Brad Pitt - Duo

Playing with the Laser Engraver

They said it was just like using a printer. And it kind of is…

Epilog Helix

A REALLY COMPLICATED PRINTER ON STEROIDS!

A printer with lots of diverse settings that have to be adjusted for power and speed and resolution and dithering effect, and, and, and… Not just that…those things (and more) have to be re-calibrated for each different type of material you are “printing” onto. For example; the settings you might use to achieve the perfect depth of burn of a logo on birch might be entirely different from the settings you would choose for that same image on say, walnut or bass wood. Much less leather or cardboard! Additionally, the settings you might use to achieve the desired shade and intensity in a plaque expressing a sentiment in words using a specific font would be entirely WRONG for the correct pixelation needed in a photograph where white space around each pixel is not only desirable but required in order to see the depth of detail in photo reproduction.

So, ya…this machine is industrial-grade and takes quite a bit of training and experimentation in order to come up to speed so that we can comfortably add laser-engraving services to my current offering.

Below are a couple of images of recent test projects…

I wanted to try out various settings to see what kind of results I could get with a photograph. I kind of wish I had taken pictures of the earlier renditions of this, lol! But I think we’re getting it nailed…slowly but surely!

I burned the smaller version onto a piece of thick leather first. And I’ve got to say that I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

So, I thought I’d try it in a larger size and this time on a 12″x12″ square of birch…which is quite a bit harder material than the leather.

Trust me when I tell you that this one took SEVERAL ATTEMPTS to finally achieve this output. But…I _am_ pleased with the final result.

We have also been practicing on ceramic tile and have some acrylic sheeting on order so that we can learn on those, too.

We haven’t even tried cutting shapes out with the laser engraver, yet. That’s coming next!

I’ll keep you posted.

This is kind of fun…but tricky, too!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Best,

Tracy

2016-01-27 15.06.35

Pendants

I started making jewelry back in 2000 and my favorite pieces to create for the longest time were rings. Though I tried my hand at creating all kinds of jewelry, from earrings and bracelets to handcrafted chains, necklaces, and pendants.

But about two years ago I began using annealed steel as the primary material in my jewelry and my passion for creating pendants expanded like crazy!

Part of the reason for this is the fact that one of my dear friends is a rock-hound in Arizona. She supplied me with several bags full of semi-precious stones that she had collected, sliced, and polished. These stones offered a beautiful focal point for what has become my own unique style of “framing” each one to enhance it’s natural shape and the energy emitted from it.

Below you can view just a sampling of my wire-wrapped stone pendants, as well as some of the other pendants…primarily crosses…I have created over the years. If you would like a one-of-a-kind piece please feel free to CONTACT ME with your ideas!

Keto vs. Vegan

Clearing Up Ketogenic Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet Confustion

Have you been confused by all of the conflicting and contradictory diet and nutrition messages out there? In particular, there seems to be a major divide between whether a low-carb, ketogenic diet or a low-fat whole-foods / plant-based diet is the better choice for overall health, nutrition, and longevity. I know I’ve experienced more than my share of confusion on the subject! I watched this video by Ryan of Happy Healthy Vegan the other night…twice…because I think the explanation he shared by Cyrus Khambatta of Mastering Diabetes, who has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, makes literally more sense than I have heard anyone explain it, ever.

You may know that in 2009 I launched and published an online magazine for the raw foods community called Eighty Percent Raw for which I recruited over 25 raw food chef and health care practitioners who contributed to the magazine monthly for 4 years. I simultaneously enrolled in and attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) for the purpose of attaining a health coaching certificate. I became a student because I am so passionate about learning the truth about optimal nutrition for humans.

However, I will admit to having experienced more than a little confusion about what is the best approach…at least for my own body.

The two eating styles I have had the most weight-loss success with over the years have been the Atkins diet, which was basically the original ketogenic diet, back when I was 20 years old. And the high raw foods diet when I was about 40.

I lost 30+ pounds in 3 months the first time I tried low-carb and was really excited and amazed by my results. Thinking back on my experience I must admit that I felt kind of crappy, health-wise, as a result, though. I recall feeling light-headed and weak a lot of the time. And honestly, I really just viewed the eating plan as a short-term weight-loss program and not at all a long-term lifestyle. I just wanted to lose the weight as quickly as possible. And it worked GREAT for that purpose.

But the results didn’t last…

I gained the weight back quickly as soon as I started eating carbs again and that was followed by two pregnancies in three years…so, ya. My success with low-carb was short lived.

And honestly, I’ve tried it again multiple times since then and it’s true what they say…you just can’t achieve the same results again a second or third or fourth time that you did that first time losing.

So, raw foods and veganism…

You can read my full experience HERE

But suffice it to say that I lost nearly 40 pounds over a few months following a high raw food diet, and kept it off (easily) for about 4 years.

However…that was not without it’s complications either…which you can read about HERE

To compound the sitation…I am a huge student and consumer of health-related information on the internet. And yes, I have a godzillion books on every imaginable diet plan and cooking strategy (Thank you very much for the instant gratification that is Kindle, Amazon! lol!) So, being of Swedish heritage I was also swayed by the DNA/blood-type theory that says “Hey, my ancestors CERTAINLY didn’t evolve on mangos and bananas and other tropical fruits and vegies! They evolved on lots of fish and elk and pork and eggs and dairy products, with very little vegetation and only seasonally.”

So, there’s that.

Anyhow. I continue to search. My body doesn’t seem to respond well (read: lose weight) on a high starch diet, ie; Dr. John McDougall’s Starch Solution so I’m in a bit of a quandary.

But the video above DOES make a lot of sense! So, at least for now, that’s the approach I’m following!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and experiences with diet and weight-loss! Please do share with me below and tell me what you think on this whole issue!

Until next time!

Be well,

Tracy

Portland Pyrography Business Collage

My Pyrography for Business

Some of My More Recent Pyrography Projects for Business Clients – (view more of my pyrography by visiting my Portland Pyrography Facebook page HERE )

Portland Pyrography Private Client Collage

My Pyrography for Private Clients

Some of My More Recent Pyrography Projects for Private Clients – (view more of my pyrography by visiting my Portland Pyrography Facebook page HERE )

Top Hat and Wand

Jack and the Magic Hat Maker

CHAPTER ONE – JACK

2017 Present Day

The memory was fuzzy, like looking at a photo through grease-smudged reading glasses. There was something there, just beyond his grasp, that he couldn’t quite bring into focus. Faces he strained to remember. They came to him most often in dreams, when he was sleeping. A presence and a warmth would wash over and fill him with a sense of comfort and belonging unfamiliar to him in his waking life. Fleeting images of love and laughter and family. And then, just as quickly as they appeared, they were abruptly ripped away from him. It was overwhelming.

These memories didn’t happen every night. They were sporadic and he wasn’t quite sure what triggered them. But sometimes, like this night, he’d awaken with a jolt, hyperventilating, heart pounding, his dark hair soaked with perspiration and bed clothes clinging to every inch of his scrawny, preteen body. It could take several minutes just to get his breathing back under control. And more recently a new sensation had amplified the experience. His hands tingled. No, burned. Intensely. Not in the same way your arm might feel if you’ve been resting your head on it, in one position, for too long. No, this was different. Normally the feeling would fade as he came to a fully awakened state and he’d almost forget about it as the day wore on. Until the experience repeated itself. But he knew, without a doubt, that whatever prompted these episodes most assuredly must also be the source of his chronic asthma attacks.

Jack sat up now, gasping for air, and turned on the night-light located on the small make-shift table next to his bed. Scrambling for the inhaler he always kept close at hand, he shoved it into his mouth and depressed the nozzle, inhaling long and deep. He breathed in a sufficient dose of the medicine and it had the desired effect. Exhaling a sigh of relief, he put it back in it’s place and reached for a sip from the water bottle sitting next to him.

It had been eight years since his parents died in that damn accident. And he knew that no matter how much time passed, he would never get over the loss.

Reaching again to the table, he pressed the button on his smart phone to check the time and discovered it was only 3:10 am. Too freaking early to get up. But he was wide awake now, so what ya gonna do? He threw back the dingy white sheet and thin plaid blanket covering his bed then swung his feet out and onto the cold concrete floor. Glancing back to his mobile device he thought how lucky he was to have it, even if the only reason Uncle Eamon and Aunt Lizzy sprung for it was to keep tabs on him 24/7. They made sure it had just enough minutes so that he couldn’t really use it to make personal calls. But he could text, and that was something. At least it had a clock and a camera. And a CALCULATOR! Now, that right there, was the bomb!

Picking up the phone, he turned it on and tapped the icon for the calculator displayed prominently on the start screen. Working with numbers delighted him! In the same way some kids could get sucked into a video game, Jack could punch in calculations, working out formulas, for hours on end and before he knew it the day was over. So it was completely natural for him to delve deeply into some complex problem, and forget about the world around him, which is what he did now.

Bling! Jack was startled out of his happy, mathematical delirium. “Who would be texting me at this hour of the morning?” He asked himself as he swiped down the glass to see who had the nerve to disturb him at such an ungodly time of day. Bart. “What in the world was Bart doing up at?” He shifted his gaze to view the time in the upper right corner of the phone and was astonished to find it was already 6:30 am. Rubbing his eyes and shoving his fingers through the longer-than-usual, slightly-greasy bangs to get them out of the way, he resumed reading the text. “Meet me at Pop’s a few minutes early? There’s something I wanna show you!”

“Old Town China Town – Northwest 2nd and Davis” The prerecorded woman’s voice announced over the intercom system.

Jack stuffed his phone into his jacket pocket and stood to grab hold of the handrail as the MAX car slowed, with a screech and a jerk, to a stop. When the doors slid open he dashed out, sprinted to the corner, and looking both ways, ran across the street. He could already see his friend, a block further down the road, waving enthusiastically in his direction.

A little taller, and about twenty-pounds chunkier than Jack, Bart was, he thought to himself, “a bit of a dork.” But that was one of the things he liked best about him. Standing there, shifting back and forth from one foot to the other, Bart was dressed in typical Portlander gear; red Converse tennis shoes, white cotton ankle socks, crunchy-looking khaki Cargo shorts that came down to his calves, and a striped t-shirt. And of course, he also had on a forest green ball-cap with a bright yellow “O” pegging him as a Ducks fan. Shaggy bits of sandy-colored hair escaped from under the hat and almost completely covered his eyes and ears. As Jack came closer he could see thin white cords dangling from Bart’s ears and disappearing into his right front pocket.

“Hey! What took you so long?” Bart shouted as he moved to meet him at the corner. “I’ve been here for ten minutes already,” he said, motioning for Jack to follow him.

“There was some holdup at The Square,” Jack said, readjusting the strap from the backpack slung over his left shoulder as they walked. “It probably would’ve been faster if I’d just gotten off the train and headed over on foot. But I’m here now. What’s so exciting that we have to meet before school?”

Bart was already standing in front of the familiar destination. Flanagan’s Hobby Shop was owned by his dad and it was their favorite hang-out. The two boys spent most days, after class, helping in Bart’s family store. In exchange “Pop” would pay them a small weekly allowance for their assistance, which was a good deal for him since most of that money just ended up getting spent on some cool new item in the store.

Grabbing hold of the key on the ring at the end of the purple plastic, spiral band he always wore around his left wrist, Bart inserted it into the lock on the old, sage-green and glass door and opened.

“Just you wait, Jack! This is going to blow your mind!” Bart said as he walked in and flipped the light switch on the wall just inside. Flooding the long, narrow space the light revealed floor-to-ceiling shelves lining the walls on either side of the shop, each one filled to overflowing with magical looking merchandise of all shapes and sizes. Art kits, race car, hot-rod, and airplane models to assemble, tiny, square glass bottles of brightly colored paints in every shade of the rainbow, glues, and tools, and books, and wooden boxes filled with X-acto knives… Jack loved being here! This special, little shop made him feel he had been transported to another place and time. A place that stimulated his imagination and the cares of the world withered away, leaving him only with dreams of possibility.

Bart confidently made his way to the back of the store where a thick, burgundy drape hung from the top of the door-frame, down to the floor. Jack glanced at the “Employees Only” sign posted on the wall to the right of the opening, before following him through and into a part of the shop very few people were permitted to see. Walking past large work benches in the center of both sides of the room, and more shelves crammed to the gills with all kinds of supplies, they passed a dark, open staircase leading down to…Jack didn’t really know where…before Bart came to a stop in front of an old mahogany door. He turned to look at Jack, with a twinkle in his eye. “You know Pop keeps his private office locked. But he told me it’s ok if I take you in to show you this thing he found last night.” He spun back around and inserted the same key into the lock and turned the knob. There were no windows in this part of the building, so it was pitch black inside, the only illumination coming from the outer office, as Bart walked to the far side of the room. There he fumbled for the switch on a green glass and brass lamp sitting on top of an old, roll-top desk. Turning it on he motioned for Jack to join him. “Close the door behind you, just in case.” He said, and Jack complied before walking to stand next to his friend.

“Dude, what’s all the mystery about?” Jack asked. “You make it seem like your dad has some kind of national treasure hidden back here, or something.” And he laughed, nervously.

“Well, that’s not such a stretch.” Bart said as he lifted the lid on the wooden desk to reveal the inner surface, drawers, and cubby-holes of the thing. There, sitting in plain view, was a shiny, golden telescope. Jack could see that there were lots of unusual symbols engraved all over the exterior of it and wondered what they could mean. Picking the treasure up, carefully, and holding it nimbly in both hands, Bart turned to face Jack. “My dad thinks this…”, he started, a little too dramatically for Jack’s taste, “might have belonged to Joseph “Bunko” Kelly.” His eyes widening, for emphasis.” Jack stared back at him with a blank, inquisitive look on his face. “And whooooo…is that, precisely?” he asked, lifting his chin slightly to the right. Bart appeared shocked. “What? You’ve never heard of the “kidnapping king of Portland?” I can’t believe my ears!” He said, setting the glass back down on the desk, momentarily. “You know this shop sits right on top of the old Shanghai Tunnels, right?” He didn’t really wait for Jack to respond, but hurried on. “Well, Bunko Kelly is only the most famous kidnapper of them all. He supposedly smuggled over two-thousand guys out of this place.” He finished and turned to once again pick up the telescope. Looking at Jack, he held it out in his direction. “You wanna check it out?”

“Wow…and your dad really thinks this thing might be his?” Jack asked, reaching to take hold of it. He placed his right hand on the telescope and “Boom!” instantly, a burning sensation shot, like a lightening-bolt, up his arm, filling his head with a blaze of light that electrified his brain and blinded him to his current environment. Suddenly, in his mind’s eye, he was looking out across a massive expanse of midnight blue water, salt-air filling his nostrils, his feet steady but unfamiliar as the slippery surface on which he stood rocked violently back and forth with the movement of the waves. Looking down to his hands he could see the telescope, grasped in both of them, but to his surprise, those weren’t HIS hands he was gazing at. They were much larger than his own, and older, with hair on the knuckles, and a gold ring with a big, black stone was displayed prominently on the ring finger of the left hand.

He dropped the telescope at once and immediately found himself back in Bill’s office, standing next to Bart, who was frantically shaking his right arm.

“Jack! Jack! What the hell?!?”

Copyright ©2016-2018 Tracy Partridge-Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Whole-Foods Thanksgiving

Have A Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving

For many people Thanksgiving dinner is the single biggest family feast of the year. It represents a time of gathering together, rebuilding bonds of love and friendship, sharing thoughts and feelings of gratitude for blessings received, and the centerpiece is always the meal. Food is an important element in our lives. It can garner memories from childhood that warm us and make us feel nostalgic. Many who cook use their culinary creations as a meaningful show of love and affection for those the food has been prepared for. And when we consume dishes that have been carefully prepared to be especially delicious it makes us feel loved. It is no wonder, then, that we associate so much emotional connection with the Thanksgiving feast!

That being said, however, the traditional Thanksgiving fare most of us are accustomed to eating on this day is usually a far cry from “health food”. Many dishes are heavily prepared with unhealthy fats and saturated with sugars of every kind. The turkey is probably the healthiest part of the meal, since it is essentially pure protein and in that sense, “real” food, without a lot of added ingredients (if we aren’t counting the grain fed diet, antibiotics, and hormones most are raised on). Most of the side dishes, from the mashed potatoes loaded with real butter and heavy cream, to the stuffing…normally white bread cubes with lots of fat and little nutritional value…to the white-flour, milk, and butter dinner rolls, to the candied yams, and normally ending with pies (baked in white flour and hydrogenated vegetable oil shortening – read trans fats – crusts) topped with piles of whipped cream, meringue, or ice cream. I read recently that the typical Thanksgiving dinner for an average adult runs right around 3,500 calories! OUCH!

Sooo…I’d like to challenge you this year! I know it can be a daunting task to want to alter long-held tradition. One which will inevitably be met with substantial resistance from family members. So, rather than try to talk you into doing anything too overly difficult which could result in conflict and contention, I have a more subtle suggestion…try taking baby steps. Especially if you are relatively new to the high-raw foods lifestyle, and particularly if you are the only family member following such a path. Here are some practical application things you can do to make your holiday meal HEALTHIER while still maintaining peace and harmony in your home, all the while offering the same delicious and satisfying, comfort foods your family is used to for this most important meal:
1. Substitute unhealthy sugars, such as white sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup with healthier sweeteners such as stevia, pure maple syrup, dehydrated cane juice sugar, agave nectar, molasses, etc.

2. Substitute unhealthy fats, such as margarine, shortening, and most refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils with healthier fats such as coconut oil (especially for cooking), cold pressed olive oil (mostly for drizzling over warm or cold foods and in dressings but not for cooking), and real butter.

3. Try making pie crusts out of ground nuts and dried fruits such as dates or use coconut flour instead of the traditional refined white wheat flour.

4. Stuffing is delicious using ground almonds or pecans to give substance and body rather than using the traditional bread cubes.

5. If you are going to make rolls, try using whole grains rather than refined white flour. Better yet, go for some of the gluten-free grains such as rice or kamut. Spelt is a great alternative to regular wheat (they are cousins) with a higher protein profile and can be better tolerated by those who have gluten or wheat sensitivities. Coconut flour is an amazing and health-promoting alternative to regular flour. It is loaded with fiber and lots of great, healthy benefits! Just be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly because coconut flour is very dense and a little goes a l-o-n-g way! You can order it (along with fabulous coconut oil and other coconut products) online at Tropical Traditions

6. Make your own cranberry sauce from scratch using natural, healthy sweeteners instead of purchasing the canned version which is full of high fructose corn syrup.

7. And last but certainly not least…add more raw side dishes to fill out the meal with lots of delicious, nutritious selections that will add healthy options and introduce your family and friends to the wonderful variety of decadent foods available in raw form! There are SO MANY amazing dishes that can be prepared from healthy, whole foods and the holidays present a great opportunity to share these foods with your loved ones! Try making a raw dessert to go along side the other desserts you prepare, as a healthy alternative to the more calorie-dense versions.

Remember that making improvements in your health and wellness can come one baby step at a time and it doesn’t need to be a drastic or drama-filled experience. In this way, you can feel good about the foods you are offering your friends and family while preserving the essence of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Now THAT is something to be thankful for!

Blessings to you at this special time of year.

Tracy

Marijuana_Raids

My Response to A Time When Marijuana Is Legal

This issue is so huge that it makes me tired just trying to figure out where to begin with my response.

I guess the best place to start would be to suggest you read all of the information and feedback on our Drug Law Reform, and War Stories pages, and especially, I would encourage you to listen to our audio interviews with Superbowl Champ, Mark Stepnoski and Yale Law School educated, Seattle criminal defense attorney, Jeff Steinborn on our Audio Interviews page to get some real, concrete insight into this whole issue.

Let me say that I am not a pot smoker. But I certainly _have_ smoked pot. More than once. And I also inhaled. So, I know first-hand what the experience is like. And it is not the evil, addictive, demon-drug the government and big-industry have made it out to be. Do your research. Get the facts…not the propoganda…and come to your own, educated conclusions.

The following excerpts are from the May 27th, 2013 edition of the NY Times and are letters to the editor. Read the full text for yourself here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/opinion/a-time-when-marijuana-is-legal.html?_r=1&

I will reply, per item below, in the body of the text –

NYT -“To the Editor: Bill Keller gets it right: the question is no longer whether marijuana should be legalized, since whatever system emerges is going to put children at risk. Pot is high risk for children because the part of the brain that censors dumb and dangerous behavior is not yet developed, while the pleasure-seeking part is fully functional. So teenagers will do risky things, like driving while high. They’re also far more likely than adults to become addicted.”

~TracyThinks – There are so many things wrong with what Mr. Rosenthal states here, as fact, that are simply not true. At least he starts out by saying that the question is no longer whether marijuana should be legalized. But that is the only lucid part of his statement. That he goes on to say that whatever system emerges is going to put children at risk infuriates me. This is a red herring intended to illicit an emotional response and is not based on fact. The greatest risk to children currently, where marijuana is concerned, is the potential for arrest, possible conviction and incarceration, of themselves or their parents, and the emotional damage resulting from being forced through the legal system. Add to that the HUGE side-effect of being denied government funding for attending college, something not even rapists and murderers are denied access to, and you begin to see the real risk to children.

His claim that the part of the brain that censors dumb and dangerous behavior is not yet developed is just laughable. I’m not a scientist…but I have raised 7 children to adulthood…so I have a little experience in this area. And let me tell you, even my 2 year old grand daughter knows all too well what dumb and dangerous behavior is and she is very good at preventing harm to her person…and recognizes when she has done something she shouldn’t have. Contrast that with the fact that violent crimes are committed, to an overwhelming degree, not by children or even teens, but by mature adults, and his claim doesn’t hold water.

As far as teenagers doing risky things, like driving high…well, don’t get me started on drunk driving statistics and the fact that a person is FAR more likely to drive drunk than high in the first place…And while there are those who do drive high (and I’m not advocating it here, btw) the difference between driving under the influence of alcohol vs. driving under the influence of marijuana are night and day. Alcohol increases brash and brazen behavior and emboldens one to think they are completely capable of operating machinery, when in actuality their judgment and reaction time are impaired. Conversely, under the influence of marijuana, the absolute opposite is true. A person who has consumed pot becomes hyper-aware of their abilities, and because of this, is more likely to choose not to drive. But if a person does drive high, they are usually more cautious than they would be if not under the influence.

His statement that “they are more likely than adults to become addicted” is completely unsubstantiated. There is no scientific data to support that marijuana has any addictive properties. It has been used by large populations of people, world-wide, for thousands of years and is perhaps akin to a coffee addiction when it comes to the physically addictive properties in marijuana. And let’s not even begin discussing all of the “perfectly legal”, highly addictive, pharmaceutical drugs such Suboxone, Revia, Vivitrol, and others that are being prescribed by physicians at “rehab” and “intervention” facilities to manage (treat?) mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, that are far more damaging and detrimental to the health of those consuming them (including children) than marijuana could ever hope to be.

According to Phoenix House’s 2012 annual report: “At Phoenix House, they are able to detoxify in a controlled environment WHERE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS DISPENSE AND MONITOR MEDICATIONS…A commitment to the use of every available and appropriate treatment tool is evident in INCREASED EMPLOYMENT OF PHARMACOTHERAPIES at Phoenix House. medications such as Suboxone, Revia, and Vivitrol, which control drug cravings, are being used conjointly with other treatment tools. For a number of clients, concurrent medication-assisted treatment allows them to gain the strength they need to maintain sobriety and succeed in recovery.” Suboxone is an opiate and highly addictive with strong potential for abuse itself, and carries a laundry list of side effects, including possible death.

I’m not necessarily saying that these particular pharmaceuticals are being used to treat marijuana “addiction”. But the fact that these rehabilitation centers are treating drug addiction with other addictive substances seems problematic and counter-productive to me.

NYT – “Pot smoking changes brain anatomy, retards maturation and impairs learning, memory and judgment”

~TPJ – Show me the evidence. This is propaganda to support the continuation of The Drug War. There is no scientific data to support such claims.

NYT – “At the programs of Phoenix House, the overwhelming majority of adolescents we have treated used no drug more potent than marijuana.”

~TPJ – Ahhhh…now we get down to the crux of the issue. “At the programs of Phoenix House.” Follow the money. This guy has ulterior motives. He is money-motivated, as is almost always the case. Mitchell S. Rosenthal, M.D. is founder of Phoenix House and served as President and CEO from 1967 to 2007. A quick look at the organization’s listing at the Better Business Bureau tells us that the current President and CEO, Howard P. Meitiner,  receives annual compensation totaling $637,898. Not too shabby, especially for a non-profit. Mr. Rosenthal was  deputy commissioner of New York City’s Addiction Services Agency (ASA) at the time the organization was formed. And, as of July 2010, he was elected to the Board of Directors at The Partnership for a Drug Free America. (see http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/dr-mitchell-s-rosenthal-founder-of-phoenix-house-elected-to-the-board-of-directors-of-the-partnership-for-a-drug-free-america ) Another interesting note is that Phoenix House received $61,865,683 in government contracts and grants (representing almost half of their total income of $112,223,034 in 2012). Much of their business is a result of the judicial system referring individuals to them who have been arrested on drug related charges and are compelled to participate in rehabilitation programs, or else face jail time. And those without insurance coverage have to pay for this penalty out of their own pocket.

DRUG rehab is BIG BUSINESS! According to information posted at http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/treatment/residential/centers#pho , treatment ranges anywhere from $375 per day at one facility, or $1300 a month at another, on the low end (with most programs lasting over a month…up to 90 days appears to be the norm for marijuana treatment) to nearly $40,000 a month on the high end.

NYT – “So once the legislators are through, it will be up to parents to protect children, convincing them that legal does not mean “safe” despite what government allows. Somehow Mr. Keller did not add the greatest dilemma to his list, which is just how any system of legalization can help parents to do this. MITCHELL S. ROSENTHAL, New York, May 20, 2013, The writer, a child and addiction psychiatrist, is the founder of Phoenix House.”

~TPJ – It has never been any system of legalization’s job or responsibility to be in the business of regulating morality or personal choice. Government’s role in society is not to monitor, prevent, or treat any kind of personal behavior. It has always been, and should always be, the parent’s job to educate themselves, to the the best of their ability, and then teach their children the truth about the world we live in, and prepare them for functioning in it as a contributing member of society.

I found an essay that elucidates my own thoughts on this very well. The author doesn’t provide personal information so that I can credit them, and the site is old…but the logic is solid, regardless. I’m pasting some of that essay here:

“The thing that separates a government…from any other civic or social organization is that goverments may legally initiate the use of force. Nothing and nobody else may do this… Only government has this power, which is called the police power. And politics is nothing more than deciding how this power should be used.

Everything that a law demands that you do, or forbids you to do, is at gunpoint, if neccessary — at the threat of death. Perhaps not for the offense itself, but if you are stubborn enough about not accepting the penalties that government places on you for breaking its laws, you can easily find yourself under the barrel of a policeman’s gun.

The defining characteristic of government IS the legal use of force. And if the use of force is legal, then it also should be just. In fact, the reason that mankind ever formed governments in the first place was to protect ourselves from others using force to kill us (violating our right to life), or to make us do their will (violating our right to liberty), or to take what was ours (violating our right to property). Everybody agrees that when somebody comes to hurt or kill you, or to enslave you, or to rob you, you can defend yourself. Government is the same thing, only in groups. The point of having a government is to organize force for the defense of a group or community (be it a neighborhood, a town, a city, a state, or a nation). And the government IS us. So at what point does it become justice for the government to do by force that which it is unjust for US to do by force?

The answer is, “Never.” The role of government is to defend our lives, our liberty, and our property, from those who would violate them, and to punish those who do so by making them pay us restitution.

It is neither our job nor that of the government to use force to stop us from being stupid, or hateful, or immoral, or discriminatory, or to help the poor, or provide medical care, or schooling, or art, or homes.

If we are going to have a just society, we must limit government to its core functions: protection of life, protection of liberty, protection of property, punishing those who transgress those rights, and gaining restitution from them for their victims.”

NYT – “To the Editor: Bill Keller suggests that legalization of marijuana is a foregone conclusion. The voters in Washington State and Colorado have proposed that one way out of an intransigent public health problem, costly law enforcement, spiraling prison costs and reduced tax revenues is to legalize a known addictive substance.

~TPJ – Here we go again…marijuana is NOT a known addictive substance. See my comments above.

NYT – “It is wishful thinking, however, to believe that a government-regulated marijuana marketplace will raise enough money to offset the harm that today’s highly potent drug inflicts on communities across America.”

~TPJ – Well, I may have to write a Part 2 to this post in order to properly address the cost to the American tax payer of law enforcement and prison costs associated with monitoring, harassing, arresting, and incarcerating millions of non-violent citizens simply because they choose to consume a harmless weed. And the potential upside, from a financial standpoint, to the government for legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana, similar to alcohol and tobacco consumption, is staggering.

As far as the harm marijuana inflicts on communities across America…I think my position is clear by now that “the cure is worse than the disease.”

NYT – “The only chance we have to get ahead of the coming epidemic is by adequately financing treatment programs so the infrastructure of marijuana production, distribution and retail is matched by broad-based community services. PETER PROVET, President and Chief Executive, Odyssey House, New York, May 21, 2013”

~TPJ – Of c-o-u-r-s-e it is…Once again, Mr. Provet is monetarily motivated and has a vested interest in ensuring The Drug War stay alive and kicking. Just look at what we are already paying to fund these programs: “The requested Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 National Drug Control Budget is $25.6 billion. This represents an increase of $415.3 million (1.6%) over the FY 2012 enacted level of $25.2 billion. And the FY 2013 request includes two new Departments and two new bureaus to the National Drug Control Budget.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/the-national-drug-control-budget-fy-2013-funding-highlights)

Grrrreeeaaaat…that’s just what we need to fix a massively failed Drug War. More money and more bureaus and departments to manage it. According to the government’s own websites:

“Unfortunately, the success rates of treatment are rather modest. Even with the most effective treatment for adults, only about 50 percent of enrollees achieve an initial 2-week period of abstinence, and among those who do, approximately half will resume use within a year.” (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/available-treatments-marijuana-use-disorders) And from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America “In one study, 71 percent returned to marijuana use within six months.” (http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/drugs/study-examines-new-treatment-for-marijuana-dependence)

This whole issue is a mass of confusion, deception, misdirection, lies, and abuse. And none of it is to benefit the American public. When it comes to marijuana “addiction” far, far more benefit goes to those who administrate these programs.

I maintain that the only time government should become involved in the private lives of it’s citizens is when a violent crime has been committed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

Tracy

Nov. 19, 2013

Raw Foods and Menopause

In 2000, at age 38, for the first time in my life I started experiencing some strange health challenges.

We had recently moved to a 20 acre piece of property we purchased in Central Oregon and were drinking the local, city water while waiting to put in our own well. Shortly thereafter I began experiencing muscle weakness in both of my arms and dizziness that became nearly debilitating…especially whenever moving from a horizontal to a vertical position, or when rolling over in bed at night. Kind of like an ear infection would effect your equilibrium.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it might have something to do with the water I was drinking (strange that no one else in the family had these symptoms, though…) and I quickly started purchasing 2.5 gallon dispenser jugs of purified water to consume. The pain got better almost immediately. But the dizziness persisted…not nearly as badly as it had been before changing to the purified water…but it still clung to me, off and on, for several years afterward.

In late 2006 my younger cousin, Floyd, who was 40 at the time, was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a softball. This had a significant impact me, both emotionally and psychologically. I desperately wanted to find a way to help him beat that illness. Combined with the fact that my father had suffered a double heart attack, several years earlier, at age 60 and was experiencing a gradual, but progressive, decline in his health, I was motivated to begin research on ways to heal the body through diet and nutrition.

This is when I found the Raw Food lifestyle. And without going into all of the history surrounding that (I’ve already written about that experience in detail on my other blog: http://tracyjprez.wordpress.com) I will say that over the next couple of years I followed that lifestyle with quite a bit of personal success. But it caused a significant challenge with my family, who did not embrace the idea of eating mostly raw foods, and this resulted in a fractured home-life, when it came to meals and food consumption. So, in early 2008 I gradually began eating more and more cooked foods.

During this same time frame I began noticing that my body was starting to experience some definite hormonal shifts. I wasn’t FEELING any different, but my monthly cycle was becoming sporadic, so I knew that something was changing. I hadn’t really experienced much weight-loss on raw foods during my first attempt following a high-raw diet, but most of my strange symptoms did go away, and I really LIKED the lifestyle.  However, due to the situation with my family and other factors, I was lead back to eating mostly cooked food again. By January 2009 my weight was at an all-time high of 193 and I was feeling awful about myself. I’m tall, 5 feet 8 inches, so I can carry more weight than most women without looking especially over-weight. But no matter how you stack it, 193 is about 50 pounds more than I should weigh in order to be healthy. By this time most of our children had grown and were off, living on their own. So, I was in a better position to take a serious shot at Raw Foods again. And this time I did succeed in losing some significant weight! Between March and July I lost about 35 pounds and was feeling sooo much lighter and happier! I was energized and feeling more enthusiastic about life and this way of eating than ever before!

In November of 2009 I launched my online magazine, Eighty Percent Raw (www.eightypercentraw.com), fully convinced of the benefits of this lifestyle. Again, I’ve written all about that experience on my other blog: http://tracyjprez.wordpress.com. So, I will skip writing about all of that here, again. I want to get to the point of this post…

And that is this – Looking back on all of this upheaval and fluctuation in my weight and my health, with the symptoms that have come and gone in the process…I really think almost all of this can be attributed, primarily,  to the hormonal changes my body has been going through. And I don’t think enough serious consideration, or discussion, is given to what havoc is really wreaked in a woman’s body, nor for how LONG, throughout the whole menopausal adjustment period. This isn’t like some short-term “condition” or illness that we go through and then get over in a couple of months. At least not in my experience. And if you are anything like me, you have tried all kinds of things in an attempt to force your body to cooperate with you to “fix” the problem. Well, guess what? Apparently the body wins. OMG! LOL!

Sooo…here is where I am today. I am returning to a high-raw foods lifestyle, once again. I am no longer experiencing debilitating joint pain in my knees (which always resurfaced whenever I would go back to high-raw or high-carb in the recent past…but, again, this appears to be related more to hormones and not to diet, as I previously believed) and my general health seems to be better than it’s been in quite a long time now. But I still struggle with the weight.

Raw foods is the one “diet” or lifestyle that helped me lose weight and KEEP IT OFF _without even trying_ for nearly two years. That is saying something, for me!

Here are some of the insights I’ve gained, so far as my own body and weight-loss and diet are concerned –

1. I can’t eat starches and lose weight (ie; cooked grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.)

2. I have to watch my fat intake. I can’t eat a lot of nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, etc. and lose weight (though, I was using eating lots of nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and olives with no problem prior to the major hormonal change, so I am going to be watching this)

3. Not sure if I need to be careful about condensed sweets like dried fruit, agave nectar (not currently using), pure maple syrup, honey, etc. So I will also be watching these. Also, not sure if I need to be cautious about high-sugar, high-starch fruits like banana, mango, papaya, etc. But I have my suspicions, so I am also keeping a close watch on what happens with these. *I _have_ noticed that I break out and get swelling and cracking around my lips when I consume much raw pineapple or watermelon lately… so I seem to have some weird food intolerance’s that I haven’t experienced before.

I would LOVE to have an open dialogue with other women who have had challenges going through menopause, especially where weight gain and hormonal symptoms are concerned. And I would particularly enjoy hearing from those who have overcome these symptoms and are following a high-raw foods diet & lifestyle!

Until next time…

Tracy