Writings and observations



Rhymes with damnit-all. I want to meet the creator of this newest opioid in Hell and slit his/her throat wide open. Two days of that shit was enough.
All I was looking for was a way to alleviate my intermittent back pain as arthritis encroaches. I don’t care for the effects of opiates so scratch me off as a junkie. But this Tramadol crap will double-you up in so much pain, you’ll forget why you took it.

I’d take aspirin but it’s hard on the stomach-lining and exacerbates the sillicic crystals that fill up our joints and cause us such pain.

Unadulterated codeine fills the bill just fine and I don’t “need it” every day. Hell, in Canada you can buy it OTC, and I don’t hear of a rampant codeine problem there.
Here, in the U.S., its prescription puts you and your doc on the DEA watch-list.

Why can’t we just abolish the DEA entirely, grow Oriental poppies and some weed in the back yard, and if we need a little pain relief, there they are without all of Big Pharma’s help. Oh, wait, you can’t patent a plant. Thus is an industry born.
I am particularly unamused by licensed physicians treating 90-year-old patients who are in agony with pain with “pain management,” their reasoning being that they wouldn’t want their geriatric patients to get hooked on something that actually worked.

“Just say No” – one of Nancy Reagan’s greatest contributions to the dementia underlying the War on Drugs and empowering the Drug Enforcement Agency with more weaponry and thug-power than the CIA could imagine in its wettest of dreams – tell that to an addict, or somebody in severe pain.

She and Ronnie launched the largest black market since the Brits blew up China 100 years ago in order for Europe to recoup its losses in their rent-serving thousand-year-old trading agreements, hooking young Chinese on powerful opiates to regain the silver China had been paid for its advanced technologies.

(The US was no innocent bystander, either. We didn’t build our famed fleet of Clipper Ships for dead-head runs to the Orient. They hauled refined opium to China and returned fully-loaded with confiscated silver and a modicum of tea. Spend some time in China and look at the villages and monuments we Americans torched and wrecked.)
After a brief shelling exchange in Canton Harbour where the Royal Navy demolished China’s shore batteries, the Empress sought a truce with England: Quit bringing refined opium into our ports and selling to our youth and quit stupefying them, and we’ll give you Hong Kong.

So yeah, the opium argument swings both ways. It can be, like fire, incredibly harmful or incredibly helpful. But there is a huge middle-ground about these naturally occurring plants. Are the consequences of a lost relationship with Mexico and the hundreds of thousands of annual deaths worth it? Just as importantly, are our lost liberties to the DEA, the USDA and all else worth it?

My solution is simple: outlaw refineries and put Big Pharma out of business. When our civilian military are done with that, abolish them, too.

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Ah, the first day of winter. . .

Yesterday’s June solstice having yesterday passed, the days are now getting shorter and shorter — first slowly, then increasingly and noticeably shorter as the autumnal equinox arrives in September.

Yes, days are quite rapidly becoming shorter and before long, the leaves will begin to turn and “termination dust” (a term Alaskans use to describe the descending snow-line in the Chugach Mountains) will become visible.

So enjoy these long days for the brief period of time we have left.

If there is a bright spot, it is that days themselves are longer by by a full 1.7 milliseconds than they were a century ago, this being the result of those big sluggish bodies of water we call oceans, which are slowing down the Earth’s rotation as they respond to gravitational pulls from the moon and other celestial bodies.

My guess is that in another century or two, all those idiotic windmills we’re putting up to generate expensive electricity will have slowed the planet’s rotation even more, making for yet longer days as they impose drag on our atmospheric ocean.

At any rate, have a nice day and start digging those Christmas decorations out. You have but milliseconds left.

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A simply “Amazon” coda to my recent Sirius/XM Radio and DirecTV tortures: My constant companion, an Amazon Kindle paper-white e-reader, finally gave up the ghost. Early symptoms were longer charging times and more frequent needs to be charged up.

Went through all the usual diagnostics but TBT, the batteries in these things are pretty well shot after five years even in airplane mode with the power-hungry wi-fi shut off.

Finally, it would only work for a minute or two away from its power cable.

What to do? I was in the middle of a pretty good book, so ordered and quickly received a refurbished replacement. Now, what to do with the old Kindle? It needs a new battery but is otherwise in babied shape.

So I called Amazon, which unlike Sudden-Link, Sirius and DirecTV among most service providers, is pretty good at quickly answering the phone in English. My intention was donate the dead-battery Kindle, certain they have some program to re-hab these things and then give them to perhaps disadvantaged school-kids.

The website the young man directed me to had no such option, and insofar as the thing was so far out of warranty, getting any monetary remuneration was out of the question. I just wanted to know how to give the thing away, have Amazon replace the spent battery in the hopes it might end up, working like new, in the hands of some needy person.

No joy.

This took a good half-hour’s time, chewing through the Kindle website and being bounced back and forth to its warranty return page. That was enough time for me. So into the trash it goes. Too bad, and a waste. Of course, we treat our elderly the same way, when they could be put to good use. Guess it’s a cultural thing. So, Mr. Bezos, hop on your private jet and go raise money for rich Democrat politicians.

Damn those needy schoolkids, anyway.

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I am on my now second hour of being on hold attempting to reach Sirius-XM Radio to cancel one of my two radio subscriptions. You cannot do it from their website, even if you are are registered there, which I am.

At the end of the first hour a bi-ped came on the line, we spoke briefly, and she said she needed to transfer me to accounting so the pre-paid radio subscription I’m cancelling would be credited to the still-active radio’s account.

I begged, “No, not another hour on hold?!”

Oh, no, she said, it will just take a minute or two. Now I’m back to their pre-recorded noise, saying my wait time was not two, but approximately 75 minutes.

I’ve long since just put my cell on speaker-phone, made another pot of coffee, made and consumed breakfast, taken a leak and answered the morning’s emails.

Thank goodness for unlimited cell minutes and the phone’s being plugged into its charger or it would be dead and I would be broke.

Sirius-XM is not alone in this chicanery. Oh, hang on, just got a live, Malaysian-speaking person.

Even during my efforts to cancel one of the two radios, she is trying to sell me a car radio. (I do not listen to car music; I would rather hear how the bearings and rocker-arms are doing, thank-you very much, but I do not go into this with her in my native tongue or hers.)

OK, ostensibly that is done, down to a single radio and the pre-paid service for the other credited onto the account.

As I was saying before being interrupted by an actual transaction, this is not an indignity exclusively inflicted by Sirius-XM Radio. Try to shed yourself of cable or satellite TV service sometime. Log on, click “Manage My Account,” and just try to find the disconnect option. It ain’t there. “Manage My Account” merely means, in either case, “How can we charge you more for yet more shit you don’t want?”

I don’t blame the 50-cent-per-day Malaysian girl on the other end of the line, sitting in a boiler-room and probably grateful having to deal with frustrated, pissed-off Americans instead of being sold into the sex trade by her parents. No, I blame the Brussels-based fat-cats who own these companies and subject their workers and their subscribers to this crap.

In the case of the DirecTV, it was simply a question of paying the reduced $77/month rate just to watch the Spokane TV network-affiliate stations for an hour once or twice a week and indirectly subsidising the brainless prattling of Scott Pelley and Judy Woodruff. And now that the Seahawks are even considering signing Colin Kaepernick, my interest in the NFL is circling the drain.

Stepping back to the larger view, these obviously are the gasps of a dying technology. If people were beating down the door for your service, you would not try to sweat the patience out of your departing customers in the hopes they’ll give up and figure it’s better to bag the hold button and pay that nearly $1,000 a year for something you can do without.
I must give the Malaysian girl credit for this morning’s best laugh, though.
She asked, from her script, what part of their service I liked best.

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Whatever the outcome of today’s too-close-to-call voting, there will be one decisive (and deserving) loser: the main-stream media, or the press as we used to call it.

One of the most common of all those Wikileaks hacks has been the obvious and obscenely incestual relationship between the Democratic Party machine and the corporate media. It is far more grotesque a thing than any of the contemptible things Donald Trump has said or that Bill Clinton has actually done.

As a marginally Republican print reporter in newsrooms large and small across this country, that incest was always obvious to me. Being in the minority, I could not expect to loudly object and keep the paycheck rolling in at the same time.

But now it’s out there. The “new media” grew out of this great divide. The “new media” has certainly produced its batch of kooks, but they are, on balance, no kookier than Dana Milbank or Bob Schieffer or Judy Woodruff — or the editorial board of the New York Times.

Be it Trump (who likely wins the popular vote) or Billary (who looks to win the electoral college) comes out on top, the loser certainly will be the 3-network, two-newspaper media that has been carving our political culture for the past 75 years.

There was, perhaps, a consensus that they could be trusted — not to be balanced but least conscious of their prejudices and diligent in their search for some sense of truth.

Truth’s a hard thing for anyone who is not a physicist to grasp, and their own professional duty is scepticism.

Try covering a murder trial sometime. By the time the prosecution’s done, you’re persuaded the guy in the dock did it, and viciously. Then, after the defence is done, you’re sure he was in church in another state, teaching Sunday School.

Reporters used to be conscious of their own limitations in this regard, in finagling some sense of truth out of a steaming pile of bullshit. Not, for three decades, have they considered such their civic duty. I blame the prissy wannabes of Nixon and Woodstein.

I hope the Wikileaks reports have made a credible closing argument to the jury.

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It was the bottom of the second inning of the second game of the National League playoffs, Cubbies v. the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez slammed in a single-run homer, the only run of the entire nine innings.

This, Mike and me, we learned afterwards. While Gonzalez worked his magic, we were gazing at the Suddenlink blue screen of death in Mike’s living room. Error No. XXXXXX, please wait a few moments for the channel to return. At 1715 and 1730, Suddendeath repeated its message. Please, just wait a moment.

Cell phone calls ensued.

We were informed that Customer Service was closed for the weekend. Tried Suddenlink tech support, which reported after numerous pushed buttons that Mike was not subscribed to the channel – which he’d been watching all season and is paying for.

Anyone, and I mean everyone, who is a subscriber to Suddenlink, nee Cebridge, nee Cablevision, is a blithering idiot. As the blue screen of death refreshed itself with yet another blue screen of death, Mike demanded, over the telephone, a name and an address to whom he could lodge a complaint, and promised a call to the Better Business Bureau as well.

They gave him an address, no personal name, just a P.O. box in Houston. Mike will no doubt write a nasty letter to them, but good bloody luck. It will not get to the right person.

When the Zanettis created Cablevision, which began with a big receiving antenna up top of Burke to catch the four channel signals issuing intermittent service from the stations in Spokane it was a Good Thing. They wired-up those of us down in the gulches, it was a local operation and a noble enterprise. God bless ‘em. We finally got TV here in the mining camp.

Suddenlink is neither local nor noble anymore. The Zanettis sold their co-ax-wired system years ago. There is, such as it is, still an office in Osburn, about 5 miles west of Wallace, where reside a few trucks whose main duty (this, honest to God, from one of their own servicemen) is to disconnect pissed-off customers who have gone to a dish or Frontier’s (nee Verizon’s) DSL.

When Cebridge/Suddenlink was the only game in town, I was getting download speeds slower than dial-up. Not always, but frequently enough that I had their techy supporters on speed-dial.

When Verizon, now Frontier, started offering DSL as competition to Suddendeath, I snatched the deal and with the odd (semi-annual, at worst) outage, they’ve not let me down. Happiest day of my life was when I called up Cebridge/Suddenlink) and said, “Get your shit out of my house and don’t waste a stamp asking me back onto your system, no matter the discounts. I wouldn’t take your service again for free.” Some guy in California yawned and said, OK.

Anyone who feels loyalty to Suddenlink because of the Zanettis’ pioneering efforts to stream visual media into this mining camp needs to have their head held underwater until the bubbles stop.

I marvel at the stupidity of the Wallace powers-that-be who continue to enable Suddendeath’s screw-job on the city. When my friend, who is connected to this user-unfriendly city-mandated system, needs to do a major download or upgrade, she brings the computers home rather than wait all night on no salary.

Mike’s letter to Houston will never get to its intended source, because Suddenlink’s American corporate P.O. box is actually in St. Louis, not the Houston address he was given.

And writing St. Louis won’t do any good, either. Cebridge/Suddenlink is in reality a European company and headquartered in Belgium and Switzerland under the aegis of the Altice Group LLC.

Having endured Suddenlink’s voice-mail hell, Mike and I repaired to the Metals Saloon and watched the remainder of the game on satellite. A couple of hits, no runs and no errors, but the Rainier was in handy supply and Tracey’s service was as always, superb. Which is a helluva lot more than you can say about Suddendeath.

Think you’re dealing with a local company? Wait. I can still see your bubbles. Keep thinking. Don’t ya love globalism?

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Facebook is a handy tool, but this apparent expression of favouritism towards a particular candidate or political party has put them over the line. I am going to give myself a few days to decide whether or not to close my account. I am leaning towards bagging it. Yes, FB will no doubt have unrestricted access to my Permanent Record, but at least Billary won’t be reading my posts anymore.

My closest friends have my email address; others can PM me theirs while my account is still active, and I will add them to my email address book and return the favour. We can stay in touch that way.

The media are in a titanic struggle to remain in control of the American mind. They are sacrificing everything – credulity, credibility, honesty, decency, dispassionate discourse, competence – to cling to a power they have enjoyed since FDR’s times.

It appears the social media is following suit.

Mainstream media can’t even compound interest rates. Ask a reporter what the Rule of 78s is.

They don’t understand our tax laws, the laws of physics, the multiplication and/or division of percentages, or even basic arithmetic.

Ever since Woodward and Bernstein they have enjoyed a celebrity status no more deserving than that of a Kardashian or Paris Hilton. The aspiring journalist cloyingly seeks this celebrity.

The bare-knuckled street-fighter who lives in a cold-water walk-up has replaced by a pampered, overpaid and sucked-up-to flock of unshaven sheep oblivious to the price of milk and hamburger.

Journalism and profession do not belong in the same sentence. Professionals are certain scientists, MD’s, or even tugboat skippers. There are no entry credentials to become a journalist – save for looks and a lust for power.

(An old drinking buddy from the Seattle Times used to rant, “‘Journalist’ is just another word for an unemployed reporter!”)

All this celebrity and grandiosity will be lost to them in the unlikely event that Billary loses her presidential bid, and they are fighting like rabid cobras to keep that from happening.

Sorry FB had to join in the fray. But at least, and for a little while longer, in America I can vote with my feet.


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OK, I admit this happened just once, and I don’t fly very often anymore and I expect airport service to suck. But changing air-planes at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle was an eye-opener.

After a very rough flight down from Vancouver Island I was hungry and thirsty. Sat down at Wolfgang Puck’s at SEA, plopped open a book, and awaited service.

Forty-five minutes later a waiter appeared — the place was not busy. I can understand busy, having once been a hash-slinger and barkeep myself.

(Rules to food- and beverage-service people: If you’re swamped, at least just make eye contact with your unattended arrivals. We are a patient lot but dammit, let us know you know we’re there.)

None was forthcoming and they were not very busy. Forty-five minutes after my 45-minute wait to place an order, which was not complicated, nothing had arrived nor had any further eye-contact even be made.

The woman sitting next to me endured the same experience — again at the classiest restaurant in the Seattle airport.

My flight was called so 45 minutes later I had to leave, having awaited an hour and a half to be fed. So no meal, no service, and bloody-well no tip nor $15/hour. You got nothing, except someone to sue. I’ve had far kinder treatment in Paris.

Now the remaining few earning $15/hour for service work are asking for a reduction in their hours so they don’t lose their welfare and subsidised housing. Jesus H.!

I never again will visit a Wolfgang Puck’s venue, nor will I buy one of his products off the grocery shelf, which are also now quite over-priced. I wonder how many college-hungry kids might like those jobs at Sea-Tac, for $10 an hour or even $7.50, just so they could advance their lives.

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The biggest win in yesterday’s Idaho primary election was Carl Crabtree’s toppling of the Sherry Nuxoll juggernaut, and down with Nuxoll went Shannon McMillan.

Crabtree’s win was skinny, just a couple of hundred votes, but that’s why we vote. Priscilla Giddings’ triumph over Shannon was decisive, and God bless Priscilla.

Fare-thee-well to the crazies. Good bloody riddance. It means that as we once opposed the Aryan nations and won, we can also beat the also out-of-state Idaho Freedom Foundation. These creepy outfits invade Idaho’s small population and occasionally pull one off, but we are Idahoans and we fight back.

My fear is that having won the good fight, we’ll go hit the couch again until some other annoying and poisonous pestilence re-invades – and we will react too late, as we have done in the past. It’s our nature.

It is time to get out of the feathers and go to those miserable rubber-chicken dinners again, and raise Hell.

What finally killed the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s candidates’ candidates? I have McMillan’s last mailing she sent, via snail mail here. She was against Roe v. Wade, supports the 2nd Amendment, supports state land claims against the federal government. These are all federal issues over which even the 10th Amendment even gives credit and states no control. The IFF went too far. They are not us. Time to kick them to the curb.

Good riddance, IFF. Go back to California, and if Dick Butler’s still alive, snuggle up. You’re done here.

For the rest of us, meet Carl Crabtree. He’s the first of the new good guys and actually gives a shit.

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Thinking of a lost friend. Robert Hopper, RIP.

When you got to know him, he preferred Robert to Bob. When you didn’t know him well, he would answer the phone as “Bunker Hill, Bob Hopper speaking.” Which, the way he tossed it out, sounded like “Fuck Your Mother” in Russian.

I always accused Robert of having a Bolshevik streak in him and he never denied it. You should’ve heard his stories about growing up in Flint, Mich. He was such a tough SOB his parents sent him off to reform school. And that was one tough company town.

Robert hacked around Alaska, Nevada, central and western Washington, doing everything from digging ditches for wealthy mine-owners to painting bridges with red-lead paint. Between injuries he suffered mining and driving long Nevada roads he was in pain all the time we knew him, but he rarely talked about it.

I would take 10 more minutes with Robert than a month with Albert Einstein. Robert and I became friends when we broke out into a discussion of over which was better for the desert island: Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, or Roger and Me. And then, whether it was smarter to use ether or WD-40 on a balky Diesel. We actually agreed on that one. WD-40 is easier on the heads and valves than a straight bang of ether. (Name its secret ingredient and win a free glass of ice-water.) He also knew how to keep a lead-acid battery alive for centuries. I’d learned the same, from an old Scotsman 50 years ago. Answer that question and I owe you a beer.

Good Lord, do I miss that guy. We could get so ferocious and feisty, then land laughing at ourselves, all in the space of a few minutes. RIP, my friend Robert.

My only regret is that the people of Kellogg never knew the giant that was in their midst. Robert and a pair of partners bought the Bunker Hill because, to this rough-cut kid, it was “the shining city on the hill.”

Even from Flint, that meant something.

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