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I just cleared another group of exercises on Duolingo. I’m hooked. I can finally admit that over the past year I’ve gotten somewhat of a language addiction. I confess I’m even thinking of adding Mandarin and Spanish as I write this.

It started with Norwegian. I spent the summer of 2016 living in Norway, with my ex. I was there for ninety days and didn’t really learn much. I found so many people spoke English that it was hard to learn, or even hear, Norwegian. So when my ex reached out to me, now in California, to ask me to compete with them on Duolingo I knew just the language to pick.

I started out with single exercises a day but quickly upped my daily requirement. I told myself I could stop anytime I want. There’s something very satisfying about learning things. And there’s something satisfying about pushing your limits.

One limit that presented itself to me was the ability to pronounce new vowel sounds that I’ve never really had to pay attention to. In this way, studying Norsk became like studying sound and voice. And I wanted to expand this. If my voice is capable of other sounds, what else is out there?

So, then there was French! I was intrigued to learn to make even more sounds and found French to be the best choice. I’ve always wanted to be able to pronounce, with confidence, French words and phrases. The only thing was the question of whether or not learning two languages at once was wise. And I think it is.

Americans are too uptight about language. They overprotect and plan around the like they were suburban soccer kids. To most Americans languages are these far away tongues immaterial to their lives. But the rest of the world is surrounded by different languages.

European kids grow up in a multilingual environment and it is from that chaos that fluency arises. It’s not that Europeans learn languages /in spite/ of being in a multilingual soup. It’s /because/ of all the noise that they’re able to discern more patterns and connection. One doesn’t ask a musician to put down their guitar and /only/ play piano until they’re a master. Learning multiple languages at once, I hypothesize, is preferable.

I’ve now added Chinese. And I’m thinking about adding Spanish. I just can’t get enough. I’ve made it far enough with Norsk that I’m actually looking for a language exchange partner, or coach, to work with. So far it seems multiple languages hasn’t created a problem. Im interested to know if anyone else found multiple languages easier that they are by themselves. .. @_honeynymph

Bay Bridge Barges

Have you driven west on the Bay Bridge lately? Have you noticed those six barges that are parked, or rather “moored”, north of the bridge; to your right as you drive west. Do you know what they are for? Are they part of the aftermath of the government shutdown? I did first notice them around that time. Do shipping mega-corps just leave shit in the Bay? What are they?

More importantly, how do we find out? Me and my boyfriend struggled to come up with a way to figure it out. Those barges, that world, it seems so distant from us. Especially with the massive, looming cargo cranes that seem to be peaking up, like a herd of giant deer; the Bay is alien and, literally, awesome. So, like all alien things, I'm curious what it holds. There are no markings readily readable on the vessels. They’re more like tiny islands or icebergs. So, what do you even query for? What, do you search Google for "What are those bargges in the Bay?" Well, I did that and came up empty so I wrote this article.

So, I call the coast guard and simply ask: “Hey, what’s the deal with them barges?” After some paper rustling the exceptionally kind and professional man helping me — seriously, nice guy — spoke up “It’s a mooring station for construction of the bridge itself... It’s basically a parking lot.”

Nothing exciting, just a place to put extra stuff. But I do find it pretty neat that there is a team of people dedicated to knowing where and what shit is in the Bay. I just wish I could find them on the damn Internet. :)

I Swoon For DIPs

I took to fooling around with my boyfriend's IKBC New Poker II prgrammable, mechanical keyboard today, I've loved micro-switches for a loooong time, even before I knew what they were, and instead just thought of them as the type of buttons on my fancy Chronos chess clock. The sound, the feel, the certainty of having completed the keystroke; all of this makes them great for timers where a single button-press might really, really matter. Nothing says 'your turn" like that 'clik-clak' -- chess players might recall that player who likes to press it twice, just to be sure.

It's a 60% keyboard. I've never had great luck with these because of the difficulty of engaging the 6 paging and arrow keys. So, I switched out the Fn,W,S, and D keys for some of the blank blue keys that cmme with another IKBC keyboard. Much to my surprise the replacement keys weren't all the same size, with sizes "R1" and "R4" molded into their undersides (I guess the R is for "row"). I'm thinking this will help eliminate the awkward little moment I have when I go to engage the arrow function with the Fn key. This way, everything is blue. Searching is supposed to be a resource intensive action. I remember this from effeciency research. Perhaps this will make the 60% workable.

I wanted to program the CAPS as ESC. There isn't an option for this but there is for CNTRL. I suppose it's possible to setup CTRL as your escape key like ESC is in Vim. I don't know for sure. But I do know that right now I have it so if it's in Pn mode (CNTRL + right SHIFT) CAPS will act as escape. And this allows me to work with Vim commands without my fingertips leaving the home row. The only problem with working like this is that the left SPACE light is always on :/

Berkeley's Unlawful RV Ban

I was quite saddened to hear that this week the Berkeley City Council thinks it’s going to outlaw RV parking throughout the entire city, every night, for three hours. This is designed to make it impossible to live in an RV inside the city of Berkeley. And, while I’m sure moronic council members are already high-giving each other in celebration of what they think is a brilliant loop-hole to exclude homeless people from their environment, it’s nothing anyone who cares to follow the law should care about. That’s right, this very issue has already been decided in the state of California by the Ninth Circuit Court in a 2010 case, Desertrain vs. The City of Los Angeles, and it was found to be overwhelming wrong, unlawful, unconstitutional, and just plain vague to implement laws which attempt to discriminate against people who live within their vehicle.

I know this very well because it was by this very ruling that I decided to come to California. It was only a few years ago that I was living in a converted moving truck in Berkeley myself. I did a semester of school and got connected with healthcare, including psychiatric. If I hadn’t of had a way like the vehicle dwelling to transition into living in Bay I would not have been able to do it.

I Inhale

I’ve used and handled marijuana for the last fifteen years. I’m a connoissure and an expert in my own way.

Fifteen years ago, in the Midwest, me and other kids usually consumed “schwag” pot. This was “Mexican” brick weed — the true south American origin was never really know. It was complete with seeds, stems, and sometimes even teeth, rocks, or random debri. Contrasting this was “kind bud” or “KB.” Kind bud represented a departure from dirty, bronchitis causing schwag to something so much stronger and purer that the user was a lot healthier for consuming it, being that they’d need to consume far less smoke.

Kind bud came from artisanal growers. People who were dedicated to producing artful pot. Old hippies that had been in the industry for decades. These were people risking their freedom to provide others with something wholesome and possibly even useful.

For, this pot was strong enough to be medicine for many ailments with minimal side effects from the smoke — if one insisted on inhalation as the route of delivery. Reefer no longer guaranteed bronchitis. The use of the active ingredients therapeutically outweighed the possible side effects.

The environmental pressure of cannabis being contraband selected for smarter, better, more potent pot. When there’s so much to risk and gain from each pound people tend to make the most of their gardens. I’d imagine some of the best pot came from quite small operations. Growers took pride in not simply the chemical potency but the subtle flavors and sensations that they were producing. You have to remember, we were regularly smoking shwag, these clandestine growers creating high-quality, domestically grown pot were part of an evolution.

But not everyone shared the vision of healthy, pride-worthy pot. Some growers produced weed that was usually free of seeds and usually left un-bricked but had a very low potency and little, if any, heirloom quality. British Columbia was said to be the source which led to the term “beasters” or “BCs” to describe what came to be seen as fraudulent kind bud.

Everyone knew that kind bud is what they desired so anything resembling BCs was, honestly, taken as an insult. And it was a long time coming seeing as how people had fucking known that sensimillla, completely seedless pot, was superior since the sixties. It was the end of sub-par cannabis as, by the end of the 2000’s, kind bud made up the majority of marijuana in the country — and it was all from California.

With this return to higher quality marijuana came again the question of higher-purpose uses for it. The scene became less hindered in investigating constructive uses. Hemp, the “male” type of weed, was already known to possess many useful properties. If hemp can do cool stuff. Why wouldn’t his sister? Medical was introduced in 1996 with California’s Compassionate Use Act. And this meant that super-high-quality cannabis was just then coming into my region, the southern Midwest, at the time I was 14.

I grew up in the redlight district of a sprawling, artsy, very gay city there with my mom and sister. I had plenty of access to drugs, especially alcohol. But I almost always abstained. Most of my friends were somehow involved with dealing or doing too many drugs — many times both. So, I was adverse to drinking and to doing certain dugs. But marijuana, I could let loose with it, and I did. It’s a sad thing to see teenager after teenager succumb to alcoholism before they could even legally buy cigarettes. Marijuana helped me to stay clear of all this excess.

It wasn’t long before I was a connussuer. I had already learned that I had a thing for taste through my love of good coffee. Now, I was extending my palette. And through this interest I was able to still hang with my peers as they chugged beer after beer, without ever having to booze myself, and without losing any perceived credibility. It was a social boon. I had always been a nerd, and here I was no different, but people thought it was just as respectable as their drinking. It helped them see we were still peers. I had never been able to so easily interact socially. So I ended up smoking a lot more pot than I ever thought I would because I ended up hanging out with others a lot more than I ever thought I would.

You could never beat medical marijuana. It was just a cut above anything that even came close. It usually came with a damn warning from the sales person “This is a lot stronger than what you’re used to. Take it slow.” It pushed the limits of everything from our tools to our tolerances. Pipes would clog and bowls bubble because of such high oil contents. We learned a technique to allow everyone to get a green hit from the bowl called “cutting the corner.”Joints would let out a stream of warm, liquid resin from their ends. Grinders would jam. You’re fingers would be so sticky that you couldn’t operate a lighter with a safety, your thumb would just stick to that the little guard plate thing. The psychotropic strength, unfortunately, would actually freak some people out and turn them off of smoking for a while.

The strains were distinct. There wasn’t a tone of grassiness in any of them; that had been bred out long ago in people’s closets. There actually wasn’t much ambiguity to them at all. They shared few features. Each one seemed a constellation of unique qualities. Piney Northern lights. Sour Diesel that actually made one exclaim “My, is that diesel fuel in your bag?!”Big bright J1 nugs that smelled like creamy, orange sherbet. It was so voluminous that it took up about twice the space as most weed. OG Kush that you actually had to pay a premium for and drive home with it in a double airtight container because it was so strong and pungent getting pulled over for an out taillight could mean olfactory trouble. The earthy, subtlety of real Grandaddy Purp. These buds made your neck hot.

The beginnings of legalization brought out of hiding these awesome specimens. These were my good old days for me. Unfortunately, since legalization we have been hurtling toward homogeneity in our crops as opportunist growers care more about weight than quality: replacing heirloom genes with bland, hay-tasting high-yielding genes. Cannabis is more than a commodity, it’s a culture and industry. I’m writing articles like these to share what I know and hopefully positively influence what is to come.

It would be a shame to leave behind all the beauty and dankness that is the full gene pool of pot. It’s not a simple subject. Unfortunately, the expense of getting to a lot of the corresponding phenotypes — to growing them — is essentially very small harvest yields. But, the pot world is full of people wanting to speed up business, to lower prices, to become wealthy basically. So, slow going gardening and research just won’t do for them. And that’s why I’m seeing bud that claims to be OG Kush when it’s really mostly Blue Dream. There exists in the world of marijuana an awesome, amazing expanse of genetic possibilities. Let’s explore that!

It's Called Microfluidics!

So, guess what exists? Microfluidics. It's the manipulation of small droplets by an electrode array. They're sometimes called "labs on chip." These systems can do science, do reactions, test for diseases. The possibities are exciting! Perhaps one day we'll see three-dimensional, beehive-like microfluidic machines that are as complex as a kidney.

Index Cards

I cant help but feel a tone of confession in my telling you this but I can’t help do it either. I love index cards. I love them to the that point I’m embarrassed about it. I love blank ones especially because so much seems possible and sinking graphite or pen into that soap-white card stock. I’ve seen so much ordered, expressed, recorded, preserved, learned, conceived through this tool. It’s quite portable, decently durable, it’s even substantial enough to make a tent for a place marker or a little folded booklet that travels and feels so much more right than a crumbly piece of paper full of treacherous, treasonous lines and offset margins. Writing, drawing, growing up with my grandfather, I especially liked it when he’d combine the two: diagramming gear watch escapements, fasteners, mechanisms, experiments, Platonic solids, Cartesian graphs, flash cards that you can shuffle!; mathematics, astronomy, terrible puns, pleas to abstain from smoking, and meteorology. Colored, gridded, scores, storyboarded, round corner, beveled corner, they even have three by five halve inches.

They traveled in his shirt pocket with a reverse-polish calculator — you can “really get going on those things once you get the hang of the syntax.” They littered the table after Sunday dinner while a hand of cards made its way round the table asking to be played, analyzed, discussed. It was healthy when it was healthy but Ed, my grandfather, could be quite intense about some things. The index cards were like little white flags of surrender. They were one of his gifts to everyone.