Be nice to your mail carrier this holiday season

christmas seals

Christmas seals appeared on all my parent’s cards they sent out during the holiday season.

I stopped to chat with the postman as he was locking up the Silver Sage Village mail boxes. I get a few things by 1st class mail, but it’s mostly bills and junk.

Today was no different as the mail ended up in the circular file headed to the recycling bin. The other day I got a letter from the IRS saying I owe a few bucks. Maybe government agencies are obliged to use hard copy and resort to first class mail.

“Things have been really crazy. We made a deal with Amazon and now have 40 percent of their business,” he lamented. “That, plus everyone has started mailing a lot earlier this year.”

Like November 1.

The post office, unlike FedEx and UPS delivers on Christmas and Sundays. He said some days he starts at 7am and doesn’t get finished until 10pm and mail is getting delivered at odd times.

What about “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

“Oh, that’s still true, but this month the mail just gets delivered later! We’ll get it figured out eventually.”

I’ve been selling a bunch of stuff on eBay which also must have a deal with the postal service. On all packages, I get a postage discount, plus I don’t have to go to stand in line at the post office and can have the occasional chat with the postman.

Every year, I plan to send out hard copy Christmas cards, and every year I don’t get around to it. Fifty cents for a stamp and fifty cents for the card – a buck to send a greeting and well wishes is a pretty good deal.

I remember when I was young, my parents sent out Christmas cards every year. That tradition included going to the post office and picking out just the perfect stamps for that year’s mailing.

It was also a time to make donations to fight tuberculosis and putting those on the envelope was also signs of the season.

I don’t even remember mailing packages. Once in a while something would be sent to my aunt in Washington DC, but she generally came back to Cheyenne for Christmas. She always brought with her “big city” gifts like Godiva ch0colate, sweaters from Lord and Taylor.

These days, all that fancy stuff is now very common and available in malls.

We’ve become mass society.

The Baby Boomer diaspora also contributes to the package shipping explosion. When my grandparents died, my uncles and aunts didn’t come around as much any more. That meant my cousins didn’t come to town much either.

Any presents had to be mailed. That was all before FedEx and UPS. When all the cousins were in high school, the unwritten rule was, no more gifts.

I really don’t send stuff out, but now that I’m getting to the point in life that I’m downsizing, I’m selling stuff on eBay. Why on earth I held on to that Charlies Angels lunch box, I’ll never know (although I still have a crush on Kate Jackson) but someone will enjoy having it gathering dust on their shelves.

The few holiday greetings I’ve sent out are gift cards to amazon.com or event tickets. As long as there are kids, there will be a demand for unnecessary stuff. The cycle seems to keep going and going.

Even if I don’t get around to sending out cards this year, I’ll at least be nice to my mail carrier this holiday season.

By the way, I learned that this quote which has become the US Postal Service motto was written by Greek historian Herodotus, 503 B.C. The words are inscribed on the General Post Office facility on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue in New York City.

Purging baseball cards for the good of future generations

I put all my baseball cards from 1979 to 1998 in the neighborhood rummage sale.

Silver Sage Village is having a 16 household rummage sale on September 19th and everyone has been culling through their junk. My office mate moved to one he set up in his apartment and this has given me a good chance to go through my stuff.

I’ve been selling unwanted things on ebay, including parts of my sports card collection. My account is AnAmericanPlaceII which is an homage to social realism photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery in New York City.

In a past life, I had a sports card store front called Pine Riders in Riverton, Wyoming that opened during the sports card bubble in the late 1980s through the 1990s. The great thing about having a store like that was buying, selling and trading for my own hobby, as well as helping others support theirs. To this day, I’m amazed I was able to keep the doors open turning over cardboard worth a dime to a few bucks.

On Pine Riders opening day, former Yankees pitcher who won the decisive game of the 1961 World Series, Bud Daley, came over and signed autographs. I ran into Bud at the Wind River Casino when I was in Fremont County a few months back.

When I moved from Wyoming to Colorado over 20 years ago, I hauled literally a ton of cards with me in notebooks, boxes and brief cases that took up space in closets, crawl spaces and basements.

At the height of the card bubble, I had a colleague trade my entire collection of cards – complete sets from 1958 through 1998 – around 25,000 cards – for a handful of items that are of more interest to me and much less bulky to haul around. Among my newly pared down collection is a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle card and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig autographs.

My friend Rodger McDaniel recently wrote a blog post about how he was once a millionaire before his mother threw away his baseball card collection with included a few 1952 Mickey Mantle cards. That Topps card is one of the few Holy Grails of the hobby. My mom, on the other hand, saved mine in a box which was the basis of my collection as I have continued it to this day.

Rodger’s lament is one of the classics.

In getting ready for the garage sale, I am doing my part to increase the value of the newer vintage of sports cards that are generally from 1980 to the present.

I realized I had no heart-felt feelings about them, like I do for the rest of my Yankees collections and started slashing and burning. I collect:

  • 1919 Yankees for no particular reason except that Chicago Bears founder George Halas was on that team and this also was the year of the Black Sox Scandal;
  • 1923 Yankees were the first to play in Yankee Stadium and won the first World Series title that year;
  • 1932 Yankees finished the season winning the World Series and highlighted by Babe Ruth’s supposed “called shot” home run for a sick kid and also the first year for Frank Crosetti;
  • 1961 – 1962 Yankees‘ third base coach was Frank Crosetti and this was also the first year I paid close attention to baseball mostly because of Maris and Mantle chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record;
  • 1977 – 1978 Yankees with Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!
  • 2001 Yankees since I went to New York for games 3 and 4 of the World Series a month after 9/11

I emptied out all my boxes of Donruss, Fleer, Bowman and Topps, cards, which in this day and age have little value to me personally or financially. The huge number of cards and sets and subsets became unmanageable. Now, I could care less about Harold Baines or even Mark McGwire who took a personal and professional nose dive in the wake of the performance enhancing drug scandals.

Those are all going to the garage sale along with hundreds more – George Brett, Nolan Ryan …

Free agency also screwed things up. It used to be a player stayed on the same team for his entire career. Now, a pitcher has a good year and gets traded.

I’ve always been a Yankees fan and many of those I’m tossing are of ballyhooed young players like Brien Taylor and Pat Kelly. I also have a lot of players like Joe Girardi who were okay, but not great players. I also had a lot of Girardi cards because he was one of the original Colorado Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft.

During this time period, I was in a rotisserie baseball league called the Buttheads. I always collected cards of the players on my team – the Yangs – which gave a bit of reality to the fantasy. I have a lot of Greg Maddux cards and Pedro Astacio, Denny Neagle (I was the only Butthead to select Rockies pitchers).

Why the Yangs?

In Star Trek Episode 52 “The Omega Glory” Kirk and crew find themselves in some alternate world where the good guys are the Yangs and bad buys are the Coms.

Back to sorting.

I’m a member of a facebook group called Baseball Card of the Day. Members post images of cards for various reasons, memories, updating about the status of their collections. Occasionally, there will be someone who talks about leaving their collection to their kids to pay for their college educations.

I say, do your kids a favor and cash in your cards while you’re still alive. If a guy like me who  has a pretty good idea as to how much a Frank Thomas 1990 Leaf card is worth and where I might find someone who would might buy it, an heir with no idea about the hobby will have a hard time figuring out how to parlay that 1989 complete set of Topps baseball cards into microbiology textbooks.

Baseball cards are for moms to decide to keep or throw away, it’s much less stressful.

By the way, If you’re holding a Joe Hesketh rookie card, it just went up in value because I threw mine away.

Confessions of an upward facing dogie

BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 2: Lindy Cook and Alan O'Hashi pull weeds from the garden of the community with other residents September 2, 2015 at Silver Sage Village. The active adult cohousing community for those 55 or older is setup like a usual condo community with every person having their own place, but the sense of community is what is unique. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

BOULDER, CO – SEPTEMBER 2: Lindy Cook and Alan O’Hashi pull weeds from the garden of the community with other residents September 2, 2015 at Silver Sage Village. The active adult cohousing community for those 55 or older is setup like a usual condo community with every person having their own place, but the sense of community is what is unique. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

A month or so ago, Denver Post reporter Claire Martin caught wind of the documentary I’m making about “aging in community”. The principle photography is done, but there are a couple stories that need updating and I’m gathering up some photos for extra coverage.

The movie is based on my “aha” experiences and perspectives learned after being pretty sick to the point of having the “end of life” and drastic “heart lung transplant” conversations with my doctors back during the summer of 2014. My colleague Maryann Williamson interviewed some of my Silver Sage Village neighbors about their perspectives about aging in an intentional community like cohousing.

The Denver Post article came out yesterday – the beginning of Labor Day weekend. There’s another chapter in this saga which marks the one year anniversary of me taking yoga classes.

In this town, that shouldn’t be too earth shattering at all. For a Wyomingite, it’s not the usual way to while away the hours. There’s an advertisement to attract former Wyoming people back to the state that says something to the effect that “we have latte’s and yoga” which are why an expat like myself should move back.

Yee Haw – git a long little downward facing dogie!

A "dogie" is a neglected calf that is eventually rescued and looked after.

A “dogie” is a neglected calf that is eventually rescued and looked after.

Over the past 10 years or so, one of my annual missions is to take footage of all the entertainment along the Bolder Boulder route. The 2014 acid test was whether or not I could complete my usual task and finish the 10K. All went well, but I needed to take a swig of O2 going up the Folsom Street hill into the stadium.

A month later, I was given the okay to put the supplemental oxygen aside while weaning off of the prednisone. My chest xray in June wasn’t that great, and my lung doctor wasn’t very optimistic at all. That’s when I also started with aggressive treatments at the Southwest Acupuncture College Boulder Campus. I attribute my miraculous recovery to that, which is another story.

In retrospect, the Bolder Boulder probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do, since my percent of oxygen was around 80 percent, which was pretty good, considering a couple months earlier it was in the 60s and 70s. I had gained back some of the 37 pounds I lost laying in the hospital for a month and half and I noticed the lost weight right a way since my inner knees didn’t ache.

Anyway, I was still very weak and had trouble lifting the milk jug out of the fridge and still not very stable on my feet, having taken a tumble on the step going into Silver Sage Village. I finally could push the clutch pedal on the Eurovan and I started driving, which also wasn’t a very good idea.

My occupational therapist had me trying to do push ups against the wall and half push ups on the floor. I couldn’t do either. Sit ups were painful because of the scarring from the leaky intestine ulcer that was also repaired. I didn’t want to lift weights or go to a gym. The OT couldn’t do anything more for me. When I relearned how to walk and my gait was straight, she turned me loose.

I was picking something up at McGuckin Hardware on the Sunday afternoon before Labor Day. I noticed the The Little Yoga Studio next door. There was a woman inside working on the computer at the front desk. They were closed, but she told me to take a schedule from the box by the door.

Being a Boulder guy, I wasn’t a yoga guy. Many years ago, Comcast used to have Core Power Yoga on TV in the mornings. I did that for awhile, then the practice started to include weights and equipment, which seemed out of context.

That gave me some knowledge and experience with the basic poses. Since my body was totally out of whack, I thought yoga would be more balanced than going to a gym, plus I only needed a mat – although I had sticker shock when I saw mats cost as much as $85. I needed to get stronger and more flexible. Shortly after Labor Day I made my first visit.

I really didn’t know what to expect since it was my first time in organized yoga practice, I thought it was more meditative, but I have come to learn that the Americanized versions of yoga are very different from it’s 5,000 year old traditional roots in south Asia. I was also surprised to learn that yoga in America is an 18 billion dollar a year industry. The yoga industrial complex includes, clothing, mats, equipment, food. In Boulder, you can’t turn around without your water bottle whacking into a yoga teacher.

Ronald McYoga

Ronald McYoga

I got a deal for yoga at one of the other studios in town. Turns out that was part of a yoga franchise – McYoga. It was a huge place with showers, a store with branded merchandise. That wasn’t for me – some of the same teachers work there, too.

My initial reasons for going to yoga class a couple times a weak were totally health and medical related. Some of the teachers give little dharma lessons at the beginning of the class. At the beginning of one class the teacher gave a bit of a rant about how westernized yoga moved away from the traditional tenets, which wasn’t a good thing. and that there should be more attention paid to the original teachings.

That brought to mind an NPR radio story I heard six or seven years before, about a group in Fairhope, Alabama that wanted to take the original spirituality out of yoga and replace it with Christian spirituality, since they liked the asana part – physical aspects – of yoga, but not the meditative part.

At the time, that struck me as odd.

Now that I have more of an interest it really strikes me as odd.

I also remember this story because I mnemonically link it to a former basketball player from Fairhope who played at Wyoming named Quentin Higgins.

Afterwards, I talked to the teacher about this, and turns out there’s quite a bit of information out there about the topic of non-yoga yoga. I watched a documentary called “Yoga, Inc.” which was mostly about the lawsuit between yoga mogul Bikram Choudhury and some of his teachers about unauthorized uses of his yoga pose sequences.

Om

Om

The yoga classes are helpful for me physically. I was going a couple times a week with a day of recovery time in between. I now try to get there four or five consecutive times with a couple days of rest between. But also, I want to be around the practice more which is insightful. My journalistic curiosity always gets and best of me and I’m now researching American yoga for another documentary project.

I’m learning that horse has left the barn and there must be some other angle that hasn’t dawned on me yet about putting yoga back into yoga. I’m talking with my pal Ravi Dykema about it next week. I’ll take a meeting with anyone who has a perspective on this.

Meanwhile, I’ll be continuing to “age in c(OM)unity”.

Trump and Bernie 2015 reminiscent of Wallace and RFK 1968

rfk quoteTrump and Bernie resonate because, in their own ways, they both recognize the “comfortable past” never existed.

I mentioned before that 1968 was my first dose of politics. Back then, Wyoming was a purple state and presidential candidates campaigned in the Cowboy State. For me, it was mostly about the symbols of politics like the campaign buttons and bumper stickers. My mission that year was to collect a bumper sticker and button from each of the candidates. Since then I’ve managed to scrounge buttons for Democratic and Republican nominees starting in 1900.

The country was in quite a bit of turmoil – the Vietnam War was in full swing and talk about civil unrest, it was nothing like it is today. Cops bashing anti-war rioters with billy clubs, manhandling blacks protesting racial inequality. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 – one of LBJ’s lasting legacies – and Voting Rights Act in 1965. Mainstream America was having some trouble adapting – like when the SCOTUS made gender identification a protected class.

The country was totally out of control and LBJ decided not to run for re-election, it brought every yahoo out of the woodwork, just like today.

George Wallace of Alabama was the renegade, straight talker – sort of like Donald Trump. Wallace was an avowed racist – segregationist. The former Alabama governor and his running mate Curtis “Iron Pants” Lemay got the attention of much of the south. Seems he, like Goldwater, wanted to actually nuke Vietnam. Wallace drew enough support to turn the election to Nixon’s favor.

My Carey Jr. High School pal, Mike Whitehead, was big into Democratic politics mostly because of his parents. His mom, Janet Whitehead was Laramie County Clerk and his dad, Ed, was a state legislator. It must have been in early May because we were still in school, but a few months earlier, Robert Kennedy declared his candidacy for president. At that time, he was the carpet bagging senator for New York. He moved there, much like Hilary Clinton did, glad handed around upstate and won. He was the US Attorney under his brother, Jack, and LBJ.

Anyway, he made a campaign whistle stop in Cheyenne. Mike and I decided to go see him. We taped six pieces of poster board together and stapled it onto a couple sticks of lathe. I don’t remember what was scrawled on the sign with Magic Marker – which was new back in those days. I was the cartoonist for the school paper, The Tumbleweed, and drew a pretty good caricature of RFK on the bottom of the sign.

We rolled it up and hauled it on foot from Cole Addition to the Pavillion in Frontier Park. I came to realize that this is what old fashioned politics was about, The place was packed with supporters and the curious. He was there with members of his family, wife Ethel and maybe some of his kids. I don’t think he even said anything, He was like a rock star. Afterward, the senator noticed our sign. He came over and shook our hands and autographed a “join now” campaign card I picked up at the door, which I still have.

There was a reception for Senator Kennedy and his entourage at the Hitching Post after the rally. Mr. Whitehead was there and later emerged with some “real” autographs that he gave us. I was amazed that he remembered. I also learned at that event how accessible politicians can be at any level of government, I didn’t realize it then, but this was my first taste of federalism which has stuck with me to this day, not to mention my fascination with autographs.

I didn’t learn until later, that this was the first stop on a long train trip through Nebraska which ended in Omaha just before the Nebraska primary in mid-May. Having won the California primary, Nebraska was a key state for him and he won it.

Three weeks later, my clock radio turned on early in the morning to a live broadcast from Los Angeles about Robert Kennedy’s murder. He was shot at close range by a bad guy named Sirhan Sirhan.

I was shocked.

What would America be like today had RFK lived? After winning California and Nebraska, I’m pretty sure he would have been elected president. It’s impossible to say what kind of legacy Bobby would have left, but I imagine the war would have ended earlier, Watergate for sure wouldn’t have happened.

I wonder if Bobby would have made deals with the commies like Nixon did. Of course, his trip to China was designed to draw fire from his Watergate battle at home.

In 1968, the Republicans tore themselves apart, much like what is happening now. With his populist message, Kennedy was drawing huge crowds where ever he stopped, much like Bernie Sanders today. Our not-so-charismatic vice president Hubert Humphrey stepped up trying to fill the void Kennedy left. South Dakota senator George McGovern tried to pick up the pieces, too. In the end, Nixon and Agnew would defeat Humphrey and Muskie – a senator from Maine by 500,000 votes, largely because of George Wallace’s Stand up for America third party run.

… and then there was campaign ’72. That’s a story for another day and about Hastings College “Legislators and Lobbyist” class field trip out to Nixon’s inauguration with Debbie Hemmingsen Bills, Karen Doerr​ and fearless leader Denny Storer​, et al.

If RFK was inaugurated, I probably wouldn’t have been tear gassed at an anti-war demonstration.

In the 2016 election cycle the Republicans want to take us back to the Reagan years and the Democrats want to relive the FDR administration. I just hope whoever gets picked just tries to move forward. via Barbara May​

How normal is marijuana? The story of a card carrying pothead

Most places, day-to-day conversations do not include any mention of marijuana – not even in jest, since possession is a crime in all states. Weed continues to be demonized and I’m not sure I should even be writing about the topic.

Marijuana is classified by the US government as a narcotic. It has been demonized since the 1940s.

Marijuana is classified by the US government as a narcotic. It has been demonized since the 1940s.

In Colorado, that’s not the case since the voters exercised its “state right” and legalized use of marijuana as recreational vice.

Move over gambling, booze and prescription uppers and downers.

Needless to say pot is still classified as a narcotic by the US government and if Colorado weed is transported across state lines it is a federal offense under the commerce clause. The DEA has backed off Colorado and Washington, but likely won’t mess with the small fish, but focus on mass quantities that leave the state from approved weed farms. I’d say those out of state markets sould be reserved for the bad guys and international drug cartels.

In Colorado, legal weed started out as a medicinal and health issue and crept into the mainstream with Amendment 64 passing by a wide margin in 2012. That was a presidential election year with a relatively high voter turnout, so to speak.

I wondered about the age breakdown and was able to find in Arizona, the largest group of men and women with medical marijuana cards are aged 51 – 80 (approximately 24,000). Compare that to the 13,000 Arizonans aged 16 to 30.

In Colorado, medical marijuana sales outpaces recreational marijuana sales. Out of town tourists sustain the recreational weed market, according to the Colorado Marijuana Market Demand study.

I was location scouting with a camera guy from San Francisco who was curious. He wondered if cannabis use was restricted to hookah bar – type places like in Amsterdam. I explained that it is more like stopping by the liquor store and buying a six pack to take home after work. Around Boulder smoking of any kind in public isn’t allowed, but here are vapor wands that are smokeless and weed oil cartridges sell for around $30 and the vapor wands for under $20.

Some of you may know that I was pretty sick in 2013 starting with shingles in June and ending with a weird form of pneumonia in December that landed me in the hospital for six weeks, physical rehab for two weeks and home rehab for another six weeks into 2014.

I've been taking a variety of acupuncture treatments for post herpetic neuralgia pain, including the more drastic 3-stim treatment.

I’ve been taking a variety of acupuncture treatments for post herpetic neuralgia pain, including the more drastic 3-stim treatment.

Just before the Bolder Boulder in 2014, I started acupuncture treatments at the Southwest Acupuncture College clinic in Gunbarrel for my lungs and shingles. I initially went to my regular acupuncturist. He first treated me for gout many years ago. I tried him out again and wasn’t satisfied with his treatment and tried the SWAC. By the way, I did finish the Bolder Boulder in 2014 on supplemental oxygen, but only needed a swig to make it up the Folsom hill that enters the stadium. This year, I hope to run part of it.

I’ve been going for acupuncture once a week since then getting a variety of treatments recently for the aftermath of shingles – Post Herpetic Neuralgia. I attribute my lungs clearing up to acupuncture. In fact, I went to see my pulmonologist a couple weeks ago and was released by him. He’s taking my miraculous recovery case to present at some sort of lung symposium. Maybe I’ll have a disease named after me.

Meanwhile, the PHN has improved, but still painful and I decided to try cannabis sort of as a last resort. I’m not a marijuana neophyte, having grown up in the ’60s and gone to college in the ’70s. The open weed carry here would result in a criminal record anywhere else.

When I was still in physical rehab, I was trying to regain weight and was prescribed a drug called mirtazapine (Remeron) which is the synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) the hallucinogenic alkaloid produced by marijuana plants. It is an antidepressant and appetite stimulant. I took it in the evening to induce the “munchies” before dinner. It got me to eat more but not buzzed up.

CNN medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced a series about the anecdotal benefits of cannabis for certain chronic medical conditions, like epilepsy.

CNN medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced a series about the anecdotal benefits of cannabis for certain chronic medical conditions, like epilepsy.

There was a series of programs on CNN produced by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MD. He started out his research wanting to discredit the medicinal value of weed, but he soon changed his mind after he saw how some patients with nervous system maladies improved – mostly convulsive conditions – after treatments with cannabidiol (CBD) which is a non-hallucenigenic alkaloid produced by the marijuana plant.

These days, a person doesn’t need a medical marijuana card, so I stopped by a couple weed stores and picked a bottle of CBD lotion and CBD plant material. The lotion was $20 for a 2 oz bottle and the shake weed was $10 / gram. Both were effective externally and internally. For the recreational user, price wise, weed is competitive with alcohol.

I asked about a medical doctor who does the medical marijuana evaluations and settled on Dr. Joe Cohen, MD. He has a clinic called Holos Health in southeast Boulder. When I walked in, there was a steady stream of people. I was the youngest one there among the other seniors using walkers and wheelchairs.

I went to Dr. Joe Cohen of Holos for my medical evaluation. The interview took about 15 minutes and cost $75 with a referral discount.

I went to Dr. Joe Cohen of Holos Health for my medical evaluation. The interview took about 15 minutes and cost $75 with a referral discount.

When Amendment 64 was being pitched, I’m thinking that there were a lot of mainstream people who thought that this was going to isolate a niche of pot users stereotyped as young, dreadlocks sporting, tie dyed T-shirt wearing rebels. Turns out, the market is much wider and deeper than imagined and includes a bunch of Baby Boomer old people like me who don’t have an aversion to pot.

The rack price copay for the medical evaluation is $85 and $75 with a $10 discount because I was referred by a dispensary. Renewals are $65. I don’t think a doc has to be an MD. One guy i read about is a DO – an optometrist. I imagine podiatrists can also evaluate. One of my acupuncture doctors may write my prescription next year. For now, Holos Health is a good fit for me.

The interview with Dr. Cohen lasted about 15 minutes and it was based on my conversation with him about my PHN pain and my risk for glaucoma (i’m 20/400 in my left eye and have to get a glaucoma test every six months by my ophthalmologist).

I imagine there were a lot of bogus health claims made when medical marijuana was all that was allowed. The state of Colorado is cracking down on this and there will be additional requirements. My primary care physician doesn’t do marijuana evaluations. There really isn’t any way to figure out pain, other than it exists. It will be interesting to see how the state will change the rules for evaluations.

Will they evaluate patients more rigorously like my primary care doc would? He’ll probably keep me for 30 minutes, take my blood pressure, weigh me, then have a nurse practitioner ask where it hurts and charge me double.

I qualified for a medical marijuana card based on post herpetic neuralgia and glaucoma risk. I recently went in for my peripheral vision test that I take every six months.

I qualified for a medical marijuana card based on post herpetic neuralgia and glaucoma risk. I recently went in for my peripheral vision test that I take every six months.

Once I was evaluated, my paperwork was processed and ready to be mailed. It was turn key – self addressed stamped envelope, copies of the evaluation.

A US Postal Service certified mail receipt and a copy of the doctor’s evaluation served as my temporary ID until the card was issued by the state of Colorado. That day in early April, I went to a medical dispensary and found that the prices were around 50 percent less than in the retail store.

This business is highly regulated – more so than the alcohol business

It’s more like a casino.

There are cameras watching every transaction – I don’t know who’s watching, though.  I had a product return for a faulty creme dispenser. This is how the return transaction went down. Stores can’t accept back product. I had to keep the bad one and buy the replacement for a penny.  The “pit boss” had to come out and monitor the sale and bagging of both the faulty product and the replacement.

Everything is in plain view, everything is sold in child-resistant containers. At the end of each day, inventory is taken to be sure it matches up with the computer printout.

It’s a total cash business – employees paid in cash, taxes paid in cash, vendors paid in cash.

“High Profits” is a reality TV show on CNN about the ups and downs of the weed business in Breckenridge. It’s an all cash business.

There’s a CNN reality program called “High Profits” that tracks a retail weed store in Breckenridge. The first day, the business took in $100,000 – of which 25% is sales tax returned to the town of Breckenridge.

Johnny Depp in

Johnny Depp in “Blow” in a room of cash from the early cocaine trade.

There’s a scene in that Johnny Depp movie “Blow” about the early cocaine trade. A room is filled with cash, which reminded me of the room of cash the two weed store owners were immersed within.

Chris Rock has a line about comments you won’t hear from a drug dealer. One is, “Oh no! I don’t know what I’m going to do with all this money!”

Around Halloween, all the TV stations had scary stories about what if kids get pot infused candy in their treat bags? It was a fresh angle to the once obligatory razor blades in apples story. Besides, no pothead is going to give out candy worth a dollar a piece to a kid as a prank. Seems there’s a bigger problem of kids eating Tide detergent packets, according to the TV news.

In NFL speak, it’s less probable than so, that an under aged kid would be allowed to enter one of these stores. If minors do get access to “candy” it’s either from their parents or a pusher. Years ago when I was in the tobacco use prevention business, at the Walnut Street RTD station, I remember seeing a guy who was the tobacco pusher. He gave out cigarettes to the middle school kids.

I don’t know this for sure, but once they became hooked on nicotine, he used that as the gateway to get them to buy other stuff from him. Law enforcement should keep an eye on places where kids gather without supervising adults around. Tobacco companies continue to target the low-self esteem market – children and adults – and the same holds true for getting kids to use weed.

This is the medical marijuana card issued by the state of Colorado. The business is very regulated which is reassuring.

This is the medical marijuana card issued by the state of Colorado. The business is very regulated which is reassuring.

So my medical marijuana card arrived at the end of April. The Colorado Department of Health has a sense of humor – the issue date is April 20, 2015.

I haven’t used it much, the product selection is very narrow, since the same few companies supply all the dispensaries with what I buy, the lotions and patches. Marijuana and hemp can provide quite a bit of value added business and product opportunities from farm to shelf – kind of like Spruce Confections in Boulder makes all the ruby scones around town.

As a survivor of the western / traditional medical industrial complex, I learned that chronic conditions are tough to diagnose and treat. Similarly, eastern / nontraditional treatments varies based on each patient and is hit and miss, too.

If THC can be synthesized in the laboratory, it should be possible to make pharmaceutical grade CBD. There is research happening in England and what those labs are making, I don’t know. The current labs in Colorado are able to extract the alkaloids, but not accurately. I’m surprised the tobacco and pharmaceutical companies haven’t jumped into this business.

For recreational weed, the exact percentages of this or that isn’t important, other than to inform the customer of the strength. I noticed that the microbreweries rank their beers by alcohol content.

Who would have thought that once maligned marijuana use would be legal. What about the iPhone 6? Phones were small and not big. I saw someone holding one to their ear the other day – it reminded me of those huge Motorola gray brick phones from the 1980s. The culture is moving forward to the past and legal weed is the new NORML.

2015 Wyoming road trip for the arts – trek 1

Anyone who has spent any time in Wyoming knows that road trip organization is key. I have been known to travel two hours for a 10 minute meeting. This week, I plotted out a six day trip that started on Monday May 4. Two years ago, my health took a hit when I made a series of road trips to the East Coast at the end of May to a long Wyoming trek in early June.

The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Board met in Pinedale and approved the digital Art of the Hunt project.

The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Board met in Pinedale and approved the digital Art of the Hunt project.

I was a little concerned that two years later, I didn’t want to push my luck, but decided to anyway. This trip, acording to my new mileage app called Mileage IQ, I logged 1, 554 miles.

I’m working on a couple projects and now that the weather has finally broken – more on this – it was a good time to take off. I found out at the last minute late last week that the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund would be meeting in Pinedale in western Wyoming on May 6-7. My production company, Boulder Community Media, has a project the WCTR board would be considering a proposal called the “Digital Art of the Hunt”.

Being a veteran grant writer I know that a project’s chances are better, if applicants show up in person. I made a bunch of phone calls and set up an excursion. Sitting through meetings like this is very informative and when I have other proposals considered, I will show up. The board approved the project. It was the 19th ranked application out of 45 and received the second highest grant award.

The weather was mostly bad. This is snow south of Lander.

The weather was mostly bad. This is snow south of Lander overlooking Red Canyon.

Boulder to Laramie 109 miles: I was funded by the Wyoming Humanities Council and the Wyoming Arts Council to produce a documentary about Wyoming Progress Administration cultural projects that include large murals in Riverton, Kemmerer, Greybull and Powell. I learned that one of my former University of Wyoming college professors Herb Dieterich was the last guy who did any research about this topic back in 1980.

My call to him was a blast from the past. He agreed to meet me on Monday afternoon. He turned 90 May 3rd. He spent a summer in the National Archives in DC researching it and gave me a copy of his paper, which is helpful. He was mostly checking out the project funding sources than about the artists.

We had a nice visit. I’ll be back to talk to Joe Russin, the son of Robert Russin who was a UW art professor and WPA muralist in Illinois.

I filled up and headed to Riverton.

Some barracks from the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp were moved to the Cottonwood Court in Riverton.

Some barracks from the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp were moved to the Cottonwood Court in Riverton. This is the former sheep ranch that inspired the WPA mural in the Riverton Post Office.

Laramie to Riverton 236 miles: I support the Northern Arapaho Tribe and stay at the Wind River Casino Hotel. They don’t serve alcohol, but allow smoking. Of course all casinos allow smoking, it must be a habit of gamblers. When the casino originally opened, there was a smoke free room of slots, but that didn’t last long.

Food prices in the Red Willow Restaurant have gone up. In my opinion, If I spend $25 on a steak, I’ll go down the road to Svilar’s in nearby Hudson. On Cinco de Mayo, I ate Indian huevos rancheros, which substitutes fry bread for the tortilla.

I interviewed Karline from the Riverton Museum who was knowledgeable about George Vander Sluice. He painted the mural in the Riverton Post Office. The mural is of sheep shearing that happened at a ranch on the road to Shoshoni which is now the Cottonwood Court, which is now abandoned. Turns out that the bungalows there were formerly housing barracks at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp near Powell.

I headed out to Pinedale, but wanted to nail down a couple key components of the Art of the Hunt project which includes an Eastern Shoshone deer hunt and Northern Arapaho bison hunt. I stopped by the Shoshone Cultural Center and Glenda Trosper was still open to setting up the hunt in October. I went over to Ethete and talked to JT Trosper about the bison hunt and that will be set up in July.

The Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale is very cozy.

The Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale is very cozy.

Riverton to Pinedale 186 miles: I stayed at the Log Cabin Motel. There are a bunch of small fishing cabins. It was raining the two days I was there. The WCTF meeting started Wednesday at the BOCES building. Wyoming government meetings are long, drawn out, but very folksy. There’s decorum, but very informal. This funding cycle, there were a million dollars in requests and $200,000 in available funds. After two days of project evaluation, Art of the Hunt was ranked 19th out of 45 projects and awarded funding that will guarantee it’s completion. Had I not attended, to answer questions and defend the idea, there’s no telling how much or if the project would be approved.

Meanwhile, I had a plan to drive to Kemmerer to see the murals in the post office there or go to Powell. In February, I provided production assistance for an interview session with Mark and Ardith Junge. The producer, Samantha Cheng. She mentioned that a colleague of hers, Sharon Yamato, may need a videographer in Powell. I contacted Sharon and decided to head north to record her interviews and check out the murals in Powell and Greybull.

Evaline George, 97, is one of the subjects of a documentary by Sharon Yamoto.

Evaline George, 97, is one of the subjects of a documentary by Sharon Yamato.

Pinedale to Powell 318 miles: The WCTF meeting finished at 1:30pm and I headed out to points north. There was snow on South Pass and sputtering rain the rest of the way through Lander, Riverton, Shoshoni, Thermopolis, Meeteetse, Cody then Powell. I stayed at the Super 8 in Powell. Mostly fracking workers staying there. Sharon is working on a documentary about the post World War II veteran homesteaders who came to Powell and repurposed some of the Hearth Mountain Relocation Camp housing barracks – some of those were repositioned to the Cottonwood Court in Riverton.

During a break in the action, I went over to the Powell Post Office and checked out the mural there by Manuel Bromberg. Nobody seemed to know much about it. I was referred to the local museum and will likely make another trip back through there. Bromberg is still alive and lives in Woodstock, New York. I may make a trip out there if he’s able to talk to me – he’s 98.

We interviewed three 97-year olds who still live in their remodeled barracks. These three nonagenarians still had their wits about them and had some good stories to tell. It was a long day. I stayed over and headed back home via Greybull.

Smoking is still allowed in most places in Wyoming. Cough, Cough.

Smoking is still allowed in most places in Wyoming. Cough, Cough. Including at this short order place in Greybull.

Powell to Greybull 48 miles: The last time I was through Greybull two years ago, I was stopped in one of those 45 mph to 30 mph speed traps. The cop let me off. The post office was about the only place open on Saturday. The postal clerks didn’t know much about the painting. The postmaster was to return later. I killed an hour at the Uptown Cafe for some breakfast. Smoking is still allowed here, which was a little strange. I went back to the PO and the postmaster hadn’t returned yet.  The clerk called her boss and he pointed her toward an old typewritten narrative on the wall.  Manuel Bromberg is in the book and I’ll see if he’s up for an interview.

I’ve been hearing about the storm in southern Wyoming and headed out again. I got gas in Thermopolis.

Manuel Bromberg painted the mural in the Greybull Post Office

Manuel Bromberg painted the mural in the Greybull Post Office.

Greybull to Boulder 478 miles: My gut reaction was to avoid I-80 and took the second worst route through Casper. There was sputtering rain and snow from Shoshoni to Casper. Casper to Douglas wasn’t too bad, but from there to Chugwater was slow going. The most snow was between Wheatland and Chugwater. Snow and slush started to build up on the highway. I know why there are crazy crashes – four wheel drive pickups that think they are invincible. I’ve driven in worse conditions by Elk Mountain.

I have to turn around on Monday for a meeting and job in Cheyenne Monday and Tuesday. It’s a labor of love having several projects in various stages of development. I’ll be heading to Kemmerer, Powell and Greybull, later in June enroute to my Devil’s Tower climbing trip over the 4th of July.

Hard copy still the best evidence of the present to inform the future

I've been sorting through my stuff and it's more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I’ve been sorting through my stuff and it’s more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I used to think hard copy would clutter up the world and everything would be digitized by now. Turns out, that’s not really the case. There will be plenty of hard copy carrying forth into the future.

Lot’s of history is “preserved” that way. I’m testament to that and sorting through boxes of papers and artifacts from my previous lives. I don’t know why I’ve held on to this stuff for so long.

Don’t be surprised if you get a mysterious envelope filled with some tangible tie between us.

Literal shared memories.

The main reason I like making historic documentaries is the research. I’ve gotten to know my way around the state of Wyoming archives, on three projects, most recently one about modern expressionism in Wyoming.

I like handling old photographs and learning about things past and assembling it all into a story.

I have an iPod with 80GB of memory. It will soon be out of date.

I have an iPod with 80GB of memory. It will soon be out of date.

A few years ago when iPods came out, I early-adopted one of the huge 80 gigabyte models.

Back in the days of cassettes, the rage was compiling a variety of music mixes on tape from LP vinyl records.

We used to borrow each others albums and copy them for our own collections. Not only had I accumulated vinyl, cassette tape music mixes, but also started buying CDs.

The iPod was supposed to revolutionize music storage. That it did, but they also sterilized memory making.

Hard copy.

A friend of mine posted on facebook recently about some problem he was having with his iPod hard drive – we have the same model – about cracking the case to get at it and the battery.

Backing up information continues to be a headache, not to mention batteries going dead. There’s a company that makes an adapter to replace the hard drives with high capacity SD cards, which is a pretty good idea. I’m looking into bumping mine up to 256GB.

My turntable still plays records, but I got rid of all of them in favor of CDs. My neighbor still has some discs to spin.

My turntable still plays records, but I got rid of all of them in favor of CDs. My neighbor still has some discs to spin.

Gone are the days of turntables, memorable scratches on certain songs, beer-stained 8-track labels, the residual aroma of pot on double album jackets. They take up space, but no fear of loss due to battery failure of out-of-date operating systems.

Kids must be learning different things in school. Metaphors must be changing, too, with way fewer industrial references.

I don’t think talkative people sound like broken records, or those with disagreements are now on the same wave length.

Carhartt jeans are still inspected by people, including these three in a factory in Mexico. They add that personal touch.

Carhartt jeans are still inspected by people, including these three in a factory in Mexico. They add that personal touch.

I put on a new pair of jeans the other day and there were these paper inspection labels in the pockets.

We’re led to believe that everything is automated and made by high tech machines.

There are still some items that have the human touch, including my Carhartts made in Mexico.

Not only were my trousers inspected three times, but one of the inspectors saved on paper by changing their ID number using a Magic Marker.

I don’t know what I expected the future to be like by now. When I was a kid there was the Hanna Barbera cartoon sit-com “The Jetsons.”

The Jetsons TV family was the view of a typical 1960s family if portrayed in the distant future.

The Jetsons TV family was the view of a typical 1960s family if portrayed in the distant future.

The Jetsons traveled around in hover craft, their house was cleaned by a robot named Rosie. George worked at the Spacely Sprockets office, Jane puttered around the house, Judy was in high school and Elroy was in elementary school.

Middle class and All-American for the future as envisioned in the early 1960s, which was the same present portrayed in Leave it to Beaver.

For 99 percent of us, we did become mass society – most everyone has a TV, microwave oven, internal combustion engine car.

Carhartt is one of those companies that has purged it’s guilt with a “Made in the USA” line and also stuff made elsewhere. Regardless, it’s good to know there are humans involved in the manufacturing quality control.

There’s plenty of esoteria that goes into making smart refrigerators and smart coffee pots, but the basic purposes remain the same – keep food cold and water hot.

After the Star Ship Enterprise blew up, Picard was able to retrieve his family album as he took over the Star Fleet command.

After the Star Ship Enterprise blew up, Picard was able to retrieve his family album as he took over the Star Fleet command.

Remember “Star Trek Generations”, the movie set in the 25th century when the Star Ship Enterprise is destroyed? Captain Kirk turns the keys over to Jean Luc Picard. Picard manages to save his hard copy family album.

Some of the photos and papers dated back to the 18th century. If it was digitized, the electromagnetic pulse would have wiped the disc clean.

Hard copy isn’t safe from disaster. The library at Alexandria was the book repository for the world at that time and it was supposedly destroyed by a big fire – no copies left of any of that.

Grocery store plastic bags cost a dime in Boulder, Colorado. The hope is to reduce the amount of trash that will be preserved for future generations to find and learn about our culture.

Grocery store plastic bags cost a dime in Boulder, Colorado. The hope is to reduce the amount of trash that will be preserved for future generations to find and learn about our culture.

I tossed out the trash today. It was in a plastic bag. I always dump it out so the organics will deteriorate and not leave any evidence of my diet in the landfill.

My neighbors use those nuclear war-proof bags with the draw strings. Archaeologists and paleontologists of the future will have a pretty good idea about our 21st century culture and determine that we inhabitants revered our detritus as evidenced by the stockpiles of leftover food, old papers and various containers hidden in large altars excavated into hill sides surrounding urban areas.