It seems I’m in a conversation rut these days. Can’t talk to anyone about anything without them getting all worked up about something: union-busting propositions, marijuana, immigration reform, Scotland trying to break up with England or Obama-Obama-Obama.
About the only thing that’s safe is the weather. “Nice summer we’ve had, haven’t we?” “Yes, quite.” “Rather pleasant, wouldn’t you agree?” “Rather!” “Take another one of these next summer, eh?” Indubitably!” Ugh. It’s like an episode of Downton Abbey, minus the period clothing. Now that fall is here, we don’t even have great weather to talk about.
I suppose that’s why those ice buckets are so appealing. Sure, it raises money for a good cause, but it also makes everyone chill out … for a while.
On to the news:
Going to pot
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission wants lawmakers to fix a loophole that allows people to smoke marijuana in a car. Didn’t see this one coming, did we?
The commission wants the law to treat pot usage in a car much like an open alcohol container law. Under the change, folks couldn’t have any open packages of pot in their car or they’d get a ticket. Like opened and recorked bottles of wine go in trunk, so too goes the weed.
I got an up-close view of said law — or lack thereof — coming back from Spokane on Sunday afternoon. As my wife and I sat in a snarled, two-and-a-half-hour-long delay on Interstate 90, two young men in the car in front of us started toking up. “That’s illegal, isn’t it?” my wife asked. I didn’t have a satisfying answer. A rather unpleasant 150 minutes was made more so by our highway neighbors.
Look, to my pot-using friends, I know you have the right to light up now, and judging by the lines outside a certain store near Discovery Bay, many of you are exercising the right. Fine. But please, please, please, keep it indoors and particularly out of the car.
Also, your drug of choice smells like shoes. And not new ones.
A Gazette reader had a scam come her way recently that we wanted to warn folks about. She got a couple of postcards in the mail stating she’d been selected to receive $100 in gift rebate certificates good at Walmart, Target and other stores. The prompt asks folks to call an 866 number for a “risk-free offer,” so she did. To receive the card, however, she’d have to send a shipping and handling fee to the tune of $14 or so. Thoughtfully, she didn’t. She did go to Walmart to ask if this was legit and the reps told her no. Consider yourself warned.
No pics in the forest?
In a move that was seen as ludicrous by those who own digital cameras — you know, like, everyone with a phone — the U.S. Forest Service wants photographers to pay for a $1,500 permit if they plan to shoot images on federally-owned wilderness areas. Seriously.
These costly permits would be required even if you were shooting images or video with a smartphone. If you don’t have a permit, you could be fined as much as $1,000, according to a report in the Oregonian newspaper.
And — here’s where it gets less plausible — even if you do pay for the permit, your wilderness photos would have to first be approved by the Forest Service and they would have to meet criteria, including being educational in nature. Photography for any type of advertising purposes on federal wildlands would be banned.
The plan, which was panned (rightfully so) by dozens of groups, somehow uniting, among others, First Amendment advocates and politicians. The forest service, to its credit, has backpedaled like Richard Sherman covering a 49er in the fourth quarter. But not completely. Stay tuned.
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Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.