Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Opinionation - California Greens

It's a new year in California, and while big changes are ahead it doesn't really seem much is changing at all.  Residents of the state are still standing polar opposite from each other about the recreational use of marijuana.  Medically speaking, many have come around to recognizing its proven benefits and have adopted a 'live and let live' attitude.  Not so much outside of that.

Yet alcohol is very much a socially acceptable norm.

I'm going to attempt to break this down, as much for myself as anyone else because frankly, I lean more toward the old school way of thought too.  I'm also first to admit that the basis of any ignorance is almost always the fear of the unknown.  I've never been high a day in my life.  My perceptions stem from this and from the experiences I've lived through with those around me.  I can count myself solo among everyone I've ever known as not having tried the happy weed.  What I've seen has been pretty disastrous and it's hard to separate their realities with what is scientifically true.

Let's start with the "gateway":  Is it really the beginner's drug?  I would argue that it is, but not for any physically addictive properties.  Some vices are based on the body's cravings and trying to break free is a nightmare.  Many of our monkeys derive from our mental state, and a need to escape or alter our realities.  Whatever our beginning, or "gateway" to that may be, eventually our needs escalate.  Thus begins a journey that invites a dependence on more.  Most people on this path are susceptible to addiction it just happens that marijuana has taken the rap for being easily accessible, somewhat affordable and rather low-key.  If we really want to point an accurate finger, it should be at the bottle and not the ground.

Moving on; I've never been a big fan of the recreational use of any mind-altering substance.  Especially since I figured out I wasn't so invincible against alcohol after all.  I was somewhat fortunate that I was able to recognize my issues and walk away from it.  This isn't to say that every person who imbibes in alcohol or a weed that grows organically is only doing so for escape.  Cocktails are often for the taste.  But if you were to take a good poll of everyone around you, the most common answer is likely to be "it helps me relax."  Relaxation is a good thing, but I have to question why so many are unable to do this without aid?  I have no concept of the word myself, but am such a control freak that I can't just give in to something outside of my own head.  I have my own vices still, namely a therapist to feed my narcissism. 

So let's come around to my own real issues with this new law.  To be quite honest, activists who go overboard with anything really annoy me.  So, there's that.  I find it laughable that stoners think they can't be detected by their obvious behavior.  As much as the smell of any kind of smoke nauseates me (I'm allergic), this particular odor is worse.  While Californians really haven't bothered to hide their smoking for some time now, I worry that it will now be much more present in my daily surroundings.  I find it amusing and somewhat astounding that people are offended at "rules" - no lighting up in a car, whether driver or passenger.  It's a contagion, so what the hell?  Where is the common sense? 

We're also at the crossroads of "be careful what you wish for."  In legalizing, we are also inviting capitalism to rear its ugly head and make it so unaffordable for those who genuinely use for medical benefit.  There will always be a black market, but wasn't the rally for this law to be weed for all?  Without federal backing, it's really not as giant a leap as we may think. 

The reality is, I don't care what people do in their own time, in their own dwellings, but I don't want to be affected by it.  Only time is going to tell if people become more reckless by getting behind the wheel of a car or if we see a sudden spike in child neglect or perhaps an uptick in snack purchases.  Jack In The Box already caters to this crowd, and I think it's one of the more brilliant marketing moves I've ever seen.  All of the stereotypes could prove to be more real than we ever imagined, or it could just be that we've been fed a bunch of hyped up bullshit. 

I was reflecting back the other night to the new millennium panic and how we all fell for it.  I think we are on that cliff again.  Never mind that other states have beaten us to the punch.  As Californians, we should be somewhat embarrassed about that.  As with anything, time will always provide answers.  People have long come to the conclusion that we've had the answer all along, right there in an insignificant little plant.  It's way past time to end the reefer madness, but that doesn't mean we can't recognize it too for what it is. 

It's funny to me, where we choose to place our outrage. Nothing in this world is harmless if we sift enough through the reactions.  The best we can do is open ourselves to knowledge - what we don't know, someone can always teach us. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Opinionation - Shame on Lollipop Lane

How disheartening to come out of a holiday season to such a headline as "Vacaville Family Shamed... For Not Decorating For Christmas."  I don't know about anyone else, but this year it was a hard Christmas to get through, for a multitude of reasons.  We decorated, but have done so minimally over the past ten years, as we live in a secluded neighborhood and our neighbors certainly don't seem to care one way or another. 

Apparently, it is tradition for the residents of Candy Cane Lane and Lollipop Lane in the town of Vacaville to decorate abundantly for the holidays.  One woman chose not to, as she was in mourning for her mother who had passed away earlier this year and who had made the decorations by hand.  She received an anonymous letter from a neighbor stating intolerance for anyone living on the street to not participate in the practice. 

Interestingly enough, I was actually thinking about this last night on my way home as I took in the still-standing lights on nearby homes.  Fewer homes every year partake in the tradition - be it lack of interest, or the high cost of powering the displays.  Many just don't feel the motivation.  I find it sad, mainly because there doesn't seem to be any tradition that has taken its place.  One thing is for certain; we all have our reasons, whatever they may be.

There is a common theme in most of the issues plaguing the world, but let's narrow that down to just our own culture alone - America.  We are entirely too judgmental of others.  We are all guilty in some way, we pick and choose our discriminations - that we have made such a celebrity of Judge Judy speaks volumes.  We have a greater awareness of "invisible illnesses" than we used to, but only when it is convenient to us.  It's okay to call each other out on occasion or to have the structure of law and consequence, so long as we keep ourselves in check as well.

If I were a part of this community, I would be ashamed upon reading this letter.  I was embarrassed enough as a fellow human to read it.  While I don't want to encourage more rage in the world, I do hope that there is sufficient offense to hold these neighbors accountable for their shameful behavior going forward. 

Story:  ABC7News

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A New Year Burns Everlasting

For many reasons, people want to see an end to 2017.  Here in Northern California, in our beloved wine country, it was an unforgettable year.  Trauma, devastation, near misses, great loss, a bounty of human kindness and a plethora of images and words told by some of the greatest storytellers. 

I've been following the stories of friends and strangers via the internet, social media and in my friend circles.  I asked one author, Nathaniel R. Winters, if I could share his journaled stories.  You'll find them below.  If you have your own stories to share, please do so in the comments.  If you like what you've read here, you may find more of Winters' work here:  Nathaniel Robert Winters

So many want to close this year out and begin anew with hope, strength and the help of others.  The outpouring has been spectacular, but let us not forget that we still need to give our money and more importantly our time.  Please give a thought to the victims of these fires as we move into the new year. 

Battle Lines

Yesterday we drove up the Napa Valley headed back to St Helena after a five day evacuation from smoke and fire. But arriving at Oakville we discovered the fire was coming over the ridge tops and backing down the mountains towards our homes. Two choppers were filling up water and dumping on the flames. Two large fixed wing aircraft were also attacking with retardant.

The battle goes on. The winds calmed down and the powers that be believe we are safe. I hope they are right. 

This morning I masked up and took Rue for a walk, watching the two choppers continue the fight. I flashed back to other another battle line reminding me of Nam. Thursday the weather men are forecasting rain, the first winter wet down after our usual summer drought.

It would appears some prayers are about to be answered. "They" say there are no atheists in foxholes...This not quite kosher guy is not so sure about prayer but it couldn’t hurt.

From Hell

Flames surround us

here in Saint Helena
north in Calistoga and over
the redwood pass in Santa Rosa
Flames surrounds us
south in the vineyard hills above Napa
southwest in the Valley of the Moon
smoke is suffocating thick as syrup
Flames surround us
the land I love my Eden is on fire
Should we stay or should we go?
Electric power, phones, internet is out

Flames from hell surrounds us
We pack one car—leave the other
What to take--what to leave?
Whatever—we flee to San Francisco

Mother Nature's Plan

Fires in the Redwood Empire
are as natural as fog on S.F. Bay.
Pacific high pressure plants
over Nor-Cal sending storms away,
causing summer drought.
Vegetation dries out
just waiting for a spark.
Flames explode burning
dry grasses and low timber.
Redwoods, evolved in this clime,
with thick smoldering bark
and green needle crowns
in the heavens above fiery hells,
survive and turn fog into raindrops
quenching big trees thirst.
Autumn comes and high pressure
moves south for the winter
like snowbirds to Florida.
Rain returns, redwood cones
opened by summer inferno
drop seeds, baby redwoods
grow in the ashes.
Brown and scarred black hills,
magically turn green.
Deer prance and mountain lions stroll
coyotes howl, and life goes on...