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View Diary: Pique the Geek 20090621.  Drugs of Abuse III:  the Psychedelic Indoles (143 comments)

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  •  One does not have to be fluent in (5+ / 0-)

    math to get a good understanding of the basic concepts of chemistry.  It depends on what you want to know.  Certainly a good understanding of algebra makes it easier, and when looking at chemical kinetics, calculus is necessary.

    But to learn the basic concepts of how things work requires nothing more than a desire to learn and an open mind.  That is part of the reason for this series.  I want to make science interesting to folks who are not trained in it, whilst not putting those who are to sleep (unless they have insomnia, and then I am still providing a service).

    I find most of the "..... for Dummies" books to be not that helpful, because the are pretty much a one size fits all stab at the issues.

    Here is one method that I really believe works:  ask Translator during comment time.  Remember, questions are not required to be on the topic of the diary, as long as they are scientific or technology based.  I do not want to get very deeply into politics in this series, unless scientific policy is involved.

    So ask away.  You know that I value reader input above everything else.

    Finally, I will say this:  there are fewer than a dozen critical concepts that are necessary to get a good feel for science in general, and chemistry in particular.  Perhaps a series on critical concepts for understand science would be a useful one.

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

    by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:50:11 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  In our state (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Translator, C Barr, Larsstephens

      we have education agencies that provide services to schools.  One of the things they do is purchase subscriptions to online databases.  I'm going to hop onto Discovery streaming and see if there's a rudimentary video course in chemistry there.  (I've become a lot more of a visual and audio learner.  Reading doesn't seem to stick with me much.)  I'm hoping that will make me less self-conscious about this deficit.  At least then, I'll feel like I'm asking an intelligent question :-)

      Years ago, when I worked in a hospital pharmacy, I'd read in the journals about new drugs or new indications.  I just skipped the chemical diagrams and read descriptions.  The pharmacists would ask  me if I'd seen anything on a certain drug and I could send them to the right article.  They understood the chemistry, so I didn't have to.  One of them finally nicknamed me "lint trap" because stuff went into my brain and got stuck there :-)

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:04:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mrs. Translator is very much a (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, luckylizard, Larsstephens

        extreme visual learner.  If she can see it, or imagine it, she will learn it.  However, she is not that hot in learning from sounds, and print is sort of in the middle for her.

        On the other hand, I am strongly a print learner, but I translate the printed words into sound whilst I read (and the reverse for writing).  I do not move my mouth to feel out the sounds as many do, which is a decided advantage because that takes too much time.  Now, when spelling a new or complex word I might, but for what we are doing now the only mouth movement is around my hand rolled Prince Albert cigarette (yeah, yeah, I do plan to quit).

        I would encourage you to do that, if it makes you feel more comfortable.  However, please remember that in these comments the only unintelligent question is the one not asked.  I would be very arrogant to think that I make things clear to everyone the first time, so ask.  I also have a prediction:  this community here at Pique the Geek are intensely loyal to each other.  I anyone were to suggest that you posted a "stupid" question, there would be five hide rates before you could restate the question.  Community, what say you?  Let us give luckylizard some support by tipping her or his comment just above.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

        by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:15:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not you all. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Translator, C Barr, Larsstephens

          It's me.  I'm getting better.  I don't always have to be right or the best anymore.  I spent a lot of my life on that crap, and it was a waste.  I've turned over a new leaf now that I am getting old-ish.  I don't give a crap what anyone thinks of me - mostly :-)  I do think I want to learn more about this, though, for me.

          I'm a musician.  When I was young, if someone had suggested to me that math was related to music, I might never have started.  Right now I make about half my paltry income from music.  That figure has been as much as 100%, so sticking with music was a good thing for me.  In high school, I had big trouble with second year algebra so I told them I was no way going to take chemistry.  Mostly, I don't find it to be a deficit, but I don't like not knowing things.  When I sub in science, I like to have some clue about what the kids are studying.  I can bluff my way through life sciences and a lot of earth science, but not so much with the physics and chemistry.  I think it all goes back to the math thing.  

          BTW:  The kids know better than to ask me any important questions when I'm subbing for math.  They will reflexively raise their hand, but when I call on them, they look up at me and say, "Never mind...."  We understand each other completely :-)

          -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

          by luckylizard on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:37:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  LOL! (5+ / 0-)

            But math IS music.  The perfectly fitting sets of numbers, when translated into sound, make pleasant sounds.  The complex waveforms, the harmonics, the overtones and undertones are all described by math.

            Dr. Moog figured it out with his seminal synthesizer, where a musician/technician could build waveforms, ASDR (attack, sustain, decay, release) envelopes at will, and then hear the instrument that it resembled, or no existing one at all.

            You are a much more wide ranging learner if you can play music than you think.  It is struggle for me to play the stereo.

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

            by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:49:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Moog! (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, Translator, C Barr, Larsstephens

              Oh man, do I remember that!  How cool was it?  I waited for decades for an (affordable) app that would let me play things on the keyboard and then transcribe them into written music.  It makes composition sooooo much easier.  It's also great to be able to manipulate different tracks to check out instrumentation.  I love me some midi!!!

              I feel the math, I just can't think it.  The internal metronome divides the beat without thinking, at least most of the time.  Bach is my favorite composer.  Everything is so freakin' logical, and yet he managed to make it beautiful, too.  (Chopin is for my Romantic self.  There may be logic there, but the emotion is so raw that I miss any structural contrivances.)

              I meant to tell you, I'm one of those dreaded smokers, too, although quitting is in my imminent future.  Can't afford any vices anymore.  Sad, really, now that I'm old enough not to give a s#!t  :-)

              -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

              by luckylizard on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:00:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just because I have no talent for (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek, luckylizard, Larsstephens

                music does not mean that I do not love it, and its science.

                It is interesting that we both agree that most, if not all, modern music goes back to Bach.  Even Jon Lord of Deep Purple (remember them when they were actually good?) acknowledged him.

                Dr. Moog (and it is a long "O" like "mow the yard", not a diphthong like "pool") made his living in college by building Theremins and selling them.  He got interested in how they worked, and came out with his own idea.

                As I remember, his 3PC was the one used by The Beatles on Abbey Road, and also in Jesus Christ Superstar, the seminal work by Lloyd-Webber and Rice.  It got its name because it was composed of three units, hence "three pieces".

                That is still the most powerful monophonic synthesizer built.  AARP designed a polyphonic one several years later, and its "String Ensemble" revolutionized touring music.

                However, for string sounds, I am still captivated with the Mellotron.  I will have much more to say about that in the final post of this series, since it was instrumental, to make a pun, in the psychedelic movement.  Even today I saw an advert for some sort of Seaworld type of outfit using The Moody Blues playing Tuesday Afternoon, likely Mike Pinder's opus.

                Warmest regards,

                Doc

                Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

                by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:15:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  To this synesthete (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek, Translator, Larsstephens

                Bach looks like ice crystals forming, except they're in shifting colors.

          •  What instrument do you play? (4+ / 0-)

            moderation in everything ... including moderation

            by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:59:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I am serious. I can play the stereo and that is (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, C Barr, Larsstephens

              it.  I have had some limited success with spoons and the Jew's Harp (face it folks, Juice Harp is just political correctness gone bad), and think that I might be able to drum a bit, but I have no sense of harmony or timing, so I truly believe that, if I practiced every day on a given instrument, I might some day be barely adequate.  I just do not have that talent.  Hell, it takes lots of corrections (and I miss many) just to use a qwerty board.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

              by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:03:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Piano, organ. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, Translator, C Barr, Larsstephens

              I can play at many others, but not for public consumption.  I am the organist and choir director at a small Catholic church.  I started playing in church when I was 10, almost 50 years ago!  The nuns tricked us into it:  "It's such an honor!"  I gotta say, it was a lot easier climbing the choir loft steps then... :-/

              -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

              by luckylizard on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:04:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Mrs. Translator and I have a 1958 (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek, C Barr, luckylizard, Larsstephens

                Hammond M-3, for what it is worth.  Alas, no Leslie for it.

                Warmest regards,

                Doc

                Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

                by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:18:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  The keyboard is supposed to be the instrument (4+ / 0-)

                for roughing out a new song, the structure of the musical scale is layed out right there in the organization of the keys.  Should be ideal if one wanted to learn the mathematical structure of music.  I've read that there seems to be a differentiation between music readers and those who play by ear, with the latter group having an easier time with improvisational music.

                ... it was a lot easier climbing the choir loft steps then... :-/

                It is common knowledge that the force of gravity has significantly increased over the last decade or so.

                moderation in everything ... including moderation

                by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:20:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sounds like you might be enjoying (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  C Barr, luckylizard, Larsstephens

                  some indoles now.

                  LOL!

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

                  by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:26:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  most of the bands I knew... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Translator, luckylizard, Larsstephens

                  ...which spanned the range from punk to progressive to rap, composed by jamming until they hit something interesting, and then improvising on that until it became a song.  

                  In prog it usually started with keyboards & rhythm guitar and fleshed out from there.  In punk it often started on drums & bass, and then rhythm guitar and leads.  Vocals came next with melody and rhythm and sounds that were musical rather than verbal, and lyrics formed around the vocal sounds.  In rap it was all about the vocals, starting with rhythm and finding the words, and then building up a complimentary soundscape.

                  Rare were those who could write lyrics that worked musically right from the get-go without sounding like a force-fit.  One of those was a guy with an amazing voice who could do Justin Hayward and Peter Gabriel as good as the originals.  He'd write stuff that flowed with the music with no rough edges, but could also stand as poetry.  

                  •  For me, lyrics come first. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    G2geek, Translator, Larsstephens

                    I may have a vague idea of chord structure but the words/meaning lead everything, melody, harmony, rhythm.  Of course, I don't write that much.  

                    What I do write is for church, when I need a particular psalm or other setting and can't find one that trips my trigger.  You'd think in 2000 years of Christian history there wouldn't be anything left to say, musically or otherwise, but sometimes what's there is just crappy music.

                    As an aside, I was never that big on the Beatles or Stones, but loved Blood, Sweat and Tears.  I think it was the addition of instrumentation and the fact that several of those in the group actually had music degrees.  The music had a depth that one couldn't find in many other popular groups at the time.  The words were good but the addition of long, interesting instrumental interludes added layers of complexity that drew me in.  Even though I'm not a fan of prolonged dissonances, their music never grated on that sensibility.  Even unresolved tonal clusters seemed perfectly fine when they did it.  I know almost nothing about progressive, punk or rap.  I'm pretty old and haven't kept up as I should have.....

                    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                    by luckylizard on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:49:09 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Mrs. Translator has always loved (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      G2geek, luckylizard

                      BS&T.  I was never a big fan, but they were OK.  I am not a brass fan, so that may be part of the explanation.  She loves brass.  That is why I also was never a big Chicago fan, either, but Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is? is appealing on a physics level, because, frankly, no one does.

                      Now, fans of The Who will point out that French horn was often used, especially in their older work.  Whilst it is brass, it is much more subtle than a trombone or a trumpet, and Enwistle himself was the one to blow it.

                      Do you remember the Folger's coffee commercials with Clayton-Thomas singing "The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup?".  That was well past BS&T's heyday.

                      Warmest regards,

                      Doc

                      Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

                      by Translator on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:10:35 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wow, that goes way back! (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        G2geek, Translator

                        I do remember those commercials, but they're stored way back in the musty archives.  I never liked what everyone else did, at least not when they liked it.  I never liked MASH the first time around, but watched reruns of it forever.  Didn't much like The Who but did like The Guess Who.  I hadn't thought about Chicago but I do like a lot of their stuff.  I hate to admit it but I also like the Statler Brothers.  The harmonies were just so damned tight, and I'm a sucker for a booming bass!

                        You're right about the french horn vs. other brass.  It's like comparing a violin to a cello.  The violin insists on your attention but the cello seduces you.  But then, I've never been a fan of sopranos or tenors, either.  I have to be careful of that particular opinion when I'm working with my choir, though. :-)  My most powerful voice is a soprano who is not always amenable to suggestion.  She told this riddle:

                        Q.  What's the difference between a soprano and a terrorist?  

                        A.  You can negotiate with a terrorist.  

                        I don't think she really sees herself this way, but that view is not universal in our little world...

                        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                        by luckylizard on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:06:04 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

          •  the math thing might be dyslexia (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            42, Translator, Larsstephens

            Try this:

            Open the white pages of the phone book at random and pick a column, and copy about 1/3 of the column of the telephone numbers to paper as quickly as possible.  

            Then have someone go back and check your work.  What they're looking for  are cases where you flip digits, for example 555-2368 becomes 555-3268 or any other combination where digits are flipped.  

            If you're flipping digits, that's dyslexia.  And that's why the math trouble.  

            I didn't find out until after college.  Had I found out much earlier... let's just say that by now I might have had one of those jobs where I couldn't talk about what I did for a living:-)

            •  I believe that I have a bit of that. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              Here is why I think so.  Back in the first grade (when dinosaurs like I am walked the earth, there was not much kindergarten), I had real trouble with lower case "B" and "D", as well as "G" and "Q", once again in lower case.  I would have to imagine the upper case "B" and "D" first to distinguish them.

              I could read by that time, because my mum saw to that.  But reading whole words and learning the alphabet are quite different exercises.  The first grade actually retarded my learning by at least a year or two.

              I finally learnt to compensate, and I guess that I overcame it to some degree.  The one thing that I did learn in first grade that is important is that I have two different sets of photoreceptive chemicals in my eyes.  When I was little, I called one my "blue" eye, and the other my "red" eye.  Now I understand that there is a different distribution of photosensitive chemicals in each of my eyes, and, if things are very quiet and the light is just right, I can still tell the subtle differences in color perception from one eye to another.  Interestingly, Eldest son has severe problems distinguishing shades of blue and red, and some look identical to him.

              I also discovered that I had taste buds in places other than my tongue.  When I told my parents about that, they told me that I was out of my mind.  Well, research has shown that infants have taste buds all over their mouths, not only of the tongue, and that, as part of the aging process, they finally degenerate.  I vividly remember tasting the salty sensation on the inside of my cheeks when I would put a finger into my mouth, as kids are wont to do.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

              by Translator on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:23:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yep, lower case "b" and "d" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                I had trouble with those too.  And if "g" and "q" are problematic, that's consistent.  This degree of dyslexia is far more common than most people realize.

                •  The "b" amd "d" were much more of a problem (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek

                  for me, since "q" is quite rare in English and almost always has its helper, "u", associated with it.  That was a visual aid for me.

                  I also had problems distinguishing the number "2" from "5" since they look very similar when given an in plane C-2 rotation, if you are familiar with Group Theory.

                  I think that my graduate program insisting on a fundamental understanding of group theory helped me to get over it, finally, because of the extraordinarily subtle differences between, for example, proper and improper rotations.  It finally helped to get my spatial relationships in order, but sometimes I still have to look at that character to make sure that it is a "d" and not a "b" before I hit the "send" dutton.  (LOL! I did that on purpose!)

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  Time for real health care reform, not just to patch the patches.

                  by Translator on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:21:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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