Gunned Down

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 67, was fatally shot while giving a campaign speech on Friday. It was stunning in that it happened in a country where firearms are strictly regulated and political violence is extremely rare.

Japan has some of the most stringent laws on buying and owning firearms. Japan’s gun-ownership restrictions do not allow private citizens to have handguns, and licensed hunters may own only rifles. Gun owners must attend classes, pass a written test, and undergo a mental health evaluation and a background check.

Interestingly, the shooter used a homemade firearm to assassinate Abe. Police raided his home and seized multiple weapons that also appeared to be homemade. The gun used to kill Abe consisted of two metal barrels attached to a wooden board and was more than a foot long.

Any form of violence is unusual in Japan, but gun violence is almost unheard of. There were only ten shootings in Japan in 2021, and, remarkably only one firearm-related death in the whole year. Since 2017, there have been 14 gun-related deaths in Japan, a country of 125 million people.

Compare that — 14 gun-related deaths in four years — to the U.S., which had, according to a recent report from the Center for Gun Violence Solutions, an average of 124 deaths from gun violence every day in 2020. That’s 110 mote deaths per day in the U.S. than in four years in Japan.

Hmm. I wonder why that is. Anyone care to hazard a guess?

Miles Per Gallon

One of the most common questions people ask me when they find out I’ve got an electric car is what kind of mileage I get. My usual answer is, “I get about 275 miles per charge.”

“No, I mean how many miles per gallon do you get?” they ask. “Like twenty, thirty, more?” My answer, “zero,” always gets a quizzical look.

“What do you mean zero?” they ask. I have to explain that my car doesn’t run on gas, it’s electric, so gallons of gas and miles per gallon are irrelevant.

“Then how do you know if your electric car is getting good mileage?” they ask.

“I have a gauge on my car that tells me how many miles per kilowatt hour (mi/kWh) my car is getting,” I say. “I usually average between 4.8 to 5.2 miles/kWh.”

Another quizzical look. “Is that good?” they ask.

I honestly didn’t know how to answer that question, so I Googled it. Here’s what a learned:

To calculate a miles per gallon equivalent for an electric vehicle, just take the miles per kWh figure and multiply by 40. So an efficient 4 miles per kWh electric car is the equivalent of a 160 MPG car. Even a relatively inefficient electric car offering 2.5 miles per kWh would be the equivalent of 100 MPG in a gas or diesel car.

“To answer your question,” I say to the person who asked me what kind of mileage I get, “if I average 5 miles/kWh, that means a get an equivalent of around 200 miles per gallon.”

“Wow!” is their common response.

#WDYS — Not The Brightest Bulb

Hi, Grandma, guess who?


Oh, Grandma, how did you know it was me?

Well, Darlene, I have only one granddaughter and when you called me “Grandma,” it was a dead giveaway.

But, Grandma, I really wanted to surprise you.

All you had to do, sweetheart, was to have just said, “Guess who,” instead of “Hi, Grandma, guess who,” and I might not have guessed so quickly.

Oh right, Grandma, I hadn’t thought about that.

Well, honey, that’s because you’re not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

What chandelier are you talking about, Grandma?

Never mind, Darlene.

Written for Sadje’s What Do You See prompt. Photo credit: Andrea Piacquad @ Pexels.

Fibbing Friday — Collective Nouns

Di (aka Pensitivity101) and Melanie (Sparks From a Combustible Mind) alternate as hosts for Fibbing Friday, a silly little exercise where we are to write a post with our answers to the ten questions below. But as the title suggests, truth is not an option. The idea is to fib a little, a lot, tell whoppers, be inventive, silly, or even outrageous, in our responses. This week is Di’s turn and she is looking for some collective nouns.

1. A dynasty of ducks
2. A bevy of bellybuttons
3. A mustering of hot dogs
4. A scold of juvenile delinquents
5. A cast of aspersions
6. A sedge of Sedgwicks
7. A comb of catacombs
8. A pod of peas
9. A covey of coconuts
10. A party of poopers

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — July 8th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 8th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.

This was originally posted on July 8, 2010 on my old blog.

Swallowed Up

I just found out that the small company ($60 million, ~400 employees) I’ve worked for over the past two and a half years is being swallowed up by a much larger ($9 billion, 42,000 employees) company.

Over the years I have worked for a lot of different companies while seeking my fame and fortune. My journey has taken me — and my family — all across the continent, from DC to New York to Los Angeles; from Dallas to Philadelphia to Chicago. And, for the past 16 years, to the Boston area. Yes, we moved around a lot. The old joke was that we didn’t take vacations, we relocated.

Did I say “old joke”? I meant “bad joke.”

I’ve had the opportunity to work for companies both large and small and everywhere in between. I’m no stranger to working for a company that has been acquired by another, larger company, and I can tell you from experience that it changes everything, sometimes for the better, but oftentimes not so much.

I might be more enthusiastic were I a younger man in an earlier stage of my career. I’m sure this acquisition will open up a whole host of new opportunities for my youthful colleagues, opportunities that might not otherwise have been available at our small company. But for me, a graybeard who is less than a year away from becoming Medicare eligible, this news creates a bit of angst.

I really don’t expect too much to change at my formerly small company in the short term, probably through the end of this year. But I’m sure that the mega-company that acquired us will take steps to integrate (or absorb) our little group into its huge operational enterprise by early next year. And that will no doubt affect who I will report to and what I’ll be asked to do.

So what are my options? I can sit tight and go with the flow, keeping my fingers crossed that when all the dust settles, I’ll be able to continue to do what I like to do, what I’m good at doing, and continue to contribute in some meaningful way.

Or I can, as my wife has suggested, view this as an opportunity to assess what it is I want to do with the rest of my working life and to see what other opportunities there are that will enable me to leverage my interests, experience, and skills. Oh yes, and to get compensated for my efforts!

Perhaps my wife is right and I should take charge of my life, become a master of my own destiny, and be the proactive author of the next chapter of my working life.

Ah, but that requires introspection and self-appraisal, two of my less refined skills. I tend to be a go with the flow kind of a guy. Like flotsam and jetsam, I let the momentum of the currents carry me along to ultimately light upon whatever shores they may lead me to.

Or not!