Tuesday, May 16, 2006

loosen up on loosies

I've smoked on average half a pack a day for at least 20 years. I know this isn't good, and for the past six years I've been trying to quit. The patch didn't work for me. I don't like gum. I managed to quit for five months taking Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, but restarted. Trying again later with Wellbutrin SR, the sustained-release version, I went insane – I began raging all the time. Everything made me angry, and I really enjoyed being angry. I stopped taking it after less than a week. (Obviously, it's not good to take antidepressants if you're not depressed. The first round may have worked not just because it was a different formulation, but because I was also under a great deal of stress at the time.)

These days I know I have lung damage. Last year I measured my O2 sat. and got 98%, rather than the 99 or 100 I usually got just three years ago. My chest hurts if I smoke more than half a pack. So I'm running scared right now, but addiction has me.

The thing that does help is simply cutting back. I can be content with 4 or 5, and at times have gotten down to one or two a day.

I learned this because of two grocery stores in my area that sold individual cigarettes, sometimes called loosies. You buy just one or two instead of a pack of twenty. They cost anywhere from 35 to 50 cents each. I spent the same amount of cigarette money per day, but the health gain of smoking 4 or 5 rather than 10 was worth it.

About eight years ago, California made it illegal to sell loosies. This was to prevent children from buying cigarettes. The reasoning was that kids don't have enough money to buy a whole pack, but they can spend 25 to 40 cents on a single cigarette, and this will get them started. However, these days $4.50 for a pack is NOTHING for a kid who wants to get them. The average weekly allowance in 2000 for 9-14 year olds was over $20 and by now I'm sure that's gone up. And kids don't need to buy singles; they swipe their parents' cigs, or get them from friends or siblings. It's already illegal to sell cigarettes, loose or not, to minors, so there's no purpose behind having an extra layer of law. Except for keeping people who are already addicted.

One of the groceries complied immediately with the law; the other didn't. And a few weeks ago that grocery got caught. Now I'm back up to my usual half a pack a day, my lungs feel crappy, and I have a pack of cigarettes calling me begging to be smoked. And I listen. Yeah, I'm stupid, but I'm also addicted.

It would really help if the law was changed back to legalize loosies.

Here's a couple articles on this:
California Aggie - Mike Giardina
SF Bayview - Carol McGruder

Sunday, May 14, 2006

cruel? not.

Someone told me recently that I have pictures of cruelty to animals on my website. These are pictures of my birds hunting and catching game. The game is either dead, or it is alive and unharmed. There's no cruelty.

It's all about intent. Cruelty is inflicting pain and suffering for the sake of causing pain and suffering. Cruelty is deliberately prolonging dying any amount of time longer than necessary.

Hunting sometimes causes pain and suffering during the infliction of death. Hunting as a whole is not cruelty.

For millennia man has hunted for sustenance. Hawks hunt. Dogs hunt. Cats hunt. Insects, spiders, fish: they all kill other animals to eat. The way animals kill is rarely pretty, and often does prolong death, especially when the skills of hunter and hunted are evenly matched. My current hawk, if left to himself, will yank out an eyeball first, then start biting the head. My previous hawk was more refined, usually suffocating first before eating, but not always.

Cats are cruel, especially neurotic, well-fed housecats that don't regularly get out to hunt for food like honest animals. Give a housecat a mouse, and it will drop it in the bathtub and play with it a few hours for practice. Honing the skills it instinctively thinks it needs, but doesn't by its lifestyle. A real mouser doesn't have time for this bullshit.

If they were logical, people who call hunters cruel would lump together everyone and say hawks, dogs, cats, bugs and fish are just as cruel. The entire world is cruel. Life is cruel for making us die. However, those people don't exhibit logic. Hunters, as higher animals, are supposed to be "better" and accept the fact that meat is only socially acceptable when grown in supermarkets. They forget that someone's got to kill the chicken and put it in a styrofoam coffin. They mysteriously blank out this part of the equation. But the really mysterious thing is, quite often, they love cats.

In dreams of the animal-rights extremists, no one eats meat. They are entitled to their opinion. I am entitled to mine, which says meat is tasty and nutritious, and cooking it is fun. Hindus are intelligent enough to realize that not everyone is Hindu. They don't badger you about hunting, killing, or eating meat. They don't vandalize your car or belongings in this cause.

Certainly, hunters vary in their degrees of skill. Sometimes one shoots a deer, and misses the vital spots that will drop it right away. There are a hundred factors, and sometimes just dumb luck, that can cause even an experienced hunter to miss the drop shot. If hunters were cruel, they would walk away satisfied they've successfully inflicted pain. But this isn't the case. Every hunter who wounds an animal tries to track it down and finish the job.

Nor am I perfect in determining if an animal is going to survive my hawks' grasp. I'm not a veterinarian. But knowledge handed down from my falconry sponsor, and my own experience, makes me a fair judge. If it's going to die from its injuries, I kill immediately. If unwounded, I let it go. I've misjudged on less than half of one percent of my quarry. One time the birds mortally injured an animal and it escaped; I looked for it until dark but didn't find it. Another time the birds mortally injured an animal, and we found it within 15 minutes and put it out of its misery. I don't intend any of these mistakes, and I feel deep sorrow and pity when it happens.

Sure, hunters kill animals, same as ranchers and farmers. Just don't call us cruel.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

hypocrites all

Nancy Pelosi calls attending a fundraiser "giving support" to a Democrat who's been accused of taking bribes. And this is different from "protecting" a Republican who's been charged with corruption?

moussaoui as brat

So, Zacarias Moussaoui avoids the death penalty and tells the courtroom "America lost, I won." He would have said that regardless of the outcome. He's that kind of guy – an al-Qaeda wannabe whose capabilities stop at rabble-rousing. Americans are over-sensitive, over-serious, and desperately want to be loved. Moussaoui knows it, and has tried to shock us repeatedly. This is no different from 14 year-olds and their Spawn of Satan t-shirts. It would behoove us to take him about as seriously. Cos if we let him under our skin, he has won.