Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Surviving and keeping sane whilst attempting to transcend the asylum

I've been insanely busy lately, and have been writing about other things such as The Teen Brain on Cannabis. As much as I love the stuff, it's important to learn about the negative effects it can have, as well as to think about the causes of teen drug use.

Though my The Amazing Meeting (TAM) series is still somewhat backburnered, here's a little taste: Richard Saunders (who I heart forever) interviewed me about the Solar Flare drawings I had made (now framed and in Australia). You can hear that at about 15:45 in episode 301 of the Skeptic Zone.

Last weekend, I was shooting a commercial for Rob (hypnotist of doom), and have been learning more about hypnosis, mentalism, magic, scientology, faith healing and acupuncture and how they're all basically suggestion techniques used for different purposes.

Before moving onto the rest of my news, I bet some of you are wondering who I was trying to drag through the Ultimate Skeptic's Head Trip parts 1-3. That would be the very sweet, square, snarky, skeptical and strange musician/entertainment guy, George Hrab.

Last winter and spring, I was able to occasionally blog about how doubleplus ungood my life had become, considering that it required less brainpower than writing about science. During whatever tedium was at hand, I spent a lot of time listening to many of Geo's earlier podcasts. It really helped me to make fun of the actual crazy-making going on around me.

As I listened back and forth between semi-random older episodes as well as the newest ones, I noticed that Geo started out having more sketches and segments, whereas in newer episodes he mentioned how he doesn't do as much of that as before.

In one of the newer episodes, he talked about how he has lived in the same place and has retained the same recreational habits for the past 20 years. He also said that he's never had to go through any sort of terrible ordeal or illness. I recognized this lack of upheaval as one of the probable reasons his creative output and evolution no longer seemed to be going as fast as previously.

At times, I was also experiencing a lot of really neat, hypnosis-related surreality in my life as well as learning various ways of building one's mental flexibility and creativity. However, due to my decision to take care of my ex, I was using these skills to improve my 'adaptation to tough times' ability.

For months, neither my brain nor laptop were both functioning and online, thus making writing, building my own mental flexibility, and checking sources all the more difficult. I did, occasionally, climb out of the muck and revert once again to my clear-headed state long enough to study more survival and sanity skills for a few days.

Fighting to internalize this knowledge, I figured that at very least, I should be able to write something from the top of my head about this subject which would be intelligible enough to be interesting or even useful. Not so much for a blog post, but for emails, and one of those emails went to Geo.

It might have stopped there, except I also noticed that Geo often mentioned that he didn't do any mind-altering drugs -- except the (mind-narrowing) substances caffeine and tobacco.

He didn't seem to think those narrow his creativity, so to speak, yet he has opined that mind-expanding drugs, among others, probably hinder other musicians' creativity. Yes, this includes The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and the one he practically has a segment about, Yes.

That really blew my mind.

Quite the opposite would seem to be true, which is a subject worthy of its own skeptical blog post. It took a few more mentions of drugs in newer episodes of his show before I actually got thinking about writing to him on the subject.

Around that time, I discovered that Geo's friends at Skeptic's Guide to the Universe had interviewed Jennifer Ouellette about her study of the self and how dropping acid seems to have been the most interesting/unique part of this.

I recalled Geo once saying that he was not even curious about looking at things differently from any sort of drug-altered perspective, and probably never would be. Assuming he was aware of Ouellette's explorations, I wondered did he think any differently about this at all?

One thing led to another, and... let's just say, I had a bit of time on my hands to spend on keeping myself sane, while also attempting to keep my office on the outside of the asylum. Soon enough, I had to put my belongings in storage, went off to The Amazing Meeting not knowing if I would have a home afterward, and then found myself living in an even more cramped place than ever.

Later, I figured my emails about chemically-induced worlds would be better spent as a more general message to skeptics, so I put them on my blog, starting here. After finishing Part 3, I got a Facebook comment from another of the Skeptic community saying that now he was curious about trying LSD himself.

I was almost surprised to have sparked such significant curiosity for someone. Of course, there are laws against the safest psychedelics in much of the world, and the experiences thereof, and Part 4 will focus on some of the reasons why that is.

As for other parts of my life, there have been a lot of ups and downs, although the overall trend tends to be ups.

For a bit of a recap, after all these absurdly brutal events, I am now living in an even more absurd situation, during which my ex and I have been getting along progressively better.

At first we had four roommates, although six now seems a bit crowded. My ex is has much improved since withdrawing from serious pain meds and going back to work.
` No, he still hasn't had any medical treatment for his back injury, but he did invent an especially strong cannabis oil, and put substantial amounts of it into a skin cream. He uses that to prevent the inflammation and subsequent vomiting that has sent him to the ER so many times.
` The injury shrunk noticeably when he used it several times a day, despite an otherwise lack of treatment. I wrote an article about this on World Cannabis, for further details.
` So, now that my ex is working again and not dying of stomach paralysis, he is planning to sue those who have been preventing him from opening his work injury claim for the past two years.

As for my writing ability, things have been going really well since I've had a chair that allows me to sit with good posture, i.e. not crouching. This has had a profound impact on my amount of muscle pain, mood, etc.
` Originally, I had planned to turn more of my attention to my various books and magazines, mostly sciencey stuff, and get back to writing about my masses of learning material. However, those things are still in storage because we don't have the amount of space we were originally promised.

My life has changed a lot since I've been cut off from a lot of my normal activities, although a good friend of mine is lending one of his four corners to my Clavinova electric piano, which is enough reason to be eternally grateful.
` I am able to practice at least a few times a week, even record more music for my as-yet-unreleased mind-bending podcast.
` Until I find an acceptable "outside" to the asylum, I don't think I will have enough time to publish episodes on a regular basis, although who says they have to be on a regular basis?

In other news, lately I have spent time with a skepticy friend from out of town, and we even went to Steven's Pass. The Lighthouse Festival aftermath party was excellent as usual, fireworks and all. This time Dr. Hypno was there, discussing hypnosis with one of our former neighbors, and actually hyonotizing her daughter, who has been keen on it for some time.
` I also got to play the piano, which I had never done before there, and apparently amazed everyone who was listening. I did not, however, try hypnotizing anyone -- party environments tend to discourage that with me, at least.
` A few days later, I visited our former neighbors at their house as well, and it was really nice to be able to talk to them and also feel more sane. There were some interesting conversations, but I'll save those topics for another post.

I also spent a weekend with Rintu Basu and some other interesting and hypnotic people, and not long after I spent some tourist-watching with the mild-mannered Matt "the Tube" Crowley, who has recently moved back to Seattle.
` Even just being around different people than I'm used to, especially ones who are helpful to my state of mind, seems to be helping to keep my brain in order.
` That and poking holes in my assumptions -- a subject that Rob (the hypnotist of doom) talked about as the first caller on Stefan Molyneux's show here. Interesting stuff.

It's taken me about two months to finish writing this post, and I was going to wait until I was able to upload some accompanying photos, but alas I must get back to writing about cannabis and finding another vehicle and place to live that's outside the asylum.


  1. I'm glad to hear what's been going on in you life, Spoony. I'm still a bit confused but I suppose that goes along with being 68. I'll do my best to keep up with your doings. Be blessed, dear friend.

  2. Thank you, Nick! Don't worry, the confusion is normal :-)


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