After a cold January, Feb. is turning out to be the opposite & will finish well above avg. There are some signs of at least some cold returning by early March. In the meantime, we're 'in the area' of the date of our avg. last freeze: So a few thoughts regarding the mass shooting in Parkland, Fl. at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS...... * you won’t find a banner of any sort on my Twitter feed or FB fan page. Seems too easy & superficial to me. * “thoughts & prayers” - once again - too flippant. * just way too many images & sounds bites in my world. There’s no way for me to shut it off or out while I’m at work since I’m IN a t.v. station. The video of the kids huddling in the classroom with gunshots booming is just too graphic. * the video from Thu. evening’s vigil where the father speaks about not remembering if he told his deceased daughter the morning of Valentine’s Day that he loved her. Oh my God - just heart wrenching. * Gun control. I’m in favor of the 2nd Amendment - I understand the intentions of our forefathers in the writing of our constitution. Times obviously were far different then. But I have to believe some logical limits (mental health, certain automatic weapons, a ban from certain public areas) on guns is not a bad thing or irrational thing. It certainly does not infringe on the spirit of the 2nd Amendment which was written to arm state militia (vs. individual gun ownership). But you know - for all the finger pointing, excuses, & political discourse.... I’m convinced the problem is unique to the United States because of a persistent drain on our moral compass. And morals, empathy & respecting your fellow man cannot be legislated. But think about it - if one values another humans life, I would have to think these mass shootings would decline. I fear the moral fabric of our great country is terribly frayed. I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the mess that is our society can be blamed on parenting.... or the lack thereof. Here’s something really radical: people unfit to parent or that are unwilling to put in the time & effort, just simply should not do it... & I do mean “do it”. You see - parenting is a tough job. It’s full time. Never stops. & you don’t get paid for it. In fact, it can drain your wallet. But the job of parenting - while priceless - just isn’t easy. And without parents placing their kids in an environment where responsibility, values & consequences are not of utmost importance, then we get a product - eventually an adult - that likely will not contribute to society.... arguably will detract from society. And a favorable environment does not have to mean “well off” socioeconomically. Parents HAVE TO spend a lot of time with their kids. Have expectations for their kids, set limits. Yup - your kids don’t need you to be their best friend, they need you to be their cops. It’s not up to the neighbors, your kid’s friends parents, teachers, school administrators, the police or any other gov’t entity to take care of your kids. It’s up to YOU. Take them to church. You don’t believe in God? You don’t like how money factors into religion? o.k. - that’s fine. But surrounding your kids with individuals who have a good moral compass can - & will - rub off. It’s the environment that matters. As a family - go volunteer at the local Salvation Army... a food pantry... a homeless shelter. Show your kids “the other side of the street”. Demonstrate empathy, compassion. This won’t make them sissies, this will help make your kids value what they have while also developing a soul that is willing to give a helping hand, a hand up (not handout)... - & most importantly - without prejudice. Whether black, Indian, Asian, white, male, female, old, young.... we’re all ultimately in the same boat. How ‘bout checking your kid’s social media accounts?? Crazy, right? Hey - I’m telling you as a parent of 2 teenagers, you need to do it. I’m guessing at least 8 our of every 10 sets of parents would be shocked at what they find. Not necessarily what their child is posting (though maybe) but what others - including “friends” are posting. It’s insane. You don’t have to do this secretly, by the way. Tell your kids you will occasionally check all their accounts. If they protest, there a bunch of ways to show them you’re being reasonable & it’s your way or nothing at all... beginning with take their dang phone away. Again - your not their snap chat buddy, you’re their cop! So after the flags are back to full mast.... the school reopens.... the GoFundMe accounts are full... & winter turns into spring.... what will come out of this mass insaneness? Probably little at all. A monument will be built no doubt. A relatively small group in Parkland, Florida will NEVER be the same. Most of the rest of us will go on with our everyday frenetic pace of life. Sending our thoughts & prayers & supposedly moving on while making sure our kids aren’t upset with us for “showing them the way”. As a society, we need to - & can - do better. We need to find a moral compass. We need to care, to love, to be compassionate. We need to have the heart that was so missing on this year’s Valentine’s Day.... an Ash Wednesday from which we need to rise & realize we can do better as parents & that it’s not up to someone else or a government, it’s up to US.