Archive for April, 2010

“Live in a Garden”

I can’t believe i haven’t posted this one its one of my favorites. I’ve finished posting all the stuff i’m gonna from “America” and am now putting up stuff from Atonal Musings which i put together in 2001. The first verse goes back to my manic break down and my first big flurry of poetry. I was stalled there for a couple of years when i got my break through by changing my imaginary audience to this three year old boy whose family i was working with. Writing for kids helped me wrap my mind around what i was trying to do and it brought in all the farm animals.

We could live in a garden

Watch the apple trees sway

In the gentle breeze

While the chipmunks play

We won’t have jobs or have bills to pay

We’ll live simple lives but it’ll be OK

Because we’ll live in a garden

We’ll have to milk the cow

Feed the chickens and ducks

And slop the old sow

We’ll ask some old people

When we don’t know how

There’ll be Sea Monkeys on Thursday

If you start them now

Because we live in a garden

We just don’t act that way

Trapped in buildings and cars

Almost every single day

If you only remember one thing I say

The world is a garden so treat it that way

Categories: environment, gardening, poetry

Meth and the brain (notes)

rough notes for my education group. People were into the presentation even non-Meth users. I was surprised by how many had tried it. Next week we take on crack.

Wikipedia: Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that affects neurochemical mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention, mood and responses associated with alertness or alarm conditions. The acute physical effects of the drug closely resemble the physiological and psychological effects of an epinepherine-provoked fight, flight or freeze, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, vasoconstriction (constriction of the arterial walls), bronchodilation, and hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). Users experience an increase in focus, increased mental alertness, and the elimination of fatigue, as well as a decrease in appetite.

Methamphetamine is a potent neurotoxin, shown to cause dopaminergic degeneration. High doses of methamphetamine produce losses in several markers of brain dopamine and serotonin neurons. Dopamine and serotonin concentrations, dopamine and 5HT uptake sites, and tyrosine and tryptophan hydroxylase activities are reduced after the administration of methamphetamine. It has been proposed that dopamine plays a role in methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity because experiments that reduce dopamine production or block the release of dopamine decrease the toxic effects of methamphetamine administration. When dopamine breaks down it produces reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide.

Physical effects can include anorexia, hyperactivity, dilated pupils, flushing, restlessness, dry mouth, headache, tachycardia, bradycardia, tachypnia, hypertension, hypotension, hyperthermia, diaphoreses, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, dizziness, twitching, insomnia, numbness, palpitations, arrhythmias, tremors, dry and/or itchy skin,acne,pallor, and with chronic and/or high doses, convulsions, heart attack, stroke, and death can occur.

Psychological effects

Psychological effects can include euphoria, anxiety, increased libido, alertness, concentration, energy, self-esteem, self-confidence, sociability, irritability, aggression, psychosomatic disorders, psychomotor agitation, hubris, excessive feelings of power and invincibility, repetitive and obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and with chronic and/or high doses, amphetamine psychosis can occur.

Withdrawal effects

Withdrawal is characterized by excessive sleeping, increased appetite and depression, often accompanied by anxiety and drug-craving.

Short-term tolerance can be caused by depleted levels of neurotransmitters within the synaptic vesicles available for release into the synaptic cleft following subsequent reuse (tachyphylaxis). Short-term tolerance typically lasts until neurotransmitter levels are fully replenished; because of the toxic effects on dopaminergic neurons, this can be greater than 2–3 days. Prolonged overstimulation of dopamine receptors caused by methamphetamine may eventually cause the receptors to downregulate in order to compensate for increased levels of dopamine within the synaptic cleft. To compensate, larger quantities of the drug are needed in order to achieve the same level of effects.

Methamphetamine is addictive. While not dangerous, withdrawal symptoms are common with heavy use and relapse is common. Methamphetamine use causes hyperstimulation of pleasure pathways which leads to anhedonia. It is possible that daily administration of the amino acids L-Tyrosine and L-5HTP/Tryptophan can aid in the recovery process by making it easier for the body to reverse the depletion of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The mental depression associated with methamphetamine withdrawal is longer lasting and more severe than that of  cocaine withdrawal.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2000) —In an article published in the March 28 issue of Neurology, scientists at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to take measurements of three parts of the brains of 26 participants who had used methamphetamine and then compared them with measurements of the same regions in the brains of 24 people who had no history of drug abuse.

“the meth users in this study hadn’t used the drug for some time–anywhere from two weeks to 21 months, this research strongly suggests that methamphetamine abuse causes harmful physical changes in the brain that can last for many months and perhaps longer after drug use has stopped,” In their study, Dr. Linda Chang and Dr. Thomas Ernst measured levels of brain chemicals that indicate whether brain cells are healthy or are diseased or damaged.

“We found abnormal brain chemistry in the methamphetamine users in all three brain regions we studied. In one of the regions, the amount of damage is also related to the history of drug use–those who had used the most methamphetamine had the strongest indications of cell damage,” Dr. Chang said.

The researchers found that levels of one chemical marker, N-acetyl-aspartate, were reduced by at least five percent in the methamphetamine abusers. “Many diseases associated with brain cell loss or damage, such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and epilepsy, are also associated with reduced N-acetyl-aspartate,” said Dr. Ernst. “Reduced concentrations of N-acetyl-aspartate in the drug users’ brains suggest that long-term methamphetamine abuse results in loss or damage to neurons, the cells we use in thinking.” Two other chemical markers, myo-inositol and choline-containing compounds, are associated with glial cells, which act to support neurons. “Methamphetamine abusers showed increases of 11 percent and 13 percent in levels of these markers compared with normal individuals,” Dr. Ernst said. “This suggests an increased number or size of glial cells as a reaction to the injurious effects of methamphetamine.”

Abstinence Can Reverse Some Brain Damage

From JAMA News Release

Updated April 08, 2005

Adaptive changes in chemical activity in certain regions of the brain of former methamphetamine users who have not used the drug for a year or more suggest some recovery of neuronal structure and function, according to an article in the April 2005 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA Archives journals.

Methamphetamine use has been shown to cause abnormalities in brain regions associated with selective attention and regions associated with memory, according to background information in the article. Recent animal and human studies suggest that neuronal changes associated with long-term methamphetamine use may not be permanent but may partially recover with prolonged abstinence.

Thomas E. Nordahl, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis, and colleagues compared eight methamphetamine users who had not used methamphetamine for one to five years and 16 recently abstinent methamphetamine users who had not used the drug for one to six months with 13 healthy, non-substance-using controls using a method of brain imaging, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), that allows the visualization of biochemical markers that are linked with damage and recovery to the neurons in the brain.

The researchers measured biomarkers in the anterior cingulum cortex, a region of the brain associated with selective attention. Levels of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), which is present only in neurons, were measured as a marker of the amount of damage (neuronal loss). Choline (Cho), which is generated by the creation of new membranes and, the authors write, “may be an ideal marker to track changes consistent with neuronal recovery associated with drug abstinence,” was measured as a biomarker of recovery.

Levels of NAA were abnormally low in all the methamphetamine users, the authors found. Levels were lower relative to the length of methamphetamine use, but did not change relative to the amount of time that the methamphetamine users had been abstinent. The researchers found elevated Cho levels in the methamphetamine users who had not used the drug in one to six months, but normalized levels in the longer abstainers.

Normalization of Function

“In the early periods following methamphetamine exposure, the brain may undergo several processes leading to increased membrane turnover. The relative Cho normalization across periods of abstinence suggests that when drug exposure is terminated, adaptive changes occur, which may contribute to some degree of normalization of neuronal structure and function,”

Categories: the mind, work

strategic planning et al

I got back this afternoon from a strategic planning session of the Missouri Cadre for Co-Occurring Excellence. It was a really cool experience…. Right now its Elvis night in Texas and the Detroit Tigers are pitching to Elvis Andrus in the bottom of the 9th, tied bases loaded. Strike 1. Fouled one, strike 2. There’s 1 out. Earlier they had a bunch of  Elvi’s on mini bikes eating jelly donuts. Fudge, base hit. ‘Elvis did it on Elvis day”. what are you gonna do? great game….

The conference was at Innsbrook this resort in Wentzville that was pretty neat. I stayed in a condo all by my lonesome, fireplace, sliding glass door looking out on a wooded lake, 1 1/2 baths, just really excessive. They were going for seasonal food too so spinach and asparagus in every meal. A lot of their meals though just fell a little flat, chewy risotto and salty overcooked couscous. but fancy, and largely good, i’m not complaining.

The strategic planning itself was pretty interesting and i think i caught the gist of what we did to do it myself in a pinch. We were organized on a focus question which we took out of our mission statement to make the systems of care more responsive to people with complex needs. So we first identified what we would like to do on it and just made lists. We then got in diads or triads and by consensus put up what we could agree on 1/2 sheets of paper in 3-7 word statements and stuck them on a “sticky wall”. We put them together by similarities and then identified commonalities in each group and wrote those in 3-7 words. That was our vision. Than we wrote our blocks in the same fashion, individual lists diads and triads on 3-7 word cards, clusters, underlying themes, these our are  our underlying contradictions. We then problem solve those in the same way individual lists, diads and triads (we did a group with four and it wasn’t as cool), put on the board, condense by similarities, name those. Than we clustered those five things into two things. Those are our goals. finally we wrote down four quarters and split up our nine identified activities under our two goals. Very consensus based but focused and productive. Valerie our facilitator rocked.

It took all day though so couldn’t really utilize the resort. did walk by the lake and stroll through the woods in a fruitless search for morels. I did see lots of wildflowers most noticeably wild sweet william. Saw lots of others coming along, looks like they’re doing fire ecology and they’ve got a nice looking woods there at Innsbrook. I also saw a bluebird. Looked just like the license plate, thank you showme state.

When I got home i took straight to gardening. Turned my compost and scooped out a bushel. Planted my new strawberries. earlyglories? i think. extended the bed. Dad got the rhubarb in. in three years i’ll bake you a pie. It smelled really clean with the rain. the lettuces and such are coming in nice. i thinned the first round and we got some along with dandelions, wild onions, and oregano in our local greens salad for dinner.

The strawberries look like they’re really going to produce. lots of green berries. the herb garden really came in nice this year. the taragon is booming, as is the oregano and thyme as well. The chives are blooming very pretty, i’m hoping some of them go to seed and they increase. The sage has, i have a bunch of plants to dig up, if anyone wants one let me know. The bergamont also has spread nicely. Its looking sharp.

Bunnies have been a problem, took out a cabbage? and a kale. They might come back. I’m going to try and build a garden wall and plant some marigolds. There was also a stem cut off a tomato plant, but i couldn’t find a worm. So much to do. Got bulbs to plant and i have 6 horseradish i might plant up in the higher ground.

Gotta love spring and new beginnings.

Categories: gardening, work

“Please don’t beat your kids…”

April 21, 2010 2 comments

This poem I wrote when i was doing home based social work with families with child abuse and neglect. It was either laugh or cry and there is a lot of dark humor in that line of work but it was always done with love. Unfortunately everything in this piece is true and is written as advice should you ever have a social worker coming by, a little Emily Post, for a pretty awkward situation.

You ask them twenty questions,

Then give three pieces of advice

If they do one praise them for it,

If not you tell them twice

Do you keep an eye on your kids,

When their running near the street?

Why in the hell do you have a satellite dish,

When your house ain’t got no heat?

Why do you and the kids always fight?

Why can’t you just get along?

Why should your teenager try to behave,

When you tell him everything he does is wrong?

These aren’t easy questions

And I ask them for low pay,

But my first piece of advice is,

‘Tomorrow will be a brighter day’

So please don’t beat your kids

In front of the social worker

Put away your weed tray,

Don’t offer me a beer

Clean up all the dog shit,

And wash your children’s faces

Don’t call your wife a stupid whore,

Because the social worker’s here.

So I listen to the stories

Of strife and horror and pain

Validate the struggle

Reach for words to explain

That the system is defective

Family is breaking down

Their ain’t no village to raise a child

And mentors are hard to be found

Nuclear families can sure melt down

As we struggle through this world alone

But I’ll kiss a bureaucrat’s ass

To get your heat turned on

And you can always call me on the phone,

So please don’t beat your kids,

In front of the social worker.

Categories: poetry, work

got the back 40

April 19, 2010 2 comments

Its was a busy weekend at Leslie Lane. Yesterday, started the day with coffee with sarah and harry then we went to the market. Got some good eats, plus some stuff to plant; horseradish, which i’m not really sure what to do with, some tomatoes including a purple one from the organic place, but we couldn’t find any green zebras that harry is into.

Later I went for a hike with Harry on the High Ridge Trail at Rock Bridge State Park. Its the best trail with the greatest variety of terrain. It was very pretty out with the red bud’s last hurrah, the wild sweet william, and violets. Very pretty and their was a hint of flowers in the air. We walked along a creek and through the woods and looked for morels. Saw lots of mayflowers an indicator species but no mushrooms. I was so bushed from hiking I lay down on the couch and pretty much stayed there until the next morning, except for getting up for bed. I forgot to pick up my tramadol at the pharmacy and i think i was going through a little withdrawal and i was sore.

Nonetheless once i got moving the soreness went away.  I was itching to get some stuff done on the garden. But first because a complicated array of interrelated projects I had to knock the dirt out of the red bud stump in the front yard. Then i backed the truck up to it and dad, harry and i heaved it into the back of the truck. I collected sticks since I was going to the mulch place, but missed a pile i had raked up a couple weeks ago, grrr.

Since we were at the mulch site we hiked along Hinkson Creek at Capen Park. It was again very pretty, didn’t see any morel territory. Kept some energy for the yard. When we got home I planted the flowering dog wood and the little red bud i got at the arbor day giveaway. I put them next to each other in front of the stump. I will plant something in the stump someday.  I mowed the front yard. Henry, the neighbor, showed me a flowering shrub with these little pink flowers he wasn’t sure what it was, i didn’t know either obviously. Then i watered stuff up front.

I raked the sawdust so it doesn’t cover the seedlings up from the wildflower mix out where the bush honey locust used to be. Yesterday dad cut down the wild looking stumps off at the ground. Harry had dug up the rest of the southerly bed and he planted another tomato. I ran some string and rope back and forth between two cages for a trellis and planted those asian pea pods.

Friday night i had stopped in to see Malavika and Isaiah and they had given me a couple variety of kale seedlings and a couple broccoli or cabbage plants. Harry and I planted a couple and the rest i split out into individual plants and transplanted them. I did the same thing with my last two hybrid tomatoes and the basil i bought at the market as well. After watering I was ready to call it a day.

Finished it off with dinner. Had local brats cooked with onions and Mickeys Malt Liquor. Also made rhubarb with peach preserves and Harry made a salad out of an array of local greens, local radish, and some red and yellow maters. For substance i made an annie’s mac-n-cheese with left over broccoli and cheese in it.

Future projects include the rhubarb bed, planting the basil, planting the 4 new varieties of strawberries I got, moving the lilies and getting in some rose bushes. I’ve also been filling the bird bath which has been a good draw for the wildlife. I plan to build a garden wall around the southernmost bed and i am going to include some cups to hold water and draw the birds so they’ll eat some bugs while they’re having a little drink or swim.

Categories: gardening

“7 Aphorisms for Nathan”

There are a lot of words and they have a lot of meanings and the sum of it all is the truth. The named and the unnamed, the known and the unknown, the beginning and the end.

People smoke cigarettes to hide, focus, put off, bury pain, and belong.

Most edits are to make things more beautiful, rarely to make them more true.

It is important to be your own character for sure but it is also important to let other characters develop the plot line.

Argument by analogy is the weakest form of argument, but sometimes it is all there is in a world of turbulent chaos and unknown stabilities.

Some go to the woods to look for calm, others for inspiration, in the best of times both.

Just because you missed your turn off doesn’t mean you should look more carefully next time. Where you are going is a decision must made moment by moment.

Categories: poetry

Alcohol’s Effect on the Brain

I put together some facts on the topic for a radio interview on KFRU. It went pretty well, the hosts (simon and renee) were engaging and funny, and we talked for about 45 minutes and got out a lot of good information. The four pages of notes made me feel a lot more comfortable and i think it came across in the interview. A couple of things really struck me. One was the idea of neurogenesis. I had always read that you had all the brain cells you would ever have and alcohol kills them. In fact it says that on the info web site but i am going to edit that out because its not true. What really happens is the brain makes more brain cells all the time unless you are chronically drinking large amounts of alcohol. The good news is after a week of abstinence brain cell production booms. The fact that hit on the radio was brain shrinkage. Renee Hulshoff seemed aghast to learn your brain shrinks as you age and she referenced it on another story i caught on the drive back to the salt mines. I think I will do my next education group on the same topic, my as well learn the rap. On a practical note i will be promoting thiamine,. exercise and antidepressants for chronic alcoholics.

(lifted from NIAAA’s alcohol alert)

Equal numbers of men and women reported experiencing blackouts, despite the fact that the men drank significantly more often and more heavily than the women. This outcome suggests that regardless of the amount of alcohol consumption, females—a group infrequently studied in the literature on blackouts—are at greater risk than males for experiencing blackouts.

Using imaging with computerized tomography, two studies compared brain shrinkage, a common indicator of brain damage, in alcoholic men and women and reported that male and female alcoholics both showed significantly greater brain shrinkage than control subjects. Studies also showed that both men and women have similar learning and memory problems as a result of heavy drinking.

Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome

Up to 80 percent of alcoholics, however, have a deficiency in thiamine, and some of these people will go on to develop serious brain disorders such as Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS)). WKS is a disease that consists of two separate syndromes, a short–lived and severe condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a long–lasting and debilitating condition known as Korsakoff’s psychosis.

The symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy include mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes (i.e., oculomotor disturbances), and difficulty with muscle coordination. For example, patients with Wernicke’s encephalopathy may be too confused to find their way out of a room or may not even be able to walk. Many Wernicke’s encephalopathy patients, however, do not exhibit all three of these signs and symptoms, and clinicians working with alcoholics must be aware that this disorder may be present even if the patient shows only one or two of them. In fact, studies performed after death indicate that many cases of thiamine deficiency–related encephalopathy may not be diagnosed in life because not all the “classic” signs and symptoms were present or recognized.

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of alcoholics with Wernicke’s encephalopathy also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis, a chronic and debilitating syndrome characterized by persistent learning and memory problems. Patients with Korsakoff’s psychosis are forgetful and quickly frustrated and have difficulty with walking and coordination). Although these patients have problems remembering old information (i.e., retrograde amnesia), it is their difficulty in “laying down” new information (i.e., anterograde amnesia) that is the most striking. For example, these patients can discuss in detail an event in their lives, but an hour later might not remember ever having the conversation

Prolonged liver dysfunction, such as liver cirrhosis resulting from excessive alcohol consumption, can harm the brain, leading to a serious and potentially fatal brain disorder known as hepatic encephalopathy ammonia and manganese, have a role in the development of hepatic encephalopathy. Alcohol–damaged liver cells allow excess amounts of these harmful byproducts to enter the brain, thus harming brain cells.

Hepatic encephalopathy can cause changes in sleep patterns, mood, and personality; psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression; severe cognitive effects such as shortened attention span; and problems with coordination such as a flapping or shaking of the hands (called asterixis). In the most serious cases, patients may slip into a coma (i.e., hepatic coma), which can be fatal.

More facts from:

Alcohol can affect several parts of the brain, but in general, alcohol contracts brain tissue and depresses the central nervous system. Excessive drinking over a prolonged period of time can cause serious problems with cognition and memory.

When alcohol reaches the brain, it interferes with communication between nerve cells, by interacting with the receptors on some cells. The alcohol suppresses excitatory nerve pathway activity and increases inhibitory nerve pathway activity. Among other actions, alcohol enhances the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Enhancing an inhibitor has the effect of making a person sluggish. Also, alcohol weakens the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamine, which enhances the sluggishness even farther.

The cerebral cortex processes information from your senses, processes thoughts, initiates the majority of voluntary muscle movements and has some control over lower-order brain centers. In the cerebral cortex, alcohol can:

  • Affect thought processes, leading to potentially poor judgement.
  • Depresses inhibition, leading one to become more talkative and more confident.
  • Blunts the senses and increases the threshold for pain.

The limbic system, which consists of the hippocampus and septal area of the brain, controls memory and emotions. The affect of alcohol on this sytem is that the person may experience some memory loss and may have exaggerated states of emotion.

The cerebellum coordinates muscle movement. The cerebral cortex initiates the muscular movement by sending a signal through the medulla and spinal cord to the muscles. As the nerve signals pass through the medulla, they are influenced by nerve impulses from the cerebellum, which controls the fine movements, including those necessary for balance. When alcohol affects the cerebellum, muscle movements become uncoordinated.

The hypothalamus controls and influences many automatic functions of the brain (through the medulla), and coordinates hormonal release (through the pituitary gland). Alcohol depresses nerve centers in the hypothalamus that control sexual arousal and performance. With increased alcohol consumption, sexual desire increases – but sexual performance declines.

By inhibiting the pituitary secretion of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), alcohol also affects urine excretion. ADH acts on the kidney to reabsorb water, so when it is inhibitted, ADH levels drop, the kidneys don’t reabsorb as much water and the kidneys produce more urine.

The medulla (brain stem) influences or controls body functions that occur automatically, such as your heart rate, temperature and breathing. When alcohol affects the medulla, a person will start to feel sleepy. Increased consumption can lead to unconscious. Needless to say, alcohol’s effect on the medulla can be fatal if it is excessive.

More stuff:

Detoxified alcoholics often have visuospatial and visuoperceptual deficits, characterized by difficulties completing tasks such as putting pieces of a puzzle together or map reading. A new study has found that, even with prolonged sobriety, alcoholics show deficits in visuoperception and frontal executive functioning of the brain.

Furthermore, alcoholics utilize a more complex higher-order cognitive system, frontal executive functions, to perform the same tasks as individuals without a history of alcoholism. Results are published in the November 2004 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The UNC findings, from research at UNC’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, were based on an animal model of chronic alcohol dependence, in which adult rats were given alcohol over four days in amounts that produced alcohol dependency. The study is in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

In 2002, Dr. Fulton T. Crews, Bowles Center director, and Bowles Center research associate Dr. Kim Nixon were the first to report that alcohol, during intoxication, has a detrimental effect on the formation of new neurons in the adult rat hippocampus. This brain region is important for learning and memory – in animals and humans – and is linked to psychiatric disorders, particularly depression.

“When used in excess, alcohol damages brain structure and function. Alcoholics have impairments in the ability to reason, plan or remember,” said Crews, also professor of pharmacology and psychiatry in UNC’s School of Medicine. “A variety of psychological tests show alcoholics have a difficulty in ability to understand negative consequences.”

In the new study, senior co-author Crews and co-author Nixon found inhibition of neurogenesis, or brain cell development, during alcohol dependency, followed by a pronounced increase in new neuron formation in the hippocampus within four-to-five weeks of abstinence. This included a twofold burst in brain cell proliferation at day seven of abstinence.

“And when they stop drinking, you can show in a period of weeks, months, years, the brain grows back, there’s a return of metabolic activity, and cognitive tests show a return of function,” Crews said.

“Pharmacological agents such as antidepressants and behaviors such as running, increased physical activity and learning experiences apparently help regulate the process of neurogenesis,” he added. “Our research suggests they could be considered in the treatment of chronic alcohol dependency.”

In their report, Nixon and Crews also said that their findings for the first time provide a neuronal regeneration mechanism that may underlie the return of normal cognitive function and brain volume associated with recovery from addiction during abstinence from alcohol.

“This is really the first biological measure of a major change in neuronal structure consistent with changes that are known to occur when individuals are able to stop drinking,” said Crews.

Number of Brain Cells Not Fixed

For decades, neuroscientists believed the number of new cells, or neurons, in the adult brain was fixed early in life. Adaptive processes such as learning, memory and mood were thought tied to changes in synapses, connections between neurons.

More recently, studies have shown that the adult human brain is capable of producing new brain cells throughout life, a neurogenesis resulting in formation of hundreds of thousands of new neurons each month. “Prior to our work, everyone merely assumed that glia, the supporting cells of the brain, regenerated or that existing brain cells altered their connections,” said Nixon. “We have shown a burst in new cell birth that may be part of the brain’s recovery after the cessation of alcohol.”

Chronic alcoholism, a disease affecting more than 8 percent of the adult U.S. population, or more than 17 million Americans, produces cognitive impairments and decreased brain volumes, both of which are partially reversed during abstinence.

Categories: the mind, work

“The Buddha Next Door”

This poem speaks for itself and takes its name from a Chad Osborne quote on what he was going to call his new album in late November 1996. I wrote the poem some years after, i think in preparation for ‘America: Its Land and Its People’, no book on notable americans would be complete without one.

Larger than life; my friend

such quick-witted genius belongs on the stage

Without pretense or ambition

Singing post-modern ballads

of what might be

what might’ve been.

Growing up in a small town

it is a gift to know you my friend

erudition without equal

and a hunger to Know


about everything

asking for nothing

Spinning tales, absurd tales

All the stranger for being true.

The roll of the eyes

the arched eyebrow

the enigmatic smile

Speaking volumes on their own

the wit, the wit, the wit

that takes someone apart

but with the child like spirit

spritely innocent

the glee of the moment sparkles

that makes it all ok

better than ok

Its fucking hilarious

side splitting fun

that leaves you out of breath

and your cheeks hurting.

Please, please, please

no more

Filling the void with laughter

for its own sake

True Good at its finest

No malice

but a desire

to know

to take


To go out on the smallest limb

for no other reason

than to pluck the forbidden fruit

Of naming the unnamable

tasting the fruit of unadulterated interaction

the eternal quest for reaction

All in fun

All for fun

And the chips fall where they lay

A veritable Angel of Dionysus

We’ll run, run, run across the void

of empty convention

the rules, mores, norms

of the ones who dwell in the mud

Afraid to defy convention

Plucked into the Spotlight

of cross examination

lost in explication

of what your life really means.

Categories: feelings, friends, poetry

depression notes

notes for my education group on depression for outpatient substance abuse treatment program. info pulled from WebMD who pulled heavily from the DSM. First off is criteria:

  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

    major depression

    To distinguish major depression, one of the symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest. Also, the symptoms must be present for most of the day every day or nearly every day for at least two weeks.

    Major depression affects about 6.7% of the U.S. population over age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Overall, between 20% and 25% may suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetime.


    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 10.9 million Americans aged 18 and older are affected by dysthymia. While not disabling like major depression, dysthymia can keep you from feeling your best and functioning optimally. Dysthymia can begin in childhood or in adulthood and seems to be more common in women.

    ATYPICAL DEPRESSION  is probably rather common. Some doctors believe that it is underdiagnosed. Researchers are considering whether or not atypical depression might be a type of dysthymia — a low-level depression that has lingered for at least two years. Researchers are also investigating the idea that atypical depression may be a milder form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia. People with cyclothymia typically have less extreme switches in mood.

    What are the symptoms of atypical depression?

    The main characteristic of atypical depression that distinguishes it from major depression is mood reactivity. In other words, the person with atypical depression will see his or her mood improve if something positive happens. In major, or melancholic, depression, positive changes will not bring on a change in mood. In addition, diagnostic criteria call for at least two of the following symptoms to accompany the mood reactivity:

    • sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
    • eating too much (hyperphagia), resulting in weight gain
    • having a more intense reaction or increased sensitivity to rejection, resulting in problems with social and work relationships
    • having a feeling of being weighed down, paralyzed, or “leaden”

    Not to leave anyone without solutions i am a huge proponent of reframing for depression. I have bi-polar disorder and reframing allows me to function if not normally, at least largely functioning. It is the idea that perspective makes the picture and you can change how situations impact you by changing how you think about them. For me the what would normally be a depressed state I reframe as flat. It means i don’t have a lot of energy or motivation but I have removed the negative thinking that typically runs with a down mood. So its no longer depression, just a flat time. I cut myself a little slack on not getting things done, meet my major commitments and what could be a disabling condition gets reframed into at most an annoyance at best just something that makes me me. Add to that sunlight and exercise. Its simple but not easy. Make hay when the sun is shining, don’t forget its going to get better, just hang in there.

    Categories: feelings, health, work

    “I’m no Eddie Von Blondt”

    This poem is one of the rare ones inspired by something i saw on tv, in this case the X-Files. Eddie Von Blondt was a shape shifter who took over Fox Mulder’s life and almost made it with Sculley. He just did a better job living than Mulder had done and it got me thinking and I wrote this. It again comes out of my chap book ‘America: Its Land and Its People’:

    I’m no Eddie Von Blondt

    For sure, for sure

    Nor Fox Mulder either

    For that matter

    Sure enough

    I’m to comfortable

    In the other

    To do well

    To gain the props

    Of artificial attraction

    Material satisfaction

    The base gratification

    Of the top of the stratification

    The Lie’s artless beauty

    And by artless I do not mean natural

    I mean without art, not guile

    The feeling not the smile

    Straightened, whitened

    Capped and mapped

    By the Colgate Brightness

    Of your pearly whiteness

    I’ll read you the list of

    The snaggle toothed super stars….

    And I know the pain

    Of violating social conformity

    Fuck the Rules

    Fuck the cars

    Fuck the money

    Fuck the bars

    Fuck the rich

    Fuck the stars

    Fuck the game

    And I won’t play

    Not by your rules

    That made me a loser

    Before I even knew I was playing

    And that the stakes were high

    And the rules a lie

    Or so cruelly true

    They cry out for obfuscation

    Now I’m not saying

    You have to be poor

    And fat and crazy

    And live in your parent’s garage

    And wear old clothes

    And not comb your hair

    Just be yourself

    Your god-given unadulterated self

    Brave and unafraid

    Content with who you are

    What you have

    Because if we keep

    Buying into their shit

    Buying their shit

    Living the Lie

    Giving the Lie

    To our children

    And our children’s children

    There won’t be a 7th generation

    To give it too.

    Categories: feelings, poetry, politics