Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Nats Nervous nailbiting?

I wonder what thoughts are going through the Leader's head (and only public face of the National party), Mr. PM John Key. Mr Shonkey is fast losing support in the from both ACT and United future. Its looking very unlikely that Act will win Epsom thus, removing a possible coalition partner for the National party to gain a majority should its support fall below 50%.

The other conservative buddy to shore up number has been Peter Dunne. I think in fact his time has come. Given that cannabis has been quite a topical issue this election, his time , and vocal opposition to law reform of cannabis may be his down fall. Norml says 400,000 cannabis users can't be wrong.

Are Mr Keys thoughts that he will govern alone? He does have a reputation for doing things his way and he doesn't seem very good at sharing. I can only imagine, that he is not looking forward to working with any other, than his chosen few. However it did appear that he can work with the Maori party, but unfortunately for the Maori party , it did not really work for them. In fact I am sure I heard a whisper that Whanau Ora, the triumph of Tariana Turia will be dropped. It is too costly and too Maori for the conservative sensibilities and likes of possible coalition partners who want one system for all.

What a dilemma. I can't imagine how the blue rinse set of Remuera will be taking it. I am sure that a coalition between National and the Greens will cause many to reach for the cut crystal gin decanter.  National continues to cling onto a lead but the heat is being turned up and also the doubt is there.

Clearly the majority of New Zealanders do not want our assets sold off, but more of them like National than Labour so accept it?

I don't know. What I do find amusing is imagining the anxiety that was being created by the growth of the greens and possible green and labour and other left leaning coalition. Helen Clark had superbly bound a coalition together that worked for all three of her terms. National has not yet had to demonstrate any such diplomacy and as the election draws to a close I am guessing that John key has not quite got the time to learn it.

Its likely he will lead again. I expect many more people will leave for Oz. But the poorest and beneficiaries like myself, are in for a miserable time. His idea of lifting the underclass out of poverty and into work is not a genuine proposition as in reality lack of apprenticeships, taking away of the Incentive training allowance and other cuts have grown the underclass he wants to punish.

One of the brighter bits of this election, as I'm fearing the outcome is gloomy, is the wit, the Greens displayed with their bill board improvements, the number of unflattering pictures on social networks and songs by Trillion and others all strongly anti-John Key and National. If nothing else the past few weeks have been far more entertaining and exciting than the Rugby World Cup, and remember with a whole team fighting the good battle that was France vs New Zealand, we only won by a point.

I think that John may win the election but actually be the biggest loser of all times with his dreadful asset sales and draconian ideas how to treat beneficiaries.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Auckland, not what I was expecting .Its better !

I dunno what they put in the water up here, ok its smelly chlorine, but today I feel energised, purposeful, powerful and happy. Why? I am in love. No, not with a person but with an entire city.

I love Auckland and not because of any of the more usual reasons. I don't live , work or shop downtown. I have not been to any posh restaurants or cool clubs or bars and I will never be a celebrity. What I have discovered here in Auckland is a community like no other and a sense of excitement at things to come.

I came to Auckland for work, but found an occupation. As part of Occupy, I have learnt a lot about myself and about others.
One thing is universal, all around the world Occupy is experiencing the same conflicts between people and allowing people to learn new skills and ways to resolve them.

Before Occupy I was living in Avondale and New Lynn. Come on down sometime, if you are an ordinary average person  you will find it is changing.
The new train station makes it world class, and easy to get about. Into town and back as cheap as chips. my girls love the trains as they are simple to use and safe.
Our new roads are making the malls look better and the parking is still free. We have a library, make sure you use them as the government will tell you we don't need books now that everyone has a computer. Our Library at New Lynn is always packed and our Avondale library supports our local school with a homework club.

Instead of getting in my car and driving to the supermarket for an anon shop, I shop locally. I live above a block of shops that include a newsagent and post centre and a bakery. I am learning everyone's name. I also have a fresh fish shop and many choices of food takeaways from around the world. I walk a lot and meet many more people. I know Jarrod the busker.

The best thing is the old Avondale race course. I love horse racing and wish it was still in action, as its quite a spectacle. Now having a large green space is quite a bonus. I hope that it gets used for something again, if not racing maybe it could be a concert venue. Its certainly got potential. The Sunday markets are the highlight of my week.

I think that's why I feel so happy. I have moved and moved again after being evicted.It was unsettling but now I have found a nice landlord and a much much nicer place to live in. I am putting in another garden. Best of all I still feel the very real potential in my own life, in my two daughters going to great schools in Avondale. Spring is here. Its a new season and now with the election looming upon us wouldn't it be nice to have a new government?

For me its all about connectedness and community, and lucky for me, I love mine. How to get happy, go for a walk and smile at a stranger.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

What would the new style banking look like?

We are faced with an economic crisis that the National government deliberately wants to play down until, they get to park their expensive shiny leather shoes under Parliaments main boardtable again. We are witnessing on the other hand a Greek tragedy, the author of this tragedy is not Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes or Aeschylus but Greece and the European Union.

But like all tragedies, the love story and fallout are complicated and due to a triangle with the villian perhaps, being the investment banker Goldman Sachs. It was them who convinced the rules to be bent in order to admit Greece into the European union.

Its not exactly a cuckolding or even a real betrayal but there is clearly some deception involved, in that Greece, despite not meeting the conditions of the Maastricht Treaty, (by carrying too much debt) was admitted into the EU. How does this relate to the 99% protests and the 1% tax we wish to be imposed on all banking transactions in the financial markets? The austerity measures for one.

One is the consequences of the bankrupting is that, debt is now a commodity that is being globalised. At the same time as the rich, think stupid big bummed Kim Kardashian and her 18 million dollar wedding lasting a total of ten weeks versus the growing austerity cuts in the UK and Europe. School budgets, education and hospitals are facing budget cuts of up to 40%. Does she even live on the same planet?

A new banking system must evolve as the US Treasury  and the greenback is not the only or best model. Some people will see the cashless society as a way of more equal distribution. I don't. Some people will argue for a cashless society through bartering. Some people may return to the land and self sufficiency. Others will be outraged at any call for change.

 I am only hoping for banks small and  others like Kiwibank to develop a system that offer a service and do not need to make excessive profits, but instead keeps all the money in circulation and works with individuals in communities. Fuck internet banking, it puts people out of jobs for one thing.

 Maybe it's too much to hope for now but maybe it just needs an Owen Glenn to start it. Micro banking and little loans have created work and small businesses in 3rd world countries. Lets hope we develop a better way forward than sitting around watching things crumble. No-one likes witnessing a break up.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

More from the Dissenter on Occupy

I was the first to arrive at Occupy and set up my children in Aotea sq hours before the planned march down Queen st. I had planned on being the last to leave. However last week I was forced to pack up the tent for a number of reasons.
The first was hygiene reasons as we had a few flies in our tent. Teenagers are not the most clean or tidy of kiwis.
I received a huge barrage of criticism for doing this and so was less than keen to return. The tent was tied to a tree and it was time to air the grass.

The Occupy movement was also a puzzle to me because it was described as a leaderless movement yet it was pretty clear who was running the show. While there is no intention to be mean, it is a little untrue to describe it as a leaderless movt. and then run meetings along the same lines as all other organisations, with a clear chain of command.

 I also was horrified at the time spent in meetings and some of the processes used. Never again do i want to hear the peoples mike. Adults repeating verbatim is not only a little creepy it is just plain stupid. If it looks stupid and feels stupid, it probably is. I also felt a false sense of urgency was being created to make decisions quickly when perhaps ignoring and passive resistance was the better option . So apart from the direct cut and paste model used for Occupy I can say at least here in new Zealand we are attempting to put a more culturally appropriate model in place. Thanks enormously to Marama and others for taking this on themselves to correct.

Finally I had to say that there were too many leaders and not enough workers and that many of the rest seemed to be watchers, not doers.

 One person who could not really be relied on to turn up on time or be committed to any task used the term organic to describe the work model. Slacker is a more apt description. I had to confront my own Presbyterian work ethic which is strong but also judgemental. I am not the one to watch others, not work. I felt all people had to contribute to be able to share. Yet many felt that being there was enough. Hence another reason for me to move on.

The person who angered me most will not be named but, as a person who had to be heard at every meeting with a chorus of I, I, I and letters to the council etc there was a feeling of being used. If you want to stand for mayor and posture to the council and be a big noter, why pick OCCUPY. Clearly you have your own agenda which is not a shared one. The Occupy Movement had become a reductive process where people felt excluded not included. Sure the most valued people at the camp should be the cook and the cleaners, not the people on the microphone.

In the kitchen the worst aspects of human nature are always revealed. The greedy and the selfish. The person who only boils water for one and not 20 was a reoccurring problem. Despite the message to make hot water available for all, at all times, the selfish among the group failed to grasp the concept.
I saw the attitudes that come with feelings of importance as well.

The water containers needed to be filled and by far the worst job, emptying the waste water, fell onto one person. Helpers willing to walk with 20l containers of dirty waste water were few and far between. One person ended up doing far more than one person should. Feeding the streeties and homeless is not our responsibility either and yet those, not cooking, felt it socially responsible to feed these folk.

And bloody Vegans! Pardon me, but the chef was not a vegan and neither were many in the camp, but Occupy is a vegan movt. Had they made that clear at the outset I'm sure only 5 people would have shown up. New Zealand is an agricultural economy founded on meat, wool and dairy so while vegans have good ideas I need to eat my eggs, meat and dairy. The many Unions that support us, exist in part today, due to jobs derived from our brilliant past economy, founded on meat , wool and butter. So vegans, at least cook your own vegan food, instead of dictating what is cooked. Especially for those used to a diet with meat , eggs and dairy. Warning for the squeamish- skip next sentence.My bum will also thank you, as it cannot cope with the roughage combined with no toilets on site. I am still feeling like I have been to Mexico.

The security team also did well in trying to manage a camp with some dubious characters. Living out in the open and on the street will bring the bottom of society into contact far sooner than the top of society. I felt it a case of the lunatics taking over the asylum. The security team managed all incidents in the camp and yet recognised that there was a danger in becoming, just like outside security guards or members of the police or army. The security team decided to become the peace keeping team.

My biggest complaint is with the lack of bonding. If we are to live together and create a better society the first thing to do is to build a community and that means learning each others names. When more than a week has passed and no one wants to know my name I know that I am still a number but not a person who feels valued. So despite my willingness to be committed, the reality was the same lack of support, as outside Occupy, and more rules in Occupy than outside.

I still support Occupy and will be available to show my support by marching. I have also learned a lot about myself and my own values.Will I move back onto the camp? Yes, if I think it will make a difference.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Occupy from Home.

For those who would never consider camping in a tent with a group of strangers, there are other options and ways to support Occupy Auckland.
In fact a huge number of people have been adding their help and support to the camp in numerous ways. financial donations and koha are just one way to contribute but contributing your time is just as valued.
One special person does the kitchen laundry. another brings food or bread and vegetables galore? Does anyone know what to do with 20kg of dried egg powder and only barbq's please reply!

Postering and turning up to listen to speakers or participate in workshops is great. holding billboards and placards is helpful. Washing up always appreciated but even better get out in the community and tell some friends. We are working on getting small fliers and reaching as many people as possible.

In the meantime my vege garden has become a little overgrown and I really needed to remove many of the weeds and clear a way for the new seedlings. Coming up are tiny spring onions , which could quite easily be mistaken for grass. also up is my sweet corn, also looks like grass or worse twitch.

I am hoping to return back to Occupy with some environmental features from home. The first thing I will take in the car will be two container gardens with tomato plants. Yes really tomato plants.

Join  the movement, the revolution or the Occupation. No matter what you call it I believe the world is globally reaching out, and as the 99%% we are being heard

Monday, 24 October 2011

Occupy Auckland

Hi I have been off the blog for a month. I am now at Occupy Auckland and have been here for the past 11 days. For you folk who don't know what Occupy is all about, see Occupy! Its a global movement that began first in Spain as a protest against the failing economy in May, but began again in earnest on Wall St on September the 17th.
A group a dedicated activists occupied Wall St to protest against the division in society, the haves and the have nots. And now we have the slogan we are the 99%. One percent of the world has 99 of the wealth. How bad is that?
I witnessed $54 millions dollars of New Zealand wealth stream past me on the fan trail on their way to the world cup final on Sunday night. At the same time, our Occupy feed all of us watched, and wondered how could this happen? At occupy we live in a cashless society.

I watched what looked like a funeral procession of walkers wearing black on their way to the game! What is missing is a lack of imagination in this people. All dressed the same and heading in the same direction.
We at Occupy watched from the stairs and wondered what on earth would happen if they lose?

We have our occupation, we have held Aotea Square for 11 days and the council seems to accept our peaceful protest.
C'mon down and support us, like the EPMU, the Nurses union, Unite, The Quaker Society, and many other who seek a more fair society and jobs for all.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Eeny , meeny minie mo, which one to vote for ? . Friend or Foe?

The election is a mere two months away but the political landscape is constantly changing. Yet there seems to be no mention of an election, No politicking , yet and the only story to create a flutter of interest was Don Brash , leader of ACT speaking out for Legalising Cannabis.
The ALCP are standing this election and I am sure they will need to put up a good fight cos the choice this election is vast.
One thing I have heard , is that 50% of the country is happy with John Key and he and National will win a second term.
I lean Green, especially for the legalising of cannabis and better access for medicinal marijuana under doctors supervision.
The thing that really concerns me is the lack of jobs and the fake "happiness" The PM exudes when there is a real poverty epidemic in New Zealand. I use the word epidemic as it describes the growing health crisis and out breaks of diseases like, meningitis in Northland, Whooping cough in Hokitika, flesh eating out breaks and all clear markers of poverty. These diseases are spread by over crowding and are warning signs that things are in urgent need of attention.
Our latest Auckland Family magazine asked 8 leaders of political Parties "what is the most important issue facing New Zealand families and what do you plan to do about it?

Of all the 8 parties National failed to mention that there were tough economic times ahead and a number of families struggling financially. It should be obvious that if the Prime Minister fails to mention a huge problem facing New Zealand, he certainly does not have a solution to remedy it. His policies only apply to the people that matter. Those with a good income and a positive cashflow.
They can keep on humming a happy tune.
However the other seven all recognise that, "the cost of living is the biggest problem facing families (Hone Harawira,) Mana
Labour and National have progressively eroded public services and sold off state owned enterprises.
I think we all deserve better than this.
Currently National seems to be using the police like a personal Army and the retrospective law changes made should be stopped now. This is an outrageous abuse of powers. In my opinion it started with the Sacking of ECan in Canterbury.
The callous attitude displayed by John Key over the mining disaster and Gerry Brownlee's, insensitivity to Christchurch, and its partiality to it's heritage building will cost it votes. You know , if you can build something once , you can do it twice. Think of the Heathcote Valley Inn.

Taken down carefully I am sure many beautiful buildings can be rebuilt again. Elsewhere... Later. But maintain hope.

Hope is what a Potential Party candidate promises in return for your vote. I think many parties this election promise hope, the solution and the will to change the current economic situation, facing New Zealand.
We are rich in resources , both people and mineral. We sell raw product not refined and we waste instead of re-using and recycling. Development in all these areas and a commitment to sustainability will get my vote. Plus anyone who want to legalise or decriminalise cannabis. At least now there may be some choice.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Brave Brash makes a hash of things.

Fullmarks to Dr Don Brash taking a punt on the cannabis vote. He certainly has done his homework, or been reading his old NORML magazines, as he is faultless in his argument especially the waste of police time spent chasing cannabis users.
He is correct that 400,000 kiwis use cannabis anually. That's the entire population of Christchurch (pre Earthquake) passing a joint . One that lasts from Aranui to Avonhead. Imagine, that every citizen having a toke on a joint. And as Brash correctly states ,the police could be better deployed than people smoking a plant being made criminals.As in the act of cannabis smoking , no one is being harmed but the user.

However the two points that Brash did not consider was how his party would react, especially as Don forgot to have the discussion with fellow ACT Party candidates first.
The second point was,did Don stop to consider how he may end up being portrayed for expressing this eminently sensible view without team support.

It certainly did not escape my attention that a great new party slogan for ACT could be ALCOHOL, CANNABIS & TOBACCO.

His most vocal opponent at this stage seems to be his great white hope for EPSOM former Police Minister John Banks. Totally opposed to decriminalisation. "No to drugs !", kinda man.
Somehow both John Banks and John Key seem to be channelling Nancy Reagan, and just say no. Um Has anyone told either of them that programme failed. Drug use reached epic use in the late 1980s and it was a need to reduce the associated drug harms that a new model was developed. It was called harm reduction or Harm Minimisation. The biggest harm or threat to public health was the spread of blood born virus and fear of HIV, it lead to lots of big public health initiatives. Safe sex and  free condoms and a no sharing needles as well as a needle exchange programme being established were examples.

New Zealand is 12,000 miles away from New York, and cannabis is our favourite non-alcoholic recreational substance. We have one the highest rates of usage in the developed world and the highest rate of arrest for OCED countries. We certainly do not need to continue to punish people for having a preference for cannabis. The war on Drugs is a war on people. When any politician ignores 400,000 potential voters they do so at their peril and when , like John Banks they call cannabis users DUMB, we will see who get the last laugh this election.

Don Brash is no poster boy image for cannabis and that is not a bad thing. He certainly adds little glamour or sexuality to promote cannabis. However 61 year old Dakta Green , currently in jail is no looker either. I wonder would Brash and Dakta Green have a deep conversation about cannabis? Who knows . It would be wonderful if some more medical professionals or any professional came forward to support the logic in Dr Brash argument.

Why hasn't some glamorous celebrity or famous author . artist or poet come  forth to support the call for decriminalisation. After all its about time.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Is there an Election on?

This Government is meant to campaigning for an election. The Green Party are making all the right noises and coming up with ideas and releasing policy. Dr Russell Norman is a great co-leader snappy dresser and quick with a sound bite.
The have a cohesive party , a plan , some billboards out and up in the community and have broad general appeal. I really hope their vote doubles this election. They have worked hard and have earned a far better representation in Parliament. Plus they seem nice.
We know they are nice. They support animal rights and attract a few of our more famous Thespians. We know Metiria is a nice person. In fact she is a star.

The Labour party does not have the same appeal and voters need to learn that with MMP you have two votes and they don't have to be for either Labour or National. Its time we got over the dichotomy of red or blue. We need to see what else is on offer and probe a little deeper.
Despite the soothing assurances from the National Party that all is well, be well warned.
This is a party who is incompetent to deal with a crisis.
It is unable to make a decision and tends to create layers of consultants all on big fat payments to do very little.

Christchurch will not be voting National. Christchurch has been badly let down by money problems and an unwillingness to spend where it is needed. A year on most people in Christchurch are still waiting for information. Still  it seems that the only attention is on the CBD and looking after business owners. I understand that there is a need to rebuild a city but who will come to shop when they have no money , security or jobs.

The rebuild of ChCh should have been underway on land and sections provided at cost by the Government. The stranglehold on the city by the Insurance Companies seems a feeble excuse to the power the Government demonstrated in its haste to "take over the waterfront" in Auckland. How come, entertainment is a priority with John Key?

The West Coast will not be voting National after the handling of the Pike River. The callousness has been exposed by the local community who feel badly misled .

There are also other smaller parties this year hotly contesting the election. The Mana Party by far is the most exciting and has steadily gained support throughout New Zealand . It will be the one to watch. The Maori Party will be lucky to make it back into Parliament as many Maori do not see the Maori Party as truly representative.

The ALCP will be contesting the Party vote, but they have yet to make much of am impression on the polls.

This is the Election, where alcohol and drugs should be discussed and the Law Commission has indicated the sensible approaches needed to reduce the harm to our communities from alcohol. It seems that we are no mood to be sensible, there is a party on and the whole of New Zealand is invited.

Its a wee bit scary , when you think of the money wasted on this thuggy sport when there are 200,000 children living in poverty and I'm guessing they don't get much benefit from the RWC.
Its a bit like the band playing on while the Titantic was sinking, by comparison, we are smiling and laughing and waving our RWC flags while children's tummies are rumbling and our national debt is rising. oh well It seems no one else is overly concerned.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Love is love and drugs is drug.

When ever my children make comments about gay or use the word I always say to them Love is Love. I recognise and acknowledge love is a wonderful thing and when you find it cherish it.
In 1986 the Homosexual recognised homosexual love. The reason the law was enacted was not really to do with any sentiment or feeling. It was fear of AIDs . The fear lead the Government to pass law to stop furtive underground gay sex that spread AIDs.
The stigma that went with the law change has not really gone. It has not been long that civil unions have been legal.
The same stigma is applied to drugs . Our legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco are advertised and despite the thousands of deaths in New Zealand each year continue to be sold in increasing quantities each year. $200,000.00 per day is spent on alcohol advertising. Compare this to the shadowy and unknown world of illegal drugs. Take the TV show, Underbelly; This is not the reality, the true story is people have always used chemicals to change their consciousness and always will. The killings and deaths occurred because the  prohibition means the risk is worth the inflated prices that can be easily obtained.

Last week, four very ordinary people were in the paper for an alleged ten million dollar cannabis industry. So what! They are no more evil or bad than Lion Breweries or Rothmans. Let them continue their business. The fact that they do not need to advertise their product means, we can assume its good. Why not sell through a licenced outlet like a pub and pay tax on the alleged ten million dollar turnover.

 Drug are drugs. I am so tired of the non-argument that cannabis is a drug. So are alcohol and tobacco. Which is worse, for me and the rest of society? Alcohol, is the worst thing by far!
So Love is Love and drugs is drugs. Lets not be silly enough to pretend there is any great difference between things that, are all essentially one, and the same.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The weather gods are not with us?

Today in Auckland the weather is foul. A cold blustery wind is blowing and I have just returned from my local fish shop. Its a novel experience for me choosing a fish out of the window and then having it filleted. I really like it.
The Rugby at least, is appropriately receiving some wintry weather because, despite the city which has taken leave of it's senses and relocated to Fiji or Tonga, normally a winter sport. Glad, I'm rugged up and getting a cold.

Speaking of sport, many New Zealanders seem to think that they need to weigh as much as an all black. Our latest statistics show that Nz is only less fatter than USA. 20 years ago when I was last in the United States I was underwhelmed by the American food. Overwhelmed by the variety and size of plates, but the fresh food was much harder to find than the processes and fried.  Simple food without mayo, or fries on the side was hard to find. Icing was an inch thick and ice cream was far higher in sugar content. The super sizing of fries and beverages have all supersized our human race.

Funny thing is we all want to get more done, do more and go faster.
More and more people are resorting to caffeine  to gain more energy. Red bull and V are hugely popular beverages and coffee consumption is increasing.

Won't it be interesting to see the effect on public health if people continue to over use caffeine as well as illegal stimulants. The end result will be a likely decrease in lifespan. its possible that in the future the life expectancy will drop back.Cocaine causes heart damage and increased blood pressure. Who know what percentage of the population is going to be using some for of speed in the future?  Cocaine use is rare, in New Zealand due to cost and distance, but we have Ritalin being diverted and a number of P cooks producing pure methamphetamine for supply.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

When is a medicine, not a medicine

Medicines are drugs and drugs are medicines. True? Well, yes and no. I am a Student working towards a Health Sciences degree looking at public health. I am now getting a little confused with the way the health system treats alternative treatment.

Years ago we would not get funding to receive acupuncture or massage as part of treatment. We have a medical system that in most aspects is one of the best in the world but it is failing a special group of people. The people that seek an alternative to the western medical model.A business model where the Doctor has a private practice and can charge as he or sees fit. Not only that , encourages people to to become reliant on pills dished out each visit .

People who don't want a 7 minute appointment and a prescription for a repeat of the medication that may or may not be effective. An example of ineffective medicines is SSRI's fluoxetine or prozac, arapax or many other generic brand names. Anti-depressant prescribing is forever on the increase.
From 1994 to 2004 there was a three fold increase in prescribed anti-deps. Thing is, if the medication worked , why is no one coming off these pills. In fact the numbers would suggest that depression is growing in numbers each year? So is depression transmissible, and we are failing to stop the spread of it? No!

So is it incurable? No!

So what is depression apart from a cluster of symptoms?
Depression is a real illness and it makes people feel miserable, for days, weeks months or years. It seems we don't have a cure and rely on the daily pill taking.
I have a concern, doesn't daily pill taking lead to dependency and addiction?

Apparently not when prescribed medicines are through the doctor. The actual problem we have is self-medicating. You see if you take a prescribed pill every day, needed or not its ok. but take another substance that gives the same benefit, ie, elevates the mood, helps the person to relax or sleep we are in deep do- do. In fact taking what works, if it is a plant called cannabis will land you in court.
Health according to the World Health Organisations description is not just the absence of illness, it encompasses well being.
Being well seems to mean different things for patients and politicians. Our Associate health Minister Peter Dunne Clearly does not worry too much about many peoples health issues at all. he is well aware of the 400,000 current users of cannabis in this country. He seems to believe and endorse the old mantra that don't do as I do, do as I say.
Here is a man in power who has admitting to using cannabis. Yet no one else can be trusted with this substance.
It seems ridiculous to deny seek people, a cheap medicine used by around a billion people who are familiar with a holistic medical model use cannabis.
So how come if I take my pills everyday I am not an addict but if I use cannabis every day for the same condition but with better results I will be sent to court . Who really has the right to say what works when an amputee has sensibly used cannabis for 20 years and yet is now having to defend his right. Is he harming anyone? Not at all.
Our minister of health is creating victims and hurting the most weak and vulnerable. his lack of compassion surely makes him unfit for the role? He has no medical backgound at all. Cannabis works for many people, not just in New Zealand. Most people start of their days with a drug. It can be a cup of tea, or coffee, (caffeine), or an anti depressant to get through the day, an anti-anxiety to cope with work pressures or any other meds, plus the range of alcohol and other drugs, we are a drug taking, relief seeking Nation , but what we take is our business.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lets go Greek!

The ancient Greeks, in particular the Athenians, were extraordinary in their intellectual achievements. Perhaps one of the reasons for this was their remarkable belief system. They believed that individuals have the right to be free as long as they acted within the law. They established democracy thousands of years ago, demos, the Greek word meaning people and Kratos, meaning power or to rule.
 In Athenian Democracy all people were all required to vote, and each year, 500 citizens names were drawn from a pool. They became the leaders and served for a year.
Two proverbs exist from that era that confirm the freedoms that was democracy,
 The first "Nothing in excess " also means anything goes.
The second , "know thyself" implys a high level of self- honesty is required and self reflection the norm.
This week the Greek Prime Minister moved one step closer towards legalisation of cannabis. he also moved towards a new law allowing homosexual couples to co-habit.
In That aspect, New Zealand is light years ahead of the Greeks, due to our far more liberal religious views, we embraced homosexual law reform in 1986. We have had a Civil Union and Protitution Law Reorm Bills in the last five years also.
Unfortunately scant regard has been paid to the 400,000 users of cannabis in New Zealand. Despite having cannabis laws that are 36years old, and The New Zealand Law Commission , and the New Zealand drug Foundation suggesting it is the best way . Peter Dunne , who is not a Doctor, but an associate Minister of health , a complete underling in parliament. He would be a minnow team in the rugby. (Some one like USA, where most prohibition was an epic failure too)
Yet this political worm has done a dirty deal back in 1996 with Labour to supply his support to the first MMP government. What, Peter Dunne can take credit for is an excessive backlog in the court system, waits of two years are common, a whole industry of paid professionals profiting from cannabis offences being held in criminal courts. In addition to the $121,million dollars cost of enforcing cannabis, there is the cost of these six identified workforces , the police, the courts, clerks to judges, lawyers, the counsellors and treatment professionals, the prison staff and the dealers are all making a living because cannabis is still illegal in new Zealand.
I know the economy is crashing in Greece but they are way ahead of us in human rights. The denial of medical trials is a whole new blog for tomorrow .
It is time for a health based approach to cannabis. That's all we want.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

One quarter of our prescription medicines are derived from plants.

We derive one quarter of all our prescription medicines from the rain forests and other plants. Curare, an anaesthetic and muscle relaxant, ipecac, an emetic to induce vomiting, quinine for preventing malaria, and the opium poppy and the cannabis plant. Asprin the most common painkiller is essentially an analgesic derived from acetyl-salicylates . These plant extracts date back to the father of medicine, Hippocrates who derived the painkiller from willow bark in ancient times.

This week. Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has come out to disappoint many thousands of New Zealanders over his refusal to carry out medical marijuana trials. I seriously can't imagine his reasoning for this. I would think that the relief cannabis provides to many thousands of people in the community will result in some backlash.

There are several high profile New Zealanders who represent all the best reasons to make a medical exemption for them to be able to use cannabis, unimpeded by the law.
The first was Neville Yates of Christchurch (and Daniel Christian) who has been an amputee in a wheelchair since losing his leg in accident. His desire to be free from Opiates led him to use cannabis. The Government did not agree and ten years ago Neville spent a very bad Christmas in prison.

He is not alone, the battle raged on and a number of people with illnesses that often left them wheelchair bound have found cannabis to work very effectively.
The brain has developed with cannabis being part of the developmental journey and we have an anandamide pathway for cannabis with  receptors which indicate this has been a normal part of our evolution. Essentially our bodies can produce and receive the chemicals to manage pain.
Another person, Peter Davy, who was not himself much of a user of cannabis as a carer of his terminally ill partner. He found after research that cannabis was beneficial to her in reducing her spasticity. An all night vigil was held by a group of supporters from all over New Zealand. The spotlight is being placed on this issue and it is unlikely to be dimmed.
The latest to defend his right for both himself and others to use cannabis medicinally is Billy McKee. In Levin, Billy has been a staunch activist for medical Marijuana. Green Cross is an Organisation dedicated to providing high quality cannabis to people with a range of medical conditions. Cannabis provides both comfort and relief to many people. People have been using cannabis for thousands and it is time to recognise its benefits and end the prejudice against the cannabis users.
A more interesting factoid is that the numbers using anti-depressants have trebled in use from 1994 to 2004. Isn't that more worrying?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Its all about flow.l

When things are running smoothly there is said to be flow. Flow is achieved not just by water or electricity , people flow and I believe imagination is a form of flow.
The Romans knew how to manage traffic thousands of years ago, look at the Coliseum and see how it was possible for thousands of people to be seated , arrive and leave with ease due to the flow created from a round -form with many exits that flows like a traffic round-about used today.
Water flows downhill due to gravity and naturally towards the sea.
Flow seem to occur in nature those who design traffic could take a leaf from their natural surroundings.

I am so not shocked or surprised that "the city councel failed to get the management of traffic , to and from the games right"
I think this demonstrates the need for better public transport through out Auckland. Trains are very effective but lack of care and attention to people who use trains has been an issue until the focus of an even like the world cup means a hastily cobbled together plan using trains that the planner would have never ridden in their lives
before you plan something I pays to walk in the shoes of a visitor not a VIP.
I am sure none of the VIPs who were guests and at the games gratis arrived late,No all would have been smoothly chauffeured in style in a large fleet of BMW's.

The people that paid for this spectacle and brought tickets at outrageous prices were badly let down.
I an a dissenter and I do think that planning was inadequate and the organisers can't possible believe that the demand from the public wasn't going to be unlike other events such as Christmas in the park and Chinese lantern festivals even. The thought that planning was only provided for a small number of people would not be logistical from the outset , given the popularity and advertising (community buy -in) how could they expect the numbers to be one tenths of the number, that would arrive?

Heard of participation? Its what everyone wants. It reflects equality.

When all people can participate you have a winner. When all people want to participate you have a huge success. To create a tiny area for an exclusive few is plain rude. I am sure if any other countries were involved but our friendly Kiwi types there would have been a lot more anger erupting.
I am sure that it won't and can't happen again  but who ever thought that creating a public event with room for 50, 000 and 12,000 people is dreaming in a city of over one million people. You should be sacked!
Other than that it was a lovely night .Unless you were downtown being asphix

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Last chance to get it together for the RWC.

I call myself the dissenter because I am a small angry politically motivated commentator. My general leanings are left -feminist and liberal.
 But I consider myself to possess some common sense and despite these few misgiving regarding the RWC, I hope people have fun.
The exclusive nature of this Rugby World Cup.
Because of the marvels of the corporation, no one can be blamed, or held responsible for its success or failure.The disconnect is felt by those who don't have the funds to participate. The most obvious example is the 2000 volunteers needed. Erm I have to say this stinks when people desperate to be part of the RWC are not paid, yet the cost of everything to do with the rugby world cup, is expensive. So if you are on a low income or a benefit the only chance you have of going is being willing to clean up after the others for free.
I actually want to know the total spend on this event!
I think we have a right to know.

Not Enough Room!
WTF were they thinking, when the waterfront and Big event areas hold only 12,000 people and 50,000 people?. Everyone knows that NZ loves a parade, or a free concert. When the "Christmas in the Park" and the Santa Parades in Christchurch alone, pull crowds of 100,000 , the exclusivity shows again. I am getting the feeling that no care, or consideration  was given to the many people who won't fit in. How many people turned away. Bottle neck of angry and disappointed people?

More exclusivity, How come the election has been put on the back burner?
There are actually quite important things going on in the world right now more important than rugby!

The cost.
We are living in financially constrained times and the sort of buzz, I feel building, can only lead to some very disappointed people. We can't all win, as much as that would be nice. There will be losers of the games and the teams will feel bad , but that also translates to the disappointment of overspending on products endorsing your team, (BUMF)  excess alcohol will result in hangovers , some people will get hit and hurt and the TAB will be raking it in. Just remember , where there are winners , there are losers too.

Have a winning time, take care of others and look after those you love, but most of all have fun,
or Samoa, or England, or France , Scotland, Wales,Ireland Argentina, Australia, and all the countries participating . ENJOY!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Our bodies can be quite bewildering at times

I have had a god relationship with my body up until now, but of late I am starting to have less trust in my body to do the job. I have re-injured my knee which is an old skiing injury from years back that perhaps did not heal properly. I remember a torn cruciate ligament from skiing and many weeks on crutches. The knee pain has returned with vengence and months later I am still hobbling around in pain.
Repairing my achy -breaky old set of bones ,( I'm 45 but feel about 90) has become my main mission in life , but I am not really getting what I need. My first visit resulted in mumblings to my question of what is your diagnosis and codeine when I said it really hurts. My hip hurt as well and I blamed that to a tumble from a horse. The next stop was a oesteopath and acupuncturist cure. he seemed to do a really good job and my back and hip are free of most pain , but my knee confounds me.
The pain stops me from wanting to exercise or walk any where above my daily shop. I am not going to keep taking codeine as that is not "fixing" the problem.
Out west there is a great pool complex and for less than $5.00 each ,(includes a community services card discount), we can go sit in a spa , which my friend and I do, while the younger one can swim , splash , enjoy the wave pool or hydroslide. I am happy sitting in big bowl of bubbling human soup. You also see people of all shapes and sizes in their swimwear.  Most people are fortunate with their body too, but there are some comical sights and unusual shaped and sized bits. However the pleasure of relaxation in water is shared by all.

In the late afternoon there is often a large beam of sunlight shining through the roof and onto the water where, if you look closely you can see the effervescence of the water bouncing up!

I also accidentally found my self participating what is the world most agonisingly boring sport, water walking. I have found aqua therapy to be great for my knee , low impact and its actually quite an aerobic challenge to be furiously pumping all limbs at once, water walking and doing a speed of less than a kilometre an hour. My eleven year-old thinks its fun so I joined in for one lap before deciding it feels more like standing still.

However when you get the blahs , as we all do from time to time, and you need, something else to do or think about; hunt out your togs and head for your local pool complex. Its where I will be a few times a week until summer has arrived.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A picture says a thousand words.

An interesting photo shows a group of angry protesters outside the cabinet meeting in Christchurch . However the headline reads "Taxpayer's share of bill for refund to rise again."
I read the article but not one sentence was given to the large group of dissenters. They held aloft a group of interesting signs , all pointing out the differences between the rich and poor. High lighting inequality and showing the men in power that the system is not working is being ignored.
One sign that stood out was this,

I wonder what they mean?

Tell me more?

Who wrote it?

I like it. The tide has turned on the Government down south and for some reason the media does not seem to want to show the reality. We are being lulled into a false sense of reality especially here in Auckland.   But the sense that I am getting in we think losing the World Cup is bad, THAT"S nothing!
The hard times are ahead and the when the truth is told people will be angry and annoyed.
Perhaps this Government thinks that a jolly good party is all we need , yet it also is chopping into services while we are not looking. The last two weeks I have seen the end of the APA, which again makes me think, without them?
I don't know about you, but when the state housing dept. is laying off people and abandoning projects, selling off State assets I am very concerned. Hopefully a more true reflection of what public sentiment is really like, apart from what the papers are telling you will be presented soon and not until after the election. Cos don't you hate that saying, I told You so!?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Avondale, the best place in Auckland on Sundays.

I live in Avondale and obviously I am not wealthy. But let me tell you , for those who have not been to Avondale lately, why I love living here.
First of all I am partial to horse racing.
So living in full view of the Avondale race course is even better, cos now that there is no longer racing the grounds are utilised on Sundays by the markets.
For a tiny amount of money a lot of fun can be had.

The race course is full of adventures. Of course there is no more betting on the horses but lots of excitement can be found if you are looking for a bargain.
Both of the shopping variety and the culinary kind.all kinds of morsels of food from countries all around the world can be sampled.
I head straight towards to coffee as it is Sunday, and this is my treat.

We purchase the backbone of a new vegetable garden, tomato plants, silver beet, courgette, lettuce and spinach.
Plus some new-old shoes, clothes and food.

On our way home I marvel at the number of pedestrian crossings on my street but that's ok, we have lots of people without cars living here.
 Its OK in Avondale, in fact , its better than that. Its a vibrant and bustling community that's is made up of many global citizens and being new here I can honestly say I feel welcomed.
 I have two children who have moved from Christchurch and both attend schools in Avondale, Intermediate and College respectively.
I love it, every day presents a new challenge and living in Avondale, with its smiling friendly community makes me so glad we came.

I would not want to go back to Christchurch, and right now I can honestly say I would not want to live anywhere else either.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Odd man out.

Today I went to my much awaited Cutting Edge Conference in Auckland for the Alcohol and Drug Treatment workers. I am a trained Alcohol and Drug clinician but my invite to the Conference was as a whanau member of a consumer. The consumer means of AOD services, not a consumer of drugs ideally.
I looked around the room and in a sea of three hundred and sixty faces (I was told) I saw some familiar ones and some of old friends and colleagues.
My lasting interest or addiction even, is to cannabis law reform. For the past 13 years I have been a passionate vocal advocate for the decriminalising if not legalising of cannabis. Some would argue: with alcohol and tobacco we don't need another drug.

I say its already here and this issue has been hotly debated for the past 35 years. How is that we can have a law that sees fit to send people to jail for growing a plant, when all scientific evidence shows alcohol is far more harmful to public health and tobacco will kill one in two of its users?
The Saddest thing to me was being an outsider and really feeling like an outsider at this conference, for what seems to me to be more than an oversight but there was no mention of cannabis in the programme and no speakers on or presentations about cannabis at all.
I can't understand how the most popular illicit substance in New Zealand fails to rate a mention, and given that cannabis is the second reason for all presentations at CADS so why not some treatment information or research on cannabis.
Is the reason cannabis is not on the programme because it is not a problem or does not cause the same amount of problems for its users as other drugs?
Is the reason no one wants to talk about it, related to contracts and funding?

I don't understand how 360 workers in the health field can continue to allow people to go to jail for cannabis cultivation when I thought cannabis dependency is a health problem.
I also think cannabis is a valuable medicine and also viable alternative to alcohol for many people.
Who will help me find the answers?

I am forming the cannabis consumer group for  people who are in treatment or want to receive treatment for cannabis dependency. As was stated at the formation of the nationwide network of consumer groups , sometimes you have to start at the end point or goal first .
MY first question is can cannabis users expect the same level of treatment , information and support as alcoholics, gamblers and opiate users? Where can they access this service?

Despite 35 plus years of campaigning for cannabis law reform and the latest suggestions from the Law Commission I am sure that the status quo is maintained very nicely thanks, and every one gets paid when a cannabis consumer goes through the court system and then to jail.
In my 45 years on this planet I have yet to hear a person come out of court and say , Hell Yes! that Judge was so  right. I am never smoking cannabis again. Tonight I send my apologies to the estimated 400,000 cannabis users who will continue to feel stigmatised and discriminated against while the health workers sit on their hands or watch.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Tenancy Tribunal

Well my day before the Judge or adjudicator has finally come and gone. True, to the best of all justice systems, I don't know the outcome. Funny isn't it? Our justice systems seems to confuse and confound all those not employed as part of it.

However my case was I was evicted! I know me! I don't know what for or why but as I did not have a "fixed term" tenancy agreement I could be booted out for no reason at all.
I was happy to leave as there was beginning to be a bit of a paper war and I guess I was just not" the -right- fit" for the building.

My first digression was not being alcoholic. Sitting round or cracking a beer at 9am or 10am seemed common but not for me.
My second was my lack of understanding recycling.I understand recycling , what doesn't the landlord understand about full bins is amusing. Cos if there is no room in one bin, dammit, I will stick my rubbish in the other bin.
 After all I have seen what they call recycling. There is no money in it.
So despite have three families share on recycling bin , and trying to get us a new bin I was not the popular tenant. Get some new bins so people can recycle and there is room for all the empties as well.
It seems someone has thrown at least one cigarette butt on the ground , (I don't smoke) and there has been the smell of cannabis.
So I am a shocking tenant and was duly evicted. Despite not needing an ambulance or going mad, or wearing an ankle bracelet or any other things except paying my rent on time.

Long short , I was evicted, so left, but I did not give my landlord enough notice to leave. Despite being forced out through the other tenants making it clear they want my flat for their friends to move in.Another tenant from downstairs moved upstairs into mine. No loss of rent at all.

I went to court and Derek the Landlord counter claimed. Well the weasley man actually committed perjury in court and told lies about dumping my stuff and tried to claim costs. I hope he is prosecuted .

I felt heard.There were no grounds for eviction , and his continual being there was grounds for my claim. He was late in filing the rent and maybe fined for that as well.I want half my rent returned, as I felt he contaminated my enjoyment. The lady Judge was sharp and hard and slapped me down for butting in, (actually she threatened to tape my mouth) cos I butted in so often.

However she caught out Derek in trying to charge $30 .00 and hour for his time, when he did not actually do anything, pay for any dumping and if he had the tenancy tribunal pays only $20.00. It was clear that she could see him for being a liar, an annoyance and a cheapskate, who want's to bill but never pay.

I can't wait to get my bond back and a cheque for the lack of enjoyment. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Epic Fail for the National Government.

New Zealand has a problem with alcohol. Never more so has the tension between our drinking culture and the need to change aspects been so evident. The Rugby World Cup, is becoming an glaring example of the disconnect between the promoters of the Cup and alcohol excesses that accompany it, and the medical profession who clean up the mess.
Our Government is colluding with the manufacturers of beer to brand the RWC with it's corporate image. But is it an image we want? Does playing rugby mean you have to consume beer? Or perhaps its really just becoming a big turn off.
Alcohol in New Zealand does not enjoy a long history like Europe and we lack the sophistication and intelligence it seems, of the Europeans to enjoy food and family along with a social drink.

The Government has now changed our drinking laws to impact most heavily on the young drinkers. Never mind that they are the ones the alcohol companies seek out to entice with new alcohol flavoured milkshakes and purple fizzy alcohol pops. What silly signals. "Life can't be enjoyed without alcohol?'

The real problem as I see it, is not the age of the drinkers; it is the price and availability of alcohol.
Get alcohol out of the supermarkets . It is not a food, and the cheap cheap price of wine and beer means alcohol is being sold at cost or even below cost to get you into the shop.
Alcohol is a drug and like other drugs that adults consume it needs to be sold at an R18 outlet. my approach would be to decriminalise cannabis, as it has the same popularity as tobacco and is enjoyed by a quarter of all adult new Zealanders regularly. Sell cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis at a one stop shop for adults R18 and kept behind a counter.
Unlike alcohol, cannabis is not responsible for the 75% of adult presentations at A&E during the weekend. Cannabis could be a safe alternative to alcohol and reduce the number of road accidents and deaths through liver disease. Cannabis is used safely in coffee clubs in Europe for over 30 years.
While many people will say, "we have enough problems with alcohol, we don't need another drug to deal with". I tend to see it as a solution and not a problem. Many former drinkers have switched to cannabis and now no longer drink alcohol.
The National Government has its own agenda and it does not really include, the young , the poor or those struggling with addiction.
I call for a campaign to remove alcohol from supermarkets. Its easy for me here ,because  in Waitakere we have the Alcohol Licencing Trust and have no sales of alcohol from supermarkets. Its easy as. Its the same in Australia too. Alcohol is not food.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

New Zealand is a ridiculously small country

We are really very lucky to be born in New Zealand. To, many people from overpopulated areas, New Zealand appears like a green paradise. For we are one of the countries, where a trip  from the sea to sky or  the mountains is easily achievable in just a few hours.We have remarkable scenery and a world class sporting event called the Coast to Coast.  Being physically remote from America and Europe we have earned a reputation for being healthy and rugged.

Amongst ourselves we like to establish our own point of difference as well. North Islander or South Islander is usually the first question we ask. Auckland the largest city in New Zealand is a name said with scorn by some (Dorkland) and pride by others. I love living in Auckland.

In our haste to get "somewhere else" England, or America we bypassed our Pacific neighbours for decades. It is only now, that Auckland, the largest Polynesian city in the world is coming to accept that multicultural is the best way to describe our society. In our former misplaced snobbery we placed value on education and still ask what school did you attend?  Often this can identify someone we knew, as in "oh you'll know my cuz tama then, " and we are reduced to several degrees of separation. often only two degrees separate us. But more often its part of establishing the old-boy old-girl network from private schools.

Its amazing that after a time in new Zealand where ever you go, you will meet someone you know, or some one who knows you. Sometimes it is great and very helpful, not so if you have a shady past. No one knows more about family than  some Maori,on their whakapapa. They often can tell whole generations of history and name every cousin .

For a small remote country,we punch above above our weight in sport in many disciplines. Netball and equestrian events as well as sailing. I don't know if its our extremely competitive nature developed by playing against Australia. Or the fact that we beat them despite them being a far larger country. Our Rugby team will again have the chance to prove its rank in the world next month.
 but, as I like to say we are: New Zealand the best in the world at everything.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Well, What are you worth?

I am working towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Sciences in order to gain a Masters Degree and I have finally admitted to having some attachment issues with Canterbury University.
This has been one of my longest and most successful relationships my relationship with higher education. It is one sided but I am in love with learning.
 Earlier this week I sat in a class mostly full of well paid professionals and I thought about my own status as a beneficiary and student. I thought about the client group I work with and target, and  the distance between their patients.  Where I live in Avondale, the locally produced magazine reported that 6 beggars been identified and that they are being disruptive to some businesses or perhaps intimidating people. I would really like to work with these people as I am sure they just need some support perhaps to get into housing or maybe get back on a benefit? No address , no benefit usually.
But it was the people I shared my learning space and our speakers that impressed me. Is it wrong to ask how much people earn? well it can be considered vulgar by some. But in health practitioner circles it's ok to ask how much they charge per hour, after all many health practitioners are in effect small businesses trying to make a profit.
 One school counsellor who I thought came dangerously close to breaching confidentiality told us she was worth $70.00 per hour, even if the students accessing her special phone outside of work was calling about a ridiculously trivial matter. Perhaps she could waive her fee and just act more generously.
Another fantastic practitioner outlined their treatments and the amazing success and high level of care which was good value at $300.00. and it is no doubt if you have that much money available.
I am a beneficiary and I am also a student. However I value my time and believe in my ability to make changes. I am part of the organisation Auckland Action Against Poverty and put time into trying to save the Avondale Post Office from closure. I also would like to engage with the local beggars as they have been labelled to discover if they are homeless and if so receiving any income. Not having an address means you cannot usually receive a benefit. Maybe these people have been in care and now are still too unwell to cope on their own?

What ever their reason for being on the street asking for money, I am willing to donate some of my time and perhaps solve a problem which most people just want to avoid.The other thing that occurred to me was, if I can donate my time to helping some one for free , why can't all health professionals donate an hour a week or provide a free appointment to those most in need and also likely to benefit most.I wish I could afford the treatment that was described. I also I know that my hourly rate (while studying and on a benefit) is under the minimum wage but that is not what I am worth. I know, not to confuse what people pay, or don't pay me with what I am worth. I certainly know my value and the value of things that do not always have a monetary value.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Flying visit to Christchurch

This week I had to return to Christchurch to attend three days of lectures towards my Post Grad. Diploma in Health Sciences.

Having spent most of my life growing up in Christchurch I have pretty strong attachments to Canterbury even if I don't want to. My fear of earthquakes stopped me making it to Christchurch last June but my apprehension was rewarded  by the fact I escaped another serious Earthquake.I messed up in a big way by missing out on my lectures but I completed my paper and handed it in on time .

Christchurch has moved on a lot since my last visit. Announcements have been made about payouts and I am sure a feeling of relief is being felt by many, as they can begin to plan their futures again.

 I drove past Burnside High school and saw the many school buses and was instantly reminded of America and its bus system. I had the passing thought, does a ride to school improve attendance? I wonder.

While I am looking for the old and familiar in the many changes that have occurred over the past 6 months the things that do remain the same are the people and the friendships. They are a powerful pull.

On arrival to Christchurch, my first thought was my Mother who is over 80 and in a rest home but always chipper. In fact she does not seem to get get even a cold, and the people who care for her lovely. We spent an hour or so chatting away over cups of tea and were spoiled by some lovely chocolate cake freshly baked for afternoon tea.

 Next stop was to visit some friends now living in Christchurch who I originally met on the West Coast. I had a great evening and  lovely dinner of wild pork. My friends were reminiscing on old time and feels like something never change and then we felt another jolt and were immediately back in the present and know that many things have changed. But since we have known each other we have had children and funerals, moved house and now a grandchild for one of us. The life cycle and the seasons are unstoppable. I saw a little daffodil and pointed to and said "look spring" and my friend said it survived the snow.  We are resilient in Christchurch.

Doing a block course , cramming a term or more lectures into a few days is a brain melting experience but the learning is empowering in some ways. Its a pleasure to be in the group although it has been said "I  don't get out enough". One of our speaker spoke about being disabled and overcoming disability and mentioned how Christchurch has an opportunity to build a new city that is accommodating towards those with a physical disability. I had never considered until now, that you can't enjoy a garden very easily from a wheel chair unless it's a raised bed. Interesting.

Finally I met a new person tonight. Someone I knew about and had been a friend online and also in the same  field studying addiction and gambling as well as life's mysteries .Its magic when you met someone and just click. Lynette, you are one more reason for me to love Christchurch, and keep coming back despite the little shakes I had on my first day. Nothing is ever as bad as we fear.

Half a day more of study and then a few more things to do as, I really don't know when I will be back. The house is on the market so it may not be too long. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cannabis, Drugs and Medicine

In a few weeks time I am going to the Cutting Edge Conference, it is New Zealand's Leading conference on Drug Treatment and Addiction and is for the workers and researchers in this field. In 2008 I presented my Literature Review on "The Public Health Message on Cannabis" not a long presentation as most things cannabis are not dealt very well with in this country as cannabis is illegal and tends to remain outside the medical framework. As consequence the messages about cannabis are nearly all bad.

I am confused and concerned enough to consider staging a protest at this conference for my friends who use medical marijuana. In particular I would like to highlight the plight of my friend billy McKee. He is an amputee in a wheel chair who uses cannabis as a medicine. Billy does not usually smoke cannabis he prefers to use it in tea and as a poultice directly applied to his stump. He is currently on bail for supplying medical marijuana to Green Cross members. he has been making available a medicine that has been used in Asia for 2000 years.

Medicine is medicine and our medical notes and records are private. Who uses what and when is confidential.
So what if you are on anti-biotics, prozac, pain killers or sleeping pills its private and your business alone. If people derive relief for their pain of other conditions why are we being so precious. We don't meddle when Gran takes sleeping pills, or prozac, why does anyone begrudge  anyone from using this form of medication. We all know Doctors prescribe dangerous and addictive drugs that can cause harm especially when over prescribed or in the wrong hands.

Medicine is medicine, and many have side effects when taken. Medicines react differently on different people, some medicines are addictive and panadol is responsible for more poisoning and deaths in this country than illicit drugs. Cannabis is so benign there has never been a  fatal dose recorded.

So I think that Billy should have his medicine, he is after all, 50 plus years old. I am just wondering how far to take this at the conference. I shall at the very least wear a Free Billy t -shirt.
And do a little dissenting...

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

On Femininity -or on being a woman .

I'm showing my age here, but in the movie, Pygmalion, Henry Higgins says to Eliza Dolittle in an exasperated tone of voice "why can't a woman , be more like a man?"
I have often thought of myself as both Mum and Dad to my children due to being a single parent.I have even contemplated celebrating Fathers Day by buying myself a present. I am not masculine or rugged in fact I'm petite but I can summon up my male attributes by being direct, dominating , aggressive and taking the lead. Its not by choice but necessity, as the mother of girls I have been spared, role modelling male sports . I would prefer however to be a more kind and gentle person.

I also am using this opportunity to revel in my joy of being a woman and a mother. I love my three daughters and relish the time in the future when we can all get together as adults. I am so proud of them and enjoy them as well. They are unique individuals with talents like caring, art, singing and having a sense of belonging as well as creating a new life up in Auckland. Their girlyness is great
 By living in the NOW, I  love spring , I see spikes of green pushing up and bursts of yellow with the new daffs appearing here and there.

Pink blossoms on trees, flowers really rock my world. Especially the fragrant one. Daphne and wintersweet.
 As a woman hair and make up are less important to me than some others but I like lipstick and love perfume and shoes.

My favourite thing is baking, cakes and all kinds of cooking is one of the ways I pass my spare time. another activity that smells really good too.  Is it being a woman or is it part of being a mother, I tend to think of it as worthwhile way to spend time. It makes me happy and finding a little bit of joy in everyday is what is good about being alive.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The insidious nature of exclusivity.

Many of us desire to belong to a group, or be part of the "in crowd". Being popular and liked is a human condition. But there is also a feeling that comes with belonging. There is an 'in' or an 'out' at play. If you are not 'in' you are 'out'. On the outer, being an outsider is not desirable. No one wants to feel that they are a misfit and don't belong or worse , once belonged and not now. being pushed out or a group or even a family can be a form of discrimination.

An inclusive society is one where people are welcomed in and recognised, that their age, gender, race (read differences ) are their strength.Inclusion can happen by design or by accident as can exclusion. Some reasons for excluding people are subtle such as creating a homogeneous group where people are all similar, these groups tend to maintain the status quo and resist change. Gender is a reason for exclusion, not always by design but due to constraints girls and women are often excluded from learning about cars and tools as there is little opportunity or time to just learn. At school girls may get one term to learn woodwork and metal work or hard technology as it is now known. Women are as likely to drive cars as men but it is assumed we are not that likely to do repairs.

Money is also a reason for exclusion. Sports can also be exclusive due to costs. Polo, golf and rowing for example are all out of the reach of many New Zealanders. The poorest of us cannot afford boots for sport.Sport can unite people and create a strong sense of team building but it can also reinforce social and class barriers. Discrimination through age, lack of money, race , gender and lastly small peoples power trips is a fact of life for many. What we do or don't do can be a cause of discrimination.

Age can exclude people for being too young or too old.Women can be excluded, especially socially as while men tend to head to the pub for a drink, women tend to head home to prepare dinner. Race should not be a reason for separation and yet I feel a sense of frustration for Maori who want inclusion and deserve it, but also non-maori who often fail to understand iwi and hapu relationships.

Young people seem to bear the brunt of this in-or-out policy and I think it is a behaviour that small people feel bigger by putting others down. In fact while my back is sore, with all those rich people climbing up and over me to retain their position at the top, I am sure the young people feel flatter than an empty tube of toothpaste given the treatment they received right down at the bottom with no one willing to help them grow and nurture them.

Excluding people for their knowledge and feeling intimidated is common as people often only want to look good .  In this election year arseholes abound , I found this book at the library called "The No Asshole Rule, building a civilised workplace and surviving one that isn't. by Robert Sutton PhD. Its a great read.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

In Praise of NOT NEW.

We live in contrary times. Our values are being challenged from those that create, to one that acquires. Material possessions and the accumulation of stuff is a relatively new phenomena.
The New Immigrant arrivals were the ultimate DIY'ers who had to build homes, make clothes and prepare food from scratch. Retail Therapy, was not invented and shops were few and far between.Compare this to now days and attitudes to spending.

Some old things have always been valued and treasured for sentimental reasons but these days, newer, bigger, faster, and better seems to be what the majority of people want .
Take cars for example, I had a theory that i could own a car for just $20.00 per week by buying a cheap car for around $1000.00 with WOF and Rego and as long as it ran for a year I was ahead. Nicer more expensive cars devalue once you buy them and often require more expensive repairs and are hard to sell.
We love car shows and classic cars but we have a glut of not wanted cars that are not re-used or re-cycled. Recently I have developed an appreciation of big block muscle cars from America as I have learnt to understand the hours of time and money and commitment involved in the restoration of these cars. The point is perfection, gleaming chrome, immaculate paint, sparkling interior and keeping it original are prized by enthusiasts. Pride in workmanship is the rewards as often the costs are never recouped.

Compare this with pressing your nose against the showroom of some expensive European dealership window with cars costing several years income for many.
What are the messages being registered. I accept that all people need to have goals and aims but we should be valued for who we are and what we do-not what we own.
Have a look around you. How many items have been hand made or made by someone you know? What skills are we losing by buying instead of making and restoring?

In praise of older items, the NOT NEW, have more personality, were made to last and stand out as originals instead of mass produced items. I like clothing and jewellery from decades past. Recycled and vintage clothing is one area that is growing in popularity as people reject the cult of the new and seek something with more meaning than mass made goods.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A horrible week for youth

A horrible and really shitty week to be yoof whether in New Zealand or in the heart of the riots in England. It seems that people my generation and older are pretty divided on attitudes to young people. I like to think I am generally on the side of young people, even if they don't want my support
Anti-youth sentiment and blame seems to be all I read about these days.
I feel its hardly our young people to blame with 25% of 19-year-olds being unemployed. Is it there fault? In most instances the answer is a resounding no.

Who has the power in this situation, how can a young person get into employment when there are no new jobs, no apprenticeships, no dedicated youth training scheme only low paying jobs and trial periods of employment adding to the insecurity and vulnerability young people feel.

A zero BAC for youth is blatant discrimination. It should be unlawful to allow drinking at 18 and then attempt to enforce a no-alcohol level for the young. Age targeting is yet another false attempt by our Government to avoid upsetting the liquor industry and pretend to do something about the road toll. as an experienced AOD counsellor I can tell you that while young people seem to hit the headlines, its the people who have been  drinking for over 20 years that are resistant to change. Young people have grown up with the message ,    "drink and and drive and you are a bloody idiot". They are not!

The worst blamer I leave to last, British PM, Dave Cameron must be off his rocker to blame youth again when this like all riots come about when the critical mass is reached and a group mentality takes over. The reason for this are many but it is the dogma of profits before people and what is known as the neo-liberal doctrine of the past 30 years or so. It has increased inequality, and as a result increased hopelessness. . Lets quit the blaming and find a solution to this economic crisis that creates the disconnect in society.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Winners and Losers

John Key makes no attempt to conceal his personal belief in winners and losers, particularly winner takes all.His decision not to debate with the smaller parties suggests a form of arrogance and perhaps a disconnect from what is Democracy.We are the sum of many parts that fit and work well together. The success of any person or political party depends on it. As does the whole of New Zealand.

Why then do we have a leader in this country who creates inequality, grows unemployment, obscures the truth of business in New Zealand as the winners and losers game does not work, The effects of Neo-liberalism or profits before people can be clearly seen . We need to create a win-win situation in New Zealand that builds the economy and creates jobs.

Under National this nation is suffering because those in power do back room deals with a handshake, and change the laws to suit themselves faster than ACT changes Leader. The ordinary person will not benefit under National as the ordinary person does not have a rental property or a high income or family trust.
Endorsing winners and losers only increases the chances of seeing a repeat of the rioting in England, here.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Nearly one million users can’t be wrong.

Banning a book, a movie, behaviour or a substance, such as tobacco or alcohol usually creates more demand, an increase in price or even a black market. The consequences of the American prohibition of alcohol resulted in more organised crime, faster cars and more guns. The situation is parallel today in New Zealand with P.

The question I think should be, is why is the demand for Kronic, (and the other herbal smoking products) so high? Why have a legal product Kronic, that mimics a banned product? The psychoactive properties of kronic are cannabinoids; the same found in organic cannabis but lack THC. Many drugs prescribed drugs on the market are also analogues or chemical copies that are altered by one molecule to create a new drug or to make a cheaper generic version. Banning cannabis has resulted in the increased popularity of an untried substance. It’s not only in New Zealand. This has been a worldwide event.

Peter Dunne takes a rather peculiar approach to politics by having his one claim to fame, the Continued Prohibition of Cannabis. His time in Parliament has seen the arrests and conviction of over 100,000 people. What was he thinking by banning Kronic, when prohibition has not worked? Overseas countries have shown, despite high levels of Kronic sales more people still prefer to use cannabis. A UK survey from “mixmag” found that one in 8 respondents had used “Spice” (the dominant UK brand in 2009) compared to 85% who had used cannabis. It should be asked, is why is demand for Kronic so high? Is it because people are looking for an alternative to alcohol?

I feel that a lot more questions need asking and more research done as well. New Zealand has gone from a world leader in social reform to one lagging behind. One of the problems by maintaining the prohibition on cannabis is that we are denying a valuable medicine to those most in need. In New Zealand the biggest barrier is unfortunately the Associate Minister of Health Mr Peter Dunne who has a particularly narrow view, or is it because of pressure from the liquor, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries I cannot speculate. But cannabis is used very safely in around the world. Many states in the USA, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel and Spain allow medicinal use of marijuana.  In parts of Asia and India it grows wild.  It is part of Ayurvedic medicine in India and commonly used in China. It is favoured in Muslim countries where alcohol is banned as well.  

I have been involved with Drug Law Reform in New Zealand since MMP came into New Zealand. I am a trained school teacher with a Degree in Education and a Diploma in Alcohol and other Drug counselling. I can’t stand by and watch as thousands of lives are trashed through archaic laws, the 1975 Misuse of Drug Act, was written well before the “rave” culture of the 1980’s and rampant ecstasy use and the 1990’s with BZP and other  legal designer drugs. Plus New Zealand has one the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. The health effects, as most people know are minimal, compared to the harms associated with cigarettes and tobacco, cannabis pretty safe. That is why there is no public health message against cannabis. The worst that can happen is being caught. However even the law is catching up and now, warnings notices are regularly given and no offence is noted. 

The combined total of the 400,000 people who have identified themselves to having tried cannabis in the past year and the 500,000 doses for synthetic cannabis sold equate to nearly a million people and/ or doses when combined. The biggest elephant in the room blocking better access to services, faster courts and more money for dependency treatment is the money wasted on policing cannabis. The harm to society through the enforcement of the law is greater than the harms from cannabis.

Recreational drug use is not a deviant behaviour illicit drug taking may have become the norm. What is important is allowing proper education about safe drug use. Not using substances alone for the first time is a golden rule. I can only imagine that a few presentations at the emergency dept could be avoided with better drug use advice. We are far too tolerant of the harm in society that alcohol and tobacco cause. The RWC is case in point of the acceptance of alcohol and refusal to see the harms.