Saturday, November 7, 2015

City Bans Cheap Advertising

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Council,

            When I spoke to you last, I had been cited for signs.  I am happy to report that I have not been harassed at my protest since then, despite adding a 3rd sidewalk sign protesting the citation.  I pled not guilty last Tuesday, and on Monday served Police Chief Joe Henner with a request for disclosure of evidence.  My citation for Obstructing Traffic was dismissed on Tuesday by the officer who cited me.
            But I find myself in further jeopardy, thanks to City Manager Frasher dusting off a long-unused ordinance and deciding that it needs enforcement.  Sometimes a law is not enforced because it is such a bad law that the police dislike enforcing it.  Most bad laws are never repealed; they just fade away from lack of enforcement.  The “Materials on Sidewalks” ordinance, 5.36.020, is just such a law.
            This ordinance serves no proper governmental purpose that is not already covered by other statutes.  What it does is ban the cheapest, most effective advertising that some merchants have available to them.  It reduces visual competition with other forms of advertising, like kitschy city-blessed artwork.  And it effectively bans effective protest by a single person like me.
            I cannot conduct my protest without some materials on the sidewalk.  When I first started, 4½ years ago, I had one hand-held sign and a basket of goodies with my leaflet box leaning against it on the curb, and my CD player next to the light pole.  I added two chairs when the City took away its bench.  I added two wooden TV trays to display my bumper stickers and lean most of my stuff against, after my arrest for giving away pot cookies. 
None of these materials and equipment have obstructed traffic on the 12 foot wide sidewalk, even with the new sidewalk signs.  All of these things, from the basket and leaflet box on, violate this ordinance.  An ordinance that effectively bans peaceful, single-person protest cannot be constitutional.
Putting merchandise on sidewalks is the cheapest, most effective advertising there is.  That’s why I use it; protest is simply cheap, labor-intensive advertising of one’s views to a wide local audience.  Everything I do or have out there is advertising for my causes and my business. 
Business advertising and political protest are equally free expression, protected under Oregon’s constitution.  If the Oregon Legislature cannot regulate billboards along Oregon’s highways, how does the City think it can tell merchants how they can use their own sidewalks, so long as they don’t block traffic or create a hazard?
A downtown with signs and merchandise on display is a vibrant downtown; empty sidewalks make it look like the shops are closed, and do not lure shoppers to stroll.  The real question is:  why doesn’t the City care whether its merchants, large and small, sell merchandise and make money? 
That is a subject for another three-minute speech.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener                    541-955-9040                

5.36.010  Obstructing traffic.  A.  No person shall, except as otherwise permitted by ordinance, obstruct, cause to be obstructed or assist in obstructing pedestrian or vehicular traffic on any sidewalk or other public place.
B.  The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to the delivery or merchandise or equipment, provided that no person shall permit such merchandise or equipment to remain on any street or sidewalk beyond a reasonable time.
5.36.020  Objects or Materials on Streets, Sidewalks, or any other Public Way.  A.  No person shall permit any merchandise, equipment, or other obstruction to remain on any street or sidewalk.

B.  No person shall use any street or sidewalk or any portion thereof for selling, storing, or displaying merchandise or equipment except as may be otherwise provided by ordinance, or as might be specifically authorized by the Council.

Clean the Slate

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 10/7/09, posted on

We have a City Council meeting tonight, but we are without a legal quorum, despite the efforts of Mayor Murphy to pretend that he can appoint councilors and the pliancy of Judge Baker.  The clear language of ORS 221.160 gives the mayor no authority to appoint councilors to vacant seats. He has the sole authority, so long as he is in office, to call a special election to fill those seats, and to appoint officials necessary to running such election, if any such offices should also be vacant.
I wanted to talk about mulches tonight, but we citizens cannot bring you our business, because we don’t know that anything you do will stand when litigation is done.  It matters little to me exactly who sits on this council; I’ll talk to anybody.  It matters a lot to me that you be legally appointed or elected and that whatever action you take is legal and enforceable.
We have a way out of this pickle that can give us an undoubtedly legal council quorum right away.  Section 2 of ORS 221.160 provides that, if all seats of a city’s governing body become vacant, the County Commissioners shall immediately appoint a quorum sufficient to conduct city business.  The appointed councilors then appoint enough people to fill out the council, and everyone serves until people are elected to replace them in presumably regular elections; no special election in March would be needed.
At this point, the best way that the new councilors, old councilors, and the Mayor can serve the city and its citizens is to resign en masse, and allow the Commissioners to appoint a legal quorum.  They can even present themselves to the Commissioners for immediate appointment, or to the councilors for subsequent appointments, as can the losing candidates in the last election, and anyone else who is eligible and interested in serving.  There are not that many people interested in full-time jobs with no pay and a lot of grief; the Commissioners will need all the choices that they can get.
The Commissioners were not involved in the controversy that led to this situation; Mayor Murphy was in it up to his neck.  It is not fitting that a single man, and a party to the controversy at that, appoint the replacements for the recalled councilors whom he opposed.  State law does not allow it, despite the incompetence of attorneys on both sides of Monday’s hearing and a judge’s deliberate ignorance of the law, and his appointments will not stand.

  Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener       541-955-9040

Mayors can’t appoint Councils

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 11/18/09, posted on
Dennis Webber wrote a guest opinion in the Daily Courier on October 30th,   titled, “Appointments were the best way to handle our unprecedented situation.”  I commend Mr. Webber for joining the argument.
He tells us, “The governing principle used was that of returning the council to an elected status as fully and as quickly as possible.”  Is this so sacred a principle in Grants Pass?  The recalled councilors made frequent boast of the fact that they were the first fully elected council in many years—and yet they were recalled.  Apparently, Grants Pass voters do not greatly object to appointed councilors.
Mr. Webber tells us, “Some have suggested that the remaining elected officials resign and the Josephine County Commissioners appoint an entirely new council.”  Thank you for the admission that you need not resign; only the elected officials are actually official. 
But the Commissioners would only appoint a new quorum; the quorum would then appoint the remainder of the council.  The Commissioners would want some current institutional expertise on the council; I’d be surprised if they didn’t appoint several of the current elected council.  That quorum would then be able to fill out the council from candidates who are interested in long-term service for no pay 
Is it really such a great idea to have a special election in March?  It will cost more money.  Plus, our town is polarized from the recall of the council, and the further insult of mayoral appointment of councilors, a truly unprecedented situation not authorized by law—a single man, appointing a quorum.  It’s supposed to be the other way around.  For the remainder of the Council to step down, even temporarily, would sooth a lot of wounds and give this town time to heal.  The last thing we need right now is an election campaign for five seats.
No elected official is being “forcefully recalled”—yet.  You are being asked to resign for the good of the City and the citizenry.  It is a non-lucrative post.  You should all be just as happy to serve the citizens by stepping down as by stepping up.
 We need a legal council now, not in March.  As matters stand, this Council is afraid to make any truly important and controversial decisions, to the point of ignoring the Charter regarding hiring of a City Manager.  We don’t need an interim Council and an interim Manager who can only make interim, non-controversial decisions.  We need a legal Council and a legal City Manager who can do the hard, dirty work of governance, necessary evil, with full and uncontested authority.
Published at under Ignoring the Law #2.

  Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener       541-955-9040

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Garlic Oil for Earaches and Other Infections

            When my fiancĂ© was a young child, he was plagued with recurring ear infections so bad that his eardrums were lanced 9 times in 11 months around the age of 4.  One time, his right eardrum burst because he had been left in the care of his uncle, who did not heed his childish cries to take him to the hospital until blood was pouring out of his ear.  So his hearing is bad in his left ear, and much worse in his right. 
            His earaches could have been stopped at the mild stage—or even later—if his mother had known to put oil in the ear and plug it with a cotton ball.  My mother used “sweet oil,” which I believe is almond oil, on nine children and never had to take an earache to the doctor.  I used garlic oil on my children when their ears ached.  But his mother didn’t know it, and waited until it was an emergency to take him to a doctor, something that happens way too often to too many children.
            I got the idea for using garlic oil from a letter in Mother Earth News, at a time when I happened to have a bad earache.  That writer squeezed garlic oil and vitamin E capsules in the ear; I decided to make garlic oil by the same recipe as for Oil of St. John’s Wort, which I got from the Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, by Juliet De Baircli Levi (Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1976).  (She uses garlic extensively, but not in oil.)  Once I dropped the warm oil into my ear and plugged it, the pain was gone within an hour; the infection within a few days.
            Since then, I’ve found garlic oil useful as a topical antibiotic on scratches, scrapes, wounds, and road rash; and as an internal antibiotic in dogs and cats, clearing up colds and distemper.  Garlic oil in the ear can fight an infection anywhere on that side of the head, including teeth and sinus infections
For toothaches, I use it in concert with a piece of cabbage on the nearest cheek, held in place with an elastic bandage.  Tooth infections are stubborn; the pain will go away quickly with cabbage and garlic oil, but it takes most of two weeks to kill the infection.   In the end, however, the only cure for a bad tooth is to fix it or remove it.
Some people are allergic to garlic oil in the ear, and a sensitivity can develop.  This happened to my elder daughter, who found that Oil of St. John’s Wort was still effective.  If you use garlic oil in you ear and it hurts more, clean it out with a Q-tip and use something else.  Sweet oil works simply because it stops cold air from irritating inflamed tissues, and the warmth also kills germs.
            To make garlic oil: peel some cloves of garlic; slice them up; put them in a small jar; and cover them with olive oil.  Place the jar in a pan of hot water and heat it to a low simmer; allow it to simmer for ½ hour; remove from the water bath and let it cool; drain the oil off the garlic and bottle some in a dropper bottle for easy use.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener       541-955-9040

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My favorite pot recipies: Oatmeal cake and Gingersnaps

Pot Butter

2 sticks (one cup) butter, unsalted
1 cup (or more) pot shake (leaf or broken buds), crumbled.
1 cup (or more) water

Put all ingredients in the top of a double boiler, or in a metal or glass bowl within a larger sauce pan of simmering water, or crock pot set on low heat.  Simmer on low for 2 hours; strain out the pot and throw it away; allow butter and water to cool in refrigerator; pour water out from under the solidified butter.  Yields ¾ cup pot butter.

Oatmeal Spice Cake

1½ cup boiling water
1 cup oats
½ cup butter

Pour boiling water over oats and butter; cover; let soak 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together:

1½ cup wheat flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp. nutmeg

Set aside.  When oatmeal is done soaking, add:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together.  Add flour and spices; mix thoroughly.  Bake in a greased 9x9x2” pan at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For pot cake, make it with pot butter or add finely powdered leaf to the oats to soak.

Pot Gingersnaps

¾ cup pot butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses

Cream together above ingredients; add:

2 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. salt

Mix together into a stiff dough; refrigerate 3 hours.  Form into 1-inch balls; roll top in granulated sugar; place 3” apart on greased cookie sheet; bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until just set; immediately remove from baking sheet.  Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

Or, roll dough very thin on the greased cookie sheet; cut into diamonds or squares (diagonally or at right angles); and bake until just set at 300 degrees, approximately 10 minutes; remove from sheet when crisp; store well-dried cookies in sealed jars.

Another alternative is to make rolls of frozen dough, cut ¼ inch slices. Sugar tops, and bake as needed.

The "secret" of making thin, crisp, sugary cookies by ball or drop, rather than thick, chewy or hard cookies is: Go heavy on the sugar (mounded in the cup); light on the flour (not quite filled); and a smallish (medium) egg.  Sugar melts, spreads, and melts in the mouth; too much flour makes cookies hard; too much egg makes them chewy; water makes them soft.

If you roll the dough thin and cut out the cookies, this is not important, and more flour might be better than less.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Be Careful with Vitamin D

I learned about Vitamin D overdose the hard way.  I took a double dose of D3 (800 units) with the rest of my vitamins for two days in a row.  The next day, about 12 hours after the second dose, I started feeling achy in every muscle in my body.  I Goodsearched “body aches, vitamin D” and found a couple of sites among all the hype that mentioned overdose symptoms.  It turns out that Vitamin D deficiency causes body aches, but so does overdose; and some people are sensitive to vitamin D supplements.   Another symptom is frequent urination, no doubt to flush the excess from the body.
 Within an hour or so it was inflaming my stomach; cold tea went down, but not-too-hot tea burned going down, and came right back up.  I had gone to work with my housemate to help; I soon realized that he would have to work alone.  Not only did every muscle ache, but I could not generate body heat.  The bitter cold went to my bones despite layers of clothing, and every muscle cramped.  I spent the day in my customers’ recliner with my feet in front of their fireplace, trying to stay warm and relatively relaxed; napping was impossible with the body aches.
What’s interesting is that I’d taken higher doses of D in the past: 1000-unit oil capsules that did not cause a reaction.  The new 400-unit tablets did, combined with a multivitamin containing another 400 units one day and Calcium Citrate with 400 units of D the next.
It may be that I set myself up for a reaction with my treatment of a toothache; I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen every four hours, along with Oil of St. John’s Wort in the ear, a cold mask, twice daily Listerine, and occasionally dropping Oregano Oil on the tooth.  I’d left off the cabbage on the cheek; I wasn’t sure if the real problem was a tooth infection irritating my ear and sinuses, or a slight sinus infection irritating the tooth.  Garlic oil seemed to irritate the ear more; I may have become sensitive to it, as happened to my daughter a few years back.
I left off the ibuprofen for about 12 hours, but resumed as the tooth began to ache.  Through the day and the night, I kept drinking water and urinating, trying to wash the excess D out of my system.  I was eventually free of body aches and not excessively sensitive to cold, but it took all night, getting up to drink and pee about 5 times during the night.
I’d always known that one has to be careful with vitamins D and A, because they are oil-soluble and do not wash out of the body as easily as Vitamins B and C, and overdoses happen.  A few years ago, a friend with many health problems was talked into 2500-unit (or 25,000; I’m not sure) megadoses by a naturopath; she got body aches, and I told her that too much Vitamin D could be dangerous, especially with her particular problems.  It turns out that the healthiest of us can run into trouble with too much vitamin D.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stop that cold with a mask

A cold mask can keep colds and flu from starting, and greatly reduce the symptoms and length if one does get sick.  It works by allowing one to breathe warm, moist, acidic air from one’s own lungs. 
Infected lungs and sinuses are irritated by cold and/or dry air, and respond by becoming inflamed and putting out protective mucus, causing drip, coughing, sneezing, and congestion.  Cold and flu viruses prefer the cooler temperatures of sinuses and lungs to the rest of the body, and more easily invade when humidity is low, which is common indoors in the winter.  Wearing a thin cotton mask that has some space for air to sit in warms and humidifies the air that one breathes, making life easier for the sinuses and lungs, and harder for the germs that are attacking them.  The air coming out of your lungs is 40,000 parts per million CO2, compared to 400 ppm going in.  This makes it a bit acidic, which germs also don’t like.
I first discovered this when I lived out in the desert near Kingman, Arizona, at the time when the Sin Nombre hantavirus was newly discovered and was still called the Four Corners virus.  It was May and hot; not the normal season for colds.  Spread by mice in their urine, it was causing people to suddenly collapse in places like air conditioned dance floors.  They were taken to hospitals; their lungs filled up with fluids; and they died.
I got a lung infection that was making the air bubble in my lungs.  Figuring it was the Virus, I began to get worried, and thought I should go to the hospital.  I actually got into my car to go.  As I sat in my very hot car, I began to breathe better, and I started to think.  Hospitals are cold.  Dance halls are kept chilly in Arizona in May.  People had collapsed on the dance floor and died in the hospital.  If I went to the hospital, my lungs would fill with fluid and I would die. 
So, I stayed home, put on a bandanna mask, and wore a wet towel on my head to keep from overheating my brain.  I breathed much better, and got over it in a few days.
But a bandanna folded in half is a bit thick to breathe easily, and it squashes the nose a bit.  I eventually cut some in half and sewed up the cut edges with elastic over the nose to allow it to rest easily on the nose and create a bit more room for air to gather.
I wear a cold mask around my neck throughout the cooler seasons.  When the air feels cold or irritating in my sinuses or lungs, I pull it up over my nose and breathe my breath, which feels better.  This can stop a cold from really getting started.  But if one starts, it relieves symptoms greatly and shortens it considerably.