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Monday, January 3, 2011

The 2000 International Space Station vs. The 2010 International Space Station — We take a look at what has changed in the last decade. Just click 'NEXT' to see the difference. 

Click here for the Compare Gallery:

Every Type of Beer: "How Best To Get Drunk" — Everyone has their favorite brewsky. Check out this graphic to find the lineage of yours.

Happiest Penguin Ever

Back to the Future I and II Comparison


A Youtube user has done something with Back to the Future that we’re honestly surprised no one has done before. He took the closing scene of the first movie with the re-filmed version that opens the second movie. Seeing them side to side this way, you can really notice the small differences in the sequel version. While some are intentional, such as Doc’s pause when asked about Marty and Jennifer’s future, others are not such as how Marty leans on the truck. Check out the comparison below.

Oaksterdam University's Dale Sky Jones: On a Marijuana Mission

After years in corporate America, Dale Sky Jones found her calling as head of California's Oaksterdam University, a trade school focused on the marijuana industry.

Pot shot: As head of Oaksterdam University, Dale Sky Clare is fighting for the legalization of marijuana in California.Have we become a nation of chronic employment? Out in California -- spiritual home to the Grateful Dead, Snoop Dogg, Cheech & Chong and Weeds -- it appears to be the case. According to a 2009 Field Poll, 56 percent of Californians want marijuana legalized, although enthusiasm for Proposition 19, the bill for voters to decide if recreational pot usage is legit for those 21 and older, appears to be burning out as election day approaches. Pass or fail, however, attitudes seem to be shifting all across the country. A recent Gallup poll found more Americans than ever (although still a minority) support legalization, with a whopping 78 percent of self-identified "liberals" saying marijuana should be decriminalized and taxed.

The Golden State already has a booming $2 billion medical marijuana industry, and estimates of the total market are at $14 billion, which would make it the state's largest cash crop. For medical patients, 14 other states have followed suit, and a January ABC/Washington Post poll found that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to alleviate pain and suffering.

For entrepreneurs, there's gold in them thar crops. Richard Lee, who founded one of the nation's first hemp retailers in Houston, is a leader in the blossoming field. In 2007, he founded Oaksterdam University, a trade school with a curriculum focused on the cannabis industry. Today, executive chancellor Dale Sky Jones, a medical marijuana patient who spent years in corporate America, handles the day-to-day operations and expansion projects at Oaksterdam U.

In a wide-ranging interview, Jones, 35, explained how the operations work, why it's such a potential growth industry and who stands to benefit. And for the record, there's no need to ask her about "higher learning," or if students remember to go to class. She's heard it all before, thanks.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up in a rock-and-roll household. My mom was a popular radio host in Miami, who used my teenage years as fodder, but raised me to be a go-getter. My stepfather, who raised me from 10, was a drummer for Grand Funk Railroad and Bob Seger. In true rebellious fashion, I went conservative and got the hell out at 18 to work in corporations. I spent years working in retail and hospitality management for companies like Brown Shoe, Radisson and T.G.I. Friday's. I lived all over, in cities like Seattle and small towns like Casper, Wyo. I learned a lot of best practices that need to be brought to the cannabis industry.

What brought you to California?

I took a job managing a group of doctors in Orange County, which is where I learned about medical marijuana. In 2008, I was sitting in an Oaksterdam class in Los Angeles and the doctor got lost and couldn't make the class. Since I was already teaching patients about it, I stepped in as a facilitator. I'm still teaching today. There's been a lot of red-eye flights, but come hell or highwater, I haven't missed one yet.

Explain how Oaksterdam University got started.

California went through a nasty learning curve after medical marijuana was legalized in 1996. Richard Lee saw an opportunity to teach people not only how to grow and cultivate the crops, but also the history, politics, First Amendment issues and science. Most of us slept through our 8th-grade civics classes. People don't know their rights. One of our faculty members, Robert Raich, was an attorney in the two medical marijuana cases that went before the Supreme Court. Initially, it started out somewhat as a marketing scheme to get people involved in government meetings. We want to educate folks so they become advocates.

How big is Oaksterdam University?

Our mothership is in downtown Oakland, which is where the city's dispensaries are. We have a 30,000-square-foot campus with classrooms, auditoriums, a grow lab and a theater. We have satellite campuses where we hold weekend seminars in Los Angeles, Sebastopol in the North Bay, and in Flint, Mich.

How many students have taken courses, and what are the offerings?

Around 12,000 people have taken classes, everyone from kids out of high school to out-of-work real estate agents to retired law enforcement agents. The weekend seminar is $250 for 12 hours of instruction and a binder full of core source material. The $650 advanced semester program is 32 hours over 13 weeks and features classes like Methods of Ingestion and Cannabusiness. We also offer electives with guest speakers, and a comprehensive hands-on Horticulture Semester.

Is it legal to work with marijuana?

No. Our students work with rosemary, unless they are qualified medical-marijuana patients. We don't dispense. All we do is educate. The marijuana that is grown legally by our gardeners is donated to a local wheelchair-bound woman who suffers from MS and to a nearby AIDS patient.

It must be a challenge running a business with all these legal questions.

It is. We have to walk the line of both federal and state laws. Until marijuana is legalized, this isn't an industry, it's a movement. Right now, I'm almost entirely focused on California's current legalization campaign. I sort of fell into the role as one of the political leaders. This is a for-profit business, we're big fans of capitalism, but right now we're reinvesting everything back into the company and the greater cause.

If marijuana is legalized, what kind of economic benefits do you think California will actually see?

We know it's the largest cash crop, but the size of the black market is tricky. Conservative estimates are that, if controlled and taxed, California would receive $1.4 billion in tax revenue a year. Once it's legitimate, there will be tens of thousands of green jobs for gardeners, farmers and growers. But it's not just marijuana, there's also hemp, which can be used for paper and fiber. There are also all the ancillary businesses like insurance, tech support, cleaning crews and so on. It will be a huge growth market, ideal for single-earner families or people looking for a new career. We haven't had a major new industry in California in decades other than the brief housing bubble and the growth of the prison-industrial complex.

What about those who say it will lead to more crime?

I think taking the power out of the hands of the Mexican drug cartels will lead to less crime, and our prisons won't be so overcrowded. We're way over capacity, and the majority of inmates are non-violent drug offenders. I'd rather have tax dollars going to support law enforcement agencies than illegal revenue going to criminal enterprises.

As more and more states legalize medical marijuana, will Oaksterdam set up shop there?

We plan on partnering with other states, but what we provide is a blueprint. We want to help start programs, but let local communities implement them as they see fit. We still have plenty of places in California to start weekend seminars like San Diego, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

It seems that discussing the decriminalization of marijuana in a public forum no longer tars politicians with a scarlet pot leaf.

In many parts of the country, we're finally having an honest debate. Cannabis isn't seen like heroin anymore. We've always had science on our side, and now politicians are realizing it isn't necessarily a ballot killer. A lot of small local governments, like in Oakland, love what we're doing because we encourage people to do things the right way. We encourage growers to take off the tie-dye, put on a suit, and come meet with city officials so you're licensed and paying taxes.

And you are a medical marijuana user yourself?

I am a patient, for cyclic vomiting syndrome. It's involuntary and usually an issue reserved for chemotherapy patients. A couple of times a year, I used to go into wicked cycles of dry heaving that required going to a hospital to get hooked up to IVs all night. The only option was a pill, to be taken immediately upon feeling nauseous. Problem is, you can't keep water down, never mind a pill, so I've thrown up some expensive medication. I lost six pounds of water weight in 36 hours last time. Not fun, or pretty. Cannabis doctors recognized my issue was not mysterious allergies but what cancer patients go through, and more importantly, that I can control these triggers to reduce incidents. Once the cycle starts, I can have some hash, immediately feel better, and go about my business rather than curling up in a fetal position, dry heaving all day and night. The plant I can grow in my closet is way cheaper than those pills that didn't work anyway, and I save an average of a thousand bucks out of pocket per hospital trip. This was a revelation I could have used 15 years ago!

It sounds like you've found a calling.

I'm right where I belong. I fell down a rabbit hole and came out on the other side. Twenty years later, I am marching along the same folks from NORML as my mom did 40 years ago.

Entrepreneur Spotlight

Name: Dale Sky Jones
Company: Oaksterdam University
Age: 34
Location: Oakland, Calif.
Founded: 2007
Employees: 30 with another 25-30 part-timers, volunteers and interns
2010 Projected Revenue: $2 million

Radiohead for Haiti charity DVD now available on BitTorrent and YouTube as donationware

Radiohead, a British band that made waves by offering its latest studio album for free or "pay what you want", has just endorsed a community-made DVD of its Haiti earthquake charity concert from January 2010. The DVD is downloadable for free via BitTorrent, and you are strongly encouraged to donate as much as you can to Oxfam's Haiti Earthquake and Recovery Fund.

Creation of the video was a labor of love; video footage from 14 cameras has been used, and you can choose from four different audio tracks, all recorded by different people. Three Radiohead fans, inez, formengr and andrea, have spent the last year collecting the various sources and compiling them into the definitive video of the concert, and boy have they done a good job.

For more details, check inez's blog (but be warned, there is liberal use of fuchsia and aqua), and if you don't fancy an 8GB download, a full-resolution version is also available to watch on YouTube (watch it after the break). If you like it, don't forget to donate!

Alcoholic Chocolate Milk Now On Sale at Costco

If this was the year of anything, it's the year of creative and not-so-creative alcohol-based products. You may have heard of Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic energy drink that became the subject of bans and dire FDA warnings. Then there was CREAM, the booze-infused whipped topping that our own Dave Lieberman said tasted "like a cross between a can of Reddi-Wip and a can of Aquanet."

But have you tried Adult Chocolate Milk? I've heard of the product only in passing. I'm sure I saw it from the corner of my eye for $15.99 once at our most dependable liquor purveyor, Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa. But yesterday, I encountered an entire pallet of Adult Chocolate Milk for sale at Costco at the District in Tustin.

Edwin Goei
It wasn't hidden in some back corner of the warehouse where the rest of the booze is stored; it was displayed right smack in the front of the store, at the entrance, the first thing you see as you flash your membership card--a major coup for any product that wants to gain acceptance with the masses. The drink, by the way, has its roots here in O.C., developed by Newport Beach mom named Tracy Reinhardt who mixed up the concoction in her kitchen purportedly after she put her kids to bed. She blurbed about it on her Facebook page, which got her in touch with Nikki Halbur, a former classmate of hers from Santa Ana's Mater Dei High School. Together they refined the formula, then started selling and marketing the stuff to NFL players and R&B stars to gain some street cred. Ginuwine endorses the product.
And for now it can be put in your Costco cart along with that gigantic bale of toilet paper.

Food Allergies on the Rise in the U.S.

by Marissa de Crom 

It seems that food allergies are more prevalent today than ever. It’s commonplace for food labels to warn that their products may have come in contact with nuts and for preschools to ban nuts of any kind. Indeed food allergies are on the rise in the U.S., and the top offenders are peanuts, cow’s milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, soy, sesame and wheat. In addition, if you fall into three key demographics, your allergy risk rises considerably. Specifically, the odds of having a blood sample that suggests a food allergy was 4.4 times higher among young, non-Hispanic black males aged 1 to 19, compared to the general population.

The U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an ongoing national survey of the health of Americans conducted since the 1960s, recently reported the results of blood sample analyses on a very large representative sample of Americans across all age groups from 1 year to more than 60 years old–the first such comprehensive national study. Over 8,200 people were measured for food-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels to four of the biggest culprits: peanuts, cow’s milk, egg, and shrimp. Immunoglobulin E is an antibody found in the blood, and high IgE levels are suggestive of an increased risk of food allergies. (Though as we’ve reported previously, elevated IgE levels are not a reliable diagnostic criterion for food allergies on their own.)  Other survey questions asked about non-food allergies including asthma and hay fever.
Judging the elevated IgE levels in blood samples taken, the researchers estimated that 2.5 percent of Americans have food allergies to one of the four foods tested, though the rate was higher in children ages 1 to 5 (4.2 percent) and lower in adults over age 60 (1.3 percent).  This trend may be partly due to a loss of sensitization with age and allergies resolving over time. For example, separate studies have suggested that peanut allergies were prevalent in 1.8 percent of children 1 to 5 years, and 2.7% in children 6 to 19 years, but decreased to 0.3 percent among adults.

Interestingly, food allergy risk was higher among those with a clinical diagnosis of asthma, and the presence of food allergy in this population appeared to be associated with worsened symptoms.  Those with asthma and food allergies were 6.9 times more likely to have experienced a serious bout of asthma is the past year than asthmatics without food allergies. Whether the relationship between food allergies and asthma is causal or not is not clear, yet consuming even a small amount of a problem food can induce asthma attacks in sensitized individuals.

The data pointing to increased risks among specific populations should help those in these risk groups be aware of their possible predisposition to food allergies. The need for further investigation into this growing public health concern is evident.