Map of my travels

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Back home

The surgeon asked if I wanted a small procedure or to go for it, giving him leeway to improvise along the way. I wanted him to do as much as he could in one go. He started out fixing the rather urgent problem in the right leg, then took some more time to go look at the left leg.

I could tell it worked right away, but from the looks of the incision I knew I’d have a long recovery. Everyone that looked at me was happy with things, and it was an easy couple of days napping and being bored watching awful TV. I was pleased I wasn’t given a bunch of drugs; apparently my history of objecting to taking stuff no one could explain to me was noted. I refused a weak dose of Tylenol, but was talked into a half-pill of oxy-something.

The left leg has the same problem and will need the same operation in about 6 months, which matches my travel plans.

One of my complaints about doing all this was the transportation time required to get back and forth to Seattle because the peninsula doesn’t have any of high-powered physicians and facilities needed. I had a nurse-in-charge who lived in Port Angeles on her days off and she came up with an idea that could help Rachel get me back home in a reasonable amount of time. There’s a form that allows medical patients to cut in front of the lines for the ferry. She got the three or four signatures required and we ended up using it to bypass what was likely a 2-hour wait to get on the ferry. I had always theorized that the quickest one could get from Seattle to Chimacum was two hours under ideal conditions, but four hours should be anticipated. The trip home on a busy weekend was less than 2 hours, maybe even 1.5. Amazing.

Now I’ve got 2 weeks of recovery…

A few days off

Today I went to meet a new doctor to discuss a surgical approach to opening up my arteries in my right leg. The stents and stuff I’ve done thus far were prep work for this maneuver, but I didn’t know when it would be needed. An ultrasound (aka doppler) done last week showed some serious trouble, and my right foot is a real pain because it isn’t getting enough oxygen.

I want to get this done so I can make a decision about traveling this year. All summer long I’ve been waiting for appointments, doing little stuff, and then more waiting. I expressed my opinion that I want this stuff to hurry up, and when asked when I would like it done I said “tomorrow”. So tomorrow it is.

My insurance isn’t really capable of making the pre-approval decision in days or weeks, let alone hours. My doctors are clever enough to know the tricks for dealing with the insurance companies, and on this one I go to the emergency entrance and check myself in. By the time the insurance company hears about it, the work is done.

Apparently I should expect to be laid up for a bit. I’ll write again when get home and have the internet….

Smokey here

All summer it’s been the occasional smoke in the sky, though that’s not a typical thing at all around here. At first it was because of fires in BC, now it’s Montana and Oregon.

When I went out this morning the truck was covered with ash, and ash was flying around the air. I hadn’t seen that since Mt St Helens erupted. Meanwhile the temperatures are in the 80 and 90’s. Very unusual.

Pot in Nevada, a Senility Test

I’ve mentioned that Nevada managed to get cannabis and alcohol entangled, and the fight continues.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal explains the issues here:

Alcohol distributors have appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s decision to not uphold an injunction that would have stopped the Tax Department from giving licenses to entities other than alcohol distributors.

That’s the senility test. Can your brain figure out what the heck’s going on from that sentence?

Salish Sea News

The ferry boat that got entangled is out for a few weeks, leaving just one on the PT/Whidbey route. This messes up a lot of recreational travel plans as the state doesn’t have any spare ferries in the summer. That will take a bite out of the tourism money around here.

The other a day a pen of farmed Atlantic salmon broke open and many fish have escaped into the Salish. Fish and game immediately asked people to catch as many as they could, and the state EPA is looking at pollution charges. I’m sure there are a lot of people wondering “Why the hell are Atlantic salmon being farmed in the San Juans?” I’m waiting to hear the answer to that.

Otherwise t’s been quiet here while I’m recovering from my angiogram. Every day is better, but it’s irritatingly slow.

Pot: The Sessions Letters

Jeff Sessions sent letters to the governors of Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska (the four legal marijuana states) critiquing their states’ marijuana laws and programs. The intent of the letters was to plant a stake in the ground concerning the DOJ’s position on the matter.

You can find the letters from Sessions, and the responses at the Cannabist if you’re interested in the government language. All the governors and their AGs pointed out that the Session letters were based on, and filled with, obsolete, inaccurate, and proven erroneous data. They all suggested he get more up to date information before attempting to change policy. In other words, he was full of bullshit.

They pointed out while things were just getting started and there were some problems appearing, they had responded well to them and were continuing to make adjustments. All agreed that despite what they thought at first about cannabis, they’d much prefer the current system rather than revert back to what it was.

The letter from Washington state pointed out:

State and federal prohibition of marijuana failed to prevent its widespread use, which was generating huge profits for violent criminal organizations. The people of Washington State chose by popular vote to try a different path.

Or, “the war on drugs was a screw-up, and our citizens decided they had a better way.” These letters are the opening gambits from both sides, establishing the basic rules of the game to be played if anyone wishes to play it.

I’d guess this is the last we’ll hear from either side for a while, then California will be one of the five legal states Sessions will have to talk to.

Life on the Peninsula

I just saw the trees move. For about two weeks we’ve been in smoke from wildfires up north, but the breeze is forecast to come up today. Personally, I’ve had trouble with burning eyes.

I went into the hospital for the installation of a few stents in my iliac arteries, the ones that feed the legs. All went fine, but I’m sore and somewhat bruised; I planned on keeping my feet up for several days.

Unfortunately I was prescribed Plavix to keep the metal work from getting gummed up. This stuff makes platelets slippery so they don’t stick together, just the opposite of what they are supposed to do. So I’m at risk in case of a bleeding event. I’ve already got enough bruises from taking aspirin, and I know from experience this will make it worse. Whether it’s worth it or not I’ll know in a week or two.

Listening to Vessel Traffic on the radio is sometimes entertaining around here. The Coast Guard is always helpful, informative, and very skilled at keeping the ships apart provided captains talk to them and follow their advice. It is an extremely serious offense not to accept their helpful friendly advice. A ship is northbound from Seattle and calls in to take a left-hand turn across the shipping lanes into Port Townsend. VT asked him his visibility, since the Strait was completely fogged in:

“About a 1/4 mile”

“The Navy vessel 52 is astern of you northbound doing 15 knots, The tug Timberwolf is southbound with a barge astern. Is it your intention to cross the lanes into Port Townsend?”

[answer not heard]

“The LARGE Navy vessel 52 is northbound behind you, the southbound tug with one barge in tow is approaching Pt Wilson, and the cruise ship xxxx is southbound behind the tug. Is it still your intention to go to Port Townsend?”

I didn’t hear anything else, but was laughing. The friendly dispatcher didn’t say no right away, but he did make a strong case that was heard by every ship for 30 miles that the proposed maneuver was stupid in the fog. Radar works in the fog, but making a dangerous choice that relies on it to be working is foolish.

Yesterday one of our ferry boats lost it’s rudder and ran aground on the Whidbey side. It was discovered the props and rudder were fouled with crab pots and lines and needs to be drydocked for a few days to untangle the mess. There are thousands of pots in the bay, and every 30 minutes the ferries plough through them, mostly with no trouble, but they do tend to accumulate over the summer.

I can see white clouds now, something we haven’t seen in 2 weeks….

DEA Pot Raids

I described how the raids are carried out by the local Sheriff. When the DEA gets involved there’s much more theater involved because the audience is taxpayers, politicians,and the media at large. Here’s an angle on how they work that I like:

The DEA arrests everyone at a raid site, including women and children. The children are taken to Child Protective Services downtown until either of their parents can get out of jail, usually a day or two. To prepare, mothers take their children downtown just to visit CPS so the kids can meet the staff there and explore the play areas and such. That way there isn’t near the trauma from the kids when they get taken there by surprise. Neighboring mothers in high-risk areas join in mutual assistance pacts so the kids are always supervised.

I don’t like the DEA methods (they’re completely unnecessary and counter-productive) so I get a lot of enjoyment at how the farmers have learned to compensate for their tactics. Of course, if you never change your tactics after 50 years, the adversary is sure to catch on.

The Pot Question in California

Most guesses are that California produces five to ten times the amount it consumes. That surplus is exported to the illegal states where the price is much higher. It’s always been illegal at the federal level to pass pot across state lines, in January it will be illegal at the state level to export it out-of-state. Yet about 75% of the current crop has to go somewhere.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the new legal retail environment, there’s a rush on industrial buildings in towns and large acreage out in the desert for producing cannabis. This new grow space will belong not to existing farmers, but new operators with substantial help from out of state. They will be producing much more than what we see now, if their hype is to be believed (it’s not). There are a lot towns with warehouses in California, not to mention acreage available out in the desert.

So where in hell is all this marijuana going to go?

Pot Raids in NorCal

This is the preferred time of year for that time-honored cultural tradition in the Emerald Triangle in Northern California: The Pot Raids. Since legal growing begins in January in the state, the Counties have issued permits to many growers, and are processing more. The Sheriff will honor these permits, as well as incomplete paperwork still in process.

The trouble is, there are 10,000 growers (a guessed number) in Humboldt County, though only a few hundred are in the permit system right now. So for the remaining 9,500 the raids are conducted by the Sheriff, Wardens from California Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Scientists from California Fish and Wildlife, CAL Fire Law Enforcement Officers, specialist from the Humboldt County Environmental Health and HAZMAT Unit, Humboldt County Code Enforcement officers, and personnel from the California Army National Guard Counter Drug Unit. Note there aren’t federal agencies involved, so far.

The Sheriff will cite an offender for illegally growing cannabis. Few in NorCal are ever convicted and penalized for that violation, though. Instead, Fish and Wildlife issues a citation for salmon stream diversion, CalFire for timber conversion, the county for unapproved chemicals, the state for other pollution, and the county for permit violations.

The Judiciary is used to these: they quickly dispatch the felony growing charge and let you deal with the others. You have been sentenced without lawyer or trial to Bureaucratic Hell: there is no end to the fines, deadlines, clean-ups, and restitution; miss a payment or date and add on criminal charges.

You don’t need SWAT Teams in black shooting off military weapons everywhere like the feds do with the DEA. A deputy walks up, writes a ticket, and hands it to you. He walks off, but leaves the gate open for the state and local officials to go in and have at it.

No doubt there will soon be a full-blown DEA raid conducted for benefit of the media and politicians. But when all is said and done, you have much more to fear from that guy from the county….