Archive for February, 2014

I just finished reworking this story from my novel, Wasted Nights and Wasted Youth, I hope you enjoy it. It references another story/location within the book, Golden, that one is still being touched up and will be posted soon.

Have you ever felt the fear? That base fear that every child knows when they are alone at night, embraced by darkness from all sides. The fear of what is lurking just off the periphery, lingering in the murky gloom, waiting for you to grow brave enough to venture into its domain. It is that fear that causes you to jump at the slightest sound, to avoid large windows after dark, and to corner yourself, back to the wall, just to make sure nothing can sneak up behind you.

I felt the fear the other day. Though I am no longer a child and it was broad daylight I felt the fear. It started as a faint tickling in the middle of my back, just below the shoulder blades along the spine. The tickling grew to an uncomfortable pressure, like the feeling of a finger jabbing me without release, pressing hard against my vertebrae. I felt that I was being watched. No, I knew that I was being watched. I could feel eyes on me, observing and cataloging my every move, waiting for their opportunity to pounce as a lion waits for a gazelle. I felt the fear strongly, for the first time in many years.

I first noticed my ethereal stalkers on my way to the bus station in the morning while heading to work. I was not doing my best that day, my situational awareness was dulled. I was distracted by the feeling of being watched that was slowly consuming me as it overpowered my thought process. As a result of this, I missed the call from my boss that work was canceled for the day, due to massive protests near our office downtown. Most people would be happy to hear they had a day off, paid on salary; I was morose. I would have been safe at work, with the others, but now I was going home alone with my spirits. The feeling of being watched had progressed with certainty to the feeling of being hunted. I was the quarry. I felt paralyzed like a deer caught in the headlights of the incorporeal oculi that plagued my existence. And the fear grew.

I got back onto the same bus I had just exited, to turn around and go back home. The social awkwardness which accompanied this would normally have driven me to the point of mincing my words and blushing, not today. Today I had bigger concerns than awkwardness; I was being hunted by an invisible tiger, haunted by a ghost with no name. I got on the bus without saying a word, just a nod to the driver. With the exchange of nods complete I progressed to a seat and tried to calm down.

The pressure along my spine had peaked and crystallized into a tangible form. The eyes I felt staring at my back had now become daggers, piercing through my flesh and bones, delving deep into my heart and dwelling there causing immense discomfort. Sitting down did little to help with the pain and discomfort I was feeling. It had taken on an aspect of what I can only describe as sickness; I felt like I was going to be ill all over the bus. I looked around me frantically, to see if anyone was looking at me strangely, giving me some clue that this wasn’t entirely in my mind. There was no friendly face to confirm my sanity, or lack thereof. The only eyes I felt upon me did not belong to any human face. And the fear grew.

Every so often on my walk home from the bus stop I had to pause to look around me, to make sure I wasn’t being followed. I kept glancing fervently over my shoulder looking for my pursuer, but it was to no avail. I accelerated my pace, my walking now on the verge of running. I was being pushed forward by the force of the eye-daggers in my back and the fear pressing at the back of my mind. I must have looked like a madman, rushing through empty, windswept streets; like a traveler seeking shelter from a storm, and finding none. A newspaper blew past me like a tumbleweed and a dog barked in the distance, signs of life in a listless world. By the end of my trip home, my walk had become a full on sprint. Despite this, the walk had never seemed to take longer, every moment passed like an eon. It was as if time itself had slowed down to corroborate with my would-be captors.

Now that I was home, I was back to a place of safety, where I was no longer alone. I didn’t tell any of my three housemates about the fear, for I imagined they would consider me as mad as I must have appeared. Due to my run in a three-piece suit I had worked up quite a sweat and my shirt-tails were hanging out over the belt line. Disheveled. That was how I looked and how I felt. Even though I was in the supposed safety of my own home, I still did not feel safe. I could feel the eyes upon me, I could still feel the fear paralyzing me. And the fear grew.

As the day dragged on, I could not have envisioned a worse possible day off. While normally I would have gone out celebrating my good fortune with my friends or gone out hiking, today I was locked in my bedroom, finishing moving furniture and rearranging my belongings. Instead of getting out and away from the fear I was stuck inside, locked in a prison of my own making waiting for the fear to consume me. My girlfriend and I had just separated after several years together. We had slowly grown apart. The realization of this was even slower to dawn on us. Once it had, we were slower still in acting upon it.

Eventually, as with all things we see in opposition, something had to give, and when it did she was the one to pack up and move out. Now, I was alone, and tonight I would sleep alone for the first time in many years. Before we had gotten together I could only sleep alone, whenever I shared a bed I had trouble sleeping through the night. I had the tendency to thrash around while sleeping from vivid dreams, active dreams. As a child, my dreams moved me; I had night terrors and ran around my house screaming. Could sleeping alone be the source of the fear? No, sleeping alone was nothing new to me, it was far more normal than sleeping with another. I racked my brain for some clue as to the wellspring of the fear, but found nothing. Yet still, in the sanctity of my bedroom, the fear grew.

I cooked and ate dinner in silence, contemplating my fate. What was hunting me? What force or creature found me so irresistible that I could not be ignored? And what was the reason for it? Had I done something to deserve this? If it was a question of deserts, what cruel god had I offended to deserve this torturous punishment? Dinner was a small, unwelcome, reprieve from moving, which had proven to be the only thing that could distract me from the feeling of being watched. Not fully, but enough where I could pretend everything was still normal. This must be how soldiers felt on a battlefield after the first sniper bullet shot through the air and was planted in a man, making him a corpse. I was holding my breath waiting for my bullet, never knowing when it would come. I’ve always hated waiting, since I was a kid. The feeling of waiting to die was the worst kind of waiting imaginable.

As night fell, I decided strong drink would help keep the phantoms at bay. Gin and tonic has long been held to be a cure-all, for malaria and other ailments. I wondered if demonic possession was another dis-ease healed by this wonder drug. I continued to move furniture around my room and unpack boxes while continuing to drink. The hours dragged on as the gin and tonics flowed on and sleep refused to come. Morpheus had already blessed my housemates, but I was forsaken, the last one awake being hunted by an unknown predator. Oh sweet Morpheus, what did I do to forsake you? Did I take the wrong colored pill? The matrix of my life was becoming distorted by my fear, I was becoming irrational.

I ventured out of my bedroom, into the midnight dark of the still and empty kitchen for another gin and tonic. Suddenly, the fear flared up. A red flag instinctual warning of life threatening danger. For a moment, I froze where I stood and stared into the darkness. Out of the amorphous dark materialized a small being made of shadows, no taller than a child, a shadow within a shadow in the moon’s penumbra. There were no clear features of the thing, past two pinpoint eyes, gleaming like stars out of a night sky, far off stars from some distant galaxy. I saw no face where one should be with my eyes, but with my mind I saw a myriad of horrifying faces in an endless montage, all with the twinkle star eyes. I could not bear to look at the thing, and ran back to my bedroom in terror, locking the door behind me.

Utter panic arrested my breathing and attacked my heart. I did not know what the thing I had seen was, nor did I care to find out. I now knew what had been watching me, I had seen my hunter and it was not of this world. Clearly, it did not want to take me yet, it was still enjoying the sport of the hunt, like a cat toying with a mouse once victory was assured. That was perhaps the most disturbing fact of the day’s events so far, it found my torture pleasurable. I shuddered to guess what it had it store for my demise. I had been reduced to a small child once more, a mirror image of the shadowy doppelgänger that laid waiting for me just past my flimsy bedroom door.

I remembered that as a child, the best way to conquer the fear was to go to sleep. Somehow sleeping always manages to make everything better. When your head hits the pillow, the entire world may be crumbling around you, and when you wake up miraculously the world has been built up new and more beautiful than ever. I needed that right now, I needed that beauty to help me overcome the fear. After many hours of unpacking and begging Morpheus to bring me to dreams, even the most awful nightmares would be better than confronting this real horror that skulked in the Stygian dark. I was tempted to sleep with the lights on, thinking that might protect me from the shade that was prowling about my house. In the end, I decided not to, it was best to face my fate head on, as my hunter had faced me minutes before. Despite that resignation I did not feel up to going back out of my room, the fear within me was too strong. Besides, what could I hope to do to a demon of shadows?  Instead of physically facing my doppelgänger I would face it metaphysically, in dreams, perhaps there I could stand a chance of besting the fear.

The next day when I awoke, still alive, the feeling of being watched had subsided, and the fear had diminished, but it remained. The fear remained in my memory, a specter haunting my thoughts. Perhaps something had been disturbed during the move, some hidden evil from childhood. Some long forgot secret doing of mine, a horror of my own past too despicable to recall. While the fear had temporarily passed, I knew it would live on in the back of my mind, pressing me. It would be there, forever waiting, lurking just off the periphery in the dark, biding its time.

***

            Something was definitely not right in the world, or at least in me, I could tell that much. This gnawing feeling in my guts, a feeling I often felt all my life, like the fear, signified some tragedy. I wasn’t sure what was wrong though, everything seemed fine with me. Aside from the bad break up and worse hangover everything seemed fine. One thing I did know was that I needed to sober up. I needed to be able to see the world through clear eyes again, not shrouded in a haze of bong smoke or sheltered behind beer goggles. While I had come a long way from Golden, the General’s words were still fresh in my head. Encouraging words, psalms of strength from a slightly shell-shocked bible-thumping trucker, words that might normally have fallen on deaf ears but they stuck with me. “If you knew what to expect on the test what would be the point in testing you?” There wouldn’t be a point. Even worse, if you knew what to expect but were still punished for your mistakes, then life really was about playing your part and dealing out punishments on those who forget their place or seek to change it. I refuse to live in a world that is afraid of change. Evolution is the only constant and I will evolve from my shortcomings.

See an updated version of this post on The Leaf Online,Cannabinoid Profile – THCv!

Formula: C21H30O2? (All the information I read online said THCv had the same molecular formula as THC, but it looks like it might be bound in a different configuration.)
Molecular Mass: 314.47g/mol

Decarboxylation Point: ???
Boiling Point: <220°C (428°F)

LD50 (Lethal Dose):  Unknown, likely comparable to THC. (Compare to Nicotine: for mice – 3mg/kg for humans – 40–60 mg/kg)

THCv is a non-psychoactive variant of THC. The other major difference between the two is that instead of stimulating appetite, the famed ‘munchies,’ THCv actually suppresses appetite. For that reason THCv is being heavily researched as a weight loss tool. Like many cannabinoids it is an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic, though less strong than CBD and THC, but using different mechanisms in the body.

Therapeutic Uses

Analgesic – Relieves pain.

Anorectic – Appetite suppressant, promotes weight loss.

Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.

Anti-Epileptic – Reduces seizures and convulsions.

Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.

Bone Stimulant – Promotes bone growth.

Euphoriant – Produces feelings of euphoria, promotes happiness and relaxation.

Currently Being Studied For

Diabetes: A combination CDB/THCv tincture is in a phase 2 clinical trial as a way to mitigate diabetes. GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company, is a world leader in cannabis research. GW is presently examining CBD/THCv’s abilities to ameliorate insulin sensitivity.

Weight Loss: The same mechanisms that allow THCv to combat diabetes combined with THCv’s anorectic properties make it an effective way to combat obesity and control weight gain. GW Pharmaceuticals is also leading this research. GW believes in THCv so much they have even patented its abilities to combat weight gaining and diabetes.

Parkinson’s Disease: THCv is a cannabinoid that has been identified that can aid in Parkinson’s Disease by attenuating the motor inhibition caused by 6-hydroxydopamine. It also has various related mechanisms that assist in treating Parkinson’s.

Anti-Inflammatory: This study was only done on mice but if other studies are any indication of success it should apply similarly to humans, but THCv shows to be an anti-inflammatory. It works through a different mechanism than other anti-inflammatory drugs, THCv inhibits cyclic AMP production by hCB(2) CHO cells, but does not inhibit other affiliated cells. The whole thing seemed to rely on the CB 2 receptors.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15302527

http://www.google.com/patents/EP2356987A1?cl=en

Halent 2011 - Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Chart

References:

  1. Steep Hill Lab, Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Reference Guide; http://steephilllab.com/resources/cannabinoid-and-terpenoid-reference-guide/
  2. Skunk Pharm Research, Cannabinoid and Terpene Info; http://skunkpharmresearch.com/cannabinoid-info/
  3. SC Labs, Meet the Cannabinoids; http://sclabs.com/learn/learn-cannabinoids.html

*Note: Decarboyxlation – A chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases  CO2, often triggered by heat.

Back from a brief hiatus from blogging to focus on other projects I’m back to fill your inboxes and thought-boxes with new blog updates. Today will just be a brief guide for my fellow Californians on how to conserve water. While this will be a short post it may be one of the most important things I post given that California is in its worse drought in 500 years. If it wasn’t bad enough it not appears to be getting worse. Things are so bad that the Governor and many cities are calling for voluntary rationing. The life or death question is – why the bloody hell hasn’t anyone made rationing mandatory? Hellooooo guys, worst drought ever, what about that isn’t scaring you into imposing mandatory rationing? My current city and hometown of San Francisco leads the state, using 49 gallons per person per day on average  versus 100.

1. If it is yellow leave it mellow, if it is brown flush it down. We probably all heard this as kids from environmentally conscious parents, I know I heard it enough were it became rote. I would imagine that is a result of growing up in California and dealing with near constant droughts all my life. We Californians should be used to drought conditions by now. This is a major one since your average toilet flush uses over 2.5 gallons of water and is flushed over 5 times a day. That’s over 12 gallons a day for most toilets.

2. Shower less. No really, shower less. If you currently shower daily, shower ever other day, if you already shower less often than daily cut back to less. I’m showering twice a week now and no one has said a peep, it’s amazing what deodorant and changing your shirt daily can do. At Burning Man I went a solid ten days without a shower, that is pretty close to my maximum limit in the dusty context of the Playa. No shower for ten days does not mean not bathing, you can do wonders wiping yourself down with baby wipes (even your hair). Showers account for 17% of residential water use. Most showers average 7-10 gallons a minute, but there are ways to reduce that. Think about that next time you extend that morning shower just because it ‘feels nice.’ BTW, despite that ten days of dusty no-showers I still consider myself a clean freak, just less OCD than I used to be.

3. Develop a system for washing dishes. I’m working on implementing a system in my house with a soaking tub to reuse water for soaking and minimize the use of new water for rinsing. Using cast iron is also immensely helpful since you hardly ever use water to clean cast iron.

4. Cook things that use less water. I love making soup, but soup is half water. Now is not the best time to be making soup if you can opt for cooking things that use less water. Rice and pasta are also pretty water intense. You can always use cooked in pasta water as grey-water for watering plants once it has cooled!

5. Use your grey water. Whenever possible find ways to reuse your water. One thing I often do is use the same water to rinse out multiple bottles to put in the recycling. Oh yea, did you know you’re supposed to wash out your recycling and not leave it filled with food remains? Common courtesy folks and it makes the somewhat inefficient recycling process slightly more cost effective. You can use any water without chemicals in it to water plants; I would not recommend using dish water unless you are using a totally biodegradable/organic/all natural soap. The food waste could be an issue, or compost?

6. Set up a rain capture system. There are various ways to do this but most are variants on a barrel design. You can even pull water out of thin air using a fog capture system, something I am considering for my home in San Francisco.

7. Let your lawn die. Just stop watering it, let it go fallow, then plough that crap under and make a garden. If you are going to use water to maintain plants at least make sure they are drought resistant plants or useful things like food-baring plants/herbs.

8. Stop washing your car. I don’t even have a car anymore so I stopped this years ago. Thankfully cleaning a bike is much more water efficient than washing a car too. At the least create a more efficient system to wash your car, efficiency is the name of the game.

9. Gamify saving water, especially with kids. I like to use gamification to turn mundane things into fun games I can play with myself and the world. One game I am big on right now is “how little water can I use today?” For children you can try rewarding them for positive behavior, such as praise for taking a shorter shower or remembering to leave yellow mellow. I leave the games up to the individual as only the individual will know what properly motivates them to right action.

10. Group showers? What happens in San Francisco stays in San Francisco…

[EDIT]11. Transform sewer water into drinking water. Yep, it’s possible and here is the DIY guide on how to make what you need to do it. I’m ready for the apocalypse.

Hey everyone, had a busy week here picking up a couple new jobs, but I will try to get some more regular postings. Without further to do, here is a recipe for some homemade triple sec/citrus liquor. Honestly, calling this triple sec is a bit insulting to it, it’s more similar to an orangecello, though even that isn’t quite right. For this batch I used the peels of organic murcott tangerines that I got from a local farmers market. I usually use dried peels as they have an indefinite shelf life; these peels were from last summer/fall. I finished this batch off with some of the ginger simple syrup I cooked the previous week to create a tangerine-ginger triple sec. Read on and try it yourself!

This is a FLAME HAZARD. If you are not careful watching this and you are cooking on a stove top like me, without a real still, there is a very real chance of it catching on fire. Vodka is definitely flammable, and orange essential oil is extremely  flammable. Combine the two and it is a recipe for a giant 2 foot tall pretty blue flame, like I saw when mine caught on fire the other day. This is my fourth or fifth time doing this now and first fire. The fire is VERY  easy to put out, even easier than it is to start, just put a lid on it and turn the heat off. It is seriously that easy and you don’t ruin your triple sec. This was honestly the best batch I have ever made.

01

You will need: An empty jar, vodka or another neutral spirit, sugar, and orange peels (fresh or dried). If you plan to dry your peels to use them make sure they are TOTALLY dried out, or they will mold. I’ve lost peels to that before.

03

 

Step 1: Fill your empty jar with orange peels, don’t cram it full but put as many a you can comfortably fit. Fill the empty space with vodka and leave it for 1-2 weeks. One week is enough to infuse the orange essential oils into the vodka, but an extra week doesn’t hurt.

06

Step 3: Pour out your orange peels and vodka into the pot that you will use to cook in. Squeeze residual vodka out of the peels into the mix and add some more vodka to cut down the strength of the flavor.

07

Step 4: Bring to a boil covered, then uncover and stir quickly. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SPILL ANY! Alcohol and orange essential oil are  both super flammable, spilling any while cooking is almost a guaranteed cooking fire and no one wants that. As an aside, the giant blue flame I made was very pretty.

08

Here is what the finished product looks like, very dark in color compared to usually bland and colorless triple sec. The flavor is rich and multilayered, perfect for sipping by itself or using in a cocktail. If you are interested in some more awesome  recipes check out Punk Domestics. That “Last Gasp of Summer” sounds awesome.