Sunday, November 1, 2015

Restwell Center Principles

This is a proposal for a no-frills hostel for those who just need a safe place to sleep and clean up:

For perhaps $5 per person per night, the Center will provide:

• A cot in a room full of cots: a dim, fairly quiet place to sleep, on a moment’s notice with no questions asked, and no searches;

·        Dog cages;

• Ear plugs and eye masks available for purchase, as some light is necessary for security and people do snore;

• A constant watch by camera and attendant on the belongings they carry in with them and store under their cots, and cameras elsewhere in common rooms for security;

• Restrooms;

• Separate shower facilities;

• Coin-operated laundry machines to wash clothing and bedding and help fund the shelter;

• A reading and dining room for food that people bring in, with a used book exchange and information on local services and employment listings.

Rules:
• Quiet. Do not bother the sleepers.

• No exhibition or use of guns, drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.

• Eat only in the dining room.

Employees:

• Guardian attendants will be paid at least minimum wage.
The best candidates for this job are tough little old ladies. Nobody messes with a little old lady in front of others. Even angry drunks respect them. And if anyone doesn’t, they’ll have people on speed-dial as backup, as well as other guests of the shelter.

• Volunteer janitors, recruited from among the guests, with free lodging and laundry.
Some guests will prefer to work off their nightly cot rent rather than go beg for it. One or two can be chosen daily to do the janitorial work that needs to be done mid-afternoon.

Financing and other Principles:

• No government funding except construction grants.  Government funding is not dependable enough for ongoing services.

• Grants, public or private, are for construction alone.  Large donors are undependable for funding ongoing operations, and leave a large hole when they quit. Small donors are more easily replaced, and are therefore more sustainable.

• The most dependable funding comes from those who care the most: the people who use the service. Therefore, the shelter should be built on such a scale that there are enough cots to fund the shelter when it is full. Fund-raisers can be conducted when times are so good that it is not full.

• Bed Vouchers can be sold to the general public to give to people in need of shelter. This provides a way for people to directly help the homeless without funding their addictions.  Some might like to purchase them and leave them at the Shelter to be handed to those who need them.

• Treat the clientele like customers and guests, not suspects. They are paying for this service.


• The Center should be open 24/7, because some people have to sleep and work odd hours.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Breathe easier on smoky days



The same mask that stops colds and flu in the winter can help you breathe easier when forest fires are filling our air with smoke.  Your breath moistens the inside of the mask; smoke particles get caught up in the moist cloth, greatly reducing the amount you take into your lungs.  A bandanna cold mask has more cloth to catch the smoke than a dust mask or medical mask, and more room inside it to breathe easily.
          You can breathe easier in your yard by using misters to clear the smoke by taking it to the ground, where it becomes good fertilizer.  The snakelike standing plastic misters with twin emitters that you can usually buy at the Grange Coop or Diamond Building Supply work very well for this, as they produce a very fine mist.  They also can be moved around, as they are made to be used on a hose.  (The hose should be heavy duty 5/8” or cheap ½” to take the pressure.)  Individual mist emitters that you can build into a drip line system, available at Grover Plumbing, put out too much water with too big of drops, and they can’t be easily moved around.
          I keep misters running in my front and back yard throughout the heat of the summer to cool the air, help my air conditioner and keep my blueberries happy and bearing big fruit.  Misters are critical for growing big blueberries in our hot, dry climate. 
Most plants benefit from a little more humidity and less heat in our area.  Misters keep the temperature in my yard about 10 degrees cooler, and allowed my tomatoes to set fruit last summer when it was too hot for pollination elsewhere in Grants Pass.  Pollen dies over 95° F. 
          People breathe easier with a little more humidity and less heat when the temperatures are near 100 degrees, and I can tell the difference when I get home.  When fires were burning nearby, it was easy to tell that there was less smoke around my house than elsewhere.
          One might think that misters getting plants wet all day and night might cause fungal infections, but I have seen no such problems.  Mold can appear on roses in spring and fall when we get too much rain, but in the heat of summer when misters are running, it doesn’t happen.  Powdery mildew is a hot weather fungus, but it appears in response to heat and water stress, not humidity.
          Misters don’t use a lot of water, but combined with sprinkler watering, they can make rain if enough people are using them to keep their yards green, by revving up the water cycle.  We used to make midsummer thundershowers in the ‘80s, when the whole town was watered and farms were in full production.  We need to reform our water pricing to encourage watering of landscapes and bring back wet thundershowers instead of dry lightning and forest fires.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Officers, respect our humanity

“A woman is a woman and a man ain’t nothin’ but a male...”
~Louis Prima, Jump, Jive and Wail

Honorable Public Servants,
          “Male” and “female” are properly adjectives, modifiers of nouns, not nouns themselves.  “Male” and “female,” when used as nouns to refer to people, are dehumanizing.  Any animal and some plants are male or female. We have perfectly good words for male and female humans that convey not only humanity, but age range as well: man; woman; boy; girl. 
The jazz tune from which the above quote was taken was written in the mid-fifties.  There is a long history of the words “male” and “female” being used to disrespect the people being referred to.  White, English-speaking men have a long called men and women of other races and cultures “males” and “females” and sometimes even the women of their own families.  
I first noticed the dehumanizing aspect of such words in the ‘80s, when a lot of feminists were calling men “males,” particularly “white males,” because they didn’t believe that they deserved the dignity of being called “men.”  I notice that black men and women rarely or never say “black males,” even when that was common among whites.  What’s interesting is that white men of a liberal persuasion still tend to talk about “white males” to refer to men who are conservative.  Some even refer to themselves that way.
          But the people I find using “male” and “female” to refer to people most consistently are police officers.  After that, there are reporters writing police logs from police reports verbatim without thinking about the disrespect they show. 
I have told enough reporters around this area that any animal is male or female, that they usually don’t use male, female, or that other dehumanizing police word, “subject.”  So I was greatly disturbed at the March 4th City Council meeting, when Chief Landis, before awarding medals of merit to officers who rescued a young girl from her mother, read the report of the incident, calling the mother “the female” many times, never referring to her as a woman and only once as the mother of the child.
          It doesn’t matter whether Chief Landis and his officers intend to offend when they use such language about the people they serve.  What matters is how the words are received.  People might not consciously realize they are being disrespected, but they feel it.
This may well play into our well-known and worsening lack of trust in government officials.  Police are the officials who are most likely to talk to us face to face and write about us.  They should respect our humanity and use words that show it.  How one speaks and writes comes from and becomes how one thinks.  We want our public servants to think of us as people, not male and female “subjects.”


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

Friday, March 13, 2015

Don’t Overdo the Kombucha

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

An afterword to "Make Kombucha Tea," August 2014.
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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Open letter to honey processors: Change your caps

A flat-topped 5-pound honey bottle; the fat one mentioned was thrown away. 

The other day, I went looking for a honey dispenser with a pointy cap, because the 1 lb flat-topped squirt bottle I had been using was always sticky.  Honey would collect on the flat top and drip down the side when it was used.  It was a fat-top bottle, made to be able to set it upside down for easy dispensing, but that only made it easy for the honey to leak out and make a pool in the cabinet.

I was looking through the honey selection at Fred Meyer and all the containers had the same type of flat top, some with a fatter top for setting the bottle upside down, others with a smaller top of the same design.  I noticed that the Agave Nectar bottles used by Madhava (Madhavasweeteners.com) had a pointed cap that opened to a short cone-shaped dispenser with a sloping cap that looked unlikely for honey to pool on.  I bought it, used it up, and now it is my honey dispenser.

I call on honey packagers to use the kind of cap that Madhava uses for their Agave Nectar.  It is not collecting honey inside the cap and dripping down the side.


Afterword: Madhava replied to my letter: "Thank you for contacting Madhava about our Caps. Your comments have been sent to our quality assurance team! We do appreciate hearing form our customers.

At Madhava Natural Sweeteners, we are dedicated to bringing you natural and healthy alternatives to highly processed, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.  We always want to make sure you get the highest quality products possible."

I found this a bit puzzling, until I was shopping at Walmart and stopped to look at the Agave Nectar, and found that Madhava had switched to the same flat caps as the honey processors.  Next to their product, there was another brand that had the same kind of caps as the one above, Nature's Agave:


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Open Letter to petitioners re #Measure48 Mississippi

Mississippi Measure 48 is a proposed constitutional amendment, posted at http://www.mississippiforcannabis.org/ .  I have a question about its "locality tax," licenses, and fees.   Answers and further discussion will be edited into this post.

" ...Regulations will require an annual Mississippi Cannabis Sales license issued by any Mississippi County Circuit Clerk for a fee of no more than $1000.00 to all adult residents who apply, and a $25.00 annual city or county governing locality fee to farm 10 - 500 plants. Locality fees for cannabis farms with more than 500 plants will not exceed $1000.00...."

At first this "locality fee" sounded like a flat yearly fee, but the last sentence above makes it clear that is wrong.  Is it $25 per plant?  If so, it should say "per plant" after "$25."

But it couldn't be $25 per plant, because 500 plants times $25 is $12,500.  501 plants, however, would only be $1000.  A fee of $25 plus $5 per plant would still be $2,525 for $500 plants.  The locality fee part makes no mathematical sense.

@msforcannabis replied:  "The fee is only for 10 or more plants and is $25 / plant not to exceed $1000. Tax statement is correct"

@AnRycke replies:  And yet it says, "Locality fees for cannabis farms with 500 plants will not exceed $1000," clearly not including farms with less than 500 plants in the $1000 limit.  Remember, you won't get to interpret this when it goes to court; a judge will, and a judge will go by the words, not your intent.


You might rethink making this a constitutional amendment.  A statute can be more detailed and is far easier for the legislature to fix.


In my opinion, the Mississippi Cannabis Sales license should be one-time, and the locality fee should be a lot lower and not plant-based.  What other kind of farms anywhere are charged a per-plant tax?  Who will count the plants?  At what size or level of maturity?


"...Owners of 9 or fewer cannabis plants are not considered farmers and are not required to pay a farming locality fee..."

Is one required to pay the $1000 for the annual Mississippi Cannabis Sales license for growing 1-9 plants even if one is not selling?  It sure looks like it, which would make cannabis growing a privilege of the rich in Mississippi.  The only requirement for selling regarding the license is in the title of the license.

"...The 7% cannabis sales tax, and the farming locality fees may be reviewed in 2025 and every 5 years thereafter. The cannabis sales tax can only be lowered; farming locality fees may be adjusted but only by 10%...."

This sounds like the locality fees can be adjusted 10% up or down, but there is no allowance for review or adjustment for the annual $1000 Mississippi Cannabis Sales license.

Please clarify your measure before collecting signatures on it.