Thursday 26 March 2015

Bear Grylls as the Template for Every Manager

When Bear Grylls commands you to do something challenging or even terrifying, there's a difference in how he asks.  Small difference to him I would imagine, and life-changing for you.  Bear is a leader, an alpha dog, and the guy you'd want with you if ever you were to be lost in the wilderness.

Not sure of whom I speak?  Bear Grylls is a popular wilderness enthusiast who has had a tv show for many years showing the viewer how to survive being lost anywhere in the world.  Irish-born and then having served in the British military, Bear is an expert at survival.  I grew up in the country, so I feel the comfort of the wilderness too.  And yet I have learned so very much from watching him. Recently, he's been doing specials with celebrities and here is where you really see how and why a 'Bear Grylls template' should be the norm for every manager dealing with subordinates.

"The wild always rewards commitment." ~Bear Grylls

For bear, the wild is what he attempts to manage.  Rather than seeing the wild as his opponent, Bear sees it as his partner.  An ever-changing, ever-evolving partner that he must learn to work with on a day-to-day basis.  Each episode of his show "Man vs. Wild" which can be viewed on Youtube, saw Bear in a different location, managing the risks and dangers of the area.  He's an expert at using what the wild gives him, making a leak-proof bedding area out of what seems like nothing but raspberry bushes!  Or using garbage that has traveled across the ocean to the other coast, to make a raft to get home.  Now that's a full-circle moment.  To Bear, the wild gives him new things and old things, borrowed things perhaps too.  What I respect most about Bear is that he's an expert at knowing what you can use and take from the wild, without doing it harm.  He can work his way through the densest jungley wilds and leave them virtually seeming untouched by man.  He takes from the wild what he needs to complete the task at hand, leaving it to continue doing what the wild does.

"The team always rewards commitment." ~the couch activist  :)

What if you replaced the word 'wild' with workforce, team, or subordinates?  As a manager you take from each of them, what is offered.  Each ideally offering something differently unique but equally useful.  Nothing you do harms the growth of the wild, the workforce, the team ... for growth and individual uniqueness is what you want in a team!

In his recent episodes like "Bear's Wild Weekends With ..." , I see his celebrity guest as his employee, he as their manager.  Each episode shows Bear deftly 'managing' wee egos, weak stomachs & muscles, and individual personalities that he always manages to get to the other side of the ravine.
Do you know how he does it?

I've been watching Bear a long time.  I admittedly have a bit of a crush on him.  I've especially watched his managing magic in these recent episodes where you can tell his guests are at the breaking point, but he doesn't let them let the fear take over.  I think he does it by always going first.  He's always the first down the rope, into the water, and out of the heli.  Bear shows every guest that what he's asking them to do, he can do and will do also.

At times, during late hours of being lost in the jungle, you can see the struggle in his tired eyes.  But he keeps on.  I've seen fear in them too a few times.  But only momentarily.  He reminds me of my Rotti Sasha and how she used to try to corral me away from my horses at first.  She thought her job was to keep them way from me, though they scared her shitless. But she swallowed that fear long enough to put herself between us, and hopping on her front paws she'd bump into my legs and try to take off in the other direction enthusiastically.  Bear wreaks of enthusiasm ... even when his tea is hot stream water and a tassle of evergreen.

I guess in the end, a good manager like Bear is someone who can make the best out of what is given.
A good manager should see each day, each location, or each situation as a fresh one to conquer. Doing so, with the knowledge that your team is behind you committed to the jump or day ... as much as you are.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Don't Fear the Microorganism.

Bacteria and microorganisms get a bad rep.  The super sterile consumerism we've been a part of has made us see these living things as the enemy.  Some surely can wreak havoc, but not all are bad.  I remember the first year a friend went to university and came home at Easter to talk about the teeny tiny microorganisms that live in and around our eyelashes.  Life grows ... it has no choice.  And even our bodies~inside and out~are like interconnected ecosystems on the edge of balance.  We can never ever sterilize our biologies of bacteria and microorganisms.  We have to balance the good and the bad.

The secret to balance is the "controlled setting".  We all have areas in our own homes that grow bacteria on a constant basis.  It's because of the size of the area that gives us the ability to keep it from taking over.  Take for instance, the bottom of your fridge where milk or blood may have dripped.  It's a small area, easy to control.  Now move those same products and those same microorganisms and bacterii to a milk or beef display fridge at your grocery store.  They have a much bigger job to do when it comes to maintaining a balance of sanitation.  It's all but impossible sometimes to rid a grocery display fridge of odour so therefore bacteria still resides.  Can you see how much of a bigger job this would be in a dairy facility or a slaughter house?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a germophobe at all.  In fact, I think germs are brilliant.  It's the most nutritious juices that woo the most bacteria after all.  And if given ample room, oxygen, and 'juices' they'll take over quickly in large areas.  This also happens in greenhouses where food is grown, and now where medicine is grown too.  I wonder if that was a consideration for the conclusion by the United Nations in their report that urges smaller scale gardening is the way of the future.

In Canada, we presently have fifteen factories growing medical Cannabis for the MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) program.  Several of them have had to recall grams upon grams of dried Cannabis buds because of test results that show that bacteria and/or contaminants are present. Growers of small scale gardens country-wide shake their heads at the hubris that makes any of them think they can ever control plant life indoors on that large a scale.  Not to mention the fact that many of the Licensed Producers are still growing in soil.

Tilray, a LP from British Columbia is the latest to recall certain strains for the presence of a bacteria named Enterobacter from a family that are primarily colonizers of the lower gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals.  Good thing it's still illegal to eat the cannabis ... and the only legal way to date to consume it is smoked or vaporized.  Or no, I guess it's still a grey area.  The Supreme Court of Canada is currently deciding on that  and may be in the deciding process for several months.

Yet my parents and every single one of their neighbors and millions of people worldwide grow, store, and eat food that they produce in their own gardens.  Why aren't people dying all over the undeveloped world if this bacteria is so dangerous?  People are able to balance sanitation with proper soil and/or plant bacteria by growing small scale.  I have friends who spend hours weeding and preening  their vegetable gardens, and who freeze or can the veggies to eat later.  The same is true for growing your medicine.  We can all grow a bit of our food and a bit of our medicine, if only the law allowed the latter.  The UN suggests this is the way to maintain diversity in seeds and crops, and as a way to minimize pesticide and harsh fertilizer use.  No longer can we be disillusioned with the idea that we need genetic modification to feed the masses.  More than half the masses can feed themselves!

In my opinion there are a few things going on here.  First off, as stated in this article about Tilray that "the law governing the production of medical marijuana says it must be manufactured to the same standards of any medicine", goes against everything a tree-hugging gardener knows.  To me, that sentence alone indicates that they don't understand the difference between medicinal plants and reverse-engineered chemicals.  To think that the same standards be used to generate medicine from a plant as is used to make medicine out of a powdered chemical mixture in the bottom of a beaker is illogical.  One is living, the other is man-made.  The whole thing is just more bureaucratic bullshit to profit big pharma and delay full legalization.  This is a new industry of using plants as medicine, new guidelines must be implemented that guide the balance of bacteria and sanitation.

The second thing I see is that as eluded to in the opening paragraph, the smaller the garden the easier it is to maintain.  For many years the designated growers provided Cannabis as medicine grown in basements, garages, or back yards.  No legal MMAR patients died from that cannabis nor did they get sick.  When grown within the guidelines, a designated grower was able to inspect every single plant on a daily basis.  Many grew in the utmost of "controlled settings", whereby no one else were even allowed inside the walls.  Many designated growers felt the magnitude of what it means to grow medicine for another human being.  It was therapy for them in many cases too.

Keeping track of and inspecting fifteen plants is much different than working in a sterile factory keeping track of a thousand plants.  That's how mold gets missed.  And it's a balance remember, because who knows that the mold doesn't assist the growth of the plant in some way?  Like the wee microorganisms that live in and around our eyelashes, the world of bacteria and microorganisms is interconnected more than we know.  But it has to be kept in check, in balance.

Small scale gardening is the only way of the future for this consumer, and that includes growing my own medicine.  How about you?

Thursday 19 March 2015

Harm Reduction Reality Check

If you find yourself standing anywhere in Canada right now with a doobie in your hand, you are immediately considered a criminal by law enforcement.  Remember the old adage "innocent until proven guilty"?  It doesn't apply to you in this situation.

The doobie in your hand may not even be lit.  But you're a criminal.
The doobie in your hand may be filled with plant material grown by a white-coat in one of the fifteen factories across Canada.  But you're still a criminal.

You may even have the required paperwork and the prescription bottle in which the plant was shipped from factory in your pocket or purse, and you're still considered a criminal.

Too pessimistic?  I wish.

It's a funny country we live in right now, as taxes are collected from the sale of merchandise in which we ALL know Cannabis is ingested, yet you're still a criminal if you get caught in public with it.

Oh yes ... silly me.  I forget about the 40,000+ legal MMAR and MMPR patients in Canada.  I mean, it's a legal program, how can they be considered criminals?

I'll tell you how, by not educating law enforcement on this Government run program, that's how.

It must suck to be law enforcement these days.  Especially if you have access to the internet.   Evidence of the safe, medicinal, and yes, life-saving effects of Cannabis are everywhere.  Clinical and anecdotal.  So how could you be the person who's job it is, to bust down doors in search of weed, after you've read about its seizure-stopping abilities?

I guess to pay your rent right?

We all do what we must.

But when does reality click in?  I mean, Marijuana is safer than any other recreational substance going around any Canadian streets~ coffee included ~depending on how you ingest it.  Not only that, but it's "strongest" varieties are the ones that lock you down to the couch, remote in hand, perma-grinned and hungry!  What's the harm in that?

Everywhere I look these days, my fellow Canadians are suffering from addictions.  Whether they're a university or college student or somebody's retired Gramma ... there's a chance there's vodka in that cup they're holding.

And so you say, "but is a stoned student or gramma really better than a drunk one?".

Well, you tell me.  No I'm not a student or a gramma, but I'll be heading downtown soon to run an errand.  When you see me, I won't be drunk or high. I will though be medicated.  My medication being Cannabis Sativa or Indica.  If I make eye contact with you, smile at you, or speak to you, it's because my antidepressant is working.

Some take a pill ... others ingest a plant.

I think we need a reality check on what's more harmful:

Plants, Pills, or Booze?

Friday 13 March 2015

Democracy ~An Illusion If You Have Ovaries.

Democracy ... we throw that word around in a glowing light.  We North Americans learn about other countries and their political stances and when we learn one is democratic, it changes our view of that country.  Take India for instance.  Google says it's the "most populace democracy in the world".

Democracy is defined as a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected individuals.

Wow that sounds great doesn't it?   But it's an illusion.

I mean, by that definition, you'd expect to see husbands and wives making the walk or drive to the polling stations to cast their vote.  But would you expect to see the women walking BEHIND the man on their way home?  I mean, I'm so blinded by the equality my parents shared, that in my mind, a free and democratic society would see hubby & wife walk together.  But that is a rare site there.

Would you expect to see groups of women, wives at that, walking together while their husbands discuss important things like who their daughters will marry?

Would you expect, that in a democracy, certain individuals would see other individuals as less than they on the importance scale?  On the scale that awards their rights?  But in India, democracy isn't a word used to give women equal rights.  At least not all women.

Periodically we hear about abuses, rapes, and attacks on women in India.  For a while, I just imagined that there were groups of toxic men doing this.  I imagined that most would be appalled.  I mean, it's a democracy!!   And yes, rapes and attacks happen in Canada and the US though they are democracies.  But not usually in groups.

The lone wolf attack is one thing, but group attacks show a deeper divide in societal respect.

A documentary recently came out discussing one such gang attack on a woman in India.  This one happened on Dec.16th 2012 in South Delhi, where a 23 year old physiotherapy student was gang raped and killed on a bus.

How do we change, fix, correct this thinking that seems to be ingrained in some men?  It's also ingrained in many women there and all over the world.  If you are told from birth that you are less, then you grow up to believe you are less than your brother and all males around you.

As one of the rapists said in the documentary:

"housework and housekeeping is for girls".

Is that all that girls are for in this the worlds most populace democracy?  Surely this is wrong.  But not all democracies are the same.  We think they are, but India sadly proves that they are not.  Elitism in "caste systems" still decides who gets educated, employed, and placed in positions of influence where the world-wide spotlight shines.  Women are not equal here, though it's a democracy.

This post was inspired by a story in the news today that my hunni told me about.  Check it out here.
This marriage, like most was pre-arranged and the bride and groom had spent little or no time together.  Initially I actually celebrated when I read that she refused to marry that man.  But I see now that that choice also was not likely her own.  I'm quite sure her father demanded that she ask that question so as to get out of the ceremony and the promise.  That entire article shows an illusion of free choice that that bride will never know.  Never has known as long as she has lived ... though she has voted democratically many times over.

The inspiration for this blog is in the second last paragraph that briefly describes another ceremony that suffered a sudden-stop because the groom had a pre-existence health condition that the bride's family could not accept.  So her father chose another groom for his daughter.  Right there, right then. Did he say "eenie-meenie miney-mo" do you think?  Was there any thought as to what man his daughter would like?

Not a thought.  Not one.  What India's daughters want doesn't matter.  What too many daughters want means nothing.

And that exists in many worldwide democracies.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Freedoms, Face-Coverings, and Fears

A year ago I felt differently than I do about the niqab and the hijab.  A hijab covers the hair, a niqab covers the whole body including face and hair leaving a slit for the eyes.  I used to believe we all lived within human rights and in Canada, so those women must be wearing these things by free choice.

I've been conversating on this topic, and I see how my view today seems very harsh and pessimistic. Who am I to tell anyone what they should wear?  This too is our Liberal leader's stance, that:

"It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear."

Well that seems pretty lazy doesn't it?  I mean, someone is telling them what to wear and it's not me or my fellow Canadians.  It is a book, a man, or an imam that is telling them what to wear.

And through it all I keep thinking about that beautiful and free Canadian named Zainab Shafia who was drowned by her father just on the outskirts of my city, along with her two younger sisters Sahar and Geeti, and their "aunt Rona".  I keep hearing Zainab's voice saying that she doesn't want to wear that thing over her face.  And look at her face, the award for artist of the day of her birth goes to the goddess on this one:

RIP innocent one.

Over and over in this case, the officials, the authorities, the guidance councillors were all aware of the ongoing situation with the Shafia girls.  Zainab cried for help in her own way and yet they ALL allowed culture and the fear of offending it, to allow this murder to proceed as planned and acted out by their father and their brother.  By family members.  All because a book and a religion's or cultural dogma told them to.  

Are we doing that now?  I mean, it seems pretty lazy to simply hope or even worse, assume that Muslim women and girls who wear the hijab and the niqab are doing it by free choice.  How can you be sure?  Is the thought that 'personal responsibility' and our good 'ol Canadian freedoms would protect them if they wanted to cast-off that veil?  The Shafia family murders have proven that this is not the case many times.

I'm sure some wear these veils by free choice.  I'm sure some wear these veils because they are told to, forced to, intimidated to.  There are some that cover their hair and their face because they have been taught since birth that they are to blame if a man is turned on by their looks.

I wonder how long it will be before MY hair, MY body, My face needs to be covered up too?  I mean, am I to blame if my booty and my mane of thick auburn hair gives a Muslim man an erection?

I see Zainab now ... in my imagination.  She had a boyfriend y'know.  Or a boy that she liked.  She just wanted to be a normal Canadian.  And she was thrown in Kingston Mills Locks because her father and brother would not allow her to be normal.  I see her putting on make up and playing with her hair.  She sees the media and the Hollywood pictures ... why can't she be Gaga too?  

. . . . . . because a man, a book, a religious and cultural dogma says she cannot.

Dear NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Green leader Elizabeth May,

You seem to be the only ones awake on things right now.  I implore you to address the possibility that some of the Canadian Muslim women who wear these face-coverings are being forced to wear them.  
What would the harm be, in providing a toll free number and announcing this:

"If you or someone you love is being forced to comply with religious dogma that marginalizes you as a female Canadian, please call this number for help and advice."

It takes a community, a government, a country's entire citizenry to maintain and preserve it's freedoms.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

The Preemptive Fix is King

I've been in the field of customer service since I was thirteen years old.  I was hired to scoop ice cream at the local Esso the summer before grade nine.  Man ... did that give me nice 'ceps.  That's twenty-eight years to hone my skills of diplomacy, fairness, and the desire to please.

Unfortunately, time and years of experience don't really dull the sting that some unsatisfied or simply bitter customers can hit you with.  If anything, it can sour some people leaving them seeking factory work or the hopes of their own business.  While others are able to turn any frown upside down.  These people I love to watch.  I've learned so much from watching and listening to others.  I remember when working once for an at&t call centre that simple wording changes, or even alterations to your tone of voice can really effect how the customer or client perceives your words.

So as much as I push the bees n' honey type of customer service, I notice lately that IF I get annoyed during a work shift, it's harder to pull myself back to the sweetness.  It's like a hangover takes longer to recover from, if my mood gets soured, my tips reflect it, and my stewing confirms it.

So I've learned and can give you several examples of situations where a simple, preemptive fix to a problem you KNOW is on it's way, can make a world of difference in your day.  For instance, I used to work the drive thru window at a local coffee giant.  This one lady would come through every single day in the afternoon after she picked up her mail.  She always brought her big, lazy golden retriever Maggie along for the ride, and she always bought herself a large hot cappuccino that she would take home and drink after dinner while she watched the news.

Even before I was trained on drive thru I knew this lady was a 'problem'.  Every single day she had the same complaint.  A complaint that held up the drive thru line, slowing down our speed.  When I started on drive thru and I served this lady from order speaker to pick up window, I realized and was faced with the same issue that everyone else faced, every afternoon.

You see, the hot cappuccino machine makes a lot of foam.  Foam is a big part of the cappuccino experience, but by the time this lady removed the lid of that beverage, all of that foam was gone and it looked like someone took a gulp!  So each day, she would take off the lid, check the level and ask us to top it up.  It only took me one time, to recognize her voice and simply ensure that the level was right up to the top and oozing out the steam hole.  She loved me ... and threw us many tips over the months I worked there.  From that simple effort of giving her what she wanted before she even asked, fixed the problem.  My co-workers started doing the same thing, and she soon simply trusted that it was filled.  It was a proud moment for me to be honest.  To see my younger co-workers giggle at how nice she really could be by simply showing they cared.

The second example I have, is something I just started at my newest bartending job.  I serve food and alcohol but depending on the crowd, and as the night progresses, I might as well be a water distribution clerk.  After a while, it just pisses me off.  We use plastic cups that I freeze water in the bottom of, and don't really want to sacrifice for a customer who's drinking water.  That sounds shitty, but nobody likes their rye and coke without ice.  And then again, I'm faced with the guilt of making them pay $2 for a bottle that if they don't take home with them, will definitely not get recycled there.
So I've started filling two pitchers of ice and water with a stack of cups and set it up at the end of the bar.  Preemptive fix.  The only time I have to spend precious time on the water, is to refill a pitcher. And people just like it.  I mean, we're lucky in Canada to have potable drinking water.  It almost seems illogical that so many of us buy bottled water.  The road to animal extinction and environmental sterility will be lined with plastic water bottles.

Finally, the last example is also one that I've just recently started doing.  When people come up to order food, I spend a little extra time offering them options.  It annoys the cook in me when someone has a complaint about my food.  I think that's natural and understandable, so now I ask people a few Q's.

If you order fries, would you like them crispy?
If you order a hot dog, would you like it microwaved or deep-fried? (ya I know... grody)
If you order a hamburger, would you like the bun grilled?
If you order the sad smoked meat, would you like it on a sesame seed bun, or rye bread?

Showing you care, not only reflects in your relationship with your customer, in your gratuities at the end of the shift, but also in your karma.  I mean it, being told that what you cooked was delicious, is a good feeling for those of us who prepare your food.  And if that something was as sad an option as a hot dog, well that's even more awesome!

Years ago, I didn't know this trick and I admit I may have engaged in passive aggressive juvenile ponderings when it came to certain customers.  Some customers simply seem to feel entitled to better service, and it feeds a need to conquer to be able to annoy them.  LOL that's the old me, not the now me.

Nowadays, I don't have time for silly things to give me grey hair.  Our governments and the state of our planet is enough on it's own.  So I try to see ways like those I mentioned above, to go the extra mile that will save me from wasting distance down the road.  Regardless of what we're selling, customer service is crucial.  If interacting with you is a pain in a customer's ass, or an aggravation they don't need, they'll go somewhere else.  But in my experience, if you show them you recognize their needs and care about their happiness, they'll reward you will years of patronage and beneficial word-of-mouth advertising.

Dabs ... in my words

A friend of a friend asked if I'd teach her about dabs ... otherwise known as cannabis concentrate.
So I began to try to remember any recent articles I had read that described dabs or dabbing well, and I thought screw that!  I'll explain it in my words.

First let's talk about edible oil and how the oil is collected from the olives, nuts, vegetables, canola, hemp and so on.  Do you know what the term "cold pressed" means?  We've all read it multiple times on olive oil bottles.  We've learned very quickly that "cold pressed" is the top echelon of olive oils and the one that you should buy if you can afford it.  That means that the product is poured into a press-type machine that basically grinds the oil out.  This friction causes heat, and that heat can deteriorate the quality of the oil, so someone is there at all times to check the heat of the mash-like end-product.  It's a very expensive and time-consuming process that is reflected in the price.

From there that end product is sold off to other companies or moved to a tank where the remaining oil is collected in another way.  And guess what?  It's pretty much identical to how dabs are made. Crazy eh?  Regardless of what the product is, these oils and now dabs are made by using a liquid chemical solvent.

A solvent is a liquid that dissolves and collects another substance.  For instance, water is a solvent for sugar and salt.  Turpentine is a solvent that dissolves and collects paint from paint brushes so you don't have to buy new ones.  Alcohol is a solvent that dissolves the terpines in say ... Juniper berries to make Gin (or at least how Gin was originally made).  And Hexane is a solvent that is used to extract the small yet viable amount of oil out of the olive, grapeseed, or other product mash.

So here's the process in my words.  The product is immersed in, doused with, or had the solvent sprayed through it and out the other side in a 'baby and bathwater' kinda way.  Y'know, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater?  Except that's exactly what you want.  Those babies being heart and brain healthy fats, or therapeutic cannabis terpines and cannabinoids.  So yes, you want the babies to come out with the solvent and into a bowl or vat.  The solvent then is left to evaporate.  What's left, in theory is a concentrate oil or when cannabis is the product, a sticky, waxy, gummy substance.

Some topics of debate in the cannabis world include:

* what's the best solvent to use?
* what's the safest solvent to use?
* is that concentrate really pure of chemical solvent residue?
* Is that concentrate really pure of chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or nutrient residue that washed off the plant matter and into the bowl or vat.
* which and how many cannabinoids does which solvent pull?

Much of the cannabis concentrate is made using butane in a form that is pure.  The one most people use is called Puretane and boasts 99.9998% purity.  This is not your everyday butane, it's a chemical solvent that has been triple-refined and 9 times filtered.

There are many other solvents used though.  And people argue about them daily in forums and sites where cannabis users gather virtually to discuss our plant.  Some others being liquefied carbon dioxide (C02) and some even rave about hexane.

Now, as with the extraction method used with mash of olive or grapeseed or the like, it's debatable as to the possibility of solvent residues left in the concentrate or oil.  I remember seeing a 12 year old doing a school project in video form arguing that hexane left in cheap oils was harmful to our health. And so of course when the product is cannabis there could be residues pulled with the cannabinoids and terpines from fertilizers, pesticides, or nutrients used while the plant was growing.

To avoid this possibility most people do something called 'purge' their final product of dabs using a small vacuum chamber.  Some people add heat which changes colour and consistency and perhaps even cannabinoid content.  I've read of others who purge it at very low heat, and still others use very particular saltwater and a bubbler.  The impurities want to bind to the salt and so are drawn out over time.

It's all part of the great debate and the alchemic wonders that are going on in many kitchens by grassroots chemists trying to create pure pain killers, sleep aids, or medicines. There is even a further process of purification called "winterizing" whereby the final product of dabs is immersed in warm ethanol in a jar until they are dissolved.  The jar is then put in the freezer to lower the temp of the ethanol thus slowing down the evaporation process and allowing it to pull out the less desired oils and waxes from the dabs.  These can foul the taste, and when it's medicine or purity you're after, they aren't good to ingest when burned.

Speaking of burning, many people don't want to do it.  They're not interested in inhaling smoke.  I get that. I'm currently halfway to saving up to buy myself an "Herbalizer".... the latest and greatest in at-home vaporizers.  So these dabs can also be used in a vaporizer or a vaporizer pen that only heats up the product to the point of vapor not smoke.  But these dabs can also be eaten.  I'm talking ball it up, roll it in sugar, and pop it down the hatch.  Cannabinoid therapy doesn't only come in a brownie y'know!  I mean, for some of us, brownies are so yesterday :)

I feel it would be remiss to speak about dabs and not give some kind of warning or fore-knowledge about what to expect from a dab vs. a doob.  When you smoke a cannabis doobie of dried flowers, much of what you inhale is burning carbon.  As trichomes, oils, and cannabinoids burn in a doob, so too does the plant matter.  Now let's take that further and understand that concentrate has no organic matter in it at all.  It is truly the concentrated cannabinoids, terpines, and oils ... in a glob that can be eaten, vaped, or burned.

I once likened the process of making concentrate as a "Sap & Maple Syrup" scenario.  Whereby it takes a lot of sap to make a little maple syrup.  Sap is a slightly sweet excretion from the Maple Tree. When you boil it down slowly over time, the sweetness increases as the extra stuff boils off.  Such is the process when making dabs.  All of that extra 'burning stuff' that you normally would inhale, is gone and all you ingest is active ingredients or medicine.

For someone who is new to this concentrated form of cannabis, it can be too much.  I'm about full disclosure and I will always try to be real.  The butane process is a cold one so it's said that it pulls mostly THC and some CBD.  Please if any of you know different than this, educate me :)
My buddy THC can be a bit much for some peeps.  A friend once told me that a dab evoked sadness and negative self-reflection.  Ironically, that description is similar to the how man-made THC makes some people feel in studies.  It is too cerebral for some.

And then I heard of a friend of a friend who had a dab, got up to leave, said his goodbye's and left his friend's apartment without his shoes.  This stuff is effective ... so be sure you're ready for the effects.

My buddy made the above concentrate from a hydroponically-grown Purple Kush and Puretane.
This is after a vacuum-purge with no heat.

The above is the same concentrate after some sampling, and further vacuum purging
over very low heat and time.  The consistency changes to become shiny and clear 
reminiscent of caramels or toffee.  The colour gets darker.

Sugar dabs.

Monday 9 March 2015

The Therapeutic Rant ... it does this body good!

The way I use and partake in social media irritates some people.  The online rants I post worry loved ones.  Reading what sounds like my perpetual bitching urges new friends to try to appease me with their words.  I see this and I know this and for the close-to-my heart loved ones and family, I get it.  I feel ya :)

So I thought I'd try to explain it in a blog post.

I posted some words the other night after work.  I'm a bartender, so I see first-hand the pull that you and I and so very many others feel for this legal drug.  I can't recommend AA to any of my custies ... I can only recommend a beer or a bevvy concoction.  But as the moment nears to cut-off time, every shift shows me the urgency that 'last-call' makes some people feel.  Sometimes after a shift I like to unwind by reading my fb friend's posts or my twitter friend's tweets ... and I like to put my thoughts into words.

I posted this after a night of tending the bar:

"Re. Tipped Wages:  a fair wage should not be dependent on the generosity of a stranger.
And yet ... saying that after another amazing night of bartending and blushing at the tips I made ... seems wrong and ungrateful.

Really though, when you think about it, I make $9,75 an hour right now to cook fast food (minimal as it is) and serve, charm :) , evaluate, and assess all of the people I'm serving alcohol to.

I can't tell you have many peeps I served tonight.
But if any of them didn't make it home safely, I could lose the farm (minimal as it is).  

For $9.75 an hour."

Now, a new fb friend commented that it could be worse.  And that he liked me and didn't like to see me angry all the time. After some discourse on that fact, I realized that I needed to read my words again from a different perspective.  I asked myself how I'd feel or how I do feel, when I read rants from friends.  I realize that I write in the first person a lot ... even when the point I'm making doesn't involve me.  It's a way to make you feel it more.  And it's been working on me for many many years.

For those of you that worry that my job or my causes or my whatevers are stressing me out.  Or if you too wonder if I'm angry all the time, the answer is no.  As long as I can write down my thoughts, I'm good :)

In the end, I see this:   The best spots to play hide 'n seek are in the dark corners.  If you're a problem, it's hard to hide when the spotlight is on you.  This is how I feel about being described as a walking, talking public service announcement.  You can't live a full life with all that is offered in the world, if you don't know about it all.  And conversely, change for equality will never come if nobody knows there's a problem!

Time and time again, I'll overhear someone say something, jot it down and google it when I'm home. From there, may come a rant, a rave, or the subject for my next cause.  So if it works that way with me, my hope is that it'll urge you to tell others and to research it yourself.

Droplets in oceans cause big changes to the shoreline.

What I feel;  others feel too.  I know this.  I have had total strangers tell me that they didn't think anyone else felt a certain way that I had described in a rant, and thanked me for putting their emotions into words.  If everything in life has to be put into a monetary value, then that for me is priceless.

Wanting change is one thing.  But push push pushing it by gathering troops is how it's done baby.  And troops don't only wear fatigues!!   Sometimes they wear birkenstocks and doc martins.  Sometimes they're tatted and dreaded and grungy.

Actions are where it's at ... not looks :) And if you have a voice and the opportunity to tell another person about a better way or a law that will protect them, you too can feel that priceless feeling.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Passions To A Pill

This week, an alarming but not surprising study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stating that 20% of my fellow Canadians drink too much alcohol.  here's  an article about it. I'm a bartender so this is really not news to me.  And ironically, this very week I myself witnessed several instances in my life that reinforce this issue as fact.

I work every Saturday night at a bowling alley.  When I slide the key in that gate and enter that bar/kitchen area, I am in charge.  It's my show.  My smart serve certificate decides who drinks and how much.  And my safe food handlers certificate ensures the food is cooked safely.  I am responsible for every ounce of alcohol, every bottle of beer.  I take that seriously.

Last Saturday night was really busy.  So busy in fact, that I closed the kitchen at 8:30 because I didn't feel I could serve, keep track, and evaluate well enough, if I had to run for fries every fifteen minutes. My bar carries about eight varieties of coolers alone, each ranging from 4% alcohol up to 7% alcohol. When the college & uni students realize this, I sell all sixteen Vex very quickly.  I get that these kids are broke.  I never begrudge them any bees & honey treatment when they don't tip me.  As long as they show me some personality ... I'm happy.  I was shocked however on this night at the people who were asking alcohol content of all I offer.  It was older women ... well over their 50's.  Alcohol, though one of the most addictive "drugs" we have, and the one that leaves one's biology in such a state of disarray that it is by far the worst to treat and witness in detox, is an addiction that is hidden by a veil of many colours.  Not the dullest of which is the fact that Canada makes billions of dollars in tax revenue on Alcohol sales.  Looking back, I wonder if they really just needed a hug?  Or is it bang for your buck?  All coolers are $6.50 so perhaps that's it.  Still, I must say I was taken aback when this woman my mum's age asked me which cooler had the most alcohol in it.

The other instance that happened was a bit closer I guess.  I lost two co-workers because they were caught on camera drinking Gin then topping the bottle up with water.  As shocked as I was by that, the bartender in me was and is initially more pissed than anything else that I may have served a watered down Gin & Ginger last week!  It's hard for me to wrap my head around a pull so strong that you can't wait to get home. That you'd blatantly throw away the only employment you have.  For a drink of Gin.  Don't get me wrong, a Gin & Tonic is a lovely and refreshing summer beverage.  I'll take mine with lime, but I've never really felt the alcohol pull.  Though I've known and love many who have.  It's a difficult conversation to have.  Every where we look we are advertised to with seductive imagery and trendy advertising with unique concoctions to get you to try more and more and more.  Much of addiction is subliminal where reminders trigger cravings.  If only we could turn off the advertising.  I must steer clear of my ex-co-workers, but part of me wants to take them both by the ears and to an AA meeting.  I've never been to one, but I know they're close by and regularly offered.

The third happened at my other job.  New staff is a regular thing there, and the other night was the first time I had met or worked with one girl.  We were serving a customer I know and I said that alcohol can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  We gave him a cheers and she looked at me and basically cried for help with the saddest eyes.  Now, I'm sort of used to these kinds of things happening because I was a talk therapist in another life :)  people confide in me often and quickly.  And I genuinely listen because I know that sometimes the macro view is the one that needs to be assessed through.  Those pesky emotions cloud our judgement.  And .. I'll take any opportunity to lend an ear if I can.  Anyways, my co-worker is in her early 20's and knows she has a drinking problem.  She says when she starts doing anything, she does it to to point of doing something stupid.

Tonight after work, she asked me if I wanted to go for a drink.  I can't help but find that weird.  I declined, because my hunni was at home waitin' for me.  But, if you know that one drink always tastes like two drinks which you know will taste like three ... well you need to think before you talk to drink number one.  You have the choice.  You have the power to decide that first drink, pill, puff, deal, game, or shot.  I have shared this quote more than once, but Marilu Henner said once about food addiction that:

"It might be your choice to put that first bite in your mouth, but that food has an agenda of it's own."

Addiction in so many forms is rampant right now in Canada.  Prescription opiates control the lives of too many of our loved ones.  And everyone thinks they can quit.  Until they try.  There has to be more transparency here, there has to be more help, more diverse help.

I never really got the AA thing where you are supposed to surrender yourself to the drug.  But now that I've been there in a way or two, I can see that they've just worded it wrong.  When you know that something addicts you and you know that you lose the ability to control how much you consume once you start, then you have to surrender to the fact that you cannot ever start.  Ever.  This is a very true fact for many past addicts.  But not for everyone.  Our biology's are infinitely unique and so how we handle, metabolize, use or misuse is also unique to each of us.

Another true saying for many yet not all:

"One is too many;  and a million's not enough."

What I really think, is that too many of us are on antidepressants.  I have no medical training and am in no way telling anyone to stop taking their meds.  But for me and many many of the people I know, antidepressants were nothing but zombifying poison pills.  So many parts of my biology began to normalize and improve once I weaned myself off of mine.  Many of us have learned that sometimes Schizophrenics go off their meds because they find them very sedating and dulling.  It's a numbing sense of emotionlessness.  It's likely very hard for some of you to imagine, but I'm convinced that many of these meds make us feel this same numbness  and alcohol is a quick lift when a lift is needed.  Lifts become something you live for.  One a day two a day ... until it's hard to get enough.

We also need to decide if we're willing to give up our passions to a pill that make a bunch of fukkers in some pharmaceutical company too much money.  Healthcare should not be a profitable industry so question your doctor's prescriptions and suggestions.  Google is your friend.  Use it ... doctors do! Know that food is medicine and that you have the power to change your chemical biology through thought, laughter, intention, and love.

You decide what happens to you.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Canadian-Grown Cannabis For Export

A few days ago, I took part in one of those bulk petition-like emails, this one asking the Federal Government to stop subsidizing the Fossil Fuel industry.  The letter is also cc'd to all of the members of parliament.  

One stone;  many birds.

The leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May sent me a long reply and what d'ya know ... we are like minds :)

This is my reply to her and to all others who are tired of taking part in this race to the end of the fossil fuel supply.  It's a race y'know, with a very distinct finish line.  There is only so much Oil left under there.  And I know we all hope that Santa left lots of inky prezzies under the ice, but we really don't know for sure.

We're too dependent on oil and fossil fuels.  We can all agree on that right?  The current need for Oil on this planet is huge and ever growing.  A National Geographic program I recently viewed spoke of the fight going on for control of the magnitude of natural resources in the Amazon Rain Forest.  They said that at the current rate of need on our planet, the oil from the Amazon would only last eight days.

An irreplaceable ecosystem lost ... for eight measly days.

Further to my desire for less subsidization of Fossil Fuels, I throw out to you another idea that is going around the tree-hugging circles of Canada.  And when I look at this from the macro view I can't help but think of the saying:  "work smart .... not hard!".

Why are we digging when we can grow?
Why are we extracting when we can produce?

Canada is already the 5th biggest agricultural exporter in the world. From grapes to ganga, from peaches to potatoes ... from corn to canola ... and from wheat to rapeseed, we know how to grow.  We could be growing Cannabis and exporting it worldwide.

As country after country, state after american state legalizes the use of this safe plant, the need for well grown cannabis is growing exponentially.  With each seizure stopped, each cancer cell killed ... as each bout of nausea and each sleepless night of insomnia stilled ... the demand part of this "supply and demand theory" is reproducing faster than a bad virus. If we wait too long, the chance will be gone Canada.

So ... we agree we should grow and export Cannabis.  Cool.  Now let's look at whats wrong with how we grow some crops.  

"What's wrong with how we grow?".   

Well, in my opinion it's like starting a tray of Marigold seeds in a dark corner with a lamp, when the windowsills are empty.

Growing up in rural Ontario with gardening genius parents, there were a few sentiments that my Daddy repeated over and over.  The first was 'If it's yellow let it mellow' and the second was 'When you leave a room, turn off the light!'.  My Daddy ... an environmentalist before environmentalism was cool.

So why are we leaving the lights on?  Better yet, why are we even turning them on in the first place?  The Sun shines for a reason.  To put it plainly -- to give energy to the plant world. And all the while mankind is patting itself on the back for energy-efficient light bulbs.

Enter: the Greenhouse.

So let's talk Solar.  I love the Sun, but we really need to work on that technology.  For instance, the rural Ontario landscape where I grew up now looks like a scene from the movie "Transcendence".  Fields where I rode my horse, have now been transformed by rows and rows of Solar panels as far as the eye can see. These are panels that are not even hooked up, nor will they be anytime soon.  Their existence was funded by our Government.  Down the road there's another field and rumor is it won't be hooked up for another ten years.  wth?

So I ask you this:   Why couldn't those rows and rows of Solar Panels have been rows and rows of Greenhouses?

Which leads me to ask you this:   Why can't we grow and export Cannabis in greenhouses that are powered by Solar?  I'm talking mechanical window panes that could likely be programmed with heat and weather sensors that could be controlled by a smartphone app!

We're talking 'high-efficiency growing'!  We're talking taking full advantage of our diverse Canadian weather with sustainable technologies.  And of course there will be jobs.  The seed won't plant itself!  The growth coaxed, the preening done.  It's all a human thing.  Plants and humans feed off of one another.  I won't even get into the social benefits of something like this.  I mean, the fossil fuel industry is in such a precarious spot right now that it's a topic I all but avoid with some friends who's hubbies work therein.  This is how they pay their bills ... and I want it stopped ... effectively taking away their livelihood.  It's hard to move on from a conversation like that.  So I say let's have a new conversation. 

They can be the first ones hired on  :)

Shane Koyczan knows what I'm talkin' about ... watch this video with a tissue in hand  :)

Monday 2 March 2015

Just Tryin' To Follow My Arrow

I'm in a bit of a work conundrum where I feel unfulfilled at both part time jobs.  Who knew "fulfillment" would be so fleeting?  Or am I an asshole for thinking I deserve it at all?  The only career that is actually feeding me and my passions is this one, the one that hasn't started to pay.  I realize as I sit and think about everything on a daily, hourly, momentary friggin' basis, that there may be some splatter damage from my actions.  Following your arrow is one thing.  Once you've dialed in on that target, it's all but forward momentum and impulsion that is required of you.  But dialing in ... that's where things get tricky.

In focus ... out of focus ... that's what I want ... that's what I'll be ... but what about that ... maybe I should apply there ... no I can't do that ... I'm not good enough to work there.

Is that bipolar?  Is that the box they'd put me in if I let them?  Or is it just plain and simple lack of self-esteem?  Who cares at this point, labeling anything makes it no easier to comprehend if you ask me.

Hi, my name is Dianna and I'm an over-analyzer.

The analyzing function in my brain is, at the moment in overdrive as I've been sick and apartment-bound for almost ten days.  Through fever and chills, in groggy and full-blown REM sleep, one thought has been bouncing around in this stuffy head of mine for too long now:

"What the fuk am I doing with my life?".

This whole working just enough to pay my bills so I can write thing was fine, but now I just want more.  I can only imagine how shitty it must be though to be a boss with an employee who can't make up her mind.  I'm so glad this analyzer is only on the inside!  Oh to explain my thoughts.  Is that even possible all the time?

A good friend just wrote something to me that I have both said and written to others.  It's funny how that goes eh?  Sometimes we can suggest the medicine to others, but forget all about it when it comes to ourselves.  She said:

"It's none of your business what others think of you."

Now that's release.  To put those words in an elixir, a pill, a tincture ... well wouldn't our world be a better place?!  The shift in motivation, intention, and mere life satisfaction would be tangible possibly even audible.

Then I found this 3-minute video from an American Idol contestant named Shi.  This is the first I ever saw her face, but as the video began on my facebook feed, I was powerless to scroll by.  She was speaking to me.  She was clarifying the queries and doubts that have made up my entire mental awareness for too many days.  I question me all the time, and in doing that I stunt myself.

Stop questioning your greatness ... and put it out there.

Watch Shi's video chat and see if she's talking to you too.

Now ... off to enter a writing contest :)

Sunday 1 March 2015

Shame in Memory ... an Enigma Sometimes

Many 'equalists' ... myself included can have a real moral conundrum on their hands when it comes to activities normally belonging inside the bedroom.  I think that too often growing up, I confused the meanings of so many words:  feminist, heterosexual, homosexual, sexual deviant.  As a young pre-teen, my bestie and I had a whole list of things we'd NEVER do.  Drugs, in the most utterly vague of terms, were on that list, as was oral sex.  But those times were ever-changing and it only mattered at times whom your friends were, in order to alter your views and your vows.

In grade six, bestie and I were sure we'd always be good girls.  That was clearly before the hormones came.  Then very quickly, grade 7 saw us placed in the same class, the same circle, the same desires as those girls who were in that one grade ahead.  Grade 8 ... where hormones come to change everything you thought you knew was real about yourself.

I was thinking the other day about my early sexual experiences.  I'm not talking about losing or finding virginity~whatever that means.  I'm talking about when I realized that experimenting and practicing had nothing to do with boys at all.  For me, it just happened ... I didn't really have a choice ... the girl with the cherry lip balm picked me.

I have to admit something.  I felt shame over this.  And I have never allowed myself to see it as it really was ... until now.  When the memory bubbled up to the surface of my shabby grey matter yesterday, I tried so hard to see it differently.  I wanted to see it as sexy experimentation.  And that is what it was, but it was hidden ... in the basement ... from everyone but we four.

So when I was about twelve, bestie and I were invited for a sleepover with two other girls who were in the grade above us.  The one girl was always more girly than we, she was so boy crazy that it seemed crazy!  So in the basement of her parents' home, with all of our hormones awakening and raging, we played make out.

The shame came months later when one of the other girls told the entire class that I made out with that other girl.  Suddenly the shame I didn't really know I had, started to rot and discolour like an apple slice exposed to the air.  It was one of those situations where I looked at that other girl thinking, "So did you!".  But saying that would admit my actions, would open a spot for that shame to sit itself in.  I recall brushing the accusations off and changing the subject successfully.  Now I see that the shame in it all, was not that it happened, but more so that it happened only once and as a practice rather than simply another normal way of learning about my own body, my own desires, and my own sexuality ... with another girl.  I literally had to break out of my mind to see this for what it was.  That night and our kissing was so wrapped up in shameand I had shoved it so far in the vault, that it had changed shape over the years into something that it wasn't.

Is shame enigmatic?  Does it change shape and viscosity?  And if so, does that mean we can also change it for the better?  Can we effectively change a stinky shameful memory, into a sweet smelling rose?

When I finally "lost" my virginity ... haha I gotta laugh every time I read and/or write that.  I mean, where did it go?  Has it ever been found?  Is there any clues as to where I lost it?  Bread crumb trail anywhere anywhere?  The terminology we use is effective ... it just effects the wrong things sometimes.  But I digress.  When I finally had sexual intercourse with a boy, it not only hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but it was so much less than what I expected!  Talk about your false advertising!! Was that supposed to feel good?  Ouch! And all of that preparation.  I mean, I had a box of condoms and a spermicidal sponge hidden under my super-single waterbed for so long that I think I forgot about them.  (I eventually gifted that spermie-sponge to a much younger friend who was at her own experimenting stage in life.)

So the timing of this blog post is suddenly not lost on me.  The Ontario Government has recently opened debate on how, when, and if they teach sexual education in schools starting as early as grade one.  They want to educate our children about their bodies.  Only good can come of this.  Statistics show that when young children are taught what their body parts are for, they are less likely to be sexually abused.

Their body;  their rights ... right?!

To sum it up, it seems like I'm saying that pubescent girls need more girl on girl, and less marginalization.  Well, that's perhaps one message to gather here :) but really I wish I could go back and re-memorize that memory, re-categorize it somehow.  If I could I'd wrap that memory up in a 14 carat gold lined gift bag, topped with a big beautiful ribbon.  I wonder if it would have changed me, how I saw me, and how I treated me growing up.  I mean, I didn't always give myself all of the respect I deserved.

I wonder, did my lack of self-respect start in that basement with that shame?