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Well, only one installment in this subseries after this one, but it will be special.  Tonight we will explore this class of drugs, what they do, and how they work.

This class of drugs also includes LSD, but that material is so culturally important that it will have a post of its own.  Thinking about it, it may deserve two posts, so there may be two installment after this one.  We will have to see.

First some housekeeping.  I still have not bought cigarettes since March.  I have not been as successful as I had hoped cutting down on the hand rolled ones, but am making incremental progress.  Nicotine is an extremely difficult addiction to overcome.

Indole is a relatively simple organic molecule.  It has no psychotropic actions of its own, but is the central nucleus for several classes of psychedelic drugs that have those properties.  I know that I have been very, very wonkish in this series by posting structural formulae of different molecules, but perhaps it will pay off in this installment, even for nontechnical folks.  I believe that the patterns will be pretty obvious.

Interestingly, an indole derivative was one of the early stimuli for the expansion of the discipline of organic chemistry.  The great German chemist, von Baeyer, synthesized the indigo colored dye, indigo, from indole.  This sort of wiped out the cultivation of indigo plants and made the German dye industry dominant in not only dyes, but pharmaceuticals as well.  The same techniques to produce a dye produce drugs from simpler starting materials.  I can not emphasize enough this connection.

Most, but not all, of the psychedelic drugs with an indole nucleus are substituted tryptamines.  From the post last time, here, you know that I use the highly technical term "chicken fat" to refer to seemingly minor substituent groups on a central skeleton.  Without further ado, here are structrual formulae for indole, trypyamine, and what is perhaps the most ancient and important neurotransmitter, serotonin, aka 5-hydroxytryptamine.  For comparison, the structure of the dye indigo is included.  For all the patience you have shown me for posting endless structural formulae, here is the payoff.  Look how these drugs resemble serotonin.  For those of you who wear "blue" denim, indigo is the dye that colors it:


Indole


Tryptamine


Serotonin

By the way, indole, and its methyl substituted cousin scatole, are pretty volatile and have horrible scents.  As a matter of fact, scatole is responsible for much of the offensive odor of feces, also know as scat, hence the name.  This is just for reference.

Well, tryptamine is derived from the amino acid tryptophan, naturally occurring in many proteins in normal food.  Tryptophan by itself has little of no effect on the mind, but in certain circumstances the tryptamine produced from it can have extremely negative effects on people treated for depression with a very old class of drugs, the monamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).  These drugs are not used as much now as they used to be, being supplanted by the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, (SSRIs), like fluoxitine (Prozac) but still are prescribed.  Parnate is one of them. The problem is that the MAOIs inhibit the destruction of these compounds, and a buildup of tryptamine in the brain can bring on psychosis and hypertensive crisis.  Food sources rich in tryptophan include aged cheeses, aged wines, and rich animal product diets.  Correction:  those foods are rich in tyramine, another amino acid.  Please see comments.

Look at the similarity between tryptamine and 5-HT.  These are essentially the same but for the hydroxy group at the position defined as "5" according to the naming convention.  That one little piece of chicken fat transforms it into a very potent, ubiquitous, and ancient neurotransmitter.  Chicken fat can be important.

If you look back the the immediately previous installment of this subseries, here, you will find a discussion of the 5-HT family and subfamilies of neuronal receptors.  All of them are affected by 5-HT receptors, but the 5-HT<sub>2A</sub> receptor seems to be the one involved with the psychedelic experience.  I know that the HTML will show up on Kos as just the HTML, but on docudharma it actually subscripts the string.

There are a number of tryptamines that are psychedelic.  Probably the most ancient one, and a natural product, is N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.  It is found in several natural plant sources, and has been the subject of some controversy in the legal community recently.  I will cover that in a bit.  Here is the structure:


DMT

One of the noteworthy aspects of DMT is that it is very rapidly metabolized.  It is an extremely potent psychedelic, but is degraded so fast (the half life is measured in minutes in the body) that the psychedelic experience is only about half an hour long.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was called The Businessman's Lunch because the effects, whilst intense, dissipated over the course of a lunch hour.  It is not effective taken orally since it is metabolized in the digestive track, but taking a MAOI concurrently allows the material to stay intact and so be effective by oral ingestion.

This drug is Schedule I, so is not legal for anything unless there is a DEA license for research (try getting one of those).  However, there has been a First Amendment case about the and extract of it, often called "tea" that is interesting.  Here are the facts in the case.

A United States branch of a Brazilian religious group, União do Vegetal that uses hoasca tea which contains DMT.  Interestingly, the tea also contains MAOIs, so the tea is psychedelic by ingestion.  DEA blocked the importation of the tea due to its DMT content, and the case went to the Supreme Court.  The Court finally ruled in 2006 that DEA had to allow the importation of the tea due to a religious exemption, similar to that for peyote use by members of the Native American Church.

A close relative, N,N-diethyltryptamine, is also psychedelic.  As far as I know, there is no First Amendment issue with it, so it is totally illegal unless one possesses a DEA license.  It was also originally developed as an antidepressant, but was withdrawn due to serious blood disorders were associated with it.  It acts more like MDMA than it does "classical" psychedelics.

Another psychedelic indole is alpha-methyl tryptamine, also known as IT-290.  This was Ken Kesey's second favorite, after LSD, during his time in the experimental drugs program (probably MKULTRA) run by the government.  IT-290, interestingly, is an effective antidepressant in small doses and was developed for that purpose.  In larger doses, around 30 milligrams, it is a long lasting psychedelic, lasting up to a full day.  Interestingly, it was legal in the United States until recently (2003), when DEA placed it on Schedule I.  The interesting thing about it is that as an antidepressant it acts much like the modern SSRI antidepressants by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in addition to being a direct agonist of the 5-HT<sub>2A</sub> receptor.


IT-290

This is a good time to talk about magic mushrooms.  There are several genera and species that have, as part of their metabolism, the ability to synthesize the drug psylocibin.  These mushrooms are common, often growing in cow droppings, so perhaps that is the origin of the term "good shit".  They occur all over the New World, and a variant of them was what got Timothy Leary started in his, as it turns out, ill fated mission.  More on that later, if I have time and space.

Here are some pictures of these mushrooms, along with their Latin names.  HERE IS A DISCLAIMER!!!!  Never, ever taste a mushroom unless you know it to be nonlethal.  Mushrooms are very deceptive, and little differences in appearance mean the difference between life and death.  If you are not an expert, take a mycologist with you.  NEVER taste a mushroom that you have not identified positively as nonlethal.  I say that because casual use of mushrooms can kill you to death, quickly.


Psilocybe cubensis


Psilocybe cyanescens


Psilocybe semilanceata

Psilocibin in interesting.  It is the only naturally occurring psychedelic of which I can think to be a phosphate ester.  As you can see from the structural formula, there is a big PO<sub>4</sub> group on it.  In the body, it is dephosphorolated to the compound psylocin, with this structural formula.  Unlike psilocybin, psilocin is nonpolar enoutgh to cross the blood brain barrier.  This is what causes the psychedelic effects.  Here are the structual formulae for those two:


Psilocybin


Psilocin

Both of these compounds are Schedule I, so are illegal.  The legality of the mushrooms themselves is a more complicated question, because it is difficult to prosecute someone for picking things growing wild.  However, possession and cultivation are certainly illegal.

Once again, this drug is also a 5-HT<sub>2A</sub> receptor agonist, a common thread amongst all "classical" psychedelics.  

Another natural one is the bizarre one, bufotenine.  This material is naturally expressed by toads, genus Bufo, even ones that live in North America.  It is psychedelic, but, from what I am told, nausea is a common experience.  Toads are still OK, but the purified material is Schedule I.  It turns out that it is a potent 5-HT<sub>2a</sub> receptor agonist, and so is psychedelic.  There are many newspaper articles about licking toads on that gland, and folks tripping on the results of it.  It seems to be valid scientifically.


Bufotenine

This makes me wonder about the festival in my home state.  It takes place in and around the tiny little town of Toad Suck, Arkansas (near Conway, Arkansas), along the Arkansas River.  There was once, before the bridge was built, a ferry to carry folks and cars from one side of the river to the other.  When I was a kid, I actually rode on the "Toad Suck Ferry".  Now the ferry is gone, but there is a festival every May called "Toad Suck Daze".  It is sort of a carnival, but I wonder about sucking those toads.

Licking toads can be a dangerous practice.  Most toads express compounds other than bufotenine, some of them with cardiac implications.  I would strongly advise against toad sucking.

Actually, toads are wonderful citizens of our Earth.  They eat noxious insects all of the time.  They need to be protected, and their population seems to be declining. But that is not the point.

There are many more psychedelic indoles.  Ibogaine comes to mind, and I will say that I have never have more email and telephone traffic but for this material in connection with Pique the Geek.

Ibogaine comes from the plant Tabernanthe iboga, native to Africa.  The pharmacodynamics of ibogaine are complex and not well understood.  Since it is Schedule I, few US studies are ongoing, but it is known that it is a weak 5-HT<sub>2a</sub> receptor agonist, hence its psychedelic properties.  However, it is also known to interact with numerous other neurotransmitter pathways.


Ibogaine


Tabernanthe iboga

One of the most promising uses for this material is treatment of addictive conditions, such as opiate and alcohol dependence.  It seems that proper use of this drug can break the heroin habit quickly, and without narcotic withdrawal symptoms.

I know next to nothing about Ibogaine, but this is what folks have told me.  After these few poor paragraphs, I would appreciate if the folks who know much more than I would comment and illuminate this poor entry.

Well, you have done it again.  You just wasted another perfectly good batch of electrons reading the drivel which emanates from my keyboard.  And even though the Iranian president demands an apology when he reads when I say it, I always learn much more than I possibly hope to teach writing these posts.  Thus, please keep the comments, questions, corrections, and other feedback coming.

UPDATE:  Well, folks, it is late now.  I may need to think about posting earlier and cutting off comment time after a couple of hours.  I have been going at this since 9:00 PM (not counting the composition time) until now, right at 2:00 AM.  That is five hours, and is too taxing of my mind and need for sleep.  I will now restrict the comment time to two (2) hours after posting, in other words, until 11:00 PM Eastern.  This is to preserve my health.  I will always check in the next day to answer dangling comments and questions.

Warmest regards,

Doc  

Crossposted at docudharma.com

Originally posted to Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:06 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey Doc, I thought that anyone... (8+ / 0-)

    taking an MAO inhibitor had to avoid foods containing a high amount of tyramine.  How is that related to tryptophan?

  •  I promise to not suck toads (11+ / 0-)

    Interesting diary, as usual. ;-)

    Torture: An act... specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody or physical control.

    by MsGrin on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:22:41 PM PDT

  •  When I was a kid (9+ / 0-)

    growing up in Arkansas, people talked about smoking jimsonweed.  I never tried it, but you can get high on it. I know it is a member of the same family as the deadly nightshade, so that was enough to put me off from even thinking about trying it.  It is one of those things I never got around to researching.  Your thoughts?

    It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:23:45 PM PDT

    •  I actually covered that in Part I (10+ / 0-)

      of this series, the Oddballs.

      It turns out that Jimpson weed contains significant amounts of atropine, a very powerful drug.  In addition to its mental affects, it also inhibits sweating, thus making heatstroke a real danger amongst users in hot weather.  In addition, atropine is more of a delirium producer than a true psychedelic, with severe danger arising from inguring oneself.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:26:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Heard a number of horror stories about Datura (6+ / 0-)

      including long periods of blindness.  Strongly not recommended.

      moderation in everything ... including moderation

      by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:49:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There use to be an asthma smoking... (7+ / 0-)

      ... tobacco that contained belladonna or jimsonweed IIRC it was called Dr. Schiffman's Asthma smoking tobacco.
      It could be brewed as a tea and drunk - it could, however, seriously fuck you up.

      The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true. J. Robert Oppenheimer {-8.25 / -5.64}

      by carver on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:51:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Euell Gibbons mentions (6+ / 0-)

        the use for asthma in one of his books.  With better, more effective, more specific, and much safer drugs available, no one should do that.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

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

        by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:53:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Didn't he die from aspirin induced bleeding (4+ / 0-)

          in his stomach?

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:01:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is my understanding. (4+ / 0-)

            He had severe arthritis, and aspirin was widely used for it then, although newer drugs are replacing it for many patients now.  That seems like it was in the late 1970s.

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

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

            by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:05:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not from aspirin induced ulcer (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, Translator, C Barr

            He had a ruptured aorta.  It was a probably a dissecting aneurysm of the aorta with his Marfan's Syndrome a contributing factor. Official cause of death was "heart attack."

            It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

            by Otteray Scribe on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:10:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Shades of John Ritter! (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, C Barr, joycemocha, Otteray Scribe

              Now it all makes sense.  I thought that the aspirin story might not be accurate, but that is the urban legend.

              For those of who are not hip to Marfan's:

              It is a genetic defect (heritable) that has to do with the quality of the proteins in connective tissue.  Very recently discovered is that it is a so-called "silent" mutation in that the proper amino acids are incorporated into the proteins, but an aberrent codon in the mRNA (and the parent DNA) is used.  This affects the rate at which the protein is produced at the ribosome, causing some distortion in its tertiary structure because the folding of the protein as it is formed is affected by the rate at which it is constructed.  This has been known only a few months.

              Without naming names, someone whom I know very well has had loose ligaments all of her life, and her son was born with pectus excavatum, has been in the 95% percentile for height (length when he was little), and has an aortic arch on the extreme high side of normal size, but it is stable.

              Unless you are on the operating table with a qualified chest cutter working on you when it happens, the recovery rate from a dissecting aorta is just about zero.

              Thanks for clearing this up for me.  Now you know why I keep saying that I learn more than I could possible hope to teach writing this series.  Gibbons, by the way, is one of my idols.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

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

              by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:23:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Dissection of the aorta can cause (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, Translator, Otteray Scribe

              heart attack if the dissection goes across the opening of a coronary artery.

    •  I recall an article in the New Yorker ca. (4+ / 0-)

      fifteen years ago about a fellow who grafted tomato stems onto a nightshade plant (same plant family). The tomatoes concentrated the toxic ingredients. He gave a bunch of the tomatoes to a neighbor who used them in a salad. Several people died and others became very ill. CDC epedemiologists had a hard time figuring it out.

      •  I am not convinced that this (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, C Barr, Otteray Scribe, Coastrange

        is actual fact.  Please do not get me wrong, I am in no way accusing you of anything dishonest.  It just seems to me that there are a few things wrong with the story.

        First, tomatoes are extremely easy to grow from seed, thus reducing the need to graft them.  The reason that fruits, such as apples, peaches, etc. are all grafted is that they are impossible to grow from seed, in that you get a different variety than what you planted.  Tomatoes are not like that.

        Second, grafting tomatoes, a soft fleshed plant, would be extremely difficult.  It is relatively easy to graft woody plants, but the delicate nature of annuals (both tomatoes and nightshade) would make grafting next to impossible without advanced facilities.

        I'll root around tomorrow, but I suspect that the story was snark.  However, I could well be incorrect.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

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

        by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:07:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  very bad stuff, don't mess with it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe

      A true psychotomimetic (psychosis-mimicing compound), nothing but bad trips, and the exceptions prove the rule.  

  •  Thanks, Doc, I always learn from your diaries! (6+ / 0-)

    On this one not so much that I can share in turn - probably a good thing overall.

    Our most exciting local product right now is the blueberries ripening in our front yard - much more staid than these mushrooms but also safer!

  •  The Ibogaine dossier (11+ / 0-)

    http://ibogaine.org

    Howard Lotsof, who (accidentally) discopvered the anti-addictive properties is an old friend.

    Recall the stories of the cocaine addicted rats who'd continue to hit the lever, skipping food, and everything else until they died? Given a dose of Ibogaine, they don't give up cocaine completely, but stop for normal rat activities , food, grooming, social interaction. In short, they become casual users.



    Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

    by ben masel on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:36:01 PM PDT

  •  last lecture in organic chemistry (7+ / 0-)

    Many years ago, when I was an undergrad, the professor finished off the second semester of organic chemistry by writing down the steps that would be required to synthesize lysergic acid diethylamide, starting from indole.

    He did point out that the yield would be very low.

    grok the "edku" -- edscan's "revelation", 21 January 2009

    by N in Seattle on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:37:31 PM PDT

    •  That is some extremely demanding (7+ / 0-)

      chemistry, so demanding that no synthesis of LSD starts from indole, but from lysergic acid itself, usually derived from ergot, a fungus parasitic on rye mostly.  Since lysergic acid (and its isomers) has two asymmetric centers, there are four possible ones.  Only one produces an active product, so complex stereospecific synthetic methods and elaborate separation techniques are required.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:40:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  understood (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Translator, Otteray Scribe

        He certainly wasn't recommending that we undertake the synthesis, though he did point out that indole (unlike lysergic acid) is readily available in large quantities.

        I think the idea was to review the variety of synthesis steps and techniques that we'd learned during the semester, put into a "familiar" context.  It was 1970, after all.

        grok the "edku" -- edscan's "revelation", 21 January 2009

        by N in Seattle on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:47:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As an intellectual exercise, (4+ / 0-)

          it is excellent.  And it can be done.  With enough expertise, facilities, and money, one can make anything from carbon, air, water, and just a few other materials.  As Lex Luthor once said, after the authorities gave him extremely limited access to some medical laboratory facilities, "Those fools!  They don't know that I can make an atomic pile out of a sand pile!"

          Now, starting with indole it is possible to make many of the materials described here, but I do not ever to be accused of writing a drugs "cookbook" blog.  That is not my intention, and do not need the heat from the authorities that this would entail.  I have very purposely failed to mention any synthetic methods or to link to any, with the exception of Shulgan's book, which has significant historical significance in addition.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

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

          by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:55:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Shulgin lost his Sched I license over that book. (4+ / 0-)

            I know him, and he's an absolute genius and an oldschool renaissance man, somewhere between Hofmann and Huxley.  For him and for another person I know who is not a public figure, the interest in these things is all about pure science: structure-activity relationships, neurophysiology, and empirical results in terms of perception & cognition.  

            FDA's position was, in essence, that his books (one on phenethylamines, one on tryptamines) unleashed a mess of possible proliferation of illicit manufacture, for which the penalty was loss of the license.  Strictly speaking, retaliation for an act of protected speech, but he didn't feel like fighting it at the time.  FDA could argue it's a privilege rather than a right, thus revocable arbitrarily including in retaliation for protected speech.  The counter-arguement would be that revocation of a privilege in response to an act of protected speech, is still penalizing the speech, thus impermissible.  

            Anyway, the current crop of scientists doing human-subject research with psilocybin are exceptionally cautious.  I wrote to one of them to discuss his findings in light of a possible medical application, and in my email said that this was a private inquiry and not for publication; and he wrote back affirming that he wanted to keep that discussion private.   These folks would rather that their peer-reviewed articles speak for them, and they know they are setting precedents that could lead to further expansion of human subject studies but only if each of these projects is handled very very carefully.  

            What I find terribly tragic, is that it's OK to use these compounds in pursuit of religious insight, but not in pursuit of scientific insight (such as studying the mechanisms of synaesthesia).  At the time the Founders drafted the 1st Amendment, religion was the lens through which humans looked into the deepest mysteries of existence, and science was seen as having a more mundane role.  Today science is for most of us the lens through which we look at the deepest mysteries of existence; and so, freedom of science is every bit as important (potentially more so).

            It's a good thing that certain churches have gained access, but the whole framework of Schedule I has got to be scrapped and rebuilt as nothing more than a temporary holding pen for substances that are involved in clear & present public health crises (e.g. LSD in the 60s).  There should be automatic sunset back to Sched II upon an empirical finding that a public health crisis has passed.  

            And there need to be special provisions for folks such as Shulgin who are no threat to anyone and just need a bit of protected space in which to legally pursue their research activities.  Frankly, as a culture, we are terribly backward when it comes to supporting the geniuses in our midst, and that situation will continue to cost us mightily until it is changed.  

            •  Just a very minor, technical correction. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, Just as a Beverage

              It is DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), not FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that is in charge of Schedule I licenses.  Otherwise, your comments are very accurate.  I just do not like a trivial, but incorrect, point to be perpetuated here.

              Thank you for your very detailed and insightful comments all evening and the next day.  I very much appreciate readers like you who are not afraid to share there expertise.  Please keep on commenting!

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

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

              by Translator on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 08:58:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  interesting about DEA... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                Shulgin had helped out DEA on a number of occasions, prosecuting illegal drug operations.  The way I heard the story about their visit to retrieve the license, was that the guys who came out there knew him and were more or less reluctantly following orders.

                What I find odd is that the CSA is partitioned like that.  But now it makes sense that FDA is authorizing more human subject research and DEA isn't saying much about it.  One hand taketh away and the other hand giveth:-)

                •  FDA falls under Heatlth and Human Services, and (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek

                  DEA falls under Justice (I think, maybe Homeland Security now), but the point is that they have different chains of command, and their own turfs that they tend to protect, regardless of how it "helps" normal citizens.

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

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

                  by Translator on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 08:09:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  When I was a kid I kept many amphibians (6+ / 0-)

    I never sucked toads but did once hide a newt, Taricha granulosa in my mouth to scare some girls.  Luckily the animal wasn't so distressed that it excreted toxin from skin glands, because they've been associated with a number of fatalities.  The potent toxin is thought to have evolved in response to predation by garter snakes.

    I did once rub my eye after handling treefrogs with very unpleasant results .... burning and tearing.

    When toads and newts do make an effort to secrete skin toxins, the smell of the toxins are distinctive.

    Another fascinating diary Translator.  Thanks for writing these.

    moderation in everything ... including moderation

    by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:43:26 PM PDT

  •  DAng (8+ / 0-)

    Once again, thank you for the excellent writing.  

    I've mentioned this before, but the mention of Parnate brought this up again.  

    My Mother took her own life when I was a child.  She was severely depressed and she was a fairly heavy drug user.  I know for sure that there was plenty of speed, marijuana, and most certainly a lot of the large jugs of cheap red wine.  

    Because she was being treated for depression, she was taking Parnate.  Given that she was also in and out of alcohol rehab, it's also a given that she was still drinking red wine, and she was most certainly using speed, because it's on the death certificate along with Parnate. Alcohol is not mentioned, but I'm sure it was there as well.  

    Unfortunately, there is no detail as to the actual cause of death.  We do have a letter in her hand which tells her Mother to not tell the children.  

    I'm getting more and more curious as to the circumstances of her death and wondering whether it was not intentional at the time.  It has been more than 30 years, so I have dealt with this for a long time and am comfortable with discussing it.  It's not a hidden secret I am revealing on the internet for the first time.

    Where was the weirdest place you ever made whoopee?

    by otto on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:59:55 PM PDT

  •  Cool stuff as usual (4+ / 0-)

    on toads ... I have read that the poison dart frog (ok frog, not toad) is one of the most poisonous creatures on Earth.  I think I read that at the Central Park Zoo.

    A more pertinent question - how about a diary in this series on "contact highs" and on the panacea effect wrt psychedelics (or other drugs of abuse or not).

    Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

    by plf515 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:21:17 PM PDT

    •  An interesting note about the poison (6+ / 0-)

      dart frogs:  if kept in captivity and fed a "normal" diet of fruit flies, they lose their toxic action over time.  It turns out that the food sources in South America actually create the toxic materials, or at least their precursors, and the frogs merely concentrate them into their skin.

      I will consider your suggestion, but frankly, I have been writing about drugs since winter and I yearn to move onto another topic.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:25:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Other topics are fine too (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, willb48, Otteray Scribe

        Drugs are not the most interesting scientific topic, to me.

        Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

        by plf515 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:32:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a chemist and student (5+ / 0-)

          of pharmacology, they do hold a good deal of scientific interest to me, but, honestly, I can only talk about the 5-HT2A receptors for so many times.

          Suggestions by all for future topics are solicited.  I would like to be able to write some single posts to cover a topic, and a few multipart ones to go more deeply into others.  I do not think that I want to write a series this long for some time.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

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

          by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:37:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK ... (5+ / 0-)

            Ideas:
            Children's conceptions of science

            The connections between science history and general world view

            The history of particular scientific ideas - e.g. changing conceptions of burning (from Phlogiston to oxidation, if that's the right word).

            Was Isaac Newton the "first scientist" or the "last magician"?

            Strength of materials

            Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

            by plf515 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:45:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I really like phlogiston. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, plf515, C Barr, willb48, Otteray Scribe

              That theory is an excellent example of a theory that explained everything well, until new observations were made.  Then bizarre ideas like negative mass were invoked to keep an obviously theory propped up, but to no avail.

              Newton was an enigma.  I have it on good authority that a certain Time Lord climbed a tree and threw apples at him once.

              Those all are excellent suggestions.  If I can pull the final installment of this series off for next week, I may use one of them.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

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

              by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:49:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good luck on the nicotine thing! (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator, C Barr, Otteray Scribe

                I tried quitting with the GUS group, but experienced extreme panic after only twenty hours.  I'm on three psychiatric drugs (Lamotrigine, Trazodone and Lexapro - the psychiatrist refuses to prescribe clonazepam due to my bad lung function, but I have a stash), and at the time I quit, I was out of Lamotrigine.  Even clonazepam couldn't calm me down.

                I was going cold-turkey without nicotine-replacement.  My niece responded almost instantly to my call for help.  Ah, sweet tobacco, how would I live without you?

                I'm going to try again next week, but with nicotine patches and gum, and an ample supply of lamotrigine.  Nicotine replacement seems self-defeating, since the addiction is still fed.  The smoke is so toxic, anything else is preferable.

                There's a new pill - can't remember its name.  The good doctor says I can't take it safely, given that it sometimes induces depression and suicidal impulses.  

                The kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it. Peace.

                by willb48 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:07:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Chantix is the new (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek, C Barr, Otteray Scribe

                  anti-nicotine drug.  Middle Son tried using it and it drove him next to madness.  There are lots of reports coming in to FDA about suicidal ideation and depression associated with it.

                  I successfully quit many years ago for 18 months using the gum.  Then I quit the gum, substituting a sugar free regular one for it.

                  Then I got a stressful job, and boom, back to Camel nonfilters.  I have not bought them since March, and am beginning to cut back on Prince Albert.

                  Good luck with your struggle!  I know that it is not easy.

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

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

                  by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:11:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  try this... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Translator, Otteray Scribe

                    The addictiveness of cigarettes is based on the tobacco being blended for ease of inhaling the smoke, thus increasing the bioavailability of nicotine as well as the rapidity of uptake.

                    I'd suggest switching to a pipe.  Can't inhale pipe smoke w/o a coughing fit.  Pipe tobacco has less nicotine, and nicotine uptake via the mucous membranes of the mouth is much slower than via the lungs.  Net result is that the addiction factor will drop off to the point where smoking a pipe is a "take it or leave it" proposition, rather than "all or nothing."  

                    I've been smoking a pipe for almost 20 years (never had a desire to smoke cigarettes), my heart & lung functioning is normal, and it's less addictive than ice cream.  Last week I was working long blocks of stressful time on clients' sites without pause for pipe or food, and I missed the snacks more.  

                    If this interests you, get a couple of inexpensive corncobs and a half pound of Lane's RLP-6 blend (various tobacconists carry it under their own names, you'll have to ask).  Smoke as much as you like so long as you don't inhale.  After a few days you'll find yourself smoking less and less, until it's only a couple of pipefulls a day.  At that point you can quit entirely or keep it around as an occasional indulgence.

                    IMHO one of the problems with tobacco in our culture, is that via cigarettes it has become an all-or-nothing proposition: one is either "a smoker" or "a non-smoker" with the vast gray zone in the middle wholly excluded.  In places where cigars and pipes are more common, you find far more people who occasionally indulge but don't make a habit of it.  

                    By analogy, think of "drinker" and "non-drinker" relative to alcoholism on one hand, and moderate drinking on the other.   A culture where binges and serious drunkenness are the paradigms for drinking behavior, will produce more alcoholics and more non-drinkers.  A culture where people drink in moderation and consume their drinks slowly, will produce far less of either.  

    •  Don't worry too much about distinguishing between (5+ / 0-)

      "frogs" and "toads".  Our English language fails when it comes to naming the tailess amphibians.  There are forty-eight families of the Order  Anura, the hopping, jumping tailess amphibians we consider to be froggish.  Only two of these Anuran families are native to the British Isles, Ranidae and Bufonidae.  Ranids are the classic true frogs such as our American Leopard Frogs or Bullfrogs.  Bufonids are the classic true toads.

      So if you were living in old Britain and saw a tailess amphibian hop or leap into the water, it had to be either a frog or a toad.  But if you get off the British Isles you might encounter members of the other forty-six families of froggish creatures.  But since these others weren't found in Britain, there are no old English names to describe them, and we're stuck with "frogs" and "toads".  So the names can have different meanings in different applications.  If it has a narrow waist and leaps some call it a frog.  If it's fat, squat, bumpy and hops call it a toad.  But what about Hyla californeae, the Canyon Treefrog of Southern California and Arizona with it's bumpy skin and ability to leap from a boulder to the safety of a deep stream pool?  It's a member of the Family Hylidae and common names of "frog" and "toad" are often both used here but have little scientific meaning in this case.  You'll see the name Spadefoot used without the term "toad" afterwards because these fat squat hopping creatures are members of the Family Pelobotidae.  The Poison Arrow Frogs you mentioned are members of the Family Dendrobatidae.

      So it's a language problem.  Words can have different meanings in different applications.  I'm happy to call them all "frogs" unless there is a need for further distinction.  It's likely that some of my numbers and names are now outdated.

      moderation in everything ... including moderation

      by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:37:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sometimes my memory seems to be (5+ / 0-)

        too full.  There was an episode of the old Gunsmoke series where Doc Adams, Festus, and Matt were sitting with Kitty at the Long Branch, having a beer.  Festus started talking about "toady frogs" and went on and on as only Ken Curtis, in that character, could.  It was toady frog this and toady frog that for a couple of minutes, until Doc Adams exploded at Festus, as he often did.

        "Festus!  There are toads and there are frogs, but there is no such of a thing as a toady frog!"  Festus seemed a little hurt.

        "Well, Doc, I ain't asure of where you look for 'em, but they's lotsa toady frogs over by the pond."

        Doc Adams just shook his head, took another draught of his beer, whilst Matt and Kitty smiled at each other (they did that often, anyway).

        You point is well made.  This is why we have Latin names.  They keep things in proper order.

        As an aside, I think that Roddenberry used Festus and Doc Adams as the model for the relationship between McCoy and Spock.  The only difference is that the intellectual levels were reversed, but I never thought Festus the fool, just not very educated formally.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

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

        by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:02:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Beware of conceptual dualities (4+ / 0-)

          Seldom is reality that simple.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:06:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's been a long time since I thought of Festus (3+ / 0-)

          That was quite the show.  The episode you describe must have been fun for both writers and actors.  I think I just might add "toady frogs" to my working vocabulary.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:23:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The voice of Festus was (4+ / 0-)

            an affectation by Ken Curtis.  Curtis was a baritone (is that next lowest in register to bass?) singer with the Son's of the Pioneers, and had a wonderful, deep speaking and singing voice.

            He came to the fair in Fort Smith, Arkansas one year when I was just a kid.  They interviewed him on the TeeVee (anyone from there remember Pat Porta or Mike Pharis?) and asked him about the Festus voice.

            In perfect, standard English, in his real, deep voice, he said this, and I believe it to be verbatim:

            "Well, when I get into character, I have to get into the Festus voice."  Then the pitch and lilt started to change.  "But a-once that I do, it's kindly hard to stop!", that in the perfect Festus voice.  Curtis was a gem.

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

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

            by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:32:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  the distinction i use is that... (4+ / 0-)

        ...toads have dry skin and can live in drier environments with access to water; frogs have moist skin and need to live in damp environments or ideally in or near water; and treefrogs have sticky toes and can climb.  

        Wood frogs (Northeastern US) are an interesting exception, as they can be found far from ponds.  Also, oddly enough, the occasional pickerel frog, despite its sensitive skin.

        Bufo Americanus, and another one I can't think of at the moment, used to be common in the Northeast.  (Those are the ones I think of as the classic or archetypal toads.)   Are they still around in large numbers, or have they joined the ranks that have been driven to the brink?  

        •  I really don't know their status (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Translator, Larsstephens

          I live in California and I'm most familiar with what's going on with west coast amphibians.  With out habit of lining riparian zones with concrete for flood control, a lot of habitat is gone.  Cattle also trash streamside environments, collapsing the banks and destroying vegetation which provides cooling shade and hiding spots.  This turns the area into nonnative Bullfrog habitat (they eat other Anurans).  We've lost most of our our southern California populations of Red-Legged Frogs and Foothill Yellow-Legged Frogs... no one is sure why.  In the Sierra Nevada where I live the Yosemite Toads and Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs which filled the meadows, streams and lake shores when I was a kid are mostly gone from a possible combination of increased ultraviolet exposure, pesticide residue from spraying in the Central Valley, introduced predatory trout, and most definitely the Chitrid Fungus which is implicated worldwide in amphibian declines.  Our Pacific Chorus-Tree Frogs are doing pretty good though.

          Your distinction of aquatic and terrestrial lifestyles in Ranids and Bufonids is spot on.  Bufo-Toads remind me of skunks.  They both cruise about on land with little abiltiy to flee from predators, but most predators know that messing with them may entail paying a very high price.

          moderation in everything ... including moderation

          by C Barr on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 06:13:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  heh, skunks:-) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator

            Good analogy there.  The first thing many toads do when picked up is to lose bladder control, which is also a useful defense.  The small ones merely taste bad to the average dog, thus getting spat out quickly, whereafter both parties retreat from each other none the worse for wear.  

            BTW, the other one in the Northeast was either Fowler's Toad or the Spadefoot Toad if I recall correctly.  The distinctions between these and the American Toads were fairly subtle, though the Spadefoot toad had a more pronounced bump on its hind feet with which to dig itself into a little burrow by backing in as it dug.

            Bullfrogs have become a pain in the butt in a lot of ecosystems, and eating the native frogs is a particularly nasty habit of theirs.  When I was a kid, green frogs were common (these were mostly brown of course, with green markings near their noses) and bullfrogs were relatively rare.  

            Sorry to hear about the losses in your area, though at least the treefrogs are keeping up.  I'm wondering if that doesn't have something to do with them living above the ground most of the time.  

            I'm not as familiar with the western frogs/toads/treefrogs as the eastern ones, despite living in CA (in the damn city) for 25 years.  Are the Pacific Chorus Treefrogs similar to Spring Peepers?  Reason why is, I was out & about once and found something that looked quite like a Peeper, and of course I picked it up, and the little guy immediately started climbing up my hand and up my arm, as if I was a plant. Wondering if that might have been a Pacific Chorus Treefrog.  

            Dumb Question Department:  has anyone attempted to breed frogs & toads in a quasi-controlled environment?  I'm thinking, an indoor pond in a greenhouse environment, with natural light but the UV filtered out by special glass, and all the non-sprayed bugs they can eat.  The goal being to get thousands of viable tadpoles in each spring breeding season and then when they mature, release 3/4 or so and keep the rest as breeding stock for the next season.  I understand they won't breed in aquariums, but given enough space and something that looks enough like the outdoors, maybe...?

            •  Been away from home and the computer this week (0+ / 0-)

              But maybe you'll see this reply.

              I've always wanted to see a Green Frog.  As a kid, so much of the natural history literature was oriented towards eastern North America, I probably knew more about the flora and fauna back east than I did about my own backyard.

              I'll have to look up Fowler's Toads.  The distinctive characteristic of all Bufo-True Toads is the large paratoid gland along the side of the head behind the eyes.  This gland can really crank out the toxin (bufotin).

              Unless you were along a boulder filled stream, the frog you describe finding in California was undoubtably a Pacific Chorus-Treefrog.  It would have had a dark eyestripe.  They used to be called Pacific Treefogs, Hyla regilla (little king)but then got moved from Hyla (treefrogs)and categorized with the chorus frogs and the name was changed to Pseudacris regilla.  Pseudacris means false cricket.  I had the chance to closely examine a Western Chorus Frog in Flaggstaff, Arizona.  The little guy sure did resemble the Pacific Chorus-Treefrog, but it lacked the sticky toepads for climbing people's arms.

              Actually, UV has been found to be essential for maintaining healthy lizards in captivity.  I don't know its role in amphibians.  Many frogs do bask a lot.  Speculation on its role in frog population declines was oriented mostly to high altitude species that may be pushing their UV tolerance already trying to obtain enough warmth and whatever else they may get from that unshielded fusion reactor in the sky.

              Pacific Chorus Frogs will thrive and breed in a terrarium environment.  Herptile aficianados have really gotten the captive propagation thing down.  Some people are successfully breeding all sorts of exotic frogs.  Once I brought up the issue of captive breeding with a hepetologist when discussing the Red-Legged Frog population behind Santa Barbara.  He was very active in advocating for critical habitat protection.  He thought that captive breeding was an unproductive distraction because it could be used as an alternative to habitat protection by developers.

              That said, in the small town where I now live at the northern edge of the Mojave Desert, we are rewatering the town by running ditches through people's yards which will flow all summer.  One of my hobbies is raising water lilies.  My backyard has a series of pools which the Pacific Chorus Frogs (I want to call them treefrogs so badly)have found and it's an unending orgy out there.  Even with the marauding coons there are skads of froglets amongst the vegetation.  We hope that if enough of us provide these breeding pools the town can once again be filled with frogs.  Now that I have enough sheltering plant cover out back, I hope to bring in some Western Toad tadpoles and get their population going here again.  The guy behind this ditch project grew up here and says that when he was a kid, when it rained the streets would be full of toads.  These could have been Great Basin Spadefoots instead of Western Toads.

              moderation in everything ... including moderation

              by C Barr on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 10:44:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  contact highs... (4+ / 0-)

      ...are not drug effects as such, but more like hypnosis (induction of an altered state via verbal and nonverbal communications).  

      Emotions are highly contagious between people, and states of consciousness (entire cognitive and perceptual configurations) are somewhat contagious.  

      I find it relatively easy to go into certain states of consciousness with other people, and there is quite a bit that could be written on this subject.  

  •  Thanks for Solving a Mystery (4+ / 0-)

    I injested "tea" back in the mid-70s, at the instigation of a friend.

    Wierdest stuff I've ever experienced, and I've experienced a lot.  One would think about being somewhere, and find that one was already there, with no idea how the journey was made.

    In my case, I remember being at an apartment in Denver, and suddenly being back at my hotel, with a hazy fast-motion impression of traffic lights, police cars, and street lights compressed into about a 3-second time frame.

    30-odd years later, still wondering "What the eff is 'tea'?"  Now I know.

    Kids, don't try "tea" - one victim of this drug had been dumped by his girlfriend recently.  He thought of killing her.  Then he found out that he had done it, in her apartment, with a butcher knife.  To get to her apartment, he had to cross the Southwest Freeway on foot.  A very hazardous operation - those from the Houston area will know of which I speak.

    I believe that psylocibin is best ingested by drinking the urine of the curandera who eats the mushroom.  That's what I hear.  I ate the mushrooms, and got a fine psychedelic experience, but the vomiting and diarrhea were distressing at first.

    The best psychedelic is mescaline.  Period.  Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" is a must-read on the subject.  Mescaline permanently changed my life.

    Thanks for the series, Doc.

     

    The kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it. Peace.

    by willb48 on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:40:39 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for the kind words. (5+ / 0-)

      I do not remember if you commented (how I keep up with readers for the most part) on Part II, but I did cover mescaline in that one.

      As for the tea that you had, to me it does not sound like a "classic" psychedelic at all, but rather one of the dissociative drugs like ketamine or PCP.  The classic psychedelics are not notable for memory loss, but rather in many cases exquisite memory of even the smallest details are preserved for many years.

      I suspect that your "tea" was not the one with DMT in it, but something quite different.  This illustrates one major problem with street drugs:  you really have no idea what you are getting.  This is a direct consequence of the legal situation surrounding them.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:45:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amanita passes in urine, but not psilocybin. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, Larsstephens



      Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

      by ben masel on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 12:26:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Highly informative post Doc. Thank you! /nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, willb48, Larsstephens

    Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do. ~Voltaire

    by RepTracker on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 07:55:08 PM PDT

  •  Toads and other stuff (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, C Barr, willb48, Larsstephens

    Erowid.org is a good website to read more about both the science and the effects of various plant and animal-based mind-altering drugs. It doesn't promote use as much as it promotes knowledge about the substances.

    That said, people also send in reports of their experiences with various drugs, both positive and negative. It's obvious that some responders are enthusiastic drug-takers, but quite often even those reports will caution others about certain compounds.

    Toad-sucking: what I learned recently is that the secretions from the toad need to be dried, and then maybe processed minimally. The resulting powdery stuff can then be smoked, which is the more efficient way to experience the effects of Bufo. Mind you, I haven't tried it, but I read the accounts at erowid.org.

    Good series, Doc!

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

      Yes that is a good site.

      I have intentionally been as neutral as possible in this series about promoting or discouraging the use of drugs, except when, in my professional opinion, I think that a specific drug poses a real danger of some sort.  Thus, I strongly condemned methamphetamine but supported the removal of all legal impediments to Cannabis.  I have tried to stay with the science.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:14:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Knowledge is good (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Translator, C Barr, Larsstephens

        What I like with your series, as well as erowid, is that science is at the source of the information. I think people would be better served to learn about the chemistry than a PSA like "This is your brain on drugs."

        I remember in college the great frustration that people would have with Organic Chemistry. It sounded terrible, and incredibly difficult. Now that I garden, I really wish I knew more about how it all works, especially with all the great scented herbs.

        •  I make occasional contributions to (4+ / 0-)

          the great post, What's for Dinner? that ek hornbeck runs here on Saturday evenings.  The last one by me was about why things brown and develop flavor when they are cooked at high temperatures.

          As for your herbs, did you know that spearmint and caraway seed are scented by exactly the same chemical, except, on a molecular level, one is "left handed" and the other one is "right handed"?  Please see a comment downthread.  Ask me questions.  They do not have to be on the topic in the main post.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

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

          by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:53:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  sticking with the science, re. psychedelics... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator, Larsstephens

        ...suggests placing them on Schedule II, for use under the supervision of a  psychiatrist.  

        This would have the effect of making human subject research more accessible, which is my primary interest in this.  It would also enable clinical uses, for example DMT (in doses that are on the low side of average) as a psychotherapeutic adjunct that fits within the therapist's 50-minute hour.  

        Religious use could be handled by a requirement to have a psychiastrist present or immediately on-call, and a psychiatric nurse in attendance at any group sessions.  

        And of course, casual street use would still be illicit (though should be a citation offense), and the manufacturers and sellers to the street drug market could still be prosecuted.  

        Personally I think the greatest medical benefits from psychedelics will be found at much lower doses, even to the point of "homeopathic" doses (by which I mean, for example 1 to 5 micrograms of LSD taken daily, to prevent or reduce age-related cognitive decline).  (In that case, mis-use could be prevented by compounding the tablets with something that would induce nausea & vomiting if @ 25 or more tablets were taken at once.  Thus people would be discouraged from saving up a 3 month supply in order to take a trip.  If they wanted to take a trip, they would need to see their psychiatrist.)

  •  Re: 'Shrooms - What Would Cause Visualization... (3+ / 0-)

    ...of punctuation during a conversation?

    best,

    john

    I support socialized water

    by jabney on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:17:27 PM PDT

    •  I take it that you mean, (7+ / 0-)

      for example, "seeing" question marks or exclamation points whilst speaking or listening.  With that assumption, here is the answer.

      One of the least understood aspects of the psychedelic experience is the phenomenon of synesthesia.  (I hope I got the spelling correct, remember I do not look up things during comment time).

      This is the effect of having one sense respond to a stimulus from another.  From Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aide Acid Test, the first time that Ken Kesey got LSD he was watching out the window and saw a squirrel drop a nut to the ground.  When it hit, it sounded BLUE.

      A very few folks have this naturally.  I saw a documentary on the TeeVee not too long ago about a guy who associated colors with numbers, and was able to remember numbers well because they had different colors.

      This also happens often with psychedelics, with music taking on visual aspects or related ones.  The final installment will have some poetry by The Moody Blues describing this effect.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:33:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jimi Hendrix was aupposedly a Synaesthete. (5+ / 0-)

        There's a chord he used a lot, Eb7 aug 9 (he used it enough that guitarists call it the "Hendrix Chord"). He used it in Purple Haze as the I chord in the progression because, Hendrix claimed, it "sounded purple".

        If he was a synaesthete, it's probably because of all the psychedelics he used.

        No more theocracy - Long live the Green Revolution! (-10.00,-8.87)

        by Texas Revolutionary on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:00:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Possibly. (4+ / 0-)

          Some musicians have that ability naturally.  It would be wonderful to perform fMRI on them during one of their episodes, then to map the receptors and substrates responsible.  Since the brain produces DMT naturally, it might be one of the mediators.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

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

          by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:04:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  or he became attracted to psychedelics because (3+ / 0-)

          they enhanced or strengthened his natural synaesthetic abilities.

          Auditory / kinaesthetic crossover is more common among musicians than auditory / visual crossover.  Also more common in the general population.  This due to the fact that body & brain rhythms are easily influenced by auditory rhythms.  

          •  I have both. (5+ / 0-)

            Sounds have color, sounds have shapes, colors have tastes, tastes have sounds, tastes have color, and colors have sounds.

            I was making pineapple filling for empanadas last week, tasted it, brought it to roommates to taste, tried it myself, and said, "Needs some French horns," added a little balsamic vinegar, and that made the chord go right.

            Mostly it's just a slight additional weirdness, but it does mean that I tend to avoid really jarring patterns and color combinations as I experience them as a literal dissonance.  

            •  i have the audio/kinaesthetic one... (4+ / 0-)

              ....for which reason, dissonant screechy sounds are physically painful, and harmonious sounds are warm & fuzzy.  I can also visualize or "spatialize" sound, which was very useful when I was doing music production.  

              Your senory universe sounds amazingly interesting and useful.  Doing recipes by audio almost suggests an idea for a cookbook; "cooking by synaesthesia" or some such.   I wonder about this: if it would be possible to train kids to do this, by tuning in the subtle signals that probably exist in their own experience, and reinforcing the ability to do that until more brain resources are available for it.  

              •  It's an interesting idea. (4+ / 0-)

                I'd need to talk to more synesthetes, though, and see if for all of us balsamic vinegar sounds like French horn and white sugar sounds like the upper register of a clarinet. (grin) I know that color to number synesthetes sometimes disagree on what color numbers are.

                (My numbers don't have color but they do have kinesthetic and sound things. So some combinations of numerals are shaped right and sound right, and others are just wrong. This gets in the way in doing math.)

                •  And yes, (4+ / 0-)

                  that means that I read that famous opening of "Rhapsody in Blue" as reversed caramelization. (giggle)

                  •  See, this is why I'm so interested in LSD. (4+ / 0-)

                    I want to experience that kind of intense colour-sound or taste-sound synaesthesia, and I don't know of any other way to get it!

                    The closest I have is this thing where music kind of has shape. Bach sounds like intricate baroque knotwork, Punk is usually a sort of jagged thing, and The Mars Volta (listening to them right now) is very angular and asymmetrical with unexpected skips and jagged points at weird angles.

                    Sound also has texture, some sounds are cold and hard (like synthesized piano), and others are warm and fuzzy (distorted blues guitar). That one is useful for finding good guitar tone when I play.

                    It's not the kind of thing where I actually "see" the shapes, it's just associations. I don't know if it counts as synaesthesia.

                    No more theocracy - Long live the Green Revolution! (-10.00,-8.87)

                    by Texas Revolutionary on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:06:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  yeah it does. (4+ / 0-)

                      What you're describing is synaesthesia.  For most people, when audio / tactile / kineasthetic stuff is involved, they more or less accept that as "natural" but then they view the audio / visual stuff as being more exotic.

                      Thing is, LSD won't necessarily do the trick either, and it's pretty risky to mess around with, other than in a properly supervised session.  Certain strains of cannabis can also produce synaesthesia, but not reliably.  

                      One way to get the visuals working, that IMHO is better than DMT (!), is to access the hypnagogic state, which is the borderline sleep state.  Geometric landscapes, colors richer than real life, the whole nine yards.  

                      One method for doing this is to lie in bed with your forearm balanced upright at the elbow.  You can maintain that position with almost zero effort as long as you're at all awake, but when you cross over to sleep, your arm falls over and wakes you up.   This will keep you in borderline sleep mode and then at some point the visuals will switch on and intensify.  

                      In my experience what also works for that is to go to bed while not quite sleepy, for example with any kind of emotional state that ordinarily keeps you awake.  I'll lie there in bed wanting to go to sleep and then the visuals switch on and become enormously fascinating.  Usually that will also take my attention off whatever-it-was that was keeping me awake, leading to falling asleep.  

                      Anyway, once you get good at doing that, you can try it with music, and just practice, and you'll start to develop connections between what you hear and what you see.  Keep practicing and some of that can carry over to when you're awake.  

            •  asdf (3+ / 0-)

              Maybe it's a leftover from when I experimented with Zen Buddhism, but I enjoy dissonance and asymmetry in music and art.

              I can space out for hours messing with guitar feedback using different pedals (Wah changes pitch, fuzz makes the feedback more intense, and reverb makes it go from 2D to 3D). It's a horrible screeching noise to most, but I can actually completely zone out and empty my mind while doing it.

              No more theocracy - Long live the Green Revolution! (-10.00,-8.87)

              by Texas Revolutionary on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 01:13:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  yes, synaesthesia (alternate spelling) (3+ / 0-)

        There has been some ongoing research in this area, but I'm not certain if it's reached the point where the mechanisms are fully understood.  

        It also appears possible to induce synaesthesias via hypnotic states, which potentially opens up further avenues for research.

  •  Hi, Doc! (5+ / 0-)

    Sorry I'm a bit late here, I was out birdwatching today and stayed out a bit longer than expected when 5 screech owls flew up and landed on a branch right above me.

    My grandparents had a dachshund that died from eating a Bufo toad. I don't know what species it was, but it was in Florida.

    I think I understand now why the molecule diagrams are important. The drug looks like something that would normally be in the body, so receptors take it in. If it was any different, the receptors would just ignore it.

    There's another weird drug, from Banisteriopsis caapi. It's a MAOI that heightens the senses, and hauses hallucinations. Jaguars often will seek out the plant and chew on it until they get high, and the natives are believed to have started using it because they saw the cats getting high off the plant.

    No more theocracy - Long live the Green Revolution! (-10.00,-8.87)

    by Texas Revolutionary on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:30:59 PM PDT

    •  There are several natural (3+ / 0-)

      products with this property.  The Harmala alkaloids do the same thing.

      I am glad that the structural formulae are making sense.  These are only crude representations of the actual truth, however.  What is important is the three dimensional electronic density structure of these materials, and, unfortunately, these formulae are almost impossible to interpret unless one is a trained physical chemist or chemical physicist (I am the former).  That is the real "lock and key" aspect of why some drugs bind to a receptor without triggering it (a competitive antagonist), bind to it and triggers it (a competitive agonist), or binds to in and partially block and partially activates it (a mixed antagonist/agonist).  The best that I could do was show the gross structural formulae.

      This is why, for example, drugs as different structurally as mescaline and DMT both bind to the 5-HT2A receptor and act as agonists, but have radically different structures.  There electronic density maps are much closer than is apparent from their structures.

      So, take a few minutes and tell us about the birds.  You know that I love nature.  I hope that you have pictures!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:42:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do have a pic, (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        42, G2geek, Translator, C Barr, frosti, Larsstephens

        not from tonight though. It was too dark for good pictures tonight.

        I went out to my family's property; dad was working on putting in plants there and making sure nothing dies from the heat (high 100s F). I brought some sausages out for grilling over the fire pit we have out there.

        While we were eating, we noticed a whinnying sound, then a juvenile Screech Owl flew in over us and landed on a limb right above my head. Then another came in, and then the two adults.

        The 4 owls moved one by one to the bird bath, and started drinking. A fifth owl showed up, and all five spent a good 20 minutes taking turns bathing in the water we put out.

        Here's a pic of one of the owls roosting during the day.

        No more theocracy - Long live the Green Revolution! (-10.00,-8.87)

        by Texas Revolutionary on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:54:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator, Larsstephens

      Yage, pronounced yah-hay, accent on first syllable.  

      Also at one time known as "telepathine" because it apparently induced remote viewing, and this was supported by some informal studies by anthropologists.

      Now let's speculate just a bit...

      The controlled research protocols for remote viewing are well known, and there is a huge body of results that give baseline performance figures for normal population samples.  

      So:

      Three groups of subjects.  Control group gets placebo.  Test group 1 gets a subclinical dose of yage (just below the threshold of a detectable effect).  Test group 2 gets a clinical (psychedelic) dose of yage.  Run all three groups through a remote viewing protocol.  For example use the Krippner protocol where the targets are randomly-chosen paintings from a library of art books in a locked room at the other end of the building, and where the subjects' reports are matched to the range of targets by research assistants who are blind to the makeup of the groups.

      Hypothesis:  remote viewing scores will be significantly higher in Test 1 than in Control, and significantly higher in Test 2 than in Test 1.   In other words, a normal dose-response relationship, which would be unremarkable in any other way aside from the issue of remote viewing.  

      Now if we also want to control for individual factors, we might want to pre and post test all the subject groups, for example one week before and one week after the drug/placebo sessions.

      IF we have here a compound that truly does increase performance on remote viewing tasks, THEN we are on our way to understanding the neurophysiology of remote viewing.  

      (And people who believe there is "no such thing" as remote viewing, despite all the evidence to the contrary, don't have to participate in any of this.  After all, it's a free country.)

  •  I wish I'd taken chemistry.... (5+ / 0-)

    I have an over-all understanding of how stuff works, but I think I miss some otherwise-interesting details.  I may have to bite the bullet and learn.  Can a 59-year-old math-phobe learn chemistry?  :-)

    Thanks for the great info.  I do love discovering new things!

    -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 08:39:42 PM PDT

    •  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 ]

  •  Enjoying this series, Doc... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    Thanks for helping me better
    understand some of the chemistry
    that I stumbled into as an ignorant youth.

    Given natural youthful curiosity, and an
    explosion in pop culture references and
    sources to psychoactivity in all manner of
    natural and man made things, I suppose I was
    lucky to have escaped with minimal damages.

    The datura stramonium (Loco weed),
    (we mistook it and miscalled it "belladonna"-
    the related but distinctly different family member)
    on which you posted earlier in this great series,
    was a turning point for me in my experimentation,
    as it not only caused some limited small town like
    scandal and similar legal and social repurcussions,
    not to mention the severe and very realistic hallucinations and dehydration.

    Let us just say that the police, when they finally
    learned, after repeated and very patient questioning,  
    my true identity and address, believed that I was
    "mentally deficient" when they delivered me
    to my parents, as was the custom of the day,
    rather than to the local detention center.
    My memories of those few hours are very hazy.

    This plant still grows wild in the very same places,
    and every few years, a new crop of bored youngsters
    "discover" it, and some of the old stories, anew.
    With some of the same results.

    I have never since then, although many decades
    have passed, dreamt in my once common vivid color,
    but only in black and white. Or perhaps I still
    actually do dream in color, but am simply unable to
    recall it after I awake. I am sure there must be
    some scientific explanations for this also,
    but I am sure I wouldn't take that path again,
    knowing and experiencing what I have.

    I wish I could say that I obtained some wisdom
    or other lasting enlightenment from this
    particular experience, but I cannot, with any certainty.
    Except that after such an episode, that "reality"
    is very much different than what can be solely
    perceived and known and communicated via our human senses.
    Perhaps the true nature of this one lesson still
    awaits a future time and occurrence for me to fully
    comprehend its depth and clarity. One can still hope.

    Castanedas teacher supposedly warned that
    this particular "ally"-the spirit of this plant-
    was very capable of ending the life of those
    it did not like, and several of my adolescent
    friends and or acquaintances ended up hospitalized.

    Thankfully, none of us died. At least from this
    particular incident back then. Which, apparently,
    was definitely a very real possibility.

    There is an interesting series of programs that investigates
    many or at least some of the music themes in this diaries comments.

    Thanks for all your good efforts.

    •  I just happened to be checking final comments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      for this post when your entry popped onto the screen.

      The true "Loco Weeds" are members of the legume family, and have very different substances than the nightshades have.  As a matter of fact, the legumes are very diverse and have thousands of members, including soy, peas, beans, mesquite, and several psychedelic members.

      Loco weeds have a neuron damaging alkaloid in the pyrazzoline family that actually destroys brain neurons from a directly toxic action, whislt the atropine in Datura and its allies for the most part just interfere with the acetylcholine receptors.

      I am glad that everyone in your group turned out to be OK.  Thanks for the contribution.  I would never post unless I got feedback like this.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

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

      by Translator on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 09:05:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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