When it comes to friends, I've been lucky because I've usually been fortunate enough to find friendship with people smarter and more talented than myself. That forces me to up my game.
For example, my friend Tom is a gifted computer programmer. I mean seriously gifted. Like, Mozart wrote music because he couldn't not write music, Tom figures out computer problems because he has to. Right now, he's working for a marketing concern on the east coast. As with all talented people, he's the "go-to guy" for all of the weird, obscure, glitches that crop up from time to time. Moreover, he has other programmers coming to him for advice and guidance. Unfortunately, the marketing concern that he works for is herding him towards a serious case of burnout. When that happens, he will likely leave for greener pastures, and they will be stuck with men of lesser ability. Tom will do okay because he's talented, brilliant, and has a work ethic that compels him to do the best job he can do, no matter the task. Computers aren't just his passion, they're his calling. When I need advice about computers, I call Tom. He speaks English, he's here in the States, and he likes me. I have none of those advantages when I call Microcrash.
Then there is Mike. Mike would be completely happy if he could spend the rest of his days tinkering with guns, cars, and motorcycles. One of the most effective critical thinkers I've ever met, he is one of the last of a dying breed: the American Tinkerer. He likes to find ways to make stuff go faster, shoot more accurately, and run better for not a lot of money (oh yeah, he's cheap, too). A very serious shooter, a motorcycle accident prevented him from entering into the top ranks of competitive pistol shooters, but you still wouldn't want to go up against him one-on-one. To give you an idea of his talent, he once entered an IDPA match, after not having shot in a year, and won. Like I said; serious. We've had our disagreements but it's usually nothing Earth-shattering. More like brothers quarreling.
Of the few people I call my friend, the only one of any notoriety is Kevin Starrett. Kevin heads up the Oregon Firearms Federation, a Second Amendment organization that makes the NRA look like the Chuck Schumer Fan Club. Considering that Oregon is perhaps the most blatantly Socialist state in the union, the fact that Kevin causes the Democrats in the Oregon State Legislature to cower in fear whenever gun issues need to be addressed speaks volumes about his passion and commitment.
Kevin, more than anyone else, schooled me about politicians. He opened my eyes to the truth about them and how to deal with them. The first thing he taught me was that these are not the best and the brightest. Those people are out inventing things, starting businesses, and curing diseases. Politicians tend to be average, to low-average intelligence, and unremarkable other than they managed to win a popularity contest. Considering that we have a Congressman that thinks the island of Guam can capsize, and a Congresswoman who still thinks that Vietnam is two countries, I am inclined to agree with Kevin.
The second thing he taught me, and I think the Tea Party movement is proving nationally what Kevin has proven time and again locally, is that the only things politicians understand are fear and pain; the fear of losing an election, and the pain of having to live under the laws they helped enact. There is no reason to be more than nominally courteous to these people, and damned few of them are worthy of respect. If you ever deal with one, deal with them as an equal. If they insist on you using their title, they are a low-down SOB and you should waste no more time on them.
Kevin Starrett is a warrior fighting the good fight, and Oregon gun owners should be grateful to have him on their side. When he walks into the Capitol Building in Salem to confront his opponents, he has them intellectually, philosophically, and literally outgunned. I like to tell people that, when Kevin faces the state legislature he has them surrounded.
Ironically, the only thing that connects these three guys is me. Like I said, I'm lucky.