Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Does Your Garbage Mountain Grow?

Last year I did a post around this time of year, about the landfill next to our property and showing the amount of waste that blows off the trash heap and onto our farmland and the lake we both share. This is one of the pictures I took on April 22, 2009.

I thought I would go take some more pictures around the same time this year and try to get an idea of how fast the mountain is growing. So these pictures are from yesterday, about one week later than last year. They were taken from the same general area so you can see just how quickly willows and trash heaps grow.

Interestingly, the pictures look like they were taken on the same day but I promise, it was WAY colder last year. It actually snowed as I was walking back from taking the pictures. This year it was merely cool and trying to rain (luckily, we got some of that today).

At this rate, it is terrifying just how large this thing could get and I cannot believe that people don't seem to find it distressing. I guess it's just far enough out of sight of most to be out of mind as well.

This panorama shows the whole damn thing in all its glorious splendor.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bicycle Day (Not Your Kid's Bike!!)

To some people, April 19th is known as Bicycle Day. It was on this day in 1943 that Dr. Albert Hoffman performed the first self experiment with LSD, having discovered it years earlier and accidentally discovering some of its effects the day before. Under the supervision of his lab assistant, Dr. Hoffman ingested an amount of LSD after which he and his assistant bicycled to Hoffman's residence. Upon this "trip" home, Hoffman began to come under the full effects of the psychotropic and so this day holds significant relevance to LSD enthusiasts and all manner of psychedelic thinkers and activists.

A couple of years back, I stumbled across Hoffman's "LSD:My Problem Child", a chapter of which included entries about the accidental discovery of some of the psychotropic effects which he discovered rather accidentally, his intention to perform an experiment in order to delve further into these effects and then of the experiment itself.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Hoffman's journal entry for this experiment shows its commencement at precisely 4:20 pm. Reading the journal, I found this fact interesting because 420 has been a marijuana reference for some time now.

I did not actually recall that the experiment had taken place on April 19 until just today when I came across this NY Times article about Hoffman's death in 2008. The article shares Hoffman's determination that LSD had opened his mind to the importance of truly connecting with nature and our place as humans within nature, that this connection had begun when he was a child and been reinforced and developed through psychotropic-assisted spiritual work.

I find this so fascinating because my own life experience has been so very similar. I had strong connections with nature and an inkling of the importance of balance as a child, but after my first year or so of college I was very much in a space of giving up on humanity, of feeling that all was shot and I might as well have the best time I possibly could before it was too late. But as I have written before, what began as recreational use of psychotropics very much evolved into spiritual reflection and a real sense of the importance of expanding my consciousness. The earliest manifestations from this evolution were to remember that connection to nature, that sense of being part of a very large and very complex system of relationships and a sense of the importance of exploring these relationships and my own consciousness.

I have not read much of Dr. Hoffman's words, other than that chapter, but the NY Times article is filled with quotations that are so similar to my own thoughts and interests. I shall have to find more of his words to read and I think that Bicycle Day will heretofore be of immense importance to me.

Peace and comfort, all.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Of Those Moments

Wow, I just learned that Jack Herer, author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" and perhaps the Grandfather of the modern hemp and marijuana movement, passed away on Thursday, the same day as my granny. And my last post before yesterday was on that very topic, the first time I have written about it specifically.

Talk about coincidence.

RIP Hemperor

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Night Rambling

As with so much of the world, we continue to get very odd weather here in NW Alberta. In our case, this odd weather is manifesting as well above normal temperatures. After a very warm and early spring, we had a short return to normal conditions (around +10C in the daytime, but with very cold winds, and then freezing pretty hard at night), but yesterday the weather shifted into June-type conditions. We nearly reached +20C and today we almost hit +25. I admit that it is absolutely beautiful but this is also rather disconcerting.

If we do not receive a fairly significant amount of moisture throughout the next 4-6 weeks, I fear there will be very little crop this year...if any. We could manage a year with no grain crops, although it would be a harsh blow, but I am not sure we could make it through the winter with no hay.

I am often told, or it is suggested, that I shouldn't be so pessimistic. I appreciate the sentiment and the concern for my mood, but I also know that I don't intend or even like to be pessimistic. My pessimism comes from active observation and assessment of what is being observed, and a desire to move forward from as rational and balanced mindset as possible. Having said that, I do realize and accept that I must find a way to channel as much of the resulting energy as positively as I can, and to release the remainder so that it does not build up and weigh me down.

This is not always easy.

Especially living here where most people just bask in the extra heat and do not realize where it is heading (especially as Peak Oil seems more and more imminent), where most people are concerned pretty much only in themselves and their immediate present. It amuses me that so many of these same people then flock to some church for a couple of hours on Sunday, looking to fill that empty part of themselves that they spend the rest of the week avoiding.

I do not mean the church comment to encompass all those who attend church though, or who belong to some faith or church or what have you. The passing of my dad's mother yesterday (turns out she wasn't made of steel after all), and the subsequent increase in interaction with the many Protestant Christian members of my family and its circle of acquaintances has provided plenty of reminders, both from the past and the present, of the real good and selflessness that I have also seen in the Church.

It has also been a good reminder to me of what I believe is the main, yet most often ignored/forgotten, tenet of Christianity...forgiveness. I think all "faiths" have something to offer, and this is Christianity's real message.

Perhaps that is enough rambling for tonight.

May you be at peace and in comfort now Granny, and may the rest of us find them both as well.

Monday, April 05, 2010

My Relationship With The Marijuana Plant

I've had a relationship with the marijuana plant since I was basically 20 years old.

I always heard that pot was pushed on kids, especially since I had an aunt who was a teacher, but never once was it pushed on me. When I was about 15 years old, some friends on my hockey team offered to smoke a joint with me but when I wasn't interested they were content to smoke in the bathroom with a towel at the door. Now I know why but at the time I thought they were just being very respectful of my wish not to take part...and they never bugged me about not joining either. They were part of the rougher crowd, their parents partied, they partied, they listened to ACDC, Quiet Riot and that kind of thing...I don't think my parents would have wanted me hanging around with them outside of hockey but those were some good guys as far as I'm concerned.

In high school I was sort of an outsider, I was friendly with several cliques but not really a part of any of them. My only social activities were sports and school dances, for the most part. And I was pretty set in my mindset that pot was the same thing as magic mushrooms was the same thing as cocaine was the same thing as heroin, etc etc.

Once I moved into town in my second year of college, I finally had the freedom to spend as much time as I wanted with the group of friends I was developing. These friends came from different backgrounds, more or less well off, some professional parents, some more "working class", but most of these friends had been big partiers in high school and continued to do so in college. I hadn't been able to join in in high school, but I could in college. I learned that they had been smoking pot and sometimes eating magic mushrooms in high school, usually at the odd weekend party at someone's house. From what I had been told by those in "authority", I thought these people would all be junkies and skids by now but many of them were honors students who have now become doctors of this and that, or engineers or teachers or various other typically respected careers. I started to think that perhaps things weren't as black and white as I had been told.

So when I told a small group of good friends that I thought I might try mushrooms sometime, I didn't really know what to expect but they all suggested that I expect to laugh a lot. I won't share the whole story but it was a fantastically fun and laughter filled night that I suspect I will remember for the rest of my life. No damage was done, other than some mustard on the walls.

But when this night didn't leave me insane or drooling with madness in the need for my next fix or suddenly aching with the desire to step through the doorway to cocaine or heroin, I started to think that, at the very least, someone had not been telling me the entire truth. As such, when my roommates knocked on my door a few nights later to ask if I wanted to smoke a joint with them...well this time I was willing to give it a try.

I know, I know..."that's the doorway, you idiot" is what some people might say, so at this point just let me say that in all the 16 or 17 years since then, and for all the times that I have had all different sorts of illegal narcotics offered to me simply because of my looks and my profession, I have never been tempted to try any non-naturally occurring narcotic since then. No cocaine (although I cannot even count the times that I have been around it), no heroin, no crystal meth, etc etc.

I suppose nicotine from cigarettes should fit into that category and I did smoke them from around 19 until a year ago, so I should list that in the interests of honesty. And I should also add that I did try LSD twice in that first year. But I didn't like the fact that it was not naturally occurring or the fact that if someone made a mistake in the lab in making it...I and my friends could, realistically if not very likely, go insane.

I liked the fact that nature created these plants and this connection with humanity. Even though I was consuming them solely as "recreation" at the time (an odd term since it generally involved plenty of sitting), I could feel the deeper connection that they offered. I could feel a significant spiritual aspect to these plants. I could feel my mind opening, and not full of holes but really opening in terms of empathetic capacity and things like the ability to better grasp complexity. I was becoming more aware of systems and patterns rather than individuals and moments. Basically, I could feel my consciousness expanding. Granted, experience itself was a part of this...but these plants helped with how I was interacting with this experience, and how I was integrating it.

In retrospect, I am thankful that I was guided away from experiencing "psychedelic" plants until I was more developed as an adult. I still believe that imbibing these chemicals, even though they are natural, before a certain age and without the right kind of guidance, really can be very harmful. I think our personalities need to be more firmly established before we start fine-tuning, as I see psychedelic experience to be.

But my intention is not so much to write about psychedelics but about marijuana itself.

I wanted to know more about the effects of the plant so I took what chances I could find to read or otherwise learn about the plant and its effects. I learned about a whole intricate web of possibilities that the marijuana plant offers, outside of its psychedelic effects. I learned that it is perhaps the most resilient plant on the planet, capable of growing in a great variety of climates. I learned about its nutritive potential, that its seeds are far and away the most nutritious of the cereals. Anyone who spends some time looking into the nutritive qualities of the hemp or marijuana seed will likely soon find themselves thinking that they seem almost ideally designed for our dietary consumption. Then there is the fiber, which many people are starting to learn to be perhaps the strongest natural fiber on the planet. There are literally thousands of potential and significant uses for the marijuana plant, and its non-psychedelically active cousin hemp.

And we haven't really begun to explore the health potential of marijuana. It seems that the two main strains of marijuana, sativa and indica, each have various potentials so that crossbreeding to produce various mixtures can offer different qualities such as pain relief, appetite suppression OR stimulation, anti-depression, etc. In time, I hope to be able to do some research into these possibilities...or at least to see someone else have the chance to do this research.

I really do feel that marijuana offers an awful big part of our salvation, and perhaps that of the planet.

Here's a nice little video on this subject. I have been meaning to share it for quite awhile now. I re-watch it every couple of months.

I could likely blabber on about this for paragraph after paragraph but I think I'll stop here for now.

Peace and comfort, brothers and sisters. And grow more pot!!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Et Tu, Jon Stewart?

Typically, I am a huge fan of The Daily Show and of Jon Stewart in particular. Over and over this program has cut through the preponderance of bullshit out of the US federal government and the mainstream media. Particularly enjoyable for me was the raking over the coals of Mad Money's Jim Cramer, especially in regards to this interview:

So it has been with great frustration that I have watched the program offer rather one sided support of the "health care bill" that was recently passed and signed. I realize that The Daily Show is not meant to be a real news program yet it has set itself up as, usually with good reason, a source of bullshit-less information...albeit rather limited. But even with the nonsensical arguments offered up by Republicans, fueling the fire of ignorance in so many brainwashed types on the "far right" and causing a good amount of discontent among many more level-headed types, which obviously needed to be ridiculed...I still cannot believe that the very real problems with the legislation were ignored by The Daily Show.

Here is an interview which explains these problems in a far more cognitive manner than this economic layman could:

I guess it was just too easy to pick on the nonsensical opposition, than to share the reality that this legislation is left wing cover for directing money and even more power from the people to the big insurance companies.

Still, it's disappointing on multiple levels. And if I missed where he or his program took the opportunity to share this information...well then, my bad, and my apologies. Otherwise, no Bill Hicks are you!