Of Chaos Theory & Corner Kicks (And American Politics)

We all knew LIfe in the Age Of Trump was going to be challenging on a thousand different levels. I’m not sure we factored in the constant state of chaos Trumpism thrives on. That, it turns out, is what makes all the other challenges work — it’s almost impossible to attack any one of them while so many others are flaring up. The chaos stymies us. It frustrates us into cynicism — and inaction. Result? The chaos worsens, becoming unstoppable.

Chaos is a state of total unpredictability. Almost anything can happen — good, bad, indifferent. The study of chaos — Chaos Theory — attempts to find ways to predict chaos — to identify enough quantifiable elements inside the chaos so as to make prediction possible.

As Wikipedia puts it: “Chaotic behavior exists in many natural systems, including fluid flow, heartbeat irregularities, weather and climate. It also occurs spontaneously in some systems with artificial components, such as the stock market and road traffic.” Chaos exists in just about any system where human behavior pokes its nose. Like a soccor pitch…

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. That’s both a lovely experience — being part of a large, world-wide clan — and eternally crushing in its chronic “almost-ness”. Spurs have been top four or five in the English Premier League for years but never THE top. That consistency keeps a fan base happy but it never gives them the cathartic Big Win they crave. Last season, Spurs made it all the way to the Champions League Final against a superior Liverpool side. Another second place finish. So close… so far… .

Those who hate footie — Americans mostly who need constant action to engage them — don’t grasp the slow build drama of a soccer match. In England, every year, there are tournaments (the FA Cup, the Carabo Cup) where lesser teams from the lower leagues get to play against teams from the EPL Occasionally, the lesser teams flirt with jaw-dropping upsets. If a team can play solid, organized defense, they’ll always stand a chance. Keeping a clean sheet guarantees you at least a tie.

If you can score on a counter attack — then you have a chance to win, too. That’s the gamble. There’s another tool in the underdog’s belt though — chaos. For all its organization — with players keeping their shape and knowing where they need to be — a soccer game’s outcome can rely on the pure chaos unleashed when a corner kick gets taken.

Provided the attacking team’s goalie stays in his or her goal, that puts ten players trying to put the ball into the net against eleven players trying to stop the ball — and, hopefully either clear it out of the box to buy some time to regroup or initiate a counter strike because the attacking team’s defense is, for the moment, out of position. As much as teams may practice set plays, the circumstances at the time of any particular corner kick are unique to that game and everything that led to that corner kick.

If the player taking the corner kick lofts the ball into the box, here’s what happens: 21 bodies suddenly go into motion in 21 different directions. The kick could be well taken or not well taken — that, too, is part of the chaos. Weather conditions also impact what’s happening inside the box. Rain, for instance, can make getting traction harder. It can change the purchase a player going for a header gets as he digs his spikes into the turf and leaps. Wind can knock a ball down fractionally, change its arc just enough to impact all the players’ timing.

Anything can happen. A lesser player can score a goal just by being in the right place at the right time. He or she doesn’t even have to put the ball goal-ward with a drop of skill. The ball can reflect off them and into the net. It can hit them — then hit another player (altering the ball’s flight) before slipping past the goalie. The ball can even bounce off a defender and into the goal.

For all the skill and talent moving through those 792 square feet of space (the penalty area is 18 feet X 44 feet), it’s not uncommon for one of those talented, highly paid football soccer players to put the ball into his or own own net. Shit gets that chaotic.

You play the soccer game because anything can happen.

Metaphorically speaking (and I love me a good metaphor), the Age Of Trump is like a giant corner kick. We have lots of bodies in motion, all heading in different directions. Some want to put the ball into the goal — end Trump’s presidency — while others defend if not furiously then with total desperation.

There’s another player in the box though — us. We The People. We’re on this pitch to be sure. We’re the biggest bunch of players there actually. The game’s outcome will determine our future. That’s what makes it galling that, as usual, the Republicans are cheating at the game. But then, it was always an illusion that we started the game on a level playing field.

That has never, ever been the case.

Edward Norton Lorenz, creator of chaos theory (he “…established the theoretical basis of weather and climate predictability, as well as the basis for computer-aided atmospheric physics and meteorology”), also theorized “The Butterfly Effect”. Lorenz used a butterfly’s wings as a metaphor for how a minor perturbation — like a single butterfly flapping it’s wings on one part of the globe — could result in a tornado on another part of the planet several weeks later.

If Lorenz is right — and our ability to predict weather says he is — then even small disturbances can, in time, produce gigantic effects. It’s just the nature of chaos. That means that our political situation — as profoundly chaotic as it is — is not set in stone. Change any of the elements flying through the penalty box and we don’t know if or how the end will change.

But then, how the end “ends” is a lot more up to us than we realize. That’s the point. If enough of us butterflies out here in the public start flapping our wings — voting, attending marches and rallies, speaking up — we don’t know whether or not we’ll make a difference. But we could — the math days we absolutely could.

Who wins when the chaos ends? Who knows? Chaos is chaos is chaos.

And that’s why we have to show up.

Human Beings Can't Help Being Tribal; The Trick Is To See As Many Other Humans As Possible As "Your Tribe"

I’m an Angeleno. As crazy-making as living in LA can make you, I love living here and I feel a very real kinship with everyone else who loves living here. Hell — I feel a kinship for those who DON’T love living here. I get it. I understand them and feel those same tugs. If you’re an Angeleno — period — I think of us as the same tribe.

Now, some of my LA tribe-mates are Clippers fans. Me? I’ve always been a Lakers fan. I was out of my head with Lakers Love during the Kobe Bryant years (lost it all during the post Kobe fiasco) and saw members of the Clippers tribe as unworthy. If that same person stepped outside of Staples Center and put down their Clippers merch? We’re Angelenos standing proudly together again.

I’ve been an east-sider most of my 35+ years in LA. Everyone who lives west of La Brea is a Martian. Unless they’re a Lakers fan. Or a Angeleno.

That’s the point. Every time I pull the camera back — and see my kinship in wider terms — I SEE kinship. Angeleno though I am, I also take great tribal pride in being a Californian.

I take great tribal pride in being an American. I take great tribal pride in being a Jew. And a Progressive. And a lover of reading. And a graduate of Vassar College. And a graduate of Pikesville High School in 1977. And a classmate at Fort Garrison Elementary School. And anyone who was ever born in Rome, New York (where I was born while my father was in the Air Force).

But I also take great tribal pride in being a human being.

We ARE all in this together. The more of us who get that fact — who see our common purpose and tribal kinship — the better.

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch” – MOSCOW MITCH MCCONNELL EDITION

Mitch McC
Fact: Moscow Mitch Is Putin’s Bitch

Mitch McConnell plans to kill American Democracy dead-dead-DEAD by throwing a “no-trial” (his version of a “show trial”) in the Senate.

Mitch is the same treasonous MoFo who refused (at the September 2016 Gang Of 8 meeting at the White House) to let We The People in on the secret that Russia was working over time to make Trump president. He’s the same treason turtle who got rid of the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska (who was sanctioned for what he did to election 2016) so Oleg could drop a $300 million Russian aluminum factory on a chronically poor part of Mitch’s chronically poor (cos chronically stupid) state. That was TREASON, Mitch.

T R E A S O N .

Mitch knows — Karma’s got him in its sights. And Karma’s gonna be all over Mitch McConnell like a bitch.

Moscow Mitch snubbed at Elijah Cummings memorial service. Just a teeny-tiny taste of the Karma to come, Mitch…

The reason Donald Trump is POTUS to begin with is because Mitch refused – at a September 2016 Gang of Eight meeting convened at the Obama White House to let the American People in on the secret — the reason the Gang of Eight was hastily convened — that our IC had ample PROOF that RUSSIA was actively attacking our election in order to put Trump in the White House.

Mitch refused to let We The People in on it. He threatened Obama that if Obama told America what was really happening, he, Mitch, would insist that Obama was politicizing the intel for political reasons — to help Hillary Clinton win the election. This was bullshit of course. Mitch was betraying We The People on behalf of his Russian paymasters.

Mitch McTreason whined on the senate floor a few weeks ago how being called a “traitor” gave him a turtle sad. His speech gave new meaning to the word “hypocrisy”. Mitch saw to it personally that the sanctions levied against Oleg Deripaska for personally participating in Russia’s assault upon the 2016 election were lifted so that Oleg could drop $200 million and an aluminum factory on Kentucky.

Mitch will insist this is about 600 plus jobs for hard scrabble Kentuckians. That would be bullshit. Yeah, yeah — unemployment in Kentucky, a very poor state. Sorry, but screw them, screw their jobs and screw that factory. The factory itself is a deliberate attempt by Russia to create a beachhead INSIDE our politics. Why in hell’s name would we allow a foreign adversary to create an entity that controls the fate of Americans on American soil? Now they can threaten to pull out their factory if they don’t get what THEY want from our politics.

And whattaya know — a few days ago, Russia approached 8 other states with similar offers of factories or financial assistance. There’s a reason behind the thinking “Don’t shit where you eat”. It’s pretty sound actually.

Mitch just took a giant tortoise-sized dump on American Democracy. It wasn’t Mitch’s first time doing it either.

Mitch thinks it’s “partisan” to NOT let foreign countries undermine our democracy by destroying the integrity of our voting system. I wonder if Mitch thinks that because he’s owned lock, stock & bourbon barrels by Russia — same as every other Republican except even more so. Mitch is even more treason-y because his Wife — Elayne Chao — is as corrupt as he is (and probably just as compromised, she by the Chinese spy agencies).

Mitch NEEDS foreign interference in our election to either 1) get him the results he needs (permanent minority rule) or 2) destroy our ability to verify any future election’s results as free, fair or even valid. This should not be a revelation: Mitch McConnell is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) villains EVER in American history.

That’s not hyperbole.

Remember — Mitch even went out of his way to keep Russia’s intense partisan involvement in OUR ELECTION a secret from We The People (the ‘Gang Of 8’ meeting at the WH — September 2016 — the IC informs 4 GOP Congressional leaders & 4 Democratic Congressional leaders that Russia is actively trying to swing the election to Donald Trump – and Mitch McConnell says that he won’t tolerate informing the American People – that he’ll insist Obama is ‘politicizing the intelligence’). Mitch insisted WE stay in the dark while his party conspired with a hostile foreign government to pull off a soft coup d’etat.

That’s some pretty awful Karma Mitch has created for himself. Hmmmm… bet it means — when that Karma boomerangs — as Karma always does — that it will fly back at Mitch with a real vengeance.

Now, if I were ‘In Control’ of Karma — and I could create a ‘Karma Tree’ that would guide all of Mitch’s future incarnations — based on what he REALLY deserves — Mitch’s Karma would go something like this…

Mitch dies (hold off on breaking out the champagne — for now).  And he comes back as THIS — ‘Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush‘ —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

But here’s the ‘rub’ — ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Yeah — even worse than ‘The Worst Toilet In Scotland’…

A lot worse, it turns out — because THIS is the REFUGEE CAMP where Mitch’s Toilet lives — and CHOLERA just broke out all across the camp…

Refugee Camp

Yeah — CHOLERA.

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on…

And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very endof that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’.

And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever…

Hey, Karma — call me — I bet we can work something out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction (and improved Karma)…

Shits N Giggles Karma Bonus Points — Mitch needs to answer why his military records are sealed — and why the word SODOMY makes him uneasy… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

Dear American News Media: Why Do You Always Mark Republicans On A Curve?

Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign took a hit when she was cornered into showing receipts for how she would pay for getting every American health CARE. The grinding irony — this is never a question Republican candidates ever have to grapple with. How we’re gonna pay for the next Republican tax cut is always obvious — it’s coming from what’s left of the Middle Class’s hide. It’s coming from the poorest of the poor.

Maybe I’ve answered my own question already. Why doesn’t America’s news media ever hold Republican candidates (or working politicians) to the same standards of proof as they do Democratic candidates? Perhaps it’s because our MSM knows going in that Republicans never have receipts. They want everyone to take what they say as gospel truth.

For instance — that America is a “center-right country”. Perhaps the people who’ve shown up at the polls until recently (around 55% of the total electorate in 2016) leaned center-right. Historically, older people vote in larger numbers than younger people (which is a terrible reflection on us — they should be motivated to maintain our Democracy, not made deeply cynical about it!) But there’s a reason why Republicans — historically — do everything they can to suppress as much of the vote as they can: they know that when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats.

Beto O’Rourke’s near success in taking Ted Cruz’s senate seat was an object lesson in 1) how to beat Republicans in seemingly impossible places and 2) when you get more Americans out to vote, number 1) becomes a lot more possible. That’s because America (when it actually votes) is a center-left country. Beto didn’t go after the red necks and rich shitheads who always show up to vote, he went after those who don’t normally show up (in large part because they’ve felt disenfranchised — which they were). And they were disenfranchised with purpose — to wipe out their vote — to make their NOT showing up to vote as reliable as RWers showing up. Then — the icing — we told ourselves that THIS was written in stone: just how it is.

The American public has been bamboozled by bullshit.

What conservatives and right wingers are good at is “marketing” (aka “stoking fear” — “Be Afraid” is very much the Republican Brand). They’re good at selling messages: “Americans love their health insurance” (no — they love the doctors they love & going through the insurance company is the only way to get those doctors — not the same thing). “Mission Accomplished” (no, it wasn’t — not by a long shot).

Do Republicans ever have to pay for their bullshit — or even explain it? Have you watched any of the last three years? Donald Trump has gotten away with “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and having his head so far up Vladimir Putin’s ass he could be Putin’s uvula. And yet — when the White House press corps gets their shot at Trump (and they get LOTS of shots), do they EVER challenge him on the obvious treachery?

No — they don’t. In fact, when they then talk to the hosts in the studio, they act as if treason, too, is just how it is now. They look at poll numbers — wondering if maybe a misinformed, disinformed & propagandized American public doesn’t care about “maintaining their Republic” anymore. Talk about shitty framing!

Our news media ask if Democrats are over-stepping — wanting to maintain The Rule Of Law and the Constitution. That’s because the news media insists that the Democrats standing up for The Rule Of Law and the Constitution is just “politics”. No. No, it isn’t. And that’s the news media’s problem. “Both Sides Do It” journalism insists on seeing everything as political. They insist that politics motivates everything.

Nothing could be further from the truth of course. Hey, look — I answered my own question again. The news media marks Republicans on a curve because they’ve bought the Republican lie — that just because Republicans do everything for calculated political reasons, the Democrats must be doing it for the same reasons too. The news media isn’t marking Republicans on a curve — they’re dropping Democrats two grades just for sitting down to take the test.

Then acting like everyone’s being graded the same.

Since I Stopped Drinking Alcohol, I've Come To See Clearly — America Has A Problem With Alcohol

Want to know if Americans drink too much alcohol? Quit drinking for a day. Better yet a week — or a month. Better yet, quit drinking entirely. I wasn’t forced to quit drinking by the mood stabilizer that saved my life. Alcohol can increase the intensity of any side effects the lamictil causes but, by itself, it can’t hurt you. What I found lamictil does to alcohol is give it a terrible aftertaste that ruins the whole experience.

It doesn’t matter whether the alcohol’s in a glass of wine, a bottle of beer or in a martini — just when you expect the glorious aftertaste of whatever you’re drinking to carry on, instead you get grapefruit skin and lots of it. I was cooking clams al vongele the other day. It’s basically clams, parsley, garlic and a bottle of wine (I like to add a little celery and some Pernod to kick up the licorice qualities). I poured in the wine and Pernod — got the sauce back to a simmer and sampled it, expecting exquisiteness.

Instead, I got grapefruit skin. A bottle of wine is a bottle of wine whether it’s in your glass or simmering away in a sauce. It takes a lot longer than you think to burn off alcohol as you cook with it. I forgot that basic fact at first — then wondered why the sauce tasted so awful.

When I was growing up, my dad collected wines — French reds. He and his friends would buy Bordeaux futures — as yet unharvested (ungrown even) grapes in the expectation that they’d become great, age-worthy vintages like 1970 or 1971. When I say my dad “taught me” how to drink, I mean he taught me to appreciate the thing I was guzzling like it was bug juice at summer camp.

I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a responsible drinker — same as there’s no such thing as a responsible gun owner. 99% of the time — absolutely — most people behave responsibly toward both alcohol and guns. It only takes one slip up however to produce tragedy — one half glass of wine too many that resulted in an accident or traffic fatality or a gun that wasn’t locked up properly in its gun safe — and became a murder weapon.

In both instances, “responsible” becomes “irresponsible” just like that.

I was a lot less responsible than I gave myself credit for being. I’ve no doubt I drove while over the limit on multiple occasions. I know for a fact that I dodged a bullet or two or three where alcohol and driving are concerned. I know for a fact that I am hardly alone having that in my past. Sometimes I marvel that any of us are actually still here and walking (or driving) around.

Before lamictil made alcohol taste like shit, I LOVED drinking. I adored it. I marveled at the craftsmanship that went into a great scotch or a complex bottle of Petit Sirah (I loved em big and inky). I drank every single day — usually two glasses of red wine, sometimes a third glass. On rare occasion a fourth.

I was kinda known for getting even more opinionated than I already am. That’s a lot of “opinionated” to drunkenly throw at people. I don’t recall ever being drunk. I don’t recall ever being wasted or shit-faced or rat-arsed. But then, I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t watching me.

These days, when I go to a party or a bar with my wife and/or friends, I’m the lone teetotaler. When the bartender or wait-person turns to me for my order, most of the time I don’t have one: I’ll have water, I say. Their face always betrays them. My beverage will not benefit their tip. I might as well be dead, as far as they’re concerned.

It’s strange to watch your friends as alcohol takes them over. That’s what alcohol does. It changes how people act. While making them feel good for a bit, it also undermines their motor skills and slowly destroys their capacity to make good decisions. I’ve never seen my friends get out-of-their-heads crazy from drinking. But I have seen them get loud, belligerent, unreasonable, disrespectful and downright unpleasant.

When my kids went off to college, I feared for them as they encountered the drinking cultures on their respective college campuses; I worried especially for my daughter since campus rape culture (like campus fraternity culture) is tied to campus alcohol culture. I was grateful to learn that she and her friends prefer marijuana to alcohol. No one has ever died from marijuana poisoning as they have from alcohol poisoning.

I feel almost blasphemous saying this: alcohol prohibitionists weren’t wrong. They wanted to accomplish something impossible in a free society — prohibition of a product the people want. Prohibition didn’t just make alcohol illegal, it criminalized virtually the entire population while giving organized criminals a nearly perfect product to sell. Prohibitionists used the wrong methodology though their insights were rock solid. Alcohol is far too easily abused. And alcohol abuse causes far too much long-lasting social and personal harm to too many people.

Ads for alcohol are aimed (alarmingly) toward young people. Hell, alcohol products themselves are aimed alarmingly at young people. If you have to fruit flavor alcohol up to make it palatable, maybe you aren’t really ready to drink alcohol. That may look like an umbrella in your drink, it’s not; it’s training wheels. And if you really need training wheels on your alcohol, maybe you shouldn’t ought to be drinking alcohol.

My suggestion? Pick up a gram of top quality sativa or hybrid instead (unless of course you want to go to sleep then pick up a gram or two of indica). As self-medcations go, cannabis blows alcohol clear out of the water. It’s so much more versatile (you cannot work with alcohol in your system just like you can’t drive with it or do athletic things with it because of how profoundly it impacts your motor skills).

Having switched from alcohol to cannabis, I’ve also come to see that America has a cannabis problem too. We don’t smoke anywhere near enough of it.

Elections Are Either Free & Fair Or They Aren’t

Without gerrymandering and voter suppression, America’s true political map would look significantly different than it does now.

Example – Texas, where Republican gerrymandering has given blue-as-can-be Austin more Republican representation than Democratic. In Austin, gerrymandering is literally circumventing the will of the people — exactly as designed. That IS the point of gerrymandering — to give a minority of voters a way to take and keep power from the majority indefinitely. I guess if you could do that with the quality of your ideas, you would…

Without voter suppression, Georgia would now have Democrat Stacy Abrams instead of Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s former Secretary of State.

Among the reported irregularities — 3,000 people were wrongly flagged by the state as being ineligible to vote prior to election day and, then, another 53,000 voters had their registrations delayed by Kemp’s office without adequately notifying the applicants. Can you guess how many of those 56,000 voters were either African-American or Democratic? How about pretty much ALL OF THEM.

The final tally gave Kemp the win by 54,723 votes. If (and we don’t know) every one of those suppressed, uncounted votes (and Kemp’s Georgia Department of State’s got some integrity issues) had been votes for Stacy Abrams… well, you see how that works? If Stacy Abrams had won by ONE VOTE, then she would be governor now and corrupt-to-his-toes Brian Kemp wouldn’t be.

One vote CAN make a difference and sometimes, ONE VOTE absolutely does. “Every Vote Counts” is not bullshit. It’s a verifiable fact. There’s data that says it’s a fact.

In a “Free And Fair Election”, every vote gets counted. No one would do anything EVER to dissuade another voter from voting. THAT would be seen as 1) anti-democratic and 2) anti-American. And yet… American elections are rife with one side (and it’s ONE SIDE ONLY — both don’t do it) doing everything in its power to dissuade, disincline and prevent the other side from using its right to vote.

When you screw with another American’s vote, you’re screwing with their rights. And when you screw with another American’s rights, YOU’RE BREAKING THE LAW. Not sort of breaking the law, BREAKING THE LAW.

Our slippery slide down the slope to corruption began the instant we first compromised The Rule Of Law. The moment we stopped practicing The Rule Of Law evenly across the board, we hurt it. We undermined its integrity — and once a thing’s integrity is gone, it’s just a matter of time before rot completely destroys it. We have two sets of rules. One for Rich White Guys and one for everyone else (assuming the everyone else is People Of Color).

But, what if Charles or David Koch (back from the dead) were to show up at THEIR polling place only to be told “Sorry, dude — your name’s not on the list”? Would either Koch Brother stand for such a thing? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d be on the phone to their high-priced lawyer before the polling place worker had finished their sentence. The law would be rewritten on the spot.

They’d vote and their vote would be counted. Probably two or three times even just because.

But, of course, in reality, such a thing could never, ever, EVER happen. The circumstances could never exist where a rich, white, Christian Koch Brother — reliably Republican — would have have HIS right to vote challenged or questioned or abridged or compromised or withheld in any way, shape or form.

And THAT is at the very heart of the problem. It’s the Koch’s manipulating everyone else’s vote, right to vote, ability to vote or means to vote either directly by their actions or indirectly through their money. Has one dollar of their money ever found its way into a voter suppression effort?

That’s one dollar too many. Same token — if just ONE VOTER is prevented from voting because of bullshit? That election can no longer claim to be “free and fair”.

There’s no “magic number” of acceptable suppressed votes. A suppressed vote is not an abstraction if the vote is yours. It’s a very real denial of your most fundamental right as a citizen. In the face of that denial, the question must be asked: WHY?

Why is MY right to vote being denied me?

Like I said — that’s a question Charlie Koch will never have to ask himself.

The Cannabis Lifestyle: “Platforming” Vs “Cocktailing”

First hit of the day…

My day begins with cannabis and it ends with cannabis. That’s not hyperbole.

Medically (and I keep up my prescription because — even though I do recreate with cannabis — it is, to me, first and foremost a legitimate “medicine” that successfully treats a host of very real physical and mental ailments. Consequently, I’m very strain specific. I’ve ID’d a number of very specific strains that produce very specific (and — most importantly — repeatable) effects in my brain. There are differences in intensity of effect (THC levels differ naturally from growth to growth or even plant to plant) but the nature of the “high” remains constant.

I bump on the word “high”. To a degree, I guess, that’s because I don’t often smoke cannabis to “get high”. I want every last bit of cannabis’ psycho-activity. But I want them focused toward my particular need at a particular moment.

That’s the real takeaway here: it turns out cannabis not only fits into lots of “particular moments” in my day, cannabis makes those moments appreciably better. Sativas focus my brain. That doesn’t mean I can’t focus without it. I’d compare it to an eye test where you think the letter floating in front of your eyes is “in focus” and then they drop another lens in — and you realize how much more “focus” there was to be had.

Durban Poison – my go-to go-to.

Being a 100% subjective experience (no two peoples’ “highs” are exactly alike because their brains aren’t exactly alike), it’s hard to say definitively that cannabis will focus everyone else’s mind like it focuses mine. But — I know I ain’t alone in this. A solid hit of Durban Poison creates a feeling inside my brain as if that other lens had just dropped into position. I hear voices more clearly — that is, I hear nuance in voices more clearly. I SEE nuance more clearly — in the abstract. THC (even indicas) never diffuses my thinking; it always focuses it (even if it’s making me deliciously drowsy).

I’ve had repeatedly had this experience: I’ve taken my two big hits of indica just before bedtime (I like to mix n match a variety of strains — Skywalker, Paris, Diamond, LA Confidential, Afghan, Kosher Kush among others) and, just as that exquisite wooziness makes closing one’s eyes and succumbing to sleep imminent — an idea floats to the surface (something I’m working on usually). Next thing I know? Five minutes have gone by, I’ve made extensive notes, having resolved the “problem”. Pencil and pad go back onto desk and I’m between the sheets and fast asleep.

And the quality of sleep cannabis produces? Nothing Big Pharma makes can touch it.

Cannabis’ biggest revelation in my life was the mental focus it delivers — regardless of whether we’re talking sativas, indicas or hybrids. I’m hypomanic. My brain goes a kajillion miles an hour.

I need a few of those kajillion miles an hour to fuel my creative endeavors. The rest however can be a problem. They all want to compete for my attention but there are only so many hours in a day. Cannabis does two things at once inside my brain. It makes me think more (because that’s what THC actually does — it causes more of your synapses to fire so you really do “experience” more thoughts, more sensual input, more outside data; it’s why some people feel paranoid) and it slows me down.

The inside of my head is like a black box theater (think a shoebox turned over, its insides painted black. Anything can happen inside that space. Anything. Most of the time, that space is alive with a dozen different things being projected on the walls, the ceiling, the floor. They’re in color, black & white, sepia. Holograms float here and there. Music and sound come and go. The THC acts like scrims dropping down, muting most of the images and sounds, allowing me to focus on two or three.

And those two or three that I can now focus on? I can really focus on em…

I like to ease into my day (around 5 am) with a hybrid like GG4 or Dutch Treat (which I wish was more reliably available — hint, hint, LA dispensaries). Sometimes though, I like to “cocktail” that first hit with a little sativa — Durban Poison or one of the other sativas I keep in my “rotation”.

I use anywhere between five and eight different cannabis strains every day. As I said — I discern very distinct qualities between different strains. What makes Durban Poison such a go-to strain is the evenness of its focus.

By contrast, strains like Jack The Ripper, Casey Jones or XJ-13 have a little more of an “edge” to them. The mental energy has a touch more “energy”.

Throw a little coffee into the mix, we’re talking literal transcendence.

I also use Durban Poison when I play tennis. Just as it does with my creativity, DP both slows the game down (I can see the spin on the ball — for real) and focuses my thoughts: I can execute the step-by-step of hitting the ball how I want to where I want to with remarkable precision.

DP makes me a better tennis player. I’ve tried other sativas. They all work to varying degrees but it’s DP’s reliable evenness that pairs best with tennis’ mental requirements.

As I said — I love cannabis because I can use it to match a particular strain to a particular need.

So — platforming vs cocktailing.

In essence, anyone buying “shake” is buying a cannabis “cocktail” being an unknown mixture of “leftovers” of stuff that “fell to the bottom”. Lots of big cannabis companies make “effects” products that should produce “creativity” or “calm” or “sleep”. What’s in em?

What’s in a jug wine? Grapes. If that’s all that matters, you’re a cannabis cocktail person. But what if you’re a gin drinker? That’s where strain specificity gets fun…

I find there’s a perceptible experiential difference between mixing two cannabis strains together in one bowl and smoking them versus smoking one of those strains, allowing its effect to initiate, and then smoking the second strain so as to add its effects atop the first strain’s.

GG4 all by itself at the start of my day produces a slowly building sense of focus and well-being.

Mixing Durban Poison and GG4 together and smoking it brings that focus on more quickly and makes the focus more central to the feeling than the euphoria. It doesn’t negate the euphoria, it just moves it to the background — where I want it.

If I smoke GG4 and THEN the DP, I get that “lens effect”. The GG4’s focus was lovely. Layering the Durban Poison’s focus atop the GG4’s produces a slightly more intense focus that lasts a good hour or so before gently fading. If I use a sativa like Casey Jones, that focus is even sharper but doesn’t last quite as long — that’s some of the perceived “evenness”.

So — here I’ve gone and asked a question to which I don’t have a particular answer. To platform or to cocktail.

I think I need to smoke on it a bit…