50 things I’d like to know about

didn’t plan on writing this & will simply type as quickly as possible

  1. The names, basic character traits, and small happenings of my neighbors (or folks within a few-blocks-radius)
  2. What the fuck over-easy over-hard sunny-side-up etc. means with eggs. But do I really care to know that? Not really
  3. neuropsychoimmunology
  4. how people think
  5. whether or not i’m the type of person who would fuck up with power tools (slice an arm off), or be skilled with them (masterful craftsperson), or just some unremarkable middle version of those things
  6. what’s up with theatre- and performance-related behaviors
  7. how to quit eating meat
  8. about this strange-tendency-to-almost-communicate-with-nonhuman-animals (EG cat can be prompted to come over/come, but not to do other things, why)
  9. how it feels to be physically addled with _______________ (shrapnel wounds, severe scarring, crohn’s, chronic mysterious unknown undiagnosed pain, bizarre allergies, a broken femur after a car accident, an issue with healthy eating, etc)
  10. drawing
  11. the lakes of tokyo
  12. the rivers of china
  13. the various greeneries of ireland
  14. the speculations that occur while swimming between Hawaiian islands
  15. what cartoonists think about when they’re drawing/rendering all those goddamned cartoons for movies. do they think about cartoons on their cigarette breaks & about cigarettes while drawing?
  16. how it feels to be a really good dancer
  17. how it feels to have 2 dogs at home who miss you a lot
  18. whatever happened with that airport/welcome home sign
  19. how street signs are made
  20. it’d be neat to know about these mathematician motherfuckers who are able to connect issues like the growth/division of tree branches with the hox genes that influence embryonic development, i mean what do those mathematician motherfuckers do for fun? play bridge? go on hiking trips based out of their used Subarus? apply for tenure? What do they do?
  21. how to knit things
  22. how to be that ultimate overall survival-cool-badass-guy who can whittle knives out of sand and shit like that, even though deep down there’s probably a knowing that it’ll never be necessary
  23. proper dancing strategies
  24. whether or not i’m really interested in 100 different things
  25. the applicability of neuroscience studies
  26. footwork
  27. carving vs other aspects of striking
  28. basic newtonian mechanics & internalizing them
  29. how the fuck does mental math work?
  30. how would it feel to practice _________ religion?  how would people look at me if i believed ______________? If I wore _____________, signifying _________________?
  31. what sorts of funny mess-ups (or successes) have occurred in the unseen and unknown ERs of the world? has anyone ever made an IV out of a drinking straw?
  32. How old the average person is when they learn how to cite APA/harvard/MLA style etc. without consulting google. On second thought, maybe the average person never learns these things
  33. how it feels to really travel
  34. what the maintenance guys who painted the apartment hallways thought about while they were painting
  35. why my arm itches so badly right now
  36. whether or not the strong compulsion to have a career related to pharmacology / microbiology / molecular neuroscience will be fruitful. is the specific material dance of biochemical happenings going to lead to helpful insights? is it better to just have friends/colleagues/who work in that area?
  37. if bruce lee were still alive……just, i mean, what if? (sigh) that’d be neat
  38. what does dr. dre think about when he’s pissed off? does he have a lot of alone time?
  39. what makes a good writer? is it a danger to even ask?
  40. which crazy motherfucker was the first one to hop on a horse & just be like, “hey, let’s ride”
  41. are there review boards that assess/test the tastes of vodka? what are the qualifications for being on such a board, and on average, what is the makeup of vodka taste-testers?
  42. how would it feel to be 22 years deep into a life sentence at a federal prison, & still not be 40 years old, & to spend 23 hours a day in a tiny cage? which moments would feel peaceful?
  43. who just facebook messaged me?
  44. What’s it like to set & achieve a 10-year goal? a 20-year goal?
  45. What’re the ways to best support others in achieving their 10-year goals? 20-year goals?
  46. What’re the ways to best be there & support others who don’t / will never achieve their 10-year goals? 20-year goals ?
  47. Now that I can make my own sorbet, how long til I’m dead?
  48. what’s with limbic systems? crying & laughing have a weird amount in common. It’s like a rubber band stretching too far & snapping back into place – a teeter totter smacking into the ground. the teeter totter is itself a 3d object that when viewed from the side pretty much forms a line, tilting back and forth upon a center point. one might look at this line in front of them & imagine that there is a graph, with this line superimposed on it. when the teeter totter is perfectly balanced the line runs left-right, and when the teeter totter is tipping the line is tipping along the axes (say the center point of the teeter-totter is at (0,3) and the teeter totter is exactly 10 units long. when you consider laughing & crying you’ll notice that they take place during extreme mood states & that often, though not always, they are followed by a mood state that is less extreme or closer to baseline. examples of this might include – the way that extreme laughter due to a joke, tickling, built-up tension, simmering awkwardness, or actual discomfort eventually dispels itself and leads back to a real calm. other examples might include – that calm, semi-orgasmic feeling after a serious cry. let’s think less about what crying/laughter means culturally & more about what it means inside your fleshsack – your heart rate is increasing, you’re heaving, convulsing, & your eyes are leaking. whether it’s a friend stabbing at your armpits with a tickly finger or a friendly uppercut to the same area, the average human will avoid allowing un-boned and un-skinned tissues to potential forces. tickling looks a lot like a pain response, is what i’m getting at. what’s about that? why does the extreme limbic state – that of panic, anxiety, crying – feel so much like that WHACK on your ass on the teeter totter – that which pushes you back, more forcefully than before, into a baseline? I would go as far to say that the limbic momentum leading into a cry does predict & have an influence on the speed & nature of the bounce-back. so, when a fit of crying-due-to-laughter comes on QUICKLY & sharply, or a fit of crying-due-to-sadness comes on slowly and chronically, the come-down from those experiences is (respectively) similar. Why? If we took the slope of the teeter totter in the aforementioned graph (assuming the teeter totter bounces/stops when its endpoints strike the x-axis) it would vary between +3/4 and -3/4. let’s say the change in slope over time is predictive of the limbic response – so, say, the teeter totter starts tipped. we can say the left half is tipped/touching the ground in this example. when it bounce up to baseline the slope changes – from +3/4 to 0. it just seems that the feedback limiting one’s crying/laughing to a certain point has a fulcrum, & that it must be biological. folks with mood issues & poor regulation of their limbic systems might have unbalanced teeter totters – overly-slippery in mania, overly-rusted in depression-etc. what’s with that? I’d like to know why tickling/pain responses seem so similar, and how people differ in having accelerated/fast or delayed/slow limbic responses to events. It just seems so weird, that laughing/crying similarity.
  49. how many youtube videos about karate do i have to watch before becoming, yknow, like a really tough guy?
  50. what’s the difference between me and you? (about five bank accounts, 3 ounces, and 2 vehicles)
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Instantiation of incentive value and movement invigoration by distinct midbrain dopamine circuits (Saunders et. al)

Cool paper:

Instantiation of incentive value and movement invigoration by distinct midbrain dopamine circuits

Never stop reading! This paper is pretty representative of the research I’d like to be doing within the next several years. Haven’t finished reading it but am enjoying it & wanted to post here. I’m noticing that when research articles or readings are really tremendously exciting I come to ramble about them before actually finishing them.

The lead researcher on this study is a dude by the name of Benjamin T. Saunders. He got an undergrad degree from West Virginia University, a PhD at the University of Michigan, and then did some postdoc research at UCSF and then Johns Hopkins. He’s now opened a lab at the University of Minnesota that came to my attention via a random listserve email from the U of M. They’re doing cool stuff related to dopamine, reward, etc. & I want to keep track of it. The techniques they’ll be using in the lab (EG optogenetic signalling) are things I’ve read about in class but never really read about in real life. And if they’re doing it over at the U that makes me curious about going to take a look at their lab.

So what’s with distinct midbrain dopamine circuits? Why should we care?

 

Tripping in context

Let’s say you’re sitting at a bar. You’re 1.5 drinks in: confidence blows in the sail of your diaphragm, smiles are beginning to seep from your cheeks, and the voice in your head informs your sad, previously sober-self: What the hell – I really can achieve my goals, and I really do take myself too seriously, and thank the lord for alcohol! We have to do this more often, you mopey fuck!” As GABA floats across the lanes of your head-highways your brain – rather, you – find yourself settling into a disorganized and disinhibited state of bliss. Euphoria is too complicated a word for a feeling this normal. You’re calm once more.

You’re alone in that sense. Somehow your eyes receive some brainspace from your nose, which has utterly hijacked your experience with an awful perfume smell. An older woman 2 seats over is the hare to your tortoise and the current colonizer of your nostrils. You see that she is already a walking (sitting) vessel for a bottle of wine. She orders another. Some song that your dad really likes plays on the bar speakers as you peek down at her right ankle. No mistaking the Louis Vuitton purse at her side, nor the 3 prescription bottles inside of it. Your background in medicine, druggery, and institutionalization have taught you about privacy, but being medication savvy, 3/4 of a second is all you need: notice that the pill bottles all look fresh but bear different logos: St. Paul Corner Drug, CVS, Walgreens Pharmacy. Citizen-healthy-voter you shouldn’t peek, shouldn’t judge, so you look away and try to mind your drink. Hospital-you sees the after-image of the bottles in your mind’s eye. Amphetamine, Xanax, Prozac. Yet another rich lady with a gaggle of doctors. A gaggle of neuroses, sure, and based on her medication choices she’s well aware of her own difficulties. The problem is, these medications shouldn’t be prescribed together. Any legitimate care provider would know not to prescribe an antidepressant with a benzo with a stimulant anywhere other than a college basement. The bartender asks if you want another – in the 1/2 second before answering you have a moment of sadness for all the doctors who are persecuted for prescribing. Yeah, America, blame the doctors for your kids taking adderall. Keep blaming the doctors for Prozac being ineffective. Keep blaming a bunch of debt-laden medical students for doing their best to please you. And then jump onto the next miracle cure, why don’t ya, until the next miracle cure fucks you up. And fuck wine, you think to yourself loudly. You try to remember that there’s no need to be judgmental. Even though you won’t ever relate to this lady she’s ruined your state of mind, which honestly isn’t her fault. So much for the calm.

Then, Grandma-Glamorous yells something that actually resonates: GOSH, I MEAN FOR A MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WITHOUT MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER, NONE OF THESE ANTIDEPRESSANTS WORK ANY BETTER THAN LIFESTYLE CHANGES ! THEY SAID ON THE NEWS THAT THEY’RE USING THOSE MAGIC MUSHROOMS TO MAKE THE BLUES GO AWAY, HAVEN’T YOU HEARD? DOESN’T A LITTLE WOODSTOCK SOUND MORE FUN THAN WHINING? Fearfully, you almost glance down at her purse again to see if she’s carrying any tabs. She isn’t. What is this lady onto, anyways? She’s not like you: She’s never hallucinated (recreationally or clinically), she prefers medication over lifestyle changes, she drinks like a fish, and – despite her ability to rattle off study findings – appears completely medically irreverent. She’s also upper class and has uttered words supportive of the Trump administration. You wonder if she has a therapist and realize that it doesn’t really matter. She is a consumer and she wants what she wants what she wants. So how do these folks, abusive yet wary of all things prescription, come to love magic mushrooms?

What about the clinicians who are eager to publish? Their credibility requires that they not abuse medication, and that they be less wary of prescriptions. In fact, they must plunge headfirst into pharmacological interventions despite any wariness they experience. Their patients rely on it.

What about you? The nerdy, liberal-leaning undergrad? You have seen in your own body the disastrous effects of various prescription drugs. You’ve also seen in your own body the disastrous effects of various psychedelic drugs. You’ve also seen the benefits of both of these classes of drugs. So, let’s get serious.

What do psychedelics have to offer to the everyman? To the world of clinical psychiatry? Are psychedelics like psilocybin, LSD, or MDMA beneficial for mental health? Are they harmful for mental health? How do their effects differ between younger and older people? Between men and women? Are these drugs more effective for people with diagnosed illnesses? Less effective? Dangerous? If I have major depressive disorder, and medications aren’t working for me, should I ask the young fella at the bar if he knows where to buy some shrooms?

 

 

On today’s episode of crowtalker

16 dorks sitting in a tree across the street from CVS (across Fairview)

Saw them yelling up there from my spot on the Grandview Grille stoop. Came over here next to the NiceRide bikes to have a closer looked. We yelled at each other for a bit:

 

caw-caw-caw-caw-caw-caw: 6 caws, high-pitched, was came often

cawww-cawww-cawwww: 3 caws, longer/slower, deeper & more prounounced

3 or 4 of the screamers were really bouncing, & their torsos bobbing & bopping looked like they were heaving each caw with all their strength. Really neat to see. The eensy weensie ittie bittie branches atop the tree where they sat absolutely rocked as the screamers dedicated their entire abdomens towards crow-calling

After 10 minutes they all took off in unison, headed north/northwest. Fun stuff.

As I type this, I hear 3 more caws from a single crow. I look up – a pair of them have re-entered the eensy wensie ittie bittie branch zone

When I looked up just there, they left. For some reason I feel or expect that there should be more crows up there, lingering silently. Maybe there are but I can’t see them

 

Do you cry after caffeine intake?

I do. It’s weird

Coffee is a devilish drug with a tendency to cultivate dependence and craft caffeinated chains between itself and the user. As I type this I’m maybe a few ounces (probably 30-50mg of caffeine) into a cup of coffee &, as often happens, I started crying in what totaled to a brief 10-second spurt. Playing on my mental radio was a sudden dialogue with a formless stranger about how beautiful my cats are, how grateful for them, etc. An image of myself much older came to mind; I was seeing an old picture of the cats and hadn’t seen that old picture in some time and I was crying tears of gratitude.

This mental trip took place in less than 4-5 seconds, was profound, colorful, and detailed, and took me straight out of the room I was sitting in. There was a glowy feeling of being decades older and shown these gorgeous pictures of these gorgeous cats. It was less a thought process and more of a vision or fleeting headline on the newsreel of my frontal lobes.

It immediately passed and I felt funny for having had the experience yet again. Self aware, un-emotional, and nonreactive to what had just occurred. This type of thing occurs very often after coffee but it was quite some time before I realized that. I thought I was the type of person who had an early morning cry session, or a few chaotic ones (always of about 10-20 seconds maximum) but the link with caffeine became clear after a long period of daily journaling. Will post an excerpt soon but just wanted to leave this note here for myself later. With that said, I’m off to finish this coffee

Man’s best friend vs. Malignant Glioma

Easily the coolest research I’ve cut up & snorted in a while. 

It is commonplace to be forcefed research and ideas that are popular and meaningful. Neither popularity though meaning, however, make a given project or consideration in academia practical in the real world. In my experience it is rare to taste research and ideas that are practical. Past that point it is nearly impossible to come across research and ideas that are practical, simple, and clearly overlooked. A lovely bit of writing came up lately that seemed immediately worth reading, considering, and sharing. The fact that is is (all at once) so practical, so simple, and so clearly overlooked gripped me and hasn’t released my wandering, daydreaming self since the moment I printed this paper off some weeks ago. There’s always 10 motherfuckers out there trying to start a new conversation for every 1 team of people hoping to resolve, clean up, or challenge an old one. My response to this early quote was of feeling like these authors were bringing some serious love and professionalism to old conversations:

The framework of this study originated from the desire to explore and combine non-conventional modalities to overcome the limitations of conventional methodologies

It’s rude of me to be offering quotes without offering the paper. You probably won’t print it off and carry it with you for weeks (especially if you didn’t download the .pdf from the link above yet…….) but here’s a reminder of the title

The Effect of Pet Therapy and Artist Interactions on Quality of Life in Brain Tumor Patients: A Cross-Section of Art and Medicine in Dialog (published 2018)  

 

This paper is directly helpful to people. The authors explore the application of pet therapy and art therapy (or, more simply, pets and art) to health-related quality of life – HRQoL – in patients diagnosed with malignant gliomas. In laymen’s term a malignant glioma is a terminal brain tumor, with a median survival time of less than 2 years after diagnosis. This is notable given that many other diseases can be significantly slowed in their course or even eliminated with the best treatments available today. The early claim by the authors is that the traditional goals of medicine are survival and disease-free survival. They go on to assert that traditional medicine does not tend to the needs of those who will not survive and are disease-ridden or terminally ill, and that there are (presumably unexplored) means for improving HRQoL. Though there is perhaps an anecdotal, personal, or folk account for this shortcoming in traditional medicine we should not proceed in reading this paper without questioning this starting point. Many of us will have experiences in healthcare – from birth to the beyond – that are more wholesome, more forward-thinking, and already aware or attuned to the loving tools described in this paper. It would not serve the reader (in my opinion) to get ahead of themselves and act as if traditional medicine has never been aware of how art, pets, or ‘art therapy/pet therapy’ assist HRQoL, including during the process of dying.

With that said let’s stop with a few questions worth pondering. If they make any sense (or if they don’t), jot these down, carry them around, digest them, disagree with yourself, repeat. Google whatever doesn’t make sense. It’s worth it:

In this paper, we describe our unique study that was designed to address two critical questions: (1) can pet therapy in the outpatient setting help improve HRQoL of brain tumor patients? and (2) can patient’s facial expression be used as a proxy measure for their overall HRQoL?