as if inside our skulls, instead of the brain, we felt a fish, floating, attracted by the Moon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Living arrangements and other such things

Hahaha. I was browsing tumblr and found this photo, it made me chuckle a little. This is photoshopped to look all horror-movie-esq. The original was a photo of one of the first patients to receive a facial transplant; I think her black lab attacked her. I still find it surprising that a black lab did that. They're usually such nice dogs, I wonder what provoked it?

In other news, I realize I keep forgetting to write anything about the container house.
Jack's father, in a sudden bought of insanity/generosity decided that if Jack arranges everything (finding land, materials, planning out and setting up the whole thing) that he would pay all expenses to build a house for us out of shipping containers.
This is an example of a shipping container house, for those who are skeptical of how "home"y it would be. Shipping container houses are becoming more popular with the energy efficient/green crowd, and they're super cheap to build. Each container is about $1000-$1500, and four containers would be more than enough to build an average sized two-story house.

Though, at the moment, the biggest issue we've run into is buying land. Land is very expensive (there's a $100,000 budget on this project) and the towns in which land is cheap are way out in the middle of fucking nowhere (nowhere as in no cell service and no cable TV). It would be nice to live in the woods, but not nice to have to drive 1-2 hours to get to school every day.
So Jack's father proposed that if we can't find a suitable place to actually put the container house, he would be willing to up the budget to $200,000, and consider just buying us a house. Which, holy shit, would be fabulous. With mortgage + bills it would probably be about $1100 a month to live in, so we'd probably rent out some rooms to pay for it.
Either way, all of this is awesome.

By the way, whether or not we build a house or buy one, this would all be happening over the summer.


Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago


Monday, April 26, 2010

the drug war in a nut shell

I'm anti-prohibition. This is probably obvious.

I'm in the camp that believes we should legalize all drugs, hard or not. A lot of people think this is ridiculous and dangerous, and I want to explain why it's not. At least, it's far less dangerous than keeping them illegal.

For one, think back to your childhood. Remember D.A.R.E? Remember "just say no" and "don't do drugs"? Because all drugs are treated equally by health education programs for kids, kids don't get good information. We're all told that coke is bad, heroin is bad, ecstasy is bad, pot is bad... Because some of the drugs out there really aren't so bad, eventually kids are going to try them. You can't eliminate a technology or an invention once it's been made. It works the same for guns. Banning something doesn't keep it from existing, and it'll always be there, so somewhere along the road the child who was told "just say no" is going to try marijuana.

This kid will have a little pot with his friends in high school, decide it's actually pretty good. He's had alcohol before at one of his parents' parties, and he's smart enough to know that, based on how he's feeling right now, pot is just as safe as alcohol, if not safer. (Now, we know for a fact it's safer, but play along with my naive-as-hell-teenager story.) This kid's been drunk a few times, and he knows what it's like to feel out of control and drugged when he's had a few too many beers. He feels that, even though he's pretty stoned out of his mind and laughing way too loud at adult swim right now, he's not out of control. His morals and self control are the same, he just feels a little silly. He'll think back to "just say no" and laugh.

Now, I know not all teenagers are naive, many of them (especially in western Mass, it seems) know a lot about drugs. They have relatively open minded parents who've educated them about which drugs are safe, which drugs one has to be careful with, and which drugs to stay away from entirely. But for the sake of my argument, this kid comes from smalltown, USA with hard ass parents and no drug education outside of his 8th grade health class.

He thinks, hey, weed isn't so bad! Adults are just lying to us. I wonder what else I'm missing out on! He'll move on to something a little more intense, but still keeping within his comfort zone. He's naive, not stupid. He tries mushrooms cause he's heard they're natural and pretty safe. He eats a handful and has the time of his life. Hey, he thinks, mushrooms are ok! I wonder what else is out there. He eventually tries acid, ecstasy, adderall he got from a friend... Eventually he's at a party in college and someone offers him methamphetamine. He says, hey, why not. I mean, D.A.R.E. told him not to, but what do they know? He's done adderall, which is amphetamine, and that was totally fine, so why not meth! He takes a hit and is overcome with happiness. He buys a baggie of the stuff to take home. Once it wears off he finds himself staring at the bag on his desk, aching to do more, to feel that good again. He decides to go for it; it's saturday night, he's got the day off work tomorrow, nothing to lose.
He doesn't know how it happens, but all of a sudden there he is, buying another baggie of meth. He can't seem to stop doing it, but he doesn't really care because it feels so good. He was worried about school but meth makes him unstoppable; he can work for hours and hours. He doesn't need to sleep anymore.
Eventually it stops getting so good. Instead of euphoric and productive, he starts getting paranoid, jittery and mean. He stops going to class, he quits his job. All he cares about is meth.
Blah blah blah, a meth addict is born.

So basically, what I mean to say is, prohibition-style drug education does not work. It's the same as abstinence only sex education. Teenagers are going to do it anyway, and we need to educate them on how to be safe when they do. Tell them what drugs are, what they do, how they work, how neurotoxic they each are, and how to handle a drug overdose, etc.

Now, I don't think that all drugs should be legalized and sold in convenience stores. That's just stupid. I think that things like pot and LSD (and maybe even things like heroin) should be sold how pot's sold in california right now. Licensed vendors who specialize in their product is the way to go. One should need a valid photo ID, and for harder drugs, there should be limits on purchase size, and one should maybe even need to present medical documents to prove health and sanity. Things like coke and meth should not be treated lightly. I also think that the providers should have the full authority to deny purchase. ("But what about the raging lunatic meth addict who pulls a gun on the shop keeper," someone asks. Well, that plays into my stance on gun control, which is a whole 'nother can of worms. In short, I think the shop keeper should have a shotgun under the counter and be fully prepared to use it.)

I think there should be laws about drugs similar to cigarettes and alcohol; don't do it on the street, don't do it in public places. If you're going to do heroin, at least do it in the comfort of your own home, not on the sidewalk.
I think that police should have the authority to arrest anyone carrying an amount of a drug over the allowed limit, but said person should not go to jail. They should be evaluated by a psychologist and, if need be, sent to a free, public rehab facility.

I think consenting adults should have the right to do what they want to themselves. Nobody else. If someone wants to have sex with whips, it's ok. If someone wants to drink, smoke, and do coke, so be it. It's their choice. As long as substances are controlled in a smart way, education is provided from a young age (as in, don't start teaching kids about drugs when they're 14, start when they're 10 or 12), and help is available for those who need it, we'll be ok. Just look at portugal.

What's not ok is making everything illegal. What's not ok is putting the drug trade in the hands of an unregulated market run by criminals looking to make money. We need to end the war in mexico before it gets to america (it already has, of course, but I'm worried it will only keep spreading).
Fuck the cartels, fuck the gangs, fuck the criminals cutting their product with even more dangerous shit.

And it's not just the "hard" drugs that are cut with more dangerous ingredients. Did you know that ecstasy pills rarely contain MDMA? They're usually a cocktail mix of BZP, caffeine and several other things that produce similar side effects, except they're way more neurotoxic. LSD is almost never LSD, as LSD is difficult to make and expensive, just like MDMA. Instead of letting teenagers take PCP thinking it's MDMA, we should regulate the market and make sure everything is pure. Don't you want to know for sure what it is you're putting into your body?

My father lives in orange county. He told me that once he stopped in a cafe for coffee in a neighborhood that was right on the border between two gang territories. While he was sitting, drinking his coffee, a couple cars pulled up down the street and a bunch of guys got out and started shooting at each other. They were on opposite sides of an intersection shooting for a while, and then got in their cars and drove off. No one was actually shot, and no one in the area was hurt, and no one called the cops. He asked the woman behind the counter about it, and she shrugged and said, "No big deal. It happens all the time. Usually they don't actually hit anybody. We just go indoors if we hear gun shots. The cops have given up."

Meanwhile, somewhere in new york, a 23 year old kid is put in jail for a year and forced to pay a $1000 fine because he was pulled over and had 2 oz of marijuana in his glove box that he smokes on friday nights to relax after a long week working at the car shop.

I think my father put it best, when he was telling me why he believes all drugs should be legalized:
"If you take away the drugs, gangs are just a bunch of kids running around in costumes playing cops and robbers. There would be no point to it anymore."

Day 09 — A photo you took

Bubba Brown.

Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry/sad

I don't think a photo has ever evoked...sadness or anger in me...
So I'll just post this instead :D

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 07 — A photo that makes you happy

I hate to be cliche, but I was browsing tumblr for something that made me happy and...
what can I say?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Short hair vs. Long hair: a summary

Now that it's summer, I'm again faced with the extremely powerful urge to cut off all my hair. I know that it would be a terrible idea, but I just remember how much more comfortable and easy my short hair was. I've made an excel chart to demonstrate this: (ignore the typo lol)

Despite taking less time, short hair makes me look like a slightly chubby, slightly Korean man. It's also pretty boring, as I can't do anything [sane-looking] with it.
So, I'm sticking with long hair.
To further demonstrate my point with visuals, I present to you two very unflattering photos. (But the most recent/long haired photo is still obviously better.)

See? How did this happen? I had no idea that the only (major) reason I was always so unattractive was because of my hair. There goes about 8 wasted years of my life trying to make myself attractive with short hair-*COUGHandnofashionsense*.
I suppose on the bright side, at least I look like a girl now.


Day 06 — Whatever tickles your fancy

Ok, apparently one of the first image results on Google for "whatever tickles your fancy" is a still from this commercial from Coco de Mer, an eroic boutique.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good news!

So, first off, I got accepted into the extremely intensive summer course I wanted so badly to take. I'm unbelievably ecstatic about this. I was certain that the unofficial transcript I had to send in with my application would be my downfall (I currently have a 1.7 GPA...).


Hi Kirsten-

I?m pleased to tell you that you have been accepted to ANT 497: Lab and Field Methods in Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology. As a reminder, this course is being offered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst May 17-June 7, 2010. We will meet from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. There will be no class on Memorial Day.

Please review the following course information carefully:

We will spend week 1 in the lab, week 2 in the field, and week 3 back in the lab. Transportation will be provided for the week we are in the field. We will work in the field rain or shine.

This course will cover lab and field methods in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Students will be divided into teams when we do the field excavation?half will work on the pseudo-archaeology site and half will work on the pseudo-crime scene. Please note that you WILL NOT be able to choose which team you are on. Teams will be formed after I have had a chance to meet everyone and can get a sense of who I think will work well together. All participants in this course will leave with familiarity in both bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology (and you?ll come to understand the significant amount of overlap between these two fields) so no matter what your academic and professional interests you will be covered.

There is a considerable waiting list for this course, so I ask you to get back to me by May 1st with your decision about enrollment. Attached to this email is a list of necessary equipment and textbooks?please review this before making your decision regarding enrollment so you know exactly what you need to provide in order to participate in this course.

Once you have confirmed your interest in this course you will receive information on how to register.

I sincerely hope you will be joining me in ANT 497 this summer!

Heidi Bauer-Clapp

Also, I'm finally starting to get some headway with a diagnosis.
First I went to UMass therapy, thinking they could do it--and believe me, I love my UMass therapist, but unfortunately they're not qualified to do diagnosis at UMass--and then I went to my primary care physician, hoping to get a referral. She referred me to Cooley Dickinson's behavioral science department, so I called them up and made an appointment specifically for diagnosis, and they set me up with another therapist, who's also not qualified. She then referred me to a place in Northampton that specializes in ASD diagnosis, and I emailed the woman who works with adults. She not only specializes in adults, but she works mostly with women, which sounds extremely promising (long story, but it's a very different specialty to diagnose women instead of men. Google it).
However, insurance doesn't cover something like this, and so this woman told me that she would do an informal diagnosis for me--meaning no paperwork for court or school--so that it would be cheaper, but it would still take four sessions and cost me $750 out of pocket.
Jack called his father, who told him that his (Jack's) therapist is not only qualified, but specializes in autism and has experience diagnosing women, and he charges much less (and also Jack's father could possibly pull some favors).
So we're going to ask him how much he would charge. It sounds like it would probably be around $300 (because he's $100/hr and it takes about three hours).
That would definitely be preferable.
So, we'll see.


Day 05 — Your favourite quote

We fell into a special mood on those nights off the Zinc
Oiffs: gay, but with a touch of suspense, as if inside our skulls,
instead of the brain, we felt a fish, floating, attracted by the

-Italo Calvino, Distance to the Moon

Friday, April 16, 2010


Day 04 — Your favourite book
Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.
Hair: brown. Lips: scarlet.
Age: five thousand three hundred days.
Profession: none, or "starlet".

Dying, dying, Lolita Haze,
Of hate and remorse, I'm dying.
And again my hairy fist I raise,
And again I hear you crying.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

thoughts on the DSHEA of 1994

(That is a picture of a hookworm, by the way. Don't they have great teeth?)

Ok, so, in Nutrition today my professor was talking about how we all really should know about the DSHEA, because it's vitally important to us as consumers. This is very true, though my fellow students' reactions worried me.

She put up a slide with a few bullet points about the act, which (in a nutshell) states that all supplements/vitamins/minerals/etc are food, not drugs, and thus can't be regulated by the FDA. This is why we see sites like marketing their "miracle cure" without needing FDA approval, as long as they include the fine print disclaimer. It also means that companies selling supplements don't have to sell what the bottle says it is, because there's no regulation. If something unsafe is being sold as a drug, it will get pulled, but there's nothing stopping a company from selling lactose powder and saying it's actually something else.

Now, upon hearing this, the class filled with gasps and murmurs or horror at this act, seemingly passed by selfish supplement companies. Of course this is true, the companies that support the DSHEA have only themselves in mind, but this act is very important for another reason which I'm sure will turn into a big issue in the next few years.

Recently, the FDA and other such organizations have been claiming that supplements (including vitamin C, zinc, iron, and all the other things our mothers had in the cabinet when we were sick) could possibly cause cancer and other horrible things, and should be controlled substances.
Wait, wait, since when does vitamin C cause cancer? Since when are these to be deemed "chemicals of concern"? Does this mean citrus fruits should also be regulated as drugs?

No, what this means is that the pharmaceutical industry wants to expand its already overwhelming monopoly over what we can and can not use as medicine. If vitamin C is a "chemical of concern" and heavily regulated, of course instead of vitamin C and zinc, children will be given FDA approved cold medicine instead. We will be forced to purchase (and get prescriptions for) drugs we don't need, because the companies that make drugs would much rather us buy their expensive product than buy something natural, cheap, healthy, and just as effective, that they don't have the power to sell to us. Because of the DSHEA, they can't sell us vitamin C as a prescription medication, so they just want to get rid of it.

If this continues to grow as an issue, I'm worried that people like those in my Nutrition class will be in full support, not realizing what it could mean for them and their families.