Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Dispensary

No, I haven't turned into a chronic stoner.  And no, I'm not quite dead yet.

A reader asks if I am still alive, as I have not posted in a while.  After over 4,000 postings, I am kind of losing interest and running out of things to say.  I am already realizing that as I get older, I am less and less certain of things.  When I was Brett Kavanaugh's age, I was pretty much certain about everything in life.   But as I start pushing 60, I find I am far less so.  I wrote this blog to organize my own thoughts, and get my own financial house in order.   A decade later (!) I have pretty much accomplished my goals - getting completely out of debt, and out of the debt mindset, and planning for and executing my retirement.

I have also been a cruise in Alaska for the last week, and we got sick on the last day with a bad cold.  So I have been out of circulation.  Yea, I know, I am not a big fan of cruises.   But the only way to visit a major part of Alaska - along the inside passage - is by boat.   Yes, the very capital of Alaska - Juneau - cannot be reached by car, but requires a boat or airplane ride.  Alaska has something called the "marine highway system" which is a euphemism for a series of government-run ferries, with all that entails.   Service can be spotty, reservations are needed a year in advance, and the cost is staggering - in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, if you want to take an RV on the ferries.  We did take one from Haines to Skagway, for about $300 - for an hour's ferry ride.   So you get the idea.

By the way, Tanzanite, anyone?  What's up with that?   Skagway has dozens of Tanzanite jewelry stores.  Fortuately, it has a nice distillery on 9th and Alaska, where they can make you a nice drink and you can meet some local trash, far away from the noise of the cruise ships - which can dump 10,000 people into a city of 600, in a matter of minutes.  Ouch.

So, a cruise ship seemed like a cheaper alternative to the ferry, believe it or not.   And since it was the end of the season, we got a good price and then were offered upgrades from our windowless cabin on deck 2, to a balcony cabin on deck 5, and finally to a suite on deck 8.   It still cost a couple of grand or more, but it was on par with the Alaska ferry, and much more comfortable.

Another reader chastises me for visiting a marijuana dispensary in Alaska.   I have been taking CBD oil, which is derived from hemp.  Since I am allergic to aspirin and ibuprofen, I don't have many other options.  It seems to help with the tendinitis and whatnot.  Even though it has no THC in it, Mark wasn't comfortable crossing the border with it - in either direction.  So we bought more in Alaska and again in Washington State.   I had been mail-ordering it from a lady in Maine, so this was the first time I went to a "store" to buy it.  The dispensaries are interesting.  Some have the vibe of one of those X-rated lingerie shops that sell "adult toys" and "marital aids" and whatnot.  Others are more like fireworks stores - with extensive colorful displays.  Some are small shacks with just a counter, a few products and a very, very stoned guy behind the counter.

And when you go into such a place, you do get a little high - the smell alone is literally intoxicating.

There are a lot of them - in Alaska, Washington State, and Oregon, where we are now.  There are even some in Canada already open, on Vancouver Island, where the locals don't pay to much attention to laws coming from Ottawa.   And speaking of dispensaries,  little coffee shacks are rampant in Canada and Alaska - small sheds you drive up to for coffee.   But Washington State has them all beat - they have "Foxy Coffee" shacks, which are drive-up coffee bars with naked barista's.   So you get your cup of Joe along with some titties flashed in your face.  I guess, given how cloudy and rainy it is up there, they need this just to start their hearts in the morning.

Speaking of cloudy, we lucked out with that.  I made reservations for two kayak excursions on the cruise, back in July, when it seemed that Alaska might have nice weather - not thinking that in September, it might be a different story.   Well, an historic high pressure system came to the rescue, and we had unseasonably warm, sunny weather the whole time.   God looks after fools and children.

Well, that is, until we returned to Vancouver with our colds and it was pouring rain the whole time.

But getting back to marijuana use, as I noted before in earlier postings, I am not "against" it, as a reader opines.  And the reason for this is, as a former "chronic" myself, I know that you cannot convince people that marijuana is harming them, no more than you can convince an alcoholic that drinking is ruining their lives.   They have to figure it out for themselves.  Interventions are for idiots who have too much time on their hands and want to meddle in other people's lives.

If you want to smoke pot, go for it.  But please don't do that and apply for government assistance or tell me how awful your life is and how you are living "paycheck to paycheck".   As I noted in an earlier posting, my brilliant idea was to legalize pot, but only for people over 65.  It makes sense - at that point in your life, you have no responsibilities and have already made your fortune (such as it is) and it would help with the aches and pains of getting old.  Plus it would make grandma very popular with the grandkids.  "You want to visit grandma again?  That's the third time this month!  I'm so glad you are close to her!"

And the seniors could sell the excess pot to pay for living expenses - negating the need for social security.  Sort of like how we throw the Indians a bone with this casino thing.   But alas, like all my brilliant ideas, it never saw the light of day, and instead they are using this half-assed patchwork legalization which is making life difficult for everyone.  After the mid-terms, Jeff Sessions will surely sic the DEA on these poor folks who set up dispensaries.

By the way, one dispensary I visited actually accepted credit cards.   Don't ask me how.  They swiped the payment to one company that in turn, made a "donation" to the dispensary.   It shows the hoops they have to jump through - and the ridiculousness of the current legal situation.

So if you want to smoke pot, go for it.  But if you have responsibilities, like a job, a house, kids, a career, you might want to think it over and wonder whether pot is distracting you from more important things in life (just as beer can distract a potential Supreme Court nominee).   Those prime earning years, from age 20 to 50, are when you are going to make the majority of your wealth in life.  If you are in your prime earning years and it isn't happening, well, there isn't going a do-over in the future.

It is why I am very saddened when I see young people who are begging on the streets as a lifestyle choice (and it is a choice).   These are often well-dressed and healthy-looking young kids in the prime of life who have just given up at the get-go and gone into homeless mode.   If this is how it is playing out at age 27, what will 57 be like?   Pretty fucking sad is what.   And in an economy in both Canada and the US where unemployment is at an all-time low, there is really no excuse for begging with a cardboard sign, when jobs are plentiful.

Maybe not high-paying, but plentiful.   You'll know what I mean if you stay in a campground across the street from an Amazon "fulfillment center" near Seattle, and realize that the majority of "campers" with you are working across the street.

But speaking of the economy, exchange rates, and tariffs, we put down a deposit on a new Canadian-made camper - an Escape 21.   The Casita is now nearly 20 years old and while it has held up admirably over the 15 years we have owned it, I have not held up nearly as well.  It is harder for me to bend and twist in such a small space.  The Escape is built along the same lines as the Casita - solid fiberglass, not sticks and staples and laminated walls - but is just a little larger and wider.  With the current exchange rate between the Canadian dollar and the US dollar, it is also attractively priced.  I just have to hope the exchange rate holds, or that Trump doesn't slap a tariff on "Canadian made trailers" of 25% or more.

So we will be returning to Vancouver next year to pick it up.  Maybe then, we can stop by and get some of that titty-coffee when we cross the border.

Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way it used to be

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started long before I did

And there's so much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Oh, when you were young
Did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers who had all the nerve

Look around you now
You must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved

So much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

So much love to make up everywhere you turn
Love we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away
Let the water come and carry us away