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Ketamine day 3

Today was my third ketamine infusion. It was intensely cozy.

Commonalities with previous infusions:

  • Felt like I was a tiny speck and that all of spacetime was collapsing down into this liminal space that I was part of
  • I do have a physical body but it’s indistinct from everything around it
  • Lots of trees
  • Surrounded by fractals
  • Everything is impermanent and any fears about me dying were quickly dispelled by me feeling like the universe is fine and all grief is transitory
  • Everything is so out of order and I wish I could bring a video recorder inside with me so that I can review it later and share it with others
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An open letter to Gov. Jay Inslee

I have some concerns about the way that taxes are being levied against owners of electric vehicles.

I have recently acquired a used Nissan Leaf to replace my internal-combustion engine vehicle. I opted to do this replacement specifically because I don’t drive particularly much, and I wanted to reduce my environmental impact primarily for maintaining a vehicle that I only drive minimally.

It is very rare that I drive even 1000 miles in any particular year, and usually it’s more on the order of 250-500 miles. As such, I was typically buying around $50 worth of fuel in a year, as an upper estimate.

So imagine my surprise when I got my first car registration tab, and was on the hook for $150/year in a gas tax offset! Given that the Washington State gas tax is assessed at a rate of around 13% of the cost of fuel, that’s a personal increase of around 2200% for me.

On top of that, the additional $75/year surcharge for building and maintaining more EV infrastructure is a bit shortsighted. I definitely believe that EV infrastructure should be developed, but it should be as an incentive for people to switch to EVs — meaning that it should be assessed to drivers of internal-combustion vehicles, not those of us who have already invested in making the switch. Or, at the very least, should be applied to the vehicle registration fees for everyone.

This infrastructure fee is even more concerning when the proposed charging costs will be the same as the commercial stations, the reason given being that they do not want to compete with private enterprise. In that case, why even bother providing a public infrastructure option, instead of simply encouraging more private charging stations to open up, or encouraging individuals to make their infrastructure available to others on services such as PlugShare?

The current tax structure is actually disincentivizing people from making a switch to electric vehicles, and only puts even more of a burden on those of us who have decided to help the planet.

Just to be clear, I do absolutely agree that those of us with EVs need to pay our fair share in maintaining road infrastructure. But it needs to be a fair share.

Thank you for your consideration.

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Ketamine day 2

Had my second infusion today. Higher dose, but it was a lot more cozy. Felt like everything is temporary and that I was a tiny speck in an infinite universe, and the universe is okay and I’m glad to be in it.

While things were starting out I realized I’d forgotten to put my phone into do not disturb mode and I was able to direct the meat puppet to ask the nurse to set it, and that worked well. The meat puppet was also able to take the shoes off when they were feeling uncomfortable.

Playlist was Ambienteer - Arrival followed by some Bonobo which started up just as the trip was ending.

This definitely gives me a different relationship with my body.

Anyway the euphoria has worn off and my pain is back. Oh well.

Some vague thoughts about ketamine

I had my first (of six) ketamine infusions yesterday. It was at a lower dose, mostly to see how I respond to it.

The actual experience was very interesting. Because of the combination of sensory deprivation and the ketamine itself, my sensory experience was limited to what I could directly feel around me, which mostly meant feeling the inside of my mouth with my tongue, and to a much lesser extent feeling the chair I was pressed into. So I sort of felt like my “universe” was the inside of my body, but also a void of nothingness.

I felt like my body was dissolving away and was everything and nothing at the same time, and that my self in the “real world” had ceased to be and that was also okay.

The music I chose had a very strange effect. Many of the sounds were very vocal-adjacent and I felt like they were literally speaking to me, with words I couldn’t understand. For my next session I’m going to use something more abstract and ambient, probably Ambienteer’s work.

During the experience I felt like the universe was infinite and infinitesimal at the same time, like everything is nothing and vice-versa. I kept bringing back my litany to stay grounded and intentional: “I am here to reduce pain, reduce agony, and increase comfort.”

Much of it reminded me of one of my early experiences with cannabis.

At the time I felt like I experienced something extremely profound, and that it would give me plenty to think about. But my cynicism has set in and I’m not feeling like it was life-altering, just that it’s the random nerve firings that happen when a big chunk of the brain is shut off. Ketamine treatments are supposed to work by “helping to create new neural pathways” and I’m still optimistic that repeated treatments and increased dosages will maybe have a beneficial effect.

When I woke up today I had the lowest level of pain I’d had in decades. But as soon as I started working, the flare came right back.

But the lowest level of pain in decades is nothing to sneeze at, and maybe it’s a preview of things to come.

I just hope it’ll all be worth it. This is taking both a lot of time and money, and so far feels like it’s just an excuse to trip balls while calling it “medicine.”

But if this doesn’t work I have no idea what the fuck I’m gonna do.

The frustration of continued existence

My week off from work felt great. But I’m still having difficulty actually focusing at work. I have a bunch of paths of exploration to examine but none of them feel, y'know, right right now.

Meanwhile, my house continues to be a bit more work than I expected. On the plus side, I’ve successfully murdered my lawn and vastly improved my garden and started up my nice meadow. On the minus side, my heating bill is through the roof (literally) and I’ve been getting bids for finally improving the house insulation. So far I’ve had three bids which went thusly:

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Back home

I made it back home today. My cats were briefly happy to see me, then insistent that what they really missed was going outside. Okay, then.

A thing occurred to me the other day: driving in a Nissan Leaf, especially on the highway, feels less like driving and more like piloting. It’s a very different feeling for me. And I like it.

Also ProPILOT made the whole thing way less stressful and I never want a car without at least level 2 self-driving ever again.

Port Angeles II, day 4

The weather forecast for today was pretty dismal, but it was also wrong. I took a drive out to the Madison Creek Falls to have a nice low-intensity hike. It turns out the Falls trail is incredibly short, but there’s another longer set of trails (service roads, actually) that follow the Elwha river quite some ways. And that was a lovely walk.

A funny thing happened when I went back to my car, though: I went up to what I thought was my car but then had a “wait what’s going on?” moment when its interior was beige fabric instead of black leather. For several seconds I was actually thinking that maybe I’d forgotten what the upholstery on my car looked like… and then I realized that it was someone else’s black, second-generation Leaf. Oops.

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Port Angeles II, day 2

Last night I didn’t sleep very well because of asthma issues due to the fabric softener the AirBnB host used. So this morning I did a load of laundry and sent a suggestion to the host about not using fragrant fabric softener; she apologized for it and said that normally she gets fragrance-free but her wife had picked up the wrong stuff and she didn’t want to waste it. Not a huge deal, at least.

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Giving vinyl another shot

Several years ago I tried using Qrates to do a pressing of Refactor. Unfortunately it didn’t hit the minimum preorder size, so the project was canceled.

Recently someone at Qrates reached out to me and was enthusiastic about the idea of me giving it another try, and since Lo-Fi Beats to Grind Coffee To has somewhat broader appeal, I decided to give it another shot.

So, if you would be so kind as to visit the Qrates crowdfunding page and maybe even consider buying a copy or two or ten, it would be greatly appreciated.

Un-sticking from Bandcamp

So, within a day of the Bandcamp announcement, several folks had already started building their own tools for escaping from Bandcamp. Of particular note (and brought to my attention many times) is one called blamscamp, which is a web-based GUI that builds a web player bundle for itch.io.

This tool definitely has a lot of merit, but in the near term it only handles one specific use case, namely taking a collection of already-encoded-for-the-web mp3s and turning it into an itch previewer. The player itself is nicely-written, but this isn’t the sort of tool which works well for me.

So, I adapted the player engine into my own version, which is a CLI tool. Feed it a JSON spec, audio files, and ancillary data (album art and lyrics and such), and it automatically encodes and tags the album for MP3 preview, high-quality MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC, and builds a web player (based on the original blamscamp’s although it’s diverged quite a lot now). And, if you install butler, it can also automatically upload these bundles to your itch page!

Here is the first public demo of it.

With all that said, I do still intend to keep using Bandcamp as my primary music distribution platform; it’s been very good to me over the years, and just because they’re being bought out by a questionable company doesn’t mean it’ll actually go downhill. But diversifying my offerings is always a good thing, and by posting my music in both places, I get even more of a potential audience. Plus, the satisfaction of owning (a big part of) my own delivery pipeline.

The pyBlamscamp pipeline can also be adapted to anything that takes a bundle of files; it could also be used, for example, to simplify the process of posting albums on Gumroad.

At present the main difficulties of it are that it’s a Python application and that it relies on external encoders. One of my potential change sin the future is to have it self-host the encoder libraries which would make a lot of things easier, and would also make it more feasible to provide a stand-alone application.

It’d also be really handy to have tools that make it easier to create and edit the .json file. That’s definitely a rough edge that’s not suitable for general end users.

There’s also a heck of a lot of things that still need to be done even for my own uses. But for now, this tool is at least ready to get started with.

On bandcamp, gumroad, and itch.io

So, recently there’s been a lot of upset in the world of independent creation, because of some very questionable moves taken by Gumroad and Bandcamp, two of the beloved platforms for sharing download-based content.

I’ve already written some of my thoughts about Gumroad, but the recent Bandcamp announcement is still very much in the gnashing-of-teeth phase.

As is the case for both platforms, the general consensus should be that everyone using those platforms should move to itch.io. While itch is a pretty good platform for a lot of things, it’s not a perfect replacement for Gumroad or Bandcamp, and I don’t think that making it a good replacement for those things would be very well-aligned with what itch excels at.

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I spoke too soon

Maybe I should have been checking my blood pressure more frequently. I didn’t check it at all yesterday like I should have and just assumed it was fine, because I just woke up at 4:40 AM feeling a bit off and on a hunch I checked my blood pressure… which is now 169/86.

Wellp, so much for my last chance at being medicated.

Vyvanse continuing

So I’ve been on Vyvanse for many days now. Four total, one last Friday and three this week.

So far it isn’t really helping me, but it also isn’t hurting me. This is also just like the lowest possible dose for trial purposes, though.

It makes me feel awake and a bit alert. I also feel like I’m a bit more prone to irritation and feeling stressed, but that might just be other situational things happening right now. It hasn’t really helped with focus at all.

My heart rate and blood pressure are slightly higher than usual but not alramingly so.

I think it’ll be worth trying the next dosage up at some point. I have a followup with my doctor next week to discuss that. It’s promising.

Today I drove for the first time while on it and boy howdy did that feel weird. I’ll probably want to go without it during my trip in a few weeks.

We’ll see how I feel this weekend.

Vyvanse, day 1

Today was my first day trialing Vyvanse, just a single 10mg dose in the morning. I took it at around 9 AM, and felt it kick in at around 10. It gave me a slight headache, and a slight vague spacy feeling, with maybe a bit of… something that I’m having trouble describing. Almost like my spine was being squeezed from the inside? I don’t know.

My blood pressure and heart rate did rise up a little, but not to concerning levels; my rest pulse is usually 50-60 and my BP is usually 120/80, and on Vyvanse it peaked at around 75 and 135/85, respectively. Nothing terribly concerning, and not so much that I could feel it myself.

I don’t feel like I’m specifically more focused than usual, although my headspace is at least a bit less cluttered. And I’m definitely more alert than usual. It’s not quite how I felt on the two good days of Adderall, but it’s also not like, say, Concerta or Strattera which had me feeling frustrated and, well, colicky, for lack of a better term.1

Anyway. It was good to try this experiment on a day right before a weekend, since that means it won’t mess up the rest of my week if something went wrong, and also this was on a day I wasn’t expecting to be very productive anyway, what with the everything. I’ll be skipping it over the weekend but now I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about resuming it on Monday.

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A message from a Ukranian

A large chunk of the company I work for is Ukraine-based. Today, one of my coworkers (who lives in the US, but still has family back in Ukraine) posted this message, which I am sharing with his permission (he asked not to be named, for the safety of himself and his family):

Please read this carefully. This is a most realistic analysis from me since I’m thinking about it for last 40 hours non stop.

The World has changed. This is the biggest act of aggression since the WW II.

Guys I wanted to emphasize this again. US media might not represent it well, but Putin’s idea is to take down the whole Ukraine, because he can’t stand the idea that some of what he thinks satellites has chosen the democracy… After he taken down Ukraine, he will heal his wounds… And since he has nothing to lose he will take over Eastern Europe and maybe claim Alaska as a “historical” russian land. He has no moral identity — they are shelling our schools, hospitals, blood donation centers, kindergardens.

More than that China is watching this brutal act of aggression and making some conclusions of the Western world weakness.

And trust me if Ukraine falls — here in the US, everything will be very bad. It’s not even about our business it’s all about global economy and possible global militarization. Next elections will win Trump — guaranteed with the help of russian funding if they succeed today. So the only way to save our World as is and DEMOCRACY — right now is to help Ukrainian military. They are fighting versus second world larges army and winning.

WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?

The only weakness point is lack of airdefence systems since russia is attacking from everywhere — from the Black sea, from it’s border, from Belarussia and pre-Dniester Moldavian republic. We have to ask NATO to shield the airspace over Ukraine. Trust me the rest of russian troops will be taken care by Ukrainian army.

SO we have to attend rallies, to ask US government (your congresmen) to block Russia from SWIFT system and to close the airspace over Ukraine and start lend lease with tanks and stuff.

Please donate to Ukrainian army - they are the last frontier of the democratic world as is. This the truth. Spread the word about this, please. US folks should now what at stakes. 

For those who would like to contribute financially, there is information from the National Bank of Ukraine and a charitable fund based in Ukraine, which you can specify as going to the Ukranian Army or to a general fund.