Friday, June 30, 2006

Lord, I hope there's wifi in heaven....

...Cuz that's where our Acidman 's gone.
Could you please give him a computer connection,
So he can hear my goodbye song.

Well, I guess I'm not quite done yet with Rob Smith. I remain confounded by the effect his death has had on me. It's even more stunning to see that I am not alone in my confusion over feeling so profoundly bereft. The phenonmenon that was Gut Rumbles is morphing into something even bigger than Acidman could have imagined.

I'm looking around and something magical is happening in Blogtopia. In life Acidman inspired many to start blogs. In his death he's inspired them to start writing in them. Perhaps we're all just trying to fill the space he left in our lives by filling the empty bandwidth with words. Maybe it's his spirit got so big it exploded and a little splinter of it lodged in the hearts of all those who came to care for him and launched their muse. Whatever the reason, it's a beautiful thing to behold. Posts are pouring from blogs that have been long dormant and they're gorgeous and inspired musings. I think he would have been pleased.

And I know he would have been proud to know he "fathered" yet another blogdaughter, even after his passing. Actually because of his passing. His long time reader and commenter, Cindi finally started a blog just so she could participate in The Carnival of the Blogfaddah. She's off to a fabulous start at Over the Rainbow with a beautiful tribute along with links to some of his best posts. I especially liked her end quote.
Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated. ~Lamartine
With Rob gone, Cindi won't get her Acidbath from Gut Rumbles, but I think Rob would want her to have one, so please click on over and if you have a blog, pass on the link.

Meanwhile, on the day of Rob's funeral, another long time reader and commenter, brought a new life into the world. This showed up in the comments.
At 9:55am, my wife (Steph) gave birth to a very healthy baby boy weighing 10lbs 4oz. In light of recent events we have decided to name our son Robert Mathias. We just hope our son is as honest and gusty as Rob was...
To that I'd say, careful what you wish for, but a hearty congratulations to the proud parents. If there is wifi in heaven, I think Rob is looking at all of this and loving it.

Moving on

Well sort of. Bear with me intrepid drug war reformers. I am not planning to turn this space into a Robert M Smith memorial site, although it may look like one at the moment. I've been really shaken by this, in ways I never would have expected but I'm getting past the obsession stage. I didn't get here yesterday, although I planned to because I spent hours at an online Irish wake for Rob. It was in chat format, something I've only done a couple of times in my life but it was immensely cathartic.

I don't have time now to go into the details, I'm on my way to work but I just want to post a quick thanks to the other Rumblers there who made me feel welcome and had me ROFLMAO most of the night. I really needed that release and feel much better for it. It was a pleasure kids. For those who didn't make it, I'll try to do an update later tonight.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Last Goodbye

The memorial service for Rob Smith is going on as I write this and I can almost hear the sniffling mass of people at the site listening to the eulogies on the wind blowing through my open door. But it feels right that I should pay my final tribute from behind the computer screen since it was in the cyberworld where Rob and I conducted our friendship. Some, like Marcus, think a cyber relationship is less real, but for me, what Rob and I shared held all the warmth and connection of flesh and blood contact.

It was an unlikely and unexpected bond. I'm a (former) Yankee bleeding heart leftard who believes in global warming and tarot cards and he was unapologetic, trash talking, down and dirty redneck cracker who believed in nothing he can't see for himself. Yet somehow we came to respect each other and call each other friend.

I had just started blogging the first time I stumbled across Gut Rumbles. I was appalled. As I now know, that was shortly after Rob and Joanie had their famous meetup. I took a look at a few posts and the comments sections where there was a raging battle going on among the "wimmen" and booked right out of there. Not my kind of place I thought. I wouldn't last ten seconds in that crowd. I didn't go back for a long time.

Eventually I moved to the south myself. It felt like living in a foreign country. I was anxious to understand my new "neighbors" and started actively looking for "southern" blogs. Thus it was that I stumbled across Gut Rumbles once again. The first post I read was one of his personal stories and it got me all teary eyed because it reminded me of my old dog. So I stayed and I never left, even though many a post since, made me grit my teeth and mutter rude remarks at the computer screen. I survived because I forced myself not to comment on his politics, most of the time...

The first time I dared leave a comment disagreeing with him, he sent me a scathing email. We had huge fight over it. It wasn't the last time we fiercely disagreed, but we always managed to end the debates civilly. Our correspondence evolved into a mainly pleasant exchange. He would often surprise and move me with a thoughtful response to a chance comment and I often emailed him my support in the early days of his struggles with sobrieity. As time went on he bacame a daily read, and then a frequent stop on the daily rounds as I came to know the other Rumblers and gingerly joined the community in the comment section. I'd often go back three or four times a day to check on developments. Even when it pissed me off, it was always interesting.

Rob was the heartbeat of our world at Gut Rumbles. His was the house where we all gathered. Reading and participating in his blog was like having a conversation with old friends and the CrackerBox was the kitchen table we all congregated around. He was an impeccable host. Who knows what will become of us now that he's left us with this big black hole in our universe?

Rob is not my blogfaddah. I was already a well established blogger when I arrived, but he became a mentor to me by example, on how to be a better writer. He was a living and breathing lesson in honesty, in bare-all prose and I hope to honor his legacy by carrying on that tradition as best I can. I was going to light a candle today at 5:55 for his spirit but I think he would have hated that, so instead I'm going to post this photo. I sent him this privately on his 111th day of sobrieity. I told him at the time I was too shy to post it on my own blog but somehow it feels like the most fitting tribute I can leave him now.

Goodbye Rob. I hope all the girls in heaven have pretty feet with shiny red toenails.

[Acidman photo gratitude]

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rest in Peace: Robert Marion Smith

A lovely and fitting tribute by Chris Muir at Day by Day, although I always thought of Rob as a Mark Twain without the fancy manners. But if there's an afterlife and Rob is watching, he's amused...

Cooking with grass

I'm beginning to break through to some sense of normalcy in my frenzied brain this morning. Listening to this clip of Rob signing in the old days that Lil Toni posted really seemed to help. I listened to it a couple of times last night and cried my eyes out and it felt very releasing at last. Maybe it was because hearing his voice made the man I was grieving more flesh and blood and I was able to let go of the regrets. But who knows. I'm working so I don't have time to analyze what I consider to be something of an overreaction to Rob's passing but I do want to move on with living so I'm going to post this little funny thing quick.

I was checking the referral logs last night and found this query, "how long does pot brownies last." A good question for anyone wanting to ingest the herb directly instead of smoking it so I thought I would answer the question in case they didn't find the answer in the post they clicked.

It depends on the potency of the weed you use to make the brownies and how much you used in the batter but in general a small brownie will take about an hour to "come on" before you feel the effects and then you will feel the effects from 6 to 12 hours. It's definitely a different sort of "high" than smoking a joint. In fact it's often not so much a high as a sense of altered perception. Hope that answers your question.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Both Sides Now

Rob's memorial service is on Thursday. I won't be able to go. I don't even have time to blog tonight because I have another early call. I'm exhausted. I'm overwrought. I'm stricken with a grief I don't understand and when I finally headed home tonight, I saw this is the sky. Now I have that Joni Mitchell song stuck in my head.

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons evrywhere
Ive looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on evryone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
Ive looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its cloud illusions I recall
I really dont know clouds at all

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say Ive changed

Well somethings lost, but somethings gained
In living evry day

Ive looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its lifes illusions I recall
I really dont know life at all

Monday, June 26, 2006

Acidman: In Memoriam

I'm inconsolably sad about Rob Smith's death. I can't read the comments and the other blogs. I can hardly bear to think about it. I'm awed by how deeply the loss cuts me when I've never actually met the man in person. I didn't even have his phone number. There was no reason to since I declined his few invitations to come to the Cracker Box. So tonight I mourn the loss of a man who wrote so honestly and compellingly that I learned to like and trust him enough, to have ridden off alone with him into the wilderness, even though I didn't know him from "Adam's house-cat."

The last thing I told him was, I was going to make him my friend for life rather than my lover for a little while. Who would have thought we would run of time so soon?

The last thing he said to me was this:
Libby--- I think we missed each other about 20 years ago. Coulda struck some sparks back then.

I'm not trying to blow smoke up your ass, but you remind me of the strong wimmen in my family. And I LOVE every one of them, including my dear, departed mama. I don't lay that kind of flattery on many people. Hell--- I know very few people who are worthy of it. But you?... well... like I said, twenty years ago you and I mighta... whatever.

I know exactly what you mean. Responsibility is a heavy pack to carry, but good people do it, and they don't drop it to go chase butterflies, no matter how pretty the butterflies seem to be. You've got your head in the right place, square on your shoulders, and I believe that life will treat you well. I certainly hope so.

Of course... if you DO change your mind, you know how to contact me.

May you have the very best forever,

Those words meant a lot to me considering our vast differences. They were so unexpected and touching and came at an especially opportune moment. So tonight, I mourn selfishly for the lost possibilities. I'll wallow in self-pity that I didn't let him paint my toenails red while he sang to me by the sea. That I never shared his hot tub and let him teach me to love okra. That I didn't make the time and take a chance on that cranky old cracker.

Rob Smith died a lonely man but he leaves Blogtopia an even lonelier place. It won't be the same without him. So tonight I'll cry for those of us left behind to deal with his loss. But tomorrow I'll celebrate his life and rejoice that at least he's now free of the pain.

Rest in peace Robert Smith. You deserve some.

Say it Ain't So....

That sense of dread lodged so deep in my gut last night and all through today is now sadly explained. Acidman is gone. Irrevocably and unretrievably resting, one hopes, in peace. For a lot of reasons, I didn't find out until 5:30 today and haven't been able to deal with this until now, so I'm going to update with a eulogy a little later, after I sort through my emotions.

For now, I'll just note his daughter posted this.
This is Sam. Rob has passed away. They found him at 2:00 this morning slumped over on the couch. He did not shoot himself and no pills or alcohol were found in the house. When I find out anything else I'll let you know. Out of respect for my family please do not leave nasty comments.
Almost sad that she needed the qualifier but that was the nature of Rob's readership and his writing. You either loved or hated him, sometimes both at the same time, but you always felt something. And you wanted him to know it.

That's all I can really say for now. I need to absorb this for a moment and maybe cry a little while for a man that I have never met....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tripping out...

I feel like I'm in the twilight zone tonight. I could have died this week from that bad reaction to the med and chances are if I didn't have such good advocates in my family who forced the issue, I would be at least be in intensive care around now instead of on the mend. I worked all day on four hours of sleep and I'm pissing pure Gatorade, so I'm in no condition to make a focused judgment but I can't shake this serious uneasiness about Acidman. I know better than most what untreated debilating pain might do to normally strong people. Not much I can do from here but send a good thought and trust the universe to hold him up but I've been thinking all day about my own relationship with him.

I've kept it private, because I'm not much for disclosing all the intimate details of my life. There's a lot of things I can't talk about out of respect for my family's request for privacy and I don't usually disclose the really intimate details of my own. But Rob's world is more open than mine and I don't want him to think I'm embarrassed by my feelings for him, so I'm going to "come out" in a way.

This may surprise the Rumblers but Rob and I have discussed getting together in person. In fact, he made me the most generous and astounding offer I've ever received a few weeks ago. It brought tears to my eyes. He offered to take me as his passenger on a cross country tour of the USofA. Just me and him and the open road. No expectations and hopefully no regrets.

My heart leapt with joy at the vision of the two of us in the car. I had not a moment's doubt that my answer was yes. I had visions of how much fun it would be. I could see us laughing hysterically as we drove down some tree lined road, heard the screeching of the tires when I shouted "turn there" at the last second, while he cursed my alleged navigation skills, pictured him charming the waitress at some strange roadside joint in anywhere America....

And of course I'd bring the laptop and with most of America wired we could do roving wifi posts right from the car. It was the craziest and best offer I've had in years and there's nothing I'd like to do more. I can't think of a more unlikely or better pair of traveling companions than the two of us. My God, think of the blog fodder......

My disappointment at having to decline the invitation for truly a trip of a lifetime was so big, it crushed the breath out of me for two solid weeks. It still makes me sad that I'm not free to go. If I was, we would be discussing the itinerary today.

So, Rob if you're just hunkered down and feeling overwhelmed today and see this, let me tell you and the world, that I really care about you even though I don't know you outside of the internets. Your politics suck but you're a good man, so stick with us okay? Don't be so proud. Let your friends help.

Naviagating the health systems

So as I say I don't listen to the doctors any more than I have to. It's kind of like listening to a math teacher, after a certain point, I just glaze over. I had a volume incident and my sodium and chlorate numbers went down. They had a fancier name for that too but bascially the pills worked too well and too fast so I pissed the water and salt out of my system and went into the danger zone. I was drinking soda water but apparently that's not sufficient. Who knew. Nobody told me there was a rule about what to drink and I was too nauseous to eat anything. I mean if I knew salt was important I would have least drank club soda or tonic water instead.

So they pumped me full of saline to get me started and my assignment, which I have duly followed, is to drink Gatorade until I drown myself from the inside out. I've made a manful effort at it all day, drinking the shit nonstop, but I've also been peeing buckets. I don't know how it could be doing that much good but I do feel better all the time so I assume I'm volumizing. I wonder what the calorie count on this stuff is? I don't even want to look. I'll probably gain ten pounds from this therapy.

Meanwhile, I'd like to say a word about acute care. I've never heard of it but it saved me a bucket of money. I'm on a single payer health insurance plan that costs me almost $650 a month with a $2,500 deductible the minute they check me into the hospital. An ER visit costs me $150 out of pocket. Acute care does the same thing as the ER for less life threatening emergencies like mine that aren't likely to result a hospital admission and it's only a $30 copay. And it's tons faster. The whole process, including dumping two liters of saline by IV took well under two hours. It would have taken ten in the ER and I would have had to talk them out of admitting me to do the drip. Of course they're only open during the day time but I suppose if you have something so acute you can't wait until morning, you should go to the ER anyway.

I've never heard of it before so maybe they only have them in bigger cities but there were several to choose from in our area so they can't be that uncommon. It's kind of like any doctor's office, with less paperwork and you don't seem to need an appointment. I'm not clear if they're privately owned or affliated with hospitals but I love the concept. And the doctors were way cute. I'd certainly go there again if I had that kind of urgent care need.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Slip sliding away...

I have early call and should have been to bed hours ago but since I slept in so late this morning, I can't fall asleep. I am feeling much better but I'm still way spacey and it takes forever to do anything. It took an hour to get out of the grocery store even though I didn't really buy anything and I forgot the most important item on my list. I even carried a real list but forgot a pen so I couldn't check things off. I got screwed up when I remembered I hadn't eaten since breakfast and needed to come home with something I could eat right away. I spent a ridculous amount of time deciding what looked appealing and also decided to throw out all my condiments and start over to be sure nothing had gone bad. I mean even mustard spoils after some amount of months doesn't it? So I came back with new mustard and no ice. The Gatorade is a lot better with ice but fortunately I still enough of that left for tonight in the freezer. I can get a bag tomorrow.

I did come home with an obscene amount of Gatorade though. And hearty white bread and black forest ham. I had a ham sandwich and it went down alright. I feel better for it, which is more than I can say for the sandwich this morning. I'm almost getting my appetite back. I might try to have another half a sandwich before I go to bed. I think a full belly will help me sleep.

I decided to shave my legs when I took a shower, just in case I end up in the hospital after all which is apparently is still a remote possiblity. I forget what the doc said about that. Something about if I vomit or if my next blood work comes back bad. I was feeling blitzed as that point from getting two liters of saline dumped into my body in record time. My ears felt like they were blocked from an awkward descent in an airplane. I rarely listen to that part of spiel anyway. I figure my family medics will tell me what I need to know on a need to know to basis. And God bless em for helping me get through this stuff. It's really better for me not to know too much. I'm too easily freaked out.

Still alive

I want to thank everybody for the kind comments and emails. It appears my number is not quite up yet and I'm going to live for while longer anyway. The doc told me last night that I wasn't going to feel really normal for a couple more days but I almost didn't believe him this morning cause I woke up feeling pretty darn good. Of course I slept for 12 hours as well, and woke up of my own volition. I was having dreams about old friends, mostly from Noho and some Moroccan hash. I saw a lot of people I miss and I got to finsh the dream. Although I can't quite remember it, I woke up feeling kind of surrounded by people I love.

Anyway I got home, caught up on reading the DetNews, put up a hefty post and had a sandwich while I started reading some blogs. All of sudden I was hit with a dizzy spell that made the other ones look like fun. I had to lie down for a while. I've been moving pretty slow since then. But I've been pumping the Gatorade as instructed all day long and am beginning to feel more restored again.

I also managed spill a full glass of it all over the desk this morning. It could have been worse. There was so much paper piled up on it, that it sort of formed a damn and poured off the front and not into the surge protector. So the desk got a long overdue cleaning. Of course the wet paper is scattered around on the rug drying, so the mess merely moved but luckily the rug was newly vacuumed and now I have to organize the papers which was also badly needed. I know it's cliche but things really do happen for a reason. Getting that stuff organized will make me feel better.

Ironically, I took the cursed pills in the first place to solve the blood pressure problem. That was partly due to eating too much salt in all those frozen dinners and other processed food. Now since it worked so well, so fast, I'm forced to raise my salt intake again. Too bad because my blood pressure had dropped significantly. Not into a healthy zone but into readings I would have found comfortable to live with.

In any event, I'm moving slow but my brain is working better again so I'll be back with more later but at the moment I want to go out and corner the market on Gatorade at the local Food Lion -- it's on sale and I have a feeling I'm going to need to drink it for a while.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Diagnosis, real problem

It's tough being a hypochrondriac who responds to medications way outside the normal curve. For one thing you never really believe anything is really wrong with you yourself so you put off going to the doctor so you don't look stupid and then when you do get scared enough to go in, your symptoms don't fall into the pattern so everyone treats you like a panic case anyway.

I had to fight to get the doctor to see me a week early to take blood yesterday, meaning I brought the big gun, my daughter is who is not easily put off. I understand the doc's point, my regular doc is away, the one that's covering is about to leave on vacation and like I said my symptomology is way outside the norm.

So in a way, it's a good thing that there's something actually wrong with me. For one thing I'm glad it wasn't just an insurmontable panic attack and it will give me some credibility the next time I feel yucky. And apparently this can be easily treated without actually being admitted into the hospital which would really screw up my finances since I have something like a $2,500 deductible.

Of course I don't really understand what's wrong with me. Volume depletion which has something to do with sodium count that was a result of the new med. Best for me not to know too much anyway. It only feeds the hypochondria in the future. I'm lucky I've got such a smart daughter that takes care of the knowing part for me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Out of commission

Sorry folks, I'm having a really bad reaction to the new medication. I don't know when I'll be back blogging. Hopefully soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Off night

I'm back on the rotation and I'm either having a bad reaction to the new meds or I'm coming down with something ugly so I'm going to bed and I expect to be back tomorrow at some point.

Common sense in Wisconsin

This is good news.
A new La Crosse County ordinance would send criminal charges up in smoke for low-risk offenders busted with under 25 grams - a little less than an ounce - of marijuana.

At a Thursday meeting, the county board voted 15-12 to pass the ordinance, which would send first-time offenders away with a citation and fine instead of a misdemeanor charge.
And here's the best quote in response to the prohibs' usual arguments.
La Crosse County Circuit Judge John Perlich, who presides over the county's Drug Court, wasted no time challenging most of what Horne said.

He held four criminal complaints for minor marijuana possession from a recent day, which he riffled through with his fingers as he recited a long list of clerks who spent time filing and processing the complaints.

"All this for a low-risk offender - all this costs you, the taxpayer, a lot of money," he said.
Good for the Board to have passed the ordinance. Now if they can just get the cops to honor it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Action Alert

This July, the US House of Representatives will vote again on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment, which if passed will forbid the US Dept. of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. Your help is needed -- it is crucial that more members of Congress vote for medical marijuana this year than did last year.

Click here to easily contact your Congressmen and please pass the link along.

You get what you pay for?

Thanks to Vig for the amusing news of the day. A million dollars worth of high tech drug scanners in Australia are unable to detect marijuana.
Sources said a prison officer carried more than 50g of marijuana "poking out of his pockets" through the machine and was given the all clear during one test.
They do well with the white powder drugs though so I don't why the prison folks are complaining. I would think they wouldn't mind having maximum security inmates a little mellowed out with some herb.

Like riding a bike...

Okay folks. Those of you who know me well had better sit down for this one. Check this out.



How about it? I'm food blogging.

Yes, it's true. Libby actually cooked something from scratch. Granted it doesn't look that good in the photo. I really needed chives for the presentation and couldn't find any but I used a little Vidallia onion instead and it tastes pretty good. Potato salad was one of those things I was famous for when I cooked every day for my family. Of course, I have no idea how to make a small amount. There's enough there to feed a family of 12 for a week. I'm hoping to pawn some off on unsuspecting bystanders.

Old drug, new scare tactics

Bob, the Solon of Vleeptron has an informative post complete with dancing molecules, that tells us everything we want to know, and maybe don't, about the "new" scary, killer drug, fentanyl that has been making the news lately on account of a lot of overdoses attributed to it. I put new in quotes because it's been around and has been abused by addicts since the 70s.

More interesting, is that governments have employed it for law enforcement purposes. For instance, if you remember the hostage crisis in Russia where over a hundred hostages were killed when the police gassed the place to "rescue" them from their captors -- that was fentanyl gas. And I didn't know this:
During the 1970s, in a program dubbed ARCADE, the Pentagon researched fentanyl and its chemical cousins as possible riot-control agents, says Matthew S. Meselson, a Harvard University molecular biologist and a chemical weapons expert. Edward Hammond, director of the nonprofit Sunshine Project, says, "The U.S. has been looking at opiates as so-called incapacitating chemical weapons since at least 1994."
Nice huh? They spend billions to allegedly keep drugs out of the hands of the people and then spend millions figuring out how to use the same drugs to control us and keep us down. There's lots more including musical interludes at Vleeptron. Check it out.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day to all you dads and especially to my own, who just happens to be the best one on earth. This is a photo of a photo since I don't have a scanner, so it's not that great an image but it's my favorite. It so captures what my Daddy is all about.

He's not a fancy guy and he's a little gruff but he's the kindest man I've ever known. Everybody loves my dad, including the wild creatures. He's tamed everything from chipmunks to coyotes. I swear they understand him, just like Dr. Doolittle.

I know you'll read this Dad so thanks for raising me up right and teaching me what really matters in life. Honesty, loyalty, understanding, compassion and a good solid work ethic. I feel safer in this scary world knowing I can always depend on you to be there. And I'm really glad I inherited your superior sense of direction, so no matter how far off track I get, I always know I'll be able to find my way back home.

I love you Daddy.

Big pharma puts profits ahead of patients

That's no surprise but it doesn't make it any less galling that Genentech refuses to seek a license for a new use for one of it's colon cancer drugs. Ophthalmologists around the world have discovered that the drug, Avastin, can be injected into the eyes of patients suffering with wet macular degeneration and actually cure them of the condition, which rapidly causes blindness in the elderly, for about $10 a dose.

Genentech refuses to put the use up for medical review in favor of pushing a new drug, basically a renamed derivative of Avastin, that would cost $1000 a dose. The pharma claims its interest is in patient safety and that it needs to charge 100 times more for the same drug to cover development costs. What they neglect to mention is the costs include the millions they spend on PR campaigns promoting the drugs.

I'm not big on government interference in private industry but this is classic case of why it's sometimes needed. There oughta be a law against this kind of greed driven gouging. In practical terms, it's a criminal offense against the public health.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]

Morales moves toward legal coca trade

How refreshing to see a politician keep his promises.
LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales visited a coca-growing region on Saturday to open a Venezuelan-funded factory where coca leaves will be made into legal products such as tea and soft drinks. [...]

"Manufacturing coca (products) doesn't do any harm because coca isn't a drug," Morales told hundreds of coca farmers gathered in a stadium in the town of Irupana, in the Yungas region 85 miles from La Paz. The event was broadcast on state television.[...]

The government is optimistic of finding markets for the country's legal coca products in Venezuela, Cuba, China and India -- which officials say have already expressed interest.[...]

"They're going to make flour, tea, soft drinks and other products in the first two plants,"Agriculture Minister Hugo Salvatierra told state television.
Although the US sponsored eradication campaign is still being pursued in the Chapare region, where the coca is said to be mainly sold to cocaine manufacturers, Morales promised only a few months ago, on his election, to find a legal market for the highly nutrional coca plant and it's derivative products. It's too bad our US prohibs can't see that opening up a legal market for the leaf would do far more to eliminate the cocaine trade than all the herbicide bombings in the world.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Weird wildlife

I have an inbox full of drug war stuff that I just can't bear to even look at tonight so let me tell one more story about critters that inhabit my little universe. I'm on my way to work during the "hurricane" we had earlier this week which didn't amount to much here. I always cut it close on these early mornings. So when I look into the side view mirror and see an huge freaking Daddy Long Leg spider clinging to it, I don't have time to get back out of the car and try to brush it off. I figure when I back out of the carport, the rain will dislodge it anyway and all will be well.

Well, he didn't move in the rain while I negotiated the driveway and I'm not ready to be late and get wet just to save a spider so I figure, well he'll get blown off when I get on the main road. But I'll be darned if he didn't cling to that mirror the whole way. I almost went off the road watching him. He managed to hook one of his legs around the edge of the mirror and just hung on the whole way.

So then I figure, well he's just moved to a new neighborhood. I expected, once he got over the trauma of the ride he would hop off and hope never to see a car again. But damn if after 12 hours, he was still on the car when I went home. He had crawled way into the space between the mirror and the car door and was all curled up and looking traumatized. And he rode that way all the way back home. Never moved.

The next day he was gone. I like to think he went home to his little spider family and stayed up late telling them the story of his big adventure. And he would end with, "Let that be a lesson to you youngun's. Never crawl on that big black thing in the carport in the morning..."

Gone squirrelly

Man, another day frittered away in long winded comments on other blogs and forums. I should just copy everything I wrote everywhere else and paste it here but nothing I said was all that worth repeating. The new blood pressure med are making me feel kind of unfocused. Or maybe I'm just tired, but for the last couple of days time just slides away like mud in a rainstorm.

I did go for a walk this evening in the interests of my new health kick. It's really a beautiful little neighborhood. I saw three bunnies and there's a dozen different birds that serenaded me in the twilight while the swallows looped wildly over my head. I like that stuff but you know, I'm missing the bustle of living in town this week. Living in the country is a little lonely when you're by yourself. When I lived in Noho, my little solitary soujourns ended at the bar for a brewski with some friends.

I'm afraid I'm in danger of turning into one of those eccentric old ladies that never leaves the house and has a dozen cats. Heck I'm getting close. There's these three cats that have been prowling the yard for weeks now. The grey male was friendly at first but now all three of them are very skitterish. I'm pretty sure someone dumped them off and they're going feral but it's hard to say. They don't look starving but they're starting to look a little peaked and they chase bugs all the time. I think they're hungry but I'm struggling mightily not to start feeding them. Not easy since I have a free sample of some kind of cat food sitting on my kitchen table and the calico female was just sitting by driveway and meowing when I came home tonight.

I wouldn't mind feeding them if they stayed as outdoor cats but I don't want them to start depending on me. I'm not going to be here forever and if I start feeding them, then I'd have to find someone to take over when I leave. Besides, I can't deal with having pets or I would have got myself a little lap dog a long time ago.

Meanwhile, I've inadvertently started the feeding the squirrels. I don't eat the heels of bread but I always feel guilty just tossing them in the trash so I started throwing it outside for the birds. It took me a while to realize the birds were sneering at it, but the squirrels thought it was just great. Now every time I go out on the porch to warm up in the morning, there's five or six of them waiting in the trees to see if I've got anything. I should stop doing it but I'm finding it entertaining to watch the pecking order.

I think they're all the same family. There's one big fat guy who always gets to go first and the rest of them have to sneak in and grab a piece and run. I always feel bad for the littlest guy. He gets shortchanged every time but he's spunky and still manages to grab a bite or two. He's my favorite but then again, I've been cheering for the little guys with big spirit all my life.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Quick bytes

I don't know where the day went. It stays light for so long here it's easy to lose track of the time. Now I have to run out and do a couple of errands but here's a couple of fun links to occupy you while I'm gone.

As I mentioned before, I miss being up north for bear season and these are the best ever bear sightings I've seen.

And via Avedon, more paper magic. How the heck do they do that? I can't even make a simple crane and I like to think of myself of somewhat crafty.

Perks of political office

Here's a perfect example of the inequities in the war on some drugs.
BRIDGEPORT (AP) - The mayor of Connecticut's largest city admitted Friday that he made "poor choices" but would not address allegations of cocaine use that surfaced when prosecutors inadvertently filed FBI reports naming him in a drug case.

Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi was named in a summary of an FBI interview with Juan Marrero, who faces cocaine trafficking charges. Marrero said an associate had a videotape of Fabrizi using cocaine.

After the documents were disclosed Friday by the Connecticut Post, U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor apologized to Fabrizi and took the unusual step of saying he was not a target of the drug investigation. [...]

"We made a mistake here and I apologize to the mayor and anybody else named there," O'Connor said in a telephone interview. "That information should not have come out in that form and that manner."
And why is he not a target of the investigation? You can be damn sure if he was just some poor black schmuck on the streets he would be and I remind you that this is the same city where the police were reprimanded for confiscating works from addicts in violation of the clean needle program.

The mayor has no plans to resign, nor should he if it didn't affect his performance on the job. In fact, he's a poster boy for reform. If you can successfully use cocaine and still run a city, I'd say that's a pretty good argument for legalization. It certainly belies the notion that all coke consumers are violent criminals.

My only criticism is that all drug consumers should receive the same treatment as the mayor and other politicians receive from law enforcement.

It's a boy!!!

Of course we knew that already, but he's a real cutie. Click on over and wish the proud parents well.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Say hey

I don't know why I don't have Texas Tea Pad on the blogroll already but I've rectified that ommission. Click on over and say hey to Trish. It's worth it for the graphics alone, but the content will reward as well. And thanks for the advice Trish.

A rational response to meth

It may be too late to inject rational thought into the meth debate with so many politicians and the press in a state of overwrought alarm over the "meth epidemic" but a new report by the Sentencing Project attempts to do just that. As Jack Schafer points out in Slate it's going to be a hard sell. And many will dismiss the report because it was funded by Soros, but it makes some good and valid points.

Meth is a problem. Always has been but the epidemic has been completely overstated and in a classic case of overreaction, it's become all but impossible to conveniently buy common cold remedies in a growing number of states while politicians tout stricter sentencing. Will it stop meth use? No. It may have some impact on home labs but they'll soon find some other cheap concoction to brew and meanwhile millions of innocent cold and allergy sufferers will be penalized for the addiction of a relatively few people.

But the single most important point is about the danger of false hype about the addictive nature of meth. It is not instantly addictive. People can and do use the drug without becoming hopeless addicts. This kind of scare tactic can only lead to more addicts, particularly among young people. If someone tries it and is not instantly addicted, they're more likely to be lulled into believing they can handle the drug and become inadvertently addicted.

This is no different than the so-called crack epidemic invented by the same players a couple of decades ago. That has been proven to be manufactured, just as this "epidemic" has been. It suits the needs of the prohibitionists who seek to perpetuate the war on some drugs but it diminishes us, rather than making us safer as a society, to buy into the fiction.

[hat tip Preston Peet]

Walking pharmaceutical miracle

I bitch a lot about big pharma but they're probably keeping me alive. Went back to the doc's again today for a followup. I don't why it takes three hours to see the doctor for ten minutes but it always does. I suspect it's all the pharma salespeople that tie up their time. I saw three go in while I was hanging around there. But like I said, if it wasn't for the drugs, I probably would have stroked out by now.

My BP sucks. 180 over 100 this morning but I just started the new med (a week late) so probably I should have waited another week to go in. And after all these years somebody finally noticed my cholesterol is double the healthy number so I've added two new pills to my daily regime. I have to go on a brand name for the cholesterol pill which is too bad. For some reason unknown to me, my insurance company doesn't charge any co-pay on generics. This pill doesn't come in a generic yet so I'm betting it will be a $30 dollar copay. That should be an incentive to change my lifestyle.

How ironic really. When I lived up north, I had a high stress job, I often partied and drank too much, I smoked a pack of cigs a day and I never cooked for myself then either and my blood pressure was bad but not this bad. The difference, I'm convinced is, I walked a lot in that town. I only used my car about once a month and I ate take out food from real restaurants so my meals were better balanced. I don't think I've had a fresh vegetable more than three times in the last year outside of the occassional salad.

What I need is a new boyfriend that cooks but since that seems unlikely to happen, I'm turning over a new leaf here folks. Sell your stock in Lean Cuisine and Stouffers. I'm giving up frozen food. I have four more days off and I'm going to unpack my pots and pans and start cooking fresh food, or at least see if I still remember how to do anything besides boil water. And I'm going to pry myself away from the computer for an hour a day and walk or swim or something. It couldn't hurt.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Meme of the week

Via this lovely young lass:

Your Power Color Is Magenta

At Your Highest:

You energize yourself and push others to suceed.

At Your Lowest:

You feel frustrated and totally overwhelmed.

In Love:

You are suprised by who you attract. You're a love magnet.

How You're Attractive:

Open and free spirited, people want to explore the world with you.

Your Eternal Question:

"What is my next source of inspiration?"

Interestingly, this is a good color for me. I had a dress in this exact shade that I wore to death because I always had a good day when I had it on.

Delayed posting

I frittered away the morning taking care of some chores and I have to work this afternoon so I'll be back this evening at some point and then I have five days off so we'll be catching up on the news. Later....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What's the matter with Kansas?

I don't go to big music festivals anymore. I don't really enjoy huge crowds and nowadays the police take all the fun out of attending.
According to Douglas County Jail records, more than 80 people from 28 states were arrested on alcohol and drug violations during the festival, which police had warned would be more heavily patrolled than in past years.
What is the point of this? Don't the local LEOs have actual criminals to track down? Surely even in Kansas there is property crime and murders and rapes and drunk drivers that really do endanger the public more than a bunch of kids who want to get a little high and listen to music. Maybe even engage in such subversive behavior as dancing and sliding in mud. I mean really, do these young people look dangerous to you?

You'll notice they were charged with violations, not causing trouble. Read that as simple possession and the police misconduct as described in the forums was appalling. Unwarranted searches of campsites without the the campers even being present for the search. Profiling of concert goers for road searches. Patrolling the parking lots with drug dogs. Hard to believe they still call this a free country.

And yet they get away with it because no one complains. Apparently the ACLU can't find someone willing to be named a plaintiff to test the constitutionality of the blanket searching. It almost makes me wish I had gone. The hippies of the 60s would never have sat still for this. We would have been demanding the ACLU take the case.

The festival organizers paid the state $30,000 for use of the park and $8,000 for water-line improvements. Their festival was ruined by these guestapo tactics. They should get a refund. And next time you wonder why young people have no respect for the law, remind yourself of how little respect they get from law enforcers.

[graphics gratitude] (They lie when they say hippies are smelly and ugly). [hat tip JackL]

Freedom fighters

Congrats to Paul Wright, publisher of Prison Legal News for being named Freedom Fighter of the month at High Times. A former prison inmate, Wright started an interprison publication that brought prisoner's issues to light and fought relentlessly against the establisment's attempts to silence him. Preston Peet kindly republishes the piece on

While you're at Preston's place don't forget to scroll down the left sidebar to catch the latest news. Preston often catches items that others miss. For instance, this recent decision from a federal judge in Iowa ruling that taxpayers are inappropriatedly funding faithbased redemption programs in their prisons. Now, I don't have anything against the holy rollers proselytizing in prisons but they shouldn't be funded with federal money and here's the big problem.
The judge criticized the lack of real choice on the part of inmates who wanted a similar, nonsectarian option, and the fact that prisoners were offered a variety of special privileges and incentives to join InnerChange, such as better cells and special visitation rights. Mr. Pratt ordered Prison Fellowship Ministries, which runs the program, to repay the $1.5 million it received from the state and to terminate the program within 60 days.
They theoretically allow other faiths to enter the program but inmates report being made to feel unwelcome if they don't convert and I seem to remember a case where a Catholic inmate mandated into one of these type programs wasn't allowed to keep his rosary. There's a line between spreading the faith and indoctrinating in the name of a specific religion and these folks have crossed it.

While I was reading that, I also ran across this fascinating look inside the drug trade in Afghanistan in today's CSM. I had no idea how intimately the local police commanders were involved in it and the idea that 80% of the country's Interior Ministry are involved in the trade is much worse than I expected. I'm not so much surprised at the numbers though as I am that it's so openly acknowledged.

That's it's happening is no surprise at all. It's a natural outcome of drug prohibition. The lure of money in an unregulated black market will always be an incentive that overcomes ethics, especially in countries where annual average incomes are measured in four figures at best.

Yahoo under attack

I've been hearing stories about yahoo accounts going kerflooey and it appears this may be the reason. There's some new worm that is activated by simply opening the email and reading it. It doesn't require that you click on link in the email to get infected. This is why I don't even open emails that come from someone I don't know, even when they slip through the spam filter.

You say it's your birthday....

Good morning sports fans. Oh wait, I guess it's good afternoon. I slept in and had a delicious lazy morning crusing around the internets but before I get down to business, let me take a moment to wish my dear friend Michael from Boston a very merry birthday today.

Sorry I didn't send a card Mike but thanks for all the funny presents since I've been exiled in the south and look for a belated gift in a few days. I had an inspiration last night on the perfect present. I just have to get myself together to get into town.

Glad you were born during my lifetime. Have a great day buddy and many happy returns.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sleeping in

Crazy sunset tonight. The sky was grey and overcast and it was almost cold, but the ambient air for 360 degrees, inside and outside the house, was a deep rose pink. It poured through the windows like syrup and clung to the eyes like an LSD trip outdoors. Even the wildlife fell silent at the spectacle. Only a trio of oblivious finches sang while the neighborhood cat ever so silently staked out their position and a few dozen lightning bugs arrived early to mark the occasion. For a moment it felt like a crack between two worlds.

Meanwhile, in more earthly magic, I don't have to get up in the morning. Yeah. I finally have a day off so I'll be back to daylight blogging hours tomorrow, maybe do some drug war news. In the iterim, ah to sleep -- perchance to dream...

Working for living...

I'm still working today. This rotation is going to kill me. Glad I have tomorrow off. I don't think I'd survive another 12 day in a row. It's not the long hours that get me, it's the waking up when the sun is barely out. I just never feel rested, even if I've had a good seven hours of sleep.

I won't have time to post again, until tonight - assuming I stay awake long enough to do it, but at least I won't have to worry about waking up early tomorrow. I do so love sleeping in....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

If we knew then

I have a confession to make. I don't delete email. The worst part is, it's not because I'm lazy. It's because I either saved them for a reason or I still believe I'm actually going to answer two year old emails. But you know what, sometimes I do. I mean how funny is that to get an answer to a two year old email?

I have 5683 emails archived just on one account. Remarkably it doesn't use up that much bandwidth and once in while, like now, when I'm too fried to read news, I take a stroll down memory lane to see what was occupying our thoughts.

Two years ago, Rush's case was big news and we were wondering about other priviledged defendants. This 2001 piece by the inestimable Dan Forbes was being circulated. It started like this.
The nephew of Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft received probation after a felony conviction in state court for growing 60 marijuana plants with intent to distribute the drug in 1992 -- a lenient sentence, given that the charges against him often trigger much tougher federal penalties and jail time. Ashcroft was the tough-on-drugs Missouri governor at the time.
Dan had a long list then. It's become longer. We can at least add another Kennedy to it. Somebody should do an update. I wonder where Dan is anyway?

A year ago, The Raich decision came down and there was a rumor circulating that proof of Bush's cocaine arrest had been found.

I'm glad I didn't find any email to answer. I don't have the energy to be witty tonight.

Shaken, not stirred

I often suffer from insomnia but generally once I fall asleep, an earthquake won't wake me up. I know this because I have actually slept through an earthquake. Thus it was surprising to find myself abruptly shaken awake by a thunderstorm in the wee hours this morning. Actually the thunder was rumbling so deep that the ground actually trembled and I thought at first it really was an earthquake or my house was slipping off its foundations or something. It was a only a brief distraction though. Having determined I wasn't about to be buried in debris, I immediately slipped back into the arms of Morpheus until the alarm so rudely interupted my dreams again.

It was supposed to go on like this all day and for a while it looked promising. I do so love a good thunder storm but the weather guys here are just as bad as in New England. The clouds passed through and the sun is merrily turning the neighborhood into a steam bath. I guess I still may venture out and see if that really was a huge rattle snake I saw in the road in this morning. I'm pretty sure it was squished and I'd like to get a look at it before the crows finish it off for breakfast or some neighborhood kid makes off with it as a trophy for their clubhouse.

Meanwhile, the schedule has changed so I'm working through until Tuesday. Posting will continue to be erractic and more likely in the evening hours. I'm hoping to get out of here at a decent hour today but there's no guarantees in this business, so I'll be back when I get back.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What's up Doc?

I went to the doctor on my one day off to deal with the blood pressure. It's terrible. But nobody knows for sure how terrible. It's hard to have a lot of confidence in this practice. I go in and the young nurse is snippy is with me. She takes my reading and I know she's not doing it right. I've had the cuff about a thousand times and it wasn't pumped right at all. She looks at me over her glasses and says in this accusatory tone, 179 over 120 and leaves the room.

So the doc comes in, young guy, younger than me. He looks annoyed at the reading and takes it himself. 160 over 102, or something like that, he tells me with this look that speaks volumes about how much he dislikes his nurse. I'm sitting there thinking, "Great. The world's biggest hypochondriac who's come down the symptoms from the latest episode of House -- which she should not watch but can't help it because she loves the crotchety doc -- is caught in the middle of some interoffice schlang."

Then I get I blood draw for the cholesteral issues and it appears I have a new phlebotimist who tells me she has doesn't have enough labels and has to ask someone else which vein to hit. To her credit she did a good job. I just hope the label thing worked out. Thankfully it's not a very busy office. Maybe I should worry about that but I'm chalking it up to being such a small town.

He put me on some new med that I tried to get filled at the pharmacy tonight. The guy who takes your script said it would be fifteen minutes. I said I would wait. After memorizing the new big fancy digs for twenty minutes, I realized they have 15 people working in the pharmacy but only one pharmacist and something bad was happening with a script before mine. Unfortunately by that point, ten people decided to come in and pick up troublesome prescriptions that requries great consultation with the clerks and I still needed to pick up my monthly call in stuff. I ended up wasting a half an hour there and came home without the new meds.

Meanwhile, the doc suggested that I start taking tranqs in the morning in the interim. I'm surely muy tranquilo but I'm still blind tired and tomorrow is likely to be really long, so I'm calling it a night.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The gateway theory

Elisson has a new 100 word story that fits our theme quite well. I wish I had thought of something as clever as that.

The Great Outdoors

I love inspired landscaping. If I ever own a house, I'll design the yard before I decorate the inside and this is a water feature I would build, especially since it appears to come with this. That about captures what I've imagined my yard would look like.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

If reckless opinions were a crime...

...he'd be in jail. You know, I like Don Surber. For a right wing guy he often has a reasonable world view but he's taken a huge leap out of the realm of common sense with this post, Why we need more prisons.

Drugs only have the most peripheral nexus to this case that I can see. I don't see that the shooting was about drugs, the incident the guy was on probation for was about violence, not drugs and I don't see that they found any drugs when they caught him. The only connection is the guy has a drug problem. What kind of problem? What kind of drugs does he have a problem with? It doesn't even say.

The war on some drugs is exactly why this happened. The guy got probation on the first offense because the prisons are stuffed to the gills with non-violent drug consumers who get absurdly long sentences under mandatory minimums, so they let the murderers, rapists, pedophiles and other violent criminals out early, if they put them in jail at all. Drug offenses are the only ones that come with the mandatory minimums.

We have the largest prison gulag in the world... larger than China, larger than Russia, larger the entirety of Western Europe put together. Keeping all those non-violent drug offenders in jail, costs billions of tax dollars and the money comes straight out of the municipal coffers, and then they can't afford to fund schools to keep kids off the path of crime in the first place and can't afford to hire enough cops to catch the real criminals.

You have half a million people in jail whose only offense was to ingest a substance not sanctioned by the government. Just as guns don't kill people, drugs don't cause crime. Prohibition does.

And by the way, most violent crime stems from alcohol abuse, not drug abuse so you want to lock up the alcholics too? Then your towns won't be able to afford firefighters or street sweepers either. Drug abuse is a health problem, not a criminal one. As long as you cheer on the prohibitionists, violent crime is only going to get worse.

Well Blogger was down all day yesterday so this is now kind of too aged to have the full impact but I'd encourage anybody with a few minutes to lend me a hand over there in the comment section anyway. He's got a high profile blog and these are the folks we need to reach with the reform message. Besides, most of you are more articulate than I am, especially when I'm pissed off.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dia del Diablo

I'm the most superstitious person you'll ever meet and I'm big into omens. Usually, if I'm in a store and my tab is $6.66, I'd grab something off the counter -- anything -- to change the total. I don't need the devil around me, if you know what I mean. Yeah, I know it's silly, but why take chances?

Oddly, I was in the grocery store a few days ago and got the Beelzebub total and didn't bother to change it. Neither was I really thinking about today being THE DAY until the really eerie thunder storms rolled in. The first one was just one big, fat, really black cloud, hanging so low I could almost touch it. I never saw any lightning.

It carried on like that for a couple of hours, with random clouds rumbling through, half-heartedly spitting rain. Just before I left for home, the sun broke through and made the rainbow.

On the way home, the clouds were breaking up and wispy, little, pools of steam hugged the road grabbing at the tires of the passing cars. The rainbow danced in and out of view several more times. And in the west, the sun set the remnants of the storm on fire. It was all quite glamorous. It felt like a good omen. Maybe mankind will survive after all.

More photos here.

Flying high

Okay, this is really too cool.
Elite special forces troops being dropped behind enemy lines on covert missions are to ditch their traditional parachutes in favour of strap-on stealth wings.

The lightweight carbon fibre mono-wings will allow them to jump from high altitudes and then glide 120 miles or more before landing - making them almost impossible to spot, as their aircraft can avoid flying anywhere near the target. [...]

Fitted with oxygen supply, stabilisation and navigation aides, troops wearing the wings will jump from a high-altitude transport aircraft which can stay far away from enemy territory - or on secret peacetime missions could avoid detection or suspicion by staying close to commercial airliner flight paths.
Jeez, that's some serious altitude. You have to be a damn good skydiver to pull that off. If it works out, the next models will have "small turbo-jet drives' on the wings to extend range even further." Almost makes me want to join the Air Force.

Working for a living

I'm working today so I won't post anything of substance until probably after dark but I do expect to be back.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Over the river and in the woods

This is a new one on me. I can't recall anyone else ever really getting lost before. Especially not in this day of radio contact with the crews. Poor Bill, it could take a lifetime to live this one down.
An experienced Cummington balloon pilot, William Volk, spent the night in the woods of Berkshire County after an emergency landing Sunday night. State police say Volk took off from Pittsfield Airport around 7 p.m. Sunday, but had to make an emergency landing in the October Mountain State Forest in Washington, Mass., after the wind kicked up.
I know Volk slightly. He's certainly competent and has hours and hours of flight time. I'm surprised it happened but then again we're talking about October Mountain. I got stuck lost myself there one frosty night. I think it may be the Bermuda Triangle of the South County Berkshires.

We were on the way from my sister's house and we're taking the shortcut back to Cummington. I wasn't driving but I was watching the road and I swear it intersection just disappeared in the dusk. By the time we realized we missed the turn, my ex was pissed and refused to turn back. He figured on making it over the mountain.

So we plowed on, soon literally plowing through mud on an deeply rutted unpaved road. We were in a regular sedan, my young daughter in the back seat. As the darkness dropped between the trees, we were almost to the top when we got stuck. I don't mean a little stuck. I mean two tires and half the undercarriage were embedded in mud. The kind of cold, oozy mud that sucks your boots off if you try to walk through it. As we circled the car, assessing the damage, it started to snow.

The ex, we were married at the time, let loose with ear splitting string of expletives. Kicked the car a couple of times, kicked the mud, kicked a couple of loose branches for good measure, and stalked up the road waving his arms in the air and pronouncing our imminent doom at the top of his prodigious lungs. However, this didn't alarm us because that was his customary response to crises.

Meanwhile, I surveyed the scene in the failing light and formulated the escape plan. By the time he thundered back I had managed to dig out some of mud around the tires with a stick and determined there was no way out but backwards - literally. No way we were going forward and there was no room to turn around. I had collected enough dry debris to fill in some of the ruts behind the tires and he discovered a board in the trunk of the car. Long story short, after much cursing, pushing and praying (on my part), and being sprayed with flying mud, we got the car out again. It was pitch black by now and it was a long ride down in reverse with the old man cursing a blue streak all the way. I know I was glad when we hit pavement again.

But at least we didn't have to spend the night in the middle of those woods like the balloon party did. Granted they would have the propane tanks and the burner for heat and to make a fire, but it's a big underdeveloped mountain just teeming with wildlife. I'll bet they heard some scary scrabbling in the dark.

They hiked out safely in the morning and successfully retreived the balloon as well. Wasn't too hard to find a giant rainbow puddle in the trees with a helicopter, so all's well that ends well. I'm afraid Volk's reputation will now rest on how well he landed. If the envelope doesn't need a lot of repair, he'll be a hero. It takes a lot of skill to land in trees.

I kind of wonder though if they'll refund the passengers' money or want to charge them double for the excitement. He is a lawyer after all....

Joke of the day

Hujonwi's got it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I've been wanting to invent a meme and I think I have it. I'm going to try it out anyway. It's obviously called 11:11 -- which happens to be my lucky number by the way -- and there no rule except it has to be two categories with 11 items in each. So here goes....

11 cities I've slept in:

1. Treasure Beach, Jamaica
2. Albufeira, Portugal
3. Amsterdam
4. Paris
5. Barcelona
6. Brussels
7. Tulum, Mexico
8. Monteverde, Costa Rica
9. San Pedro, Ambergris Cay - Belize
10. New York City
11. New Orleans

11 TV shows I loved as a kid:

1. Soupy Sales
2. Superman
3. The Sandy Becker Show
4. Captain Kangaroo
5. Rin Tin Tin
6. Sky King
7. My Friend Flicka
8. Lassie
9. Roy Rogers Show
10. National Velvet
11. Lone Ranger

And there you go. It was fun. I'm too erratic to make it a weekly feature but I think I'll do it again. I can think of a few more categories I might try. I don't do the tagging thing, so if you like it, steal it and pass it on.

DEA sets up drug war patsies

This is seriously disturbing news. We're training Afghan soldiers to run drug planes.
FORT BLISS, Texas (AP) -- Sixteen Afghan soldiers have graduated from a new training program at Fort Bliss, armed with knowledge on how to fly Russian-made helicopters in anti-drug missions over their war-torn country. The men will now make their final preparations to head back to Afghanistan, where they are expected to immediately get to work trying to halt the booming narcotics trade.
There will only be 32 of them total, but that's a lot in a country that small and of course they'll be flying US provided aircraft. And guess who'll they be working with?
The soldiers are the first of three classes of pilots, flight engineers and crew chiefs scheduled to come to Fort Bliss for similar training. In Afghanistan, they will work with the Afghan National Interdiction Unit, which works closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Yep. There's the DEA busily making "valuable and lasting contributions in the intelligence arena."
Air Force senior Master Sgt. Carlos Torres, who supervised the training, said the Russian-built MI-17 helicopters the soldiers will fly in Afghanistan won't be armed. He would not discuss specifics of the operations, saying only that it was an anti-drug mission.
Talk about sending the lambs to slaughter. Does it really matter what they call it? These guys are going to come under fire.

The way I figure it there's several possibilities. The mission could be straight surveillance, but it seems unlikely. They have drones for that. It's more likely they're about to launch some kind of underhanded eradication campaign. It seems likely they will try herbicide bombing which would still not qualify as "armed" in the traditional sense. A even more frightening possibility, and one quite possible considering the White House will never disclose what it's really doing under its war secrets priviledge, is that they will use Afghanistan to try out the fusarium scheme they wanted to use in Colombia.

Even worse, if the eradication campaign succeeds, there's no provision I know of to provide an alternative economy so it will only contribute to the instability of the people, who will then be more likely to hook up with potential benefactors in the Taliban or AQ, who will be able to offer protection and paying employment.

But no matter what the mission really is, I seriously doubt all 32 members of that class will be around to attend their five year reunion.

Unintended consequences

This is what really gets me about the war on some drugs. They always claim it's for the children and how's that working out? Maybe they got kids to stop smoking pot. So what do they do instead? Take pharmas and worse, like drugs that nobody, including the health providers, can identify. Kids are coming in to the ER's overdosing on this stuff and the doctors don't know what it is or how to treat it.

The lesson of course, is whether it's booze, pills or a plant, kids are going to experiment with getting high. So I ask you, were we better off as a society when kids were experimenting with an unprocessed natural plant that has never caused a death, or now, when they're popping lethal chemicals so new they barely have a name?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The 100 word story

Inspired by Elisson, who often offers up a stellar tale, I've been wanting to take a stab at this meme. I like the idea. Exactly one hundred words to tell a story. So here's my first try.

Staring at the computer screen, she was struck again by a sense of deja vu so heavy it weighed on her like a physical presence .

"I've been here before," she thought. "Read these words, seen these images, formed these same thoughts. Perhaps it was yesterday, or last week?"

The heaviness passes and she feels mutable, like a rainbow sliding across the face of a soap bubble, untethered to linear time.

"I wonder if trees feel like this?"

Then shaking her head slightly, she smiled.

“I have to get out more,” she said out loud, to no one in particular.

It's not as easy as it looks.

The ice cream man cometh...

The summer I was four, I wouldn't eat anything but ice cream. I guess my mother tried to starve me out of the idea but I managed to escape the house every day for a week and make my way to the corner store and grab a frozen treat out of the cooler in the front. I think I was pretty enterprising because we lived on the second floor of that house and I had to cross a street to get to the store. Probably would have gotten away with it all summer except that I didn't pay. The owner just kept a running tab of what I took, and when my Dad went to get the Sunday paper he presented him with the bill. I don't know who he was more mad at, me for stealing the ice cream or my mom for letting me wander the neighborhood alone but I remember eating a lot of ice cream after that.

I don't eat it much now, but for most of my life, a day without a cold confection was a day not worth living. As I got older, my favorite part of going shopping in Manhattan was the lemon ice they used to sell on the street. It was good back then, real Italian ice, not that fake frozen lemonade they sell nowadays. And once I lived on my own there was many an night I sucked down a pint of Haagen Daz and called it dinner.

Acidman got me thinking about ice cream trucks. When I was a kid we had three different guys that would come around. One was a guy on white three wheeled motorcycle with a bell and a little freezer on the back. I remember the guy was really cute and the ice cream was cheap, I guess to make up for the small selection. I can't remember the name of it. Maybe it was Daisy and they made the kid wear a white uniform. Might explain why they're no longer in business.

The Good Humor truck came around every night. I don't remember it having a song, just bells but it wasn't my favorite in any event. I always held out for Mr. Softee. Man, I loved those chocolate dip chocolate cones. The truck had a song that you could hear from the next block away... the creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream, you get from Mr. Softee.... giving us plenty of time to wheedle the change out of Dad. Forget Mom, she always tried to pawn off homemade koolaid popsicles instead.

Well, like I always say, life is funny, but it's not a joke. I was cruising Scott's blog today and discovered the guy who invented Mr Softee just died.

Rest in peace Mr. Conway and thanks for the memories.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Prohibition pushes up crime rate

I have a new co-blogger in Detroit. I think I like her. She actually lives in Detroit and seems to know about the local politics. Her posts are snappy and coherent and she gave me a perfect opening for a drug war post on prohibition. I love when that happens.

Who doesn't like to feel good?

Tony Newman has a good piece up at Alternet on the top ten things he's learned about drugs. The single most important point he makes is the last.
We have to learn how to live with drugs, because they aren't going anywhere.
It's a point I make often but it's worth reviewing now and again. If we regulated drugs according to their death toll, aspirin would be illegal and marijuana would be freely grown. I don't feel like looking up the figures but I'd bet there are many pharmaceutically prescribed drugs that have killed more people than heroin.

Humans always have and always will instinctively search for ways to alter their mood, whether to alleviate pain or accentuate pleasure, even as a cat will search out catnip in the garden.

We wouldn't lock up the cat for loving the catnip, heck we pay big bucks for dumb toys filled with it, so why do we lock up humans for seeking the same relief from a natural plant?

Welcome to the bloggerhood

I have to run up to the big house and work for a few hours this afternoon. I'll be back and hoping to clear some drug war news out of the inbox tonight. In the meantime say hello to Eric Sterling at his relatively new blog, Justice and Drugs.

I have to say I'm a little put off by this from his bio:

Mr. Sterling was the principal staff attorney in the House of Representatives involved in the development of the mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses in 1986 and 1988.

As far as I'm concerned, mandatory minimums are the at root of what's wrong with drug policy. Yet he also says he is working for sentenicing reform so perhaps he's seen the error of his ways. I haven't had time to check out his current positions, but in any event, he's well versed on the issues and we're adding him to the blogroll. Check it out. You're bound to learn something.

Update: I have exchanged emails with Eric since I posted this and it turns out we know each other slightly and have friends in common. He does not support mandatory minimums in any way and has been working diligently for reform for decades. We're lucky to have him on our side, so really, please click on over and give him some support.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Monkey wench

This is fun. If you click into the photo gallery, that's my friend's monkey, Akwadoo, at number six. I hear she's a shameless thief but obviously so adorable they forgive her for it.

Closer to home, I heard a squirrel talking today. I keep the doors open most of the time so the I can hear the cacaphony out there and I've been wondering what that sound was. It doesn't sound anything like the squirrels up north. Those guys sort of chittered, a high clickety sound. This little guy on the tree emitted this low guttural call, kind of halfway between a crow and a heron. I don't know, maybe it was a mating call. The little varmints have been chasing each other all the over the place for a week or so.

Meanwhile, the lightning bugs have arrived. I saw a few this evening and I expect it should be pretty magical out in the front yard in about a week. I wonder about lightning bugs. They seem to have such a short season. They never last the whole summer. Maybe the tree frogs eat them. They seem to arrive together and the frog population grows but the bugs disappear.

Looking for Drama?

Sorry you won't find it here but I see from my referral log that the Rumblers are curious as to whether I'm involved in the melee going on at A-man's joint. Let me tell you, no one was more surprised than me.

I went out for the first time in weeks yesterday on account of being locked out of the blog and when I came home and read this post, I laughed. I thought it was some kind of curmudgeon joke. Mr. Acid has been going all caustic over his aches and pains lately. It's not the first time he put up a bitchy, "I feel like shit so go away unless you want to come over here in person and clean my kitchen" kind of post. And jeez, I know I had to fight off the urge to book the next available flight so I could run down to Georgia and bask in that cheeriness up close and personal. I'm sure his other legions of readers did as well. Hysterical.

Then I read this post and realized I had stepped into something that didn't smell so good. All I'm going to say about it is it reminds me of that line from some famous movie. "I think what we have here, is a failure to communicate."


Say Hey

I'm trying a new trick of just adding to the blogroll as I go, so if I haven't unearthed your link that I saved someplace and can't find anymore, forgive me and in the meantime say hello to Hujonwi, who I put into Drunks & Poets along with the rest of the Southern Wildmen. I think he might be a little less crazy than the rest but I don't know him that well yet, so check him out and let me know if you think I should move him to another category.

And all hail his royal highness, Simbaud, the King of Zembla who I've been meaning to add to the leftie section for so long I've lost his link at least four times. In the meantime he kindly flatters me by anointing The Impolitic with the royal seal of approval. Thanks sire and pray I may ameliorate my tardiness by linking to the royal blog twice.

The power of dreams

Well as you can see, Blogger let me back into the house. I guess my clearance from Homeland Security finally arrived so here's one I tried to post a couple of days ago.

I had to work for a few hours this afternoon but I stopped at the store on the way home to find out I could get in on the first day of powerball. I'm so absurdly happy. It brings a little balance to my life. I played the big game twice a week when I lived in Noho. I played the same numbers for years and didn't win more than a free ticket a few times. Maybe once I won six bucks. Chances are I'll never win the big jackpot, I'm just not lucky that way.

Sure I would have been better off putting the money in the bank. I would be a couple of thousand ahead over ten years but I wouldn't have had the pleasure of deciding what to do with my winnings. I've spent many a idle moment planning the ultimate celebration party. When the jackpots get really big, I've created a foundation to administer the trust fund for my friends. I even have an emergency plan ready for the unlikely event that I ever win.

Oddly, I couldn't remember my usual numbers today when confronted so abruptly with the option to play. I picked a combo I didn't really want but everyone was watching me so I took it instead of asking for a new card. Like I'm going to win anyway. But I took the card home so I can study the feng shui of the choices. I understand feng shui is the hot new path to contentment but I don't really care if I win. The fun is in playing.

Powerball tickets. Best one dollar dream on the market.

Leaving on a jet plane....

Via Lil Toni, this is a really cool video of a guy getting a G-force ride. I always wanted a ride on one of those. I wonder if I would pass out?

Prosecutions down, forfeitures up

This is interesting. According to the latest figures drug prosecutions are down by 8% in the last year and by 30% over the last five. Yet the DEA managed to seize $1.4 billion in assets. I remind you again that they don't need to prove a crime for forfeiture. They seize based on a suspected crime and the property is guilty until proven innocent. If they prosecute and the defendant is found innocent, they have to give the stuff back.

Seeing a cause and effect here between the wholesale harassment of asset-rich pain management doctors and the forfeitures?