Monday, June 30, 2008

Freeing the Inner Crusader

I think reading in the local "blogosphere" is somewhat addictive, an invitation to compulsiveness. I don't want to be like weird neighbor #1 who apparently has a full and imaginative life in front of his computer screen. But in real life? Not so much. I could become that way, just like WN#1 and I don't want to become that.

So I will just marvel that blogging certainly does seem to have trumped newspapers and maybe even TV and radio for finding out about local issues. Even the newspapers know it and have jumped on the bandwagon.

I only discovered the world of local bloggers quite recently after writing a letter to the editor about a problem one of my family members had with a city employee. It was published online too and people began to respond. I found it quite innocently; doing a Google search for similar situations, I was surprised to find my own letter at the top of the search results. My heart and belly ached as I saw the ignorance of many of the postings and the animosity of one person who was really involved. I was warned by someone I respect not to read the blogs, they would just upset me. But I couldn't help myself.

Now I read them daily and post regularly. I find I have more opinions than I thought I did. It took me years to develop opinions after carefully weeding them out of my writing in search of journalistic truth. Asked to write an editorial and I would go blank. I had too many people to please.

Blogs are better. I have no one to please. I can say what I really think and remain reasonable because I value reason, not because I fear someone's opinion of me. I wrote here recently that internet anonymity frees the inner monster in people. It also frees the inner crusader.

What I have learned about myself:
1) I am a human rights activist
2) I believe in order
3) I think marijuana should be legalized
4) I detest gangs, thievery and hard drugs and would support the police if I trusted them.
5) I am an advocate of youth.
6) I really believe in the idealistic principles of the country's Founders.

What I have learned about the world
1) Mob mentality rules
2) Chaos, anarchy and a tendency to lynch lurk in many human hearts
3) People feel most comfortable when they can lump people into categories, then dismiss whole groups of them
4) The world really is divided into two types of people, and this country's conservative/liberal division pretty much sums it up.
5) There is very little questing for human understanding going on.

There is more, but I will have to think about it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wild Fire

I'm online today just looking for information about all the fires in California. I've found plenty, but none so far that really answer my question: are blazes threatening our little piece of land in French Gulch? I think the answer must be "yes," and by this time my husband is there doing something about it. Out of cellphone range.

Here is an article from the Redding newspaper that shows how wild and rampant and unprecedented the fire situation in California is right now. 1,000 fires burning out of control, 236,000 acres destroyed, weathermen who have never seen so much dry lightning at one time as we had last Saturday.

Besides land and a modest home in Shasta County, we are also worried about loved ones whose homes are in danger. Tristan in Whitethorn, Humboldt County; Amanda in Burney, Shasta County; Jakki in Paradise, Butte County; Ember and dozens of dear kids in Old Shasta and French Gulch, Shasta County; Nonnie near Ruth Lake in Trinity County; Casey in Weaverville, Trinity County.

I'm a visual person and I want to see detailed maps. I've found a couple, but they still leave me with questions. It must be a lot like hell in Shasta County right now, with temperatures hovering at 107 degrees, air too smoky to breathe, charred hillsides, sun blotted out by the smoke. I will have to wait for Fred's report this evening.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blogging Interestingly

I just read an interesting article called "Ten Steps to Becoming a More Interesting Blogger," by Monica O'Brien. In a nutshell, here are the 10 steps.
  1. Talk about yourself because people enjoy gossip.
  2. Figure out what it exactly it is that makes certain bloggers boring or tiresome, and avoid doing those things.
  3. Put a new spin on your topic.
  4. Write about news or events in your life.
  5. Make yourself a minority; find what is different about you and write about that.
  6. Be controversial
  7. Stop pretending you're so happy, because sad or angry people are more interesting.
  8. Share your vulnerabilities
  9. Articulate your dreams.
  10. Talk about the hard stuff.

Life in the Right Order

I read this George Carlin comment on a Southern Humboldt blogger's site (Nocturnal Nomad) and I must share:

"The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backward. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old-age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating – and you finish off as an orgasm."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tangled Weeds in Humboldt

As we continue our search for acceptable housing in the Arcata and surrounding area, I reluctantly become more aware of the ongoing battle about marijuana in Humboldt County. Like all issues in this area, people are instantly sucked into the far extreme viewpoints, as if maybe one of the geographical features of the area is a mysterious political centrifuge. Because I am trying to understand what the northern towns other than Arcata are like in character and safety, I have been following the local news blog commentary.

The thread I commented on is about a recent federal crackdown of grow houses. Everything I was reading made me think everyone around me must be crazy. The internet is kind of like highway driving; you are interacting with lots of people all at once and the anonymity allows their true inner asshole to find its voice. Think about road rage and honking and people flipping one another off. I myself curse like a sailor when I drive. The local news blogs remind me of that. Many, many people aren't saying anything of substance, just throwing rocks at one another. Healthy debate is entirely absent. Name calling is rampant, as if all posters are in the 7th grade.

After reading 140 twisted little comments, this is what I wrote:

Grow Houses

(from Topix/Times-Standard forum June 25, 2008)

Is the problem really the marijuana itself or is it the inflated, black-market money?

Huge commercial grows have nothing to do with 215 or hemp (no one around here is growing hemp!) or the pleasant effect of smoking weed. Instead, they are about large amounts of tax-free cash.

And the social ills that spring up around any illegal enterprise are very real. Lying to your loved ones for a start, or raising your kids to lie, or contributing to their delinquency. All that cash income equals rich people who don't pay taxes and who don't have the class to offer endowment to build community. Divorced mothers who cannot get child support because their ex has no money on the books. Mistrust of and aversion to authority at the times when you really do need cops (say when violence threatens your family or property).

As someone who has spent the last two months trying to find a rental housing in Arcata, I can tell you that landlords are skittish! Rental homes are getting destroyed by grow operations. How is it ok to destroy someone else's house for your profit?

I have dealt with a lot of suspicious landlords whose rules are unpleasantly strict due to how often they've been burned in the past. So yes it does negatively impact people who would just like to find a place to live in a university town. Yet, I am not convinced illegal mj cultivation is the CAUSE of high rent prices.

Why are neighbors up in arms? Because residential areas are being used for illegal INDUSTRY. Just like it would suck to live next door to a gravel operation or a cement plant. The smell, the traffic, the lack of neighborly behavior. And since it's illegal, add to that the paranoia, unsavory characters, weapons, arrests, and children in crossfire. That is how good neighborhoods become bad ones.

I do not care what you smoke. If you are sick, I want you to have whatever helps you feel better (but I have to wonder, is health around here really that bad?). Marijuana itself is not the problem; instead the problem is its illegality. While it is a crime, there will be entire law enforcement agencies dedicated to arresting those who cultivate it. You will be gambling with your freedom and criminal record if you grow it.

If you can't live without it, then start thinking of logical, feasible ways to get it legalized. The one step toward legalization (215) gets abused so often and regularly, that I have to wonder if the law will remain in place. Greedy people and overconsuming potheads are going to ruin it for the patients who benefit from 215 marijuana! Start thinking of ways it could work legally.

People are so afraid it will get regulated, but let's not forget it really is a weed, a willing flourishing plant, grown from a seed. The only way it would get regulated is if the price went so low that people became too lazy to go to all the trouble to grow it, gather it, dry it, trim it. Just like we don't grow and dry our own tobacco, still our own whiskey, or bottle our own wine and beer. These tasks are quaint, old-fashioned, artisanal skills, hobbies in a way, that people choose to cultivate or not. Why shouldn't it just be another herb in your medicinal garden?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fiction and Life

I'm reading a book called Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger. It's the first mass market fiction I've gotten to read in quite some time, since my reading is not usually for pleasure while in school. So far it hasn't insulted my intelligence and is as entertaining as watching a puzzly detective drama on TV. But without the gruesome graphic violence.

Yesterday I was so upset by all the corruption I have seen lately in the town where I live, that I could not even watch the movies we rented. We started Freedomland, with Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson. I thought it was a thriller about a mom whose car got hijacked with her child in it (bad enough) but then I realized it was developing into a race riot movie, where "ordinary" non-criminal types reveal their hideous souls in racism and prejudice and hate crime. I burst into tears and Fred turned it off.

Then we put in Untraceable with Diane Lane, about cyber crimes. I thought I could handle it (I made it through the kitten murder) until the killer caught and began torturing a man, grainy close-up of his suffering face. More tears. Off goes the DVD player.

All I could think about with Freedomland is how cops assume young boys are guilty of crimes, more so if they're poor, more so if they're black. All this happens until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. And all I could think about with Untraceable is that we as an audience are supposed to care less because the murder victim was a man, instead of a kitten or a little girl. What makes men especially young men disposable in our culture? What about the mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and lovers of these disposable young men? I feel a bit of the profiling that people of color must feel. Around here my child is in the disposable group, somehow. Skater? Critical thinker? Labeled now as a bad kid and for his safety my family must move.

Finally we put in a movie I bought Friday at a yard sale, Erin Brockovich. She was trying to take care of her family but she got labeled by people for the way she dressed and spoke. Then she found her cause, her crusade, and her bold tongue and bright mind helped to win the largest lawsuit in US history. What a badass! Erin Brockovich needs to come deal with the police in this town and the school administrators. The more I find out about the ugliness, how deep it goes, the sicker and more paralyzed and silenced I become.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog! I don't imagine you'll find yourself here for long, or at all, if you don't already know me, so whew! I can dispense with introductions. I've been blogging for a year now on MySpace, but I've lately been realizing its limitations. Most salient among those is that my mother can't read my blog unless she gets a MySpace account. Like that's gonna happen. So here I am.