DIY Aquaponics Project

I saw a youtube video on aquaponics a long time ago. It looked so cool that I knew that I had to do something like this on my own (simpler–without the arduino, for now).  Here’s the video, I hope you get as excited about it as I did.

 

The idea settled in my brain and slept for a long time. For whatever reason, I recently thought, “What the hell?” and decided to go through with it and build a setup of my own.

I’m doing this without much research, just going with an idea I have and learning by doing.

I decided I wanted to do it indoors, so my plants would be free of insects. This way I can grow berries and other foods without needing to use pesticide or worrying about birds or other critters up in mah gardenz, eatin’ mah foodz.

I had a basic idea in mind. I wanted to buy some fairly cheap, portable shelving (four shelves), the top three of which to hold the bins which contain the plants and solid medium (clay pellets, cinder, lava rock, or whatever), and the bottom bin to hold the fish. In my mind, I imagined a water pump down in the bottom tank which would send the water to the topmost bin and let gravity make the water flow down through drainage points in the bottoms of the top three bins, from one to another until the last bin drains back into the fish tank/bin.

For materials, I took a trip to Lowes and asked for help. I told an employee in the plumbing department what I had planned, and he pointed me to a small piece of equipment which had threading which could be fastened onto the bottom of the bin through a hole.  (I affixed it to the bin very tightly and used silicon aquarium sealant (the kind which cures/hardens) as an added measure of water-sealing.) NOTE: I had to remove the black part, which is a cushiony “washer.”  When I tried to tighten it in a manner I found sufficient to prevent leakage, the washer got pushed outward, and a gap was present.  There is a rigid, slippery washer that was necessary to keep on, because the threading stops too early.

Bulk Head Union

That is a Watts Lead Free Bulk Head Union, PL-1871.

To this unit you can screw in a Watts Lead Free Nylon Hose Barb, A-387.

Nylon Hose Connector

And to that affix some tubing to control the direction of the water drainage.

I purchased Rubbermaid Roughneck Clear Storage Bins of various sizes to contain the fish and the plants. For the plants, I purchased 3 long, narrow bins (26.7″ L x 15.8″ W x 6.9″ H).

Long, Medium Bin

 

For the fish, I purchased one with approximately the same width and length but with a greater height (26.7″ L x 15.7″ W x 14″ H).

Medium Deep Bin

In addition to these I purchased a very long, wide, and high bin which was supposed to go underneath the whole thing, shelving and all, to serve as a safety measure… so that if anything ever overflowed or leaked, it would harmlessly drain into the underlying large bin, saving my carpet and avoiding a mess. But, alas, I measured incorrectly. I keep the “fish tank” bin in this larger bin on the bottom shelf anyway. It can catch some overflow. Something is better than nothing.

Recycle Code 5The Roughneck bins are made of polypropylene which I have read is safe. These products are not officially for food storage; they are for item storage. So I cannot state that I know that these are safe for growing edible plants and do not have any harmful chemicals which may leak out. However, I doubt it. Polypropylene products have recycle code 5, which many Roughneck products have on them. Some of these bins did not have the 5 imprinted upon them, but the same products (clear Roughneck bins) of other sizes did. I am assuming they are all made of the same material. They feel and look that way.

Anyway, just a disclaimer: I’m chosing these products at my own risk, and if you do as well, you are taking the same risks. I do no claim to be an expert on this matter, and there may be something important about these products regarding safety that I do not know.

I am taking an educated guess in figuring that these products are food safe because they are polypropylene and Rubbermaid has made an effort to stop creating products with BPA.

For the water pump, I chose a PP40006 : 400 GPH, Submersible, Aquaponics/Hydroponics/Fountain/Pond/Aquarium Pump – 6′ Cord.  This pump is a little too powerful for my current setup, I think.  I believe it will only need to run one minute once I put in the clay medium into the plant bins to support plant growth, root stability, and bacterial growth.

water-pump

 

For the air pump, I chose a Tetra 77849 Whisper Air Pump, up to 60-Gallon.

air-pump

 

For the air-stone to diffuse the air from the air-pump into the water in the fish bin, I chose a Jardin Aquarium Fish Tank Ponds Ceramic Air Stone Diffusers, 40mm Diameter.

air-stone

 

I learned that the water-pump pushes the water at a rate faster than the drainage.  This combined with the fact that many plants do not like their roots continually wet led me to believe that I need, as I mentioned above, to turn the water on for a brief period of time, allowing it to rise to a decent level, saturating the clay medium, and then turning it off to let the water drain.  Because the bulk head union has a height of around an inch or so, I decided to drill holes into it.  The water level will remain at a little less than an inch.  I think this may be acceptable.  We’ll have to see.  If the plants don’t like it, I’ll have to arrange something else.

So, I had to buy a timer to provide temporary power to the water pump.  It turns out that with this timer, I can turn on the water for a minute once every three hours.  The timer has 8 programmable on/off settings.  That is, 16 settings total, 8 for on times and 8 for off times.  Here is an important note: WITH THIS TIMER YOU MUST push the reset button before programming it.  In the comments on Amazon, a user complains that the timer never goes on when it should.  I experienced this same error because I didn’t follow the instructions which said that the first step after plugging it in was to hit the reset button.  I believe that powering it on may produce garbage in the memory which affects its functioning, and the reset effectively zeroes things out (pure speculation on my part).

The timer is a Hydrofarm TM01715D 7-Day Digital Program Timer.

timer

Here is an image of the current setup:

IMG_0149

I took three caps from Soda Stream syrup bottles and drilled holes in them.  I used the curing silicone aquarium sealant to bind them in place on top of the bulk head unions.  This is to provide protection from little rocks and other pieces of debris getting into the drainage holes and pipes, producing clogs which may lead to water overflow.

IMG_0152

I affixed tubing, which I think is the same size as fits on the water pump, to the nylon hose barb to control water drainage flow.  In the plant bin which is most distant from the one below, I had to use the silicone sealant to affix the drain tube to the underlying bin.  The tube dangled precariously, and I feared movement which might lead to water draining in places I didn’t want it to go.

IMG_0153

As you can see from the picture of the entire setup, I placed the shelves varying distances from each other.  The topmost has the most room for vertical growth, up to the ceiling.  The next one down has about two feet (just eyeballing and guessing here).  The last plant bin has only a few inches above it. I plan to grow berries and perhaps microgreens in this one.

IMG_0157

I put fish in my setup after conditioning the water for clearing chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia.  I also used some starter conditioner to add bacteria and what-not to the water.  The fish have been in the tank over 24 hours at the time of writing this piece.  One has died.  The rest seem healthy if a big sluggish.  They don’t seem to be eating.  Perhaps the shock of transition did one in and is making the others feel icky.  We’ll have to see.  I’ll post updates. I do not believe the bins are toxic to the fish.  I’ve started aquariums before in which this has taken place.  I expect more casualties before a good nitrogen cycle can get going.  These are feeder fish, so no big loss… and they are getting at least a chance at survival.

Once I put the clay medium and the bacteria start growing, I expect them to do better.  I have also read that oyster shells provide natural filtration and purification, so I am going to get some of them as well and put them in the plant bins.

IMG_0158

One last pic here, I affixed the tubing attached to the water pump to the back support of the shelving with zip ties.  I attached strong velcro to the tube and top of the topmost bin with gorilla glue (the brown kind that uses a little water to activate it).  This way, I can affix and direct the water flow tube on the topmost bin.  It’s a pretty sturdy connection.

I hope you’ve found my article on my DIY aquaponics setup informative.  I have seen videos and articles by others, and it always irritated me that they left out many specifics, especially where to buy the parts and exactly which parts to get.  I’ve left out a few here, but those were things like zip ties, tubing, and gorilla glue.  Those are easy to find.  The tubing for the water and air pumps are found on the pages for the pumps on amazon, and you just have to google zip ties and gorilla glue to find those items.

Please check back periodically for updates.  I should make another post within a week or two.

Python and Selenium

The School Information System (an application which manages a database which contains relevant information about faculty, staff, and students which also helps with communications, grade-book management, and other kinds of functions) we use handles new user passwords in a really shitty fashion. It gives each new user the same default password.

You can’t change this password through any kind of batch or global process, but you can, as admin, go to each user in the web interface and click a “Reset Password” button.

I didn’t see much of a problem with parents, because which parents are going to know that other parents are going to have the same password?

Students, however, are another issue altogether. I can totally see two students confiding in one another and discovering that their passwords are the same. I can also imagine them putting two-and-two together and attempting to log in as other students, setting their own passwords, and performing all kinds of shenanigans.

I decided we could get a staff member or two together and handle the issue by each tackling a grade per day in a process of cutting and pasting from an excel spreadsheet I made for usernames and passwords for students.

We started doing it, and I thought, oh no… there must be a better way. So I looked online and found some software which would help automate the process. It was fully functional for a trial period of 30 days. So, it worked.

But afterwards I was thinking, wait a minute… I used to program. There has to be a way to do this programmatically that isn’t too difficult.

I did a lot of googling and found various entries in stackexchange that I found more or less helpful. I looked at python and mechanize. I saw suggestions about using urllib and urllib2.

But then I found a gem: selenium.

Python and selenium are awesome. Selenium hijacks a browser of your choice and can get information via a very large number of query functions. It can also send clicks and keystrokes to various buttons, fields, etc. in the web-browser.

So, setting up a test program which would log in to the website and log out was a snap. It took me around a minute to inspect objects and write the functions for them.

I have yet to add functions to read in a csv file and loop logging in, changing passwords, and logging out, but that part is trivial.

I have to say, though, that if I need to do any repetitive form-filling processes over the web in the future, I have a simple means by which to do so.

Here is the code for those who may be curious, to find out how simple it is:

import time

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys

driver = webdriver.Firefox()
driver.get("https://www.website.com")
elem = driver.find_element_by_name("UserName")
elem.send_keys("jdoe@thisistheusername.net")
elem2 = driver.find_element_by_name("Password")
elem2.send_keys("jdoepassword123")
elem2.send_keys(Keys.RETURN)
time.sleep(5)
driver.get("https://www.website.com/logoffurl")

driver.close()

Package Delivery Blues

A delivery company, whose name I shall not express (ahem), has some lazy, lying, sack-of-shit employees for delivery staff on my route.

This delivery service doesn’t deliver. The drivers have placed packages at wrong addresses and claimed they could not gain entry into my complex (which is total bullshit) or to be otherwise unable to deliver to my address (also bullshit). Other delivery services encounter no such problems.

Many times I’ve had to intervene to get in my hands on a package from them.

After a while of this, I became proactive. Whenever I saw through tracking information that this company was involved, I’d call them and have them hold the package at a company facility to which I would drive. I’ve had good luck with that. I think it is because the carrier has to have more accountability when she brings the package to a pickup location (another employee has to receive it). When delivering to a customer, “leaving the package at the door,” they could scan it and toss it wherever.

I wonder if their scanners tag confirmations with GPS data. It would help ensure against abuse by a driver who was being lazy.

A recent order “delivered” by this company, once again, registered as delivered to my front door when no package is in sight. Hopefully it got delivered to an honest neighbor and will find its way to me soon.

 

Surprise Therapy

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk candidly with someone who greatly resembled an authority figure who was prominent during many years of my early childhood. She was curious and asked me about my childhood, what kind of child I was, if I was philosophical as a child or not.

I found myself spilling the beans on many issues I had as a child, which I would never have disclosed to such a person when I was young. I talked about how I related—rather how I did not relate—to social groups and how I was generally treated by other children.

I spoke about it easily, a-matter-of-factly, and she listened and nodded. She commiserated with me on a few points.

I enjoyed the conversation, but thought nothing of it for a while.

That evening, while at home, I found myself going through various memories and issues I had, processing them, talking to myself about them, thinking about things I wish I had said and to whom and how I wish I had said them.

I realized that my younger self needed a good talking to that he never got. He needed to have what he was going through discussed and explained to him from an adult perspective. He needed to learn about understanding people, opinions, biases, and the reactions people have to various phenomena and why they have the reactions they do.

I needed to understand that people often react out of ignorance, social conditioning, or out of something base, animal. The fact that person or even a whole group of people is/are being ugly to you doesn’t mean that you are ugly. What it certainly means, however, is that they are being ugly. A person should understand these issues in a way that enables  him or her to realize that another person’s ugliness does not reflect on oneself. It reflects on the other person.

I also needed to learn about values, social values, and how they work—that different cultures have different values, different beliefs about what is good, bad, ugly, beautiful, worthwhile, worthless, and so forth. These things are not cut into stone. They are often arbitrary. There is something of value to be found in every human being as he or she is. No one should have to feel like he or she has to put on an act to be worthwhile, accepted, or lovable. It does not matter what a group thinks or communicates about their opinions about your worth. It is what you realize about yourself that matters.

I went to sleep and had some unusual dreams in which I started to take charge of events. There was one part of the dream where I took a gun and fired it at bandits. Usually in my dreams guns misfire or something else happens that makes the gun useless. In this dream, however, I fired the shots confidently and scared the hell out of the bandits and made them think twice about their shenanigans, letting them know that if they were violent, then I’d be violent too and that they’d have to pay for it—maybe more than they were willing to.

After I woke up, I was beset by a series of ideas.

It occurred to me that understanding alone isn’t enough. One must have the courage to face that of which one is afraid. It is ok to have fear. You will never rid yourself of it. What is important is that you learn to be yourself even though you have fear—to somehow become comfortable with it and be able to be yourself and respond as yourself while within its presence.  Live your own truth. Give testimony to your truth when others try to squelch it.

Then you can try to lessen or rid yourself of fear. If you try to do it before then, you will simply still be afraid of fear. You will be avoiding fear. Fear must be faced, and it must ultimately be faced down.

So, no, fear. Not today. Not now. I’m willing to take the risk and pay the price for being myself.

I would like to somehow make it easier to be courageous and to face my fear. I know that this is trying to avoid fear, but I would seriously like to have a little something in my corner helping me out in times of trouble.

I think I am going to make a list of many times I have been courageous in various ways and go through those experiences in my mind until I learn something that might help me when the proverbial shit hits the fan or it looks like it will.

Long story short, it was a wonderful thing to have serendipitously told an authority figure something I wish I had said, and said and discussed often, over 35 years ago. It was very therapeutic. I had no idea that doing so would have such an effect.

Statement by Jimmy Carter on the Voyager Probe

Among other media and information, the Voyager Probe contains this statement by Jimmy Carter:

“This Voyager spacecraft was constructed by the United States of America. We are a community of 240 million human beings among the more than 4 billion who inhabit the planet Earth. We human beings are still divided into nation states, but these states are rapidly becoming a single global civilization.

We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some–perhaps many–may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:

This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.”

It was among several images I found on an imgur page from a link on reddit.  I had seen some of the images before, but do not remember having ever read his statement.

I think it’s beautiful.

For much of of my adult life, I have found myself jaded–especially within the past 10 or so years.  But seeing the images of human life and knowledge contained on Voyager as well as the president’s statement, it re-acquainted me with the friendliness and innocence of mankind.  It also filled me with a sense of hope.

There are those among us who are intelligent and friendly, those who want to greet, cooperate, and share.  This, I think, is the essential human spirit.  It is what makes us who we are, and it is the hope for our species.  Our hope does not lie in provincialism, anger, greed, or smugness–things of which I have seen a lot in people lately.

I think that looking at the content of Voyager is important.  It gives us a particular view of mankind.  We are children in a big universe.  We have to cooperate if we, as a species, are going to reach adulthood.

Nootropics – Sunifiram Experiences

General Information about Sunifiram

Sunifiram is a cognition-enhancing drug that is available over the counter.  It is one of the “newer” nootropics (drugs used to enhance memory or cognitive functions).  According to wikipedia:

Sunifiram (DM-235) is a piperazine derived ampakine-like drug which has nootropic effects in animal studies with significantly higher potency than piracetam.”

Also according to wikipedia, it has the following mechanisms of action:

  • Sunifiram activates AMPA-mediated neurotransmission.
  • It enhances LTP in a bell-shaped dose–response relationship. This enhancement by sunifiram is associated with an increase in phosphorylation of AMPAR through activation of protein kinase II (CaMKII) and an increase in phosphorylation of NMDAR through activation of protein kinase C α (PKCα). More specifically, sunifiram stimulates the glycine-binding site of NMDAR with concomitant PKCα activation through Src kinase. Enhancement of PKCα activity triggers hippocampal LTP through CaMKII activation.
  • Sunifiram improves cognitive deficits via CaM kinase II and protein kinase C activation. PKC activation may be a common mechanism amongst cognition stimulating drugs from different chemical classes.
  • Sunifiram aids in the release of acetylcholine in the cerebral cortex.

Typical dosage is between 4 and 11 milligrams per 150 lbs.

You can find detailed information about the drug at http://examine.com/supplements/Sunifiram/

Most importantly, the safety information found on examine.com about sunifiram states: “A study noting efficacy of sunifiram (0.001mg/kg denoted minimum effective dose) failed to find any overt toxic symptoms with a 1000-fold higher dose injected (1mg/kg).”

First Experience

Summary

I have heard people describe LSD (at a low dosage) as a drug that increases awareness.  Colors become more vivd.  You see more clearly.  Sounds have greater depth and clarity.  The world becomes more alive and fascinating.  It seems as if the filters that prevent sensory information from reaching the brain are somehow disabled or changed in a manner that lets more information through.  The downside of this is sensory overload.  Sunifiram had a similar kind of effect on me, however the world did not become entrancing, and there were no sensory distortions.  I was never out of it, fixated by something, or hallucinating. To the contrary, I found my overall attention and sobriety increased.  My visual and audio acuity increased.  I experienced more of what was around me.

I found things, at times, to be a little overwhelming and experienced some anxiety.  What I found most challenging were shifts in my attention caused by changes in my environment.  The attention shifted easily, but the influx of new information at a greater intensity than normal was somewhat jarring and made me anxious.  I simply was not used to it.  I had no problem controlling my attention, but whatever I attended to came in more fully, providing more information about the world around me than usual.  This taxed my mind/body and produced anxiety.  I believe this is something I can adapt to and is probably related to the strength of the dose I took (which was close to the recommended dose for my body weight).

Caveat

I am a little skeptical about my first experiences with substances because I am well aware of the placebo effect and how suggestible I can be at times.

That said, I will just give an account of my experiences as they occurred without speculating too much as to whether they were the products of sunifiram or not.  Details from subsequent experiences should create a more accurate picture.

Experience

I was very excited when the nootropics arrived (I ordered noopept, phenylpiracetam, and sunifiram), and I wanted to try sunifiram first.  It is considered a non-piracetam type drug, and I have tried various kinds of “racetams.”  I was eager for a new experience.

I was shocked to see just how little a pile of 7 milligrams of powder looks.  My scale is accurate to ~3 milligrams, so I was unsure as to exactly how much I was getting.  The amount, however, was very tiny.  It could easily fit on the tip of my pinky without falling off.

I may have taken anywhere between 4 and 10 milligrams.  I am around 160 lbs.

I wet my finger and rubbed the powder off of the small, metal weighing dish, and then rubbed along the inside of my mouth underneath my tongue to saturate the tissues with it.

I think I could start to feel the effects within 5 to 10 minutes.  It started to peak at around 15-20 minutes.

It increases awareness and stimulates.  I became very, very aware of myself and my surroundings, mostly of sounds.  They were very clear.  When I locked the door to my apartment, the sound of my keys clinking together was exceptionally clear, almost hypnotic.  I was amazed at the clarity. I experienced a heightened awareness of the ambient sounds of my apartment complex as I walked through the halls.

My visual field was slightly different than usual.  I cannot quite say how.  At times it was almost as if I had tunnel vision, but not really.  I was just very focused on whatever caught my attention, but not necessarily to the exclusion of other things, not like being transfixed.  Just very attentive.

I did not notice more efficiency in thinking or improvements in memory.  The increase of sensory awareness regarding sound and vision was very distracting.  It’s not like I couldn’t contemplate.  I just didn’t want to.  I was too involved in the world around me.

I did not experience changes in body heat or increased sweating as some individuals reported on reddit.

I played a game of pathfinder with friends, and I found it a little strange.  There was a new person, and I am sometimes nervous around new people, unless there is something about the person that is very comforting or disarming. Perhaps the sunifiram was agitating social anxiety.  I cannot comment upon that accurately.  I can only speculate.  It was my only social experience while on it.

The drug created a kind of schism between my normal sense of self and what was going on in the world around me.  I could experience my surroundings acutely, but not necessarily process the information adequately.  I suppose I could liken it to when I was learning saber fencing.  When I got comfortable, the instructor would increase the speed and complexity of things, and this would not allow me to think or orient myself.  I had to react.

Sunifiram seemed to be increasing my overall sensory awareness, and the increased input was just too much to handle in my normal mode of being.

It put me off-balance in a number of ways. Socially, I handled it by being somewhat reserved and focusing mostly on the interactions which made me feel most comfortable.  There are a few very friendly, humorous people in our gaming group, and I tried to focus as much as I could on interacting with them and ignoring what I didn’t like.

After an hour or two of gaming, the new member started lightening up, smiling, and being more participatory.  She also smiled at me a few times and laughed at a few thing I said (intending to be funny).  As she started to unwind, so did I.

I normally would not feel as much social anxiety when meeting a new person in a similar scenario.  I think having a new person in our group along with a heightened level of sensory sensitivity created a feeling of imbalance and overwhelm which resulted in anxiety.

I listened to some music while driving as I decided the effect of the drug would not impair my driving ability.  The experience of the music was akin to what some people have described under the effects of marijuana, but not entrancing.  The increased musical awareness was not distracting or irritating, rather, it was pleasant.  I had no desire to turn the music off, and when driving needed my absolute full attention, I was completely unaware of the music, as is normal for me when driving.  I could tell that if I were in another situation, I could really relax and enjoy the music more fully than usual.  I would like to spend some comfortable time alone listening to music while under the effects of sunifiram.  I think that would be very enjoyable.  It may also assist in language acquisition in that you may hear inflections and other vocal variations better, so I may try it while listening to a pimsleur recording.

I noticed that I was very aware of the situations on the highway and the various vehicles around me.  I became somewhat anxious, as I began to worry that the drug might affect my attention in some kind of dangerous way, putting other drivers and me at risk.  In the end, there was nothing to worry about.  I probably drove better than usual, as I was more aware.  Again, I did not find myself attending to one thing at the expense of other important sensory input, such as focusing on one car while unconsciously and dangerously filtering out what is going on with other cars around me as in a trance-like or super-focused way.  I did, however, find, at times, the experience of shifting attention from one thing to another as is necessary when driving to have a kind of jarring effect.  Not super bad, but disconcerting.  This was when I started to worry that the drug might impair my driving ability.  It is hard to describe.  It wasn’t as though it was hard to move from one thing to another, to be brought from one thing to another.  That was easy.  What was hard was the intensity of the new incoming information.  When I needed to be aware of something, such as a car moving into an adjacent lane or something like that, I was *very* aware of it when it happened, and then, once I saw the car had moved in to the adjacent lane, I was *very* aware of the road in front of me and where I needed to go.  I think the attentional shifts were creating some anxiety.

Thoughts

In retrospect, I think that what is going on with the anxiety I experienced was a matter of familiarity and adaptation.  I normally have a bit of brain fog, there are certain things that remain dull and certain things that are clear and in focus.  What happened was the sunifiram suddenly brought a hell of a lot more into clarity and focus and my brain was just like, WTF?  What am I going to do with all this information?  My attention, I think, was being over-taxed.

When I try another dose, I will either take less or take the same amount but choose to remain indoors in an environment with stable, controlled input.  Not something as dynamic as driving or socially interacting with a group and an unfamiliar person.

Recommendations

Right now I cannot say with confidence that I could recommend or advise against the use of sunifiram.  I do not have enough experiences with it.

What I can say is that it is a powerful substance and that you should be careful regarding the dosage and setting when first taking it.  I had some anxiety in my experience.  I could imagine what it could have been like had I taken too large of a dose or had been in a very stressful situation.  It could have been a nightmare.

I can see the benefits of using it to enhance various aesthetic experiences.  I can say with some certainty that watching nature, going to an art museum, listening to music, etc., would be enhanced by sunifiram.

I imagine that it may help a person remain aware and sharp when fatigued.  However, since I have not used it when mentally or physically fatigued, I cannot recommend its use in that scenario.  Will it make you feel mentally refreshed?  Or will you feel like an exhausted horse being relentlessly whipped?  Some stimulants taken during exhaustion can have that effect.

I also imagine that it may be helpful for study or problem solving, but, again, I will need to test it in those activities before I can make a useful comment in that regard.

Second Sunifiram Experience

Dose: 5 milligrams or less

I made sure to decrease the dose, and I also took some phosphatidylcholine, which is generally recommended when taking nootropics.  Many nootropics increase or otherwise affect acetylcholine in the brain. The theory is that more choline is used up when you take nootropics that increase acetylcholine levels.  Some negative effects from nootropics (such as crashes after using them) are attributed to not taking a choline supplement.

Experience

I could feel the stimulant effect, but not as heavily as before.  I experienced a slight increase in ease of concentration during mental tasks during my work day. The concentration felt very satisfying.  I felt as if I could apply myself just that little bit more fully to what I was doing.  This could, however, be due to the placebo effect.

Because I had a poor night’s sleep before, I had a lingering feeling of tiredness and also some general mental fog.  The sunifiram did not cut through that, and may have somehow contributed to it. I’m not sure.

I experienced a strange sensation of separateness like before but not as pronounced.  I just felt vaguely not there, as if some part of me was separated from my experience, adrift. I could, however, easily attend to what was going on around me, what people were saying, and the like.  I think that my experimentation with stimulating nootropics is affecting sleep.  It took me a while to get into deep sleep last night, and I did a lot of tossing and turning.

At the end of my work day I felt tired, but a little stimulated.  When I got home, I did not feel the need to take a nap or otherwise crash, but I did feel somewhat exhausted.

I experienced an increased enjoyment of music again, but this time it was not as pronounced as before.

Thoughts

I think today’s experience was a bit lackluster.  I want to find out just what exactly this stuff is good for.  I am already convinced that it is generally stimulating and does certainly affect attention and focus.  I am uncertain about the cons it might have in terms of affecting sleep and also possibly creating a crash.  More time and experience with it will yield more information.

I suspect that taking it on a day in which I am relaxed, have eaten well, am well rested, and am able to comfortably engage in a variety of tasks with no feeling of hurry or rush will show me most clearly what I want to know.

I plan to use it and read some fiction, listen to some music, meditate, write, and get some thinking done, all in a relaxed way.  It may be best to record my experiences right after they have occurred, wait a while, and the reflect and comment upon them later.

No More FB for Me, I Choose to Disconnect

A nice guy somehow acquires psychic powers. He finds he can telepathically receive the thoughts of those around him. At first he is fascinated, surprised, and disturbed by a new voice in his head. He’s waiting in the subway for the train to arrive and looking at another guy. He hears, “Why is that weirdo looking at me?” He realizes that he either must be going crazy or he’s actually hearing another person’s voice in his mind. Afraid, he looks around. As his gaze frantically shifts from person to person, he hears the voice of each. The number of voices and a growing sense of pressure both mount. He freaks out and runs away, hearing the echoes of thoughts like, “Jesus, crazy freak!” and “What the hell is wrong with him?” and “Fucking crazies …”

Sooner or later, he meets a mentor. Some person catches his eye and projects, “I know you can hear me. It’s ok.” Suddenly, the other voices vanish. The mentor continues, telepathically, “You need to learn how to control it. Otherwise, you’ll lose yourself and won’t know which thoughts are yours.”

This scene or one very much like it appears in a number of movies in which a character learns he has somehow developed the power to read minds. In doing so, the person, usually a nice guy who has miraculously peachy keen, nonjudgmental thoughts, will say something like, “They are so ugly … I never knew people had such ugly thoughts.” I guess he’s the hero, and we have to identify with him. And, of course we don’t have those nasty kinds of thoughts running through our heads most of the time, so we feel that, hey, here’s a guy I can relate to.

In The Matrix, a friend of Neo’s named Choi drops by to pick up some illicit software or data. He sees that Neo looks pretty worn-down and tells him, “It just sounds to me like you need to unplug, man.”

For me, both scenes relate very strongly to the reality of Facebook.

The term “connection” is now ubiquitous. You cannot escape it. It seems a thing valued in and of itself. To be connected is good. To be disconnected is bad.

Decades ago, when I saw that cellphones were becoming pervasive (and invasive), I questioned the wisdom of it. I avoided owning a cellphone for as long as I could. I viewed them as electronic tethers.

I saw how, once you had a cellphone, people felt entitled to a connection with you, anytime and anyplace, regardless of any concerns or boundaries you might have. The old “ball and chain” is no longer a nagging, controlling wife, it’s any fucking wireless device.

Whether you see it or not, it’s a major issue now: boundaries. Our boundaries have been dissolving at an increasing rate for decades.

Way back in the day, before the internet, people with computers and modems connected with each other in a serial fashion. Hobbyists ran BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) on home computers with dedicated phone lines. You would call them (only when the previous user had disconnected, it was a one-at-a-time thing) with your modem and your computer would connect. The connection speed by today’s standards would be considered hideously slow. Text at 300 baud would literally crawl across your screen.

I actually liked 300 baud. It gave me time to read the text.

And that’s what you did. You read the text that other people wrote. You had time. And those who authored what you read had time to write something that they had thought about. People who spouted the verbal diarrhea now accepted as the norm were viciously ridiculed. Their posts were literally a waste of time (text scrolled by slowly, remember), and regarding them the spacebar or n key was your friend. The spacebar aborted the post, the n key skipped directly to the next post.

You called a BBS because you wanted to read (which meant really consider and enjoy or revile) the content other people wrote, and, by-and-large (depending on which BBS you called), it was stuff worth reading. Collaborative fiction, interesting discussions, humor… it was a gold mine.

Not saying the internet now is not filled with all kinds of awesome. It is. And I do love it. But things were a bit different back then, and I miss it.

There was a wisdom to things back then that is now lost. Back then, there was an understood distinction between what came to be known as “cyberspace” (now an outdated and clumsy term) and “meat space” or IRL (in real life). We often used aliases and realized that there was a real difference between our online personas and our offline personas and our lives. “In real life” pretty much says it all. You were not to take what occurred online too seriously, and taking squabbles from BBSs into “real life” was taboo. You could get banned from a large number of local BBSs for it.

Now there is no separation. But the fact remains, people are somewhat different online. The boundaries, I think, are dwindling. The two worlds are conflating if not totally conflated already. I don’t think this is a good thing. People really don’t appreciate the difference anymore, and our behaviors have not caught up with this fact.

Although there is much less of a sense of anonymity, the feeling of freedom that anonymity gives you–which used to be a really good thing IMO–is still there. People say things online that they would never say in a face-to-face interaction. And they say it a lot. I would wager a large percentage of what people post willy nilly on their fb timelines are things they would never say to others face-to-face. (I’m including myself here and in much of what I have been saying people think and do online.)

We just don’t broach certain topics in social gatherings. The person who brings up politics, religion, or gender issues at a dinner with friends or at a party is considered a boor and is penalized with social pressure. Not so on fb. In fact, quite the opposite. Boorish behavior is often rewarded.

We have developed unspoken rules of etiquette for face-to-face social interactions which have evolved for thousands of years. We have netiquette for online interactions, but netiquette in its current form is dreadfully insufficient. Online behavior is often rude.  It’s negative effects on me have forced me to quit fb.

Netiquette has a lot of catching up to do. It’s more important that you do not type in all caps than to not get up on a soapbox or simply be ugly, complain, or whatever on fb. But they are essentially the same things! To spill whatever ugly thoughts or feelings you have on an issue. To pontificate. To complain. To say whatever you feel like whenever you feel like to an audience that sometimes numbers in the hundreds. Not everyone wants to see that shit. You go to a blog for rants, complaints, opinion pieces, or whatever. I don’t think they belong on something like fb. I am totally guilty of doing it myself, I know. I have learned from consideration that it is a mistake to do so.

People are learning about online consequences with regard to work and the law, but we don’t seem to be even near the clue train when it comes to the social and psychological effects our words have on our fellow human beings and ourselves when we post on fb.

So many people use fb as a soap box for various political or religious issues. Some people use it to condemn and ridicule others willy nilly. Some use it to simply be a spoiled brat and say things that more befit a rotten child than a mature adult. Sadly, these people are often lauded, told “OMG, You are so awesome! I love you!” People love it when a grown adult acts like a shitty 5 year old instead of the mature individual he or she should be? WTF? This demonstrates a fucked up value system.

I don’t want to read that shit. It disgusts me.

So, back to the scene in that movie about the psychic guy. Having quit fb, I have learned in retrospect that many of those thoughts which were being conveyed via so many lines of text, images with captions, links to articles, etc., here, there, and everywhere, were going straight into my head and affecting me emotionally.

Despite what I’d like to think and the admonition that, “You shouldn’t care what other people think,” I realize that I do care what other people think. Probably too much. And I cannot help it.

If I read a ton of filthy crap–and a lot of what people say is pretty much filthy crap–then I feel like filthy crap. I feel hurt, sad, angry, and somehow insecure, as if a number of things I had read were aimed at me. And, by way of an author’s use of generalizations, it kind of is aimed at me. People talk about this kind or that kind of person. Sometimes I am that person. White people. Men. People who do this or that. People who believe this or that.

So many fb posts = <bitch, rant, moan, complain, pontificate, blame, claim victimhood with no agency or personal causation in regard to the problem>.

A lot of shitty fb posts begin with or contain the words, “I wish.”  Well, I wish they would shut the fuck up. But I am not going to get my wish any time soon. Neither are they, conceptual posters of fb horeshit. So maybe we should do something mutually beneficial concerning this?

Personally, I hate it when people play the victim and do nothing about it except complain and drain energy. There is a metric fuck-ton of that on Facebook.

Regarding Facebook, I realized that, holy fuck, I feel victimized. Well? What am I doing about it? Just bitch? Claim victimhood on fb while demonstrating a fucked-up sense of entitlement like I find in so many posts that I hate?

No. I did the only thing I felt I could do. I quit Facebook.

Quitting and Succeeding

Sometimes I think things are just not worth the effort or just not in the cards for me. But other times I think about the fact that I have quit smoking and just what that means.

I used to think that quitting smoking was impossible for me, and it really made me feel like shit. It made me feel like a weakling and a loser. I suspected that I could, at some point and in some way, manage to do it, but I was more convinced that the addiction had grown stronger than me, and at this point I could not do it.

But I could. And I did.

I did it in a very strange way. I did it by trying and failing several times. I did it by biding my time, by smoking while I wanted to smoke, getting all that smoking in while I still wanted to do it. I did it by being lazy. I did it by striking while the iron was hot. And I did it by kinda lying to myself… but in a way that was still kinda true.

Quitting smoking is not something you automatically get right the first time. It isn’t simply a matter of willpower. It is something you have to figure out how to do, because cigarettes are tricky. The addiction makes your mind and heart do all kinds of fucking things to keep you smoking cigarettes.

Besides the health benefits, the big thing that quitting smoking has done for me is this: I know now that losing at something and feeling like a total loser is not the same as being a total loser. Just because you think you don’t have it in you doesn’t mean that you don’t have it in you.

This may be obvious, intellectually, that, of course, we think shit about ourselves that isn’t true. Learned helplessness is not valid, of course. It’s a learned perception that is almost categorically false. And it is easy to think these thoughts. It is quite another, however, to believe that in your gut. Quitting smoking has helped me get that a little bit into my gut.

I can now look at things and go, hey, you know, maybe I think that this or that isn’t in the cards for me, that I don’t have what it takes… but you know what? I also believed that about quitting smoking. And I fucking quit smoking. So guess what? Maybe I just need to keep failing and taking time off and failing and taking time off until during one of those periods in which I take time off I actually learn something and start making successes instead of failing.

Some people take to things like fish take to water. Others have a great deal of trouble with getting things off the ground. In some areas, I am definitely one of the latter. But that is ok. Just because you fail and fail and fail does not mean you aren’t cut out for something. It just means that there is something important for you to learn.

In terms of smoking it was this:

Smoking is not a freedom. Freedom is doing what I want and not doing what I don’t want. If I don’t want to smoke, I should be able to not smoke as long as I don’t want to smoke.

Smoking is a lie. The good things that smoking supposedly did for me was bullshit. I was getting little to nothing out of smoking, and the pleasure of smoking was mainly due to the fact that I was relieving sensations which were discomforts and senses of need created *by* smoking.

Smoking makes you sick. Straight up. Not just with cancer or emphysema or some other disease years down the line, but now. It affects your health in a negative way pretty much fucking immediately. It fucks with your immune system and fucks with your brain and overall health.

I cannot smoke in moderation. I cannot control the habit. I must destroy the habit and simply never smoke.

I thought this last thing was impossible. NEVER smoke? Yes. Never smoke. NEVER. Just don’t fucking do it. So long as you don’t smoke, it isn’t a problem. And what are you losing when you don’t smoke? Not much. You’re basically losing a toxic lie.

These are the basic things I learned that helped me quit. I also got sick (a cold basically) and wouldn’t heal if I smoked. Every time I smoked a cigarette, the congestion would get worse and remain that way for a while. One cigarette could influence how I felt for 6 or more hours. So, I had immediate feedback here to help me think about smoking.

So, I am thinking, hmmm, what other areas in my life did I feel this way about? What else am I still doing or not doing because I feel there is no other choice for me? Could I be wrong about this stuff too? Is there stuff to learn in these areas as well?

Yes. I think so.

It is sad, but sometimes you’ve got to beat your head against a wall until you learn something. But you’ve got to do it mindfully, not mindlessly. You’ve got to be looking for answers, seeking and thinking, and you’ve got to give yourself a chance. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Vote for yourself. Be your own #1 fan and believer. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done. And even a little bit helps.