427. “And what is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”


pictures of weeds

Emerson wrote that a long time ago. Back when you could be original, before all the cool things were said and written. Nowadays it’s a lot harder to come up with more such diamonds of speech, or pearls of wisdom, even rubies of reasoning, or sapphires of sophistication. Opals of … opprobrium. Whoops. I got carried away with all the color and sophistry. Let’s look at some weeds and see how they have either come into their own over time or lost their popularity.

Cannabis sativa comes to mind instantly. It has a long history and a dynamic present. Likely has a rocket’s trajectory for a future as well. According to my five second Google search, cannabis has been cultivated since 8,000 B.C., first for rope and later for its seeds and oil as food products. Around 2,000 B.C. it was used medicinally in ancient China. It was used recreationally and ritually in a wide swath of the Middle East, including Persia and Scythia, while still being used for paper and rope. Perhaps this is where Muhammad Ali came up with his “rope a dope” boxing strategy, sparring with half baked pugilistic partners.

In the early A.D. years it was used as an intoxicant and an anesthetic. Even the famous Greek physician Galen prescribed medical marijuana. The Smithsonian has one of his original pharmacy scripts in storage since the ancient Greek scribbling is not as popular as it once was. Its derivative hashish was known as an inebriant and an aphrodisiac in Egypt. As travel increased, cannabis moved to Europe and Africa. And laws regulating its consumption began to appear. Hemp was legally cultivated all over the southeast United States in the 1800’s. What?

1850-1915 Marijuana was widely used throughout United States as a medicinal drug and could easily be purchased in pharmacies and general stores. And then?  The war on drugs began in 1915. By the 1930’s and 40’s fliers like the one below warned of the poisonous effects of marihuana…. in which lurks Murder! Insanity! Death!

The debate rages on today, even as medical folks use cannabinol oil to reduce seizures in epileptic children,  as well as to alleviate symptoms of trauma and depression in veterans of war’s wanton demons. Oh, it’s been decriminalized and legalized in several states, for sure. But is it still a weed? Let’s go to the dictionary definition…

371. Change the Filter

I have a reminder note above my computer screen; it tells me when to change the air filter in my office building. Every three months is the target. I suppose I could switch it out more often if I were a worrier, but I’m not. The first year or two I didn’t know about the filter, which is located in a large vent in the attic above my desk. Getting to it requires a ladder and the removal of a ceiling tile and a 6 inch layer of fiberglass insulation. It’s not a hard task, but it is dirty and itchy.

Once you breech the attic, you have to pull yourself up next to the vent and pull out the old filter. It’s covered in gray dust like dryer lint. You slide the fresh new filter into the slot and voila!  Clean air for a while… unlike the first couple of years when I did not know about the filter. I learned on a steamy hot summer day that the filter must be changed or else it turns to a solid concrete barrier that shuts down air flow. When the compressor feels the pressure building up, it automatically shuts down. That’s when I called the HVAC guys.

Friendly Mike’s HVAC tech came out and immediately assessed the situation. My heat pump on the roof was fine, but he needed to use the $200/hour  boom truck to get there. The compressor was just locked up due to a pressure switch glitch. Before you knew it, Larry was climbing into my attic and swapping out filters. He showed me the year old filter that should have been changed out four times by then. It resembled a thin  concrete sheet cake ready for icing and candles. If I took it to the bakery for decorating, the attendant would ask, “And what would like to say on the cake, sir?”dirty air filter photo: dirty cabin filter filter2.jpg

“Eejit… that’s all.”

I think Larry got some satisfaction out of my disgusted reaction. “Wow, Larry, that’s a lot of dust, man.”

“Yup, four hundred dollars worth… yuk, yuk.”

I vowed then and there to never let this happen again in my living lifetime.

Larry offered to come back every three months to do this again. And why not? It was nearly free money for him. Foolishly I agreed to the deal. I say foolishly because the next time he came he put in a filter that he charged $12.00 for, plus his service call fee. I watched him do his routine and was amazed at how simple it was. ‘I can do that’, I thought, without Larry’s service call and overpriced filters. I stocked up on filters of the same type, getting 4 of them for $12.00. Then I couldn’t wait for the system to get dirty.

Mummy Mummies preserved bodiesNinety days later I opened the dark dusty attic tomb to look for the mummified air filter. In my one hand was a flashlight, an air filter in the other. I plucked the old dirty filter out of its slide and inserted the fresh clean one. Simple and satisfying. Yeah! Such a mundane action gave me a boost of manly competence. I felt like doing an Old Spice deodorant commercial then and there. “I am the Dust King! Bow to me, Ye Evil Dust Motes.” I replaced the insulation and ceiling tile without too much mess. Put away the flashlight and ladder. Went back to my routines… thinking about that filter. I had saved the lungs of countless hundreds. Though they would never know, dust free air was thanks enough.

Okay, I associate this and that and the other thing as you already know if you’ve read any of my previous posts. I can’t help it anymore than your kidneys can stop purifying your waste water or your liver purifying your blood. It’s in me, man.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a mental filter you could change periodically, one that would catch all the crap of life and keep it from recycling through your brain? How often do you make a mistake and feel stupid for a really long time afterwards as you perseverate on the error? I’m not talking about murder or Wall Street Ponzi schemes here. I mean something as simple as missing your trash pick up on Monday morning. You just forgot it Sunday night. Oh, and it was also recycling pick up day, so you missed that too. You feel stupid and even less than competent because you failed to do something so simple. For the next week you walk by the trash containers and feel stabs of guilt and embarrassment. “I’m a moron. A loser.” The overflowing receptacles seem to mock you as you try to ignore their smell, height and girth.

“This will never happen again,” you vow to the squirrel on your deck.

And we have other mental filters that get dirty, filters of guilt and shame, even pride and self interest. A wise young woman named Angela once told me that she had to choose between her divorced parents, who had been at war with each other for her entire life. Freedom and low maintenance were available at Mom’s home. At Dad’s there was contention and constricting rules that suffocated her. He would not listen to her reasonable and logical requests. “My house, my rules. My way or the highway. Do or die.” He was a binary thinker; black and white were the only colors he acknowledged. She wanted to escape Dad’s control, knowing full well that Mom would switch the script once young Angela moved in with her.Image result for black or white pictures

On the other hand she worried about her younger siblings left behind at Dad’s. He hadn’t been the tenderest or most patient father to them when she was present. What would happen to them in her absence? His new wife would be unavailable for months, she knew. Everyone else in her family seemed to be entitled to go on pursuing their lives and livelihoods, but Angela was constrained to stay behind and pick up their messes. She loved each of her family members but not their messes, the blaming, the tough love, the high drama, the double standards. She just wanted to filter it all out somehow without hurting any of them. Every so often she would get so full of pain and anger she felt she would explode and vaporize. She needed a filter change.

Drugs and alcohol were out. Sex too for now. Just too complicated and hard to control. She settled on cutting herself in a neat 3x 4 inch rectangle across her abdomen with a new razor blade. She then cut vertical lines across the short side and horizontal lines across the long side until she had her bloody drama filter. Finally it felt good to breathe again.

“This will never happen again,” she swore to the empty room.

277. Godless Zealots…the real reason

I can’t make sense of the Isis zealots or any other zealot group that kills  human beings due to a difference in ideology. There is an old cynical saying that goes like this: “People usually have a real good reason for what they do; and then there’s the real reason.” Isis claims to be crusading to create a new Caliphate in the land of Syria and Iraq by destroying every inch of the land they roll over; kidnapping, ransoming and beheading foreigners; raping and torturing young girls; murdering those who won’t align with their evil; throwing homosexuals off public buildings; destroying priceless, irreplaceable artifacts; selling stolen oil on the black market; and so, so much more. All in the name of Allah and Mohammed his only Prophet. That Alla Akbar mantra is the supposed good reason for their catastrophic actions. The real reason, however, seems to be a power grab and a money grab. Ransoming western foreigners pays well, apparently. Taking sex and taking life seem to be a big turn on for these desert weasels. I wonder what exactly they will have “created” once the smoke clears. Temporary riches for those with the biggest weapons? Maybe a political post in Iraq or Syria after some negotiations and further lies? A reality t.v. show? Rebellions and coups seem to earn big dividends for some rebels, and not just in the Middle East. In their wake these sand bandits have destroyed the land, the economy, culture, art, education, government, and any hope of their return.

Like their idiot cousins the Taliban in Afghanistan, these folks face backward in time to some imaginary pure era when their ancestors were in ascendancy. They can’t seem to get their Neanderthal  brains around the concept of history moving on, or of society changing. Isis is all about what you can’t do… cult think. Can’t think. Can’t disagree. Can’t live in peace. And what you gotta do.   Gotta convert or die. Gotta kill or be killed. Gotta pose for cult videos. Life is so cheap where these extremists mingle. Their end goal of an Islamic Caliphate will be a radioactive crater devoid of human life, I think. Their Caliphate will be absolutely black and white and unpeopled like the surface of the moon. Only the shadow of death will remain in its ashes.

A caliphate is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph —a person considered a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community. The Rashidun caliphs, who directly succeeded Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim community, were chosen through shura, a process of community consultation which some consider an early form of Islamic democracy. During the history of Islam after the Rashidun period, many Muslim states, almost all of them hereditary monarchies, have claimed to be caliphates.

Image result for ayatollah khomeini picturesHi, I was the Ascerbic Ayatolla Khomeni of Iran, not Sean Connery in a funny hat.

On the other hand I wonder what has unleashed these sand bandits. It’s ironic that when there were gigantic tyrants running things, Gaddafi/Lybia, Saddam Hussein/Iraq, Mubarek/Egypt, Assad/Syria, things were a little more predictable. There was a bad order in place, but at the least it was a form of order. They were like the late monarchs of Europe who did not go gently into the good night. Now it’s unbridled chaos. Ironic that chaos followed the outbreak of “democracy fever” during the Arab spring that began in 2010. Even more ironic that the U.S. attempted to transfuse the ideals of American democracy into septic Arab veins. The Result?  Absolute chaos, murder, and mayhem and a march toward genocide.

By January 2015, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia,  Egypt (twice), Libya, and Yemen (twice); civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq,  Jordan, Kuwait,  Morocco, Israel and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, OmanSaudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine. Weapons and Tuareg fighters returning from the Libyan Civil War stoked a simmering conflict in Mali which has been described as “fallout” from the Arab Spring in North Africa.  [Wikipedia]

Let’s begin with Moamar the Arrogant. For 40 years he ran Libya as his little fiefdom of terror.That’s a whole lotta shakin goin on.dekHe and his fellow clowns were despicable despots. They even looked evil. How is it possible that tyrants seem to look alike? So smug and arrogant.

 I am Saddam unbowed/ Iraq.

I am Mubarak the somnambulant/ Egypt
 We are Two tyrants for the price of one.
In the power vacuum left behind these toppled dictatorships, bands of thugs seized the opportunity to claim power and authority with their weapons blazing. You know Revolution swept across Western Europe in 1848. Back then it was led by the new middle class and peasants against monarchy, the dictator/tyrants of that time.  Lots of folks died, but democratic reforms were birthed. Something new was created amid the slaughter. Those revolutionaries were not trying to go backward in time to harsher monolithic life. They sought all sorts of freedoms that the West eventually came to enjoy, but the West simultaneously developed industry, education, and technological advances.
The Al Qaeda/ Isis/ Taliban posses don’t seem interested in any of these things unless they go “BOOM!!”. I don’t mean the boom of mining or excavating a water project.  Their Booms lead to annihilation. Their end game?  To stop the beating heart of humanity and not restart it. When zealots rule, there is no reason involved nor can they rule for long. Only bloodbaths of emotion are permitted… because tyrants , after they kill off God, always eat their young.