Wednesday, September 29, 2004

What to do about Marijuana Convicts

The sudden death of Judge Joe LaTurner is sad to think about. He was a great man.

Two years ago I had the pleasure of visiting with Joe for an hour while he sat in for his brother Jack at Jack's Self-Serv while Jack went to lunch. Jack was my classmate in the GHS Class of 1948.

The Judge and I talked about our nation's current drug policy. He agreed with me that the entire drug policy is based on myths and falsehoods, as pointed out in the books I have donated to the Galena Public Library. I told him that I have my own ideas as to the ideal direction our Drug Policy should take, and my ideas are based on several years of rather intensive study.

I believe that all laws prohibiting marijuana should be abolished. Furthermore, I believe that all of the people in prison for violations of those unjust laws should be pardoned and released.

The part that really impressed His Honor Judge Joe LaTurner was this ==> I believe that each and every one of those pardoned and released prisoners should be offered a full four-year scholarship to the University or Vocational Training of their choice.

When I said that, Joe's jaw dropped, and, wide-eyed, he said, "That's a good idea!"

At that moment Jack returned from lunch and I never saw Joe again.

PS ==> Any interested citizens, particularly Law Enforcement Officers, are invited to investigate -- and join -- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition "L.E.A.P,"

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Letter To The Editor

This letter was published in the Hawaii Tribune Herald one day last week.

Pahoa, 11 September 2004

Dear Editor:

We residents of Hawaii are gambling, and the odds are not in our favor. Recent weather News from Grenada and Jamaica and Florida carries a strong message. It's a message of warning for us, and we would be wise to pay attention. Are we listening?

Early hurricane news stories always tell us how many hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands were suddenly and tragically left without electricity when the wind destroyed their power poles and power lines.

Last month when one power pole fell across one of our highways, traffic was obstructed for hours.

My friend the retired meteorologist tells me that the only reason our Big Island has not had a direct hit by a major hurricane is Pure Luck. Perhaps our luck is running out.

How will we deal with the thousands of downed power poles that will inevitably result from hurricane-force winds? How will we cope with powerlessness while we wait for the heroic linemen to repair the damage? Let's not be pessimistic, but realistic. It could happen here.

A major hurricane on the Big Island is a disaster just waiting to happen. We can avoid a large part of the trouble and prevent a large part of the damage before it happens. Let's give the overhead utility hardware a decent burial.

Representatives of our local electric company have been known to say that underground installation of their hardware is impossible due to the rocky terrain. If this is true, then why don't we see water and sewer pipes up on poles?

These are questions that should be considered seriously by the County Council, the Public Utilities Commission, Civil Defense, and the People.

/s/ Jerry Thomas
12-447 La'au Loke Street
Kehena, Pahoa, HI 96778-8001
(808) 965-7199

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Drug Policy

Drug Policy -- As I See It

by Jerry Thomas

31 March 1999

Our country is in critical condition. The United States of America has a drug problem, and the people of Galena can help to solve this problem. We are not addicted to a drug, but to an idea. As a Nation we are addicted to Prohibition.

Shortly after the repeal of the Prohibition of alcohol, we got our next “fix” by establishing the Prohibition of Marijuana. Our national addiction is just as destructive to our Nation as an individual junkie’s addiction is to that individual. The junkie will do ANYTHING -- lie, cheat, steal, and/or kill, just to get his next “fix.” The Drug Enforcement Administration is the nerve center of our collective problem; its behavior is precisely the same as the junkie’s. The Prohibition of Marijuana is fundamentally based on lies. The time has come for sober, reasonable, respectable citizens to educate themselves on this point and to take action to remedy our Nation’s affliction.

I feel duty bound and morally obligated to do my best to help the growing number of those who seek a rational solution to that problem. I believe that to do otherwise would be offensive to God and my Country. I sincerely hope that the readers of this article will join me in that belief.

Fifty-seven years ago when I joined the Boy Scouts of America I stood on the steps of the Galena Elks Club and took an oath. Raising my right hand making the Scout Sign, I swore: “On my Honor I will do my Best to do my Duty to God and my Country. ...”

Forgive me for quoting from the Bible, but Saint Paul’s advice to the Apostle Timothy (Second Timothy 1:6) seems relevant and appropriate. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance,” wrote Paul, “that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”

One of the many gifts that God has given me is the ability to think, to speak, and to write. During my years of experience as a Teacher, Law-Enforcement Communications Specialist, and Sales Manager, I have picked up a few ideas that enhance those gifts of God. The time has come for me to “stir them up.”

Most of us law-abiding citizens feel far removed from the War On Drugs, yet when our nation is at War, all of us are involved, directly or indirectly. I became directly involved exactly one year ago. The War On Drugs became, for me, a very personal matter. Officer Ortiz, of the Colorado State Patrol, stopped me and decided to perform a thorough search of the vehicle I was driving.

Because I live in Hawaii and because I like to visit Galena, Kansas, my old home town, and because I really enjoy solitary long-distance driving, I feel especially blessed by my friendship with Ralph. Ralph lives in Reno, Nevada, where he is an auto mechanic and part-time used car dealer. Last April I flew to Reno, borrowed a white 1988 Olds Toronado from Ralph, and headed east. A mid-April snowstorm at Vail Pass in the Rocky Mountains had necessitated the imposition of the Chain Law by the Colorado State Patrol. Reluctant to use chains, I spent a couple of days and nights in Glenwood Springs, waiting. Early in the morning on April 13 Interstate 70 was open at Vail Pass. I zoomed up and over the Rockies, down through Denver, and out into the High Plains.

In the past ten years I have done considerable research into the history of Kansas. As I approached the Colorado-Kansas state line I was thinking of the tens of millions of buffalo that once lived on the Great Plains. Symbols of freedom. A natural resource that was harvested for a number of reasons -- hides for factory belts needed in the Industrial Revolution; bones for fertilizer; meat to feed the people back east and the construction crews building the Railroads. An unexpected consequence of the buffalo slaughter was the starvation of the Plains Indians, but that’s another story. I was about to leave my native state and enter the state where I spent my childhood. “Ah! Kansas!” I shouted. Then I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror.

“We stopped you because you were weaving,” said Officer Ortiz. “Thought you might be asleep.” Then he asked to see my Driver’s License (Hawaii) and Registration (Nevada).

Weaving? Well, perhaps I had been weaving. I felt safe in the watchful presence of the Police. Assuring Officer Ortiz that I was alive, fully awake, and alert, I handed him the documents. We discussed the ownership of the car and my friendship with Ralph. This is routine.

What happened then was not routine. “Do you have any drugs or weapons?”


“Are you sure you don’t have any drugs or weapons?”

“I have no drugs and no weapons except this.” As I dug in my pocket for my Swiss Army Knife, I saw Officer Ortiz’s hand move toward his sidearm. But he smiled as I showed him my knife.

“Would you mind if we look the car over? Would you consent to a search?” I considered his question for a couple of seconds. The car belonged to someone else; how could I be absolutely sure?

“Sure,” I said. “Go ahead. I have nothing to hide.”

“Leave the keys in the seat and go with him,” said Officer Ortiz, pointing at his youthful partner. The Rookie took me away from the car. His lack of experience showed in such statements as, “You shouldn’t even have a driver’s license if you’re that deaf.” (The noise of the passing traffic, plus the wind whistling across my hearing aid had caused me to say, “WHAT?” several times). Then he said, “We stopped you because you fit a profile. Big old car, Nevada plates, traveling alone.” (Not to mention “weaving,” I thought).

“Profile of a tourist?”

“Profile of a drug and weapons runner.”


“You look like an aging hippie, too,” he said, peering at my beard and my long hair. I noticed that I was trembling uncontrollably. The fifty-degree temperature, the strong wind, and the impressive idea of this personal assault by armed Drug War soldiers was taking its toll on my emotions. Part of my trembling was due to a growing anger.

Suddenly three more Colorado State Patrol cars arrived, all of their emergency lights flashing. I asked the Rookie what ... .. ?

“They just came to help with the search,” he said. Six more officers? AND their DOG ?

I watched them get out of their cars -- two Officers per car -- and I watched a pair of them struggling to control their eager Dog.

I had recently read an article about these modern police Dogs; I had learned that they are so well trained that they can detect a marijuana cigarette hidden in a bale of hot chili peppers.

The Dog, small, black, short-haired, was on a leash. The Officer let the Dog pull him toward the Toronado and removed the leash. Excitedly the Dog jumped into the car, leaped from front seat to back seat and back again, sniffing, probing, whining with excitement. Meanwhile, one pair of Officers raised the hood and checked the engine. Two more Officers were going under the car, probing. Two of them opened my large suitcase and dumped its entire contents on the back seat. The Dog kept on leaping and sniffing. It checked my suitcase and its contents thoroughly.

“That tall skinny guy is our supervisor,” said the Rookie. The Supervisor looked at me and grinned. Then I saw him reach into the car and bring out my long yellow notebook. I watched him slowly go through it, page by page. Apparently he found nothing incriminating in my notes on the much-neglected history of Cherokee County, Kansas.

They unlocked and opened the Toronado’s trunk. “Are your drugs and weapons in the trunk?” asked the Rookie.

“There’s nothing in the trunk but some auto parts,” I said.

“I guess it takes a lot of spare parts to keep an old clunker like that running,” the Rookie guessed.

Finally the show was over. The smiling Supervisor came to me and shook my hand and said, “Thank you for your time.”

Officer Ortiz shook my hand and said, “You’re clean. Have a good trip to Kansas.” The Officers -- and their Dog -- got into their respective Patrol cars, turned off their emergency lights, and went in search of another victim.

Thinking thoughts I could not utter, I headed for Kansas.

This incident was routine for the Officers and their Dog, but it was new to me. It sparked a personal interest in what I now refer to as our Nation’s Addiction.

Ergonomics (January, 1993)

by Jerry Thomas

Friday 29 January 1993

Yesterday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald has a special section on Health and Community Help. It lists sixty-two different places to go and people to contact if you have problems with your health or if you need help. Through these agencies and organizations you can get medication, meditation, and mediation. You can get legal aid, first aid, and aid for AIDS. In addition to this long list of helpers, this section of the newspaper has ads for massage parlors, clinics for treating the pathology of all parts of the human anatomy, the mind, and related subjects.

It has articles about diet, exercise, chiropractic services, ways to overcome addictions, and the one that caught my attention : NEW WAYS TO BEAT PAIN AND FIGHT STRESS, by Debra Lee Baldwin, of the Copley News Service. After a discussion of headaches, backaches, and pains in the neck, under the sub-head CTS and PMS, the article says,

“Computer users, is your keyboard too high or too low? Think ergonomically: Your wrists and hands should be level with the keyboard. Avoid extension (hands angled upward) or flexion (hands angled downward). The danger is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS); symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain in the hands and fingers ...”

The article goes on to tell about how the members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons deal with this problem, using braces, splints, and “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections.” Then the writer went into PMS, which I don’t have, so I went back to see how she suggested that I, as a computer user, should THINK. “Think ergonomically,” she wrote.

Help!! I studied the list of agencies and individuals that help the community with its problems. I needed help with that big word. Before I could begin to think ergonomically I needed to know what it meant. Should I call the Public Library?

Suddenly I remembered the dictionary that is electronically connected to my computer. I went to my bedroom/office. Placing my keyboard in its usual position, on my lap, I extended and flexed my hands, moved them to where they were level with the keyboard, and started typing in the usual manner. If I could overcome the numbness, tingling, and pain in my hands and fingers long enough to type “ergonomically Alt-W,” I might learn how I should think.

For “ergonomically” my computer dictionary’s response was “none found.” But when I entered “ergonomic,” my computer’s dirty little mind, lurking down there in my hard disk, suggested that I might mean “erotic.”


With my numb, tingling, pain-ridden hands and fingers, I reached for my dust-covered “Merriam Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary,” opened its mildewed pages, and found not ergonomically, nor ergonomic, but ergonomics. Close enough for me! I thought maybe the word came from the Latin “ergo,” meaning “therefore,” as in “cogito ergo sum.” But no. It’s from the Greek “erg,” meaning “work.” As in “ergophobia,” which I and a lot of others suffer from. It says,

“ergonomics n. pl but sing or pl in constr [erg- + -nomics (as in bionomics)] (1949): an applied science concerned with the characteristics of people that need to be considered in designing and arranging things that they use in order that people and things will interact most effectively and safely -- called also human engineering.

And now, as I really get immersed in the “work” of typing this article, my hands and fingers begin feeling less numb. The tingling is diminishing, too, and the pain is going away. “Working” has taken away all of my symptoms of CTS.

But where had those symptoms come from? Not from an improper arrangement of my keyboard and my hands (which, ergonomically speaking, might have led to unsafe, ineffective interaction .. ) but from some other interaction between my hands and things. In the old way of putting it, my hands were asleep. I had been sitting on them. Working awakened them.

After breakfast this morning I had been sitting on a barstool at the counter between my kitchen and dining room. With nothing else to do, I spread yesterday’s newspaper on the counter and read it again. It’s an unusually chilly morning for Hawaii. My hands felt cold; I warmed them by slipping them between the stool’s seat and my own seat. Sitting on my hands. Concentrating on the newspaper, forgetting about my hands, I devoted my attention to Debra Lee Baldwin’s article.

As I read about headaches and pains in the neck, I thought of my hands again. They felt uncomfortable. A kind of numbness, tingling, and even a little pain was creeping into my now warm hands. By then I was into CTS: these were the very symptoms I was reading about ! Were I employed, I might sue my employer for exposing me to CTS; being a retired teacher and part-time self-employed writer, I am forced to rely on my own resources.

When I found out about ergonomic thinking, and forced myself into that unusual activity, the source of all those symptoms came clear: I should have been working, instead of sitting on my hands. This revelation might be useful to some computer users in government agencies, and to those keyboard operators having problems with their hands in the private sector. Thanks to my new-found knowledge of human engineering, I might be able to get some writing done today.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Getting acquainted ....

Click for the Cherokee County (Kansas) Community which I founded some time ago...... this

For an assorted partial anthology of some stuff i have written,
~~~~ jerry

Under Construction for the next 100 years

This is the first post in my brand-new blog.

Yesterday I had never heard of a blog, and now i own one.


Come on in !!