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I am an American artist

My art forms include traditional visual arts such as painting and sculpture, also computer based imagery; I have a background in filmmaking and I tend to frame my writing experiments with a cinematic eye; my earliest passion was theater (or is it theatre?) which also influences my fiction, and my strongest area of activity is music journalism, reviewing new music, mostly jazz and experimental forms.

I am a proud American, not the kind that wears the stars and stripes or waves flags about, but the kind that feels it without having to prove anything to anybody. This past summer I traveled quite a bit, from Puget Sound through Colorado on my way to Kentucky. I stayed in Kentucky for a few weeks, then I headed north through Columbus Ohio and attempted to return and survive in Michigan, which is where I was born. That failed, so I made the super long trek across the northern states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho) and now I am back in the Puget Sound area. I am thrilled to be here.

Americans act on their dreams and take risks and discover new places and ideas. I have started several businesses, and I failed at all of them so far. My first enterprise was a performing arts project. That persisted for a few years. My second business was based on an idea I developed from a game that some friends were working on. I saw something new using elements from their game and tried my hand at it. Then I discovered radio at my local community radio station and caught on fire with new ideas again, for one of my next businesses I became an expert in the realm of international audio/electronic folk arts which lead to The Cassette Mythos. Along came new technology and now cassettes are a novelty. My current business still stumbles along, I became a one-person indexing company. I had several big clients and then shifted from text to images. For the most  part indexing is a very time consuming process, charging by the hour is just not going to work, the cost to the client is too high. Most publishers consider themselves to be frugal. I have done lots of free work for friends who publish their own books.

Today I am rebuilding myself after a long sustained period of hard times. I am still here and open for new business.

Happiness

Death is something we can do nothing about, taxes are pretty much also something we must accept, but personal happiness is something that each person creates for themselves. Personal happiness is possibly the only thing we have any control of. We are responsible for our own personal happiness individually. Only you can control your mental attitude.

Death is our destiny as individuals, no matter what we do our story will end in tragedy. This is motivating knowledge, it is best to enjoy and generally utilize the time we have as best we can. The next moment has amazing potentials.

I have no problem with taxes and giving back to my community as well as the nation. The government has been pretty good to me for the most part. I want to give back to my community and make it the best it can be. It is not about me, it’s about all of us together.

Always Building

OLYMPIA WASHINGTON

Day 7 of my cannabis abstinence, the doctor tells me it will take something like 45 days to not test positive for cannabis.

I am building towards a greater goal, my full time employment. I am less able to make  dramatic changes but I am able to continue to take small steps, always building.

In the past I have benefited from the courage that cannabis-inspired euphoric thinking gave me, I took on bold new projects and indulged in creative thinking and artistic activities including composition and visual arts. However, at this time I have a specific target, my employment. I need to do anything I can to survive. I may have to take other less desirable jobs and quietly position myself for my greater goal, but that goal of full time employment using my librarian training remains the same. I have a wonderful skill set and achievements to build on, and I am nimble and open minded. I think that should get me back into financial firmament, or more to the point, it’s what I have, its all I have. I think I can do this, here I go.

Marijuana Revisited

OLYMPIA WASHNGTON

Over the summer I encountered many seriously stressful situations and to cope I used marijuana. It gives me a euphoric sensation, and that sure beats depression. I made it through. It seems like an effective stress-relieving recreational therapy.

I started smoking when I was 15 years old, sometimes I would smoke many times during the day, sometimes I would go for years without smoking at all. She always takes me back, no matter how vigorously I put her down and swear her off. She is cannabis.

Today (September 11, 2018) is day 3 of my new marijuana-free life. I am not giving up cannabis forever, but I cannot emotionally sustain the constant need for regaining that sense of euphoria followed by soul-crushing depression, which is based on my economic situation, and hopefully that will change one day. I have started vaping and stopped smoking since I obtained a dry flower vaporizer, which has helped my lungs quite a bit, and the volume consumed when vaping is much smaller than smoking. I just tend to over-do it because the euphoria is so sweet. My consumption habits are based on smoking, I love the act of consuming cannabis. Instead of my lungs hurting, my tongue seems to take the brunt of the vapor I have inhaled, the surface of my tongue is irritated, I look forward to that diminishing as I refrain from cannabis consumption.

In case you are wondering, eating the stuff just does not do it for me, it’s very expensive and (for me) the buzz is just not as satisfying, its not mystical or creative, it’s sort of a plateau with no thrills. I have high standards.

At age 61 I am running out of my savings and have had a difficult time finding full-time work, there is a very real reason to be depressed. Even though marijuana is legal here many employers have no tolerance for any trace of THC in their staff. Obviously the solution is to find work where cannabis use is not an issue, and there are such jobs. I will find one eventually, with persistence. And if I persist with my abstinence I will be qualified to work anywhere.

The cannabis euphoria is excellent for a few hours, but the rest of the time is just too difficult, a sense of overwhelming depression for me comes on very hard and fast and is distracting. It will take a while for this condition to pass, I have done this many times before. I estimate that it will take about a month for the traces of THC to be harder to detect in my system, and after that I will have more job options. This next month or so is going to be difficult and I will feel lethargic, but life is hard and does not end well no matter what we do. Historically most people have suffered much more than I have, the luxury of euphoria is an expense that I cannot sustain or even justify.

Overall I believe that cannabis is a good thing, but I personally have difficulty with keeping it special and only using it at magical or unusual times. I am not doing anything dramatic like disposing of my supply and talking about “No more, FOREVER!” but I am also finding strength in my new conviction, to stop consuming marijuana on an escalating basis.

This would all change if I were to find employment in Washington State’s newest growth industry. I have applied for many marijuana jobs and would eagerly accept any positions I might be offered. There appears to be a glut of eager employees, and as usual the entry level positions require previous experience. This is true of many businesses, you have to have experience to get the opportunity to get that experience.

If things are too easy they are too easily lost. I am eager to work hard. Let me at it!

What do you do?

OLYMPIA WASHINGTON

Work is part of a person’s identity. I am looking for work, I am 61 years old so that is a problem. Why would anyone hire me if they can hire someone younger and less grumpy looking.

I am a librarian, that is my training and profession, but libraries sometimes have budget problems and I am not working at a library just now. To pay the rent I must expand, I must try new things. My last job was working the cash register in a convenience store/gas station. I sold poison to my fellow citizens. They came eagerly to buy that poison (sugar salty fatty stuff nicotine alcohol caffeine gasoline etc.) and my job was to get the money from them as fast as possible and send them away predisposed to come buy some more poison real soon.

Now I am working part time at a radio station, promotions. I load and unload the van and set stuff up for remote broadcasts or events. The hours range from 5-10 per week so the quest for gainful employment continues.

Since nobody is going to hire me I need to figure out a service I can provide or something that people will pay me for. It could work out really well, I could be doing something creative and really fun (it does not have to be fun, it must pay). So that is what I plan on thinking about today.

My Colonoscopy

OLYMPIA WASHINGTON

Frank Zappa died because he did not get such a check up. That does not mean I think of me and Frank, it means the world lost Frank Zappa due to this oversight. Colon cancer has no symptoms until it’s too late, and the early stages are usually most successfully treatable. Frank left way too soon. Now you all are stuck with me instead.

Agreeing to do it was probably the hardest part, I did it because of Frank. I did it because the insurance covered it. I did it because I had no conflicts to argue with. I did it to get it over with.

The next hardest part is the preparation. They gave me two pieces of paper, detailing what needed to be done. Acquire specific and inexpensive laxatives and gatorade, no red gatorade no red dye anything and there is fasting so the system is empty and most easily examined. I put some effort into considering the aftermath, what I would do after the procedure, what I would eat after such a long fast, I do not fast often. I decided on yogurt and nuts and berries for my first meal after its over.

Three days out: no more nuts and berries. Certain meds get discontinued. You tend to wonder what is going to happen, but nothing short of cancelling will halt the countdown. I waited and distracted myself. Working is best for that. There are other options, I tried my favorites. Writing. Sleeping perchance to dreaming.

Two days out: dinner tonight will be the last meal I eat. Sounds final doesn’t it. The Last Meal.

One day out: no solid food, instead drink salty broth. The salt causes water retention, that will be handy later in the laxi-fast when things are flooding out. Next comes the beginning of the laxative regiment. Three PM take the two tiny laxative pills. Four PM mix the powder laxative with the gatoraid. Chugalug one of the two bottles.

The morning of the procedure: There Must be a Designated Driver Present. The patient will not be able to drive or navigate reliably after the procedure, so there must be someone to get The Patient safely home. At 7 AM comes the second round of powder laxative and gatoraid. I felt no specific discomfort, but there was lots of talk to read in my instructions about nausea and how to get that gatoraid laced with laxative down the hatch. I rushed it, it was done in 30 minutes, and they allowed two hours. There was no advantage in chugging it in 30 minutes.

Belly feels full, and there is lots of pooping starting shortly after the first laxatives were taken, and it just keeps on going but not in a messy way. I had no close calls because I stayed close to the you know what. They suggest a moist “wipe” rather than paper to ease the skin around the opening. The Opening. The procedure is to send a camera with special tools up through The Opening. I hope it’s a small camera. What about lights?

The doctor needs a clear view, hence the massive laxatives so things will be clean and simple in there. The procedure I experienced started with a long wait in the waiting room after check-in at the desk. I was light headed from the fasting, so I pity my poor driver, I probably chattered like a nervous monkey between long silent staring trances. They called my name and I went with them.

They put me to bed and attached stuff, most notably a needle and tube taped to my arm, try not to think about bumping it or tearing it out, or having it accidentally caught on someone passing by. They added the drug through that portal and I actually remember the whole thing. The doctor introduced herself, she seemed perfect for the role. She was magnificent. I seem to have survived, unless of course all this is just a dream as I now lie there dying.

I watched it all on TV as I lay on my side and they drove the camera and tool pack up the dark wet tunnel. I felt nothing THANK GOD. To get a better view they inflate the entire chamber (the colon) which is painless but does require extensive expulsion for the next twelve hours or so. Who is counting? It’s noisy.

I got home and enjoyed that yogurt with nuts and berries. I listened to Peaches En Regalia. Now I am all weepy, I miss Frank.

A very long drive

LIBBY MONTANA

I left Detroit around 3pm on Saturday (the last Saturday of July 2018) after a brief visit with an old friend in Plymouth. Well, he really isn’t old, actually he is younger than me, by about 130 days.

After going over the Mackinaw bridge traffic slowed way down. There was not much time before dark and I will do anything to avoid driving at night these days. This is one of the distinctions of my getting older, which is hardly an excuse.

Looking for a motel on a Saturday night is always tough, but this area has lots and lots of little cheap motels. Pretty much all of them are now closed down and boarded up. I drove on and on into the night.

Until I came to Dreamland. It was perfect (there was a no-show, who for all I knew would be arriving in the wee hours to be turned away, no rooms for 80 miles said the proprietor of Dreamland. I love that name. There never was a peep from the no-show, as it turned out therefore it was all good, I got a room!), and I got my oatmeal at the Dreamland café, where the hummingbirds put on an excellent show of high speed death defying stunts.

Day 2: Michigan to Wisconsin and then deep into Minnesota.

Stayed at a little place in Crookston.

Day 3: Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana.

Saco is where I landed, the only thing worse than night driving might be driving West at sunset.

Now I am in Libby Montana, home of the ongoing vermiculite disaster. I have always enjoyed visiting this area, nice trails in the forested hills.

Tomorrow, Sandpoint Idaho to visit with my cousin, with whom I spent the summer of 1963 at the home of my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tommy in McComb Mississippi.

From there Home to Olympia, where I will immediately get a job and live happily ever after.

The main thing I accomplished was to close out my storage locker. That was very difficult.

Units of knowledge

GRASS LAKE MICHIGAN

Elements of a collection (for improvisation or discovery)

Imagine a story written entirely in pictures, with no words.

Now imagine that technique applied to different kinds of novels, and then applied to non-fiction, for explainers or visual diagrams of various kinds of knowledge. How to do this or that, or the story of my struggle. How to evaluate the quality of the communication unit. I see this way of thinking about visual communication as a new kind of a tool, the game is to figure out new ways to find applications for these idea units.

 

Sturgeon in the Kalamazoo river?

BATTLE CREEK MICHIGAN

I am back. It’s been a long time but everything is pretty much where I left it, but it all looks so different.

Sturgeon lived in the Kalamazoo River for many thousands of years. We did well and had abundance, and shared it and time went by and it was a great life.

Things are different now.

I was told that in life I could do anything I wanted to, I could choose any career. I have no regrets. A rich man teaches his son to prosper, a poor man teaches his son to survive. I chose what I thought was the best. I did nothing wrong. I guess the problems of the world are bigger than they used to be, and that is what is keeping most people up and some people down. You see them, sitting by the traffic light holding tattered signs. You can’t tell me you have not seen them. What are we doing with them?

Not everything works all the time. There are days when it seems hopeless. But there are days when it’s amazing, the water is clear and there are lots of little creatures eating each other all around the river. On the surface maybe there is a calm duck making its way along the surface of the river and maybe a little breeze and it’s all so peaceful but just below the surface, in the water, it’s a jungle. Eat or be eaten. The big ones have no fear and most of the little ones become a meal for the slightly bigger ones. Nobody gets a free ride.

Medical Marijuana

BATTLE CREEK MICHIGAN

Michigan and Medical Marijuana

June 20, 2018

I lived in Washington State recently, where recreational marijuana is permitted by the State (not by the Federal Government) all sales staff are required to be educated about the various problems with overuse, as well as the basics of the law (no public consumption, and stay away from where children are, but in your own home it’s pretty much whatever you want to do. If you rent, your landlord can prohibit smoking.) And of course sales staff need to be informed about the various varieties and applications. Sales staff are usually called “budtenders,” sort of a pun on bartenders, but you cannot consume the product at the point of sale, unlike a bar.

You walk into a marijuana shop in Washington and show your ID, and it’s like a candy store, lots of creative promotional packaging, flashy colors and advertising, in addition to dried flower buds (loose, packaged in various sizes from a single gram up to an ounce, and pre-rolls which are also still called joints) there are a wide variety of edibles. The thing about edibles is that an hour later you might still be waiting for the effect, so you eat some more, maybe a little more after that, then discover that you have taken too much. An overdose can be uncomfortable but it will pass in an hour or two, just walk around or sit or lie down and relax, maybe drink some water, and most of all do not panic. Take a deep breath and make the best of it as best you can. Most edibles actually are candy infused with cannabis, so you must be careful to keep them away from children, who love to gobble candy.

Colorado has a less showy approach, its all about medical marijuana, no advertising, no flashy packaging. When you walk in they scan your ID and then you enter a separate locked area with glass counters showing lots of big glass jars full of bud. They weigh out what you want and it goes into a plastic bag you put in your pocket.

Neither Colorado or Washington permit public smoking in a cafe as in fabled Amsterdam. Each state has to figure it out in its own way, so stay tuned.

An important discovery in the science of medical marijuana is the Endocannabinoid System.

All people and many animals have natural receptors in their brain that correspond exactly to some active components of cannabis. Don’t take my word for it, look up “endocannabinoid system” for yourself.

Marijuana is not for everyone. If you feel uncomfortable with its effects then STAY AWAY FROM IT! There are many forms of medicinal cannabis that do not cause the “high” intoxication effects. There are new kinds of marijuana still being developed.

Back in the prohibition days one could either buy what the black market bootleg dealer had or not. It was simple. Take it or leave it. Nobody thought much about the possibilities of different kinds of marijuana.

With legalized marijuana there are choices, and each type has some different effects.

There are three main types: indica, sativa, and an expanding range of hybrids which are a combination of the original two in various ratios.

Sativa is said to be more energizing and mind-stimulating. It might keep you awake. It might make you a tiny bit paranoid. Or not.

Indica is said to be more relaxing and produces a body high. It will most likely allow you to sleep after a while.

The names of the strains or botanical family trees of cannabis are like rock band names, which mean everything to those involved, but for the most part are simply colorful. Dig this: Sour Diesel, OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Durban Poison, Jack Herer, Jack the Ripper, Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, Island Sweet Skank, Dutch Treat, Romulan…

There are something like 80 different kinds of Cannabidiols (active ingredients) found in marijuana. There is so much to learn about them.

Terpenes are one of the fast growing frontiers of medical cannabis research.

There are 100+ kinds of terpenes, usually distinguished by their smell, such as having the scent of lemons, or pepper, or lavender, or pine, for example.

Limonene smells like citrus and is uplifting, it can provide stress relief, and has some interesting properties including being antidepressant, antifungal, antibacterial, and some say it dissolves gallstones.

Beta-caryophyllene smells something like black pepper, it is sometimes of little psychoactive effect but has a useful therapeutic effect reducing inflammation.

Linalool smells something like lavender and is relaxing, it is good for promoting anti-anxiety, its anticonvulsant, and anti-acne. That last one is puzzling, for the best results do you consume it orally or rub it on your skin? I have so much to learn.

Pinene smells something like pine and has a clear, bright, sunny effect, some say it can provide asthma relief, it is antiseptic and is said to promote memory retention.

Smoking is harsh, the safer way to consume marijuana using your lungs is through vaping, which heats the herb up enough to release the active ingredients without causing it to burn. There are some vape devices that work exclusively with oils or extracts, and some that you can put dry flowers or leaves directly into the device.

Overall, I find that marijuana causes me to feel happy and works best when used the least. Some say that the ideal situation is taking it once every other week or so, some say that daily use gives the best results. Excessive use can overload the endocannabinoid system and is counter-productive, at some point you just wont get any higher so take a break. I am still figuring out what works best for me. As I write this, marijuana is illegal for me in Michigan (medical marijuana in Michigan is prescribed for serious health problems listed below) so I am busy doing other things these days. Reading for example, here are some interesting books:

Cannabis Pharmacy: The practical guide to medical marijuana by Michael Backes forward by Andrew Weill
ISBN 978157912851

The oldest cave paintings depicting what appears to be a marijuana leaf date from 12,000 years ago in Europe. Emperor Shen Nang in China includes cannabis in his medical teachings. The chapter on Varieties of Medical Marijuana contains a page spread for each strain, the chapter on uses covers applications and is organized by disease.

Mary Jane: The complete marijuana handbook for women by Cheri Sicard
ISBN 9781580055512

Lots of pictures and information about everything from methods for consuming, nomenclature, culinary topics, legal advice, growing it at home, and generally transitioning into legal cannabis.

Brave new weed: adventures into the uncharted world of cannabis by Joe Dolce
ISBN 9780082499912

A very detailed tour of current research. Names dropped: Dr. Donald Abrams, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the Weizmann Institute, Yehiel Gaoni, Dr. Allyn Howdett, Dr. Melanie Dreher, Dr. Ester Fride, Dr. Ethan Russo, and many more.

Cannabis for chronic pain: a proven prescription for using marijuana to relive your pain and heal your life by Dr. Rav Ivker
ISBN 9781581155888

This book has lots of interesting details and examples of the author’s personal experiences using cannabis for relief from pain and for treating specific diseases.

Michigan Medical Marijuana is prescribed for the following conditions:

Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, or nail patella.

A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:

Cachexia or wasting syndrome

Severe and chronic pain

Severe nausea

Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or

Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Chronic Pain, Spinal Cord Injury, Autism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Tourette’s Syndrome, Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and, any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition adopted by the department by rule.

Is liking something like chocolate an addiction or an indulgence? I guess it has to do with quantity and the quality of your life.

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