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The Philisophy of Cart Collection

July 17, 2009
What a Marverlous Establishment

What a Marverlous Establishment

There is perhaps no more a revealing action than what a person does with their shopping cart when they’re finished using it. I say this from first hand experience, as I have spent a good portion of this month working as a “courtesy clerk” for Safeway. My job entails bagging groceries, cleaning of sorts, various customer service tasks, and possibly the most important task of all, collecting carts from the parking lot.

I love my job, I really do. I tend to enjoy the variety of activities I experience on a daily basis, especially knowing I have a paycheck coming my way every Thursday. The only activity I am dismayed at is cart collection. There is a variety of reasons for this, some being that its simply not enjoyable, it get extremely hot during the day, the carts tend to fight back, and primarily: people are assholes.

The parking lot is equipped with spaces, known as cart corrals, which are designed with the customer in mind; providing them with a spot to park their carts when they’re done with them while making it easier and more convenient than walking up to the front of the store and putting it back where it came from. One would think that people would enjoy these handy little things, sometimes I doubt if they even realize they exist.

The task of cart collection can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, the latter of which I do not wish on anyone. The basic task is to clear the parking lot of free carts while also clearing the corrals of carts, and bring them back to the cart “depot” at the entrance(s) of the store. Simple enough, right? Wrong, very wrong. The Cart Collector comes across many oddities, annoyances, injuries, inhumanities, and hindrances in a daily routine.

First, you have the people who place their carts in planter boxes and over curbs, which are scattered around the parking lot. The front two wheels are often lifted up and over the curb (so it doesn’t roll away?), and sometimes in the worst case scenario, the entire cart has been moved within the boundaries of the planter box. What the hell, people? These are your average useless asshole selfish bunch. They refuse to take an extra twenty steps to a corral and instead choose to power their cart into the nearest planter box (The act is sometimes done so forcefully, it puts me in mind of when bobsled teams charge before getting in). Not only does it look hideous, it takes up parking spaces (ever so slightly but sometimes just enough) and makes my job that much harder. I’m already dealing with Gobi Desert-like conditions, pinched fingers, tired arms, and union dues. You people are my least favorite people on earth, and you suck. I love catching you in the act of your crime (I propose it be punishable by death by stoning), in which you suddenly become apologetic, and in the best cases you act like you weren’t about to show the world you’re chronic laziness, and instead choose to walk aimlessly around the general area of your car while pushing your cart until I come and confiscate your weapon of mass destruction (the cart).

Second, you have your people who simply leave their cart right where it is after their last grocery bag has been lifted out and into their trunk. Though this is considerably rarer than the planter box bunch, it’s equally annoying, not to mention a great bit more dangerous for the general public. Carts have a tendency to roll, and when they do so, they have a strange ability to hit things, specifically cars. Not much is needed to be said about these cart abandoners, for they are simply too stupid to know the possible consequences of what they have done. They’re actually so dumb, they believe that the cart is supposed to be left where it stands. Perhaps they are actually Carts-Rights activists, who believe the cart should have no boundaries or cages, and should be free to roam the parking lot as it pleases.

The third group of people has my respect. They are the people who take the time to push their cart to the corrals. They are the kind of people who smile at you as they walk by and happily push their cart into the corral, knowing they have done a good deed. Perhaps they are doing it for the karma, but what matters is that they do it. They’re good people.

This fourth group is an overwhelming minority. They are the real champions of the parking lot; silent warriors. They do an act so selfless as to put Jesus to shame. They take the time to push their carts back to the depot at the entrance of their store. Amazing! These are the ones who keep me going when the temperature is cracking 100 (Celsius) and I’m on my second hour with no end in sight. These are the people who make up for the pathetic planter box bunch and the shameless cart abandoners. These people deserve a medal, they really do. A gold one.

When it comes to champions of the lot, there is one man who stands out to me, his name unknown to me. He is a true American hero, and he rides a bike. He cruises through the parking on random days, and grabs loose carts and sends them careening into corrals, making my job significantly easier. He does this for at least and hour, and I stress at least because the three times I’ve seen him, he was there when I got outside and still there when I headed back in after my hour was up. He’s in top physical shape, luckily he uses his skill for good. The world needs more people like him.

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Back, and what to expect.

July 15, 2009

I’ve decided to come back. In the near future, you should be seeing the emergence of posts pertaining to politics and related matters. You should also expect many pieces on religion. I currently have a multiple part series planned that talks about my being an atheist, why I believe what I do, and my general views on religion.

If you’re lucky, you will see bits of my creative writing as well.

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The Tipping Point

May 5, 2009

Originally an editorial written for a school assignment.

The Culprit

The Culprit

“The war on drugs is a failed attempt to limit American’s say in what they do in their lives…it is a censorship of American free choice,”  so said a local expert on the subject when I interviewed him about a topic growing more mainstream with every passing day. That issue is the legalization of Marijuana. Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant, which contains the mind-altering chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, and is used for recreational, medicinal, religious, and spiritual purposes worldwide. For generations, the government has pounded anti-drug slogans into the skulls of the American public, something I believe to be unfair and unjust. I firmly believe that legalizing marijuana would provide much needed relief to the American economy, as well as stop the government’s hypocritical attitude towards the drug and remove a large number of inmates from America’s overcrowded prisons.

70% of students surveyed at Heritage High School said they believed legalizing marijuana would benefit the economy. America’s tobacco and alcohol industries are among the most profitable businesses in the country, and their products are used daily on a widespread basis. If marijuana were legalized, it could be distributed and regulated by the U.S. Government and could quite possibly become the nations number one cash crop. As we currently stand in an economic recession, marijuana could be the savior we are all looking for, thus breaking its negative stereotypes in the process. Many experts have estimated that marijuana could generate at least 1 billion dollars per year for California alone, imagine what it could do if the other 49 states were added. On the other hand, one may argue that the legalization of the drug will fail to help the economy. President Barack Obama even stated a similar opinion when asked about the topic at a press conference. However, marijuana continues to thrive under its illegal status. It is California’s number one cash crop and makes millions, if not billions, in many other states. Foreign drug cartels and inner-city gangs reap most of the billions of dollars in profit from the drug every year. This money would certainly be better off going to the Federal Government where it could be spent in ways to help the American people rather than build criminal empires. With the evidence supporting the legalization of marijuana reaching the tipping point, the question of whether marijuana should have ever been banned is brought into the spotlight.

Marijuana was criminalized in 1937 in the United States. It has remained this way for over 70 years. In addition, hemp is a type plant that can produce fiber stronger than cotton, as well as be made into paper and fuel, yet it is illegal to grow in the United States because it comes from the same family of plants as marijuana.  On the other hand, alcohol and tobacco, both known killers, are both perfectly legal today. Marijuana has had to endure endless campaigns against it, including the war on drugs and the propaganda-filled 1936 film “Reefer Madness”. Both have helped paint a false picture of a deadly drug with debilitating effects in the minds of the American people. Annually, tobacco and alcohol combine to kill 500,000 Americans, while legal prescription drugs take the lives of 20,000. Even caffeine has fatality statistics in the thousands. How many lives does marijuana take every year? The answer is zero, a number which may surprise a great number of people who still think of the drug as dangerous. An opponent to the movement to legalize marijuana might say that the drug’s effects will be extremely detrimental to society, citing it is unpredictable and more dangerous that alcohol and tobacco. However, numerous studies have shown that the worst health affects marijuana has to dish out are short-term memory loss and respiratory damage caused by smoking it. The respiratory damage could easily be curbed if more people consumed the drug through one of the many alternatives, such as a vaporizer. Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not cause violent behavior, eat away at the liver, or kill the brain cells of its user. Compared to tobacco, it does not cause cancer, birth defects, heart problems, or strong addiction. Unlike other drugs, including both legal and illegal, it is completely impossible to overdose on marijuana. Thousands of users of alcohol and tobacco can lead lives without having to worry about being arrested for their actions or sent to prison, yet the prison system of the United States is congested with offenders of crimes relating to marijuana.

5.9 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges since 1990. Law enforcement arrested 734.498 people for marijuana violations in 2000, 88% of which for simple possession. Almost all state and federal prisons are overcrowded, some up to over 30% past their normal capacity. These statistics are startling; this is being said as thousands of dollars are wasted every year by keeping marijuana criminals locked up. One might say that these people deserve to be in prison, for they have broken the law and need to be punished accordingly.  Conversely, the United States could adopt similar marijuana policies as the Netherlands, where a blind eye is turned to non-harmful crimes relating to the drug, such as consuming or purchasing. If the Government were to take this approach, America’s prisons would experience great relief. Thousands of marijuana-crime offenders could walk free. Moreover, there would never be another such prisoner admitted into the system. However, marijuana is still illegal. Prisons space could still be saved if judges in cases relating to the drug decided to use more lenient and practical sentencing, such as fines, counseling, rehabilitation, or community service hours. The prisons of the United States are overcrowded to a dangerous level, putting copious amounts of stress on the government as well as creating a hazardous environment for both inmates and staff. Furthermore, sentences for criminals facing charges on violent crime such as rape and murder could be having their sentences reduced as an attempt to control overcrowding. Legalizing marijuana could play a serious role in solving severe problems such as these.

In conclusion, I really and truly believe that decriminalizing marijuana would greatly benefit the American economy, while stopping the government’s hypocrisy and lifting a great burden off the prison system. Marijuana could easily be regulated and taxed by the federal government if legalized, thus allowing it to be sold alongside tobacco and alcohol products in stores across the country. This ease of access, as well as taxing, would allow it to generate billions of dollars for the struggling U.S. economy. The general public of this country has been long told that marijuana is a killer by the government and its campaigns, but numerous studies have shown that the effects of marijuana cannot not even compare to the horrific effects of alcohol and tobacco, notably the annual death statistics of the three. America’s prisons are past overcrowded, but the system continues to gladly cram offenders of marijuana crimes into them. If legalized, these prisoners could be released, thus providing space for more dangerous criminals to serve their sentences. Help improve society, join the fight to legalize marijuana today. I urge you to write a letter to a lawmaker or even the president, attend a speech or rally or protest; at the very least, tell your friends! With your help, we can soon live in a country where people are free to use the great substance of marijuana freely.

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5 Dead People I’d like to meet

May 2, 2009

Henry David Thoreau

(1817-1862)

Author of the famed “Walden”, Thoreau was a leader of the transcentdentalist movement of the mid 19th century. His philisophy in life stressed simplicity, something that most of the world today is unfamiliar with. He was also a poet, land surveyor, and known tax resister, as well as an opponent of land development. His essay “Civil Disobedience” encourages people to resist government attempts to overrule their own thoughts and consciences. Overall, he was an incredibly intelligent man with brilliant ideas.

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burroughslife1 William S. Burroughs

(1914-1997)

Burroughs was a novelist, painter, and performer of spoken word, as well as a heroin addict and a key figure in the Beat Generation. His most popular and influential novel is “Naked Lunch”, one of my all time favorite books.  The novel is written in a non-linear style, and also utilized the cut-up technique, a rarity even today.  Some consider elements of it to be science-fiction, though through an errie narration it seems to have in some ways predicted the rise of AIDS and the crack pandemic. Burroughs’ other works include “Junky”, a semi-autobiographical account of being a heroin addict, and such books as “The Nova Express”, “Queer”, “My Education”, and “Exterminator!”  Burroughs broke down barriers with his controversial writing, which often included graphic homosexual situations that served as metaphors in his work. Some people are unable to handle his writing, but those who can are sure to appreciate it.

ginsbergAllen Ginsberg

(1926-1997)

Allen Ginsberg, also a part of the Beat Generation,  was, in my opinion, one of the best poets of all time. His magnum opus was “Howl”, an extensive piece of poetry detailing the destructive forces he witness taking over America. Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” paints a fascinating picture of Ginsberg as a person. Some days, he would write down almost everything he saw. He often talked in poetic ways, putting together sentences and making analogies that no one else could ever come up with. He seems like he was a truly amazing and eccentric human being.

abrahamlincolnAbraham Lincoln

(1809-1865)

Personally, Abe is my favorite American president, and is often thought of as the best one as well. He was the countries leader during the Civil War, and managed to lead the Union to victory and reunite the country. He also put into effect the Emancipation Procalmation, which was placed the stepping stones for the Thirteenth Ammendment to end slavery, which was put into effect just months after his death. Lincoln also delivered the famed and powerful Gettysburg Address, assuring American’s that the country could persevere through the dark days of the Civil War.

He was the first president to be assasinated, which makes me really wonder what else he could have accomplished in the years remaining in the rest of his term, as well as the rest of his life.

martin_luther_king2Martin Luther King Jr.

(1929-1968)

What can I say about this man? Where would America be without him and his inspiration? Where would we be without his words of wisdom in his speeches that changed the world?

Oh how I wonder how awesome it would have been to attend one of his speeches.

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Honorable Mention: Bob Marley

(1945-1981)

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Truly one of the greatest musicians of all time.

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Who I am

May 1, 2009

berkeley-4-26-09-0103I am:

  • A student
  • A thinker
  • A reader
  • A writer
  • A poet
  • A Democrat
  • A dreamer
  • Optimistic
  • Tall
  • Humorous
  • Enjoying life