Smoke this…

This will become more of an issue in coming years as Prohibition falls around the country: Why is it that people who would howl in protest if anyone lit a cigarette within half a mile of them think it’s just fine to smoke pot anytime and anywhere?

I support reform of drug laws. I’m pretty much in favor of decriminalization, legalization, or whatever is appropriate as long as the process recognizes two things: (1) that marijuana is an intoxicating substance that affects things like driving, work, parenting, etc.; and (2) that smoking marijuana is still smoking and should be just as unacceptable in public or other smoke-free spaces as smoking cigarettes would be.

For reference. those of us who don’t do either–while we very well may support drug law reform–would prefer not to be personally exposed to whichever burning substance you’re inhaling today. That’s pretty much the definition of a smoke-free environment. (And yes, at this point I acknowledge that I smoked cigarettes for years and was less than discriminating about where I did so, something for which I am now incredibly sorry.)

I think that’s one of the things that has irritated me so much over the years about marijuana advocates: the smug self-righteousness–especially common in Northern California, where this first became an issue for me and where smug self-righteousness is nearly ubiquitous–that suggests that just because marijuana has been unjustly penalized for years it should now be smoked by everyone, everywhere, whenever the spirit moves. Marijuana is not the “salvation of the world.” It’s just another recreational drug that may or may not have some health benefits for a small percentage of the population and should probably be legal. It’s also one that produces a foul-smelling and harmful cloud of smoke just like cigarettes do when ingested in certain ways.

More March


It’s very pretty. But the cable is out (and the Internet with it), there are tree pieces all over my backyard, and I’m terrified to see what my house in Winston-Salem looks like right now. I shouldn’t complain because at least I have power, which is apparently better than half the households in the county, but it can all go away now, okay?

A little storm


I went to bed Thursday night expecting (as did pretty much everyone in the area) a minor winter event with a small amount of ice, one that might delay the opening of the university for an hour or so but would otherwise have a minimal impact. Twenty-four hours later, trees and power lines were down everywhere, hundreds of thousands of people were without power, and the Triad area was pretty much completely disabled. Needless to say, we were taken a little by surprise.


I was lucky. Unlike somewhere between seventy and ninety percent of the population of Guilford County, I never lost power for more than a split second. I did lose cable and internet connectivity (I still don’t have that back) and branches did come down in my yard. But there was no damage to my parents’ old house in Greensboro, where I’m currently living. I was terrified about my house in Winston-Salem, though, with all the tall trees that surround it on every side.

By late Friday afternoon, a good bit of the snow and ice had melted. The weather-related part of the event was over quickly; in fact, I went out for a drive on Friday evening and got dinner at my favorite shawarma joint. The outages were widespread but very sporadic. Three sides of an intersection might be dark while the convenience store on the fourth might have power…and a massive traffic jam in its parking lot. Traffic lights were out everywhere and the streets looked really eerie at twilight. As it got darker, I nearly ran into a downed tree on an off-ramp near my house. That was when I decided not to go out anymore on Friday night.



On Saturday morning, I received email from my neighbors in Winston-Salem letting me know that the power had been out on Friday but had been restored. They also mentioned that a pine in my backyard (one which was already quite dead) had come down and blocked the street. The city had apparently cut it up and placed the pieces on the edge of my yard. Other than that, though, there seemed to be no damage. I drove over to check it out later that morning and noticed that the magnolia Mark had planted seven years ago had lost about four years growth off the top. But everything else looked pretty good. I was very relieved.


Now it’s Sunday. I’ve come in to work to catch up on a few things since I can’t do this at home without internet access. It’s nice seeing things bigger than they look on my phone.

Like I said, the weather aspect of this event came and went pretty quickly. But I have to say it was most of the most damaging storms I’ve ever seen around here. And I feel like I dodged a bullet. Tens of thousands of people still don’t have power and their lives are pretty much sucking at this point. So I’ve decided not to whine about the cable and the internet for at least another day. Funny thing: I’ve read two entire books over the past two days. Imagine…

God may hate but I just don’t care

Fred Phelps was an evil man…and a sick one. Talking about dancing on his grave and celebrating at his funeral, though, puts people at pretty much the same level as Fred and his followers. That’s not of the higher levels.

I would be lying if I said I mourned his passing; I’m pretty certain the world actually IS a better place without Fred Phelps. The only charitable thing I can say about the man is that he did a lot of important (if unintentional) work toward equality for the people he hated most. Mainly, though, he was just a bitter, miserable old man who made it his business to spread around his misery as effectively as possible.

I do, however, like to think that I can conduct myself with more dignity and respect for humanity than Phelps or his family ever have. They probably don’t deserve that much consideration, but behaving better than the Phelps clan would in a similar situation requires almost no effort at all.

Which is precisely the amount I’m willing to put into it…