Archive for December, 2013

Here’s an important post just in time for your New Year’s Eve partying, learn to impress your friends with fancy layered drinks and throw some flair into your mixing. When layering it is important to know the physics behind it, heaviest/densest stuff at the bottom, lightest at the top.

I’m using a shooter called an Irish Truffle as my example for this post. This drink goes by many names and usually has other crap in it also. The original way it was presented to me was just Chambord and Irish Cream in a 1-to-2 ratio of those, and as a layered shot versus a shaken cocktail.

Irish cream to the left of me, Chambord to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

Irish cream to the left of me, Chambord to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

There is a trick to layering drinks, all layered drinks from a black & tan to multi-layered cocktails. That trick is using a wide spoon upside down to cause the liquid to break over a larger surface area with less force, lowering the chance of you messing up the layers. I have layered without using a spoon before but that is much harder and not to be expected.

Who doesn't like a little spooning sometimes?

Who doesn’t like a little spooning sometimes?

If you did it right your end result should look something like this. If you want to glam it up some more you can easily a layer of a clear alcohol at the top, like vodka, cognac, rum, or schnapps.

Shotglass courtesy of The Steampunk Saloon, Black Rock City 2013.

Shotglass courtesy of The Steampunk Saloon, Black Rock City 2013.

I hope you enjoy and have a fun and safe New Years Eve.

Advertisements

See an updated version of this post on The Leaf Online, Meet Your CB Receptors!

 

This Cannabinoid Profile will take a different approach from previous posts. Instead of profiling a specific cannabinoid I am going to profile the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the main receptor sites for the body’s endocannabinoid system and interact with all currently identified cannabinoids in some way. A scientific understanding of these receptor points and how the 70+ cannabinoids interact with them and with eachother is crucial to the future of using cannabis as a medicine, for us as a society and as individuals.

Thus far the CB1 and CB2 receptors are the only receptor sites that have been identified that make up the endocannabinoid system. It is suspected that another site exists in the brain, possibly at the TrpV1 receptor or the 5HT1a receptor. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are coupled to G-proteins; CB1 receptors are present in the central nervous system, both types of receptors are also located throughout the body at certain key points (immune, reproductive).

Here is the general layout for CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body.

While I like this image for the map it provides of CB1/CB2 sites they mis-spell the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is kind of like the body’s natural THC. Anandamide is one of six endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonists that have been identified. An “endogenous cannabinoid receptor agonist” is a cannabinoid made inside your body that triggers a reaction at a particular point. These endocannabinoids are the chemicals that phytocannbinoids, plant-based cannabinoids, emulate within our bodies to produce their effects.

Many of the effects of these various endo and phyto cannabinoids are on our brain. There are numerous locations throughout the brain where CB1 receptors have been found as well as activity at the TrpV1 receptor and 5HT1a receptors.

This is your brain.

See that brain? Look at all those CB1 receptors! This receptors control everything from basics like movement and pain perception all the way up to our higher cognitive functions and learning. I guess that explains why cannabinoids have been found in breast milk in multiple studies. It is enough to make you wonder if cannabinoids are requiredfor healthy human functioning. That isn’t saying everyone must use cannabis to be healthy, but it is saying that everyone needs a functioning endocannabinoid system to be healthy and in absence of one supplement with phytocannabinoids.

That’s the down and dirty on CB1 and CB2 receptors, as with all these posts when I learn more you will learn more and I will update this post.

 

I was part of a student group while at San Jose State getting my bachelors in politics called Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Schools not Prisons is their very appropriate slogan. SSDP is an international organization ran by students for the benefits of everyone, though largely focused on campus policies like passing Good Samaritan policies across the US. These Good Samaritan policies have become a central piece of drug policy reform because they make sense and save lives. In areas without a Good Samaritan policy in effect, if a 20 year old ODs on alcohol in their dorm at school there are strong punitive measures in place to punish anyone who would call 911 to save their life. If 911 is called that 21 year old may face being thrown out of school, any dorm-mate over 21 risks jail-time for assisting the corruption of a minor even if they didn’t provide the booze, in fact everyone present can potentially be found guilty of something. This means usually ODs aren’t called in and people die who shouldn’t, these are 100% preventable deaths and Good Samaritan policies are a way to do that.

As awesome as Good Samaritan policies are that isn’t the point of this blog and I don’t mean to belabor that point because SSDP does tons of amazing things. You know how cannabis was legalized in Colorado? That was us, not totally but we sure helped a ton and a former advocacy director for the campaign, Betty Aldworth, is about to be SSDP’s new executive director. The Colorado success built upon SSDP’s experience supporting the Prop 19 campaign in California two years prior, which was a valuable learning process for all involved even though we only got 46% of the vote.

The point of  this blog is one of charity. This great organization, who has tirelessly worked to improve human rights by ending the drug war, needs our help. SSDP depends in part on government funding and a $100,000 grant they rely on did not come through this year leaving a huge hole in their budget. I am already giving to them monthly and about to donate even more. I encourage all of you to join me in giving to this organization with an impressive track record for success.

Please go to their Indiegogo page to donate and consider becoming a monthly donor like myself.

 

For those of you just tuning into this blog I post a lot of things about drugs, mainly medical cannabis but I have and will touch on other drugs as well in time. This is a result of the context of my birth and life. I was born in the Bay Area, the child of an original hippie and the career-driven yet fun-loving college girl he re-married to. Put simply I never had a normal childhood by most people’s standards and it has only gotten stranger with time.

I decided some years back to begin writing down my experiences as a series of short stories which has grown into the skeletal outline of a novel. This novel is the product of my life living on the edge of drug culture, it is a partial autobiography, the autobiography of a facet of myself written by the amalgamated self. The book is currently under the working title of Wasted Nights and Wasted Youth, I am doubtful that will be the final title. I will be periodically posting my stories here, I hope you enjoy it.

 

Extraplanar Travel, Made Easy

Salvia Divinorum, diviner’s sage. Commonly known by only its genus, salvia, the true intrigue lay in the descriptive aspect of its name. Divination is the act of seeing a place far removed from one’s physical body. Seeing the future, astral projection, spirit quests, all of these sorts of spiritual endeavors were the domain of this herb. Salvia has a long history of spiritual use with indigenous peoples around the world. Some users claim to see a woman of light who appears to them to give them spiritual quests.

That is all irrelevant in today’s prohibitionist America, what is relevant is that salvia is legal. It’s also quite relevant that it is perhaps the most intense hallucinogenic experience a person can get crammed into ten minutes without their brain melting out their ears. On acid, you’ll see cool patterns, but you still perceive the real world. With shrooms, you may see some things that aren’t really there, and time is distorted, but it is still the real world. On salvia, you go to a completely different universe.

***

            “Ok guys, I got the salvia, are you ready to go to other worlds?” Patrick was normally a grade-A fuck up, at everything. His brain was fried; the result of a lifetime’s addiction to drugs starting before he could even walk. You couldn’t blame him for his mom, you could, on the other hand, blame him for himself. This time he did right and Roy was right to vouch for him, at least this time.

“Fuck yea man. How strong is it?” Roy was a boxer to his very core, training and a preoccupation with strength, never left his mind.

“60X, it’s pretty fucking strong man, it’s strong enough.” I’ve never understood the numbering system for salvia. It’s nice to know what the multiplier is, but it’s worthless if you don’t know the initial amount being multiplied. And if it is zero? 60X of 0 is still 0.

“Sounds good to me, let’s split it up for the four of us. Jimmy, John, how much of this are you guys going to want?”

“I’ll take a quarter.” I’d done salvia before. I didn’t hallucinate that strongly my first time, but I was told after the fact that I “didn’t do it right.” I wanted to be sure to avoid that this time around. Even though I didn’t see things I felt the high come on, like my body coming to the edge of a great cliff then falling off, plunging into a new world. I’d heard of people meeting “Her,” the woman of light, and I had always hoped it would happen for me, but in over a dozen attempts I never had any luck, perhaps today would be different.

“I’ll try a quarter as well. I’ve smoked pot before, I doubt it will be any different.” John was generally quite cynical, and skeptical of new experiences, it served to limit his world, and options in it, considerably.

Roy pulled out his small, indigo blue bong, speckled with flecks of black, patches of navy blue and wine-stained purple. I was familiar with this piece, Roy brought it everywhere with him, it was his “travel bong.” He had a whole mythology around it; he had dreamed of the bong, then it came to him one day as he was shopping for a new bong, after breaking his old one which “never felt right.” Regardless, it was a very cool piece.

We all took our hit in turn; with salvia you smoke an entire bowl to get high in a short period of time. Patrick insisted he got to go first, as he went out to get the stuff and paid for it. Roy corrected him that he paid for it; Patrick, “hadn’t paid for shit, but ladies go first.” We all got a good laugh at this, expect Patrick, who mumbled “whatever,” and greedily took his hit. Roy went next, as he paid for it, it seemed only fair. I left John go ahead of me, so that I would still be sober to babysit the three of them. It would have been nice if someone had thought of that before it was too late and defaulted to me. Normally I may have cared, but watching someone trip out on salvia is pretty fucking hilarious. After they came back to earth, and had their feet firmly on the ground, I took my turn.

***

            One of the nice things about salvia is that you are not out long. With shrooms you might be gone a few hours, perhaps a little longer if you’re on acid, but with salvia you’re only off in space for about ten minutes. This is enough time for a thoroughly enlightening headtrip, as I had just learned, but we’ll get to that in a second. Salvia also has a halo, which lingers for almost half an hour, where you can get aftershocks from the trip and everything has a slight glow to it. Once we were all firmly on the ground again, the real fun began, sharing our journeys with the others.

Patrick claimed he went to the South Park universe, like from the TV show. He was transported right into Mr. Garrison’s classroom, which was being visited by the schools nagging guidance counselor, Mr. Mackey. Patrick had done something which was “not okay, mmkay,” and receiving the full brunt of Mackey-vellian wrath. Even Cartman and the boys had to chip in that Patrick was being a “douchebag.” This was the point where the trip shifted gears and every person became a key on the grandest of pianos which was reality. Patrick was now the sole host to this bizarre concert in his mind, which continued to judge and reprimand him.

One thing can be said of salvia, and all hallucinogens, your state of mind when setting out on your journey can radically alter your course and ultimate destination. The same can really be said of all journeys in life though. What I saw of this while sober was very different, Patrick was pretty much just rolling around on the floor like he was very drunk and mumbling to himself.

Roy said he went to the Super Mario Brothers universe. It began with the couch in front of his eyes compressing to become the two dimensional backdrop of the video game level, the trees and floating platforms that made up the scenery. Then Roy appeared, as a little Mario jumping through the air, grabbing coins and hopping on koopa troopas. He was now viewing himself from a third person camera angle, in other words from outside his own body; out of body feelings are common with hallucinogens and to be embraced. Roy, as a boxer, rolled with the proverbial punches, and dodged a giant bullet while grabbing a fire power up. He was well on his way to saving Princess Peach from the evil Bowser.

Roy was extremely entertaining to watch. He took on a very 2-D shape, like a man in a running position with one leg straight and one bent, and his arms crooked out to his sides. He then hopped in place a few times; I am assuming this was when “Mario” was jumping. The only audible thing he said was “It’s like this,” then he spun in a circle counterclockwise. I couldn’t tell if he had saved the princess or if she was in another castle. He was pouring sweat, and had turned bright red; for some people salvia is a very physical trip, this is why having a babysitter is a good policy for safety. Roy felt a force pulling him counterclockwise throughout his halo; he actually spun a few more times just to mitigate his urge.

Out of the four of us, John was the only one that definitively had a bad trip. He went to a universe where everything around him was fractured into millions of faces. Even the faces were made of faces, and they were all laughing at him. And he saw himself laughing with them; as I saw him sitting there next to me, laughing like a madman. He described it like, “life had been reduced to being one big joke and I was the punchline.” John tended to be a person riddled with social anxiety and this fully manifested in his hallucination.

My trip was something wholly different, something unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Instead of the usual journey to another universe, existing off somewhere in the murk of the multiverse, I went inside the universe of myself. Normally when a salvia trip comes on for me it feels like I get to the edge of a great precipice then suddenly plummet into a new world. Right now it felt like I was riding on an old wooden roller coaster, the kind that always begin with a steep incline up followed by an anticipatory plunge. While I was still slightly cognizant I heard myself exclaim, “I’m tripping balls!” Though it probably sounded more like, “Yiam Tryppy Blals.”

I found myself in the kitchen of the house I lived in while growing up in my transformative years, elementary through high school; up till my parents’ separation. I was sitting at the kitchen table with Roy, John, and a couple other good friends from that time of my life. We were all drinking coffee, out of identical mugs. I had the distinct impression that the cups were new, and the coffee maker was new; in fact many things in the house were out of place from my memories of the house. Then my dog ran into the room followed by my mom.

“Okay everyone, it’s time,” my mom said. At which point everyone at the table stood up, except me. I was bewildered, I didn’t know what it was time for or what was going on.

I stood up and said, “What’s it time for Mom?” No sooner had the words left my lips when everything in the room, every individual object, split into two people, a man and a woman back to back, wearing hunter green sweaters and khaki pants. The table, the coffee mugs, every spoon, even the dog, bifurcated into two weaselly looking glasses wearing strangers. It didn’t stop there, I looked up at the corner of the kitchen, where two walls met the ceiling, and I saw the walls split apart like a movie sound stage, exposing the vibrant blue screen glow behind.

The weasel people grabbed me and the others, and took us ‘off set’ to a backstage area. In this backstage area there was a sea of red shopping carts, all filled with different colored paint. While paint would normally be pouring out all over through the sides of the cart, this was a drug trip so things like logic and physics need not apply. The weasels plopped us all into empty shopping carts. I looked around me and saw that all the carts were full of people, and they were all people I knew from those transformative years of my life. I saw Roy and John’s parents, my own parents, all my school acquaintances. Stranger still I saw an army of me’s, each one slightly different; clearly these were different manifestations of my own psyche.

The camera angle then panned out to a 3rd person camera angle to show me the full breadth of the shopping cart sea. What I saw was amazing; the carts were layered and formed a giant effigy of me. I had the knowledge that I, my True Self in the trip, was located at the right corner of my mouth. The corner of the mouth is a bridge point; between two types of skin, between two places that distinguish a friendly kiss from an intimate one. I am a man on a bridge, torn between two shores.

I was then back inside my own head, back in the shopping cart. I noticed there was a power cable of some sort behind me and though that it was awkwardly placed so that someone would surely trip on it and hurt themselves. I decided to exit my cart and get the cord in a better position. In the process, I accidentally hooked my foot on the cord and unplugged it.

Roy’s mom looked over at me and said, “Oh god, Jimmy what did you do?”

Then Roy, and John looked over, “Dude…”

And my mom joined the chorus, bellowing in my ears and rattling me to my core “Jimmy, then entire universe was created for this very moment, and you fucked it up!” It would seem that somehow I managed to unplug myself, or my reality, or something like that. What was made glaringly certain to me at this moment in my trip was that there was a greater Jimmy, a Jimmy lurking somewhere above my reality and my entire universe was just his drug trip. I was going to show that bastard a thing or two about destroying my reality for his drug trip.

I felt myself get sucked upwards into a great vortex, a swirling brown whirlpool drawing me up towards the greater Jimmy. The way was fraught with peril, the whole time giant hands would swing out from the walls of the vortex to bat me to the ground, where I would lay, back broken, until another me took up the fight. With each successive go I got further and further, until eventually I fought all the way back to full consciousness and merged myself, becoming the greatest Jimmy.

Or had I? Existential fear wracked my brain. Am I the greatest self? Or am I just a lesser part of a greater organism; am I just a figment of their imagination? I consoled myself that if this was the case then life was a stage and all I could do was put on the best show I could for as long as I could. I also took comfort in the realization that man is a social creature, we are all enmeshed in the greater organism that is humanity, or even more broadly in the global system that is Lifeboat Earth. Even if I die, I live on in that greater self, in the world itself.

I had gone inside my own mind, there was no doubt about that. The shopping cart sea was all of the individuals I met that have made me who I am, including different aspects of myself and archaic versions of me. I still pondered the meaning of why I am specifically the right bridge of my mouth. Another thought crossed my mind, though my mother was not made of light, perhaps I had finally met “her.” The question then is, what is my quest to be? This would take further mediation to fully comprehend.

Last night I went out to see Infected Mushroom and Savant, it was my first time seeing either and the first I had heard Savant (who was amazing). It inspired this poem, I may still add more I may leave it here. I want to do some readings on it before deciding, but I am definitely bothered by one stanza ‘missing a line,’ but not sure what I want to add/subtract. Time till tell.

The Man Burns (2013)

The Man Burns (2013)

Silence

In that silence you can hear a pin drop,

Like the bass dropped only moments before.

Body still thumping pulsing to ghostsounds,

That drown out the reality that surrounds.

 

Body becomes subwoofer, reacting to bass and sub-bass,

That falls loud enough to drown out the treble and mid-bass.

The bass that falls like a thunderclap, manna from Heaven.

The bass that plays now only for me, a mental music box.

 

And now, in that eternal silence… lifetimes, eons, fit into seconds.

Like a furry coat fits into a handbag on your way home,

Too overheated still to wear despite the winter’s cold chill.

 

All around, the silence dwells, a veil covering mouth, muted speak no evil,

Stuck on introspection, pausing for self reflection in these quiet moments.

The joint sits burning in his hand, my hand, her hand, our hands.

It burns but doesn’t go out, like the sound resounding in my head.

 

What I wouldn’t do for a beat that grabs my heart by the strings,

Forcing me to dance like a marionette, DJ as puppetmaster.

What I wouldn’t give for a beat that massages my neo-cortex,

Producing vortex of thought, paroxysm of emotion.

 

And in that silence, I see the joint drop,

Like the pin I heard a moment before,

Reminiscent of the bass, but a memory

Embers on the floor.

Continuing where yesterday’s blog leftoff, here are some famous examples of stories, myths, historical and religious figures who conform to the archetype of the Hero’s Journey.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: The first 6 are all historical/religious but then I go on to movies/books and I’d hate to ruin a plot for you without warning you first.  Specifically, I discuss Stranger In A Strange Land, The Lord Of The Rings, and Fullmetal Alchemist.

Heracles with Cerberus.

1. Hercules/Heracles – Hercules is the Roman adaptation of the Greek hero Heracles, son of the god Zeus and a mortal woman, making him a demi-god. Heracles is most known for twelve trials he had to endure, one of which was going to the underworld to capture Hades three headed dog Cerberus. Going to the underworld of Hades is a figurative death Heracles passes through in order to best his labors and recover his sanity while achieving immortality. The purpose was not becoming immortal, that was merely a side perk, the main goal was atoning for slaughtering his children after he was driven mad by Hera.

Baby Achilles takes a bath in the River Styx.

2. Achilles – Another Greek hero, Achilles was also demigod like Hercules. Instead of being immortal like Heracles, Achilles was invulnerable to harm everywhere on his body other than his heel, creating the metaphor Achilles heel. His mother baptized him in the river Styx, the river of the underworld, which granted him immunity to harm everywhere except his heel, where she held him. Ultimately he died in the Trojan War, that grand battle to bring home the beautiful Helen of Troy to her native Sparta. Many warriors fought in this battle, some died; the cunning Odysseus, both Ajax the Great and Ajax the Lesser to name a few of the best known. Of all the many heroes mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, the only one better known than Achilles is Odysseus himself who is a main character in both books. Achilles has gained eternal glory through his death for himself but more importantly for Greece.

Jesus Christ, Superstar!

3. Jesus – Jesus Christ was potentially a real person who lived in ancient Mesopotamia, born in 1 anno domini (AD). There is much dispute over whether Jesus was real or is myth, and the belief that he is the son of God. I believe he was a real man, likely not a pale Anglo white man. He was a religious philosopher of sorts and also had a stripe for politics, this won him few friends with the Romans who just loved crucifixion. Jesus preached a new way of doing things and shook things up in the social order which annoyed those in power. Jesus is said to be the son of God, the product of a miraculous birth, sent to earth to be killed to man’s sins, only to be reborn and go to Heaven. The story of Jesus is a perfect telling of the major steps in the Hero’s Journey.

Buddha under the Bodhi Tree.

4. Buddha – Buddha was a real flesh and blood man before attaining enlightenment, a prince from the Himalayan foothills named Siddhārtha Gautama. Unlike Jesus, there is no dispute about his existence, merely differences in opinion on the nature of his divinity and enlightenment. Buddha means “enlightened one,” and contrary to the beliefs of some there is not one Buddha but countless. Anyone can become a Buddha, an enlightened one, given the right environmental factors. For Siddhārtha, he needed to meditate under the sacred fig tree, now called a Bodhi tree in honor of the enlightenment achieved beneath its boughs, like a religious Sir Isaac Newton. Buddha does not physically die during his Hero’s Journey, but his ego is allowed to die. The death of the ego is a central to many Buddhist sects and The Buddha was the first to demonstrate how this can be done and why it is desirable. That was The Buddha’s glory.

President John F. Kennedy

5. John F. Kennedy – President John F. Kennedy was America’s youngest President until Obama, our first non-Protestant President, and a brilliant statesman/playboy. He was a real American hero on many levels who did a lot to advance civil rights and was an early advocate for wave-powered electricity, just to same some of his glorious exploits. He was tragically assassinated during his first term.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr

6. Martin Luther King Jr. – Like JFK, Martin Luther King was assassinated for shaking up the present day politics. MLK and Malcolm X both occupied crucial roles in the civil rights movement, aided in a political capacity from JFK. Martin Luther King was a preacher who was instrumental to the success of the American civil rights movement, most known for his legendary I Have A Dream speech.

Rodin’s “”Caryatid Fallen Under her Stone,” a central piece of the allegory in the book, and an allegory for Mike himself.

7. Michael Valentine Smith – Mike is the main character in Stranger In A Strange Land, perhaps the most famous novel by Robert Heinlein. Mike is about as blatant a Jesus allegory as one can be without the Church coming after them for copyright infringement. A Muslim character even eludes to him being The Prophet reborn. While one can read a Jesus allegory in Stranger there is much more to the story than that. In the end of the book, Mike is martyred, not on a cross but in his own way and that is his death on the Hero’s Journey. But as anyone who has truly grokked the book knows Mike cannot really die, no one ever really dies as long as something has grokked them.

Gandalf, The Grey

8. Gandalf – In the Lord of the Rings there are several heroes who die but the one who best embodies the Hero’s Journey is the wizard Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf fights the Balrog in Morea and in the process is killed only to be reborn as the more powerful Gandalf The White. His death empowers him to further glory along his Hero’s Journey. Other heroes also die along the way, physical deaths, spiritual deaths, and perhaps even some deaths of ego.

Ed and Alphonse Elric.

9. Alphonse Elric/Edward Elric – In the anime Full Metal Alchemist both brothers experience various deaths along their journey, in both series and in the movie as well. Alphonse actually dies before the series even begins but his soul is brought back to the living world at the expense of his brother’s arm which is Ed’s first death, from there it continues until you wonder how either character keeps sane. Before all of that, the death that portends all others is that of their mother, her death is the catalyst that literally makes our heroes into the men they are destined to become.

I hope you all had a good Christmas. While I am not Christian myself I take time off for my mother’s birthday on the 24th and time with my extended family on the 25th. In case you are curious I was raised as a Nichiren Buddhist and my current spirituality is that combined with Tibetan Dzogchen Buddhism, alchemic philosophy, and smatterings of the Abrahamic faiths. Though I do not believe in Jesus as the son of God and that December 25th is his birthday, if you are a Christian, I imagine you will feel a pretty strong affinity for the sentiments in this blog regarding Jesus (this truism applies to him rather strongly).

The other day I was thinking about the phrase “the hero must die,” and how it kind of is a truism. A truism, if you didn’t know is a statement so obviously true that it needs no further explanation, though it has varying degrees of meaning. The term dates back to the early 1700’s, making it an invention of the enlightenment era.

The first truism I’m going to briefly dissect is the timeless phrase known to writers world-round, .” I cannot find an exact date for the first usage of this truism, but it is likely to be rooted in the ancient Greek’s conception of the Hero’s Journey, a story archetype. The archetype can be broken down into 8 stages, one of which is death. Though different people have different interpretations of the stages in the Hero’s Journey the death of the hero is unanimous, though it is not always a physical death. Sometimes death takes the form of other types of loss, a spiritual or economic death for example. The entire Hero’s Journey, all the death and loss, is in pursuit of what the ancient Greeks called kleos, which means glory or fame and also is the name for a song or poem that conveys glory. Kleos is “both the medium and the message of the glory of heroes.” For the ancient Greeks, the concept of glory was a very altruistic concept done for the good of the many not the good of the hero.

Stages Of The Hero’s Journey

  1. Miraculous conception and birth
  2. Initiation of the hero-child
  3. Withdrawal from family or community for preparation
  4. Trial and Quest
  5. Death
  6. Descent into the underworld
  7. Resurrection and rebirth
  8. Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement

This was originally meant to be one post but it had become large enough where I have to make it two posts. Check out the second half which profiles 9 Hero’s Journeys for you, from every age of history and many different cultures.

Elizabeth Warren, the chief watchdog of Wall Street, has warned us that the biggest banks are now even bigger than when they caused the financial collapse of 2008. The four largest have grown 30% larger and the five largest banks represent over half the market. That brings the word antitrust to my mind, but that is about as likely as world peace at this point. No, the current crop of US politicians in both major parties are far too business friendly to go for the ‘nuclear option’ of pursuing an antitrust suit against a major corporate bank. It will take some new blood to pursue new options, Elizabeth Warren being but one example.

If this November’s elections can be read as a sign of anything it is that people are fed up with austerity and they want politicians who will work for the working class. One tangible example being the election of the socialist Kshama Sawant to the Seattle city council, in a state who just legalized recreational cannabis. Washington is definitely moving in the right direction, but we will have to see how things go in a few months to really know how well the cannabis legalization is going. Another major progressive win was  the 73% landslide that road Bill de Blasio to victory as the new mayor of New York, dethroning the former king mayor Bloomberg. While we have more progressives winning in local elections we lack true progressives in the federal government. There is Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, that’s about it. There are also rumors about Elizabeth Warren running for President in 2016, which would probably the only ticket the Democrats can put forward that I’d vote for. Which is still better than the no chance the Republicans have for my vote. This may be the first Presidential race I sit out on due to a lack of interest in all candidates…it is still two years from the election though and two years is a long time.

President Obama may have been progressive in 2004 when he advocated for cannabis decriminalization and a single payer option for health care, but a decade changes a man and he is as much an establishment Democrat as Nancy Pelosi now. This can be seen best in his devolution on the issue of cannabis. Where he was once firmly in support of legalization, even being the leader of a drug gang, his support is now so weak he is willing to call commuting the sentences of drug war 8 prisoners a win for human rights. We’re talking about a man with a secret ‘kill list’, that is not the kind of progress I want our progressive movement to embrace, that is Orwellian at best and Stalinist at worst. I support much of what President Obama has done, but I oppose at least that many of his actions too. Like President George W. Bush before him Obama is a mixed bag; he wins a Nobel peace prize yet keeps a secret kill list, oversees more paramilitary raids of cannabis dispensaries than Bush and gave the go-ahead to a spy game so massive it makes Watergate look like child’s play.

You might now be asking yourself, “what should a progressive movement look like in America?” Here is what I envision it to look like and what I hope its priorities will be. I imagine it will look much like the 73% majority  that rode Bill de Blasio to victory in New York, inclusive of nearly all races, religions, and demographics conceivable. This new progressive movement will not be bound by race or religion like past political movements; it will progress beyond race to be a movement focused on results, such as raising the minimum wage federally improving the lives of millions of all races. That isn’t to say this new progressive movement will be colorblind, if anything it will be more sensitive to the factors that make us up than any former movement and it will fight for our right to be ourselves, whatever that self may be. This new progressive movement will work to progress gender equality and end de jure and de facto discrimination against gender non-conforming people. Tied in with gender equality is equality for all sexual expressions and sexes. Simply put, this new progressive movement should fight to advance the progress of as many people as possible, especially those  who are presently disadvantaged.

This movement is likely to include some uncommon alliances, like one we may now be seeing between the drug policy reform/drug legalization movements and gun rights advocates. There also is a clear synergy between the drug legalization/prison reform movement and the effort to provide more funding to our schools (here is a protest to save public education, here is one for drug policy reform, notice the similarities?). The reason for the natural alliance between education and prison reform is illustrated beautifully by this drawing.

School-to-Prison-Illustration

As schools are robbed of funding the quality of educational environment plummets, leading to more crime down the road when people resort to crime to pay the bills  their abysmal education cannot. This is a self-perpetuating downward spiral that can very easily be reversed with more people flooding into schools instead of prisons. This would also free up billions of dollars a year in federal and state budgets due to less policing of non-crimes like possession of cannabis.

One of my friends that has been reading this blog has been badgering me to post some dating advice since I tend to be good with that. I wanted to start my dating advice with an important topic, a priori, that is STD testing. Getting yourself tested is where any pursuit of dating should begin.

I just went in for my tri-annual preventative STD screening, and like always got back my favorite results – across the board negatives. Three times a year may seem like a lot but I am generally a pretty sexually active person and I like being cautious. I am polyamorous, meaning I am romantically involved with and committed to more than one person at a time, and so are some of my partners. This certainly can open you up to more risk than a monogamous lifestyle if you don’t communicate well with your partners. No judgment on monogamous people, but apparently only polyamory is cool enough for its own website so you monogamous folks get a Wikipedia link (business idea for monogamy.com). Monogamy is great though, a totally valid sexual expression like being polyamorous, or being asexual. I’ll tell you one great thing about asexuality, there is a WAY lower chance of getting STDs though still a chance (blood transfusions, sharing a toothbrush with someone herpes positive, etc).

Communication is key to any functional relationship, be it romantic, monogamous, polyamorous, a friendship, or anything else. Communication is especially key in poly relationships, such as clearly discussing rules and boundaries, ones needs and desires. One established rule in my relationship is you can only be involved with people who have been recently tested and are clean; if in doubt ask to see paperwork. This may all seem like too much effort to you, if that is so then you aren’t paying attention, STD/STIs are far more common than ever and beginning to mutate into new forms. It’s only your life, you only get one and real life has no save points, no extra lives; it isn’t a game and you only get once chance at it. Though life isn’t a game live it like it is, be serious but have fun doing it. I play every chance I get through parkour, singing, dancing, or whatever else strikes me.

What’s great about getting STD tested over other tools in our sex-positive tool box is that medical testing doesn’t violate anyone’s religion. The pope has no qualms with you keeping your partner disease free. That means you should go get tested regardless of your faith, regardless of your sexual preference, and regardless of whether you are monogamous or polyamorous. Even if you’re not having regular sex with different partners, if you are planning to hetero-till-death-do-us-part marry someone you should get tested first. STD’s are for life, coincidentally like marriage, though also like marriage some can be treated and do not last forever.

Now that we have established why everyone should be tested, including asexual people (for their friend’s benefit if nothing else), let’s move on to the where and the how. Getting an STD test is a fairly painless process, about as painful as getting blood drawn. I am honestly needle/syringe phobic, even in movies they freak me out and cause a physical reaction; despite this I still go ‘under the gun’ three times a year because this matters far more than a little pinprick pain.

Where to go is a different matter and depends largely on where you live and whether or not you have insurance. Even though I have insurance I still prefer to go to Planned Parenthood because they are cheaper, friendlier, and best of all my money goes to a good cause instead of asshole Blueshield insurance. If you live in California, like me, breath a sigh of. While most states are limiting abortion access, our legislature just passed a new law expanding access to deal with the fact that 52% of counties in CA don’t have abortion access.

The how of STD testing seems pretty intuitive, go get tested, but there are many steps and potential pitfalls along the way. You can go through your insurance for what they will cover and use your primary care doctor; my insurance is rather limited which is one reason why I prefer Planned Parenthood. If you at LGBTQ, namely trans or gender queer, PP is wonderful for respecting your gender expression and asking your preferred gender pronoun; they offer a very safe space. For some things you don’t even need a doctor anymore, we’ve reached an age were HIV can even be tested for at home. Still, some areas of testing are severely lacking, such as HPV where we have no way to test men.

My hope in this post is to cause as many of you readers as possible who have not gotten tested to go out and get tested. My hope is to debunk myths about the pull-out method being just as good as condoms (for preventing pregnancy maybe, but enjoy your STDs). My hope is that with one blog post I can prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs, but I know it isn’t that simple, it takes more than hope. It takes you going out there and practicing safe sexual practices everyday. That is how you manage to be both sexually active and STD free for life; communication, regular testing, and condom use go a long way. Failing all that there is the Immunity Project who is working on a vaccine for HIV/AIDs which they plan to give to the world. Check out their work and see if you can help them out; I cannot think of a worthier cause.

As many of my readers are well aware by now I am in a cast with a broken wrist after a recent bicycle crash. This is my first time in a cast and it has taught me some valuable things I want to impart to you.

If your cast gets wet it will smell bad, do whatever you can to prevent this. Many of these tips apply directly to that.

1. If the padding starts to wear down and you feel chaffing get some cloth tape and tape over the area that is bothering you, perhaps even tape some cotton balls there for more padding if needed.

2. When showering use a bread bag or a similar small plastic bag to cover the cast, seal it off with a rubber band; I prefer the thicker bands that come on broccoli.

3. If your cast does get wet dry it as quickly as possible with a blow-dryer held at a far enough distance where it won’t burn your skin or melt the cast.

4. If your cast does begin to smell bad use essential oils to mitigate the smell. I’ve been using lavender and grapefruit, one application of oil would last a day or two.

5. This one is obvious but needed, Don’t take your cast off for any reason!

The rest are not specifically cast related but are sound advice to heal broken bones fast based off all the studies I read.

6. Give up cigarette smoking, nicotine slows bone healing; no studies cover cannabis smoking and I offer myself up as a case study.

7. Stop drinking (I wish the doctor mentioned this one).

8. Eat a diet rich in dairy protein/calcium, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, citrus (oranges specifically), apples. Your goal is to maximize your intake of: silicon, copper, iron, and other minerals; Vitamin D, C (including Quercetin), B complex, and the rest. Bones are make up primarily of spongy protein and calcium with mineral pockets layered throughout. Also for healing most soft tissue/bone injuries check out glucosamine chondroitin, this stuff works wonders.

9. DO NOT USE NSAIDs like ibuprofen! Take aspirin or acetaminophen instead. Research shows that NSAIDs can slow bone healing. I wish I knew this a month ago before taking  ibuprofen daily.

I get the cast off on January 2nd if all goes well in my xrays, until then I’ll have to wait and see.