The Postojna Cave, near Postojna Slovenia, is an amazingly beautiful natural formation. The tour takes you underground, by train, through 27 kilometers of jaw-dropping tunnels and galleries full of huge stalgtites and stalagmites.
This performance took place in a cavern they call “the Vivarium” where visitors can see live specimins of a few of the more than 150 species of animal which have been discovered in this cave, including the cave olm or “human fish,” a pale, blind salamander that can live to the age of 100 years, and go without eating for up to 10 years. Amy and I found ouselves alone in the vivarium, which had very nice acoustics.
Biologists have found 27 different species of pseudo-scorpion living in the twiggy mounds which dusky-footed wood-rats build to raise their young. 27 different species of pseudoscorpion!
That just boggles my mind. First off, a pseudoscorpion is a tiny little arachnid, about the size of a tick, but a pseudoscorpion is not a parasite. Pseudoscorpions hunt and eat small parasites and mites that the rats attract. That explains why scientists find so many pseudo-scorpions in a rat’s nest, but it doesn’t explain why they find 27 distinct species of pseudo-scorpion in rats’ nests.
All pseudo-scorpions look pretty much the same. They look a little bit like ticks, except that instead of the long pointed mouth parts, a pseudoscorpion has a pair of large pincers on it’s foremost appendages, like a scorpion.
In fact, a pseudoscorpion looks just like a scorpion, except for its tiny size, and the fact that pseudo-scorpions have no tail, and no venomous sting. They are harmless little creatures who spend their time in dark shadowy places, like rats’ nests. Besides that, they can barely see with their very tiny eyes.
When two pseudoscorpions meet, they do a sort of dance where they face each other and engage each other’s large front claws.
If the dance goes well, they might mate.
If the dance does not go well, one pseudoscorpion, the larger, usually, will drive the other away. Most of the time, the dance does not go well, and this amazes me. How did pseudo-scorpions get to be so particular about who they fuck?
What makes one pseudoscorpion clasp claws with another, gender-compatible, pseudoscorpion, and go “Eewwww, yuck, gross! I wouldn’t fuck you in a hundred-million years!”? I don’t understand that at all. I’m like, “Come on, it’s dark. We’re both pseudoscorpions, We’re both horny. Let’s do it!”
To get 27 species of pseudoscorpion, the female pseudo-scorpion, and you know it’s the female pseudoscorpion, has to say, “You’re not my type.” categorically, at least 26 out of 27 times.
That tells me that female pseudoscorpions strongly disagree with each other about what they find attractive in a male pseudoscorpion.
Apparently, these strong preferences have almost no effect on the species’ ability to survive, since they all continue to thrive together, as they’ve done, through multiple extinction events, changes in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, and climatic shifts, for something like 400 million years.
Pseudoscorpions can be counted as some of the earliest known terrestrial animals on Planet Earth and their descendants have changed very little in the ensuing eons.
Probably only a female pseudoscorpion or a knowledgeable aracnologist would recognize the difference between a 400 million year old fossilized pseudoscorpion and a modern living specimen. To the rest of us, they’re just another bug.
What could a pseudoscorpion possibly be so picky about?
It’s not like one of them has a nicer pad, or takes them to better restaurants. They all live in the same rat’s nest, and they all eat the same mites and parasites. They’ve lived together, side by side, for eons, and endured many global changes, but they’ve never learned to find each other any more attractive, so each species continues to pursue it’s own aesthetic, it’s own habits and it’s own proclivities, and each individual pseudoscorpion selectively chooses from individuals of the same species, even if that means a pseudoscorpion has to endure 27 categorical rejections, just to get one real rejection.
That’s got to be rough on those little guys, who already kind of look like ticks, which can’t help their self-esteem any. You might even say that pseudoscorpions kind of look like ticks who work out too much to compensate for how little they are.
By being so particular, they practically guarantee themselves a lifetime of loneliness and I suppose that’s why, when you see a pseudoscorpion, say in the bathroom, behind the toilet tank, they are usually alone. If you do see a pseudoscorpion, however, take a close look, because they are really quite cute, and you should tell them so, because I’m sure they don’t hear it enough.
At long last, I can buy marijuana, legally, here in California. I don’t need a note from my doctor, and I don’t have to pretend to be sick. I can walk into a store, admire their selection of fine cannabis products, and if I have enough money, and I can prove that I’m over 21 years of age, I can buy my choice of them, without having to look over my shoulder to see if there’s a cop around. I’ve waited a really long time for this. I’ve been dreaming of this day since 1978, and working for it since 1988, but I guess I’ll have to wait a few more days.
I had hoped that I would not have to drive far to visit one of these new recreational cannabis retailers on January 1st. People around here like to call Southern Humboldt County “the Heart of the Emerald Triangle,” but unfortunately, the two venders seeking retail recreational cannabis licenses in Southern Humboldt are still not quite open for business. When I inquired of the Humboldt County Cannabis Chamber of Commerce as to where I could find the nearest recreational cannabis retailer in my area, they refered me to a list compiled by Leafly.com, listing all of the cannabis retailers in the state that have registered with them to be open on January 1st.
I only found one retailer on that list in Humboldt County, EcoCann in Oldtown Eureka. I had never heard of them before, but a couple of days later, I found their circular in the North Coast Journal, offering preroll joints for one dollar, one per customer, with coupon. It’s about 80 miles from our place in Ettersburg to Oldtown, a long way to drive, and a lot of money in gas for a one dollar joint, especially considering that all of my friends and neighbors have tons of weed, and I can hardly go to town without someone giving a wad of buds for free.
Still, I want to buy weed, legally, in a licensed store. Well, not exactly weed, but I want to buy some cannabis products. I have weed. Everyone I know has weed. If I was out of weed, I would buy weed in the store. Hell, if I was out of weed, I would’ve driven to the store on New Years Eve and camped out overnight so that I could be their first customer on New Year’s Day, but I’ve got plenty of weed, so it can wait a few more days until we need to make a trip up North.
On Jan 5, I have an appointment in Trinidad to record a couple of segments for my KMUD radio show: Monday Morning Magazine. I think I’ll visit the dispensary then, and turn my visit to EcoCann into a segment as well. Celebrating legal cannabis will be the cover story of the show, which will air on KMUD (streaming and archived at www.kmud.org) on January 8, from 7-9am, about the time this post drops on LoCO. We will talk a lot about this new world we call legalization with a live panel of local entrepreneurs who have set sail to discover it, including Graham Shaw, Holly Carter, Kevin Jodrey and Lelehnia Dubois.
I’m really excited about this. I feel like a kid anticipating his first trip to the candy store. It’s been years since I had a medical recommendation, and when I did go to the trouble of getting a medical recommendation, it was only because I had shitloads of weed, and felt I needed the legal protection. Once, at Wonderland Nursery in Redway, I used my medical marijuana card to buy a bottle of Golden Dragon Medicinal Syrup for my mom, who has Parkinson’s disease, but other than that, I’ve never shopped for cannabis at a dispensary before.
The circular from EcoCann tells me they have quite a few strains of fresh cannabis flower for sale, and the pictures of the buds look pretty nice, but I’ve got plenty of flowers. Right now, I’m more interested in some of the new, value added, cannabis products that you only find at a a legal dispensary. Last year, I sent my mother a box of chocolates from the Humboldt Chocolate Company behind the gazebo in Oldtown. My mother, naturally, assumed that anything that had “Humboldt” in the name, must be infused with cannabis, and that’s what she told her friends, when she shared those, very delicious, but non-medicated, truffles with them. Of course, they all thought they got high from them. I would like to give my mother some chocolates that really will get her and her friends high, and I’ll bet they have them at EcoCann.
For myself, I’d like to find a way to ingest cannabis that doesn’t harsh my vocal chords as much as smoking, and that doesn’t involve sugar, and I’m sure my girlfriend would appreciate it if I didn’t stink the house up with smoke so much. I might want to try a vape pen, and I’ve heard great things about a cannabis throat spray.
I still find it hard to believe that I no longer have to feel paranoid about carrying weed (but I probably will, for the rest of my life), and I can go to a licensed store to buy it, even if it takes two hours to get there. So much has changed in forty rears, mostly for the worst, but this change is long overdue. Really, it’s about time.
I hear a lot of debate about vaccines these days, and I think it’s an interesting topic because of what it reveals about our current zeitgeist. I’ve hesitated to say anything about the subject, because the decision of whether or not to vaccinate children is generally made by parents, and it’s hard for me to think of anyone crazy enough to bring a child into this world as capable of making intelligent decisions. However, I can see why an intelligent parent, if in fact they exist, might reasonably, or even wisely, choose not to have their child immunized as thoroughly as the State of California now demands for all public school students.
I understand the value of vaccines. My dad had polio. He had a withered left leg and walked with a severe limp from the time he was five years old. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Today, they’ve nearly wiped polio out with the Salk and Sabin Vaccines, but still, cases do turn up, especially in densely populated areas with poor sanitation. Polio remains a threat, in part because many people who live in areas still affected by polio, resist immunization themselves, and refuse to immunize their children. I understand how wonderful it would be to live in a world where no one ever got polio again, but I also understand why even the people most effected by polio would vehemently resist taking the vaccine.
Polio is a terrible disease, but polio is not an evil disease. My dad got polio because he grew up in Philadelphia, trapped in a maze of concrete, teeming with malnourished, alcoholic humans, choked with soot, sewage and industrial waste. My dad got sick because of the wretched conditions he endured as a child. Instead of making life better for children, the Salk Vaccine made it possible for more children to endure and survive such horrid conditions. That’s what vaccines do. Vaccines allow people to survive in unhealthy conditions, and as conditions deteriorate, we require more and more vaccines to endure them.
We use vaccines to override nature’s population control functions. Meanwhile, overpopulation remains the biggest threat to life on Earth and the leading cause of poverty and human suffering. While vaccines save lives, they don’t make life better, and they don’t lead to a brighter future. Also, the risk, benefit analysis of all vaccines is not the same. Your veterinarian will tell you that before your doctor will, but it’s true. I caught mumps, measles and chicken pox in public school, along with all of my class mates, and we all survived. Not every vaccine fights a disease as terrible as polio or small pox, and not every vaccine is as effective as the Salk vaccine, but every vaccine has it’s own distinct list of side-effects and interactions.
I don’t want to debate the science of vaccines, because the people who believe in Science, are eager to bludgeon people with it. In truth, I think the difference between the pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination camps has more to do with perspective and values than it does with facts and science. I think it’s an issue upon which reasonable people can disagree, and where we disagree, says a lot about where we are, as a culture.
As science has ascended to the status of religion in our culture, it is not enough for science to describe our world to us. Science needs to inspire us with the promise of a brighter future, and save us from impending doom. Science needed a mythology, and vaccines have become a critical part of the mythology behind Science, the religion. Here’s how the story goes:
Through vaccines, Science has saved millions of lives. Small pox, rabies, polio, tuberculosis, these diseases plagued mankind before the advent of Science, but once scientists developed vaccines for these diseases, people stopped dying from them. Fewer people dying means more lives saved. The mathematical calculation of how many lives vaccines have saved is a critical component to the mythology of this new religion.
This calculation must be unassailable in it’s methodology, and honest about it’s margin of error, and it must show that vaccines have saved millions of lives, and the number of lives saved by vaccines must continue to rise. Science needs to save a lot of lives with vaccines, because from time to time, science kills and maims a lot of people. From thalidomide babies, surgical accidents and the known side-effects of prescribed medications, to DDT, Love Canal, and Fukushima, science has killed and maimed a whole lot of people. For Science to serve as our religion, the number of lives destroyed by science must seem insignificant compared to the number of lives it has saved, and giving someone a vaccine is about the cheapest and easiest way to “save” someone that Science can get.
From another, equally scientific, perspective, one may ask: In a world where a hundred or more species of plant and animal go extinct every day, why should we care so much about saving human lives? Why should we support and participate in these efforts to override nature’s population control systems when it inevitably leads to a lower quality of life, and more environmental destruction? Maybe the better world you envision for your child is not one which hosts the largest possible human population. You may, quite reasonably, feel that what’s best for your child’s future is not what the Church of Science demands of you.
It’s not that people don’t believe the statistics, or understand the concept. I think they do understand. They understand that technological fixes, like vaccines, usually cover up, and spawn bigger problems than they solve. People have seen enough to know that science doesn’t make life better. People have seen enough of science to recognize the pattern that starts with a great discovery, followed by promises of a brighter future, succeeded by “God help us. What have we done?” I think we have entered an age where people regret science.
The anti-vaccination movement tells me that death and disease no longer frighten us as much as the horrors unleashed by science, and that people no longer believe that Science will bring them a better tomorrow. People have learned to mistrust Science, not because of superstition, or lack of understanding, but because of experience. We’ve seen enough of Science to recognize it for what it is, and now that we understand science, we realize that we’d better trust nature.
I love cannabis, and I love Humboldt County. Cannabis is a beautiful plant with many beneficial uses, and Humboldt County is a very special place. Humboldt County’s steep, rugged terrain, frequent earthquakes and remote location have protected it from development. As urban sprawl and agriculture displaced California’s native wildlife, many of California’s endemic species retreated to the forested mountains of Humboldt County. Some of these species are now found nowhere else on Earth.
Everyone knows about the redwoods, and that Luna, the famous redwood giant that Julia Butterfly Hill lived in for two years, still stands in Humboldt County, along with some of the last remaining old-growth redwood forest in the world. Roosevelt elk, mountain lions and black bear all make their home in Humboldt County’s wild back-country. Endangered species like the spotted owl, coho salmon, pacific fisher and Humboldt martin all face uncertain futures as the very last populations of these once abundant creatures struggle to survive and reproduce here in the last wild refuge left to them. Rare amphibians like the tailed frog and the giant Pacific salamander testify to the great biodiversity that Humboldt County’s ancient forests have incubated and nurtured through the eons.
Today, Humboldt County’s black market cannabis industry threatens them all. A massive expansion underway in Humboldt County’s underground marijuana industry is having a devastating effect on native wildlife. New roads and clear-cuts for marijuana plantations degrade and fragment vital forest habitat. Fertilizer runoff and road sediment choke salmon streams, Noise and light pollution disrupt wildlife behavior. Rat poison and pesticides kill native wildlife, including essential forest pollinators, and leave a legacy of poison that kills and sickens animals throughout the food web for generations. The movement towards legalization and the deescalation of the War on Drugs has unleashed a monster in Humboldt County.
Humboldt County’s cannabis industry is a product of the War on Drugs, and to this day, the vast majority of the marijuana grown in Humboldt County gets sold on the black market. Humboldt County’s black market growers heed no regulation, pay no taxes, and show no respect for wildlife. The black market cannabis industry has always been a “cut and run” business, and our forests are already littered with the detritus of long abandoned guerrilla grow sites from those bygone days. Today the scale of the grows and the number of grows have increased by orders of magnitude. Humboldt County’s forest habitat cannot withstand this scale of abuse.
Most of Humboldt County’s local environmental groups have chosen to work for better regulation and compliance. However, their efforts are overwhelmed, both politically, and on the ground, by an industry that never asks permission and always wants more. Humboldt County government is dominated by real estate developers who seem as eager to cash in on the green-rush as the growers themselves. The great seal of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors depicts a redwood log, not a tree, but a log, sawn at both ends, lying on its side. That pretty much sums up the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors attitude towards the environment.
So far, regulation has done nothing to reign-in the out-of-control devastation going on in Humboldt County. That’s why a new group of concerned Humboldt County residents have decided to take their message to cannabis consumers and policymakers directly. This new organization, Habitat Forever, strongly supports the complete legalization of cannabis, but seeks to draw attention to the terrible environmental impacts of Humboldt County’s black market industry. To this end, they’ve produced a five-minute micro-documentary titled Humboldt is Habitat that examines the environmental impacts of Humboldt County’s black market marijuana industry.
Cannabis consumers might be surprised to discover that Humboldt County’s famous marijuana is not grown in Humboldt County soil at all. Instead, all of the soil used to grow marijuana in Humboldt County is trucked-in fresh each year, often hundreds of miles from its source, up steep, winding dirt roads, causing sediment and erosion that choke salmon streams. Cannabis consumers deserve to know the truth about the products they pay for, and now that cannabis has become legal, consumers should be able to choose whether they want to support Humboldt County’s fisher-poisoning, salmon-killing black market growers, or not.
Habitat Forever reminds cannabis consumers that it is still best to grow your own, and that it is more important than ever to know where and how your cannabis was grown. Now that prohibition is ending, Habitat Forever believes that it is vitally important to move the cannabis industry out of Humboldt County’s critical natural habitat, and to make space for the legal cannabis industry in more appropriate locations, like agricultural farmland, urban brown-fields, close to population centers, abandoned mill-sites etc. Humboldt County’s natural beauty and the world’s biological heritage is far too precious to abandon to Humboldt County’s drug war holdovers still squeezing the last few bucks out of the this heinous crime against humanity known as the War on Drugs.
You can see Habitat Forever’s new video, Humboldt is Habitat at youtube and you can visit their website at www.habitatforever.wordpress.com
Lemonade Day is coming up this Saturday June 4th. Have you heard of Lemonade Day? Lemonade Day was designed to teach kids about capitalism and running their own business by encouraging them open a lemonade stand. They’ve had Lemonade Day in the northern part of the county for a few years now, but our 2nd District County Supervisor Estelle Fennell introduced me to a woman named Lynette who told me that they received a $3,000 grant to help get Lemonade Day off the ground in Southern Humboldt.
How about that! I never made anything like $3,000 from all of my childhood lemonade stands put together. Maybe we should have Grant Writing Day instead. Certainly more people around here make their living by working for non-profits than do by selling lemonade.
Then Brian Elie told me a story of an inspiring young entrepreneur. I don’t know his name, and I’m sure I wouldn’t use it if I did, but Brian showed me a picture of a rather pissed-off looking young man, about 20 years old, with a shaved head wearing a white, wife-beater T-shirt. I didn’t recognize the kid in the picture.
“He hit me!” Brian exclaimed, and proceeded to tell me about this young go-getter. One day recently, as Brian approached his office, behind the bagel shop in Garberville, he noticed this young man involved in what appeared to be a drug transaction, behind his office. Brian said he yelled at the kid: “Hey, don’t do that around here!” to which the kid replied “Fuck You Asshole!” Then, Brian said he saw a cell phone laying on the ground. He picked it up. That’s when the kid attacked Brian physically, and slugged him. I guess it was the kid’s phone.
The cops eventually caught the kid, and sent Brian the photo, to see if Brian recognized his assailant. He did. Brian said that all of the text messages on the phone were notes like “I ned n 8th.” Can you believe it? That kid was hustling nickle bags of weed in Garberville! That’s like selling bottled water to a drowning man. “What a spunky young businessman.” I thought.
Then I thought to myself, “Where would this community be without thousands of energetic, self-motivated young men, just like the one Brian told me about, who work so tirelessly, all across this country, to sell the product for which Humboldt County is so well known?
I’ll bet a good percentage of Humboldt County’s successful businessmen began their career as one of those young men. It must take an enormous army of resourceful, motivated young street dealers to insure that every Jr. High and High School student in America has access to Humboldt County’s most famous export. Yes, this community owes its prosperity to the hard work, determination and can-do spirit of young entrepreneurs just like the kid who punched Brian Elie in the face, outside of his office.
All over this country, every day, nice people like Brian get cursed at, punched and worse, by the wonderful people who work so hard to make this community prosperous. Talk about aggressive marketing! As the price of cannabis continues to fall, marketing will only become more important. That’s why, here in Southern Humboldt, we need to rethink Lemonade Day.
The Lemonade Stand is cliche and passe. Nobody around here makes money on lemonade, but more than 500 families in SoHum have made more than a million dollars each, thanks to an army of drug-dealing street thugs just like that enterprising young man who slugged Brian Elie. You can find them operating in every single town in America.
Besides destroying communities and terrorizing neighborhoods, every year, an alarming number of this tremendously successful marketing team die violent deaths well before their time. More still find themselves incarcerated, serving long, work-related, prison sentences. I cannot stress how important it is to the economy of Humboldt County that children growing up today learn the skills they need to fill those empty shoes. That’s why I encourage all of you to join me in making this Saturday June 4, the first official Dime Bag Day in Southern Humboldt.
Here’s how it works: If you grow weed, you can sponsor a child on Dime Bag Day by fronting them an ounce of pot. The child then takes the marijuana home, splits it up into quarter, and eighth-of-an-ounce bags, and decides how much to charge for them. By doing this, children learn about math and fractions, weights and measures, materials costs and profit margins. Then on Saturday, June 4th, all of the kids come to town and try to sell their weed. Anyone can participate, and we encourage everyone to come out and support the kids.
This Saturday, on Dime Bag Day, if a kid comes up to you and offers to sell you some weed, say “Yes, Please.” Even if you have plenty of weed, or don’t smoke weed at all, buy some weed from a kid on the street on Dime Bag Day. We want these kids to have a positive experience, and for this early success to bolster their confidence. Just give them your money, and try not to haggle too much about the price. Don’t make them bust a cap on your ass.
This is a great opportunity to teach kids about business and how the economy really works, so get the whole family involved in SoHum’s first Dime Bag Day. Your kids will learn the value of a dollar, gain valuable business experience, and get a taste of the exciting fast-paced life of a street dealer. They’ll also give those Lemonade Day sucka’s something to spend their hard-earned money on.