Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Range of Thoughts from Arizona

     I have to admit, I really don't like to fly. Actually, I'm afraid to fly. But so are a lot of people, even though not everyone is willing to admit it. So why do they call the place where you go to get on the airplane the "terminal"? Doesn't instill a lot of confidence in people like us.

     That being said, my experience on U. S. Air was about as good as it gets. There was no mob scene at the airport. Check-in was not a problem. We took off without delay. The flight was smooth. We arrived on time. The whole experience almost made me want to fly again ... well, I guess I'll have to if I want to go home. 

     So I arrived in Arizona a few days ago, and I find that I am sleeping extremely well. I fell into bed at 9:15 last night; I read for a little while, but couldn't say awake past 10 p.m. Then I slept soundly until 7:15 this morning. A good nine hours of solid sack time! I dunno if it's because I'm on vacation, or if it's the dry air, or what, but if you're having trouble sleeping, come to Arizona!

     There are a couple of things that make me nervous, however. Apparently there's been a rash of home invasions in the area recently. When I arrived, people were talking about a double murder that had occurred just a few days before, in one of the nicer neighborhoods of Phoenix.

     It's pretty gruesome. A retired doctor and his wife were found bound, shot and burned beyond recognition in the master bedroom of their suburban home. Authorities have released no official statements. But the rumor I heard from another Phoenix doctor suggests it was a home invasion gone bad -- two men had followed the couple into their garage but they'd been recognized by the man. And so the couple had to be killed. And then the house was set on fire. Two suspects were arrested by the end of the week.

     This could happen anywhere, I suppose. And honestly, I don't know if the crime rate around Phoenix is any worse than anywhere else. But I'll tell you one thing. My sister and all her friends are being very careful to close their garage doors and lock their doors at night.

     Meanwhile, there's a proposal on the ballot in Arizona to allow people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. Arizona already has the worst gun-safety laws in the nation, tied at the bottom with Utah and Alaska, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Now, I don't know how many 18 - 22 year olds you know, but when I look around and see how those kids drive, and how they can be impulsive, and how they experiment with drinking and drugs and who knows what else, do you really think it's a good idea to give them a license to carry a concealed weapon?

     Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of people in the military are 20 years old, and carry much more deadly weapons than a concealed gun. But the kids in the military have been trained, and they are under the supervision of older, more experienced, more responsible officers. It would make me very nervous to be walking around a college campus, wondering who was packing heat, and who was not. If nothing else, it might inhibit class discussion, don't you think?

The Heard Museum in Phoenix features Indian arts and culture

     Of course, I don't spend much time on a college campus anymore. But it also makes me a little nervous driving around the streets of Phoenix, wondering who's carrying and who's not.

     Although, when I am driving around the streets of Phoenix, I'm not always aware that I'm even in Arizona. In fact, the Phoenix metro area seems like Florida to me -- miles and miles of strip malls and low-slung office buildings and parking lots dotted with palm trees. I think of the Valley of the Sun as Florida -- without the water. Except every once in a while you turn a corner and there, up ahead, is a mountain, or mountain ridge. And you're surprised. Oh yeah ... we are in Arizona.

     One place I did drive was to the Heard Museum, a beautiful oasis in the middle of Phoenix dedicated to American Indian arts and cultures. (They say American Indian, not Native American, so I'm just going with their terminology.)  I recommend a visit if you're in town.

     As you can see I have mixed initial reactions to Phoenix -- and I've yet to experience the rest of Arizona, which I will do after I get back from California. Like everywhere else, I suppose, there are some good things and some bad things. But I didn't come here to judge Phoenix. Plenty have people have already done that, and given it high marks. Americans have voted with their feet, moving to Phoenix in droves. The place has been growing for decades and is still attracting people, despite what you hear about the bad economy and horrible real-estate market and the poor gun-safety laws.

     As for me, I might not want to retire and live here; but it's a great place to visit. The people, by and large, seem friendly. The prices are reasonable (at least compared to the Northeast). And the weather in February is fantastic. Great for sleeping!


Anonymous said...

I think I'd like to go just to get that good night's sleep. Priceless.

June said...

I think it might be your "New York" showing in your viewpoint on the guns out there in the wild west. ;-p

Knatolee said...

We had a week's vacation in and around Tucson last APril and I LOVED it, love the desert. But the guy packing heat (open carry) in the Walgreen's freaked out this little Canadian. Still, the Sonoran Desert, soooo beautiful!

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

I don't own a gun and never have. I have 3 ferocious pomeranians to protect me and 8 parrots. We also are far from the Mexican border. I know it is bad down there and would never have an opinion about how someone else in another state that far away should handle their gun laws. In VA you can carry a concealed weapon and it seems to deter some crimes. Of course it is against the law to shoot someone even if they are breaking into your house.


Rubye Jack said...

All I can say is that if they want to let their kids carry concealed weapons, then please keep them in Arizona.

Arizona is an incredibly beautiful state.

Stephen Hayes said...

Arizona is a beautiful state but the political climate would have to change before I'd feel welcomed there. That crazy governor would have to go.

Jono said...

I don't think I could sleep as well with everyone carrying guns, home invasions, and the like. It is probably a common scene in most big cities, but then I don't sleep well in cities. Too much noise and activity for my tastes, but I have heard it is quite beautiful out of town in Arizona.

Douglas said...

You are probably still operating on east coast time.

The point of concealed carry laws is to keep the bad guys wondering just who might be armed and, therefore, dangerous to them.

I wouldn't mind living in Benson, AZ.

Old Dog Learning New Tricks said...

For what it's worth, I spent many years living in Vermont, which has no legal restrictions for anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon. (http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/vermont.pdf)
I thought the scenery was beautiful, the people were generally kind and decent, and crime is almost nonexistent. I wonder why?

Bob Lowry said...

Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the country, so bad things happen. But, the crime rate is low overall. Our biggest problem is being so close to Mexico there is a large flow of illegal drugs and the people that come with that from across the border.

Restaurants, bars and so forth can post a sign prohibitng any guns, concealed or not, so that isn't a real problem. But, it is a state with a strong gun culture. Don't forget it just became a state 100 years ago (Feb 12th).

We have been here 27 years after growing up on the East Coast and Midwest and find it a tremendous place to have raised our daughters and enjoy a casual, relaxed, lifestyle.

Be sure to visit Sedona and Flagstaff before heading to California.

Joanna Jenkins said...

You know, I never thought about the term "terminal" at the airport before. Interesting. I'll be thinking about that the next time I fly.

Sightings said...

Wow, Old Dog, you are right about VT gun laws. I'm surprised (and I don't know why VT doesn't show up on the Brady poor-gun-law list). But even in VT, it's illegal to carry a gun on any school property.

Do you really think there's a connection between lax gun laws and low crime rates? I've heard that argument, but I don't believe it. But then, I really don't know. Maybe I should do some more research if I'm going to spout off about it.

Richard said...

I'm not afraid of flying...it's crashing that bothers me.

And as far as Arizona is concerned it's all beach and no ocean so there's no sane reason for going there.

Nance said...

I could be easily coaxed to live in Tucson. We loved our four years in Mesa.i

Catch Her in the Wry said...

Illinois is the only state that doesn't have some kind of conceal carry law. The Chicago politicians are against it, but most of the rest of the state wants to be able to carry guns under a conceal carry law. Unfortunately, Chicago politics rule the entire state.

We have a local youth gun club that teaches gun safety and has organized shooting events. These kids aren't even college age and include boys AND girls. The club is only a few years old and now has a couple hundred participants, which is quite impressive for a small rural area. I'd trust them with concealed weapons on a college campus. Your experience seems to have been limited to teen criminals with weapons. If that's the case, then you certainly need to carry a concealed weapon.

Dick Klade said...

If you want to delve deeply into economic retirement possibilities, check out Green Valley south of Tucson when you return to AZ. Lots of U.S. Forest Service retirees favor Green Valley. FS people are known for their ability to ferret out bargains that offer good value.