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A Vulture’s Nose is Deep Stuff

As I am one of those many outdoorsmen who feels the presence of God most when outside in the wild (as did Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Byzantine monks, most Eastern religious founders, moved by the spirit present when interposing interference is removed), and who daily revels in the magical mysteries of nature and her myriad inhabitants, two days ago I experienced one of those affirmative moments I just had to share here.

Let me begin in a normally circuitous way.

Among our friends, the cabin frig is a notorious repository for hilarious experiments in food storage. Examples run from milk containers constantly long past the “Use By” date, which poses no boundary for me when making morning covfefe, to plastic containers containing mysterious fuzzy delicacies once lovingly stashed in misplaced anticipation of an immediate followup feed some distant time before.

So the other day, I grabbed what I thought was a container of meat pottage of recent vintage, only to discover it held the sad remains of a once-proud free range tuna fish turned to tame tuna salad some weeks prior. Upon opening the plastic container, it was clear this material could be frozen for trap bait come November, or taken to a regular dumping point deep in the forest, 100 yards from the front porch, where several trail cameras record and document the many cool forest denizens that come to explore the enticing odors thereupon.

Unwilling to risk the entire freezer contents to this nasty smelling mess, option B was followed. Taking water along to help rinse out the container only added yet more stink to the spot.

I retreated from that odorous field of battle and took up my point of respite on a chair on said porch, thinking of all the hard physical labor awaiting me, once more responsible instincts took control of my limbs. Within minutes, and I mean just a few minutes, a handful of black-headed vultures began circling the spot of spoilage, some diving down below the tree canopy to more personally investigate the enticing smell.

To me, seeing this is a magnificent experience and feeling. What a display of the incredible smelling ability of these birds!

Yes, vultures are carrion eaters, and they are supposed to be able to smell well.

Well, to me, being able to smell a few ounces of old tuna salad water dumped out in the Big Woods in the middle of a vast forest complex, from miles away, is not just good sense of smell. It is beyond imaginably incredible.

We are talking about parts per trillion of stink being immediately picked up by a winged creature far, far away. What sophistication! What finely honed senses! It is miraculous, and to me, it is a sign of the hand of God, because only God can create such complexity. Human attempts are not even cheap imitations.

Which takes me to this perhaps unexpected conclusion: I do not understand the use of recreational drugs. The free and easy endorphin “high” that my brain feels from witnessing the vultures’ display of smell capability is intense, because I appreciate what it represents. Just minutes later a beautiful ruby throated hummingbird buzzed the porch, inspecting our colorful (flower-colored) American flag gently luffing in the breeze.

Hanging momentarily a few feet away from me, I marveled at its minuscule dose of radiant iridescence.

And then as the hummingbird buzzed away at an impossibly high speed (I mean, how can such a small animal achieve such a high rate of speed so quickly? Another miracle of Creation!), my brain experienced yet another rush of self-induced stimulants. No outside drugs required. No danger, no addiction, no expense, no law breaking.

My takeaway from the vultures: Don’t take Nature for granted. She is everywhere, the handmaiden of God, here to show us The Way. If we just open our eyes and revel in the mystery.

 

Ooh-ooh, that smell

Dedicated readers of this site might wonder why we are not commenting about the lameness of a political party that filibusters everything in the US Senate, used “the nuclear option” themselves to advance the most radical and extreme federal judges and political appointees from 2010 to 2015, but which now is screaming bloody murder that the other political party followed their lead, did exactly what they did with the Senate rules, and allowed a simple majority vote to confirm the next US Supreme Court justice (Gorsuch) yesterday.

Why would a normal, healthy person spend time on that issue? It is obviously quite insane. One political party is dominated by people with an agenda that does not fit in with America’s political model. Would you normal people please stop supporting the Democrat Party, until its leadership is replaced with normal, mainstream Americans?

Instead, this essay here takes a line from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song about drug abuse, “Oooh-ooh that smell.”

This is about a daily personal health issue that seems to be unknown and unaddressed, despite having a real effect on Americans across the country. If you care about your health, read on.

We Americans are so addicted to cheap Chinese junk (tools, food, clothing, furniture, shoes, tires) that we shop ever more in big box stores filled to the brim with that cheap Chinese junk.  Or buy from Amazon, which imports from China by the shipful.

And when you enter the doorway of these big box stores, you are confronted with an odd, sickly sweet smell associated with the vast majority of Chinese manufacturing: Formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is used to pickle human remains for wakes and open casket funerals. It is used to stash scientific specimens in glass containers, so they will not rot, so they can be viewed and studied.

Formaldehyde is dangerous, toxic, and both acutely and chronically dangerous. And yet Americans work around hugely elevated amounts of formaldehyde in these ubiquitous big box stores, and Americans shop daily in these same places, all blissfully unaware that they are inhaling a significant amount of nasty chemical.

The formaldehyde you smell in the store is off-gassing from the consumer items sitting in cardboard boxes on the store shelves. This chemical permeates everything made in China, and there is so much of it that for years it keeps leaking out of the plastics, fabrics, and woods sent here, which we then put in our homes and garages as furniture and tools.

You are worried about ambient cigarette smoke? Cut us a break! Exposure to air-borne formaldehyde in these amounts is far worse for the human body, far riskier than the occasional cigarette, as is standing on a street corner in down town Manhattan, waiting for a street light to change, for that matter, because of all the ozone, particulates, and sulfur/ carbon dioxide/monoxide smog.

But nothing is being done about ambient formaldehyde risk, because it is associated with too much money and economic activity. And it is invisible, except to the nose.

There are no sexy prohibitionist crusades about ambient formaldehyde like there is with tobacco use (an upcoming subject here).  And yet take a good whiff the next time you go to a big box store. That weird sickly sweet smell is formaldehyde. Your lungs are getting a free embalming when you enter.

Note: If we bought American products, made in USA facilities where formaldehyde is not allowed to be used, then we would not be exposed to it when we went shopping. But we are like drug addicts, addicted to cheap Chinese junk, to our own detriment.

Medical cannabis – the time is now

Medical cannabis is the active ingredient from the marijuana plant, used in a responsible way for strictly medical purposes, like treating severe pain and seizures.

Presently the well-earned stigma of “weed” prevents medical cannabis from being used as an alternative to addictive, dangerous drugs from barbiturates and opiates.

Prescription pain killers are becoming a huge menace to American society, not just because of the addictions and ruined lives following in their wake, but because of the car accidents and violence that result from their over-use and misuse.

It is now time to allow medical forms of cannabis – NOT pot/weed/ dope/ hash/ MaryJane – to be used on a strictly controlled medical basis for pain relief and controlling seizures.

The risks of medical cannabis are known to be very low, the side effects are low, while the benefits are known to be very high.  When compared to the high risks, high side-effects of current prescription painkillers, medical cannabis looks positively like a miracle wonder drug.

Anyone with a shred of compassion for others in pain wants to give them safe ways to treat their affliction.

So, what the heck is the wait?

Let’s pass Senate Bill 3 and give our fellow Pennsylvanians the medical relief they need and deserve.

And no, I am not talking about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana leaf.  Recently a supporter asked me my position on this subject, and I believe it is a generational thing, with younger people more comfortable with recreational use of marijuana than us older folks.  Growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, I saw marijuana used and abused recreationally, and while it may not have the negative side effects of alcohol or hard drugs, it still is not a great thing to have legally at hand.

America needs fewer recreational drugs, not more, but medical cannabis is not a recreational drug, and even if it were considered a drug, it would displace many much stronger, truly dangerous drugs.  Its time has arrived.

 

Accepting the obvious, medical cannabis

Marijuana has a stigma earned many times over. Counter- culture anarchists tuned out with it, and lovers of American culture took note.

But here’s the obvious elephant standing in the room: Marijuana has medicinal virtues separate from its use as a recreational drug. If America routinely uses dangerous and addicting opiates for pain relief, why on earth would we not embrace using something equally as effective, maybe more so, and yet so much safer?

Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana as it is being called, can be tailor-made to treat pain, but not stoner needs. That’s neat. And it is time to embrace this technical advance, or traditional step back, as it were. Thank you, Governor Corbett, for recognizing this need. Many medical patients await effective pain mitigation, and this is it, apparently.

Side note: Like all public policy subjects, this one is also filled with ancillary issues. For example, medical-only hemp (sorry, no buzz for the tokers, no matter how much you huff n’ puff) can be easily grown nearly anywhere in America, thereby displacing medical/ drug poppy cultivation in lovely places like, say, Afghanistan.  Displacing poppy growth is  a good thing. Not supporting Afghanistan is a good thing. Supporting American agriculture is a good thing.

Yes, drugs are bad. Yes, recreational marijuana is a drug. No, promoting medical cannabis is not the same thing. It is a fact whose time has come. Let’s help people.

News about Islam: It Ain’t Pretty

Western Main Stream Media obsess about presenting Islam “fairly” and in an unbiased way. Nothing of the sort is done, of course, because that would mean reporting the cold, hard, painful, scary facts about Islam. Rather, Islam is whitewashed and mainstreamed every day by Western MSM. Here are two recent non-MSM stories about Islam that shed light on what is at the heart of the culture clash between Islam (jihad) and Western democracy.

Turkey is Islam’s most advanced, civilized nation, supposedly with some veneer of the rule of law. Ha…Ha…Haaaaa. Read on at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/163368#.UNMr73dgK8A

And then it turns out that Islam’s holiest Holy Warriors are actually a bunch of dirty, chronically sick, unhygenic drug addicts who rape and sadistically abuse women: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/253747#.UNMuJndgK8A