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That Awful Orange Flavor

You know that terrible orange flavor thats used to make cough medicine more palatable? Perhaps you know a purple or "cherry" variety instead? It sort of tastes like Mr. Clean smells. I'm tired of it. I taste it up to three times a day and I have to hold it in my mouth waiting for it's active content to absorb into my cheeks. I take this little package the size of a business card, tear open the foil, and remove a carefully engineered pharmacuetical "film" that's only the size of my pinky nail. Then I am left with two pieces of litter and a horrible taste under my tongue. If I forget to brush my teeth before I take this medicine I have to wait for an hour.

Why do I have to do this? Because I have chronic back pain from an injury. Why on earth do I have to take medicine like this? Am I five? Do I need an airplane spoon to feed it to me? No. It's the same reason that I can't get this medicince without my doctor filling out special forms. It's becuase it's pain medicine: the wonderfully helpful little compound called buprenorphine, a smooth, slowly metabolized opiate that can be very helpful for pain. It's actually not even a total, full-agonist opiate, rather it is a partial agonist, acting as an antagonist to the kappa receptor. It's a great drug for chronic pain. It even has potentially antidepressant effects! So why does this medicine come in a horrible, orange-flavored film instead of an easy-to-use pill? Well, one reason is that the buccal cells of the patients cheeks store the bupe' and release it more gradually into the body. A doctor might be clever enough to stall you with this excuse. But the real reason is it's an opiate, and a lot of people seem to have a great, ignorant prejudice to both these drugs, their uses, and their users.

The orange flavor covers up the taste of the concoction of not only the medicine I need but also the exact antidote of it. This combination forms a kind of trap. The antidote, the opiate blocker nalaxone -- something used to save people during overdose -- is included in the strip. If the patient follows instructions, ingesting the medicine, the nalaxone is barely active. But, if the patient attempts to dissolve and inject the medicine, the nalaxone will now be predominant as it's VERY active intravenously, causing, instantly, opiate withdrawal, a painful, flu-like condition. This is s cruel way to treat a human being. Doing this to medicine goes against the basic idea of it all: healing and helping people. Will one of my strips help a person shooting up? No. It will not do the trick and they will continue looking for relief. Only, this time, they might be angry, probably have fewer resources, might be more desperate. Sure, one cannot overdose in this way on Suboxone. But one can certainly overdose on the low-grade street heroin you have to score in order to remedy wasting your time and resources on the suboxone.

By creating booby-trapped, heavily-regulated medicines the state and the pharmacutical industry can wash their hands of their direct involvment in addicts lives. And the public sees this as progress, quite often. They perceive it as safer. Afterall, something, has been done. But, this pushes people to go to riskier, shadier, less reliable sources for their substances. And this, in turn, pushes dealers to need to decrease overhead, to cut the product. But, becauses it is so hard to get good, pharmacutical quality opiates, smugglers are forced to deal in the most potent form they possible can, as, per weight, this goes the farthest. So, what do they buy? What's their high-fructose corn syrup? Fentanyl: death concentrate.

Overdoses are being caused by the very restrictions and technologies being implemented to avoid them. And what's so amazing is that there's no reason for this. Opiates are fantastic medications that make modern medicine possible on many fronts. They turn off the pain signal in the nerve, and that's it. This can leave you constipated and, if you take too much, you could stop breathing and need a blocker administered. But those are the only notable side-effects save addiction. And the addiction problem is solved.

The addiction problem is solved?! Yes, it has been solved for a long time through agonist therapy using specially designed opiates that release smoothly and gradually freeing the addict from needing to chase relief. You've probably heard of methadone, or perhaps even, buperpenorphine -- which happens to be a proven useful, long-term drug for addiction cessation as well as for pain. They are safe medicines that can and have been taken for patients entire lives. But, for some reason, the public still cannot accept that these medicines must be taken forever. They cannot resign themselves to this idea when it comes to addiciton. But there's nothing wrong with taking a drug forever. I'm certainly fine taking this one for the rest of my life. I just hope that oneday I can get the medicine without the moral bullshit.

Fall

I have glasses on the way that contain a prism. They have to be specially made and that means I'm wearing an eye patch until Friday, when those precious shining testaments to technology arrive.

The eyepatch is quite a misunderstood thing. It looks so innocent. It is portrayed so innocently. I suppose many of us assume we can play a pretty loose hand with our eyes as we have two of them afterall. But we don't have two eyes we rather have one set of eyes. A cast or a wheelchair communicates more misery than does an eyepatch. Or, rather, it did until I had to wear one. In truth the loss of vision carries not only a loss of trust in one's environment but also an extension of this mistrust onto society in general. It's easy to become bitter spending even a few days behind an eyepatch.

It's more or less impossible to read. As soon as I begin reading or looking at my computer my vision diverges into two separate images that run away from each other in an explosion of confusing blindness. I love reading and working on my computer. I also love drawing and that is just as effected :( I'm really holding out for Friday; for those glasses!

Helping me to hold out has been all the awesomness that is/has been my life lately. I've got a great partner who is very thoughtful. I live in an wonderful city with caring people. And my doctor has been making some solid progress on my arthritus. I'm streaming chess on http://lichess.org through http://twitch.com. I visited my parents. This is a busy Fall.

Race to the Jam

Traffic jams are not simply one static blockade. They are dynamic. They grow. And they tend to grow exponentially because other motorists not yet in the jam are basically racing to it; racing to a clog. The larger that clog becomes the faster motorists will arrive at it. This is what's counter-intuitive about traffic: racing doesn't help. What helps is for everyone to assume some median speed and merge together. This slowing gives the clog a chance to clear and makes the road generally safer.

The creative process is like this. Blockages can be caused by a number of things. But a constant downpour of new ideas, tasks, critiques, any information regarding the creative process, is what eventually predominates if the block lasts long enough. Everything builds up as priorities become blurry and each task is trying to race past the block; racing toward a clog.

I've been stuck on a group of projects and their related tasks and facts for a while. I have a small collection of exercises that I've wanted to diagram into a short book for a few months now. In the beginning, when the block was just starting to form, tasks and information would creep by, impededed but not completely blocked. As the clot has grown, produowctivity has completely stopped.

Now I feel like there are a million ideas and I can't lose a one. It's one thing to let go of an idea in favor of completing another. It's another thing to be unable to get anything done and let go of an idea that persists among a plethora of others, all equally late-seeming. Nothing can be done so everything has to be done!

And who knows why that very first thing, I can't dispose of. I can't pull out the bottom pin. The whole of my being seems driven to complete this thing. Until I do it nothing will feel complete. And anything that I do complete will be done whilst gulping this kernel of indecision. "Could of this of been better if I wasn't bothered by this other thing?" "Could I of switch into that other lane and gotten through?!"

Space Wars

Star Trek is infinitely better than Star Wars. Why? Simple. It's plainly in the name: Star Trek is about traveling the universe peacefully -- scientifically -- encountering new species and phenomenon whereas Star Wars is about war.

Curiosity is the antithesis of fear. Some look at a mysterious door and insist it be burned for heresy whereas others open the door and take notes -- foremost of which might be that doors actually cannot be heretics;-- except that one time one was. Among space-going species, war is a relic of savagery. The future holds no war if it holds at all. There is no need for it to follow us along our progression.

It's a popular myth that all of our problems will keep repeating themselves. That there is some great cosmic wheel which will return our thinking to the same state again and again, merely presented a different way. It's a sort of anthem of futility. "Everything has already been done." "We might be doing X differently but we will always have Y to contend with." A popular theme that is perpetual in this way is war. Many of us have come to accept war as simply unavoidable. We see it as a force it's own. We've even deified it throughout human history. But the truth is that war is not inevitable anymore than illiteracy is inevitable. War is not the Winter of peace's Summer. War is a BEHAVIOR. And, just as we've seen so many of our behaviors come and go -- like dung-flinging -- we can expect that we'll outgrow this as well. Just let that sink in for a second: we will outgrow war.

War is driven by perceived scarcity of resources; some lever with which a conqueror would derive control of their own and others' existence. Without scarcity of some resource. without attrition; with everyone having the same unending "arsenal" of technology; there is no war because there is no point to one.

We could have this on Earth if we could handle nuclear energy responsibly -- instead of building warheads. We don't seem to be able to operate together in this cramp little elevator called Earth though.But! In the great irradiated sandbox of the universe we can afford to be more crude; more experimental. We can build slipshod reactors and design experiments with astronomically high levels of electricity in space!

And a war in space? Preposterous! For, why would a civilization so powerful as to move amongst celestial bodies concern itself with a bare-knuckle boxing match? When will we realize that so many of our science fiction themes are really fantasies wherein god-like-technologies are driven by barbaric sentiments such as honor and justice. Getting to space will require cooperation. Wouldn't it be funny if at the moment we achieve world peace we also acquire a new world?

Purposive Post

In chess there is the concept of attrition. If one player achieves material superiority over the other then they can try to "trade down" their equitable material leaving only the stronger armed. This is basically the first strategy learnt on the chess board. In a neural network, like my own, there is a discrete number of neurons. And this discrete number of neurons can only process, work on, so much information. I wish I had learnt as early as I did in chess that the simplest, most basic strategy of mental health is simply thinking "good" thoughts. Occupy those neurons! Use them for good!

This isn't an idea I got from a self-help book. But it certainly is a wonderful analogy, if not an outright model, of our own minds. This idea came to me while reading Purposive Systems. This is a collection of papers on cybernetics, from the 60s. What's surprising is we haven't outgrown these ideas. It seems to me that we were very excited about what computers at the time implicated but then somehow lost interest. Or perhaps we became afraid?

Clearly, we've little fear of computers now -- most of us. The time, as Turing put it, of burying one's "head in the sand" is over. We are machines just like those described in these proceedings. For example, one very important concept in MI is "reciprocal inhibition system" Systems like this are comparable to our own inhibitory neurotransmitters like dopamine.

What's "MI"? "Machine Intelligence" of course! I don't like the term AI and neither did Turing. We are not working to create the facade of intelligence, we are working towards understanding ourselves as represented in another kind of machine. Afterall, we ourselves are electrochemical machines.

-- Sources --

  1. Lindgren "Purposive Systems: The Edge of Knowledge"

One Young Old Lady

Lately I've looked around myself and found striking evidence that I might be an old lady. I walk with a cane. I have sciatica. I'm on a lot of medicine. I'm on medicine because of medicine I'm on -- "metacine"? I have a spoiled dog and we live in an RV with an interior straight out of the Golden Girls. I drive a 1985 Mercedes. And I actually kind of like tea.

I have lot's of supplies for dealing with pain, medication and forgetfulness: TENS machine, canes, special pillows, pill organizers, pill cutters, lidocaine patches, ointments, syringes, the list goes on. This is all right and good but I'm thirty. Not only that, I'm a young thirty. So, when I come in with a cane people really notice.

I'm a young old lady and I intend to share what that's like with you through this blog. Of course, I share a lot of what a lot is like on this blog and we don't want total abject categorical chaos, so young-old-lady is a category of post now. In these posts I'll review products (including medicine), anecdotes, designs, knowledge, thoughts, and respond to questions.

Wasted Space

I love the elegance and simplicity of xmonad, a "tiling" window manager. This is the best way of displaying information. A desk full of papers overlapping one another displays only the topmost pages and mere fragments of the others. This is always the case. So, it's always astonished me that windows are popular -- also that Windows is popular. It's not that sometimes it's useful and other times awkward. No, it's never useful. A window can never be resized without obscuring either unused space or another window. Once a window is obscured, the information on it isn't readable. So, the whole of that concealed window becomes unusable too, like Minesweeper.

/images/value-xmonad

Meh Me

So, it's very difficult for me to sit down and write a blog post. In fact, it's hard to express myself at all. It's easy for me to express other people's ideas or my own dissociated abstractions. But, knowing and expressing my personality seems impossible most of the time. Even now, I drudge forward with this post like I'm marching into a blizzard. Posting this will mean exposing myself to the world; exposing my personality. And I simply don't have the understanding of myself that is typical for an adult my age. I often feel empty. I've "lived many lives." I have tried in vain to medicate myself. I have tried to destroy myself. Having a blog seems to mean so much to me that I haven't done it for fear of doing it wrong -- this is the story of my life.

The world is and has been a dangerous place for me. It's seemed a cruel existence that is constantly uphill. I never thought I would be agoraphobic at the age of 30. But traumas and dramas have worn me weary and it's come to the point that I am afraid of my own feelings.

It didn't used to be this way. I was a bright and sensitive child, resilent and adaptive in the face of controlling/smothering parents. I "visited" with people ever since I could communicate. I'd hold long conversations that went into deep topics. This feature in me was so remarkable that by the age of 8 I knew and used the term "gregarious." People were struck at just how "articulate" and "precocious" I was. I always was hanging around older people. I stayed away from home as much as possible and tried to put adults between me and my parents.

Now, I'm trying to get back some of my luster through therapy. I'm looking back at myself trying to find where in my development I got hurt and how I can heal from there. This can be pretty awkward since some of the skills I missed out on are quite juvenille. There was once I time that I needed to be hypervigiliant, paranoid, defensive. There was once a time when my every move and thought were criticised. But that time, thankfully, is over now. The feelings, behaviors, and ideas I acquired being mistreated have stayed though. I feel my writing has to be perfect so much that I simply never do it. I never do it for fear of failing.

I have all of this creativity and compassion to share with the world but it's crippled beneath a net of psychic damage. What's particularily troubling is that I was hurt by someone who knew the path they were putting me on and predicted the very hell I find myself in. They were informed about psychology like a hunter is informed of it's prey. They knew they were hampering me.

But I must "step lightly from the past." And I'm tired of this repression! So, I'm putting myself out here. I'm jumping in. I'm not just the things I'm interested in and proud of but also the things that've gotten in the way of that. I want to present both here.

The Fireman Police Solution

The police are not a popular subject for obvious reasons. So obvious, actually, that they've become a sort of social-justice-Hitler; a boogie man, a scapegoat. The police represent, as no one can sanely disagree with anymore, the status quo. Their system is broken and needs to reform! Blah blah blah. There is a lot of talk and chest-beating about police injustice and need for reform but not a lot of calmly developed, logical attempts at improvement. But I have an idea.

The entire paradigm of policing is based on force, violence, suspicion, control, encarceration, confrontation, and late response. That's right, for all the aggression and gunslinging the police, one must realize, always arrive AFTER the fact. Police do not actively prevent crime. They arrive after or during the incident. They don't sit and listen like Batman. The position of police officers is insane, itself. The license that is conferred them is egregious. Police are given a license to kill and don't even have to have a bachelor's degree. They are recruited from the ranks of soldiers not public servants. The drive behind beind a good police officer is one of aggression, control, and escalation. Never does the academy ensure that the people they are giving homocidal agency to possess any humanity. Cops are not recruited or retained according to any socially constructive criteria. In fact, their whole job is creating crime not solving, preventing, or punishing it.

What's this? Creating crime? Yes! The only standard of performance, of quality, in our paradigm of police is crime reported and crime solved. This presents a pair of disincentives to good public service. If we require police to keep a good ratio of crimes solved to those reported, we disincentivie the creation of reports regarding crimes they believe might be hard to solve. No report, no crime, hence, low crime. But, if we then think to require more reports cops have an incentive to charge those unreasonably. And this applies enormously more in the case of requiring high numbers of cases solved! Because that encourages convictions! That would make being a good cop, measurably, synonymous with lying and framing others, and there is little in the way of a check to gaurd against this let alone, what should be, proper incentive to help people. And I don't think it exists. I don't think that kind of incentive can be given in the schema of police.

Doctors attempt, with all their resources, to prevent harm and save the lives of other people. Yet, doctors get worse treatment upon the death of a patient and require FAR more licensure to even be given any beneifit of the doubt in the first place -- a medical degree. Yep, you'll need to go to school for 10 years, get really protective insurance, and devote your life to helping others. O, and you? You need eight months in a Tae Bo course.

What we need is a group of strong, brave people who are dedicated to saving the lives of others and objectively increasing the safety of their community. We need people with extensive medical training. We need people with disaster training. We need people that use techonology to protect themselves instead of hurt others. If only there were a group of people like that. If only there were a group of people that would, like, say, for instance: run into a burning building to help someone else.

While police enjoy an upside down system counting the crimes they are involved in firemens' progress is measured in the number of people saved and fires extinguished. They have extensive training that challenges both body and mind. They have training that teaches them to understand their limitations. They are trained medics and disaster responders. They dedicate themselves to saving others. Whereas police apply their mashismo to hurting others fire fighters apply theirs to saving people. Showboating for a fireman is helping a bunch of people. Showboating for a cop is killing someone.

And just think of all of the non-violent methods of control. Irate drunk: firehose; bank robbers: firehose; jay-walking: firehose. This all includes mental health training as well. Cops are protrayed as lifting cars off children or shooting the bad guy in the leg. But even if those lies were true it's not everyday that a child is trapped underneath a Russian nuke or whatever ridiculous scenarios people imagine police dissolve. It is everyday that a homeless drunk dies, cars collide, disease spreads. It's no hero that saves the picturesque case because that would mean ignoring so many of the organic ones. Heros fight against the world for people they don't fight people on behalf of the world.

So, perhaps it's not that firemen should take over. Maybe it's just that you should have to of been a firefighter to become a cop. I mean, obviously, it's no real solution; firemen taking over for police. Because certainly there is something valuable between the meadows of waving dicks. We'll need to give firemen certain training to take over for police anyway. So, let's just do it this way for simplicity. Let's not forget we wouldn't want any firemen opposed to enforcing laws unable to decline the new duties. It seems fair that if you want a license to kill you might want to vet people for being magnanimous enough, responsible enough, not to use it for gain or malice. Being willing, and having proven, that they'll give their own life before letting someone elses be taken might certainly preclude their taking the life themselves. And, shouldn't this be the thing we are primarily concerned with guarding and reviewing if we are ever able to "reform" the police.

But, of course, powerful Sherrifs and City Council people aren't going to give up their positions. And the position of police officer carries so much scorn and shame currently it would, understandably, not attract many firefighters. How could they be confident things would even change? Which laws would they enforce? Clearly this is a pipe dream. What isn't a pipe dream though is requiring more advanced training in EMT techniques, psychology, and mental health intervention. These pills go down easy and, given some restraint, are palitable to both sides, if we are to consider things along the political poles. Sherrif is an elected position. And even without inside advocacy, the idea of requiring continuing education isn't new to police and doesn't raise suspicioun in communities hostile to critique of the police. These sort of obligations to scientific humanist advancement -- as medicine is hopefully still scientific -- of police techniques not in direct relation to their current procedures would quietly weed out those of low empathy, low intelligence, especially both, and begin objectively educating and improving the system at the same time.

My Weird Texture Sensitivity Thing FAQ

I have a strange quirk about touching certain textures. Touching velvet, corduroy, chalk, has always just made my skin crawl. It feels unpleasantly electric. The urge to withdraw is strong. I can't make out the surface very well because it's so uncomfortable. What's more the feeling of being "velved" lingers, sometimes for several minutes, leaving me squirming, embarrassed and vulnerable.

I don't dislike these materials. I just can't touch them. I wish I could touch them. But I can't. At least not under normal circumstances. Over the years well-meaning friends have taken to tease, prank, or -- what's a bit saddening -- debunk my aversion with stunts getting me to touch velvety stuff. This has definitely led to friction and loss of understanding. This aversion is not some matter of me simply disliking these textures as one might dislike lemon pie. This is more like disliking tin-foil pie. Surprisingly however, despite being very emotionally sensitive child, I always seemed to handle this pretty well. I had to be my own advocate.

It's something weirdly magical. Feeling part of something bigger; a pinkey in some strange velv dimension. Over the years I have discovered more about these feelings in myself and found them indeed complex -- just as I'm sure those who are or have been close to me have found them.

I hope making this is helpful to at least someone but hopefully everyone :)

Does it hurt?

No It does not hurt. It's more like hitting your funny bone. It's an intensely overpowering sensation much like tickling. It leaves me feeling very vulnerable. In this way it can be psychologically harmful. But, no, the sensation isn't pain and that makes it more complicated to emphasize how uncomfortable it is.

Does this impede your daily life?

Yes. It's very difficult to touch these textures. Picking something up made of velvet is very disturbing.

Which textures cause it?

Velvet, corduroy, most pre-2000 car upholstery, a lot of wool, chalk, anything composed of many small, dry particles or fibers that engage the skin perpendicularly, a great example being actually called "micro-fiber." I'm not sure of all the details but my theory is that the feeling has something to do with all of these little fibers overloading my nerve endings. Kind of like how confetti can degrade the quality of streaming video. Or how two co-primely threaded bolts slide easily along one anothers length (maybe this is less well-known? ;)

Do some textures feel more "velvy" than others?

It is definitely a spectrum with velvet the most velvy. Scars seems a combination of pain, velv, and numbness-phenomenon (see next question).

Do you have any other tactile issues?

YES! Touching scars and even temporarily numb areas of my body elicits the feeling, often with a number of other strange neurological artifacts, but definitely the velvy feeling. Touching a scar or a numb area is more intense than touching a velvy texture. This makes sense as it is the combination of many intense sensations and velv is but one that I describe to you separate now.

Do you have any weirder, harder-to-explain tactile experiences?

I'm glad you asked! Sometimes everything I touch will feel velvy. This is often followed by a migraine headache. This was much more frequent as a child.

Are there any areas of your body that are more sensitive to velv than others?

Yes. The feeling is definitely strongest at finger/toe tips.

Are there any areas of your body that are less sensitive than others?

Paradoxically the erogenous areas are immune to the effects. I don't think I had ever truly perceived velvet the way I assume it often is until it was rubbed across my nipples. And this is where it gets very interesting to me: the effect basically intensifies the further away from the groin or nipples you are, being maximum in the fingertips and toes.

So if certain textures are "velvy" and scars are "velvy", what happens if you touch a velvy surface to a scar?

I don't know, let's find out... They seem to cancel out. I know. That is very weird and confusing. But that's what happens.

You said there is a remedy?!

YES! The sensation caused by contact with a velvy surface can be quelled by touching any one of a host of other textures. Marble, glass, rubber, lotion. I describe these textures as "diavelvy"

This leads me to wonder if perhaps velvy surfaces feel smooth to a lot of people because there are so many little fibers they all blend together into one continuous seeming surface but this is a trick of sensation that does't quite work on me. To be smooth to my touch the elements need to be smaller; much like smoothness is defined in optics.

So, if velvy surfaces are unpleasant are diavelvy surfaces pleasurable?

Yep.

Can anything be done to the offending surface to improve it?

Get it wet. When these surfaces are wet their fibers don't interact with the skin in the same way.

Does water help get rid of the feeling once it has happened?

No. If anything wetting the hands afterwards worsens the effect. Now, adding soap is a different story though.

What's this condition called?

There is no simple diagnosis here. As it is not a life-threatening condition this is the sort of thing that is only being researched now. And this research is normally in the psychiatric sector dealing with OCD and autistic spectrum disorders. It has apparently long been known that autistic individuals have these kind of strange aversions. But, OCD is known to have quirks like these too. Between these two I have definitely found myself in the autistic category. Not even mentioning my family history and personal behavioral history I knew that it wasn't OCD. Because I'm not afraid of touching these textures any more than a person is afraid of touching a cactus. In OCD there is great, critical, crippling fear associated with the compulsion. I am not afraid of velvet, although I may be afraid of the actual neurological effect of it.

There is a movement of people wanting to introduce an official "sensory processing disorder." It may well be that this exists, on it's own, but for me that just confuses matters more from what I've researched and experienced myself. Finally delving into this as an adult I found it to be a doorway into a whole new understanding of my quirky life, an understanding with "autism spectrum" in mind. But that's something for another article. Shit, this isn't even an article it's an answer in a FAQ....

So the short answer is it is an autistic trait

Are there other's like you?

Well, there are certainly other people with autistic traits. Otherwise they'd just call them honeynymph traits. So, yes.

Now, I haven't found any communities of "velvies" myself aside from a few dead forum posts but that isn't to say there isn't one. But, again, this is really an autistic trait and as such Freenode's #wrongplanet is probably the best bet for a community.

But wait! You're autistic!?

The short answer is: I don't know.

The long answer is there is some kind of exciting link between migraine headaches -- remember the migraine headaches I mentioned?, tactile hypersensitivity, anxiety, and, of course, me.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1362361313489377

If migraines are accompanied by velvy sensation does diavelvy stimulation not help?

It doesn't not help.

Is there ever a time velviness is good?

I'd like to find that out with another consenting, caring adult and a lot of rope.