Tuesday 6 February 2018

Marijuana and Driving


It is shocking whenever we read about how many innocent people are seriously injured or killed by another drunk driver. Often the penalties imposed - especially for repeat offenders -are seriously slack. We don’t yet know whether the same scenarios will be repeated for drivers who are high on pot. “Don’t smoke and drive” should be the rule just as much as “Don’t drink and drive”. I will have a drink but I don't happen to smoke.

Recent DUI charges for alcohol are reasonable as long as no other party is injured as a result – loss of driving privileges short term or long being common. For death or injury caused by someone under the influence, penalties are much more severe and so they should be. Shouldn't the same apply to pot?

If legislation and penalties are to be reasonable however, the consumer should be also. If you are stopped for running a red light or a faulty brake light, an officer should have every right while addressing you to test you if he or she suspects you are under ANY influence that might endanger others. It shouldn’t matter whether they suspected you in advance or not.

If in the process the officer sees a person tied and bound in your back seat and it proves to be a kidnapping, do you go free because there was no prior reason to believe you were a kidnapper? I hope the answer is a unanimous NO.

I can recall scenes in which my friends were higher than a kite on pot and they did some crazy and very irresponsible things which they would never have done otherwise. That was with older and less potent grass. There is no way I would have climbed into a car with them driving.

Just as with booze, there should be no allowance for one person’s self-perceived tolerance over another’s. Set limits – one for all - and apply them to everyone.

Something else to remember: People should do a little surfing to see how lucky we are. You are executed in some places for DUI offences. I imagine the same will apply to smoking up and driving.

Don’t want to take a roadside test for pot? Don’t smoke and drive. Get used to it.

The Brewster

Monday 5 February 2018

President Trump - an Optimistic View

President Trump - OPTIMISM

One of the guiding principles which I often wish more people joined me in following is to always try to see another’s perspective. Before a knee-jerk reaction I ask myself: "Why did the person, group, company etc., do or say the something to which I feel a negative reaction?" I try to consider this before reacting myself.

A second is to attempt to be fair when I criticize a person and many of us have not hesitated to criticize President Trump. Welcome to democracy. However negative, destructive criticism is easy – especially with the advent of email and other forms of social media. Not only is it easy but it is often the focus of a lot of coverage and attention depending on your celebrity. Generally such criticism is worth little - neither is the celebrity in my case. I have none.

The only time tearing apart the words, thoughts, and ideas of another is of value is when the critic can offer constructive alternatives and suggestions. The world is full of critics and I include myself. Putting your own ideas out there as a target – now that takes more guts.

The President often refers to his superior education and schooling and brags about his IQ, despite frequently using incorrect grammar (“I did it proper” (not “properly.”)) and vocabulary. Still I must admit that anyone who rises to the top of any large organization must have something going for them, nepotism aside. Frequently it is assertiveness if not blatant aggression. That goes for skaters, dancers, actors etc. and is not always bad. When it turns into abuse, it is bad.

I would say that most successful people possess some of these characteristics. Many of the less successful are followers. So Mr. President manipulate - all politicians do. Just do it for OUR benefit and not yours.

Let us assume that the President at least has a certain cleverness and knows how to bully his way to the top. Winston Churchill was a master although I feel compelled to arrest the comparison there.

The President also brags about his wealth and perhaps some day if he releases his tax returns and pays any outstanding wages or other debts or claims against him or his company, we will believe him.  

We are told by President Trump that consumers' and business confidence are both high and so is business itself (I have sometimes wondered if the same adjective applied to the speaker in question. ) The President mentioned all of this in his State of the Union address. The shock would have been if he had not. Sometime after making these statements the market took its second big fall in a row - no mention of that yet.

During the campaign much was made of his business experience as the head of a large corporation. Did that really qualify him to lead a democracy any more than the legal experience of many other Presidents qualified them? A grade B actor turned out to be a pretty good leader. You just can’t tell until that chair in the Oval Office is occupied. Lots of people recognized this - you can't run a democratic government the way you can a corporation.

Having expressed all of the above and after publishing some negative sentiments about President Trump, it is only fair that I apply my own virtuous principles. Here goes. I admit to a feeling that this could be a challenge.

I have tried to apply the first - seeing his point of view – but I am simply not aware of one that does not focus on himself. Sorry.

On to the second. What can a bragging, aggressive, possibly clever, possibly wealthy, possibly well educated, bullying, extemporaneous prevaricator (Churchill again) do for his country and the world? A lot. He is POTUS. (I pray he doesn’t think that is something that people should not smoke and proceed to say that he intends to ban it.)

Here are some things The President should consider:
  • On a personal level, if he is so wealthy, he should follow the lead of someone like Bill Gates. Many people didn’t like Bill either as he rose to fame. He never denied it or try to brag the opposite. Check out the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Warren Buffet is also one of the top philanthropists and he could probably buy out the private Mr. Trump in an instant.
  • If The President does this he should make sure the undertakings are verifiable or better - don't tell anyone about them. The world will eventually become aware. Classy people attract class – they don’t have to solicit it (see "Barack Obama".)
  • As President, he could just make a sincere effort to make himself more likeable. He doesn’t have to advertise it. People will recognize it. If he doesn’t know how, take a course! Use that IQ. OK I accept that he should not have time for that as POTUS.
  • How about simply asking any true friends he has what is objectionable about him? He must not however, seek vengeance if he doesn’t like what they say. Thank them sincerely. Take their advice.
  • Again trying to be considerate, it is my impression that Donald’s father was hardly a Ward Cleaver / Jim Anderson / Ozzie Nelson kind of guy. The young Donald’s personality was cast in his formative years. Not his fault.
  • Here is the best advice of all. Ask his wife what he can do (if she will still speak to him.) She seems to be a good mother and a nice person. Respect her opinion. Play catch with Barron and take him to a game - preferably in private. Comments I have heard would indicate that people feel sorry for the boy.
  • And finally he could apologize. For what? The list is long. Again ask his friends and maybe his family.

Don’t like any of that Mr. President? You are adept at being childish. Try this. I doubt if you have.  Watch “A Christmas Carol” - listen to Scrooge at the end; “It’s a Wonderful Life”; “Miracle on 34th Street”; “Bambi”; “Old Yeller”; "Lion King". Just pick one. Cry if it feels good. Nobody has to know.

The Brewster

President TRUMP Election November 8th, 2016 (Verse)


When some things occur, we know where we were.
And even the time of the day.
I’ll always remember that day in November.
Somebody shot JFK.

Who didn’t fear or shed a tear,
For Jaqueline and Nellie too.
Some evil plot saw two good men shot,
By the twisted minds of a few.

John said soon, they would land on the moon.
And they did while I was in France.
In a little campsite, on a radio that night,
Three men held the world in a trance.

Fast forward my friends through the milestones and trends
To November in twenty sixteen.
Clinton and Trump had been on the stump,
What a year - like none we have seen.

How could he intrude - this blowhard so rude?
He has to be soundly rejected!
But soon we would see in The Land of the Free
The Boor of the Year was elected.

Americans all, how far must you fall
In the eyes of your allies and friends?
Perhaps you don’t care or you just aren’t aware
For some things you can’t make amends.

Who will be next? We're really perplexed.
Rocky Balboa or Spock?
What about Kramer? Someone even lamer?
Might we suggest a Pet Rock?

Stop the free fall. Please heed our call
And give your heads a good shake.
Your man  with the frown is such a let down
It's time to right your mistake.

The Brewster

Monday 29 January 2018

World Peace - and Skunks!

How SKUNKS could lead to Word Peace

One of the most vivid childhood memories I have involves skunks. Come to think of it, several of the most vivid and emotional adult memories I have involve the same thing, but the two-legged variety. Am  I alone?   

There was a valley in our neighborhood - a ravine - through which we walked to school. Dead-end streets existed on either side which were eventually joined. For many years however, the path which lead through it was simply known as the "gully". As with most gullies, there was a creek in the bottom and a swamp where it widened. We skated there. The ravine itself was lush with bushes - great for playing, hiding, exploring and that sort of thing. Nightfall was a different matter. 


Because it was isolated, and because like many kids I was afraid of the dark, it was not a place to be caught after the sun went down. I remember having to walk through it on occasion at dusk and once or twice in total darkness. I waited for all sorts of bogeymen to jump out of the bushes to get me. But foremost on my mind was skunks. The mere thought of one of these little creatures made me run for my life. They were a real live representation of all that was to be feared at night.
There were times of course after seeing a horror movie when thoughts of werewolves, Frankenstein, robbers and murderers  also made me run at the slightest sound. Skunks however were the only real nocturnal creatures I would occasionally see. In such a case I was upon them or vice versa before realizing it due to their dark color. Most parents train their kids to run like hell at the sight of a skunk. More power to them, since I have had to bathe my dog more than once after such an encounter. I wish I had been able to train her in a similar manner.

Now to the CREATION part. I am a believer in Darwin, Natural Selection etc. Let us assume however that there is a supreme creator. Of all the creatures on earth, what in heavens name - if that is where such a creator resides - could have possibly incented the inclusion of this little four-legged animal which lifts its tail to fend off attackers by emitting a pungent odour? This reminds me of the squid which emits black ink to hide itself. Naturally I’ve never encountered that. Why ink anyway? What is a squid going to do if attacked - write about it?

Creatures have built-in armor, strength, speed, camouflage, poison, or just plain ugliness to defend themselves. Skunks take the cake. Much as I love cake, if one of the little darlings ever made off with mine, I'd be the first to say "let it eat cake" and find another desert. I couldn't have dreamt up this animal if I were on drugs!  

I read once that only one part of this chemical in several million parts is all it takes to be detectable by a human being. Now you know why it is so tough to wash away - it lingers in and on anything it touches. For your information, there are shampoos now which can be used to clean pets that get sprayed. I am happy to say they work. I kept a bottle on hand (about $8.00) when I had a dog and had occasion to use it.    

The white stripes are a touch of class. If it were totally black, more people would probably get skunked. As it is, there is kind of a visual warning. Nature is like that. Think about it. Rattlesnakes, bees, dogs, cats, scorpions, ground hogs (they click their teeth), even human beings usually give warning before an attack. It's a kind of "Back off or else". The baboon family - closely related to humans - use their behind as an insult. Human beings often do the same thing. We call it "mooning". We consider the terms "asshole" and "horse's ass" to be insulting.

Now to World Peace.  

How did the creator miss the mark? All the great wars of history could have been avoided if human beings had tails and stripes. Instead of shooting, stabbing, slashing, and exploding each other to bits, the armies of the world could simply have faced off. The only ammunition required would be the last couple of meals. On the count of three or whatever, troops would simply turn around, lift their tails, show their stripes, and let fly. The most offensive collective odor would win the day. The military cooks would be the heroes. No-one would be killed. They would just blow each other away. Turning tail would be the norm, not a cowardly act. Perhaps this is why Scottish soldiers wear kilts?. Maybe Mel Gibson in Brave Hearts knew more than he was letting on. 

Right about now you are probably thinking that this is one columnist who has inhaled a touch too much skunk odor. You could be right for here is another thought. I happen to believe that when war is declared we should send entirely female armies. They could simply talk non-stop until one side surrendered. No killing would be necessary here either. On the other hand they might never make it to the front. After all, on each side,  the entire army would be wearing the same outfit! YIKES. I shudder at the thought. They would kill their own peers. Maybe not such a good idea. 

The Brewster

Sunday 14 December 2014

Alzheimers - While Shepherds Watched Our Flocks.

Christmas – a time which stimulates a very personal memory. It is time to share it. Think about this. Please.

In 1996 I sat with my mother and father and another couple at a simple table, in a simple dining area, eating a simple Christmas meal in advance of the big date itself. There were some old decorations - artificial, and - simple. Dad was tucking into his turkey. Mom was smiling. So was the other lady. Neither husband seemed to share the richness of the moment.
As I looked around, similar scenes unfolded with many faces - some smiling; some sad; some blank. I remembered former family feasts with toddlers in highchairs being spoon-fed by a parent. Parents struggled to direct one utensil to the child’s mouth and another to their own before the meal became cold. Sometimes kids enjoyed every morsel as seen by their smiling faces, giggles, and flailing arms. Other times they resisted every spoonful. Food was dropping everywhere. That was long ago.

This time the difference was stark. Here, there was little resistance and no giggling. There were some highchairs. Food was dropping. Some spouses were struggling to enjoy their own food and feed their dependent. However these dependents were not toddlers but seniors with Alzheimer’s. The lady at our table was feeding her husband. At others men fed their wives, or volunteers fed a stranger without any relatives who bothered to visit. Soon thereafter, we would have to feed Dad.

There are other memories. I remember the first time we had to leave Dad in the “lock-up” facility - him following us to the door; the guilt on our faces; the look on his. “The Doctor said you have to stay for a while” was our explanation. Dad was either so ill that he had no ability to argue, or he was just being himself and was accepting the inevitable peacefully for our sake. We will never know.

I remember entering the combination the nurse gave us to open the door while hiding it from the more clever residents. For them this was entertainment. Some managed to exit but were always returned. The combination would be changed. The game would start over.

I remember when Dad stopped addressing me by name and the first time we saw him walking up and down the hall hand-in-hand with a little lady who resembled his wife.  Mom smiled and thought it was cute - or so she said. One stark image was that of Dad standing in the corridor chatting to another older man who responded in kind. It was total gibberish - baby talk. But they seemed to be communicating!
I remember Dad’s future roommate - the same man. He was alone - first in a corner chair; later in his bed. His brother never came. The man wasted away. Then he died.

After dinner we gathered in a room to sing carols. A volunteer played the piano. Most people sang including the patients. Mom sat and joined in - her voice an unmistakable soprano. The pianist remarked after the first tune that she could hear one clear voice hitting the high notes - Mom’s. Dad also sat and sang - something. I held the song sheet for a man standing on the sidelines with me. He held it with me but was obviously singing from a failing memory.

Mostly I remember thinking as the food was served, that on December 25th the same caregiving staff would be here once again, not at home with their families. I shuddered to think of the consequences if too many of them took a “sick” day on Christmas, or any other time. It would be Bedlam - literally.

I hereby gratefully thank every Caregiver to the chronically ill in every facility everywhere. So should you. Some day you might need them. Know someone with this disease? Visit them - often. The staff will know you care even if the patient doesn’t. That alone will sometimes make a difference in the care which they receive. It shouldn’t but we have all heard of a very few places where patients were not only ignored but abused when there were no outside eyes keeping a vigil.

I remember Dad’s final moments.

God - whoever and wherever you are, and anyone else so inclined  - bless Caregivers. Please keep up the good fight.
There are many great blogs devoted to this disease. Here is an earl for a partial list:

List of Alzheimer Blogs

The Brewster