Sunday, August 02, 2015

As I’m sure everyone knows, the Marijuana debate is hot right now. But beyond the positive medical ramifications of legalized medical marijuana, there is so much more that could come from the end of weed prohibition.

At a time when so many people are out of work, or in need of supplemental income, there’s a whole new industry out there, just waiting to be grabbed. In a legalized world with farming, people can be given jobs of all sorts. Trees could be spared, as the stalks of the plant make excellent everything. Hemp protein and textiles are already out there, Isochanvre (a by-product) is used for building materials. Seed oil is used in food & fuel. Current farmers can rotate the crops with corn, keeping the soil healthy. The industrial benefits are as numerous as they are varied. It is THE biggest undocumented cash crop in the US. If government was smart, they’d realize the unlimited potential, legalize it, tax it like alcohol and let everyone be happy that wants it. People wouldn’t have to go to jail for it, leaving room for the real criminals. There’d be a lot of planting going on, which is good for the atmosphere. There wouldn’t have to be so much de-forestation, good for well…forests.
During prohibition, folks in-the-know went to their local Speakeasy for adult beverages and “fun”. It took a while, but ultimately, everyone saw that the law did not work and they repealed it. As a direct cause of prohibition, organized crime became stronger, or at least wealthier, due to boot-legging. (A big shout-out to the Kennedy clan.)

Our friends Rockefeller, Reagan & Ed Meese are responsible for the idiotic, archaic laws and thinking behind “The War On Drugs”. They classified weed in with the chemical shit-storms that are cocaine, crack, heroin, PCP and speed, and people have spent years in jail for smoking a joint and having some grass on them. They are responsible for mandatory screening, which is a slippery-slope to a witch-hunt, in terms of employment. I could go on for days about this topic, but I am really trying to make another point, so we’ll save it for next time.

Think about it. They created a “war” on drugs. And what happened? What did it fix, exactly? I remember having acquaintances that used uppers, downers & cocaine in high-school. My personal belief is that this war was an excuse for the US Government to make money. Every now and again, someone had to take a fall, to give the impression that they were succeeding, but business was going on as usual. Bullshit.

And now, for the part of the conversation most of my Hippie friends care about: recreational use. My personal take on this is, LEGALIZE IT! It is not a gate-way drug unless the user already has those intentions. The argument is that “Kids will be able to get it!” Surprise folks – they get alcohol and tobacco, despite the laws and rules. Human nature is, if you have a mind to do something, you WILL find a way. Apply the alcohol laws & rules to marijuana. Have shops monitored for under-age use, like they would in a club. Do the best you can do to prevent it. Just like Alcohol and Tobacco. In recent years, the folks I see for 4:20 companionship are at least 20 years younger than me. THEY have it. And they’re always surprised, at first, to find that I will have a treat. 

A recap of benefits:
  • 100’s of medical uses, well documented.
  • Textiles
  • Construction products
  • Paper & packaging
  • Furniture
  • Food & feed
  • Compost
  • Energy & Biomass
  • Cordage

And, here’s a bit of history, courtesy of Rowan Robinson’s Great Book Of Hemp:
  • The sails Columbus used on his famous voyage were made of hemp cloth.
  • The original drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were written on hemp paper.
  • Egypt, Rome, Greece, India, Africa, China, Afghanistan, ancient Jews – have used hemp for thousands of years.
  • Thomas Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from Europe.
  • Henry Ford designed a car “grown” from hemp and other crops, and designed it to run on hemp fuel.
  • George Washington was a hemp farmer, and according to surviving correspondence, he preferred to smoke hemp leaves rather than drink alcohol.
When the first President of The United States of America endorses something…maybe it’s time to re-think your position. Seriously, with the way people cherry-pick the Constitution and its Amendments, you would think George Washington would hold some heavy weight with everyone.

Works Cited

Robinson, R. (1996). The Great Book Of Hemp. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Take what you read with a grain of salt.
The news has been crazy this past week. First...the Confederate flag. Yeah folks, it's part of "history". An embarrassing part, mind you (like much of our history). This thing does not belong in government buildings. The confederacy died a long time ago. If someone has one of these flags outside their home, well, there's nothing you can or should do about it. It might piss you off, but other people DO have a right to express themselves, so long as it brings no harm to others. Of course, *I'd* probably go passive-aggressive and think of something I could display that the other guy might not agree with, but...

As for the Dukes Of Hazard, leave that shit alone. It was TV. Lighten up. If you are going to get upset about that, then get rid of Archie Bunker, Good Times, etc. too.
Next, SCOTUS. Well. It seems that enough of the judges were part of this century and figured everyone has the right to be equally miserable under the law. Or maybe same-sex couples will show the het community how marriage is supposed to be. More of my "traditional" married friends have serious, bizarre drama in their lives, while my Girl couples and Guy couples have more open communication, and stronger bonds. And despite many religions "condemning" them, they are spiritual and sometimes religious people that attend services weekly.
Seriously, if something doesn't apply to me, I tune it out and go about my life. Why can't other people do that? I know some do, otherwise the SCOTUS decision would have been different, but not enough for the hate and intolerance to go away. Disagreeing with someone does not give you the right to be violent.
And lastly...most people know I do not follow a "traditional" spiritual path, and admittedly have an impossible time of believing in an invisible man in the sky. But if he *is* there...I ask that He please come and take care of the assholes that are burning churches in the south. The faithful go there for comfort and strength and some racist bastards are trying to shatter their communities, places of worship, their lives.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Anyone, and I mean ANYONE that knew me in grade-school could tell you that race meant absolutely nothing to me, up until the moment I was beaten up for being white. 4th grade, and suddenly I was aware of skin color. I never noticed it before, But Lizette Melendez decided she didn’t like me because I was quiet and a good student. So naturally, I must think I’m better than she is because I'm white. And I didn’t fight back because in my mind’s eye, I saw myself grab her head and bang it repeatedly against a wall. I couldn’t do that, so I did nothing. 

I took it to the system. She was suspended and had to apologize, and explain why she did it. She made up a ridiculous story. I was supposed to have dissed her family, or something. Hmpf. While we were fighting, she kept on and on about my skin color. You’d think it would have come up, my supposed insult.

 That’s when I developed that look, the one no one should have before at least 21. The one that conveys your knowledge of the other person’s bullshit, and what, exactly, you think of them and the situation. 

Anyway, for the next 2 decades or so, I walked around, not thinking about race on a personal level. It literally made no difference to me. I have never been politically-correct, so I listened to jokes. Of all kinds. I was like “Family Guy”. An equal-opportunity offender – Jokes about religion, even jokes about women. If no one was sacred, it was all good. I know when the line was stepped over though, from humor to hate. And I stopped listening. Not to Family Guy, but just about everything else. The day-to day stuff people might share with one another…no. If it’s racial, I don’t want to hear it.

Now? I see how truly bad it is. Police behavior at its worst, contributing to the death, if not outright killing black men and women. Not all Law Enforcement Officials are bad, but the bad ones make the headlines that form national opinion. That’s just how it is, folks.

I was driving home over the Tappan Zee the day the Diallo verdict came in and they found the officers not guilty. 41 fucking bullets and no one is guilty?!  I was screaming at the top of my lungs in my car, windows up. I still can’t get over it. I’m old enough to remember the Eleanor Bumpers assassination. Horrible. And let’s not forget the man who was sodomized by some of New York’s finest. How in the hell do you get from bringing in a suspect(?) to raping him with a foreign object? How?

And it’s getting worse. Every few weeks you hear about a new police-associated death. What the fuck is wrong with these people? Don’t they have to pass a psych exam before going in? Maybe they need to make the exam harder, or something. That Blue Wall bullshit needs to go away. You get 2 cops to a car. The odds of them both being bent should be staggering considering the full staff of a precinct. How does this stuff keep happening?

My own contact with Paterson police went like this: Early one Saturday morning, I woke up to doors banging. I remember thinking “Uh-oh. Dad’s in a bad mood. Thank goodness I have work.” So I go downstairs and find a half-naked stranger passed out on the toilet. I woke up everyone and called the police. 20 minutes later, no one had shown up. So my Dad called the police. They showed up and sealed off the block. They come in and decide the dude without pants was drunk, and they’d bring him in to dry out and let him go. One of them decided to go through the pockets and found illicit substances of some sort and then decided to arrest him. One cop turns to me & my brother and asked whose friend he was. They tried to blame me and/or my brother, saying he had to be one of our friends. I found my voice and let the cop know how flawed his thinking was and I walked away. I was 18. 

Sunday, February 01, 2015


Healthcare is a calling, not just a job for a paycheck. If your heart isn't in it, you shouldn't do it. Patients are people, not bar-codes. When I did floor-nursing, I put my heart & soul into it. I read constantly about different conditions, meds to treat them, I read psych care plans to try to deal with "difficult" patients and studied lab tests and normal/abnormal values for them. I answered call-bells and worked on anticipating my patient’s needs. Pain meds were dispensed in a timely fashion, wound care was done gently as possible and I spent time with patients on the DNR list, to make sure they weren't alone when the end came. I never took advantage of my nursing assistants either. Never asked one to do something I wouldn't do myself, and made myself available to help them if patients needed cleaning up, or linen changed.

Working in the OR, I was still an advocate for the patient, along with my circulator. I did my best to help maintain a calm, quiet atmosphere when the patient came into the room. I learned new things, asked questions of the surgeons when I could. I've held hands, soothed foreheads and talked to family members. I made sure to stay "on top of my game". This stuff seems to be lacking in today's nurses. Not all, but enough that it disturbs me. I don't care for much of what I've seen recently.

This was my practice while I worked as a staff nurse @ SJHMC, circa late-80's to early 90's. The max # of patients I had was 12, and I worked night shift (11-7). When I did per-diem in nursing homes, this was NOT how it was, and nothing I did could make it like that, which broke my heart. I came home crying every Sunday because I hated that people were treated like livestock. The point of the post is, that anyone going into such a field should have the heart and compassion for others, instead of it just being a job. For every one nurse that is good, and nice, I see three that aren't. Makes me so sad.

Friday, January 16, 2015

OK kids. The bottom line is we think what we think. We feel how we feel and as long as no one tries to force their beliefs (political or spiritual) on me, I respect their right to think what they think and feel what they feel. 

Wars are fought over this stuff, and they shouldn't be. From early Rome, to the Crusades, to the 3000+ years of shit going down in the middle east, and even the Holocaust. It all needs to stop. Someone else believing in what *I* call "an invisible man in the sky" doesn't hurt me. If it works for anyone, and gives them peace and a sense of something greater than them, so be it. MY problem is when others try to force their morality on someone else, and in doing so, they mistreat others not exactly like them.

State & Religion need to be separate for exactly these reasons. No one group has the right to be judge, jury and executioner over someone else based on their religious background, or lack thereof. Law should be neutral in this regard specifically because people have been arguing this point since the beginning of civilization. Ancient Egypt had many gods, and one Pharaoh wanted there to be only the Sun God. Y'all get my point?

Instead of everyone fighting about this issue, people should rally and fight the true injustices in the world, instead of trying to shove their beliefs down the throats of others. There are too many things we KNOW are wrong - hunger, homelessness, people dying of diseases because they can't afford treatment, people losing jobs due to international outsourcing, etc.

And for the record, I admire and respect Gandhi, Mother Theresa, MLK, Buddha, and the *idea* of Jesus (original hippie - peace & love, y'all).

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I own 2 bibles (Catholic & King James), The Book of Mormon, The Bhagavad Gita, The Tao Te Ching and The Witches’ Bible. I have books on Buddhism, Zen and Wicca. I’ve read some about Native American beliefs. So far, I cannot find in any of these books where it tells people to kill another person because they do not believe the same things. I don’t have The Koran or Torah, but I doubt they say this either.
 Someone needs to explain how the hell this mob-mentality came about that has devout believers (who are so proud of what they do that they cover themselves up so they can’t be identified) thinking they have the right to force ridiculous rules of conduct on their women-folk and kill anyone that doesn't believe in the same invisible man in the sky that they do, or isn’t the same as they are. This is the Third Reich on steroids.
Yes, The Crusades were awful. Yes, Slavery was awful. The Inquisition was awful. What we did to the Native Americans was awful. The Holocaust was awful. Pearl Harbor was awful. McCarthyism was awful. The attacks on New York & Washington were awful. But folks, get over it. You can’t change the past. Only by education and practicing what we preach can we ever hope to break free of mob-mentality.

People from all religions will say that theirs is a just and merciful God. Murder is neither just nor merciful. These asshole fundamentalists cherry-pick things from their religious texts to make their religion fit their beliefs, instead of the other way around. 

Everything comes at a price. Financially, emotionally or spiritually, every decision we make about life’s big picture costs something. This knowledge came to me recently, during a few days of me being down because of consumerism and vanity. You see, it kind of bothers me that my little place looks like I live here. Seriously, besides Clyde, the computer and my books, I would love to swap out everything else here for newer, more perfect-looking stuff. And I do know that I should sit down and shut the fuck up, because there are people that would be VERY happy with what I have. It isn’t lack of gratitude, because I know there are areas of my life that I KNOW I’m very lucky to have what I do. Like I said, consumerism & vanity. I personally blame advertising.


Recently, I tried to mend fences with someone I considered a friend. I let her stay with me for a few months and things got weird. As in felony bad (her, not me). I did my best to let it go but it seems she is holding grudges against me for things she did not actually talk to me about. I apologized anyway, wanting to “do the right thing”. It failed. Miserably. And the funny thing is, I’m not even sure why. I want to be angry. I want to tell her off. I will do none of these things because if she doesn't want me in her life, well, so be it. I was sincere, honest and it didn’t work. Sometimes, ya just gotta let it go.

I have another such situation that I am thinking of doing, but this puts me off trying because I don't like it when things blow up in my face, and this one is even worse.

Monday, December 29, 2014

                                                              Musical Thoughts ♪♫

“I can change the world, if I can change the world in me.” (1)

It wasn’t until 21 that I listened to anything but the Beatles, and The Stones. Now, I always knew there was other stuff out there, but I just wasn't interested. I met a self-taught guitarist and this changed things and opened doors. I explored. I still do. But everything I listen to, and like, is judged on a “special scale”. It’s been said before, that to have a left or a right, you have to have a center. The Beatles were it. Like it or not, they changed music and the face of pop culture. They wrote their own songs, despite covering a few tunes of American rockers that they liked, which, to me, is the mark of a true musician. There is no better piece of writing/playing/arrangement than "the medley" on side two of Abbey Road. Bless you, Sir George Martin. I forgive you for the blatant mistake on Please Please Me, so many years ago.

Music that friends listened to seeped in, I listened to the radio for new things. Today, my musical library is ridiculously large and varied. I bought Joshua Tree when it came out and it was played quite a bit. Achtung! Baby seemed strange to me at the time, though Mysterious Ways was ethereal. Imagine my surprise, when years after the fact, I started being a rather rabid U2 fan. Now? I find myself thinking that Achtung!Baby was U2's Abbey Road, in terms of musical cohesiveness, and genius.
Moral of this story? Even my precious Bono lives in the shadow of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Their work is what I measure talent by.

Words, particularly song lyrics are our modern day philosophy. When you hear a line of a song you really like and it makes you think, it’s stronger than anything you might get from a book. I think it’s safe to say that we get more out of music because it is more accessible.  Beatles, Dylan, CSNY, Floyd, Zeppelin, U2, depending on who you like, all take us to a place where we can just think and feel, and it’s effortless. Is it any wonder that I am in love with music?

It’s quite true that I am a snob when it comes to music. For anyone to call themselves a musician, I expect that person to play an instrument and write music & lyrics. My exception to this is, of course, Andrea Boccelli. The man does have one hell of a voice and he's sexy, too, so he gets a pass.

  Most of what’s around today is the opposite of this, and the “performers” strut and preen, thinking themselves the center of the universe. I remember being at the gym one afternoon and I hadn’t put my earphones in yet, so I was being assaulted by some ridiculous song where the singer proclaimed he “had the moves like Jagger”. All I could think of was that the dude probably never saw the Rolling Stones in concert, may not have even known who they are, and that someone else had to have written the lyrics. Needless to say, I NEVER liked "Boy Bands.

The Monkees were a manufactured group that was created in 1966. Initially, their music was written by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, and they were produced by Don Kirshner. The “plot” behind the show was that they were a band looking to make it big. They were modeled after The Beatles, with slapstick comedy thrown in. Growing up, I watched the re-runs of the show and liked it. At 10 or 11, I didn’t stop to think that they weren’t really playing, or writing their own stuff. As I got older, I learned the story behind the group. It turned out that Mike Nesmith (the dude with the hat) and Peter Tork (the naïve likeable guy) could actually play and even write their own stuff. The producers had session musicians play while they sang. They were forced to “fake it”, and in order, they started to resent not being allowed to write and play. Eventually, they did get to do their own songs and they weren’t bad. This is the only example of a Boy-Band that made it past my high standards. They fought for their right to do their own work.

I must confess that in the 70’s, I did listen to the Village People. I have a hard time believing it myself, but I bought the 45’s for In The Navy and YMCA. They were camp, flamboyant and just way, way out there, but there’s a reason some of those tunes are still around. They were catchy. Phil Hurtt and Peter Whitehead did the songwriting. This group was a good example of “junk-food” music