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Saga of the Estate

It can be quite difficult, when a loved one passes, for those left behind to make the practical decisions needed that will help settle the affairs of the estate in an amicable manner.

In the case of my brother and I the complete process was executed quickly, efficiently and in a totally amicable way. We played cards for it.

I say that somewhat “tongue-in-cheek”, because all the important stuff was worked out fairly, with total agreement on the process, before any item was dealt with.

What we played cards for was the right to choose first on the items of sentimental value that we both would have liked. Even then the ‘loser’ didn’t really lose much because they got to choose the next item in the group of items that was up for grabs on that round.

The method we used to settle the major stuff was the real secret of the amicable settlement.

Both of us were fairly technically savvy 10 years ago. We each had handheld digital devices called Psions. On them we had created a spreadsheet which listed all the items of the estate along with an estimated value. We then went through the list putting each of our names next to items we would take home. If we came across something we both wanted, we bid for it. The value of the winning bid went down against the name of the winner.

At the end of the process the totals were compared and any difference made up with cash from the estate.

So, rather than waste precious energy bickering over who got what and whether one was getting more valuable items than the other – we were able to open the liquor cabinet, get out the cards and play a game of poker to settle who got to choose first when we split up the toy matchbox cars. An altogether more pleasant way of passing our time!

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Firearms for all

Firearms for all

Am I going crazy? Or is it the world?The biggest killer in the world (correct me if I’m wrong) is heart disease. The problem appears to be growing in size – along with our waistlines. Ok there are many other killers in the world, tsunami, earthquake, motor vehicles, psychotic killers with guns, people who aren’t in law enforcement or military who also have guns, kittens with claws that can cause fatal blood poisoning and little old ladies who put arsenic in our tea.

For some reason our society ignores the BIG killers and focuses instead on making a law that requires all cyclists to wear helmets. Ok, I can see where the cycle helmet manufacturers would back such a move, but seriously, was there ever a significant enough number of people being killed or badly injured to make a law that requires us all to do it? How many cycle kilometres have been travelled per head injury? I travelled to school and back on a bicycle until I was 15 and got my drivers licence and never once had a head injury – although you may think otherwise now that you can see what I’m doing with my time.

There might be cause to believe that radiation from the power outlets, cell towers and the effects of global air conditioning is causing even more damage than falling over our handlebars. Does that mean there is going to be a law on our books soon that will require us to wear tinfoil helmets with little lightning conductors?

Why do we concentrate on making issues out of things that aren’t issues for most people just so we can reduce some already minute statistic to another level of insignificant minuteness?

A lot of these laws seem to be initiated by boring people who never had any fun in life – I mean why would you ban fireworks that go BANG? As a kid growing up I had lots of fun with such fireworks. Now Guy Fawkes night has totally lost its attraction and I don’t even bother glancing up from the computer screen to look out the window.

Also as a kid I wiled away many happy hours with my friends building forts and playing mock battles with my toy guns. Now it seems that kindergartens in New Zealand are introducing Firearms licences so that responsible tots can make and carry (but store safely) their own toy firearms. At this early age they are being shown not to point their toy firearms at each other – well where the hell is the fun in that? You probably can’t even fire it by going “Bang! You’re dead!” I can imagine the kindergarten court of enquiry into that fatal shooting now!

Surely when we are kids we play out adult situations in order to help us decide what we want to do later in life. Some find out they want to be psychotic killers with guns, yet others prefer not to go into the services but instead build a life out of healing the sick, or making macramé pot plant holders. We all fit into a spectrum somewhere, some of us tend to be more suited to the artistic side of life while others are more suited to creating mayhem. Some find they have nothing to offer so they become politicians. The mayhem or “X” people tend to go into the armed forces, police and the criminal fraternity. The artistic or “Y” people go into psychology and make up theories about things like “X” and “Y”.  I am the whole alphabet so at 57 years old I still haven’t worked out what I want to do when I grow up.

Anywho… back to the topic… if guns killed people there would be an awful lot of pencils out there guilty of mistakes. Yes that is right, it is people that kill people! A gun is just a bit of plastic/wood/metal. You sit it on a desk and it will just sit there, killing nobody. Sure a person can use it to kill someone but that is entirely down to the motivation and intent of the person holding the gun. A gun can be a toy, you can play with it, we call that sport shooting. I teach fencing, that is a sport where what was once considered to be a lethal weapon is used to demonstrate certain skills in competition. Archery, the same. True, these older “weapons” have become less effective in comparison to modern ones but the fact is that certain types of people enjoy developing these skills in modern as well as ancient contexts. Playing with them performs a social release – a safety valve where some of our natural aggressions can be dissipated safely.

People who use firearms in a sporting context do so after satisfying various authorities that they are responsible citizens. If a person has demonstrated the competence and appropriate mental attitude to own one sort of firearm, what difference does it make whether they have other sorts? Why not let them have military style ones if they find some enjoyment and satisfaction out of owning and firing such things?

We can give a person a driving licence and they can go buy a Toyota Echo or a Humvee. If they show they are capable of driving a tracked vehicle safely they could probably go buy themselves a Centurion tank!

We licence the person. We say this person is capable of driving/shooting/applying bandaids/whatever… and then let them get on with their lives.

In regard to firearms ownership we only need one simple law: Criminals cannot possess firearms, if they are found in possession of a firearm they go to jail.

If we back that up by allowing people who aren’t criminals but who have firearms, to shoot any criminal trying to help themselves to their firearms then we will have a perfect world. I suspect the attraction of stealing or possessing firearms would wane a bit, given that if you have one in your possession as a criminal you will go to jail and if you are attempting to get one you could be shot dead.


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