Tuesday, December 30, 2014

34 #TwitterDummies clogging my inbox

A few of my articles get published in various online newsletters, all of which have the same format. I get notifications that X Daily is out, with a few writers mentioned. The mentioned writers will often retweet or favorite them.  When they do, I send them an introductory tweet: “I’ve stopped being a #Twitterpig!:  http://current-news-you-can-use.blogspot.com/2014/11/ive-stopped-being-twitter-pig.html #writer, #SocialMediaMarketing” 

I got one on December 29th from Jason Sullock @UK_Marketer:  

I was pretty sure it was my #TwitterPig article, and it was.  I sent him my standard follow-up of “Thanks for publishing #TwitterPig!  Would you rather read about: #water; #gardening; #litter; #homeremedies or #marijuana?” And I continued up my e-mail list.

It was followed almost immediately by a block of 34 Twitter notifications from people with all-lower-case names, which I had noticed previously because it was so weird.  It got weirder once I started opening them.

They all had American first names and Russian last names.  They were all favoriting the above tweet, in which none of them were mentioned.  None of them had any bio or follow information.  Their photos sometimes didn’t fit their names.  I know this is common, but these seemed particularly wrong, like first names, last names and photos were randomly chosen by a computer. 

I sent out a few tweets to these accounts before I decided that they were dummies.  I started just looking at profiles, which takes considerable time, to confirm my suspicions.  I have to admit that I did not look at all of them, because it was tedious and I kept seeing no exceptions.

At first, I thought that these dummies must have been made up by Mr. Sullock to amplify his advertising.  But considering how annoying all of these dummy favorites were, that would be silly, especially since his chosen writers would be the ones most annoyed.  So perhaps they were the work of an enemy, following his notifications and then having a troop of dummies favoriting them to annoy all the people he'd notified.

When I last looked, there were 54 “favorites” attached to that tweet. I expected another 20 or more dummies in my inbox today, but I am thankful to see that they are not there, just the usual people responding to my Tweets and perhaps a few more followers and mentions.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Letter to Oregon Legislators regarding marijuana Measure 91


Honorable Representatives,

Reading the Oregonian, I found an article regarding OLCC’s request for emergency funding to hire regulators, and the following opinions of the reporter and one legislator:

“Monday’s vote was a sign that some lawmakers have reservations about the state’s new marijuana policy.

“Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, highlighted what he sees as excessive possession and home cultivation limits in the law.  Households can have up to four marijuana plants, and individuals 21 and older can possess up to 8 ounces at home and one ounce away from home.

“’There are some major, major, problems in this ballot measure,’ he said.”

There are major problems with this measure, though not that the possession limits are excessive.  On the contrary, they are so limited, and the law so misunderstood, that people may lose their homes just for trying to keep enough weed to supply their own households.

To start with, that 8 ounces of dried pot, a mere half-pound, is the household possession limit, outside of which the household is subject to licensing and punishment for not being licensed, with can include, at the discretion of the arresting officer, seizure of anything having to do with marijuana and eventual confiscation in the case of conviction, including facilities for the storing, serving, or using of marijuana items.”  In the case of homegrown, that includes your home and the property on which it sits.  All possession limits in this law are for a household, except for the ounce one is allowed to carry in public, and is allowed give away to another household.  

When it comes to homegrown, one has to think in terms of growing one crop per year under natural sunlight and how much a person needs to get through a year, which is about 8 ounces for one who smokes only in the evenings.  Four plants can easily grow 2 pounds.  What are we supposed to do with the rest?  

But ½ pound is not enough for every household, as one household can have several adult marijuana users.  This is especially common among the poor.  We should be able to grow and keep enough for ourselves to avoid paying that $35 per ounce retail tax.  You don’t want to continue to impoverish poor families over their medicine, I am sure, nor take their homes for supplying only their own habits.

I was wondering how anyone would think that these low possession limits would be excessive, and I can only think of the fear of feeding the out-of-state black market, since it will be dead in-state if we are allowed to keep enough weed.  But a black market feeds off of bans, restrictions, limits, and high prices.  It is killed by freedom, abundance and low prices.

That is what has been happening in much of the state for the last few years with medical marijuana.  Most people who grow too much pot for their own use, with or without a medical card, don’t have the time, money, and out-of-state connections to sell it outside the state, even if they had the interest.  Most of the newer growers in the state have no such interest; they are risk-averse, which is why they got a medical card or stay under medical limits.  So they give away or sell their excess cheap to their friends and relatives. 

Anyone with grower connections has had few problems getting their smoke cheap or free; the ones who need this law are people without such connections or a medical card that allows one to buy from medical dispensaries, which are convenience stores selling at the old black market price.  One used to be able to find weed by asking any scruffy kid on the street.  Now the price is too low, and needy customers too few, to interest kids in selling it.  The adults stuck in the black market have moved on to selling hard drugs.

I cannot imagine that you want to keep pot restricted enough to make everyone buy from retailers in order to make money off of its taxes.  But if you do, it will only revive the black market and the state’s oppression of poor pot smokers who will keep enough for their households and even be tempted to sell their excess in a revived in-state black market.  People will likely lose their homes under the present limits.

This measure was apparently written by tobacco companies for tobacco companies, to take over our pot growing; that is why the heaviest regulations and all that ridiculous per-ounce tax are on the growers.  Some will lose their farms through regulatory violations, and out-of-state corporations will snap them up, since there are no limits on the number of licenses one person/corporation can buy.  That is one of the first things the legislature should change.

There is a severe and unwarranted mismatch between the personal possession limits on medical marijuana and household limits on homegrown so-called “recreational” marijuana.  We should be able to grow and hold as much as any medical card holder.  If that becomes the case, many medical card holders will drop their expensive medical cards and simply grow their own or buy it in stores.  Some will keep their cards because they can’t grow it and they want to avoid the tax.  If prices in retail pot stores fall lower than dispensaries supplied only by medical growers, OMMP will become obsolete as people stop renewing their cards.

OMMP limits started out at 3 ounces, and were raised by the legislature to enough to supply a heavily medicated patient for a year, 1 ½ pounds, along with comparable amounts of edibles and hash oil.  This measure is supposed to put recreational marijuana on the same footing with alcohol, yet we are allowed to possess up to 200 gallons of alcohol per household without a license.  This is one reason why we don’t have a black market in alcohol, the other being that the taxes are not too high. 

$35 per ounce is too high and inflexible.  As competition and abundance drops prices, it could end up being over half the price, which would give the black market a ceiling under which to operate, as it is doing in Washington and Colorado.  Taxes should be a percentage of the price, a sales tax at the retail level, and the price should be allowed to find its natural bottom, to keep the in-state black market from being revived.  Revenue to the state should not be an issue, except in not allowing local taxes.

Liquor taxes are shared with local governments, who are not allowed to tax it, but are allowed to spend their share however they wish.  But this measure allows marijuana taxes shared with local governments to be used only for enforcement of this single law.  Such devoted funding will lead to over-enforcement by locals and revival of the black market.  These shared taxes should be treated like shared liquor taxes, and let the state look to its own enforcement of its licensing rules.  Otherwise, local voters may well ban licensing in their counties and cities, in defense against over-zealous enforcement against homegrown, since tax sharing depends on the number of licenses granted in the jurisdictions.

As for the out-of-state black markets, let other states look to their own laws, and kill their black markets by legalizing.  It is not a concern for Oregon voters, and shouldn’t be for the feds.  The solution lies with the states which ban it.  The ban was never justified and should be repealed nationwide.

In summary, please increase possession limits to be the same as OMMP or better; limit the number of licenses any one person/corporation can hold; change the tax to a low percentage rather than a flat per-ounce charge, on retailers rather than growers; reduce the reporting requirements for growers; and allow local governments to put their share of taxes into their general funds.

Thank you for your attention to these matters.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener       541-955-9040       rycke@gardener.com

#Pot is my #antidepressant #medicine:  http://current-news-you-can-use.blogspot.com/2014/10/pot-is-my-anti-depressant.html #marijuana, #cannabis, #homeremedies

Thursday, December 11, 2014

SOS/CUS Levy Petition Drive Kickoff

Put This Event On Your Calendar!
Giant Kick-Off Gathering and Rally
LAUNCHING the Citizen-Led
Petition Drive to Put a Public Safety Ballot Measure
on the May 2015 Josephine County Election Ballot
When:        Tuesday, December 16, 5:00 to 7:00 PM
Where:       Wild River PUB, Grants Pass
533 NE “F” Street 
(Across F Street from the Wild River Brewing & Pizza Co.)
What:         ·  Overview of the Petition Drive by citizens leading this action
·  Answers about how your neighbors are taking action to solve 
    the public safety crisis here in Josephine County
·  Food (no cost) Pizza, Salad, and Fruit
·  Drink Sodas (no cost) & Cash Bar (you pay)
Learn:        What’s the Latest and How You Can Be a Part of the Solution!
Brief Remarks by:
·         Scott Draper, Co-Founder, Community United for Safety
and Owner/Manager, Club Northwest in Grants Pass
·         Jim Goodwin, Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Center, Josephine County
·         Dave Daniel, Sheriff-Elect, Josephine County
Speakers Introduced by:
·         Jay Meredith, President, Securing Our Safety (SOS)

·         Linda Scott, Campaign Manager, Community United for Safety
and Securing Our Safety (SOS)

For Information about the campaign
and about the non-profit organizations, local businesses, and individuals joining together under this banner, please visit our website at 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I've stopped being a Twitter pig

I've been tweeting for a couple of months now, and I've figured out a few things.  I've stopped being a Twitter pig.

A pig eats nearly anything, and that is what I was doing.  I was following anybody who followed me, and anybody who was suggested to me by Twitter, with very few exceptions.  My Twitter notifications become too many, and my Twitter feed was filling up with some really nasty junk.  I was also getting too many Direct Messages wasting my time with spam, mostly selling Twitter followers or music.

I now don't automatically follow anybody who follows me.  I don't even necessarily respond.  I go to the site first and decide if I can stand what they are tweeting.  Really bad English and cussing turns me off.  So does sex and nudity.  So does selling Twitter followers.  Hip Hop musicians were a major source of bad English, cussing, sex and nudity.  Sellers of followers are everywhere.

If I decide that a new follower qualifies, I tweet "Thanks for following!" and add a teaser with hashtags and a link to an article.   If one is not following but is merely a prospect, I leave off the thanks.  I still don't follow until one responds by replying, favoriting, or retweeting, which also brings a "Thanks for" the response, and another teaser and link.  This seems to eliminate auto DMs.  Replies get answered first, and then I reply again with a new article.

I have a lot of writing on several subjects to spread around: water use; litter philosophy; gardening; home remedies and 33 Marijuana speeches.  I have lists of articles on each subject, each article followed by a list of people I've sent the link to.  I look for a clue on a person's site to choose the subject of one's first tweet.  I send them out in their listed order to those who respond.  I might favorite or retweet a tweet from one's site while checking one out, if it appeals to me.

I'm not on Twitter to read tweets; I tweet links to my writing for others to read.  It seems that most people on Twitter are tweeting rather than reading, advertising whatever they are selling.  Relatively few are actually reading, but they are everyone's target audience.  

Most readers probably skip over obvious ads unless they are actually interested in the product.  Too many ads and too little interesting stuff probably gets over-advertisers unfollowed by such readers, so it pays to retweet interesting tidbits to keep up reader interest.  But if one is putting out interesting stuff like News You Can Use, Twitter can be very effective at building an audience.

 Following all comers was wasting my time on people who were not responding to my writing.  Sooner or later, I will probably unfollow those who have never responded and would not qualify to be followed now.  I will be watching my feed for objectionable material, unfollowing and muting those I don't like.

If one actually wants me to read a tweet, one has to use my Twitter handle.  For that reason, I send out very few general tweets.  This article will be one.  It will be interesting to see who responds.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The State of Marijuana in Oregon

Oregon was the first state to vote in medical marijuana, in 1998.  Enough people now have medical marijuana cards that the in-state black market mostly collapsed several years ago.  One used to be able to find pot by asking any scruffy-looking kid on the street.  Not so anymore; the kids are unable to make money at it anymore without taking it out of state, and most kids are not able to do that.  

As the street market collapsed, clinics became convenience pot shops for medical users, charging black-market prices, because selling it was illegal.  For several years, we had clinics and large grows being busted for selling instate, out of state, or trading pot for trimming buds.  They were often busted because people were caught taking large quantities on the road, heading for other states or home.  In some cases, narcs bought pot at the clinics by the pound.  Thus, people realized that selling was more dangerous than giving it away, and the market was further depressed.

After recreational marijuana was passed in Colorado and Washington but voted down in Oregon, the legislature allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to be licensed.  It seems that stoners with connections to growers in Oregon were too comfortable with being able to get their weed cheap or free to go for taxes and even light regulations.  

Meanwhile, those without connections, who are new to the state or the part of the state that they were in, are shut out, as growers had plenty of people already to give it away to, and many are taking their excess out of state or to the convenience clinics and dispensaries.  Since the dispensaries are limited to medical card holders, they are still charging black market rates, just to keep the doors open, probably.

Now we have Measure 91 on the ballot, a bill apparently written by tobacco companies for their profit and for people who don’t like marijuana, but would like to take taxes from it for their schools and regulate it so tightly that the taxes can be high.  It allows a household to grow only four plants and possess only a half-pound, a pound of marijuana edibles, and up to 72 ounces of “liquid marijuana,” which can only be glycerin extract, going by the definitions in section 5, and the prohibition of other extracts in section 57. 

It also mandates that all Oregon police enforce this law, and gives local governments a cut of the taxes only for enforcing it.  It mandates as the primary punishment that they confiscate any marijuana “items” when they find violations of the licensing, including violations of these “homegrown” exceptions to licensing in Section 6, which put one under the licensing requirements if one goes over those limits.  Those “items” include “facilities for the storing, serving, or using of marijuana items.”  In case of homegrown, that means your home.

If this passes, poor people who live several adults to a household will lose their homes because they will get caught keeping enough pot to cover their own household’s use.  Some who support the measure say that we can lose our homes now and the cops won’t know and can’t get a warrant to search without reasonable suspicion.  But legalization should mean that we don’t have to hide our weed or worry about being busted as long as we are not selling it.  

Measure 91 would make people criminals and perhaps homeless just for keeping enough for our own use.  It will pay our police to bust us for over-possession, taking them away from stopping real crimes.

What is most interesting about this campaign is that the paid ads and editorials against Measure 91 are few and unpersuasive to anyone who isn’t totally against pot already.  It seems as though it is token opposition, designed to get people to vote for it, not against it.

#Measure91 can #TakeYourHome.  @AnRycke

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener              541-955-9040              rycke@gardener.com

Friday, October 17, 2014

Measure 91 can take your home: Marijuana speech 34

Honorable Public Servants,

If Measure 91 passes, people will not just be busted for growing and storing enough pot for their own use; they will lose their homes to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.  The measure allows 4 plants but only 8 ounces of “usable marijuana,” dried bud and leaf, per household, not per adult.  8 ounces, a half-pound, is enough per year for only one person who smokes only in the evening.  The poor often must live several adults to a household, and we need to grow by sunlight, which allows for only one good crop per year. 

The exceptions to the licensing rules, listed in Section 6, also restrict a household to one pound of marijuana products, like cookies, and 72 ounces of liquid marijuana, which can only be vegetable glycerin extract, the only exception defined in Section 5 to “marijuana extracts,” which are forbidden in Section 57.

If your household falls outside of these exceptions to licensing in Section 6, you are subject to the licensing rules.  Without a license, you are automatically violating those rules, so being caught with too much marijuana or its products subjects you to the penalties for violating sections 3-30 or 45-70. 

Those penalties start in Section 64 with confiscation of “marijuana items,” which are any items that have anything to do with marijuana, including, in Section 64 part 3, “facilities for the storing, serving, or using of marijuana items.”  In the case of homegrown, that is your home and the property on which it sits.  OLCC will sell your home and other confiscated items and give the proceeds to the Common Schools fund.

Section 63 mandates that “state police, sheriffs, constables, and all police officers in the state of Oregon shall enforce sections 3-30 and 45-70 of this Act and assist the [OLCC] in detecting violations…and apprehending offenders.  Each such enforcing officer having notice, knowledge, or reasonable ground of suspicion of any violation…shall immediately notify the district attorney…”

Police will have funding from marijuana taxes and fees dedicated to this purpose in Section 44.  After OLCC takes its cut, 15% goes to state police, and 10% each goes to cities and counties in proportion to the number of marijuana licenses in their jurisdictions, which funds can be used only for enforcement of this Act.

So our local sheriffs and police will still be underfunded for fighting real crime and nuisances, but they will have money dedicated to revenuing on behalf of OLCC, and a mandate to do so.   We are better off now, without such dedicated funding to oppress us.

Marijuana Speech #34, to the Josephine County Commissioners, 10/22/14.
Online at http://current-news-you-can-use.blogspot.com

#Measure91 can #TakeYourHome.  @AnRycke

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener              541-955-9040              rycke@gardener.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vote No on Measure 91! Marijuana speech 33

Honorable Public Servants,

As I told you last week, I have resumed smoking marijuana in the evenings after work.  I found that, after two weeks without it, I was progressively more depressed, to the point where good things that happened to me could not lift my mood.  It is my anti-depressant; that’s why it became my drug of choice and caused me to lose my taste for alcohol when I smoked it in college. 

I have read Measure 91 in the Voters Pamphlet.  It seems to be written by the tobacco companies for their profit and for people who don’t like pot but want to tax it for their benefit.  Look at the endorsements in the Voters Pamphlet; it includes many people who formerly were stridently anti-pot.

The proposed tax is a black-market-sized markup at $35 per ounce, paid by the growers.  It will revive our in-state black market, as unlicensed growers will easily be able to beat the taxed price.  Some licensed growers will also be tempted to sell part of their crop untaxed.

The limit on private possession is only ½ pound per household.  A half-pound per year is only enough for one who smokes only in the evenings.  It will oppress the poor who grow by natural light, and must often live several adults to a household.  It allows sharing only one ounce at a time with another household, so one could not efficiently give it away to friends and relatives legally.  And yet the 4 plants allowed can easily yield 2 pounds, so poor people will be busted for possessing too much, while only trying to supply their own household. 

It seems to be written for out-of-state corporations like tobacco companies because it allows an unlimited number of licenses “per person” all along the chain of production, processing, wholesaling and retailing, and “persons” includes corporations.  With the high taxes and heavy reporting regulations, it will allow out-of-state corporations to take over our legal pot market.

It also includes a definition of “marijuana extracts” that specifically excludes vegetable glycerin as a solvent, but is non-exclusive regarding other named and unnamed solvents, extracts of which are forbidden.  Glycerin is used in nicotine vaporizing mixtures and can be used for vaping extracted cannabis resins as well.

We who like our weed and/or hate the black market should wait for a better offer.  We are allowed to make up to 200 gallons of alcohol per year without a license.  Marijuana should not be more tightly regulated and taxed than alcohol.

Marijuana Speech #33, to the Josephine County Commissioners and Grants Pass City Council, 10/15/14. Online at http://current-news-you-can-use.blogspot.com

#Measure91 will oppress the poor and enrich corporations.  @AnRycke

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wait for a better offer on "legalizing" pot

Letter to the The Daily Courier


As a daily pot smoker, I will vote against Measure 91.  It allows only ½ pound of dried marijuana per household, barely enough for one user who smokes only in the evenings.  This will allow police to oppress the poor, who often have to live several adult consumers to a household.  It likewise allows one to give away only one ounce per recipient, restricting sharing between households.

The tax is too high at $35 per ounce, and can be raised at any time by the OLCC, which will have a conflict of interest in regulating a product that directly competes with liquor, which it sells in its own stores. 

The regulations are too tight.  Failure to file a monthly sales report would mean that the state would file for one and demand the tax they think one should pay.  Penalties for other violations are draconian, including forfeiture of all property in any way connected with a marijuana business, up to and including one’s home. 

It also allows unlimited licenses to “persons” all along the chain of production, processing, and sales, allowing out-of-state corporations to take over our commercial pot business, because such regulations are easier for big corporations to comply with.

This is written to bribe and mollify those who dislike pot.  We who like it should wait for a better offer.  We can make and possess up to 200 gallons of alcohol without a license.  Allowances for home growing and gifts of pot should be similarly generous.


Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cashews made my arthritis worse

About 6 weeks ago, I stopped eating cashews because I thought they might be contributing to inflammation and thus causing the arthritis that was making me think I had to give up gardening professionally.  My symptoms immediately began to ease, and I was able to stop taking cayenne to control them.  I still have sore muscles from overuse at times, but not the pain that caused me to eventually use a full teaspoon of cayenne every day, which caused other painful symptoms as it came out.
I had been eating about a half-cup of cashews nearly every day with my lunch for the last 10 years for their vitaminB17, AKA Laetrile, which supposedly wards off cancer.  It was a good excuse to eat an expensive but favorite nut that I saw listed in the sources of this vitamin.
I had occasionally been having arthritis symptoms in my hip before I changed my lunch from tomato juice with a half-teaspoon of cayenne and a yogurt, to sesame-chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and cashews, and taking orange juice, cranberry juice and cayenne (Crazy juice) first thing in the morning to ward off the arthritis with cayenne and keep bladder infections at bay with cranberry juice.  The combination of cayenne, tomato juice and yogurt was causing heartburn as I bent to my work.  Cookies and cashews worked better for my stomach, but I eventually had to give up cookies to preserve my teeth.  I started making sesame crackers instead, eventually figuring out that sesame had clearedup my sun spots.
A few years ago, I had a bout of Lyme disease from a tick bite and ended up with swollen, arthritic joints in my hands.  I cured that with oregano oil, but the arthritis remained and got worse from working with scissors and litter grabber.  I had to increase my cayenne intake to a teaspoon a day, causing its own distressing symptoms. 
After a bit of heart pain, for which I now carry nitro pills to take if necessary, I started thinking hard about what might be causing all of this inflammation.  I remembered what I’d long known, that cashews have urushiol, the irritant in poison oak and poison sumac, and that their nuts have to be roasted to be edible.  I am allergic to poison oak; perhaps some urushiol lingered in the lightly roasted nuts I was eating.  So I stopped eating them and my arthritis soon cleared up to the point that I could discontinue the cayenne, though I still need cranberry juice for my bladder.
I then searched “cashews, inflammation” and found a lot of articles saying that cashews don’t cause inflammation.  No smoke without fire; they would not need to deny it if there was not a problem with cashews and inflammation in some people.

Special October supplement
Gardening is easy if you do it naturally.  Litter is tagging, marking the territory of the disorderly.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener              541-955-9040              rycke@gardener.com

Pot is my anti-depressant: Marijuana speech 32

A month ago, I told quite a few people that I had quit using marijuana for good.  I was feeling worse instead of better when I smoked it.  It seemed that, instead of losing my high as had happened in the past when I smoked too much and too long, I was staying too high for comfort, as though my aging body was unable to clear the THC from my system and I was building intolerance rather than tolerance.

I told this to various groups because I am the most famous pot smoker in the county, after 10 years of street protests against the Drug War, 31 Marijuana Resolution speeches to the Board of County Commissioners, and another felony pot conviction, tied to my protest.  It ended in May 2013, when I decided that I had won my point after two states legalized pot.  Being a locally notorious celebrity, I had nothing to lose by letting people know that I was quitting for my own good reasons, and I owed people the truth.  I also thought that, by being so public about it, I would not go back on it.

Being so public about stopping meant that I would have to be even more public about resuming my use, which frankly is a lot harder, as I am disappointing people who love me and were happy I quit.  I cannot live a lie and not be myself.  A cover-up would definitely be worse than this so-called crime.

So I stand before you to tell both you and your audience that I resumed smoking pot in the evenings a week ago.  The first two weeks after I quit, I was fine, except for exceedingly vivid and memorable dreams and difficulty sleeping.  But over the last two weeks, I became progressively more depressed, and my mood could not be lifted by good things that happened to me, especially by the end of the day.

I remembered that I had been a depressed teenager before I started smoking pot in college.  I also had vivid nightmares and difficulty sleeping before I became a pot smoker.   I knew that pot had saved me from becoming a social drinker; I was drunk at a party when I started smoking it, found my drug of choice and lost my taste for alcohol.

My dreams no longer haunt my days and I sleep well again.  Most chronic pot users, I believe, depend on it to ward off depression.  It’s our medicine.  Governments should recognize it and stop punishing us because we take our medicine.

Marijuana Speech #32, to the Josephine County Commissioners, 10/7/14. 

#Cannabis is my #antidepressant; we shouldn’t be #punished for using it. @AnRycke

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener    541-955-9040      rycke@gardener.com

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Keep food and drink cool with water

You can keep food and drinks cool on a camping trip or in an emergency without ice or a refrigerator, using the powerful cooling ability of water, which evaporates at 41 degrees, and therefore can cool stuff to 41 degrees, regardless of air temperature, as long as relative humidity is not 100%.
Take a jug of water.  Put it in a shallow pan.  Cover it with a towel, and let the ends of the towel lie in the pan.  Pour water over the towel and fill the pan.  The water evaporates from the towel, which wicks more water from the pan, cooling the towel and the mass of water beneath it eventually to 41 degrees F, the point below which water stops evaporating.   Theoretically, one could cool a box of food by setting it in a bigger box and covering it with a wet towel that lies in water in the larger box.  I cool and keep grapes and melon slices fresh, moist and free of flies by covering their bowl with a wet towel set in a shallow pan of water.
One might think that standing water would likewise cool off to 41 degrees, because it evaporates.  But it has a smooth surface with surface tension, allowing relatively little evaporation compared to a towel, which has a rough surface with lots of surface area to evaporate from, and no surface tension.  Towels are made to suck up and evaporate water efficiently. 
Standing or flowing water also sucks up heat from the mass that it is sitting in or flowing over and holds it in its mass, so a low-running creek or river or standing water can get warm, because it does not evaporate faster than it soaks up heat. 
The water cycle that makes summer thunderstorms depends on evaporation and condensation.  We used to water most of our in-town properties and most of our farmland back in the '80s with sprinklers, and we had frequent wet storms in midsummer, more frequent and stronger uphill and upstream in Jackson  and Klamath Counties, keeping our creeks running. 
In the ‘90s many cities started raising water prices to save water, regardless of local supply or costs.  Drip irrigation and letting lawns dry came into fashion.  Watering plants with drip saves water at the price of losing the evaporative cooling effect of wet plants and soil, and thereby reducing the water cycle that makes summer rain.  Letting land go dry stops most transpiration from plants, and makes no rain.  Half or more of our town and farms are dry.
Now we get more dry storms and forest fires, and creeks going dry that used to run year-round. We have lost nearly a tenth of an inch of midsummer rainfall per decade for the last two decades.  Our July and August storms used to be larger than those in June or September.

September issue, published in GardenGrantsPass.blogspot.com, sold at the Mail Center, 305 NE 6th Street
Gardening is easy if you do it naturally.  Water is not precious; it overpriced.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Make Kombucha Tea

Kombucha brewing.  The scoby is so thick because I have not made more since I stopped drinking it.

Kombucha is black tea and sugar cultured with a “scoby” or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” a white, rubbery bacterial/fungal matte that has been kept alive, divided and multiplied for perhaps thousands of years since it was discovered in Asia.  It’s also called Manchurian Tea and the scoby is also called a “mushroom.”
After a week of culturing, it has a sweet-tart flavor that becomes more tart as the week passes.  It has a vinegary scent that is off-putting, but once one tastes, one can become quickly addicted.  This drinker likes it best diluted with ice and flavored with fruit juices, like apple and tart cherry.
It’s good to drink because the scoby converts the sugar and tannin in the tea mostly to vinegar with maybe 1% alcohol, very good for the digestive system, and otherwise good for health. 
It cannot go bad, just more tart, because it is alive and keeps growing, excluding other microbes, much like wine and beer, other cultured drinks that ancient man developed to make surface water safe and preserve juices.  A bottle or glass left sitting for a day will start to develop a clear gel mass that eventually floats to the top and forms a new matte; it is normal, safe to drink and slides smoothly down the throat.  If flavored with fruit juices, however, the juice favors yeast growth, and it can become quite fizzy and alcoholic, much like beer.
It takes about a week for a batch to culture enough to be sweet-tart, and it’s best to drink it within another week, by which time it is quite tart, and the new layer of matte is ripe and separated from the previous layer, ready for use in another batch.   It is good to have two batches going at once, one starting while drinking the other.  I drink about a gallon a week, and make it in gallon jars.
Prolonged contact with metal will weaken the scoby and eventually kill it, so Kombucha is best made in glass containers, such as gallon “sun tea” jars with spigot.
Fill a gallon jar with hot water; add a cloth tea bag with 2 tablespoons of bulk black tea, or use five regular paper tea bags without staples; steep on a hot plate or in the sun.  Or you can use boiling water and not heat it further, for a quick start.  Bulk tea grows bigger mattes than pre-packaged tea bags.
Remove the tea bag(s) and stir in 1 cup of raw sugar; let cool; add either a scoby matte or 2 cups of live, unflavored Kombucha.  Cover loosely and keep out of direct sunlight.  After a week, it is drinkable, and it is best drunk within a week.
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March Post Script:  After drinking too much of Kombucha daily for perhaps 8 years or 9 years, I've figured out that it was causing side effects.  I was told in the beginning that one should drink just a small glass first thing in the morning, before eating anything.  I like it so much that I just drank a pint all day long, putting it over ice first, and then diluting it more with water as the day goes on, so as not to ingest too much sugar.  I like the way a little sugar and acid make water less dry on the throat.
For a long time I had constant soreness in the muscles in my arms, a common side effect of statins, which are used to lower cholesterol.  I have never bought into the anti-cholesterol fad, any more than the anti-fat fad.  A few days ago, I got to thinking about red rice yeast, which is rice fermented in a fungal culture that turns it red, a natural source of statins.  It can cause the same sore muscles that synthesized statins do.  I thought that Kombucha culture might make statins as well.  So I looked up "Kombucha, statins."
          I found the American Cancer Society page on Kombucha, which didn't mention statins, and  said that there is no proven medical use for Kombucha. They also said that it is dangerous, based on two case histories, one of a couple of women who drank probably too much and got lactic acidosis, and a man who tried it once and got lactic acidosis.  
          A few case histories with no proof of cause are not very much evidence.  I figure that's par for the American Cancer Society, which is prejudiced against home remedies.  There are too many people saying how much it improves their gut function, particularly heartburn and acid reflux, to say that it is not good medicine for some people.
          I hadn't heard that a major part of its acidity was lactic acid, the acid that builds up in muscles from heavy exercise and makes them sore.  According to HealthGrades.com, "As lactic acid builds up, symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate or irregular heart rhythm, and mental status changes can occur."  I do enough strenuous exercise at work that I probably shouldn't have much lactic acid in my diet.  
          I next found an abstract of a study of how well Kombucha reduces cholesterol and increases anti-oxidant activity in mice.  They found that it did both, which fits with it having statins in its mix. 
            Lactic acid is produced in the muscles when they get low on oxygen.  They then have to use an anaerobic process to turn glucose to ATP, which your cells actually use for energy.   I just read an article in Science News, For athletes, antioxidant pills may not help performance.”   It turns out that oxidative stress is needed to build endurance and muscle strength.  Anti-oxidants in foods like blueberries and black currant juice seems to be helpful, but not the excessive amount found in pills.  But eating a lot of either every day is probably too much, just like drinking Kombucha all day, however diluted, is not good for me.  My arms aren’t sore now.  I probably shouldn’t drink it at all.