Monday, April 12, 2021

High in Extroversion, Low in Conscientiousness Equals Covid Super Spreaders

A few posts back I wrote about the relationship between personality and being anti-mask and pro-mask. It was just an observation I made from personal experience, hadn't read anything about it previously, but apparently I am not the first to have made this observation.

There have been several scholarly research studies published online since the pandemic started, analyzing the connection between how a person scores on the Big Five Personality test, and how likely they are to be for or against wearing masks, social distancing, and sheltering in place. I'll add some links later, probably in another post, with some added commentary.

In my blog post about the subject I focused on conscientiousness being the most important factor in determining whether a person is more likely or less likely to be in favor of wearing a mask, but I left out the equally important factor of how high a person scores on extroversion. 

I believe those are the two primary Big Five personality factors that are most likely to influence how a person responds to Covid-19 mitigation strategies, and whether they choose to heed the advice of epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists, or choose to ignore them in favor of the more shortsighted hedonistic, extreme libertarian viewpoint, who is going to party whether you like it or not, and if you don't you can fuck off. 

Well, that's not very conscientious, is it? 

The data is in, and this is what has been found to be true: 

People who score low in extroversion and high on conscientiousness are more likely to support mask wearing, social distancing, and sheltering in place, and not only that, they will actually thrive under those conditions, too. 

On the other side of the coin, people who score high on extroversion and low on conscientiousness will have the biggest problem with mask wearing, social distancing, and sheltering in place. It's not just that they have a problem with it, but limiting social contact is actually more likely to adversely affect there mental health over time, simply because the entire fabric of their existence is so inextricably linked to being with people, seeing their faces, breathing the same air, and having close personal contact, talking, touching, and sharing the same space.

These are the people flooding the bars and the beaches of Florida and elsewhere, the wild and crazy Spring break super spreaders, who would rather die, or even risk killing grandma, then be forced to wear a mask and to stay home alone and to miss going to another Covid super spreader party. Because to them there is no life if there is no party. It's all about people, and the idea of minimizing contact with people is just unthinkable to them. 

Those people make me sick. Those are the people I live around. Those are the people I fruitlessly complain about more than I should. Those people are what I would call the ugly American: loud, obnoxious, selfish, and stupid. 

It is what it is. Most people are extroverts. Not all extroverts are assholes, but most assholes are extroverts. We live in an extroverted world, a world that usually looks down upon introverts as either being shy or autistic, or just generally having something wrong with them. 

I myself am an introvert. I'm not shy and I don't think I'm autistic, whether there is something wrong with me is debatable but I feel fine, but there's probably some people that think I am, and they are most likely extroverts. I can sometimes be very talkative and sociable, I also don't live alone, so I'm not completely isolated, but usually I find people to be draining to be around for any extended period of time. It is absolutely vital to my mental health to have some alone time, especially after socializing with people, and to me the worst living situation I could think of would be to live communally in a large household of people, such as a prison or an army barracks, because the thought of not having any personal space and living in close proximity to a lot of people would be hell. 

Introverts are not necessarily anti-social, but they just need some personal space and some peace and quiet. 

Extroverts are the complete opposite to that, they love noise, and crave social stimulation, they thrive around people, and the more the merrier. 

So extroversion is a very important factor when looking at how personality shapes a persons response to Covid-19 mitigation strategies, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and sheltering in place. But conscientiousness may be even more important, because it's the primary personality trait that will override all others, causing an extrovert to modify their behavior, to be less sociable, to wear a mask in public and to socially distance when appropriate, if it serves the greater good of slowing the spread of disease and protecting the public health.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sickness

I was sick for five days a little over a week ago. It started the night of my last bad experience with marijuana that I wrote about here. That night I had vaped a very very small amount, probably less than 1/10 of a gram, and took two relatively shallow puffs off of already vaped herb, which I had smoked the previous night with no ill effects, and within minutes had a racing heart beat which lasted for nearly an hour and a half.

I also had terrible nausea and vomited a small amount, though mostly dry heaves, and also had the chills. It was like 70 degrees in my apartment, and I had on a fleece pullover, two sweatshirt jackets and a blanket, and I was still freezing. I thought I was possibly having a medical emergency, but I forced myself to wait it out, laying down on my bed in the darkness, drinking lots of water, and thinking it was just a panic attack, and it would get better once the drugs worked there way out of my system.

Well, the heart rate finally came down, I was too afraid to check it when it was at its worst, because I thought it would cause even more anxiety, but when it finally felt like it was coming down it was around 120 bpm, and eventually normalized within two hours, but I still felt sort of out of sorts, but at least not feeling like I was going to die. 

The next morning, which fortunately was my day off from work, I woke up with a terrible sore throat, probably one of the worst I ever had, thinking maybe it was caused by some acid reflux in response to the vomiting the previous night, but then I wondered if maybe it was caused by the vaping, you know maybe it damaged my throat or lungs or something. Which is weird because I bought a vaporizer thinking it would be healthier than smoking, but maybe it's not. I did learn though that vaping marijuana increases its potency, which means you can get high with less than you would have to smoke, which means vaping is more economical, will last much longer, but you've got to be careful that you don't overdo it, which I don't think I did. 

It's weird because I only had a micro dose, and had the same amount the previous night, and many other times before with no negative effects, so wondering if maybe I was already starting to get sick, and the marijuana, by way of heightening my senses, made me more sensitive to the sickness. 

Well, the sore throat got better after having several cups of herbal tea with honey and lemon, but by evening time I developed a bad barking cough, a runny nose, was coughing up super sticky yellow phlegm, and the sore throat returned, along with the chills. Unfortunately I didn't have a thermometer, though I've since purchased one, so don't know if I had a fever, but I probably did.  

I treated primarily with lots of ginger tea with honey and lemon, lots of water, and mega doses of garlic mixed with hard boiled egg (which I've found works the best to conceal the garlic and make it more palatable). I also had Greek yogurt for the probiotics, because garlic, being a natural antibiotic, and a blood thinner, also kills the beneficial gut bacteria, which can be balanced by eating yogurt, a probiotic. 

It took five days to get back to normal and I missed three days of work. It felt like I had a very bad cold. Could it have been Covid? Maybe. I don't know, but it's the sickest I've been in years. I've tried vaping marijuana since I've been better, and have had no ill effects, but the strange thing is is that now I'm having no effects, like the result of getting really sick has made me immune to marijuana, though I'm not going to test the theory by consuming a larger dose, because I'm afraid of what could happen, but I think it's safe to say that my days of experimenting with recreational marijuana will be soon coming to an end. And what a long, strange trip it has been. 



Friday, April 2, 2021

Random Insight - 2

Insight cannot be forced.

While sitting here pondering what to write, I was thinking about how much I really like this new series of mine, of posting random insights, profound insights that spontaneously occur to me, and how great it would be to do so on a daily basis.

I really liked my first post in the series, even though it was a very simple and obvious observation. What I think gives it power is the fact that it is grounded in an experiential truth, that is actually quite profound, but due to its simplicity is so often overlooked, which is what makes the observation all the more meaningful.

So once again I'm pondering what to write, but I'm drawing a complete blank, and realize that I've got nothing. Which is when random insight number two occurred to me: that insight isn't something that can be forced or deliberately invented, but is more of a gift that is received, like a creative blessing that is divinely inspired.

Reason and concentrated thinking can certainly expand upon the insight, but the initial insight seems to appear spontaneously out of nowhere.

For me, it is not something that I sit down and logically invent, but rather it just comes to me when I am not looking for anything or thinking about anything at all. Most of my insights, just pop into my mind out of the blue. And if I'm fortunate enough to have a piece of paper and pen handy, or a computer to record my thoughts, I may capture the insight in its fullest details.

Or if the insight is powerful enough, such was the case in Random Insight - 1, where it was an understanding that was inspired by direct experience, then I may remember it very well without needing to write it down immediately.

Insight cannot be forced. This isn't to say that you shouldn't actively pursue or brainstorm ideas, because ideas come all the time, whether you are actively engaged in them or not.

But for myself I have found that the most innovative and creative insights seem to come to me when I'm not seeking anything at all, when my mind is a blank. Or if I'm thinking about something else, sometimes interesting ideas just come to me in a creative flash, totally unplanned, unrelated and out of the blue.

Four techniques that help open up and deepen your capacity for creative insight.

1) Stream of consciousness writing.
2) Drawing, painting, or some other artistic activity.
3) Playing a musical instrument/Listening to instrumental music.
4) Meditation.

Note: Techniques 1-3 all induce a sort of meditative state of mind. Therefore, meditation is truly the key factor here. So when I say that insights appear to spontaneously occur out of nowhere, it is very likely that these random insights of mine occur when I am in a mildly meditative state of mind. That is, when I am extremely relaxed, focused and aware, I tend to be much more insightful.

Meditation is the doorway to insight. To relax your body and momentarily clear your mind of all thoughts, so as to be completely open and receptive to the direct perception of truth that exists beyond the boundaries of words.

*Originally Published 1/2/2011

Random Insight - 1

The more people that are focused on the same thing at the same time, no matter what that thing may be, gives it power. 

I wanted to write a poem about the lunar eclipse that occurred a week ago, but no words would come. Though I did manage to see it, went outside a couple times after midnight, but it was partly cloudy and pretty cold outside, so I did not observe it for very long. 

One notable observation that came to mind while I watched the lunar eclipse, was that there's probably thousands of people all around the world looking up at the moon at the same time. So if you happened to catch it, there is a real possibility that you may have been looking at the moon at the exact same second that I was. 

Could it be that the more people that are focused on the same thing at the same time, generates power by way of a sort of collective group meditation, which energizes the experience and object of attention, giving it more power, inspiration and influence over the minds of all those sharing in that experience?  

The same thing happens with holidays, they have power because people give them power by way of popular consensus (collective observation and mutual agreement; or people focusing on the same thing at the same time). The fact is that even if I don't celebrate Christmas, it's next to impossible not to be effected by this holiday in some way, simply because so many people do celebrate it. 

The more people that are focused on the same thing at the same time, no matter what that thing may be, gives it power. 

What events in nature are visible to the greatest amounts of people at the same time? Astronomical events. The sun, sunrise, sunset, the moon, the stars and constellations, and meteor showers. All other natural events are pretty much localized events. For example, if you see a rainbow, that is something that only a few people in your area are going to see. But if the moon is full, that is something that can be observed by people all over the world, or at least half the world who happen to be in the same hemisphere, and in a time zone that is not too far apart. 

Anyway, the insight I obtained from observing the full moon lunar eclipse of 2010, was the realization of the fact that such an event is collectively experienced. I mean of course you know this right, but did you ever stop to really consider it while actually watching the moon, especially if you are alone or only with a couple other people? To really soak in the awareness that thousands of people located in different cities thousands of miles away from one another, are looking at the very same thing at the exact same time as you? 

This is most likely to occur on a more widespread scale during special (rare) astronomical events that occur at an exact time, such as a lunar eclipse, comet, or meteor shower, rather than the typical monthly full moon. Sure they'll be people watching that too, but when the event is of a greater magnitude, especially when receiving a great deal of publicity, that's when you know for sure that there are a larger percentage of people watching it at a given time. 

What else holds that sort of power, to attract the attention of thousands, and possibly millions of people, all over the world at the same time? Television. Radio. The internet. Newspapers and other media outlets. But nothing else compares to television, in terms of making it possible for great numbers of people to be focused on the same thing at the same time. And if you look at the TV, what types of programming dominate the airwaves? Idiocy. Dumbed down entertainment. Excessive violence. Glorification of greed and immorality. Lying, stealing, cheating, betrayal, adultery, jealousy, envy, pettiness, immaturity, superficiality, impulsiveness, undisciplined weak minded behavior. 

 I'd rather watch the full moon than a television that is full of shit.

*Originally published 12/29/2010

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Putrid Smell of Disease

Random insight.

You know how old people have a tendency to smell bad? You know, that whole cliché about smelling like an old geezer, or an old biddy, smelling like urine, BO, bad breath, and dirty crotch. Sorry to be so blunt, but you know what I mean.

The elderly. Usually it is assumed that the smell is the result of poor hygiene. Being unable to wash properly, either due to poverty, of not having people care for you and unable to care for yourself, or of laziness, not having the energy or the strength to care, each breath a hardship, getting up is a struggle, walking around, a struggle in balance, a broken hip waiting to happen. They lose their hair, and their coordination, and their ability to reason, their ability to speak, like their reverting back to infancy, like a drooling baby, with no knowledge about the world, unfamiliar with their body and the laws of gravity, totally at the mercy of the elements and the goodwill of strangers.

But the difference is that the bright light animating the infants zest for life, being open to it all, smiling, because everything is new and wonderful and beautiful and brilliant and creative, and they are eager to learn, to love and to be loved and to become a part of this life, a wonderful adventure awaiting them, is missing from the elderly falling apart, dying not because they choose, but because it is a written death sentence; the ground is breaking away beneath their feet, the organs are collapsing, the skeleton support of life is disintegrating, and it is entirely out of their control, and they are unprepared for it.

Disintegration while still living, little by little things stop working properly, like an impending computer hard drive failure, things slow down, start acting strangely, chaotically, programs don't boot properly, they freeze up, like a glitch in the system is causing complete chaos and malfunction, and eventually the computer is dead, it just won't boot anymore, nothing you can do but replace it.

The insight is, that the horrible smell so often encountered in the elderly, is not simply a matter of poor hygiene, poverty, or laziness, but rather, it's the odor of decay, of disintegration, of sickness and disease, of organ failure, and of death, eating them away as they live, gradually gnawing away at them, until nothing is left. You see, you start dying long before you actually die, sometimes even before you actually start living, in the sense that life is experienced in the full awareness of your heart. It can go on for years, this disintegration, being a very gradual process, but the signs are there for those who know what to look for, what to smell for, and what to listen for.

The smell of urine reveals much. A great depth of insight can be had, for those trained, or intuitively receptive, to know the signs, to recognize the differences between healthy urine and unhealthy urine. The smell of death and disease is always unpleasant and putrid. No perfume or cosmetic can cover it up, it is exuded in the pours of the skin, in all bodily fluids and secretions, it shows in the eyes, in the nails, the complexion, the voice, and the breath. It is fully visible with no place to hide, except in plain sight to those who fail to see it.

*Originally published 1/21/2015

My Experience With Cough Syrup

In the last post I wrote a few words about my experience taking LSD, and mentioned that I didn't really have any hallucinations from it, and in this post I wanted to talk about my experience using cough syrup, which did cause some hallucinations.

Keep in mind that I'm writing from memory here, about something that occurred many years ago, so pardon me if the description is not as thorough as it would be had it just happened.

Cough syrup is nasty stuff, and is most certainly bad for your health. The recommended dosage for its intended use for the treatment of coughs is a couple teaspoons worth. For accessing its psychotropic properties, you would consume between 2 to 4 fluid ounces. First of all, not all cough syrups are equal, some contain harmful additives that if consumed beyond the recommended dosage listed on the label could cause organ damage and may even kill you. But this post is neither a tutorial nor an endorsement so you'd have to find that information elsewhere, just be forewarned that if you don't know what you're doing it could kill you.

The reason why cough syrup has psychoactive properties when used at a higher than recommended dosage, is because the active ingredient Dextromethorphan (DXM) is molecularly similar to PCP, the street drug also known as angel dust, a dissociative, which can trigger a feeling of being outside of your body. So at low doses it has been described as being similar to the drug ecstasy, and at higher doses is similar to a PCP high.

It takes between 30 and 60 minutes before you start feeling the effects, which last I think maybe six to eight hours, and similar to LSD begins with the heightening of your senses, especially your sense of hearing, but perhaps a little milder, and consequently without the feeling of terror that I got from LSD, as in regards to not being frightened by the heightening of my senses, but there was some paranoia that derived from another source, which I will describe later.

The next thing you notice is that your body begins to feel very heavy, and when you walk or move your arms they feel like rubber, almost robot-like, voices sound tinny and kind of far away, your movements clunky, almost as if your head is separated from the rest of your body, and your body feels like it's not quite you, like some kind of machine, like an inanimate prosthesis, but in my case I did not consume a high enough dose to have a true out-of-body experience, it was more like a partial feeling of separation.

The other thing I noticed is that strangely enough it really intensified my feeling of empathy, like when I watched a movie while under its influence, I could feel the emotions of the people more strongly than I normally do, and I was like picking up on this whole other dimension of the story, the unspoken feelings of the characters, that I either wouldn't had noticed or put much importance on otherwise. And also increased my appreciation for music, you feel it more, it becomes a part of you, soaking it up like a sponge.

Now this is where the hallucinations come in, and also the feeling of paranoia, while under the influence of cough syrup there is a sense that there is another world overlapping this one, (something I did not get from LSD at all) you get this feeling, even if you are alone, especially if you are alone, that there are other beings in the room with you, watching you, whispering things about you, are clearly non-human, troll-like, dark, alien, almost like their world is in black and white, and I got a bad feeling from them. But I want to make this clear I didn't actually see it with my physical eyes, or hear it with my physical ears, is more like something in a dream, astral, more of a subtle impression, a feeling, like when you're drifting off to sleep and are awakened suddenly right when you were starting to dream, and you still have this strong impression of the dream world, which you know is not based in the physical world, it's in your mind, where you've got a clear mentally visualized image of it, but in this case, I was not sleeping, and I had not been sleeping, but it was similar to that.

I had that experience of these subtle troll-like beings every time I used cough syrup, which was I don't know maybe a half a dozen times, so it was a repeatable phenomenon. It doesn't happen right away, but later, during what you would call the peak, this subtle awareness of being watched by beings of another dimension. That was the closest I came to having a hallucination. Once again, have no intention of ever using cough syrup again, just seems too dangerous, bad for your health. I also think that repeated long-term use could probably cause a person to have mental problems, where they may gradually lose their grip on reality.

But it was interesting, my experience with LSD and cough syrup showed me that our perception of the world can be drastically changed, that reality has many different dimensions to it, that what we see through the filter of our human senses is not the one true objective reality, that what looks like a flower to you, may appear as a spiral galaxy to another, and that what we consider the ordinary human experience is just one perspective out of a potentially infinite range of possible worlds.

The danger of using psychedelic drugs is that they radically change your perception of the world, but without providing you with any way of understanding what you see. It's like suddenly being dropped onto an alien planet without a guide, without a map, without a compass, without a spacesuit, or a backpack with supplies, without any preparation or knowledge about the world whatsoever. You could get yourself into all sorts of trouble that way.

You could get lost, never find your way back home, or maybe even encounter hostile natives that capture you and lock you up in a cage and eat you for breakfast. In other words, it can be dangerous, and that's why in traditional indigenous cultures, where psychedelics were used, it was the shamans and priests, who carefully oversaw the whole operation, acting as guides helping the psychedelic journeyers navigate the waters of the psychedelic realm safely without losing their minds.

They got a whole system of knowledge built up around it to prevent a person from falling off the deep end into the abyss. But when people go it alone, without any knowledge or preparation, anything could happen. It's like jumping off a boat into an unfamiliar body of water and attempting to swim across it without a life jacket and with no idea where the closest body of land is.

Maybe things will turn out okay, and maybe they won't. Either way, it's a risky operation, best undertaken very sparingly, if at all, with extreme moderation, ideally in a safe, comfortable environment, free of hostile influences, and around supportive, knowledgeable people.

*Originally published 4/11/2015

My Experience With LSD

It's been more than a decade since I've used any mind altering drug, the last being marijuana and cough syrup, and twenty year's since I've used LSD. That's about the most hard core drug I've ever used. I don't regret trying it, but in all honesty, I didn't much enjoy the experience. It made me feel crazy, like what I imagine someone with schizophrenia feels all the time, and it was definitely not something I'd want to experience again.

I'll describe the experience for you right now. It takes between a half an hour to an hour before you start feeling the effects, which last over twelve hours. What you notice first of all is a heightened awareness. It makes you more sensitive to everything. In my case, I found my sense of hearing to be magnified to almost superhuman levels. What normally would be considered super soft sounds, like breathing, water dripping in a distant room, shifting your position in a chair, or even the sound of your own voice whispering, sounds like it's magnified over a loud speaker.

I found myself feeling frightened by the sounds, ordinary sounds, because they were so loud, and at the same time I was also paranoid that someone was going to notice that there was something wrong with me, that I was on drugs, that every movement I made was making me overly conspicuous, as if I were being louder than I actually was.  My feelings were also magnified, I could feel people, almost as if I could read their thoughts, and that was scary too, because there was just so much noise all around, like I said everything was magnified, but to the point of it being overwhelming. There was a feeling of being trapped, knowing that this was going to last for twelve hours, and it was like I was hanging from a precipice, holding on for dear life.

I guess that's what you call a bad trip, oh and I remember grinding my teeth, worried that I was going to break my teeth, and I had no control over it, which suggests the drug was laced with amphetamine, but actually, towards the end, probably about 3/4 of the way through it, the experience became much more positive, the effects were toned down a bit, where I felt the heightened awareness, but without feeling afraid and overwhelmed by it, and the teeth grinding also subsided, and at this point everything was beautiful, I remember it being summer time, and lying on the ground outside under a canopy of trees, hearing the heartbeat of the earth, the birds, the insects, the trees blowing in the wind, and feeling a sense of oneness with everything. Basically, the experience encompassed the entire spectrum of human emotion, from terror to bliss. Actually, I felt a heightened sense of awareness for many days afterward.

Didn't really have any hallucinations though, as far as seeing anything otherworldly or mystical, it was just an enhancement of the senses, accompanied by fear and paranoia, the loss of logical reasoning, and the unpleasant side effect of grinding my teeth.  There may have been a slight amount of visual distortion, as far as lines squiggling a little bit, but I didn't have any perception of seeing anything that wasn't there. A lot of it was I suppose sort of dream like, most of it occurring in my own head, replaying old memories from the past, re-experiencing the feelings, and this sense of just waiting for the effects to wear off. 

This was not a one and only time. I tried it a few times, hoping for better results, but ultimately didn't like it. Would never do it again. I didn't enjoy feeling like a crazy person. Still, it's interesting how it magnifies the senses. I'm telling you, it's not just a self-delusion, it really does magnify your senses, I really had some supersonic hearing, and I think it could be verified by tests. Which makes me wonder if a person could trigger that ability without drugs, like it's some untapped skill that everybody has sitting latent.  Amazing how the sound of a water drop could sound like the thunderous roar of a waterfall, and a whisper like a shout. Also interesting how ordinary sounds when magnified beyond your control can be frightening.

Other than that, what I didn't like about LSD (if in fact that is what I had, as there is some question of its purity, being most likely a mixture of other adulterants), is that the effects lasted way too long, with the negative effects far outweighing the positive effects, that it just didn't seem worth it.  And as far as inspiring profound insights and creativity, I actually had much better results with marijuana, and the only drug induced hallucination, or experience of otherworldly phenomenon, I ever had was from cough syrup, which I will write about next.

*Originally published 4/11/2015