A Valuable Lesson

Everyone wants to be cool all the time. Nobody is cool all the time. So nobody gets what everybody wants. What a waste of fucking time. I want to be nice all the time. I want to say nice things that make people happy, that make people feel seen, so that the world can become a better place. Love will increase. Suffering will decrease. Not linearly, sadly. But over the long haul, the trend is upwards. I want to contribute what I can.

But again, nobody can be cool all the time. So there will be times when you think you’re saying something nice, but it isn’t perceived that way. Love does not increase, and suffering does not decrease. This only happens sometimes. But I don’t like it when it happens. It makes me feel all crawly. And then I feel like I’ve made somebody’s day worse, not better, and that’s a fucking terrible outcome. So then I get in a tizzy, and start trying to do “damage control”. Sending messages and shit, sometimes faster than the replies come, so they stack up, and I keep thinking of really important things to say, and by the time they get back to it, there’s like five longish messages waiting. Now they really are annoyed.

So instead, you have to try to be cool all the time, even though you will definitely fail some of the time. So, say there’s been a mishap of some kind. An unfortunate misunderstanding, perhaps. So you just hafta play it cool. Don’t spam them. Chances are, whoever it is will get over it quickly without your intervention. Let it be. Sometimes not doing a thing is the best thing you can do. If it continues to be a problem, then you can maybe say something about it. But you’ll be saying it from a position of deeper understanding of the issue, than if you’d said something immediately.

I hope we can all learn a valuable lesson here.

Thermostat Pot

Thermostat Pot
Body modification
“Pot” is short for “potentiometer”, which is basically a volume knob. A volume knob that is surgically/magically grafted to you in the body location of your choice. Once installed, the knob works flawlessly forever, and you can use it to control what temperature the air feels like to you. Are you cold? Bump up the thermostat pot. Hot? Turn down the thermostat pot. You will feel hotter/colder, and you will be able to interact with the environment without suffering undue harm from temperature extremes. So like, you can go into a refrigerated warehouse and not suffer any discomfort. Assuming you turn up the thermostat pot sufficiently, you will be comfortable and will not get hypothermia or whatever. Turn it down, and cool your heels in a sauna. That kind of thing. But like, if somebody throws a rock at you, even if it’s a hot rock and your thermostat pot is turned down, it’s still gonna kill you.

There’s a detent in the middle of the knob; that’s the “Off” position. When you turn the knob to that position, you will experience the environment as it is, not magically modified. And then you go up or down from there.

There are limits to how much the Thermostat Pot can correct for. Can you turn your pot all the way down and then safely walk through a bonfire? Well, no. But the actual limits depend on the person. As a general rule, you shouldn’t expect to survive unharmed for too long in more than 200 degrees F, or less than -20 degrees F.

The thermostat pot will not harm you. So if you experience sudden temperature changes for whatever reason, and find yourself with, say, your thermostat pot turned all the way up in a 100 degrees F room, you won’t spontaneously combust. The thermostat pot has a failsafe where, if its settings will harm you, it temporarily shuts down and will not function until such time as it is turned to the “Off” position. It then resets and can be further adjusted from there.

About the Magic

SilencedHippie

Sunday, July 17th was Sasha’s (SilenceHippie’s) 30th birthday. I told her in the livestream that her 30s were her reward for surviving her 20s, which is a saying I came up with when I was her age, seventeen years ago. She saw it, and totally dug it, read it out loud to the stream, texted it right then to her boyfriend and other people she knew, and posted it on her Instagram, 57.9k followers. And didn’t give me any credit. Of course I’m kidding. 🙂 I’m tickled pink that something I wrote was that well-received.

So technically, I said it to the chat in addition to saying it to her. I think there were about 150 people on the stream at that point. Then she tells it to family and friends, and she says it to 57,900 Instagram followers, and sha-blam. I’m gonna live forever. Not in name. But my words will persist. I take no small satisfaction in this.

While I’ve got you here, let me tell you more about Sasha, now that you know how old she is. I’ve been wanting to write about her for years, but I was keeping my herbal pursuits on the down low. Sasha, as mentioned, is SilencedHippie, one of the old-school WeedTubers, that is, YouTubers who feature cannabis content. That’s the fancy way of saying it. The unfancy way of saying it is, they film themselves smoking weed and post it on YouTube. Non-stoners might wonder what the appeal is there, but as a stoner I can tell you that we are starved for representation. Or at least I was at the time. Seeing media of people actually smoking weed (not movie smoking, the real fucking thing) was electrifying the first few times. Then it just became comforting. People who are attractive and/or engaging can garner subscribers who want to watch them smoke and be stoned. Subscribing to a WeedTuber’s channel is a little like having a smoking buddy. That’s how it started. The WeedTube scene has morphed, shifted, and matured over the years. Sasha is a “cannabis influencer” now.

However, Sasha has recently sorta shifted her YouTube focus to a different channel, one that can be monetized. This means it will not have weedy content. This is the SashaLee channel. It’s still finding its legs. Mostly it’s been gardening content, which is good, I’ve really enjoyed it. But a lot of her audience is particularly drawn to the weedy content. So they are gonna take some winning over. Personally, I’ve already been won over. Weed was what drew me to Sasha’s channel in the beginning, but I’ve stayed because of Sasha. You see, to me, Sasha is like serotonin in cannabis influencer form. Her content is universally peaceful, calming, and full of love.

The old videos where she does bong rips and talks about her life and hangs out and stuff are all still at the SilencedHippie channel. New content in this vein has moved to Twitch, a livestreaming platform. That kind of “hang out and smoke” content is a perfect fit for Twitch. And there’s a whole community of people who do weedy streams. On Twitch, Sasha is SashaHippie.

I’ve been regularly looking in on the Twitch streams since April. The first time I went on, there was a giveaway. I entered on a lark, and I won! Thus guaranteeing that I would seek to win another. I haven’t yet. There have been a few. Perhaps someday. I did come in 9th place on one recently, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten.

I never thought I would say this, but the best SilencedHippie experience is on Twitch these days. I resisted going to Twitch from YouTube; I no longer remember why. Twitch is so much better than YouTube for this content, and Sasha streams six days a week. On YouTube, you’re lucky to get one video a week, that’s maybe 10-15 minutes long. Sasha’s usually on for at least an hour when she streams. An hour of calm, peace, serenity, and quiet joy.

Happy birthday, Sasha. I find your content to be therapeutic, and over the years you’ve helped me get through a lot, so thanks. You make people’s lives better.

Culture 26

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!

— Richard Harris, “MacArthur Park” (1968)

The Scale of Stonedness

Here’s the scale for reference. Essay to follow.

0. Not Stoned. You are not under the influence of cannabis in any way.

1. Slightly Stoned. You’re starting to feel it a little bit. This level also covers those weird hangover feelings.

2. Stoned. You have arrived. You are beyond buzzed and have entered the room of stonedness.

3. Well Stoned. You are more stoned, and it feels great.

4. Very Stoned. You are starting to get/are getting significantly impaired. Still feels great, though.

5. Too Stoned. You wish you had maybe done a little less.

When something happens to you, it is sometimes helpful to quantify that experience. How many times have you encountered the phrase, “On a scale from one to ten”? Particularly in the medical field, they’re always asking you to rate your pain from one to ten. And they do this because it forces you to take something that’s in your head and describe it in terms that others can understand and work with. Assigning a number value to your experience helps them help you.

And here’s the thing. The medical scale is useful because it is subjective. When somebody gives a 7 for their pain, the doctor doesn’t know how much pain they’re in. Instead, the doctor knows that the pain feels like a 7 to this patient, and they can work from there. It’s not a rating of pain, it’s a rating of how the patient perceives their pain. I think this is interesting, but I’m afraid maybe I’m getting sidetracked by semantics. Let’s go to the next paragraph.

It’s not at all surprising that stoners have attempted to apply the 1-10 scale to recreational cannabis consumption. But most of the scales I’ve seen fall short of being useful. Typically, they list specific symptoms (head buzz, red eyes, etc.) or degrees of severity of said symptoms, and assign a number. Then, presumably, someone who has memorized the chart, can analyze their symptoms and pick an appropriate number. Right. What actually happens is, they pick a number based on how they feel. So even though it’s predicated on objectivity, its use is primarily subjective.

I say, skip right to the subjective. The Scale of Stonedness does not care how red your eyes are. It’s just a list of overall impressions of how you’re doing. Use the Scale of Stonedness, and anyone who knows the scale will be able to gauge what condition your condition is in. Or at least, they’ll know how you think you’re feeling.

“But you can do that by just talking,” I hear you say. And that’s very true. However, this scale was invented in 2011 for use in my diary, where it is very convenient to have a single-digit shorthand for how I’m doing. I find it incredibly useful.

Some notes on the specific levels.

3. Well Stoned. What exactly does “well stoned” mean? Well, here’s a subjective metaphor. At 2, as was mentioned, you have entered into the room of stonedness. At 3, you have kicked your shoes off and are lounging in an enormous purple bean bag and sipping a complimentary beverage in the room of stonedness. It’s more/better high, that’s all.

5. Too Stoned. You are at level 5 when you wish you had done less weed for some reason. It could be because you are all fucked up/physically sick or some shit; or it could be circumstantial, like a situation where you didn’t realize you were gonna hafta give a speech to a hundred people, say. If you had known that was gonna happen, you wouldn’t’ve done the weed, right? Of course right. Welcome to level 5.

Finally, a discussion of descriptors.

Sometimes, you have a 2 that is more strong than the average 2, but you don’t consider it a 3. Likewise, you may have a 3 that is less strong or slightly diminished, but you don’t consider it a 2. This would be a high 2, and a low 3, respectively. “high” and “low” are the terms I use, but any terms can be substituted.

These are descriptors that qualify your level. 0-5 is a good start, but if you say you’re at a high or low 3, people know more about your situation than if you had just said you’re at a 3. Descriptors are completely optional. I use them all the time and find them quite useful.

Culture 25

“Volcano” by The Presidents of the United States of America (1996). I love the word play in this song. And in many other POTUSA songs as well. Almost always puts me in a good mood. Ironic, really, since the song is about hellish death. I mean, it’s not really about hellish death, but hellish death is definitely part of the subject matter.

Culture 24

“Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. This is a sad song. It’s about lost love. There’s a line.

You don’t know what you’ve got
Till you lose it all again.

I defy this line. I know exactly what I’ve got right now, I understand in detail the blessings of my life. I make it a point to keep it somewhat in mind. I try to take nothing for granted.

Pretty song, though.

Pocket Car

Pocket Car
Item
This is a little matchbox car kind of a thing. If you set it down somewhere where there’s room, and you utter the incantation, the little car will slowly grow and turn into a real, full size, drivable car. The transition takes about thirty seconds. Naturally, it looks just like the little version. The car is electric, with a range of about 500 miles. If it runs out of charge, you can stop the car and get out, and utter the reverse incantation, and the car will shrink back down to a matchbox car again. Wait ten minutes, grow it back up, and it will be fully charged. The car can be shrunk with your belongings inside. They will be perfectly restored the next time you grow the car.

About the Magic

Lithium

Lithium. I’ve been taking lithium well over a decade now. What does it do for me? Well, there’s the shakes. I have a slight tremor in both hands that prevents me from being able to do detailed work with my hands. I can’t make the pictures I used to make, I can’t put together Blood Bowl miniatures, I can’t hold a camera steady, and about thirty percent of the time I do something on a touchscreen, I miss. Thirty? At least twenty.

Then there’s the weight gain. When I went on lithium, I rapidly gained sixty pounds. I was fat before, but now I’m really fat. So there’s inconveniences all the time when you’re my size, from buying clothing to fitting into fucking chairs. It’s a big stressful hassle.

Then there’s the stupid. Lithium blunts my intellect. I’m still smart, but man, I used to be sharper. Quicker. When I first went on the lithium, there was a noticeable diminishing of my cognitive mojo. Since then, I think my brain has been learning to work with the issue, and there have been improvements. But my mental capabilities have never come all the way back after going on lithium.

So how do I know it’s the lithium, and not the weed, that makes me stupid? Well, I wasn’t on weed when I started lithium. I hadn’t smoked for years, and I would go on to not smoke for years more while I was on lithium. Weed makes me a little stupider as well, but in a different way to the lithium. And it seems to be more focused on when you’re stoned, and then when you’re not stoned, you’re closer to fully functional. But not quite a hundred percent. This isn’t about weed, though.

Lithium fucks with my thyroid. I’m now on thyroid hormones to keep my shit regulated.

Lithium causes increased thirst and increased urination. This manifests by ambushing me when I drink. I’ll nonchalantly grab a water bottle, meaning to get a swig and move on with my day, but then the water feels so incredible going in, and it shoulders its way down my throat, and I let it happen because it just feels so good. Over time I’ve mastered this side effect as well, sort of. I “manage” it by drinking a shitload of water. I’m not sure how much exactly, but I know it’s over a gallon a day. (Incidentally, I know the risks of over-consumption of water, and I know I’m not at risk for that.) And of course, the flipside is that when I’m at home, it feels like I pee every fifteen goddamn minutes. But I don’t mind peeing, for the most part. I do worry some about my kidneys going out. I’m on Risperdal, and that’s hard on the kidneys as well. But this isn’t about Risperdal.

I know there was one other thing lithium does for me, but I’m having trouble remembering it. Oh, right, I remember — IT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING. I had occasion to reduce my lithium dosage for six months recently. We were checking to see if I really needed to take 1350mg when 900mg might do the trick. Spoiler: yes, I need 1350mg. With lithium, it takes a while for things to normalize after a dosage adjustment. So for six months I had reduced side effects, but I also had reduced effects. I was a basket case by the end of that six months. I saw a glimpse into 2008 that I did not like at all. In the end I went back up on the lithium, and everything is much, much closer to fine now.

That’s the dilemma of all drug treatments. Weighing the benefits with the negative side effects and making a call. Oftentimes, there’s no clear-cut “good” call. In the case of lithium, I do feel that there’s a good call. And that call is, I’m not willing to go without it. If some force or entity takes away my lithium in the future, it will be done without my consent.