Thursday, February 7, 2013

View From Above

Insane Google Earth tour of Humboldt marijuana farms

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM

As we reported yesterday, it's California Pot Week for the Supreme Court.

Sticky green star.
  • Sticky green star.

If you want a view of the issue that's less tell, more show, this Mother Jones video is for you. It's an incredible Google Earth tour of Humbolt County's industrial-scale growers, showing first-hand the environmental devastation that can come with such an under-regulated crop. You'll see clear-cut, arid patches amid the Redwoods that hide these farm, and hear an overview from environmental sociologist Anthony Silvaggio from Humbolt State University.
"I think the fact that it's unregulated is a real problem," he says in the film, adding that local agencies like County Agricultural Commissioners can't help growers who might want to green up their act because they receive federal dollars and it is, of course, federally prohibited.
Again, watch this awesome video here.

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The Marijuana Clusterf*$k, Take 500

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 12:45 PM

No doubt you've seen the slew of headlines positing that a Supreme Court case this week could clarify the federal/state/local muddle about who-if anyone-is actually regulating dispensaries.

Weve reported the many nuances of this tangle before.
  • North Bay Bohemian
  • We've reported the many nuances of this tangle before.

The City of Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Center has been making its way through the court system for over a year now.
At stake is the question of whether local governments can ban dispensaries via zoning ordinances. It's yet another page in the same story of Prop 215-Vs. the federal government, and, according to this Mercury News piece, the justices seemed swayed by the fact that Prop 215 (otherwise known as The Compassionate Use Act) does not prohibit cities from banning dispensaries via zoning ordinances. Of course, advocates content that, while it may not do exactly that, it does legalize marijuana for medicinal uses in California, and local zoning prohibitions are against the spirit of the law.
As we've said before, it's only one piece of the smokin' hot mess that is medical MJ and the law.
There's this mess, in which lowly harvesters are targeted and then flood the courts, using public dollars and defenders.
And there's this mess, in which confidential patient information is targeted by the feds in Mendocino.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When I Paint My Masterpiece

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM


"You know what? Screw it. I'm tired of painting at the beach. I'm tired of painting beautiful coastal sunsets. I'm tired of painting rolling golden hills, and lush green vineyards, and mountainside streams. I'm a Sonoma County painter, dammit, and I'm gonna paint a bunch of people waiting in line to drink beer."

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Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

When new, thats a $150 lambswool sweater
  • When new, that's a $150 lambswool sweater

Thrifting can be a glorious endeavor, but it's not a sport for the impulsive. Garages full of useless shit that "might be worth something" have led me to much unhappiness. It's best to keep purchases to things you can actually use, like clothes and shoes that fit (not clothes you'd like to fit into someday) and things you can and will use tomorrow.

Usually the latter fits into a category of things that have been needed recently but weren't available, or something that will make an everyday task simpler. This must be something not already in the house. An adorable peeing boy corkscrew is not useful, and will immediately be regarded in the household as useless clutter. Stay away from knick-knacks in general, and remember that electronics are always a crapshoot. Anything in the glass case at the counter is going to be junk, so don't even bother looking unless you have something already in mind.

Also, don't buy a project. Big, fancy speakers will probably sound great, but chances are there's something wrong with them and you probably already have speakers hooked up to a stereo. This violates two rules of thifting already. There's another very, very important rule that may not apply to everyone, but when it does, it's the most important. Will the person with whom you share a house be pleased with this purchase? There's varying degrees of "pleased," ranging from acceptance (a minor eyeroll) to anger (loud, vulgar and ceaseless questioning). That velvet painting of a topless, soulful woman from the 70s may be your idea of high-art, but your housemate (let's be real, I'm talking about a spouse or partner, here) will probably have a different opinion.

Clothes, on the other hand, are personal. They're cheap and will be on display on your body, and if South Park has taught us anything, "It's MY body and I can do what I want with it." So If I want to wear orange plaid pants and penny loafers, that's my business. And If I want to pick out a classy outfit that I may wear just once it will be affordable and memorable. But the other rules of thifting still apply: No projects and it must be usable/wearable immediately.

This would be a $60 merino wool sweater in a department store
  • This would be a $60 merino wool sweater in a department store

Clothes can have minor defects, too, so check them over thoroughly. They might be forgivable, like a tiny hole in the cuff of a sweater, or a scratch on a shoe that will likely buff out. Stains are a sin, as are rips, large tears and extreme ill-fitting. Remember, this stuff is cheap and often discounted after the sticker price. It's OK to make it back and donate it one you find out it won't work or if you just don't like it. This is a much better solution than comply keeping a closet full of clothes that just didn't make the cut. Be honest with yourself and don't be afraid to re-donate. For constant thifters, it might be a good idea to keep a bag of clothes in the car ready to drop off.

The idea of buying something second-hand makes me feel like I'm helping the planet. That sweater didn't need any more energy put into it's creation, and that money went to charity while I still look like a million bucks (or at least $200). It's best not to get political, here. There are thrift stores that donate to charities which might not be fully aligned with one's internal beliefs. Salvation Army, for instance, has donated large sums of money to political campaigns against gay rights. But remember, it's not really about helping the cause, it's about buying cheap stuff.

Doesnt matter who you are, chances are this will come in handy one day
  • Doesn't matter who you are, chances are this will come in handy one day

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Immigration Reform in Napa

Posted By on Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Everyone knows that Napa's wine economy is powered largely by immigrant labor. In an article we published last November, we cited a Napa Community Foundation study examining this immigrant-fueled GDP:

"The study found that immigrants comprise 73 percent of all agricultural workers and contribute between $317 million and $1.07 billion to the county's overall gross domestic product."

Napa Valley Welcome Sign
  • Napa Valley Welcome Sign

That's out of an estimated $7.18 billion for the year 2009.

This weekend, a Napa Valley Register article localized immigration reform issues by examining policy proposed by a group of senators in late January. The article states that the wine county had an immigrant population of 32,000 in 2010, almost a quarter of its entire population. Estimates of those who are undocumented range from 10,000-16,000, or almost half the immigrant population. And, as our article back in November pointed out, much of Napa's ag workforce—those contributing to that nice $1.07 billion GDP—live in surrounding counties.

You can read the NVR article here.

You can read about the policy proposals here.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Meet The Crazy People Who Started Lining Up at 3am for Pliny The Younger

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 5:05 PM


It’s 4:30am outside the Russian River Brewing Co., dark and early, and I have to wonder: who the hell would be up this early if they didn’t have to be?

I often work early at my coffee shop job, and usually don’t run into anyone on my way to work. But as I ride my bike down Fourth Street this morning, three people sit in fold-out chairs wrapped in sleeping bags. Twenty-two year-old Kristen Halsing, 23-year-old Matt Regan and Will La Branche are here—sleepy, cold, and eagerly awaiting this year’s release of Pliny the Younger.

The three, from San Rafael, are the first in line for today’s big event. Halsing and Regan were both up at 1:30am to wait in line by 3am. La Branche was so eager, he woke up at 11:30pm. Hey, it happens—when the oft-rated No. 1 beer in the world is on tap.

Hundreds of hopster enthusiasts will soon file behind them, anxiously waiting along Fourth Street, and by 9am, the line manages to wrap down the street and around the corner. Yet most don’t mind the line, remarking that it’s always a guaranteed good time. Fifth-year Younger attendee Mike Von Miedema—who likes to go by “the Drinking Dutchman”—says, “The line’s a piece of cake. I’ve had some of the best times of my life. Met some really cool people, got a blind date once, played some Frisbee and snuggled a 200-pound man in line when I was cold.”

After the doors open, I’ve never seen the brewery so packed with customers and staff. Angie, a server, wasn’t even on the schedule to work today, “but I threw on a shirt and said, ‘I want to work.’”

I catch up with Halsing, Regan and LaBranche at the brewery in the light of day, seven and a half hours after meeting them at 4:30am. Halsing says they spent the time playing poker, eating Wheat Thins and chatting. “It’s hard to believe I spent seven hours in line,” he says. “I have no concept of time. All I know is this beer tastes amazing right now.”

The triple-IPA, 10.5% Pliny the Younger is available seasonally at the Russian River Brewing Co. for the first two weeks of February in half-pint glasses for $4.50—plus a long wait in line.

Russian River Brewing Co., 725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. 707.545.BEER.

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