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Hawaii Winter Heating ToasterDon’t laugh at us when we complain, it gets cold in Hawai’i.

Not ice blistering Alaska cold, but cold all the same.

Before you call us pussies, let me explain. In Hawai’i, most houses are semi-contained. Many places here have either no windows or some windows, and the rest is screened in. There’s no heat, and rarely air conditioning. So whatever the temperature is outside, is what the temperature is inside.

So while the rest of the world would have their thermostats moderating something around 65°, we’re getting nice moist chilled air swooping off the mountains below 50° nighttime through the early morning.

The past few days I’ve had to resort to toaster hand warming, running the oven and opening the door, using the still-hot saucepan (after making rice) on my belly and bones, hot showers, foot soaks, jogging in place, ThermaCare neck warmers taped on the back, wool socks and hoodies, and even stuffing my Malamute / Chow Chow under the covers, to no avail. In a few hours I’ll be in shorts and a t-shirt, and the rest of the freezing world will be jealous, but until then….

While we’re on the topic, every year on weather modification sites you will see posts about snow here. To be clear, before there were airplanes, there’s been snow on the tops of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. That doesn’t discount “geoengineering” by any means, nor does it discount the fact that even those not living near the tops of volcanos are shivering.

I might even have to bust out my long sleeve 2mil wet suit top today for our current brisk ocean temp of 75.7 – what, don’t laugh!

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Otherwise titled: “Top Five Situations People Pay to be In, Which I Would Pay Lots of Money to Avoid”

#5 – A Crowded Beach on a Hot Summer Day

I have a knack for being the one hit in the head by the Frisbee, football, whatever – it’s just my thing. Why I can’t transform that phenomenon into, say, winning lottery tickets… it’s an alchemy yet manifested. Meanwhile, I’ve experienced many a hot summer burn your feet, packed with bodies, peak days at beaches across Southern California, the East Coast, Waikiki, even the French Riviera. Luckily, since then, I’ve been spoiled living on a tropical island with a limitless number of optional sandy settings to choose from. Though we consistently get bombarded with tourists, you can always suss out some private spot that includes only you, your dog and your other dog (your boyfriend). There is no reason ever when I prefer to be sitting downwind to tourists spraying each other with carcinogenic sunscreens chock full o’ DNA-distorting nano particles (far-fetched thought in the modern weird world but… I’d rather croak from fun in the sun than a can of chemicals). These same plebs immediately jump into the ocean, where it all washes off and destroys the reef and adds a lovely toxic slurry for the marine life. To compound the clichéd unconsciousness, they then go sit in the blaring midday sun without an umbrella or hat and wonder why they resemble baked lobster. I would pay $150 if necessary to be removed in handcuffs from that situation.

AMOUNT I’D PAY TO AVOID: $50-150

#4 – Hotels

These days even five star hotels are not immune to roach motel level scum thanks to the onslaught of bed bugs. Many a yelp review sounds more like a cry for help as guests – from the budget conscious to the high rollers – are subjected to a variety of pestiferous aggravations that range from being nibbled upon to having complaints/concerns dismissed with a courtesy move to a new room without compensation for the inconvenience. If you thought the flame retardants from California’s overkill mattress standards were bad, these rooms are even worse as they get fumigated over and over (bed included) on a regular basis. And if you want to check on a hotel before booking, don’t rely solely on bedbugregistry.com; you need to do a thorough Internet search as there’s no solely reliable clearinghouse for experiential public commentary regarding this matter. Though most hotel staff keeps mum about how bad the situation really is, one Oahu-based concierge spilled the beans: “All hotels in Honolulu have them and if they say they don’t, they are lying.” Bringing these bugs home = a whole other nightmare most people would pay thousands of dollars to avoid.

AMOUNT I’D PAY TO AVOID: $250-500+

#3 – Coachella

(Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Burning Man, etc.…) I highly recommend going to at least one music festival when you are young, you know, so you understand why you don’t need to go to them. Beyond that, you have no excuse. Thousands of people in any one location, integrating into the biomass; sweat on, shoved, pretending to have a blast watching the best band ever (when in reality you could barely see or hear a thing). The bands that play, who might otherwise be good, often suck in these huge venues. As a music reviewer (and previous Lollapalooza magazine editor), I attended my fair share but in my defense, I always finagled a backstage pass as means of escape – and heck, it was free and I was getting paid to write about it. Honestly, most of the time it was the smaller stages that I’d enjoy, unless I was being entertained by behind-the-scenes antics (think Love-allapalooza circa 1995).

Not to sound like a “back-in-the-day” party pooper but Burning Man, SXSW, etc. were comparatively small events with maybe 20% the number of attendees. We made events like Burning Man manageable by having our own theme camp (the “Water Camp”), flush with the most desirous desert compound H20 (thanks to Brian Doherty and his van full of tap-filled garbage cans), beach chairs in kiddie pools, water wings (for extra protection from awkward social situations), a cardboard ship, sea shells, a sea shore, as well as a big M*A*S*H tent (stocked with food, alcohol, Ouiji board) to hide out in during the wind storms.

In summary, if I wasn’t viewing an omnipotent mass corporate conglomerate event while parked backstage in a reclining massage chair enjoying complementary food and cocktail service and a loin-clothed hottie fanning me, I would pay $500 to have a private driver pick my ass up and escort it straight to Al’s Bar (old skool LA reference but just think small run down smokey dive bar with your fave band before they became popular in any town near you).

AMOUNT I’D PAY TO AVOID: $500-750

#2a – A Cruise Ship

Why anyone would want to be locked up with a bunch of over-processed vacationers, in tiny, swaying, vertigo-manifesting cabins, on a floating all-you-can-gorge island buffet of germs and bacteria is beyond me. If I were in charge of marketing such a scam, my campaign would highlight: pee-enhanced swimming pools; questionable quality music at high volumes; canned sitcom laughter; copious amounts of indulgence swathed in white trash decadence. And while you are just out to sea, you will find comfort in that as you depart, a boatload of shit (yes, the load in the boat’s hold) is being dumped into the eco-system (visit, pillage, leave your mess behind). It’s not just actual crap but miscellaneous algae, bacteria, etc., stowing away in the undercarriage to be spread with no prejudice to each port visited. And sure, boats also have a tendency to hit whales, reefs, and sink. The ONLY reason to go on one of these monstrosities is to see icebergs (Titanic fans call dibs on your lifeboat early).  I would pay $1,000 – $2,000 (depending upon how ill I felt; or if Isaac Washington was tending bar) to be helicoptered off a cruise ship direct to the nearest spa.

#2b – Group Tours

This is a similar situation, something designed for young or old people and/or those whose have little time, energy, or creativity to plan out their own trip. Sure, there are certain instances where a group tour makes sense – eco-adventures, searching for a boy/girlfriend, cultural tours (I even like those) – but the problem with group tours is that, unless the group is made up of people you already know/like, the company you will be forced to keep is a crapshoot. The type of tour and who it attracts in this case matters most. Depending on the length of the trip, I might pay $1,000 to escape a bad group tour. Certainly a zombie hipster tour to Fukushima… er, I mean Chernobyl, is not on my bucketlist.

AMOUNT I’D PAY TO AVOID: $1,000-2,000

#1 – Celebrity

Being universally recognized, wanted, and gossiped about by the general public is one of the most desired existences. It’s representative of humanity’s insatiable ego and the desperate pursuit of a “perfect life” via the illusion of “love” and wealth (and all the problems such things will solve). Anyone but an alien, and maybe the Dalai Lama, is not built to survive such onslaught without being permanently afflicted. Still, many spend their lives devoted to such a quest, with little consideration to the soul-selling consequences and what it truly takes to maintain such a facade. Imagine achieving world-wide fame, never being able to escape it in your lifetime, especially in those moments you want to leave the house with your hair unkempt; have a private nefarious relationship; do something stoopid in public; or simply be alone, in private, out in the world. I’m not terribly opposed to the idea of “almost famous”, where someone might recognize you once a month, once a year, because they actually appreciate your work rather than because you’re a part of the talent-optional pop-culture milieu they’ve been programmed to hyperventilate over. If faced with a life of TMZ status on the level of Aniston, Pitt, Jolie, Madonna, Spears, Kardashian Inc., etc., I would pay $1,000,000 to not be famous. Actually, I would pay much more.

AMOUNT I’D PAY TO AVOID: $1,000,000+

Honorable Mentions:

The Greek System – Kappa Delta Brutal – if it’s not Animal House why bother; the line at any Amusement Park on a dizzying 90°+ day being sprayed with atomized chlorine mist; Sweat Lodges, obviously; Colonics – just because Groupon offers a coupon does NOT mean you should do it! I’m not against things getting shoved in people’s butts per se, but enemas seem more safe and inexpensive; Korean Baths – I’m adding these on here for my friend, Kerin, who hates the idea of them almost as much as feet and bed bugs; Silverlake, CA / Hipsterville U.S.A. – though I have friends who’ve maintained amazing, tempting rent control situations, most punks would pay extra to NOT be residing next door to the mustachioed and hip-for-the-sake-of-being-ironically-droll – wow, it is like life as a bad episode of New Girl (no offense Phil Hendrie, you always rock our world)! This is pretty much consistent with all gentrified locales. In the end, it would likely even out in terms of expenses: You may pay more for a non-rent control place somewhere less trendy but your mochas won’t cost $8.00 plus tip (hello, LAMILL) and the act of eating out won’t force you to take out a loan either.

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British Airways SurfboardsFor the lot of us who rarely make it to Europe it may not seem a big deal, but for the thousands of international surfers -especially professional surfers- British Airways’ 2007  ban on surfboards was a nightmare. They weren’t just charging exhorbinant fees or having embargo periods, they were banning boards on all their flights. If they got away with it, would it influence other airlines to follow suit? After two years, BA has now reconsidered their policy and beginning October 9, 2009 they will once again accept surfboards — with some limitations.

BA became the focus of much angst, petitions and surely some hate mail when overnight they went from “the surfer’s favorite airline” to “the surfer’s most hated airline.” To add insult to injury, at the same time they banned surfboards because of their size and bulk, they made it increasingly easy for golfers to bring their clubs, bike riders to bring their bikes, skiers to bring their skis, divers to bring their diving gear — all free of charge.

Luckily there are some pluses to a bad economy. Businesses who may have not aptly appreciated their customers are becoming financially influenced to satisfy their needs. Mark Wesson, an executive committee member of the British Surfing Association, says “Despite the immense global opposition at the time of the ban, BA remained staunch in its commitment to the move. However now it seems that their current financial situation – seeing a loss of £401 million this year – is helping to open their eyes and they are beginning to realize the business that surfers can bring back into the company.”

Problem is, while the partial lift of their ban may be a step in the right directions, it’s just not enough. You have to be a shortboarder in order to bring your boards as there is a 6’3″ size limit (so that’s likely a 6’1″ in a 6’3″ board bag). And even most shortboarders (professional and otherwise) will fly with larger sticks in their travel-quiver.

There is so much $$$ behind the surf industry, and so many surfers and surf company folk who travel, that collectively there should be enough power to earn us a little respect. Airlines who offer to take surfboards (of any size, including multiple boards in a bag) for a reasonable fee, should be the first choice for traveling wave riders. Companies like Virgin, for example, who stepped up to the plate after BA’s announcement, not only accepts surfboards but does so for free (and they made a huge profit last year doing it!).

Surfers should continue to make collective efforts: call and email customer service departments and sign petitions to get attention. Let your buying power speak for itself.  Think about the bigger picture before booking your next surf safari and make a statement by choosing a surf-friendly airline — even when you’re just traveling home to see mom and pop.

*   *   *

There are online lists that include info on airline policies concerning excess baggage acceptance and fees; though it should be noted that these can change and some airlines issue embargos during prime surf seasons to certain areas. Check out these links for more info: Surfers Against Airline Fees, Flying Fees and Surfline’s Breakdown of Board Bag Charges (call each airline before booking for the most current fees).


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Subject: I have been given your name by trusted mutual friend

Dear American: I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed informati on about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,

Minister of Treasury Paulson

(You’ll probably get one of these eventually, as the email is making its rounds. Be forewarned!)

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by Campus Queen

Those who know me know that I’m very passionate about child protection. Let me tell you a few reasons why.

When I was 10, a friend confessed to me that her stepfather had molested her and her sister.

When I was 12, two friends, sisters, confessed to me that their cousin molested them when they were under six-years-old. The way they described it is that is how they lost their virginity.

When I was in college, two of my friends confessed to me that they had been molested by their fathers.

In college, another friend confessed to me that her cousin repeatedly molested her. When he called and said he was going to come visit her at boarding school, she tried to kill herself.

I kept every secret for every one of those girls.

Now at 40, my best friend’s daughter was abducted, molested, and murdered at age 5.

I’m a mom now and I’m not keeping any more secrets.

Two days ago John McCain released an ad attacking Barack Obama for supporting sex education for kindergarten students. In fact, what Obama supported was age appropriate education for children as a means of teaching them what was proper or improper touching to help protect them against sexual predators [read NY Times for facts behind the distortion]. McCain completely distorted that fact. The cold hard facts are that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are molested by the age of 14 (Department of Justice statistic). And because this crime is so greatly underreported, those numbers are extremely conservative. In 85% of the circumstances, the molester is someone close to this child, which makes this education even more important. If the molester is in the home, they will not be getting this education in the home. Children need to know that no one has the right to hurt them. No one.

Earlier this year Joe Biden introduced Senate Bill 1738, the PROTECT Our Children Act. At the core of The PROTECT Our Children Act is a computer system that enables law enforcement to track and document the trading of child pornography in real time. This system allows the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) taskforces and other authorized law enforcement officers throughout the country to quickly determine who the worst offenders are in a given area. The statistics illustrate how law enforcement is facing literally thousands of new leads every day. The PROTECT Our Children Act will create oversight, accountability and cooperation among the many agencies working to stop this problem and give them the resources, forensic labs and US attorneys to prosecute these cases successfully. Thus far, this system has resulted in a 96% conviction rate without a child ever having to take the stand; the images, videos and narratives justifying the heinous abuse of children stand for themselves.

This Senate bill is Congress’ most aggressive support for law enforcement’s efforts to address the exploding U.S. child pornography industry which consists of more than 600,000 known computers that have been recorded actively trading grotesque videos and images of sexually violent crimes against children. Currently, fewer than 2% of these known offenders are being investigated due to a lack of resources. However, in one third of child pornography arrests, evidence leading to a local child victim is found at the scene. If Senator Biden’s bill passes, we will have the power and resources to rescue as many as 200,000 children from ongoing abuse.

There are several senators who have yet to sign off on this bill. One notable absence is John McCain. Joe Biden sponsored it and Barack Obama supported it.

I am outraged that John McCain would use Obama’s support of something that is desperately needed for our nation’s children and distort it so blatantly. How he can represent himself as someone who cares about our children, release this ad, and then fail to support Senate Bill 1738 is deplorable.

Last week in an interview with Time Magazine, John McCain aggressively refused to define the word “honor.” Now I know why. Men of honor protect our children. I hope you will join me in supporting our nation’s children, our future, in this next election by supporting true change.

* * * * *

Supportive Links:

Not One More Child – The video and transcript of Special Agent Flint Waters’ testimony before congress, which can be found here, is unlike anything you’ll ever see/read.

National Sex Offender Public Website

The National Association to Protect Children

Stop It Now – Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

Dru’s Voice

Democracy In Action – Though it passed in the House 415-2, the Child Rescue Bill may likely be killed in the Senate due to politicking. Click here to send a message to the Minority and Majority Leaders in the Senate.

Code Amber – Hurricane’s have displaced the Louisiana-based Amber Alert offices yet again, and they are struggling with added operating expenses. They are funded solely through donations.

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by Msss. Reef-Rash

We’ve got some serious problems to tackle in our world at the current time.

I’ll start with OVERPOPULATION and the billions of people that are taxing our planet’s resources to its full extent. To the point it is soon likely to be the reason for all wars (if it isn’t already) and whose ENDLESS CONSUMERISM is creating mass amounts of waste. Another factor of the dis-ease in our planet is GLOBAL WARMING, a reality due in part to all the people and corporations that are using mass quantities of oil that are deemed responsible for generating the greenhouse gases changing our planet. A third major problem is the new OIL CRISIS, where this ever-growing population’s demand is about to outstrip the supply available, hence the historic level of oil prices and the search for alternative fuels. And let’s not forget GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION which allows all these problems to continue, grow, fester and get worse in the name of the Almighty Dollar and the American Dream.

The only problem among those mentioned whose solution will fatten somebody’s pockets (there’s that almighty dollar), and therefore the only problem everyone is scrambling to work on, is the oil crisis. Considering that gas now costs twice as much as it did many months ago -certainly an important concern- it’s still only one issue I’d like a solution to. It is however, a great beginning point in changing our world for the better. So what are our options to ensure we have oil to power our lives?

Either we could drill for oil in our our own country, which apparently wouldn’t help the gas prices because to bring the machinery and set up at each of the very small reserves we have would end up costing Americans the same at the pump in the end. Or we could continue down the line with foreign oil until their reserves run dry, but either way the population’s demand will outstrip supply by 2020 according to “Tapped Out” [National Geographic, June 2008].

Hydrogen fuel cells would have been my vote, because it is made simply by converting water to hydrogen with the use of the sun or wind, but our CORRUPT GOVERNMENT screwed that one up with the Bush Administration’s “National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap”, drafted last year in concert with the energy industry, in which “up to 90 percent of all hydrogen will be refined from oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels – in a process using energy generated by burning oil, coal, and natural gas… which would effectively eliminate most of the benefits offered by hydrogen.” [Mother Jones] Of course, this is because those making the bucks with oil can’t stand the thought of losing out on the money and have to find their way to keep funneling more to themselves.

Many people lean towards alternative fuels because they sound fantastic, but in most cases we are actually just creating more problems. For one, the use of corn in biofuel has driven up prices of food and is now causing food shortages around the globe (to the extent that you now have to ask for a loaf of bread when you go to a restaurant and in many places must pay for it). Another problem with alternatives is that making biofuel isn’t cost effective or better for the environment. In fact, according to Christopher Calder from Huntington News, “The ‘energy independence’ argument for biofuels is a hoax because American biodiesel made out of soybeans costs the equivalent of making regular diesel out of oil at $232 a barrel. Making ethanol from corn costs the equivalent of oil at $81 a barrel and uses 28% more fossil fuels than gasoline. Only massive government subsides makes biofuels affordable at the pump. Most countries had large food surpluses before the onset of the biofuel hoax, and the world will return to food surpluses once we put an end to government biofuel mandates.”

The future is looking grim, isn’t it?

Maybe not! I have thought and researched and thought some more and come up with THE SOLUTION… which took shape during a political discussion I had with my dad on Father’s Day in regards to alternative fuels, oil and President Bush ‘n’ friend’s fat pockets, which are getting bigger with every increase in foreign speculation that occurs. On every point I made, my dad had a counterpoint except in one area: The real crux of the biscuit that he could not argue was that there are just TOO MANY GOD DAMN PEOPLE IN OUR WORLD. And the answer to that major problem is to get rid of some fuggin’ people… which brings me to THE SOLUTION!

THE SOLUTION which will eliminate all five of our world issues is TDP!

TDP stands for Thermal Depolymerization Plant, which is “a solution to three of the biggest problems facing mankind,” says Brian Appel, chairman and CEO of Changing World Technologies, the company that built a pilot plant and has just completed its first industrial-size installation in Missouri. “This process can deal with the world’s waste. It can supplement our dwindling supplies of oil. And it can slow down global warming.” According to Appel, the TDP will accept any item and turn it into high-quality oil, clean-burning gas, and purified minerals that can be used as fuels, fertilizers, or specialty chemicals for manufacturing.” Oil crisis solved!

Ok, so I see that Brian Appel’s crew thought of the TDP first and foremost to help with our ENDLESS CONSUMERISM, OIL CRISIS and GLOBAL WARMING, but I promised a solution to two more problems that Brian didn’t have the guts to talk about. Why not use the TDP to deal with our OVERPOPULATION issue, because that truly is the root of all problems since the TDP can accept any carbon-based items. “If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water,” according to Appel. (The article this information came from Discover, Vol. 24 No. 5, May 2003, called “Anything into Oil“, which goes on to state that there are no plans to put people in the machine.)

But why not? Why not start throwing people in that TDP thing and churn them into biodiesel? The only question that remains is which people? …and the answer is obvious! Well, I have to admit I personally thought we could get rid of the Christians first since they feel they must over-breed us into oblivion, though that would include my mom, Jesus bless her. But then my dad commented that we should save our country by using the very people that are wrecking it and turn in the Democrats… but I say why stop there? The Republicans are just as guilty of causing the mess in this country. Why not make it government workers across the board. That made my dad happy because he thinks most government workers are Democrats anyway… but I think it is high time to get rid of our entire CORRUPT GOVERNMENT, POLITICIANS and LOBBYISTS and start over again, fresh and new, with nice people that aren’t power-seeking, power-wielding ogres. I mean, have you ever gone to a government office, such as the building department, tax office, county council meeting, etc., and enjoyed your visit? Most every American leaves these places in disgust, wishing that murder was legal.

Well, maybe we can make it so, in the name of altruism: Government Employees (not including teachers, park workers or…any other people I deem as the good guys) it is time to volunteer to help your country. Put yourself out of our misery. Don’t hesitate, please send yourself in for oil! The rest of us need to be able to afford the drive to work again!

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These days on the Big Island at least, you can probably save a tree and get better quality local island news by reading it online. The recent demise of locally owned Hawaii Island Journal* -the Big Island’s best and oldest “weekly” (officially three times monthly)- will certainly leave a hole to fill when it comes to more intelligent, eco-conscious, thorough culture, community, and (if not a little typically left-sided, a la most Weeklies) political coverage. There were direct insinuations, that the Big Island Weekly, owned by Nevada’s Stephens Media Group, helped put HIJ out of business. As a matter of fact, previous to this, Stephens had made attempts to purchase HIJ to no avail. The Weekly*, which entered the field in the last few years, has a business m.o. similar to Mesa (Go!) Airlines: enter the market (subsidized and able to offer lower prices), put the competition out of business, then control the market (raise rates, and in this case, without diverse competition, cut out the more cutting edge editorial policies). We’ll see how that goes.

As it stands, Stephens also owns the island’s dailies West-Hawaii Today and The Hawaii Tribune Herald. These newspapers (more specifically the later – though they often share pieces) are mainly entertaining to read if you like spell-checking or making fun of improper English; let’s just say Grammar Girl would have a field day. Though you’ll get a decent article now-and-again, often anything controversial is reported via one-sides stories with reporters not always bothering with the concept of an unbiased or balanced perspective. There’s also a convenient over-use of the “…wasn’t available for comment” line, which seems to find it’s way into many articles when their “journalists” don’t want to go out of their way to make a few more phone calls (or when hearing the other side might let the truth get in the way).

Stephens was under fire in 2005-2006 for “union-busting”, after which many of their best writers subsequently left the paper. After much brouhaha, in March 2008 the National Labor Relations Board ruled that at least two of the firings violated federal labor laws and ordered the paper to hire the reporters back – though it’s still uncertain how the paper may now proceed (though you can keep abreast of the issue via the Hawai’i Newspaper Guild website).

If their control of print media wasn’t enough, last year Stephens caused alarm by becoming a part-owner in television station KHHB (channel 5). Though newspapers are usually not allowed to own TV stations, the FCC said they would allow this because it is a low-power station.

Beyond Stephen’s media, we have the fun to read aloud Hawai’i Free Press. Let’s just say it would make Rush Limbaugh proud. The editor (the same guy behind the lies that Obama was a radical Muslim, as uncovered by a Washington Post investigation) is now touting his paper as the only free press on Hawai’i Island but…. Coincidentally, in the wake of HIJ‘s demise, a new free paper, The Island Sun, has emerged, focusing on an immersion in Hawai’i issues and cultural roots. Only one issue so far, we’ll have to if they can step it up: from design to substance. Still, it’s doubtful it can ever replace what is missed with HIJ going under. But is there hope?

HIJ editor Peter Serafin is out and about making a case for the importance of maintaining alternatives to monopolies. The powers that be don’t seem very concerned about protecting independent media sources, but there’s still some small hope someone will step in and purchase the defunct paper. As Peter mentioned in his July 1st testimony to the Hawai’i County Planning Committee (posted on Hunter Bishop’s site):

A number of investors are in discussion to buy the paper and relaunch publication. Anyone interested in participating in this effort, or anyone with any questions is welcome to contact me at SaveTheJournal@mac.com.

Whether or not new owners will take on the bills, including payment to the freelance writers of the past few issues, is another story. Actually, they have unpaid editorial bills from April 19th to the final June 14th issue! Seems publisher Laurie Carlson (Pacific Catalyst Publishing, which also owns the sister publication Honolulu Weekly) closed shop, without much warning (to the point of waiting ’til Serafin was on his first vacation since starting with the paper 2 1/2 years ago!), and left it in a state where there are no funds to pay their contributors (thank you very much), who are now left footing her outstanding bills (myself included). According to Bob Brooks who works for the Advertiser and is in charge of HIJ accounting:

Unfortunately, the Journal has no money but we do have about $30,000 in accounts receivable for unpaid advertising. Our adviser has stated that the first payment priority is salaries and next is taxes. As money is collected, we will be issuing checks; however I don’t expect that it will be any time soon, if ever, as many of the accounts are long past due and may never be collected…. Pacific Catalyst Publishing Company, LLC, is a limited liability corporation. All of the stock is owned by Honolulu Weekly; however the Weekly has no liability for the debts of the corporation as it is a stockholder.

Back to the local blogs which are – and have been for quite some time – picking up the slack for local island news reporting (and likely will continue to do so, as printing prices rise and quality editors and journalists are lost). If you’re interested in what’s really going on in the islands, here are a few site links – some by writers who used to work in the local newspaper biz – and all worthy of bookmarking!

big island chronicle • hunterbishopthekonablogpoinographyIan LindDisappeared News

[* note: though there are many disparaging words for Big Island Weekly ownership, most support the local staff that work there.]

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The spirit of marijuana is female. She is alluring, very seductive. In her presence time passes almost without one noticing. Her sweet fragrance intoxicates the senses and uplifts the mind. She is delighted by heroic men and sensual women. When a couple shares marijuana, they are allowing her participation in their relationship. Accepting their invitation, the spirit of marijuana adds spontaneity and humor, and also acts as a potent initiator. By bringing the couple into her dimension, the spirit of marijuana exalts and magnifies both love and sensitivity. – “The Pleasure of Pot and Sex“, High Times Magazine

420girls1

An insightful friend once mentioned to me why marijuana was so alluring to men. “It’s female,” he said, “the spirit of the plant is a woman. That’s why so many male pot smokers can’t maintain an intimate relationship with another women – because they already have a woman in their life who they are devoted to.”

Besides the initial youthful foray, I never desired smoking much. I wouldn’t buy it, and if I was given some it would either dry up sitting in my jewelry box, or would become a sort of emergency stash for friends. Commonplace for the Hawaii surfer, sometimes you join in when the waves are small, and a little creative inspiration to boost ones imagination helps alter reality enough to make the session more fun (or challenging). Really though, unless in a relationship with a smoker, rarely do I partake. Though it obviously heightens certain attributes, overall pakalolo doesn’t work well with my constitution and doesn’t make me perform at my best. Instead it seems to lower my metabolism and make me socially dysfunctional, hungry, and sleepy; while realistically I’d prefer to be awake, aware and able to hold elaborate conversations without losing the thread (somewhat of an anomaly in many surfing circles).

I’m certainly not trying to disregard the benefits (though many of those are found in more infrequent use – or in cases of serious illness). It is the ultimate first step mind opener… it’s just once the mind is opened, users habitually go back to the step of putting the key in the door, instead of actively utilizing what it’s already showing you. It’s obviously a better option than other more available hardcore drugs, as observed in Hawai’i, where we have the largest number of “ice” users per capita (which has evolved hand-in-hand with big dolla’ federally subsidized marijuana enforcement). Unlike meth, pot doesn’t seem to make one want to beat their kids, or spouses, or spend the rent money to get high, or rob their neighbor (despite what conservatives of the refer madness generation may want you to believe). And personally, I’ve had positive experience with the benefits of utilizing marijuana medically. In my case, to ween myself off stronger drugs; prescribed pain killers that were, post-debilitating-trauma, necessary for daily function – but certainly ate more brain-cells and created a more psychotic mentality than pakalolo ever did. That said….

As rasta as some want to be, as much as one convinces themselves there are no side-effects to smoking, it’s ignorant to believe. Sure it varies with each individual, with the amount and consistency of use, including when and why you use it. Most obviously, unfortunately, you can become less inspired. It’s similar to when one has too much sex, or masturbates too often – as if they can’t figure out how to capitalize on their energy, so they release it, so they can be in a relaxed state. There are deeper connections with sexuality and pot, which helps explain why more men regularly use, and rely upon it, then women.

* * * * *

I smoke my weed, I love my weed, I eat my weed, it’s Sickening
I smoke my weed, I love my weed, I sleep with my weed, it’s Sickening
— “It’s Sickening” by Classified

We have all heard the studies, opinions, diatribes from both sides of the legalization debate, discussing whether or not pot is addictive (marijuana being illegal simply indicative of a government’s arrogant, controlling nature). Whatever. Doesn’t really matter. Call it what you will, users may deny addiction but certainly feel the need to partake in their daily dose. I’ve never heard the (above quoted) song, but even if there are some women who relate to pot this way – odds are, 99% of the time, this is the mentality of a man and his relationship with weed, not a woman talking about hers. Of course there are better writings than a chorus to express the depth of the desire, like these excerpts from “Ganja” from Deep Spirit & Great Heart: Living in Marijuana Consciousness:

June 9, 1993

My wings take me a place where the sky is green and the earth is blue. Naked women appear before me, holding thorn apples in their left hands, marijuana buds in their right hands, speaking words of truth and passion whether I be on earth or in heaven, and radiating bliss from their musk scented thighs.

June 14, 1993

You do not know me, but I am your lover. Take this message to yourself. You, being space, are female, and I, being time, am male, and you and I are everywhere. No matter where I walk, the path leads to you, where the Light of Light resides in the shrine of your heart, emitting illumination to all of creation, and showering me with the bliss to be found in joy and happiness.

December 2, 1993

Closing my eyes, I see myself sitting beside a pond with water lilies and blue green algae floating on its surface. I ask for help to make it through life’s journey, and she takes my hand. I weep, and she comes to my side. I listen for singing, and she fills my ears with the lilting sounds of her voice. I pine for love, and she takes me within her. I wish to return to the body in which I was born, and she leads me beyond time into eternity.

Though the symbolism is up to interpretation, and from what I understand these are from a dying man who was dosing medicinally, still, in these marijuana meanderings the connecting with the female is quite prominent. This plant, which ironically reproduces sexually, seems immersed with a sexual mood and a history in sexual culture.

* * * * *

Folk medicines in 19th century Serbia relied on cannabis preparations, which they called nasha. Female virgins were given mixtures of lamb’s fat and cannabis on their wedding nights, to decrease the pain of their first intercourse. Such use echoes modern practices in India, where newlyweds drink bhang beverages and eat bhang candy. Indian prostitutes are reported to eat lots of bhang sherbet, which helps them feel sexually aroused even when their customers are fat, ugly and stupid. -Cannabis Culture

enjoy sex marijuana

Guys are oft eager to share their pot with girls, because it offers an “in”, so to speak. A girl slightly high might find herself a little less able to control her faculties, and there is a chance she might be more “amenable”. Certainly, some women want that experience, because they feel more able to let go when they are a little drunk or stoned. And sensitivities are heightened to the point greater pleasure and intimacy seems to be achieved — but there are the down sides.

In an article regarding sex and drugs on the informational web site About.com, it gives some Western facts and figures on the subject:

* In a study, 75 percent of men said that marijuana increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction, 68 percent reported that it enhanced their orgasm, and 39 percent found that it increased the duration of intercourse.

* Women are even more likely than men to report enhanced sexual desire with marijuana use. In one study, 90 percent of women reported that marijuana increased feelings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction to varying degrees, and 40 percent of women reported that marijuana increased the quality of their orgasm.

The Bottom Line: While we don’t know why marijuana has positive effects on sexual satisfaction in men and women, research and anecdotal evidence consistently show that in small doses, there are perceived positive effects.

Then we see, with increased intake, over a greater period of time, results from the studies change dramatically.

Using marijuana more regularly or habitually is related in men to increased risk of erectile dysfunction, and in men and women it may be linked to overall reduced interest in sex. Marijuana, in higher doses, has detrimental effects on fertility and even in smaller doses can have negative impacts during pregnancy for the fetus. Also, because sex is more than just a physiological process, drugs may impact your psychological and social experience of sex in unpredictable ways.

weeds mary louise parker

Sexually, marijuana interferes with sex hormones, cuts testosterone levels, and depletes the ability to produce healthy sperm. And while it may make one feel hornier at the onset, unfortunately this is actually a sign one’s sexual essence is being exhausted (though less so for those who practice tantric sex). Those who habitually use become drained, as they are tapping into -and releasing- their life force (and combined with sex, ultimately draining it even more). At the same time, the act of sex becomes, in part, an effort to tap into the source of their partner’s life force.

* * * * *

The “it’s all good” mentality of a smoker might keep them from ever pondering possible consequences. Smoking da herb – it’s all good. Even the obvious negative effects of the smoke itself is often defended. For the surfer, especially when paddling out on a good-sized day, we require all the lung-power we can muster. In those scenarios -cardio interspersed with a need to hold one’s breath underwater- the rolled joint verses the vaporizer is no longer a question: the vaporizer, which produces less smoke, is a much better choice! Still, no matter how you inhale, there are risks.

Scientists have identified more than 150 chemicals in marijuana smoke and tar. Marijuana smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals such as benzopyrene, which occur 70 percent more in marijuana smoke than in tobacco smoke. Examinations of human lung tissue exposed to continuous marijuana smoke in laboratory testing show precancerous cellular change. In laboratory tests, the tars from marijuana smoke produce tumors when applied to animal skin. These studies suggest that prolonged marijuana use causes cancer. Through studies like these, scientists have learned that exposure to marijuana smoke interferes with the work of white blood cells. White blood cells in lung tissue remove debris from the lungs. When exposed to marijuana smoke, these cells cannot remove bacteria and other debris. Smoking marijuana significantly reduces lung functions. -Narcanon

But that’s a Narcanon perspective – seems you can always find “studies”, or at least theories, to prove the opposite. So I asked my acupuncturist his opinions about pot… though he has a personal preference that differs from the traditional Chinese applications, he explains:

Pot is an oil-based toxin. The liver deals with any oil-based toxins. It seems to raise blood pressure on a lot of people – I think due to the vascular constriction caused by almost any smoke. Most people in Chinese medicine are down on smoking pot. I have my permit for my back pain, and I enjoy it, and it doesn’t seem to cause me any problems that I notice. We use the hemp seeds in Chinese medicine mainly for constipation.

Actually, I got a more classic rendition via this comment from a practitioner, found on a TCM forum online, regarding the harmful effects of any smoke entering the lungs:

When hot smoke is inhaled it instantly starts to affect the lung qi and yin. At the same time the liver becomes stagnant over time because of the overload of toxins. These are the first organs to become affected by smoking herb. As time goes on, that damage to the lung qi begins to reach the spleen qi, weakening the body’s defenses and digestive capabilities, and the heat from the smoke doesn’t only damage the lung yin, but also begins to affect the kidney yin. This is evident in some chronic (no pun intended) smokers who suddenly wake up with night sweats.

I’ve tried to explain to male users -especially those who are already on their way to considering the Kelly Slater buzz cut- that adding fire into their the body might not be the best idea. The excess heat rises -as heat is apt to do- exiting through the top of the head, frying not just the brain cells but singing the hair follicles (adding more heat via smoke is also a concern for “hot-heads”, alcoholics, fire-signs, those prone to shingles or eczema, and anyone who challenges their liver daily). While DNA plays the overwhelming role in baldness, there are certainly ways and means to speed up the process.

* * * * *

Every drug has its own nature. It has a unique set of properties that can be described by a very specific curve of benefits and drawbacks. Marijuana’s benefit curve, whether you take it by prescription or otherwise, will at first seem to give you more than it takes. Over time, though, this curve reverses, and it will begin to take more than it gives you. If you’re addicted to marijuana during its taking phase, your high will get weirder and emptier every time you take it. It will also take you longer and longer to recover from it. psychedelic marijuana leafThat’s part of the process of developing tolerance for marijuana. It’s also when long-term damage begins. Your Kidney System is responsible for your long-term health. By the time marijuana affects the level of your Kidney System, it is altering the course of your life in a serious way. – “The Physical Effects of Marijuana, from the Perspective of TCM”

Sure, a little toke now and again, could inspire a new vision or perspective. Unfortunately, the one thing that seems consistent with habitual drug users, is the ability to live in some sense of denial. Whether it be denial that they are overdoing it (that they “don’t smoke that much”…at least compared to their friends), that there are any ill-effects (to themselves or those around them), or that their drug of choice is often used as a means to smooth over the rough edges and assist in avoiding the things in life that they don’t want to deal with. They may lose quality attributes, like unconsciously covering up behaviors and actions with an innate proficiency in rewriting reality to suit their needs. If you are the sober one, speaking to the marijuana smoker (male or female) about serious concerns, it becomes difficult to relate. What once seemed a heightened awareness, superhuman powers of creative insight, and a deeper connection to the spiritual and unknown, often slowly manifests into a dulled impotence, and a loss of connection and motivation to excel to one’s potential. As with anything, there are exceptions, like the strong constitution / spiritually advanced / high IQ types who are actively pursuing knowledge. Still, constant efforts must be made to keep the body/mind in balance. Typically the end-game result is a weakening of the kidneys, mental acuity is diminished, communication becoming garbled. The user may find their a little too burnt out to deal with their loved ones fully and completely.

When marijuana’s beginning to claim your Kidney System you’ll experience a loss of memory. This often takes the form of impaired or reduced short-term memory, and impaired or reduced comprehension of what’s happening in your world. You’ll also lose your ability to listen effectively. Marijuana can so damage your learning and attention skills over time that you may wind up with no ability to get back from the place it’s taken you to.

When marijuana first begins to burn up your Kidney Yin it will make things seem hysterically funny to you. As your Kidney Yin gets more depleted, the funniness will end and paranoia will begin. Depending on your constitution, your burning Kidney Yin may leave you feeling speedy or sleepy.

When marijuana is affecting your Kidney System on a more profound level things seem like they’re happening in slow motion. Time seems to go on forever. What’s really happening is your perceptions are moving very fast. This is when marijuana is burning up your Jing Sexual Essence. When marijuana’s Toxic Heat spends your energy and deep Yin Fluids at this level it creates very substantial damage to your long-term health and wellbeing.

…The Chinese medical classics state that Jing Sexual Essence, Qi and Blood are the physical foundations of your mind and Spirit. Traditional Chinese Medicine views the body as if it’s an amazingly intricate alchemical cauldron. This cauldron distills the substances you eat and breathe into concentrated subtle essences. Your body continually refines these essences into higher qualities of matter and energy. Your physiology then uses them to support its different functions. Jing is the highest level of physical refinement in this system….a storehouse for your life potential…your reserves. Itmarijuana addition determines the quality of your life experience and possibly even the length of your life as well. You may be trading a portion of your life potential for your relationship with marijuana. – “The Physical Effects of Marijuana, from the Perspective of TCM”

* * * * *

So back to the initial concept, of the man and his love marijuana. All I’m saying girls, is that you may want to think twice when deciding to be with a guy who makes smoking a regular part of his life. At least keep in mind the reoccurring themes that may continually come into play, including that he is: already immersed in another serious “relationship”, exhausting his energy (you may get the leftovers), often exposing to the world a mellow personality but may find himself prone to “snapping”, unable to deal emotionally, unable to recall conversations, and otherwise may only be partially available for another person. If you decide to make an intimate connection with this guy, you might as well do it fully aware of the situation, that Ms. Sativa is a controlling woman, and will only let you into the manage a tois on her terms. Ultimately it seems, in order for the relationship to work, if your man is a dedicated smoker, you must also make a commitment to her. Otherwise you may find you’re having an affair with a man who is already committed to another woman.

Perhaps it’s better summed up in the article “Marijuana and Sex: A Classic Combination on the web site Cannabis.com, where an anthropologist notes the philosophy of cannabis religions on the metaphysical potential of the female cannabis plant:

Cultures with sacred cannabis use tend to be cultures which recognize the ‘goddess’. That could mean mother earth, yin, or female beauty and virtues. People who bring marijuana inside themselves are engaging in a type of sexual union with the plant. It is a very sexual act to have a molecule of THC implant itself into your brain.

Since cannabis is associated with female deities like Kali, we could say that when you use marijuana sexually, you are bringing a very special ‘woman’ into your bed. Make sure you’re ready for that relationship!

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toy boatPossibly the final chance to get your voice heard regarding the Oahu-centric Superferry, as they decided to kindly offer public hearings on all the neighboring islands affected. But what are these hearings exactly?

No matter the rulings, ultimately stopping the Superferry seems out of the people’s hands. These hearings -which are being called “Public Informational Hearings” and are to be attended by Members of the Senate committees on Judiciary and Labor, Energy and Environment and Transportation and International Affairs- seem to mainly be about appeasing the public and allowing them to restate their opinions on…a bill that is already written! Which may be voted on in a special session on Wednesday in O’ahu! And that will likely allow commencement of Superferry operations. Will they be adopting certain protections in place prior to an Environmental Impact Study being completed? The Starbulletin reported:

State lawmakers’ final draft of the Superferry-savior bill rejects the 29 conditions that environmentalists and ferry opponents had demanded be part of any measure to keep the boat afloat. Legislators unveiled the final draft of the bill yesterday and noted that while the environmentalists’ demands were not included, the proposed law includes about 20 new pages that reference Hawaii environmental impact law. The bill would allow the Superferry to restart service to Kauai and Maui while the state does a months-long study of the environmental impact of the interisland service.

As mentioned in the Big Island’s newspaper, the Hawai’i Tribune Herald (featuring its dependable one-sided reporting, blog-worthy spelling and vocabulary [well, blogs are oft more eloquent], reprinted AP articles, and finally, thankfully, listing information on some local government shindigs and a few links…hey, save a tree, check that shit online!):

“We refer to this as an informational briefing because it comes before the bill is formally introduced, but we expect to spend more time listening than talking,” said Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-Manoa, McCully, who will be acting as chairman of the combined committees. “Those who could be affected by the Superferry’s operations should take the time to review the draft bill and share their concerns or comments.” The draft bill and instructions on how to submit written testimony are available on the Legislature’s Web site, http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Do some grand finalé research first, then attend with your important opinions. Get their early to sign up (or click here for fax or email instructions) to be heard…well, if you can condense your thoughts in a two minute time-frame. The blog Dissapeared News humorously called them “Speed Dating” hearings. With a reader adding: “Speed dating is a nice metaphor for the Senate hearings – just hope that it doesn’t turn into ‘date rape’.”

Hawai’i residents -other than those from O’ahu- should really look at the actual time and cost to travel to the outer islands with your car via the Superferry. If you are supporting this big boat because you think you’re going to enjoy some super savings and easy inter-island travel – think again!
…Post posting, I’ll add my some excess never published from a previous Superferry article I wrote regarding fees:

Though you’ll be hard pressed to score Go! Airline’s advertised $19 seats -I see a few available in June 2008, for example…and need to be supa-quick to snatch up the sporatic 24-hour $9 fare-war specials- for the most part airfares now run a reasonable $39 plus tax and airport fees each way for something to and from Oahu. It’s not so bad.

Of course, you may have read the articles reporting on Go! / Mesa Airline’s big plans for Hawai’i. They were welcomed by the people after telling them their goal was to offer affordable inter-island air travel, yet eventually it was uncovered that perhaps they never had the public’s interests in mind when emails detailing their real goal – to eventually put Aloha Airlines out of business and then raise rates even higher than they were before they arrived! There is a suit filed by Aloha and another by Hawaiian Airlines – see “dontflygo.com” for more info. Part of the problem, is businesses like Mesa who go into markets with their bargain fares and big federal subsidies, then leave once those subsidies end, claiming “it would not be profitable to continue flying to [insert city here] after the subsidy ends… We’ve done the calculations, and it just doesn’t make sense…” leaving the public scrambling and competing airlines still recuperating. And Mesa, they take the money and run.

Was this a business model admired by Superferry heads? Who knows – though other Superferry operations have gone in such a way. One thing we do know, is that one of their original selling points to the public was that the were going to offer an affordable alternative mode of inter-island travel. The cost? It was supposed to be half the cost of airfare.

Many tried to take advantage of the $5 introductory fare for the first Superferry voyages (only to be turned away from Kauai, or get themselves and their cars stuck on Maui when the return voyages were canceled!) – but the regular fare will be much higher, as “Doug” announces on his Poinography blog “Warning: prepare yourself for sticker shock“. Though maybe we need to give some leeway considering gas prices were lower at the time they were estimating fares [now there's a fluctuating 28.3% fuel surcharge], and that airflights might have been higher then… still yet….

A roundtrip Superferry trip with surcharge would cost an average of $120 per passenger, and an additional $140 for one small vehicle (peak days cost more and again the price is higher to then get to a neighboring island). Also, your infant or child under two-years, who flies free on the airlines, will cost $17 each way. Surfboards, coolers, and any over-sized luggage are an additional fee unless they are in or atop your car. Same with dogs….inside the car (that should be interesting if it’s a typically hot Hawai’i day). That’s not necessarily a bargain in comparison to airlines, but there are advantages.

Unfortunately, these advantages seem most relevant only if you are going on an extended trip, potentially sleep in said vehicle, and are going to fill your car with everything from surfboards to doggy. When you add up a surf vacation via airline for the week: avg. $100 round trip, $25 each way, (dog another $25 each way), $150 car rental per week (best rate usually Alamo via the Costco website or Steve at Rent-a-Wreck on Kauai or Maui Surf Report on Maui), $300 hotel (though many residents have friends or family to stay with when visiting, and rates from camping to hotels vary)… you could be spending some bucks for a safari to another island.

Disadvantages? Okay Big Island residents, did you want to go to Maui via the Superferry? I mean, we can see the island from our coast, shouldn’t be that long of a trip. Well, are you ready for a 4 1/2 hour boat ride -passing Maui- to Oahu, get there late in the day, then I’m not certain what you do in the meantime, but you better find a car or taxi unless you brought yours, then get a room I guess, ’cause you won’t be leaving Oahu ’til the next day at 11am, when you get to go through the boarding process all over again and sail for another 3 hours. After two days of inconvenience, you will need a good night sleep so you’re ready to really start your vacation…. ugh…

Is your desire to surf Tunnels with Andy Irons worth filling Kauai with the coqui frogs they do not want? Personal vehicles by the hundreds per day potentially carrying pests of varying sorts is not comparable to Matson shipping mostly new vehicles and mainland vehicles. If you are for the Superferry and for some of the environmental precautions, add many more hours to your trip because the ship needs to go much slower to prevent marine disasters with whales and other marine life. And if a spray wash of the vehicle is adopted –which still yet wouldn’t kill off the beloved fire ants that are inside the car (hey, on Big Island you find them in there all the time now!)– add more time in the harbor boarding. Okay, not a soap box moment, but until they put precautions in place it’s not okay to allow government and big business to ignore state laws and think the concerned kama’aina should stand idly by.

Are there positive aspects to a Superferry? Sure (and as a Big Island resident I could consider investing in a VW Bus and take advantage of a few surf trips – I just don’t see that my personal pleasure is worth the overall ill-effects – and without an unbiased commission overseeing an EIS we can’t be absolutely certain what those effects truly are). Does it suck that the state could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars, employees out of jobs, and the company in debt if the project goes under? Of course. Those contributing state funds could have been used on schools, teachers, highways that are already congested with traffic in areas that aren’t equipt to handle more!, etc.) But let’s keep clear on why this happened in the first place and what’s the most respectful resolution.

Be there … or don’t complain:

KAUAI: Sunday, October 21, 2pm, King Kaumali’i Elementary School Cafeteria, Hanama’ulu (turn by 7-11). This is the one to go to! How will the people of Kauai react?

MAUI: Monday, 3 p.m., Baldwin High School Auditorium in Wailuku.

BIG ISLAND: Tuesday, 3 p.m., Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona.

More Recommended Reading:

Superferry Timeline: Honolulu Advertiser

Gary L. Hooser on “The Superferry Fiasco” & his personal blog

Local blog Poinography!’s Superferry Update

Hawaiian Kingdom’s Opinion

Impeaching Lingle: Dissapeared News, Larry Sinkin Letters.

Other YahooGroup posts

Ian Lind’s reporting is worth a look


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Keala Kennelly John From CincinnatiI recall this summer, my So. Cal surf buddy Marguerite made a funny comment regarding HBO’s then new “John From Cincinnati” while we were walking to the showers at El Porto and found ourselves bombarded with the show’s poster campaign. Well, the comment was more cleverly phrased but the gist was something to the effect of, “You’ve never seen a more miserable group of surfers.” That I had, a few nights previous, tried to sit through two unbearable, incomprehensible episodes of that bummerama -thinking I was somehow just not getting it- I found myself happy and relieved to agree. I mean, even on the most annoying or frustrating day out in the water, I still feel better than the characters on that show. As in my previous piece referencing the perils of Hollywood trying to capitalize on the surfing lifestyle (“Point Break 2: Young, Dumb, and…More Surf Movies to Cum“) no matter what pro-surfers you infuse in the mix, most of the supposedly story-driven (as opposed to surf-footage-driven) movies and TV shows regarding surfers or surfing seem to miss the mark. While most of the surf genre go so far into cliché you aren’t watching john from cincinnati posteranything new, this show wanted desperately to prove they were anything and everything but cliché…and ended up running so far in the other direction they left you in their wake. And as far as representing the essence o’ surf, these Hollyweirdos always, on cue, miss the point — guys, you can’t buy “it”, you have to experience it!!! Yeah, I know co-creator Kem Nunn surfs (as far as I can tell he only wrote Episode Two and co-wrote Episode One, with a jumbled mix of writers and directors for the rest of the season) and is supposed to be Mr. “Surf-Noir” (Tijuana Straits, Tapping the Source…) but…he probably rides a longboard. Seriously, maybe these things have to be written and directed by surfers -you know, during a break in the swells- so it doesn’t get filtered through the hallow minds of executive money-men. HBO – I expected much more from you! Especially with this as your Sopranos replacement!!!.

Posted on the Surfline website, writer Paul Holmes compiled a nicely written piece (“Space Aliens Take Over HBO…“) regarding the cancellation of the doomed series (somehow linking it to the fact the alien-infested junk tabloid Weekly World News was canceled as well: “It can’t be a coincidence that another bastion of quasi-mystical fantasy entertainment, The W.W.N., announced it would cease publication the same week.”). The only two things I found interesting about JFC were: my friend’s ex-wife rebecca-demorney.jpgRebecca DeMorney, who has not done any decent work in a long while, was…pretty decent (considering), and Keala Kennelly who actually “retired from the ASP World Tour (and moved to LA) in order to pursue her acting gig on the show” (seriously!?) was absolutely adorable.

So who was this “John” from Cincinnati anyway? Did anyone think they would find out…or care? Maybe it could have been interesting if they didn’t complicate matters with this savant-kook. But frankly, the real mystery of “John” and the whole show in general is how it got made in the first place and how with so many good actors you find a way to make them so unlikable and uninteresting. And why none of the truth-seeking soul-surfers on the set, all amped-upjohn from cincinnati set like it was a killer day at Pipe, bothered to stop mid-fantasy to infuse some reality into the scenario, “Ho!!!! Guys, it’s only 1 foot, high tide, on-shore and there’s a sewage spill…This shit stinks!!!”

Dear Hollywood, I’m really busy right now but if you pay me the six figures I will write your dang surf flick, or series… I’ll direct and edit the fugger as well. Other than that, can you stop the abuse already and move on to some other sport. Maaaahalo!

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good bad kittyI’m housesitting. It’s a nice and needed respite because I’ve been living in a tent in a rat-infested plantation house with termites to the extent that every once in a while you notice the wall crumbling to dust. Despite the sound of it, I am forever grateful to my friend for making his home available to me, because homelessness sucks even if you are in Hawai’i (the concept of “living on the beach”: coconut tree, beach shack…kinda lost in this modern world). And the nights I did have to sleep in my little putt-putt with my broken back were uncomfortable reinforcements of pain killer psychosis and suicidal tendencies.

See, this ungrounded state is a result of an injury which left me unable to work for much of a year (sure, sure, the symbolic, astrological, spiritualized purpose of the accident itself has much deeper roots…but rhyme or reason aside, the event leaves you in disarray). If you aren’t from a rich family or have a chunky savings account, and after you quickly, effortlessly run through all your resources, you soon realize the impossibility of living on $400 a month plus $240 in food stamps. What can one buy with $400 exactly? Rent? You’re lucky if you find a room for that much – and if you do your options here usually include a basement or trash-can frat house or some ramshackled cabin in the boonies. And then you have not one more penny for, god-forbid, medical bills, rehabilitation… never mind regular expenses like car, phone, utilities, pet food, credit card bills…. As far as food expenses go, anyone who lives in or has visited Hawai’i comprehends the futility of discount shopping when, for example, a carton of orange juice costs upwards of $8 (fatal when calculating in organic, non-GMO vices and desired satisfaction of cravings) – no, there are no Trader Joe’s and they don’t take food stamps at most of the farmer’s markets either.

But enough of this negative thinking – people just don’t want to hear it, even if it is the truth. Today there is an avoidance of anything that smells of negativity. Boy, all us realists are just percolating, waiting for The Secret* backlash that will surely come, as bottled up “negativity” finds no friendly place to exist in this “all-good” world. It’s like when the “politically correct” thing first became big late ’80s, and your dictionary had to change and quick or you were looked down upon, sued, fired, hated…. I recall one occasion, for example, reacting aloud to someone with the pre-p.c. common adage You’re so gay (okay, valley girl-common but none-the-less). Anyway a gay acquaintance in our group became mortified and reacted in a very aggressive way. How dare you! Now, he knew many of my friends were gay (I was in San Francisco visiting them for cryin’ out loud), that I’m not homophobic, but he was so tuned-up to react to keywords that the reality was besides the point. Maybe other people used that saying to round-aboutly demean gay people (I get offended when people use “girl” to put down guys for example – though on that note perhaps he should have been offended by people calling homosexuals “gay” at all). Personally, I never once thought the saying had anything to do with “gay” people. I wouldn’t be able to replace the word “gay” in the phrase (e.g. You’re soo homosexual). And since when did one group earn the right to words like “gay” to the point you have to tippy-toe around your own vocabulary? Heck, homosexuals can use whatever word they want, make up new words to describe themselves uniquely, but “gay” is a common word with many definitions in the dictionary before you get to “homosexual”.

All I’m saying before I so rudely rambled away with my thoughts is that, like P.C. then, we’re getting a little S.C. (secretly correct) and perhaps going a little overboard with the whole no negative campaign. Because people individually and as a social collective are emotionally (not rationally) determining just what is negative or bad and what is not, and the range seems to opt towards extremes. And I’d hate to say something and be interpreted incorrectly or not related to or totally dismissed, because people have a neurotic need to block out or close themselves off to anything that can be deciphered as remotely negative. Now that, to me, feels bad. Trends like this always seems to go too far. My friend’s kitty is a perfect example.

See, kitty-sitting comes with the two-week housesit. The meow meow is barely a speck, a shadow, a puff that can sit in the palm of your hand. My friend recently found this kitty at her house and took her in, ’til it peed on her bed, but essentially she now takes care of the kitty and therefore claims the self-entitled human right to name said kitty. And taking personality and behavioral issues into account – the peeing, clawing and otherwise rowdy behavior – she named the kitty “Bad Kitty.” When she told me, I didn’t even question the matter; Bad Kitty seemed like a perfectly understandable even adorable name for a cat. But she explained that she was having some resistance from people around her, as far as them calling her kitty by her proper name. Somehow the word “bad” just isn’t positive enough or “S.C.” One of the tenants that rents from this friend seemed dramatically disturbed by the whole thing. “No, no, nooo,” the girl whined with her air-head boppin’ side-to-side, “you can’t call her Baaad Kitty, you have to call her Gooood Kitty.” “But her name is Bad Kitty,” my friend declared in response. Trying to maneuver the scenario with a more upbeat twist, my friend then elaborated, “my kitty is bad-ass!” The girl thought for a minute, going through the motions of wholesome contemplation but twas useless, ultimately her mind was made up. “No, no, no” she repeated, “Gooood Kitty.”

So I’m thinking it’s just this tripped-out hippie who avoids “bad” vibes like the shower, but my friend said she brought her new kitty to the local vet and no one at the vet’s office – vet included – would call the kitty by its name. “They call her BK” my friend told me, kinda perturbed but at a loss. They insinuated her needing to rename her kitty, but since she resisted they simply did it for her. BK, I thought, isn’t that short for Burger King? (hmm, the last burger I got from there was pretty negative!)

Right now as I type, Bad Kitty is being especially “bad”, jumping on my head, on my keyboard, adding lines and spaces and distracting my focus. I toss her here and there but she’s back in a poof, a shadowy black flash, and is indeed bad-ass. And I’m in this nice house and for a moment my environment isn’t reflective of or aggravating my negative state. Maybe a few of these double negatives are actually joining together, in a transformative alchemy, to create some more positives. Surely we need these fucked up, shitty, horrible, evil, rotten, lame, boring, stupid, bad, bad-ass words and feelings and events and even people for any of the positive ones to truly exist; perhaps consciousness and understanding and even a lighthearted sense of humor makes them not so baaad. I was never looking for perfection in my life, just a healthy balance, sure, of positive and negative I suppose. I’m not worried, cause if a little blip, a dot, a dusky happy-go-lucky ruffian like Bad Kitty can overcome or transcend the negativity in her life, then I surely can too.

* * * * *

* the “it” film and book of the moment, with it’s semi-new age no-negativity campaign and Da Vinci code aesthetic providing your answer to the Secret (secret laws and principles to the universe – foremostly the laws of attraction or as some critics state a re-packaging of “The Power of Positive Thinking”) and how to use them to have “everything you’ve ever wanted…living life to the absolute fullest. That means happiness, health, and total abundance and freedom, every day.” Basically sold as the answer to having the life all rich, successful, happy people knowingly lead. The essence of this solution stemming from the idea that one must think and visualize good thoughts; avoid bad ones.

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element cycleI’d been enjoying some extra bed time while getting over a bug, when I had this annoying nightmare. In it my MacBook was catching viruses off the internet. Could have been guilty download conscious, but I balance out such thievery with the reality that I wouldn’t buy any music even if I didn’t get it free. Suppose I was too spoiled receiving a never-ending supply of LPs and CDs for review during my music critic days. But as for movies, I have no excuse but boredom. Though I like animation, it’s highly unlikely I would have paid to see Happy Feet in the theater – unless I had some friend’s kids to take. And the lowly street or swap meet vendor is not losing out on my money either, ’cause doubtful I would ever purchase the Seinfeld-style “filmed in the audience” version from them. But there it was, the only full-length feature flick that didn’t stop half way whining “need more sources”; a low res Happy Feet inserting its avi self into the “shared” folder on my laptop. Shot by someone less artistic than Kramer, who didn’t even bother sitting front and center, or worry if his jacket might be covering the lens for a few minutes, and hand-held the thing – shaky-cam late ’90s style – for the full 98 minutes.broken surfboard

I know my dilemma – this fear of infliction – has less to do with guilt than it has to do with solidity. Living away from family, without a real permanent home, flowing through life, “riding the waves” so to speak, you have a tendency to utilize whatever is around you, to create structure; a sense of grounding. And I know it sounds silly perhaps, but my Mac has somehow become a symbol of such. Sure it’s not without its foibles, like any close friend, boyfriend, (in)animate object, but point is that I need to feel as though I can count on it; that it’s dependable, reliable. Yes, even though I know it can go at any time…it’s like one’s life, solid yet still vulnerable. Maybe that’s why when anything happens to my computer I get emotionally stirred. I count on it too much, to hold my thoughts, my dreams, facilitate my ability to work and create; a conceptually steady entity in an all-too fluctuating world.

Part of this sentiment is that when it’s healthy and working at its best, I work at mine. The flipside, the one I dread, like when the body breaks down and you end up lazy with sniffle-itis, is a fear of my Mac crashing, bringing up unhappy memories of lost files, documents, recalling the hours and weeks of work -poof- disappearing….

solid molecular structureEmphasizing these moments, of a pondered stability, I’ve had equally traumatizing dreams of grabbing my surfboard and at first it seems solid, and then it kinda flops and folds and doesn’t keep its shape. My last nightmare of that sort was disturbing, as I tried hopelessly to mold the board, as if it was Play-doh, into something ridable so I could paddle back out. Those who surf (more than they work ;) ) understand the trauma of anything bad happening to their board, particularly if they can’t afford to just go out a buy a new one. Yes, almost like an addict not able to get their fix, or someone living in the outskirts having their car break down, or an earth sign unknowingly being dosed with acid – you lose the thing you depend upon so much. Things that offer continuity, solid ground; the anchor that keep one from blowing in the wind, or getting lost out at sea.

Surfers can be such a scattered breed, as we indulge to no end in the water element, it’s important to keep such cogent things about us. In the water, our foundation comes in collective and varying forms: our health and fitness; the strength we feel as we killed that last wave; of the fact that there is land that we can see; G-d we can feel; spiritual renewal that we experience; that we have our families, loved ones, pets waiting for us; a nice home…to go home to. Even a job or an appointment or somewhere to be after our session offers up some structure to our daily lives. But otherwise, it is the surfer’s gear that is the actual physical components that enable ourwater element adrenaline-based liquid reality: surf shorts, bikini, wet suit, surf wax, sunscreen, leash…and most importantly our surfboard. And that board, it really needs to be solid. It’s gotta float! So, to end up with a board that’s acting more like water…doesn’t work! Water won’t float on water…it disperses into itself.

The whole fear of the mutability of the surfboard, and I believe initial cause for such nightmares, first began while trying to support a local, East-side, Big Island shaper we’ll just call “escobar”. I purchased a couple of his boards. He seemed to be getting them out on time (a big deal in Hawai’i!) and I liked the shapes. Unfortunately what I didn’t pay enough attention to was the reason why all the kids who had his boards had them duck-taped around the edges and why they were flooding the used surf board racks in town; guess he hadn’t mastered a little thing called the glass job (for those unknowing souls that’s the coating -fiberglass cloth plus resin- that seals in and protects the foam and gives the board its “glassy” finish). Problem is, what’s the use of a good shape and getting the board in the specified time frame when the glass job sucks!

It had barely been a month since I’d had the board and the rails were already crumbling like old feta and on top of that there were tiny pookas covering the bottom from not saturating the cloth enough. But the one moment that still shakes my core to this very day was when I was putting my board into the back of my car and as I was sliding it over the seat, pushing it in, my thumb actually went into it! It was as if the molecular structure altered. My reliance on the congruity of the object shocked my system. Buuuut… if my surfboard is not a solid, what is? Ah, okay, I’m being dramatic you think, but honestly, for a broke-ass surfer, the incident was a true rug-pulled-out-from-under-you moment. When all is not what it seems and you have no control. Besides being physically injured and unable to surf, it’s those times when there are waves but you don’t have a board when a surfer comprehends his or her true dependence and vulnerability.patched mac

There I was, sent adrift, having spent my surfboard fund on something that was carelessly created and disintegrating before my eyes. My season of winter surfing – my exercise, my challenge, my release, my daily opportunity to clear the mind, focus, renew – potentially ended just as it was beginning. Aren’t there any guarantees in life? At least those things for which I pay my hard-earned bucks should supply to me the illusions of solidity that they are intended on providing; from surfboards to Apple computers.

Macs never really had viruses. Well, Apple may have had the first official wild viruses on their floppy bootable antique Lisa machines, and that one the Mac publisher released as a prank on its own readership to prove viruses could happen, but most of the Mac viruses were really just weirdnesses. Like the altered date setting that was actually some Apple programmer embedded issue, which surely made sense to them somehow but I still don’t understand why I needed to be bothered with wasting time struggling to find the most current version of a document because they were all mixed up with 1904 dates; fooooey! The Finder might get corrupt, or the system would need to be reinstalled, or SuperClock would go koo-koo. I recall many font conflicts, renumbering fonts, and having one Helvetica that would print and another that wouldn’t. But they weren’t really viruses, more like corruptions. Besides minor inconveniences, usually at the output place, it’d be fine.Mac vs. PC guy

Today most of these Mac “viruses” are mainly vulnerability issues (often for Microsoft software – and for which we get regular automatic updates). Still, from alarmist articles (written by PC users) to conversations (with PC users) they always like to inform you, “Well, they’re coming.” The viruses for the Mac are coming. Ergo, why use a Mac because you only think they are safe. Ergo, I will stay sick and infected and fighting off viruses with my Windows machine ’cause at least I know what I’m dealing with (it’s kinda like an unhealthy person using the “Well, we’re all gonna die anyway” as an excuse for bad lifestyle choices). Yet, they have been saying the same thing for years. It’s not that I don’t understand the potentiality of infliction some day, that I should use protection, especially as Mac market size increases and as Apple keeps egging hackers on with their superior “we’re impenetrable” verbiage, but do I really need to live with that problem now? Do I need to add any instability to my day-to-day life? As the headline of one article stated: “Windows vs. Linux vs. Mac OSX – Ignorance is Bliss” … it is bliss. It’s also nice that I never have to reinstall my system, wonder why I can no longer print or connect to the internet, or have to bring my machine in for regular antibiotic treatments like most of my PC-using friends.

On Apple’s web site they boldly state:

By the end of 2005, there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs. In March 2006 alone, 850 new threats were detected against Windows. Zero for Mac. While no computer connected to the Internet will ever be 100% immune from attack, Mac OS X has helped the Mac keep its clean bill of health with a superior UNIX foundation and security features that go above and beyond the norm for PCs. When you get a Mac, only your enthusiasm is contagious.

Drew Barrymore Mac Guy Justin LongMacObserver explained away much of the “Big Mac Attack” articles and these so-called Mac viruses in a piece, dated in computer world terms, but still holding true: Mac Viruses By the Numbers – Word Macro: 553, Classic Mac: 26, OS X: Zero. And of course, there are the commercials that explain Mac vs. PC in a more simplistic symbolism: of the kinda geeky but casually hip creative guy (played by actor Justin Long – Drew Barrymore’s new boyfriend) vs. the repressed conservative nerd business man. (What, you didn’t really think Drew was going to date the loser using a cheap clunky bug-ridden Dell?!?). Sure, in this “PC” world, I also am more apt to naively trust in the Mac guy….xo one laptop per child computer

Hey, it’s not that I don’t have my problems with Mac (see article “Apple Computers: My Long-term Love/Hate Relationship” – and I’ve had a few more since then, that keep me on the edge of nervous [still confident a few pow-wows with Steven J. we could clear this all up! Honestly, I don't know why he still won't take my calls!]). And I can only imagine most surfers – with their sun, sand, wet lifestyle – would only feel completely secure the day they invent the 100% waterproof, sand-resistant, ding-proof version of their laptop (maybe a fully loaded “sports” model? Perhaps once they start some healthy competition with XO in the “One Laptop Per Child” campaign they’ll put more cash back into “rugged, durable, child-friendly” adventurer model).Intel Tablet Surfboard

I want my MacBook to thrive amongst a little sand and sea, as it does while rummaging through Limewire. Ultimately, I feel more safe on a Mac – not having to worry that my new ridiculous version of Happy Feet is the idiocy that might render my computer and I terminally ill. And though I’m all about supporting the local shaper, I need to find the ones that also support me. My surfboard must keep me afloat and enable many many awesome surf sessions, as well as handle simple events such as being slid into the back of my car. And just as I don’t want to deal with virus protection software that requires me to approve every move I make on the internet, I don’t want to have to ride a too thick ‘n’ floaty epoxy in order to avoid dings. I want that feeling of security while not being confined by it… or compensating performance. Enjoy the water without overindulging and becominghappy feet waterlogged. Appreciate the comfort in structure as much as I relish absolute freedom. I know I have vulnerability issues – we all do – but I don’t want to let my need for feeling safe and secure keep me from expanding into the unknown or leave me fearful of jumping into the abyss.


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cool surfer girlNo matter how peace and love one wants to be, or wants others to be, sometimes we fall prey to our immediate reactions and needs, where even the telling of the story shows my own inability towards benevolence. The Zen of surfing makes all of our experiences out in the water relatable and symbolic on land. Today’s (surf) lesson is in the words “line-up” and “aloha”. I apologize but must begin this tale with a nod to Summer Roberts (dedicated to my sis NinaB), VIP character on the debatably bad teen drama The O.C. So if you (or your kids) ever watched the show, please pronounce “Eeeeew” in a way that might make her proud.

“Eeeeew”, yuck, are you serious?! The most straightforward, girlie reactions chattering in my head after a witless, myopic comment by an otherwise seemingly appealing surfer boy in the water the other day. He’s new to the islands; fresh from real O.C. (Orange County that is). I was scoping him out…not in that way -not my type- but nice to look at and a friendly chat between sets. There were only four of us out at this spot and enough waves to do an honest rotation. But like many who were never properly schooled in the lingo or had adequate opportunity to vibe the true aloha spirit of the sport (or mature enough to attain some hard-earned wisdom…or a mellowing enough to think straight etc….), there is a lack of comprehension of the seemingly obvious meaning behind the word “line-up.” Yes lil’ kiddles, it means wait your turn! Sure, it’s par for the course that on most solid days we all get a little excited to get our fill (we all have found ourselves being selfish – no one is immune!). But at least you’d assume on a gorgeous, mellow, sweet Hawai’ian afternoon with only a few guys out, that common courtesy would -with a little encouragement- kick in – right?

summer robertsSo when a local girl paddled over and waited patiently through about three sets -while the aforementioned guy paddled just inside her each time so she couldn’t have a wave of her own- I yelled, “let the girl go already!” To me it had nothing to do with the fact it was a girl or not, but since girls are oft too courteous or less aggressive they many times aren’t jockeying for the best position. So while they’re waiting their turn, so to speak, the guy goes, you know, that bit deeper and therefore claims the “right of way”. Even if it’s a piddly wave, they’re overcome with the need to have to take it. Or they’re obviously not in the right spot, too deep, but no one can go since they’re taking off, stuck in the white wash over the reef – whatta waste! Inevitably they’re just trying to control the scenario – usually it’s guys who aren’t the top dogs, often haoles hoping hopelessly to build up some kind of credibility and these smaller dayz are their moments to shine…so to speak. I’m sure it’s hormonal. Frequently this is the same guy who will whine, “the girls are always taking off in front of me.” Well, when one’s manliness prevents one from allow a girl to sit deeper, and you can’t let a wave pass if you can help it…after a while, just to shut you down in the very least, someone’s probably going to take off in front of you.

So anyway, back to my “Let the girl go!” request…he didn’t. He just couldn’t. And upon his paddle back out he purposefully passed close enough to offer me his contemplative explanation, which went something to the effect of “you guys lost out on that when you demanded equal rights.” Where was this guy coming from? What kind of upbringing makes a person think this way? Even if it were someone of the male gender sitting out there, waiting for their wave, I would have thought to let him go too. Because it’s a kick seeing everyone having a positive experience. The fact that you’re out there only looking to satisfy your needs takes about 99% of that cute and turns it ugly – eeew! When I mentioned the incident to my surfer Aunty she noted with her acute wisdom, “His comment was made to justify his ego.” Mmm, hmmm. No worries, I’ll find something else more worthy of my distraction between sets.

So, dude, go ahead and catch your waves; be deluded by the idea you have allowance for insolence because of things like the…“ERA”?! But remember this, we don’t need you to give us waves, what we’d like is for you to just chill out and not take our waves. Some girls go there, but not all wahines want to become aggressive jerks just to be able to surf, especially on mellow, uncrowded days when we can all afford to be gracious, flowing, laughing, deserving, enjoying, thankful for the ability to experience and share the fun.

Now…if the Dalai Lama were a surfer, what would he do? :) “Be kind whenever possible…It is always possible.”

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tarington smokeby contributing writer Ms. Reef Rash

I remember when I started smoking cigarettes. It was 1977 and I was in the 4th grade. I started this bad habit so early on in life because my older sister –who my parents always had me tag along with– turned me on to everything fun. Back then, we could walk through the neighborhood, up to the hospital and put our parent’s quarters into the vending machine on the second floor and simply pull the handle. It was that easy.

We started out with Bel-Air because we liked that package the most, but as we aged and got more cool we switched Marlboro Lights and later Marlboro Reds and Camels. I loved to smoke and had a pack a day habit by the time I was 16. At this time, I tried my first bong hit and life became so rosy. For those who believe in gateway drugs, don’t even go there, I was destined to be a smoker due to the fact that my mother never breastfed me and there was always something artificial shoved in my mouth. Also, believe it or not, I was a good student and quite athletic as well, playing center and wing for the high school soccer and field hockey teams.

When I moved to healthy/hippy-afflicted Hawaii and got married at 25 to a full-on pothead, pack-a-day smoker, I became more healthy in my smoking habit. I started smoking American Spirits which at least were not full of the filthy chemicals found in the Phillip Morris brand of smokes.

wilma smokingYes, life was good, until I got sick of being in a house with three pack-a-day smokers (three because my stoner husband never moved out of his mom’s house). Why would I ever want to light up if I was breathing everyone else’s smoke on a constant basis? And how the hell was I going to be able to quit when I had been trying off and on for years to kick the habit.

Well, for those of you who have tried and failed and are searching for the way, here was my solution – I started smoking pot; lots of pot. Every time I wanted a cigarette, I would roll a joint. And if that made me want to smoke a cigarette as Mary Jane usually did, I’d roll another joint. Life became really good and after some time I was even able to cut down on the pot smoking – maybe once a week to once…or twice…a day.

I had been cigarette-free for 10 years and finally decided to become pot-free as well because I thought it was making me too tired. I was going good for a couple of weeks, until one fateful night when I went out for drinks with a girlfriend and instead of going to another bar as I would have liked, she made me walk across the parking lot to our local Wal-Mart, so she could walk off her buzz and drive home.

Well, I grudgingly made my way with her to the land of fluorescent lighting and cheap Chinese goods that I would normally boycott. My buzz was pretty good though, and before long I had gotten into the spirit and chosen some cute panties and a cowgirl beach hat. When we got to the jeans on sale for $9, there was no resisting. I dropped all my selections and my purse right there in the middle of the store and slipped my legs (high heels first) into the pants and pulled them up under my dress and checked them in the mirror. Looking good! Then we picked up all our stuff and checked the swimsuits… There was a cute white bikini with peacock adornments – but not for me. “Hey girlfriend, how about this top, it would look great on you! Try it on.” Random silly girl fun like that, but finally we had finished that place off. As we headed to the checkout line, I went to get my wallet out and holy cripes, my purse was not in the mess of things I was holding.

Quickly we went running back to the ladies department and scanned the floors and racks, but no luck. Using my girlfriend’s cell, we called and called and called my phone. The ringer went from the four rings-to-message to straight-to-message; someone had turned it off! We notified the store personal and they broadcast a message for people to keep a lookout for a purse. Wow, that was a lot of help. I let my girlfriend run around to check everywhere we had been, while I sat at the front door and watched the people leave, looking for any strange bulges in their attire.

Now, I don’t know what Wal-Mart is like in your town, but in my town at 10:30 at night the only people in there are surely the swarthiest dregs of society (myself excluded?). Parents on ice with their screaming kids that just want to sleep, drunks and thieves looking to shoplift or prey upon the others who look (drunk enough to be) victim-worthy. When I sat at the door watching everyone check out and leave, I was seriously shocked to see the number of people with strange bumps coming out from their layers of fat under their shirts and on their backsides – was that my purse hiding in there? There was no way I could pick one of them to be the culprit. Finally, the police had come and done nothing, and everyone had left the store and they made me leave the store too.

So, there we were at midnight in the Wal-Mart parking lot where those without enough money to go out have decided is the perfect party zone. We had called a tow truck and were waiting for them to come take me and my car home since my keys had been in my purse and I didn’t want my car stolen. It could have been anyone among the scurvy cast of characters still hanging out, waiting for everyone to leave so they could find my car. Hoping the thief took my money and tossed the purse, my girlfriend was now driving up and down the lot looking to see if she could find it while I was standing on the curb, feeling so frustrated by the whole shebang I could have cried.

That’s when I noticed a group of girls hanging out in the lot smoking cigarettes. I couldn’t keep myself from bothering them. Before I knew it, I had bummed a menthol off one. The first hit gave me such a rush that I exclaimed to the girl “Damn, you smoke these things?!” and then sucked down the entire stick without turning back…wishing I had just begun when I dropped the butt to the ground. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it.

The next day I couldn’t believe what I had done. How could I give up all those years of saying “no” so easily? If I smoked a Camel again, would I be sucked back into the habit? Well, I put that question to the test when a couple of nights later another girlfriend lit up a Camel and I took a pull. Yuck! Thank god! Then the next week, my farrier happened to take a smoke break and it was menthol. Uh oh, yum!

Now, I haven’t bought a pack yet… but I have smoked two more cigarettes since, one a month… and I’m calling myself a non-smoker as I think this title still pertains to me. I’m really not looking to have the habit again, especially since they aren’t just a few quarters anymore. But it is obvious that I have a great desire to inhale something smoke-like. I’m sure I’m not the only person that feels this way, but I just don’t understand…why can’t there be a cigarette that is actually good for you, smells nice and doesn’t make you want to nap?! I suppose until that happens, I’m left cautiously teetering between the worlds of smoker and non-smoker.

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curious2No, not the Three R’s of Recycling: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, that Hawaii local boy Jack Johnson likes to sing-song about with his pal Curious George – making environmental awareness fun for kids! Nor the Three R’s of Compassion, used by religious groups to revive the ghettos: Relocation, Reconciliation, Redistribution. Nor the foundation of the “undo” in computer technology which have their own Three R’s to Dependability: Rewind, Repair, Replay – though many a time I have wished to utilize some of those intrinsic computer powers in my real-world life. Oh wait, there are the Three R’s to Healing: Realizing, Recognizing, Rectifying. I can do that. It’s confusing with so many Three R’s these days; how are we going to remember them all? But what has always left me most confused is how the pre-eminent of all the Three R’s aren’t even spelled with three r’s! What gives?!

‘You shall teach me, and when I am a woman we will set up a school where nothing but the three R’s shall be taught, and all the children live on oatmeal, and the girls have waists a yard round,’ said Rose, with a sudden saucy smile dimpling her cheeks. –Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

You might almost ponder the foundational error in the fundamentals of elementary education when we have teachers trying to get kids to believe that Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are Three R’s. Why are they Three R’s? Is this symbolic of the first incident in our initiation into primary schooling, when we should have challenged the idiocy of authority? Our first “Brick in the Wall” moment (besides perhaps “Why are those eggs green?!”), when we needed to have demanded an explanation of these supposed R’s. In kindergarten we should have stood up and confidently objected, “But ma’am, no matter how you slice it, they don’t start with R and I challenge you to convince me otherwise.”

It’s strange that all the other Three R’s I have discovered in my exhaustive research do start with the letter R. On the other hand, the “R” in the original Three R’s is not some theme by which these topics should be obviously categorized. They simply all have an R sound in them. It would be like saying Laughing, Splashing and Floating are the Three L’s of the beach. Huh? Because they all have the L sound. You get it? What?!

The dictionaries actually dare to admit, the saying comes from the phrase reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. So it is true, the structure of our educational system has always fallen to the lowest common denominator. But where and when did this begin? On the homesteads of America perhaps? The American Heritage Dictionary claims the history goes something like this:

It is widely believed that Sir William Curtis, an alderman who became Lord Mayor of London, once presented a toast to the three R’s–reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic – thereby betraying his illiteracy. In any event, the term was picked up by others and so used from the early 1800s on.

Yes Jack, three IS a magic number. I think having Three R’s is maxed-out on people who clearly find challenge in the spelling of the word “arithmetic”! But this SuperSize Me culture always wants more – regardless of whether or not it’s for their own good. And people are so giddy about the R’s, there is now a new trend that I’m very unhappy to report…the friggin’ Forth R! People, we need to put our foot down now! To add a forth R seems instant recall suicide! Bruce M. Beach, a Radiological Scientific Officer even has a web site for his new Three R’s that “everyone will have to learn after a Nuclear War – or other world-wide catastrophe (but that most people aren’t yet ready to even think about).” You wanna hear them? Reconstruction (of society), Recovery (of production), Renewal (of religion), and the FORTH R!!! Resources (for nuclear war survival).

You’re right, it’s something I don’t want to worry about at this present time. Plus that extra R, dude, it’s one R too many! At the very least, the intelligence behind the Three R concept was this: That we can remember three things…but once you go one past that you’re pushing it! Howie Schaffer, public outreach director at the Public Education Network, actually has the chutzpah to want to add a T to the Three R’s. The nerve of some people! Now we’re totally heading in the wrong directions here. What would it be called? “The Illiterate Three R’s and a T of Education.” The T stands for Technology and he contends kids in low income communities learn on a limited number of inferior computers with slow connections and that it has a great effect on their overall educational experience and inevitably increases the gap between the lower and upper economic classes. Why doesn’t he find his own Three Whatevers and start a new list – why’s he gotta go and ruin it for the rest of us? Next thing you know they’re going to start adding art and science and physics into the mix – eek gads! And where will all those letters go!?

So, if we didn’t stand up then, it’s time to stand up now. Because ultimately, if our educational system in America is going to have any hope of evolving into something better (by way of what looks like will have to be a thorough redesign of its fundamentals, teaching methodology, and handy dandy acronyms and sayings and rules), our teachers, professors, and whatever powers-that-be who have a say in this, are going to have to start from the very basics and finally admit…the Three R’s have been a fraud all along.

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