George Floyd

I am haunted by the image

of him calling for his mother

as he lay dying

with the left knee

of a white police officer

pressed into his neck.

The white police officer

had his left hand in his pocket

and stared straight

at the camera that filmed him

as if killing a black man

was nothing worth noting.

Nothing to see here, folks.

Move on.

The Power of Hope: Happy New Year 2020!

I watched the Rose Parade on TV yesterday morning, as I try to do every New Year’s day. The theme for this year’s Rose Parade was The Power of Hope.

Boy, do we need some hope.

For some time, my new year’s observances have been pretty low key.

Until this year. I have been looking forward to January 1, 2020, since the first day of January 1, 2019.

Because for me and many other people, 2019 was a crappy year for this nation. Hope has been hard to find.

Because 2020 is an election year, when we may be able to boot out an unqualified, dangerously unhinged president and his meek followers in congress, and bring our country back closer to the democratic republic the founders hoped it would be.

Because 2020 is one year closer to the time when the United States is projected to become a majority minority nation (2041-2046, depending on immigration rate). I was born in 1944, and I would love to still be alive when old white males no longer can dictate this country’s culture and politics.

And last, because 2020 is an even number, and I prefer even numbers over odds. It probably has something to do with me being born in 1944.

So, to all of us, I wish peace, joy, and hope in this new year of 2020.

And thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

High as a Flag on the 4th of July

It’s 10:10am Pacific Standard Time, and I’m stoned.

HA! Bet you thought this post would be about patriotism, or our flag’s history, or some such, didnt ya?

Well, surprise. It’s now 10:14am PST, and I’m stoned. I don’t ordinarily sit around at 10 in the morning and get stoned. I don’t ordinarily get stoned. I did in college in the 60s and for a few years after. Marijuana is legal now in Oregon, and I do use cannabis edibles and oils, but now I do it for pain management, not for getting stoned.

But, like I said, I’m stoned. A back story is in order:

  • Two days ago I had two back molars extracted. My dentist had trouble getting one of them out.
  • I had some sedation (Halcion) for the procedure. I knew Halcion could take up to a day to clear your system, and I was not to drive or do anything active the next day.
  • When I got home I started taking ibuprofen and acetameniphin together every 6 hours for pain. (Research shows this is as effective for pain control as prescription opiates. I can attest that it is, having taken both for pain. Plus, you don’t get addicted.)
  • For the first day I had very little gum pain at the extraction sites. I did have some balance problems, which I attributed to lingering effects of Halcion.
  • This morning, I woke up at 7 am with more pain than yesterday, the same woozy balance as yesterday, and also feeling a little nauseous.
  • AHA! I knew what to do! I took my pain pills, and then I consumed one-half of a cannabis gummie. I knew that marijuana edibles can take from 2-4 hours to take effect. But I had used this edible before at that dose and found it was mildly helpful for relaxation and pain management but did not get me high. I also knew it was reported to be good for nausea.
  • I went about my day. About 8 am I sat down at my computer. When I stood up again about an hour later, I staggered and almost lost my balance. This wooziness continued and got worse as I moved about. I could not get my thoughts to work because my brain was turning into mashed potatoes. I thought I was still feeling the effects of Halcion.
  • Then it dawned on me: It isn’t the Halcion. Dummy! You’re high! You’re stoned out of your mind!

I am still stoned, and I don’t know for how long or why. I used this gummie at this dose before a few times and didn’t get high. However: It was usually late afternoon or evening and after two or three meals.

This morning I took the gummie on an empty stomach. I guess that’s it. Any other ideas?

But anyway, I’m still stoned. High as a flag on the 4th of July. And I am going to publish this post today just after writing it, instead of taking a few days to edit it, as I normally do. My judgment is off, you see. I’m stoned.

Thank you for reading my post.

Joy and Peace, Marjorie Beck

Our Colonial Militias Did Not Carry AK-47s and AR-15s.

The part of North America known as the United States has long had a gun culture. It’s one of our oddities that makes people from other countries shake their heads and wonder why we’re so gun-crazy. I’ve never liked this aspect of our character, but there you are; it’s enshrined in the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution, which reads (as almost everyone knows):

 A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Is the first part of that amendment about a well-regulated militia the most important, or the second part about the peoples’ right to keep and bear arms? Who knows? Who can say for sure what the adopters of that amendment in 1791 really understood it to mean.

In fact, the who, what, where, when, why, and how of this amendment have been debated so long and so heatedly that even I, as a long-time gun control advocate, am thoroughly sick of it. I do wish James Madison, who drafted the amendment, would have done us all a favor by being just a little more specific.

And there is this: There was good reason for the 2nd Amendment when it was added to the Constitution. The infant United States had only just won independence in 1783 from a Great Britain that had, among many other tyrannies, repeatedly tried to disarm the colonists to prevent their rebellion. When the Constitution was drafted in 1787 there was still great suspicion and distrust of a strong central government imposing its will upon the states and their individual citizens.

That is why Article I of the Constitution established the Congress and its powers, and Article II established the office of the Presidency and its powers. Congress’ duty is to enact the laws; the President’s duty is to see they are well and faithfully executed. Although George Washington was so revered after the war that some people wanted him to be an American King, the Constitutional framers intended the United States President to be subordinate to the United States Congress, not a supreme ruler over it, as in Great Britain.

Back to the 2nd Amendment: It was one of ten amendments added to the Constitution before it was ratified by the states in 1791. The purpose of these amendments was to protect those rights of individual citizens that had been abrogated under British rule, and that many citizens feared might still be abrogated under a too-strong central government. Twelve amendments were offered to the states for ratification; ten of the twelve were approved and added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.

In District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008, the United States Supreme Court ruled the 2nd Amendment does give individual citizens, not just members of the military, the right to own guns. So there you have it: Until and unless some future Supreme Court reverses that ruling, individual gun ownership in the United States is constitutionally protected.

But here’s what’s different today from when the Constitution and its first 10 Amendments were ratified in 1791:

In 1791 the United States had only a small standing army, with state militias providing the bulk of common defense. All able-bodied males in each state were considered militia members.

Militia members provided their own weapons. In 1791, that weapon was a single-shot, muzzle-loading smooth bore musket that initially took about a minute to load, and twenty seconds thereafter to reload. The smooth bore musket was notoriously inaccurate. It also discharged a great deal of black smoke as it fired. That is why armies stood and fired at each other in ranks at close range.

A rifle musket was also available, which had grooves inside the barrel to guide the bullet. It improved accuracy but took longer to load. It was used primarily by snipers and other individual marksmen, while the infantry carried the smooth bore musket. The most either of these weapons could fire was three rounds a minute.

In 1791, a state militia member could use a musket not only in war or for personal protection, but also to hunt game for food, if that was necessary. The United States was still an agrarian and frontier nation, and for many families, hunting was necessary.

Today, the United States has a large standing army, state militias have become national guard units attached to the states, regular army and national guard members do not buy their own weapons, there is no requirement to belong to either the army or a national guard, and not that many people still have to go hunting to put food on their tables. (Although many people still like to hunt, but that’s a different topic.)

Also today, in contrast to 1791, armies no longer use single-shot muskets. They use automatic assault rifles, such as the AK-47, which can fire 600 rounds a minute. A semi-automatic cousin, the AR-15, can fire 30-45 rounds a minute. Both rifles are designed to kill a lot of people very quickly. That makes them good choices for armies at war, but not particularly good choices for civilians hunting game if you hope to have anything left of your game after you kill it.

It is legal in the United States to own a fully automatic rifle such as the AK-47 if it was manufactured before 1986. If you can find one, you can buy it. If the AK-47 you find was manufactured after 1986, too bad; it is illegal for you to own it.

Fear not, though: you can go into a gun store and, as long as you pass the gun store’s required background check, you can buy an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that will look almost like an AK-47 and do almost as much damage. If you fail the store’s background check you can still buy that AR-15 at a gun show or from a friend, with no background check required. Or you might be able to score an AK-47 on the black market, if that’s your mass killing weapon of choice.

It’s estimated there are 5 to 10 million AR-15s in the United States, within a broader total of 300 million guns for a population of 327.2 million. That’s a lot of fire power and a lot of gun culture for a country that doesn’t now require military service.

So this is where we are with the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing the right of individual gun ownership. We are just chock-full of guns all over the country.

I do wonder if, in 1791, instead of single-shot muskets that could kill at most three people a minute, the state militias had carried AK-47s or AR-15s that could kill anywhere from 45 to 600 people a minute.

Would the founders have thought it so important that the peoples’ right, when not serving as militia members, to keep and bear such lethal weapons not be infringed?

I do wonder.

Good Enough For Government Work

Before retirement, I worked for city government. My co-workers and I were well aware of the stereotype of government worker do-nothings with fat salaries and fat benefits and fat pensions, leaning on shovels all day or shuffling papers at a desk.

There probably were places where that stereotype was true, but I don’t think it was true of most of the people I worked with. I think most of my colleagues, whether working outdoors or inside, were dedicated to their jobs and enthusiastic about doing their best for the citizens they served. I worked with lots of bright, talented people.

Many of the people I worked with had wicked senses of humor, too. We liked to mock the stereotype by sometimes remarking, when we finished a task, “Well, that’s good enough for government work.”

In retirement, I still say it sometimes when I’ve finished something I know isn’t quite perfect, but is as good as I can get it at the time.

Every time I say it, it makes me smile. It makes me remember the good times I had working at the City and the good friends I made there, and it reminds me to be proud of the work I did there. And that’s a good thing.

Joy and Peace, and may you be good enough at whatever you do.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

How Blue Birds and a Mouse Got Me to Stop Sucking My Thumb

I sucked my thumb until I was seven years old.

Child development experts say it’s normal for a child to suck a thumb or a finger for the first one to two years. After that, it may indicate a problem. For me, it indicated a problem. I was an insecure little kid, and thumb-sucking was my Linus blanket.

I only did it in bed at night, and it was always my left thumb. My parents did everything they could think of to make me stop: bandages, gloves, bitter liquids, thumb splints, begging–everything. Nothing could make me give up my addiction.

Until the summer of my seventh year.

That year I became a Blue Bird (baby Campfire Girl), as did most of my seven-year-old school girl friends in little Seminole, Oklahoma. One of the joys of Blue Birding was you got to go to a summer camp with other Blue Birds and older Camp Fire Girls. (Yes, back then Campfire was just for girls.)

So off we went to summer camp, excited about what for many of us was our first time away from our parents. We felt so grown up.

We were assigned group cabins to sleep in, and my friends and I were all in the same cabin (neat!), along with a few other Blue Birds we didn’t know.

The first night we all got in our beds, and a counselor turned out the lights and wished us goodnight. In the darkness, I started to suck my thumb, as usual. Sucking my thumb made a little squeaking noise. I’d done it so long I was oblivious to it.

After a few minutes, a voice called out in the darkness:

“I think there’s a mouse in here. Hear that squeaking?”

Mortified, I jerked my thumb out of my mouth. The squeaking stopped instantly. My cabin mates listened a few moments in the dark silence and concluded the mouse or whatever was squeaking must have left.

I was safe. I had not been revealed as a thumb sucker. And after that, I never sucked my thumb again. Never wanted to. What my parents had tried for five years to stop, the fear of ridicule by my peers did in one night.

Sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment to break a bad habit.

Former thumb suckers, I’d like to know how you quit. Or did you?

Peace and Joy,

Thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck