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Posts Tagged 'health'

Sunset District vs. Medical Marijuana

San Francisco is a haven for cannabis dispensaries. There’s at least one sometimes more in every neighborhood of San Francisco, except of course for the Sunset District. The Sunset District is the largest, most suburban district in the City, so big that it actually needs two supervisors. Katy Tang does the heavy work for the majority of the district, but the Inner Sunset is covered by Norman Yee who also handles the Lake Merced area which while technically isn’t a part of the Sunset District most of the people still sort of add it on as a part of the Sunset. Yet there isn’t as I mentioned a single cannabis dispensary in this area.

That was until recently. The people who run The Apothecarium in the Castro District have teamed up with Dr. Floyd Huen, husband of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to open up a dispensary in the Sunset District at 32nd and Noriega. This hasn’t been sitting well with a few of the neighbors who have been egged on by the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative, religious rights defender [as long as of course you’re talking only Christian rights] as well as being anti-LGBTQ [which sort of goes along with their religious freedom which of course trumps sexual freedom in their book] and also has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

The Apothecarium is very well run dispensary that tests all of its products quite rigorously and runs their business very much above board following all the necessary laws and rules. They have won awards from various groups for being the best cannabis dispensary in the United States so they’re a pretty top notch business. Dr. Huen is a well respected doctor of internal medicine who teamed up with the people from the Apothecarium with an eye towards additionally serving the Chinese community [as well as anyone else with a proper medical marijuana letter from one of the registered doctors].

Apparently the PJI found out about this and started contacting neighbors and feeding them false information about just want medical marijuana is and does. In the video footage below you’ll see what a good job the PJI did with their fear mongering to rile up a bunch of presumably locals — though that has been called into question — who wouldn’t look much different if they had torches and pitchforks in their hands. The meeting was shut down because Dr. Huen and the people from the Apothecarium never got a chance to speak because they were shouted down immediately as soon as they opened their mouths.

Well, a second chance is coming around. Tomorrow, May 3rd at 6:30pm at the Ortega Branch Library in the Sunset District there will be another general meeting to discuss the proposed location and I urge you to attend whether you’re in favor or against it. Please be respectful and not like the mob louts in the video below.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to say that I do not consume marijuana in any form, yet I think the Sunset District could use a dispensary or two. Sure, there are plenty who deliver, but then again why bother going to the local grocery store when they deliver to? Why even leaving your house when anything you can pretty much hold in your hand could be delivered? I don’t buy that line of thinking. Just like with groceries, people still like to see what they’re going to get before they get it.

The Apothecarium is a very upscale place if you google pictures of it [or see the above picture I posted]. Ace Pharmacy that used to be at the location was a very busy well used pharmacy that I don’t think anything had changed in the store since I can remember. They filled prescriptions and filled a lot of prescriptions. Jerry who was the last of the three original owners retired because he was just too tired to do the job anymore. His partners Sal and Joan [I believe I remembered their names correctly] where smart and got out early. Nothing had changed in the store and it was a bit of a dump to go inside, but it was a clean dump even though there were missing tiles of linoleum on the floor and their copy machine never worked, but they still left it there because they were too busy filling prescriptions to get rid of it.

While some might love the throw gentrification out there because there’s a business going in that will take care of the place instead of letting it rot I think it will help encourage others to do a few upgrades on their storefronts. Carmen Chu encouraged the businesses in that area and even got some funding to have the rotting awning replaced on many of the stores and while it was a small step, it still made a noticeable difference.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are not a place where anyone can walk in and buy drugs as some people have been led to believe. They actually usually look like private clubs in that there’s a doorman who checks to see if you’re on the list and if you’re not you don’t get in. Because of this there won’t be any selling drugs to kids or kids hanging out trying to get adults to buy up for them. The kids will be stuck hanging out near liquor stores to get their fix of Mad Dog 20/20. The risk is too high for them to sell to minors. It’s even worse than selling alcohol to minors.

There is no increase in crime because of the guards out in front which is another line that comes up frequently. Cannabis dispensaries always have very high tech, expensive crime deterrent gear installed because they’re selling a product that’s rather expensive. Pharmacies don’t even have that good equipment and they stock drugs that people could easily overdose on. Although that’s not entirely true since there has been a lot of graffiti spray painted on the place from people who don’t like the idea. I haven’t seen any lately so I guess their can of paint ran out.

I do think the location is a bit odd though. Noriega Street between 30th Avenue and 33rd Avenue has become a very heavy Chinese shopping area. It’s like Chinatown in that area with few exceptions. Heck even the Middle Eastern owner of a cigarette shop up the block speaks to his Chinese customers in Cantonese. If I was going to put in a dispensary I’d probably be looking at the new La Playa micro-hood out by the beach on Judah. Cool waves and a cool buzz, it kind of makes sense in a Jeff Spicolli kind of way, but that being one of the hot new areas of the City the rent is probably going to be much higher.

So at this point my thoughts are to give it a chance. I’ve written to Katy Tang and given her my thoughts as well as forwarding this article to her.

Reign In Poop

A hunka, hunka, burnin' shite[Ed. Note: Apologies to Slayer for the title] Oh dear. It was one of those days you can’t even dream about let alone ever imagine happening, but yesterday, Wife, myself & Gremlin were out for a walk when Gremlin wanted to walk through the Arboretum. Being good parents we decided to let her engage herself in a communing with nature and all things botanical. Unbeknownst to us there was a horror lurking every step of the way as we entered the Arboretum. The entire San Francisco Botanical Gardens was covered in poop!

Gremlin wanted to walk across the grass which is where we discovered said poop. We aren’t talking a little pile here or there, but it literally covered the grassy area looking like someone had taken a giant lawn aerator and poked it all over the lawn leaving cylinders of dirt on top only bigger [you all know what I’m talking about right?]

One thing that I’ve learned in life is that when you study botanical sciences growing up you inevitably have to study poop for a bit. There’s a lot you can learn from it so the teachers tell you and you might even find the odd teacher that picks up and dissects a piece in his/her hand to show you what the animal ate and therefore what animal it came from.

I am not a scatologicaly aligned bio-scientist so I could merely peer at the stuff while trying to avoid stepping in it, which was difficult because it was as I said before everywhere. As Wife and Gremlin aren’t very fond of the game, guess that poop! I decided to ask on the way out to whom did said poop belong [for some reason when asking questions about poop I find it hard not to use a rather affected British accent.] I have to thank the lady working the front where we showed our ID’s to prove that we lived in San Francisco to allow us free entrance to said botanical gardens.

As it turns out all of the poop drowning the grasses of the Arboretum came from a flock of Canadian Geese which call the Arboretum home. Needless to say that it was rather surprising to discover that it was bird poop all over the gardens which left me to think that I am glad Canadian Geese aren’t low flyers when I’m driving. Although when calculating the terminal velocity of poop from a Canadian Goose unladening itself there might be problems with any cars driving in the path. The bird poop is phenomenally huge to say the least and as it turns out upon further research [from a distance of course] I discovered that there are health risks associated with, well, interaction between the geese and said poop. I found the following information:

Canada geese feces can be hazardous to people’s health, but usually only when inhaled or ingested. Walking past geese feces, or even lounging near them on the beach is likely safe for healthy people. However, the elderly, children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women are particularly susceptible to health risks posed by parasites that inhabit Canada geese feces. At even higher risk are those with weak immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy recipients, and recent organ donors and recipients. Similarly, people with gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as ulcers and irritable bowel disease, are also at increased risk, since they, too, cannot easily combat parasites from Canada geese feces.

Well good thing none of us thought about inhaling or ingesting bird poop seeing as it’s on none of our bucket lists, but still it does cause a few health risks and to that end I have to wonder what the staff [or staph?] of the Arboretum is going to do about it. I’ll have to contact them now and see what they say, but I just wanted you all to be aware of the problem if you were wondering what all the poop was about there.

For your utter horror and amusement I offer the following video:

Healthy San Francisco

Gavin Newson was loved and then hated after he left, but I have to admit that I approve of one thing he did — Healthy San Francisco. I was wary at first because it started by only serving the residents of Chinatown and then moved out into the Mission, but now it includes Brown and Toland which is an excellent health care facility that has several locations around the city and has saved my life a couple of times.

Because of that I have what is called a pre-existing condition. Most people in the 40’s do and because of that when you need to buy health insurance for yourself you usually get turned down or you are offered a plan at a grossly inflated rate. Because of this I applied and was given the San Francisco Health Plan which is a part of Healthy San Francisco. While it turns out that I can’t keep the same doctor I had with Brown and Toland I did get a very well respected doctor who’s right around the corner from him and I have zero co-pay on my visits.

I had a job once where the owner of the company called health insurance a crap shoot. Maybe you’ll need it, maybe you won’t. Nowadays from my experience when you are approaching your 40’s something starts to go wrong with you and you’ll need some kind of medication. Your blood pressure goes up, your cholesterol goes hay-wire. It’s not a crap shoot, but a necessity. You’ll need it and as you get older you’ll need it more. It kind of sucks to get old even though you can be more active as you’re older.

Healthy San Francisco is a good thing. Our insurance prior to being accepted would be costing us around $1500/month and even my doctor’s jaw dropped at that. That doesn’t include co-pays and medications, etc. Incidentally if you are on any forms of generic medications I highly recommend you look into Walgreen’s plan that for $35/year will give your family access to more than 400 generic meds for $12 for three months. It’s a great deal during these times.

Speaking of which, with the economy slowly coming back I’m seeing more part-time work than full time because it’s cheaper to pay two people to do one person’s job than it is to pay one person with benefits and it gives you them a run around the city’s law that employer’s have to provide health benefits. I am at least seeing more jobs offering benefits in San Francisco now and that’s a good thing. I do miss my old doctor, but once I get a job that offers real benefits I’ll transition back to him. The funny thing is that most of the benefits I’ve had in the past have had deductibles on the medications before you started getting them cheaper. One of the medications I take that is widely prescribed costs $120 until you’ve reached the deductible and then it drops down to $30. With the San Francisco Health Plan it’s free. Now if my doctor could add himself to the San Francisco Health Plan I’d be in a perfect world for my health.

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Hi! My name is lard-ass

Well my doctor who can be blunt at times, which is good because I tend to take blunt people more seriously told me I was out of shape today and need to walk at least fifteen minutes a day. I kind of got an idea that something was wrong the night of the SF Weekly awards when I walked out of the metro station and by the time I got down to 111 Minna I had broken out in a sweat. I did that walk every day for years and never broke a sweat unless it was a very hot day. So things have changed for me and I sat down and thought about it for a bit.

For the last two years I’ve been unemployed except for a short 3 month stretch with a start up company that required me to sit at home in front of the computer and record voice overs for a cool iPhone app called HearPlanet. It turns out that being that sedentary all day long isn’t good for you. I spent most of my days at my computer, looking for work, doing freelance work or watching Hulu and Netflix and tweeting and Facebooking. This is not a good habit to have.

The weird thing is that I feel like I should look like the guy in the picture, but I don’t. I could lose five pounds, but I don’t look overweight for my age. I’m pretty close to my BMI which is good, but if I break out in a sweat after walking a block something’s got to change. As you may have noticed, my posting has been reduced a bit with my new job. I’m going to need to step away from the computer a bit more now so that I can get myself back to being able to walk six blocks to the store easily. That means I’ll try to have at least three posts a week.

It’s time I turned myself around so the guy in the picture can’t beat me in a sprint. We love our wide screen TV’s and computers and all the big techie stuff you can sit in front of for hours on end staring at here in San Francisco, but it’s not good for you. While my doctor has said my heart is in good shape, I still don’t want to die in my 50’s due to natural causes. Now it’s time to get up and take a walk after which I will call my friend Clint the yoga master down in Costa Rica for some yoga tips. For what it did for him, it might get me back in shape.

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Other Avenues, Health Food for the New Millennium

Other Avenues is the store that served as the foundation for the redevelopment of the “outside lands” at the foot of Judah. Yes, there’s Java Beach at the very end which is another part of the community out there, but it all started with the new millenium when Other Avenues gave itself a make over. My wife and I used to live near here so it was a short walk to see what they had. Before the make over it was an ok place, not great, the produce was a little on the sad side, but after the redo you can see it’s really a bit of a community center piece.

I stopped in today because my daughter has a cold and we found their “Old Indian Wild Cherry Bark Syrup” does the trick and it’s all natural. I started to have a walk around because I hadn’t been there in awhile. I’ll have to say I forgot about what a treasure this place is. It started as a co-op, but has now become a worker owned democratically run business.

Someone or several of the owners took a hard look at what they were selling and how they were selling it and made some great changes to the shop. Most of their products are locally produced and all of their products are aimed at the health conscious, no fillers, no preservatives crowd. You find a “dirty hippie” walking around or working here they’re all average people who want good food and maybe there’s a bit of a lean towards the alternative side with some of the people, but still they have good products. They have fresh cheeses, bulk products of flour, nuts, Dr. Bronner’s soaps that are cheaper because you bring in your own packaging and fill them up. Freshly made peanut butter is a standard here and it’s made in the shop too.

Don’t expect to find any meat here unless you consider tofu or seitan a meat product. They are wholly focused on vegetarian sustainable foods and they’re going a good job of it. I remember being in their one day and they had someone offering samples of seitan. I was really surprised, it does tastes and has the texture of chicken. It’s also the only place where I’ve found REAL wasabi. It is the ground up root of the japanese horseradish, not a mixture of horseradish and mustard that mainstream stores sell as wasabi. I’ll have to pick some up next time and surprise my wife [who never looks at this site so I can say that without worries.]

[mappress mapid=”26″]For all you home brewed DIY type people they have a wide selection of herbs and tinctures for you herbal medicine needs. They also have a large selection of organic chocolates and candies as well as some surprisingly tasty vegan brownies and cookies. If you like the idea of eating health, organic, sustainable foods you should definitely visit this place.

Jack LaLanne the legend is dead.

Jack LaLanne, the he-man before it was cool to be a he-man has died. He was pre-Schwartznegger, pre-Joe Weider. He was the guy who got all the average joe’s to get in shape. Lalanne started by opening a fitness club in Oakland in 1936, a time when it wasn’t considered proper for men and women to exercise. He later opened up another one in the old Stonestown Mall. Those who remember that mall will remember the stairway down in the center courtyard area with the black wrought iron hand rails and the dark red striped velvet and satin wall paper [that my mother always referred to as whorehouse wallpaper].

The San Francisco fitness center opened up after he landed a gig at KGO-TV doing a morning fitness show. It was an early morning show I suppose to get people pumped up to go to work in the mornings. My mother watched him religiously and even got me into the show and had me exercising before I’d walk off to school. When the fitness center opened in SF my mom had to go because Jack was going to be there for the grand opening. Looking back, I think it would have been easy to meet Jack if you just drove over to his Oakland gym, but it was more convenient to hop in your station wagon for the five minute drive over to Stonestown. We got there and there was Jack in his jump suit and ballet slippers [how can a guy look macho in a jump suit and ballet slippers?] Flexing and mugging for the cameras. Then we all got to meet Jack and shake his hand and get a autographed photo of him. I wish I still had that photo now. It’d probably be worth something.

He was a great pitch man for fitness and while he could have turned into a product mill for thousands of products he only had one, The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. To hear him talk about this you’d think it was the fountain of youth. My mom even bought one and I remember for a few months we enjoyed fresh squeezed juice with our breakfasts until she started to mix carrots and zucchini into my orange juice. I am still scarred to this day about drinking carrot juice because of that incident of which I will speak no further.

It turns out he went a little bit farther in his later years by writing a few books promoting healthy eating and exercise. He even has a website and a blog that his last post was on the 20th of this month only a few days before he passed. I found a few recent pictures of him and I have to say for guy who was 96 he looked like he was in his early 60’s. As a matter of fact to celebrate his 60th birthday he swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco while shackled AND towing a boat with camera men filming him. Something no convict had ever attempted. He became a national figure, but he was always a part of the Bay Area. Now if I had only listened to him better when I shook his hand and he told me, “Now you listen to your Uncle Jack, exercise, eat healthy and don’t smoke!” OK, I got two of the three at least. I’m thinking though that his shot of brandy he enjoyed every night helped him add a few years.