thing sweeter than hoisting that championship trophy in December is one of your buddies handing over a fad wad of cash to help ease the burden of the Christmas bills. Yes. There is a championship trophy. Any respectable league has one. Ours looks like this:
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Here are this weekend’s highlights:
The Aviation Hall of Fame in Teterboro offers kids (and their grown-ups) a chance to check out a very rare Lockheed Bushmaster, a Coast Guard helicopter, a Walter Aircraft rescue and fire fighting truck, and a Cobra gunship helicopter at Open Cockpit Day. (Saturday, September 8)
You’ve come a long way Chicken Boy. The clever children’s story–about a boy with autism and super powers–won the Mee-Genius e-Books Author Challenge last March and is now available for only $2.99 on the website or in paperback at Words Bookstore in Maplewood. The local author, Gregory G. Allen, will be talking about his publishing journey at Words this Sunday. He believed in this book so much because it was inspired by his autistic godson Gabe, an imaginative and creative boy who plays just like other children. Chicken Boy is told from an autistic kid’s point-of-view, which makes it different and original.
Another autism expert, author, Lena McCalla Njee, will also speak at Words this month. She teaches these special kids and shares inspiring stories from her personal experience in her book, Hope as a Mother’s Savior. Along with the insightful anecdotes, Njee includes reference information about autism.
Check out these free author talks this weekend and the next:
It’s apple picking season! You can pick your own at one of these farms and do much more than get apples. These farms offer hayrides, corn mazes, activities and shops that have melt in your mouth treats. Here are some tips from Pick Your Own, a website with all the information you need to play farmer:
Today was the first day of school for the South Orange-Maplewood School District. Newly minted kindergardeners through sixth and ninth graders started their day with parents taking pictures for posterity. Trying to focus while misty eyed was a bit of a challenge.
Students streamed into the playgrounds in their new school clothes with new backpacks lined up with old and new friends in their class groups. They also meet their teachers, some for the first time. Students at Tuscan Elementary got a treat, the district’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Brian Osborne, was their to say hello and welcome the students to the new school year.
Tomorrow is the first day for grades seven, eight, ten through twelve. The sixth and ninth graders get a break by having their new schools all to themselves. The seventh, tenth through twelve graders get a break by having one extra day off. Everyone wins! Well, maybe not the parents of the latter.
My daughter started Kindergarten today. A big step. A big transition after fours years of daycare. Yet, there’s something else that keeps popping up in the back of my mind. It’s nagging me and it’s not going away. I’m worried about college. Yes, college. Specifically, paying for college. It’s something every parent thinks about, worries about, frets over, almost from the moment of conception. Now that my daughter is beginning her actual education, I feel the savings clock is ticking. And it frightens the hell out of me.
A recent study by Fidelity Investments shows most families fall far short – about 30% – of the money it takes to pay for their child’s college education. It shows parents don’t do enough to save for college, or they wait too long. I must admit that my wife and I are in the same boat. More than five years into our daughter’s life, we haven’t put away nearly as much as we would have hoped, or thought we would have by now. Things always come up. Bills, debt, home improvements, illnesses, jobs changes, even vacations. (Because sometimes you have to enjoy life.) So the issue isn’t as clear cut as the black-and-white facts and figures of a study.