09 March 2011

"Herbal Dispensaries"

As another medical marijuana dispensary sets to open in my neighborhood I am suddenly struck with curiosity about where we are with all of this stuff. Apparently you all passed a law 12 years ago (while I lived out in Oregon) allowing people with certain conditions to grow and smoke their own weed, but didn't think about how people who can't grow it themselves would get it (at this time it seems my own chronic condition is not listed as one of them, darn).

So fast forward and apparently we have roughly 120 dispensaries in Washington state which are not exactly legal, yet. Some were raided as recently as last year and the press around trying to shut down these dispensaries (and the harsh tactics employed by police, including overdoing it a bit and busting people who weren't even involved in them to begin with) has pushed that issue back to the state legislature hoping for clarification. SB 5073 looks to be well on it's way to becoming law with the latest version is now before the house committe on health care and wellness for more revisions probably.

With that being the context, my question is this: if the goal of THIS law is to fix the original 1998 initiative which didn't address certain issues that apparently need to be clarified to provide a safe and secure manner for legitimate medical users to get access to a safe, quality product, does this bill really do that?

The bill goes a LONG way to fix the problems with the original law, but it does not address one major current problem at all: non-medical users are attempting to obtain the stuff grown and processed for sale solely to medical users by fraud and in some cases violent acts (I wouldn't think theft would necessitate violence, but perhaps once you cross the line of breakin the law, the fear of consequense raises the stakes a lot more). Pot farms and dispensaries have been burglarized presumably by potheads too lazy to just grow and process their own illegally like they used to.

So fast-foreward ten years into the future if SB 5073 becomes law and you will have police still busy chasing and prosecuting people for vandalizing, burglarizing and potentially harming those who are trying to stay within the limits of the law by excluding these people from obtaining their product. I don't think anyone will like this, though perhaps some of society will dismiss it by looking down on those who engage in the business of growing and manufacturing "useable cannibas" and "cannibas products" for medicinal use as greedy opportunitists who are just getting what they deserve.

Still, the concern that needs to be addressed is that if cannibas is safe (or can be made in a safe, trusted way) for medical use, it is certainly also safe for recreational use and the problem of recreational use remaining outside the law needs to be considered carefully before we embark on a costly experiment that may indrectly cause harm to those involved (I mention costly because the state is proposing using the department of agriculture to license growers and producers and requiring them to be tested regularly for the quality/grade of product, though presumably the state will also tax the sale and recover some, all or more than the regulation of the pot industry will cost).

Please comment, complain, or just make a lot of noise if you feel that you need some attention :)

Read the latest version of
SB 5073 yourself
Last months
Seattle Times article
Augusts Weekly Volcano feature article
Octobers Volcano article

14 September 2010

any given tuesday...

I have been making a weekly pilgrimage to Portland for six weeks now. I won't get into all the reasons why here as I have another purpose for this post. Suffice to say on one of these occasions I ran into a man in the library I knew I recognized but given the years I needed a moment to recall his name. Finally it came to me and I went to say a proper hello and ask him what was really burning in my mind to know; "have you heard from Ysu?"

Imagine my surprise when he said he had received an email from the long-scarce Dr Umbalo not three weeks ago and that he believed our old friend to be in town as we spoke. I was early for my engagement so I asked for the number where he might be reached and made the call. After a moment he came on the phone and the shock of seeing my old roommate who has not been on the North American continent for over six years set in.

I drove out to his sisters house and we grabbed a cup of ice cream, then dropped him off at a meeting he had previously scheduled and went to mine. Of course he was in the northwest for more than just a whirlwind tour--there was an agenda afoot in fact--so I was able to see him a few more times before he flew back to the DRC (in Southern Africa). Still, greater than the joy of seeing an old friend I thought I might never see again there is the renewed purpose we had spoke about several years ago which he has been already undertaking in the years since.

Dr Yumba Umbalo is a family practitioner in the Lubumbashi, Dem Rep of the Congo. He established the M Soma Clinic there in a city of approximately two million people. Think of Lubumbashi as the San Antonio of the DRC. It sits about an hour from the southern borders and is about as densely populated. However, the city (last I heard) had only three hospitals and limited medical infrastructure supporting the practice of doctors like Ysu.

There are many dreams Dr Umbalo and I share for his work there. I have had tentative plans to go help him expand sustainable diagnostic testing in his clinic (and perhaps for other practitioners nearby as well) as well as training personnel to see that through. He would also like to see his clinic grow from a small practice (two physicians and a few nurses) that already operates 24-7 to a more fully equipped urgent care center to providing trauma care and perhaps eventually becoming a multi-service medical center.

Many of these dreams are a long way off, but the need exists now to expand access to treatment for HIV, TB, Malaria, and enteric diseases to name a few. Prenatal care is also often neglected by the poor and remotely located populations.

I will be helping Ysu write as many grant proposals as we can in the next year and beyond to target as many of these needs as possible, but I also hope to spread the word now that the M Soma Clinic is open and in need of your support. While in the US, Ysu shipped a 20 foot container with donated equipment and supplies from Portland to Lubumbashi and that need will continue. We hope to raise another $10,000 specifically to send a completely full 40' container around the end of the year. The network already exists and the supplies are waiting stateside for a new home, all that is needed is the ability to transport them to the other side of the world.

I also want to send you to the Mercy and Care International blog where you can follow their work directly and make donations anytime you are able. Stay tuned for much more to come...


22 July 2010

with regards to candidate David Hedrick's...

Occasionally I digress from the mundane doings of my own life to share my thoughts on politics here. I have done so for big elections, why not the smaller but still significant races here at home? Some friends from my hometown are rallying behind the young conservative David William Hedrick from Southwest Washington and I feel it appropriate to share my assessment of what he has said in the press here, rather than in short Facebook comments that could easily be misunderstood. For background, please read the article from the Columbian where Hedrick was posed presumably the same six questions asked of his opponents in the race for the 3rd Congressional District of the state of Washington (includes Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum Counties).

In regards to the first question concerning economic recovery, I believe him correct in his assessment that government does not create private sector jobs but believe he dodged the spirit of the question. Politicians of both parties including George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton (and the congressional houses that straddled those years) are responsible for NAFTA and later CAFTA, which is also indirectly responsible for the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs south of our border. He later rhapsodizes about border security, but I wonder if he understands how we dropped the ball in opening up our borders to allow our own corporations to operate their front offices on Wall Street, production in Mexico or Panama, and supply chains from China and abroad without facing any financial penalties for such business practices. We used to tax imports heavily which encouraged companies to produce at home as much as was reasonable and provide us with private sector stability, but now we financially encourage most of what you and I consume to be made anywhere but here.
Sure the government itself does not create jobs, but policies have the power to stimulate new markets, manage supply chains and production, reign in unethical business practices and schemes designed to defraud consumers, and set product safety standards to keep our families safe. Let's not forget that our economic floundering is a direct result of government inaction while our manufacturing sector exported jobs and our financial services sector built a house of cards (read derivatives) full of ill-conceived mortgage backed securities that in reality had little or no value except the value they claimed and then attempted to guarantee with AAA ratings. Then when it all fell down they asked our government to bail them out while insisting their bonuses were guaranteed--not tied to performance or competence!

The second question is about the Columbia River Crossing. The background here is that I attended a meeting next to the Hayden Island Zupans (now out of business incidentally) in a Yacht Club where a Portland City Council member and a Washington DOT representative hosted a Q&A about multiple proposals that would go forward to citizen groups on both sides of the border for feedback. This meeting was in September 2006, four years ago. At the meeting I learned to my surprise that the Crossing project was fairly far along already. There were 3 major plans on the table: another larger bridge with light-rail service to downtown Vancouver from Portland, a tunnel (also featuring light-rail), a bridge that bypassed Hayden Island which would then be accessed from smaller bridges to Portland (decreasing congestion caused by Washingtonians getting on and off the freeway to take advantage of tax-free shopping at the first exit they saw on the Oregon side).
Virtually all proposals raised the height of the bridge deck to that of the 205 bridge and moved access points on either side further from the Columbia itself by necessity to accommodate the height. The question being raised to the citizens of Hayden Island was whether or not they wanted to keep their direct link to the interstate artery or opt for a smaller connection via the Oregon side and try to discourage the island from becoming a truck-stop/shopping district as it had recently become. Most of the attendees liked the idea of less island traffic, but didn't really want to have to drive further to find their way north or south. Everybody wants to have it both ways apparently. The other item on the table was Wal-Mart. Yes, Wal-Mart wanted to move onto the island that had already seen it's charm diminished by easy-to-access tax-free shopping right across the bridge from downtown Vancouver. Basically most of the attendees of the meeting wanted to protest Wal-Mart (as well as myself and my financial services industry colleagues who brought me there). Our interest was to keep a tax-free Wal-Mart just a little further down the road and a little further out of reach for our neighbors on the Washington side.
I think we were trying to keep Vancouver from suffering from more retail exodus which was already holding property values back in the first place. Basically the representative also on the Portland Development Commission informed us that while the PDC was not a fan of big-box retail, they had no specific authority to tell property owners they could not build or sell to Wal-Mart or others like them, but that they could zone the island in a manner that would limit the size of any potential retailers like Wal-Mart by the traffic capacity limits the island already was suffering from exceeding. That was the connection to the Columbia Crossing project. Limit the access to the island and discourage big-box retailers from making the island their home too by making the next exit or two more desirable than theirs.
Hedrick's assessment of the Crossing project is an oversimplified one concerned more with who pays exactly how much than what the people of his district in Clark County need and want. I lived in Vancouver in 2005-2006 and tried to make a go of it in the mortgage brokerage business and from my experience Clark County is a simple sleepy bedroom community of bridge commuters who mostly work in Portland and very nearly truly live in Clark County. Vancouver does have a port and it's downtown is almost a shadow of what Bellevue, Tacoma or even Everett are to Seattle, but the dissonance between the tax structures on either side of the bridges limits what Vancouver is and what it can become.
Vancouver has no income tax, but it does have a sales tax. Some businesses that do not produce anything cleverly set up shop on the Washington side where their employees can earn slightly more than if they crossed the bridge for a paycheck, but production stays on the Portland side where their wares are not taxed if sold in state. Look for a vibrant retail sector in Vancouver and you will find only struggling businesses that are at the mercy of their neighbors willingness to opt for convenience rather than tax savings across the bridge. The general rule of thumb is for small purchases it is acceptable to stay close to home, but for major ones cross the bridge and buy in Portland instead because the tax savings is real and significant. Car dealerships get a break because Washington requires the tax be paid on any car purchase to license the car in Washington and because neighbors WILL rat out each other if they catch you with Oregon plates. The fines are heavy.
Basically Hedrick seems to focus on something I find odd, light-rail. He presupposes that Vancouver does not want it. I can tell you they very much DO want light rail if it connects to the system Portland has already built, but without the crossing it cannot connect. Portland has already built the system up to Hayden Island and paid for it completely without Clark County taxes (unless you count the payroll tax of employees who chose to live in Washington even though their jobs remain in Oregon). Once the minor detail of a new Columbia Crossing is dealt with, Vancouver can set up it's own light-rail system which they have already planned for incidentally and run it North and East of downtown Vancouver, even likely reconnecting across the 205 bridge which could easily manage a lane reserved for light-rail which would connect near the airport.
The details of whether to merge the Clark County light-rail system with Tri-Met's system has not been agreed on and currently Clark County has it's own bus system which runs across the river to interconnect with Tri-Met bus routes, but the two systems could merge if the governments would only agree on how much each would contribute to the collective kiddy since the system would inevitably receive some tax-payer funded subsidy (realizing that conservatives hate this of course, but I believe governments must divert taxes to help fund things that are good for us even if we wouldn't take the pill otherwise).
In a nutshell, build it now and pay a reasonable amount from Washington state taxes, though that won't be his role if elected to Congress anyway.

Regarding energy policy he seems to favor fossil fuels like any other conservative over innovation and renewable energy sources. I don't think progressives who want our government to push us (yes using tax money to motivate private-sector willingness to invest in new energy technologies) towards responsible and sustainable energy truly believe this conversion will happen overnight, but we simply believe it must be done because we cannot afford to delay any longer. Our needs will continue to expand and the availability of dirty-fuel will naturally diminish over time. We may never completely cut the cord with oil and gas, but we have to shift towards wind and solar as much as possible, even if it never sustains all our energy needs.
I am currently reading Pugetopolis, written by another Northwest native who calls himself a "mossback" which might as well read "conservative" (though his ideology likely differs from Hedrick in many ways) at least in the sense that he wants to limit population growth in this beautiful land we call Puget Sound to preserve its beauty and protect our ability to continue thriving here unharmed by the consequences of our love for the land. I have yet to see how the mossback proposes we achieve limits on population growth without implementing things progressives and conversation alike distaste such as government mandates, regulations, growth boundaries, density limits, environmental regulations that effectively shut down most industry and drive jobs completely away, or perhaps forced sterilization or secretly engineered periodic plagues.
I think growth is inevitable and we will have to manage both density in our urban centers and outward expansion. We will have to say "this is as far as we will go" and "this is as dense as we will allow certain cities to become" and once we reach those limits we will have to consider telling people "please stop moving to Puget Sound, have you considered Montana or British Columbia? I hear the Canadians are very nice."

To the next question, I agree that the bailouts were wrong and I said so when Bush was still in office and both he and Congress tried to tell us we had to do it even if it was a bitter pill to swallow because our entire financial system would fall apart if we didn't. I disagree with Hedricks assertion that government created the crisis in the first place through excessive regulation. Unless you believe Bush was a regulator, government was not excessively monitoring or regulating our financial markets. Again, I tried to work in the mortgage business in 2006 and the only regulation we operated under was driven by the banks themselves which haven't seen major new regulations since the FDIC was established in the wake of the last depression. Basically all I needed to work as a loan officer in the state of Washington was a $200 course given by any of a dozen online companies sponsored by the banking industry to learn how the mortgages themselves worked, how to evaluated credit worthiness and how to sell the products.
The state of Washington got into the game by requiring loan officers be licensed later that year and discovered that half of those at work in the mortgage business now applying for licensing were formerly convicted felons. Well I don't have a statistic source for this, just heresy in the business as I was leaving to find something I could really make money at (2006 was the height of the bubble here in our state if you remember, it all came crashing down in 2007-2008 when the defaults were pouring in thanks in part to increased private sector job losses). Basically what I witnessed was that there was no system requiring loan documentation. No-doc loans were given out to those with high credit scores while the systems used to generate those credit scores were kept secret by the private companies who collected that information (for profit) and sold it to the private financial services companies needing some way to evaluate consumers ability and likeliness to repay. I watched while those with high scores took advantage of the system to get multiple loans simultaneously, shuffling assets around and hedging their bets that the loans would fund before any knowledge of the other loans being taken out could circulate back to the other banks considering funding loans for the individual.
For example, someone working in real estate without stable income (but with a few years--or even months--of good sales) could dupe a bank into believing he was good for a $500K loan. A shrewd person could convince 3 banks at once for three different properties. It was all about timing. These people were betting on one thing, property values will continue to rise. They knew the properties could not rent for the actual amount due each month, they would just take a modest loss each month and when the properties were a couple years old, claim they lived in them and avoid capitol gains taxes when they sold them for 20% markup. The more valuable the property the more potential for profits.
The problem is that while they were doing this others were being told to falsely claim they made $6k/mo while they really only made $3k/mo. Why? There was nothing on the market for the person making $3k/mo unless they had a huge down payment and the real estate agent and loan officer couldn't make money if the property can't sell. Everyone at the time knew the market was inflated above what average middle-class borrowers could afford and everyone was looking for an angle. I simply refused to participate in fraud, so I didn't make any money during this time and had to go back to work in healthcare instead.
Of course if you were clearly committing fraud you could go to jail for doing so. The problem was the only way the bad loan comes up on anyone's radar is if the person defaults. If a particular loan defaults the file could be requested by the bank servicing the loan. If the bank found discrepancies between what the borrower reported to them and what was in the file, they could investigate the loan officer and/or broker, but all they could really do is file a suit against the brokerage to recover losses or transfer the loan to the brokerage. If this happened to a particular financial company it could drive them out of business, but they could simply wiggle their LLC into bankruptcy and start over in another town or down the road with a new mortgage company name.
The banks masked the problem by bundling up loans and selling them to wall street. Wall street broke them up and bundled good loans with bad ones to make the whole lot of products more appealing to investors. Then came the derivatives; securities backed by securities backed by securities backed by actual real property that had actual (inflated) value on the market. I sat in once while a salesman pitched us the idea of paper notes that claimed a person had equity in a property (based on an appraisal that would no-doubt seek out the highest "comparibles" to establish the greatest amount of equity) in excess of other liens on said property which would then be held in trust in the persons name as an investment which a bank would then loan money against to other banks in the overnight market of banks borrowing from banks to remain solvent during business hours. Basically fake money used to create funds which would be loaned at a high rate of interest overnight and repaid in the morning so everyone's books balanced the next day. The interest (minus a "small administrative fee") would be paid to your trust account which would in turn increase the amount the trustee could lend the following night on your behalf turning your $50K worth of equity in your home into another $50K in cash assets in a matter of a few months presumably.
The point here is that the market creates all kinds of wild schemes. The government in this scenario is not the problem unless it is overtly allowing such behavior to consume everyone with visions of easy money without sweat, blood or toil. The proper role of government in these matters is to monitor the financial markets for actions that place citizens' investments at risk. We blindly trust Wall Street to work FOR us when in reality they use our money to work for themselves. I saw this first hand in the mortgage business as real estate and financial services professionals used clients to line their pockets as fast as they could so they could build their own portfolio of property holdings. They circulate lists of "notice of defaults" and foreclosures among their guilded community of back-scratchers so they can collectively pounce on the supposedly undervalued properties before the average person has a chance to stumble on a good deal--in part because stories of below-market-value homes on-the-market would deflate values which is the one thing nobody in the business wants to see happen--that is until it happens anyway and they realize they can even make money off that!

Regarding the question about immigration. Well I could go on about that as easily as I have everything else. Basically I understand where he and the rest of the Border-Security advocate's are coming from. I can see everything they can see just as easily. The litmus test I have for him and others like him is how far would you go? Which border are we talking about securing here anyway? Which peoples are we trying to prevent from entering this country illegally? Would he be surprised to know the only person I know for a fact is an illegal immigrant (because he told me as much) is actually from Europe? He isn't taking any job you or I would otherwise have either, unless you are someone who is willing to do day labor for friends at half whatever the market supports for similar work when performed on-the-level. Basically the only work my friend can find is construction work from people who are essentially do-it-yourself remodelers needing an extra hand but unwilling to hire unknown day-laborers from the temp-worker companies that do actual background checks and handle paying taxes, etc on behalf of the client and the worker.
My friend reports that while the community of his nation of origin here in the Northwest seems friendly toward people in his situation, they are in fact quick to take advantage of their native countrymen and offer them no real help establishing themselves here. His story? Well, he came here chasing a girl who strung him along and eventually cut him loose without enough money to get himself back home and no legal status here to find legitimate work for which he is qualified for and skilled at.
My question here is whether or not he is even sincere in his convictions about illegal immigrants. Our entire economy feeds on the existence of a cheap labor source that doesn't ask for more than a small amount of cash money--no benefits, no social security, no taxes paid on their behalf. I ask if Hedrick is willing to use our federal government to go after the people who are willing to exploit illegal immigrants and create the demand that keeps them crossing all our borders in high numbers throughout our countries history. He seems quick to call the immigrants themselves criminals simply in the act of crossing an imaginary line, but does he also consider those who exploit them criminal in seeking to evade our tax laws in pursuit of cheap labor? People so easily tainted by their desire to earn an advantage afforded them by having the means to participate in a post-slavery form of enslavement?

On the last question regarding the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, I essentially agree. President Obama did not create either war, but inherited a problem he seems uncomfortable administering with conviction and conscience. I am in favor of complete withdrawal but we must realize each circumstance is unique and requires a nuanced approach. In Iraq, I believe the people are ready to take leadership and our withdrawal might create temporary instability, but the situation that created the conflict in the beginning is long over. We can and should leave the peace-keeping efforts there to a combination of coalition forces and their own citizen based police and armed forces. We must limit our involvement in Iraq as soon as possible.
With Afghanistan I believe our involvement there must continue longer, potentially indefinitely. We essentially created a problem a long time ago there by half-heartedly supporting their fight against the Russians, destroying their infrastructure and economy in a far more serious way than we have in Iraq. They were never able to completely recover and the rise of the Taliban there is testament to that. Immediate withdrawal there will only result in the Taliban's return. The people there need a chance to rebuild their own government and wean themselves from the fear they have suffered under so long. This might even require a troop surge there. We also must eventually find Al Queda there and put the men who really did plan those attacks on us 9 years ago on trial for their crimes. Removing the head of that organization will go a long way in easing the fears of the the peoples of Afghanistan allowing them to once again resist fundamentalist religious control of their population. Without Bin Laden incarcerated and the Taliban's supply chain permanently dismantled they will always fear the Taliban too much to lead in their stead.
While there is no political gain for any candidate to say so, I believe we owe it to the people of Afghanistan to rebuild their country after 30 years of war which we have essentially always been partially responsible for.

I have not familiarized myself with anyone else running in the 3rd district. I feel it is time to find out about my own next, but I will certainly post on anyone else in the 3rd district to offer some contrast if and when I learn of them.

07 January 2010

so this is the new year...

This year is starting off slowly so far, but with promise. I know so many people who are down on O Nine that it has caused me to stop and think about the past year in a slightly new way. I am not sure I would ever wish it away so callously myself though.

First off, I found myself single again this last year. I am not new to being a bachelor, but I wasn't really expecting it or prepared to know how to rejoin the ranks of the thousands of lonely people in the city of destiny once more. So it took some adjusting, but at year end I think I can finally say that I am happy being single and maybe for the first time ever. Maybe I didn't fully appreciate my freedom when I didn't know anything else--maybe I always took for granted that I could do whatever I wanted and failed to ever want anything right and proper.

So I'm not really angry about being left behind. I suspect we would have grown apart eventually any way so I can't blame her if she was able to figure this out ahead of me. I've been there before myself, knowing I couldn't continue with someone long before they were able to reach that place themselves and it stifles you. You start to feel trapped between your desire to be free to go after whatever you please and not wanting to fail or disappoint, but eventually you must accept that you cannot avoid it.

I made a new friend in O Nine, and then he shot himself a few months later. The Deets as I call them are not completely known to me, but we were out drinking with friends and I couldn't get him to use me as a safety net that night. Then I got the shocking phone call from another friend late the next afternoon that he had died. I still think it was an accident where the alcohol was a factor. I just don't see him as having been suicidal, even that particular night. Still, I hope it is a reminder to us all that life is a gift and we must cherish all of it, even the times that challenge us to hold onto ourselves. I suppose a tragedy like this might make me wonder if it was worth it to get close to someone just before they died, but what I take away from this is that if becoming his friend was always meant to be a risky thing, I should take more such risks! I don't think friends are ever in surplus and really getting to know people is always worth it, even when it costs you something.

Since Ian's passing several of his long time friends have been gracious enough to keep in touch with me. I am really grateful that they continue to think of me. I never think of myself as the easiest person to get along with, so the fact that they genuinely care about me is another gift of O Nine I wouldn't want to easily dismiss. I will admit it is hard to be around them because it just reinforces the notion that he should be there too. It feels that way to me at least, so I know it must feel that way to them. Still, without them I would be driving myself up the wall so I think I can deal with the occasional awkwardness that comes with it all just fine.

The revelation of being with them is learning more about the person I barely knew, the person I thought was so different from myself and through them, finding out that maybe we had a lot more in common than I ever thought before, whether it be the dark, dry sense of humor or an appreciation for good blues music. Maybe the thing we had most in common was that we just liked lots of different kinds of people, whether they be obviously amiable or more subtly so. There are just so many different kinds of people out there with something to offer that might take you by surprise. Take a minute out of your day to talk to someone new and wait to be knocked over by something you couldn't possibly expect.

One of the challenges of O Nine was being continuously asked by my employer to bend more and more all year long. I started the year finally being given the opportunity to leave night shift by taking a split shift, half day/half swing if you will. It didn't sound perfect, getting off work at nearly 8 pm isn't my notion of ideal long term, but as much as I don't have kids yet, it is at least a move toward normalcy. Then someone suddenly we were short somewhere else and I was shifted over to cover which meant I worked later than I was supposed to almost all year as well as getting fewer hours and gradually losing the vacation time I had just started building up.

Still, while taking half of my days (and by days I really mean evenings) more away from me than I would like, it did leave me entirely free the rest of them. So I started getting out more. I caught some ball games, some live music, and a few other things I find interesting or amusing. In this sense O Nine finally brought me a little free time and fun. I've had free time before--it was called unemployment though and it stunk because I was always broke! It's nice to have free time when you are still getting paid!

So I got out. I did it. At various times this year I have felt more myself than I have ever felt in my life. I suppose you could say I felt closer to my purpose, but I'm not one of those weirdo's that goes around speaking of a purpose for life aside from the one you make for yourself. Still, you know when you are living your life as you believe you should and when you are faking it. Looking back on the last ten years I can say that there were always moments when I've felt connected to my passions, but still in the larger sense still disconnected--sort of like seeing, feeling, but not fully immersed.

It gets really complicated to explain it more than that. I wouldn't say I'm fully immersed in self even now. I know I could do so much more, but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. I'm making the kinds of connections I want to make with the right people. It's more organic than before. The most amusing part for me though is that these things seem to be coming together for me at a time where I felt so helpless and lost, almost as if I couldn't control anything about my life at all.

I think what it comes down to is that I've completely surrendered any notion of trying to do life by anyone else's expectations or standards of measure. I no longer feel that I need the structure of organized religion or even the randomness of disorganized religion in my life. Maybe I'm just talking gibberish here, so I'll move on...

I found myself miserably ill at year end, but I did force myself to attend a party, where in the middle of my cough-syrup-and-vodka induced haze I came to the realization that everyone I knew at this party I had met in O Nine. The point is I feel pretty good about O Nine and that makes me feel even better about One O. Sure a friend and I were discussing the finer aspects of being a LG in the C; my observation being that it might be hard to let myself get caught up in a new relationship given it sometimes feels like my instruments are all needing recalibration, but I'm foolishly optimistic nevertheless. Who needs to know how everything ends before they enjoy the beginning anyway?

So this one took a little longer to write than I thought. So much else to do before I visit the sandman!



16 December 2009

oh how i've neglected you far too long...

Tonight was my Friday, my last, except that I volunteered to work a couple day shifts Thursday and Friday so I really only have one day off and slightly less than that considering I work all the earlier the following day. So I lay here playing my game in the dark after running into some friendlies briefly after work. I have wanted to say something but sometimes it isn't easy to know what to say.
Hey world! I know you're there. Maybe you're not listening right now, but I'm still here. My pulse is strong and my voice still breaks when I can't find the words...

Well so much has happened since my last post. A lot of morning and finding new routines which I am happy to report I will soon have to change! All signs point to my being able to finally move back into my regular shift by the end of January! I guess they are even tossing around the idea of letting me start work an hour earlier. That part isn't settled yet, but I think they also want me to only work every 4th weekend. That might just be enough to get me to stop applying for day shift jobs elsewhere! That is enough of that for now though...

So conversating with friends we got back to this topic that pops up every so often; which is loosely based on the question of who would be on your top 5 list of celebrities you would want to sleep with if you had such an opportunity, guilt free, even in the context of a relationship or marriage--a free pass if you will. The assumption is always that your partner has their own list and you've agreed to them. Typically this conversation takes place lightheartedly because there is just no context where you would get to meet the 5 people on your list and if you did, you're already making a major assumption that they would even be willing to play along.

So apparently my top five list tends to confuse people a bit. I'm not sure I have settled on my five, but Tina Fey would definitely be in the top 3 and has been ever since her Weekend Update days. It was a really big deal at the time that she co-hosted with Jimmy Fallon and then Seth Meyers. They hadn't had a female do Weekend Update since Jane Curtin if I'm not mistaken. So she's funny and smart, possibly not in that order. Oh and it doesn't hurt that she's very attractive either. So she has the trifecta and we'll forgive the fact that she's someone's mom for now because that's not my particular fetish just yet.

In coming up with a number two I'd stick with the funny fem theme and that leads me back to Janeane Garofalo originally but she fell out of the spotlight long enough that when she came back she just didn't do it for me anymore. I guess she's always been a bit older than me, but I didn't realize just how much older until she had a chance to age another 10 or so years. That really only leaves Sarah Silverman as a potential candidate but her wit and humor are clouded ever so slightly by her tendency to appeal to the lowest common denominator a little too quickly in pursuit of the laugh. I would prefer to be the dirty mind even in my one-night-stand fantasies thank you. I guess I'm not totally given into pure feminist ideology enough for her. But that voice she does for Crank Yankers gives her honorable mention.

I think for my 2nd person for the top 5 I am going to go with Sarah Vowell. She's not really much of a celebrity, except when she is promoting her books. I don't know too many authors who make the impression she does when interviewed by Letterman or O'Brien. I don't really know exactly what it is. She's always a bit nerdy, but in a very ballsy sort of way which I find really hot! Go on, be smart and let your freak flag fly Sarah, and if we ever meet at an airport bookstore, I might still have a key to sneak out onto the apron and find that one place where the camera's don't find you!!!

For my third, it's really very easy. I've always had a thing for Natalie Portman ever since Beautiful Girls. I don't know how old she is there, but she PLAYS thirteen going on thirty-five. I know she's a little too obvious and I should be spanked for picking a Star Wars alumnus for my top five, but as long as she gives the spankings I don't even mind.

From there it gets a lot more difficult. There isn't a lot of room left. I have two choices left and they better be good. I haven't picked a redhead yet. What if the condom breaks? I would hate to waste my seed on someone without a single freckle at least! I always thought the band-geek from American Pie was hot but Alyson Hannigan kind of doesn't do it for me anymore. Maybe it's because they made her a brunette for "How I Met Your Mother." In that event the only thing she really had going for her was the ginger. So in an attempt to find a better redhead I came to Patty Griffin. I'm not sure exactly how old she is but I saw her once on Austin City Limits and for an older woman she's really quite striking and I really should have someone with strong pipes on my list. Hopefully she's a screamer!

Finally I feel the need to include an older woman, significantly older. I'd like to think even after all this there is still something left to learn from someone with the kind of experience necessary to pass this wisdom on to my generation! Who would that be? What about someone who also has red hair and that tell-tale streak of silver that marks her as an oracle of sorts. Yes I am talking about that Queen Diva, Bonnie Raitt. I've always loved her secretly, so why not enshrine her on my list? The truth is, she could be my blender at any age!


Sorry, I got a little excited. That is so unlike me. Well, I really only shared the list because I might try to write a script for a nice dark romantic comedy where such a list lingers as a minor arc in the narrative of love acquired, neglected, nearly lost to foolish deeds, and finally realized all the more through the trouble. Of course that's what would sell. I'd also love to leave my protagonists dangling from their own ropes and audiences a little queasy from being manipulated so much.

Time for some tunes...

Peace, love and happy birthday Jesus (hey soos),