This Air is My Air, This Air is Your Air…

Where do your rights end and mine begin? Where do my rights end and yours begin?

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis s...

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis shop at 970 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here we can use legal marijuana. You can get a prescription for it in capsule form and a license to grow a small amount for personal usage. You can even get a license to grow it for others that have a license to use it.

I’ll not get into the medical conditions which are eligible for consideration for treatment with medicinal marijuana — it’s not the point of my article here, nor are recipes for brownies or that you can get it in the form of capsules or candies. The point is a matter of personal space and respecting it.

I could say I am for medical marijuana, I could say I am against it — I could say I am for the decriminalization of marijuana, I could say I am against it — I could say I am for the legalization of marijuana, I could say I am against it — but regardless, what I can say is that even though I might be eligible to get a license for medical marijuana, I react badly to it. I’m not saying I am morally against it, but that I have a medical reaction to it that is negative.

Results of allergy test

Results of allergy test (Photo credit: dathan)

I couldn’t say at this moment, pending more medical testing, whether it is an actual “immunoglobulin type E (IgE)” allergy reaction or some other sort of chemical hypersensitivity, but it is real and severe. It started with a feeling of anxiety and mood swings mixed with nauseousness and headache. However with each exposure — and I am referring to “second hand smoke” from people nearby, smoking it, like over 10 metres (35 ft) away in a park or in some other suite in an apartment building on their balcony — it has gotten worse until now, a strong exposure will knock me off my feet literally.

The last strong exposure, I walked around the corner of a house I was visiting and into a “cloud” of it that a breeze has wafted down between the houses from the far end. I only had time to note, “Oh the guy at the far end is toking up I had better go ’round the oth….” and the next thing I knew I was laying on the cement and gravel beside the house with a bleeding elbow and knee and the house owner’s son — worried — just having gotten there asking if he could help. It was him who had been smoking up and he had gotten rid of the roach already before approaching — most likely in case his Dad came out. I explained to him about the strong reaction I had to pot and he was sympathetic. He’s a pretty good kid and has been careful enough when I’ve been visiting that I’ve never had a problem since.

Exposure had started to make me shaky an a bit dizzy – seeing stars, before, but never so extreme. I did recall that with my allergy to feathers, when I was literally faced with a goose down pillow — I was sleeping over at a friends and rolled over from one pillow to the next to discover one of the pillows was down — it felt like my breath was sucked out of me. For some reason I just could not breath in when I faced the pillow. I don’t think it was because my throat swelled shut becaus as soon as I turned away from the pillow I could breath again. I still can’t say that allergies work this way.

cigarette

cigarette (Photo credit: Fried Dough)

The last exposure I had to pot smoke however is what spurred me to write this. I was approaching a nearby bus stop the other Sunday an two fellows were sitting on the bus stop bench talking. I could see they were smoking and so I gave the bench a bit of a wide berth not caring for cigarette smoke to stand by the pole near the street. It was there I thought I smelt a hint of skunk… We live in a part of Surrey BC that is next to an “Urban Forest” which the highway goes through so occasionally skunk and man occasionally encounter each other. It can leave an odour.

However I figured the odour wasn’t from a skunk… I looked over at the bench and noted the two fellows nearly head to head sharing a cigarette. Well, two guys on a very low budget who were “close” might share a cig, but… no they were sharing a joint. It has taken me much longer to type this and perhaps you longer to read it than for this to take place. I’d already started reacting to the “skunk” smell… which was another giveaway. I don’t really have that much reaction to real skunk!

I was starting to feel anxious and a bit nauseous. I realized it wouldn’t be good if I were to just collapse at the bus stop and nobody know why. So I told the fourth person there at the bus stop, a woman, that I had an allergy to pot and the fellows at the bench were smoking it and if I were to collapse, to tell the paramedics that was why. Now this is a bit of an over-reaction, and probably this very over-reaction part of my reaction to the pot. The guys at the bench thought I was talking about calling the police and started talking about having a license to legally smoke pot for medical reasons.

allergies

allergies (Photo credit: jfl1066)

Of course they just had to show me their license… one between the two of them, ahem. Number 76## Actually the number was somewhere in the seventy-six hundreds, but am not 100% on the last two digits and wouldn’t post them here in any case. I am just posting that so that you don’t think that there are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of those licenses issued by the federal government. Either that or he printed his up on his Kodak photo printer at home for anyone other than the police.

They said they had every right to be smoking it because they had medical reasons. I told them I had no problem with medical pot, but I was allergic. They said I should just stand further away. Further away? How do you catch the bus if you don’t stand at the bus stop? Their ears mostly went deaf when I mentioned their license was only for smoking in their own residence until one had the bright counter argument — “What do you want? For me to live like a hermit and just stay at home?” He couldn’t figure out the difference when I asked if I should live like a hermit and just stay at home? He had a choice when he smoked. I find that I am always having to breath.

He just couldn’t see that for some reason he might imbibe in some other way than smoking it if he wasn’t home. He wasn’t waiting for the bus either. He was just using the convenient bench. Perhaps it isn’t fare that I mention we were within a block or so of a “half way house“. I am all for half way houses as well. People who are struggling need all the help they can get.

Now I didn’t collapse on that encounter. There was a fairly strong breeze in the right direction. But, by the time the bus came my arms and hands were trembling like I was suffering from a nerve disorder and my legs trembling so I had problems walking. The bus driver lowered the bus so I could step up and I needed the hand rail. I didn’t want the driver to think I was drunk so I told him I was getting over an allergic reaction. I said “getting over” a reaction so he wouldn’t worry about picking me up. My head did clear over the 10 minute trip too.

In any case, whether my reaction to the pot is allergy or chemical sensitivity — or even psychosomatic — don’t I, or anyone else, deserve the right to walk down the public sidewalk and breath air that is not perfumed with tobacco or pot smoke?

There are now laws limiting where you can smoke cigarettes. It is true that you can smoke cigarettes walking down the sidewalk, though now, at least in Vancouver you aren’t allowed to smoke in public parks.

I know that people have grand discussions on how pot smoke does less harm than tobacco smoke to smoker’s lungs. But, they miss the biggest point. If “you” are smoking they are “your lungs”. If “I” am stuck at the bus stop with “you” they are “my lungs”. Truly, I chose to be at the bus stop. I could chose to be elsewhere. Maybe I would rather be at the zoo? But wait, I’d have to take the bus.

With regards to legalities — I am no lawyer, pot advocate, anti-drug person, etc. — there are three things: medical marijuana usage, decriminalizing marijuana, and legalizing marijuana.

One can have legal medical marijuana usage where it would be a controlled substance still and available only by prescription or from a licensed grower without it being decriminalized or legalized. It would be similar to heroin where people can be taking it medicinally by prescription — though in this case I think most often in hospital, but there are other medications that more likely fit that model.

Decriminalization would mean that you don’t go to prison if you are found with a certain amount of marijuana in your possession for your own use. You might be allowed to grow up to a certain amount for that personal usage or it might simply mean that you are put into jail and fined for possession but not thrown into prison and given a prison record. That would be much like a minor traffic offence — too major for just a ticket, but not such that you face judge, jury, and prison time. Here in BC we have decriminalization.

Legalizing marijuana, I would believe could put it in the cigarette and alcohol sort of category… perhaps. though I think harder to control… I guess it is easier to grow pot than even make wine or beer. Growing and curing tobacco is harder, distilling whisky or other alcoholic beverages.

I’m not sure what I would do if it became legalized. I’d be like a kid with a peanut allergy with all the kids running around the playground playing peanut butter sandwich tag.

Note: Since I wrote this, Marijuana is legal in Washington State and a number of other places in the US — though I believe isn’t to be used in public places.

 

 

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What We Have is a Failure to Communicate!

It is 5:32 AM and you are woken by your spouse. They are shaking you and in distress. They are strangely quiet. Even in the half light of early morning their face looks strange and you realize only strange sounds are coming from their mouth — slurred sounds.

As your own mind wakes to full alertness one word bursts into it — “Stroke!”

Please Listen For Dial Tone

Please Listen For Dial Tone (Photo credit: Tweygant)

Trying to calm your spouse you reach to the phone at your bedside and as you try to dial those three digits you never hoped to dial for your family you realize… 911! No Dial Tone! Frantically you check the cords. Everything is plugged in. You rush to the phone in the kitchen, the older one that isn’t cordless and doesn’t have a plug in power adapter. Not only is there no dial tone, there is no light on the dial, and it is strangely dead to your ear. Normally there is a faint echo of your breath.

Luckily you have a cellphone charging on the counter and you can call for an ambulance. You give the operator your address describe the problem and while trying to explain why you aren’t using your regular phone they explain that you aren’t the first — Someone has ripped out a chunk of phone line and stolen it during the night rendering a whole suburban neighbourhood without telephone or internet service. Cable theft

It is something that perhaps you might have expect out in the country but this is something happening in the city and though perhaps you, your friends, your parents, grandparents and aunt Sue have cellphones, many people don’t. These sorts of thefts are becoming more common. Thefts from constructions sites of copper piping and household wiring as well as other metal household components — all sold for scrap metal prices to scrap yards. Recently a whole block in Vancouver had the front garden gates stolen at night as residents slept! At another time extreme damage was done to a charity when water pipe was stolen resulting in flooding and water damage to the offices and stored supplies.

A heap of scrap metal.

A heap of scrap metal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, when telephone lines are cut to a subdivision, then lives are immediately at stake. No telephone means no protection by Fire, Police, or Ambulance. No paramedics will be coming to resuscitate heart attack victims, no utility company to come for a downed power-line — though the utility company would probably notice through other means.

A few times a year now, we hear of someone found electrocuted when they tried stealing metal at a power station — unsuccessfully. Sometimes they are successful of course.

In the “wild west” they used to hang horse thieves. The reason for that extreme form of punishment was that to steal a man’s horse could too often mean that you were stranding them under circumstance that could lead to their death. Perhaps metal theft, in particular theft of power lines, telephone lines, or other utility equipment that renders that utility inoperable should have a commensurate penalty to the potential loss — that being endangerment of human life. I am not speaking of the inconvenience of not being able to surf the web or gossip with your neighbour or watching TV, but being denied access to emergency services.

Something has to be done.

We might start with increased penalties to repel crime and perhaps prohibit the buying and selling of scrap metal except by licensed tradespeople. Increased penalties might deter some, but licensing mostly only deters the honest person and is a complication for the honest trades-person — like a truck mechanic trying to dispose of worn out brake drums once or twice a year.

Still… when the phone falls silent, even in the City of Surrey, the second largest city in British Columbia

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Siege Warfare in the 21st Century

colchesterWho cares about them, they’re only peasants!

When two great forces fought in the dark ages, often it came down to “siege warfare” — where one side or the other or more rarely both would hold up in their fortress and lob stones at each other. They’d wage a war of attrition. The people within the walls living on what supplies they had brought or stored within and what water they might have access too. The people without the walls living off the land which perhaps had been put to the torch by the castle defenders before they closed their gates.

You might wonder where I am going with this short history lesson — we have modern sieges happening all the time around us. Two opponents digging in their heals and waiting for the other side to break… or to break the other side. In the meantime, in the once fertile valley between the fortresses are the peasant farmers — now unable to farm due to the armies trodding upon their fields or burning them. The warring armies often paying lips service that they are doing it all for “the country” “the Crown” “the people” “for God” or some lofty purpose are mostly doing it for themselves in the end, but the people paying for it are the peasant farmers, slowly losing their livelihoods and slowly starving.

ARUNDEL CASTLE SIEGE AND GARDEN (2)Who are the warring armies? Who are the peasants? They aren’t distant armies or nations or starving rabble. I am talking about government and public service workers. I am not talking about whether the workers have a right to bargain or negotiate. I am not talking about whether the government in power has the obligation or right to protect the public interest in the negotiations or whether they are making wise decisions in their budgets. I am talking about the peasants being treaded upon in the meantime with the posturing and the siege warfare while all the so called bargaining and negotiation doesn’t happen.

It is very rough when education is the battlefield of choice. Teachers, or whichever public sector involving the education system happens to be in dispute with government may have legitimate reason for complaint. Government also most likely is having a tough time balancing the budget with many hands grasping for money for shrinking funds and growing needs. But, though in the long run these arguments must play out and solutions must be found, students “live in the now”. I don’t mean that they don’t plan for the future or that they fiddle and play rather than work. Rather, that each year is important.

When I was in my graduating year — grade 12 for me, the year before starting university — there was a “janitor’s strike”. which lasted for a good chunk of the school year. They did keep the schools open for most of that year. I did graduate. But I know many students were hurt by the shortened half days of classes, the loss of any non-class activities that might take place on school grounds. There was also destruction caused by increased vandalism due to many who thought it might be interesting to either accelerate things or perhaps get a day off.

However, I don’t know if it hurt my own education.

I don’t know if it hurt my own education because, I only took Grade 12 once.

ARUNDEL CASTLE SIEGE AND GARDENMost children only take each grade in school once. Even those who might repeat a grade still are only taking that year uniquely and the year they repeat is unique unto itself and taking it a year older is very different from the previous year.

Each year to a young student is important and a priority to that student.

So, “working to rule” and cutting back on non-essential activities really do change the lives of the students in school. The peasants are having their fields stomped on. Perhaps they might still take in their crops. The the crops will have some degree of damage.

True, teachers might be fighting for limits to class size and similar things “for the students”. But, that is for students to come and harming students that are here. Even parents are another army on the field. One of the first things I heard when schools were to be closed for a week was “What will I do about daycare?” — not “How is this effecting my child’s education?” It isn’t every parent or all the time, I am sure, but it was the first thing out of all of the parents’ mouths when asked for comment on the news. I know that daycare is important. But.. although finances are important, shouldn’t the first question be about the child.

Perhaps I am too harsh there as looking out for the well being of the child and worrying about where they will be cared for is important. But it did rub me a bit wrong the way the parents worded it — the wording felt like they were looking at how it inconvenienced them, not their children.

I don’t know the solution. The naive solution was mediation. But, that doesn’t work when both sides pull into their castle and close the drawbridge. IE. Neither side is willing for any compromise.

The only thing I can see is, sadly, looking at the rights of the students first. Saying, “When election time comes, you can encourage the voting population to vote for another party. For now you have to keep teaching those we have entrusted to you.”

Or are there other solution?

colchesterI come from a family of educators with  3 school principals and 3 or more additional teachers numbered among close relatives, not to mention perhaps a half dozen more who have been to teacher’s college. In arguments on whether teachers are overpaid, I normally take the side that they are not overpaid.

But, I feel that the fields are being trampled into the earth and the peasants are starting to hunger.