Dude…

Today was a really good day.  I’m proud of myself for following through with my plans, even though I started getting pretty anxious a few hours before it was time to go.  I used an app on my phone to hire an Uber to deliver me to the restaurant where we all met up for the tour.  I arrived early, but the majority of the group did as well.  I wasn’t hungry for lunch, so I got a chocolate Rice Krispie treat that was the size of a coconut, and a lemonade.  It was less than $4 for both.  We had to get nametags and show our ID before we could board the buses.  There were 2 full buses of us for this tour.  I sat down with a couple from Indiana until it was time to board at 12:30-ish.

First, we went to a grow warehouse.  It was large, but not more so than I had imagined.  It was a very tight ship in ways that surprised me.  I had no idea so much went into the process of growing multiple strains.  Even the air quality and pressure are micro managed.  We saw plants in various stages of growth as we looped through.  Afterward, we visited the same dispensary I went to yesterday after arriving.  I even had the same person help me, and she remembered me.  I got cartridges of a specific strain and a rechargeable vape stick.  No odor, no smoke, no taste.  I tried it yesterday, and learned that it doesn’t take much.  But today was a whole other level.

Before we even left the restaurant, 2 people in my bus lit up some pre-rolls and started the puff, puff, pass.  Then they turned on the music and light effects.  Unlike school buses, the seating was all along the perimeter, and walkway in the middle.  There were drink holders behind our seat in front of the windows.  They gave us bottled water and pop for those who wanted that instead.  I tuned out halfway through the safety speech just from the second hand effects.  The music was old stoner classics, including reggae.  I recognized bits of songs here and there, and enjoyed listening.  Normally, the loud music would have had me so tense I would have gotten a migraine.  But for some reason, this music strongly urged me to play percussion on my seat.  I do like playing drums, but I’ve never felt such a strong urge to play along with the music before.  So I did that while watching out the window for most of the ride.

The first people I talked to were the couple from Indiana in the restaurant.  After them, I sat next to a couple from Arkansas.  I think I might have seated myself too closely to them, but they didn’t seem to mind, and by the time we were all aboard, there wasn’t much space left.  It’s something I’m working on in OT.  The extra effort to be present in the moment when I’m moving.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds.  But the benefits of mastering it will be far less bruises, scrapes, and bumps.  And less instances where I sit or stand too closely to someone else, because I miscalculated the distance due to not paying attention closely enough.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have at least 2 bruises.  So it’ll probably be worth the effort.

Across from me was a couple from Atlanta and a couple from Chicago.  We talked about politics, weed laws in our states, and startups.  The younger couples sat in the back of the bus.  I sat in the front with the Gen-X’ers.  The ones in back got things started, and kept them going the entire time.  At no point from the time we pulled out to the time we returned, was there not at least 2 joints making the rounds.  They passed out joints to whoever wanted them, and went over the itinerary.  After the first stop, they brought out the bong.  I had never used one, so one of the tour guides showed me how.  It was easy, and then I coughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.  A short time after that, it hit me.  It was noticeable, but in a gentle way.  It was similar to the feeling you get when you step out of a loud, chaotic environment, and into a new space that is utterly silent.  You marvel for a second, and then smile.

I’ve been back for a while now, but I still feel quite stoned.  I don’t know if it’s because I had so much, or what, but I’m not complaining.  More like apologizing for any typos or misspellings due to my present state.  I don’t know what strains we were given on the tour, but it was probably a hybrid.  I didn’t feel like I melted into a sofa, but I felt very relaxed both mentally and physically.  When we arrived at our next stop, we got more educational information, and another dispensary visit.  The last tour was glass blowing, but I stayed on the bus for that.  I have a high sensitivity to bright light.  While I waited, one of the tour guides took my phone in with her and photographed the process for me.  She did a good job.  At least some of my pics won’t have mostly my fingers in them.  I’ll go through them when I get home and run them through Photoshop if they’re as bad as I suspect.

I’m very surprised by how much I had, and breathed, but still feel fine.  They did warn us about dehydration, and being mindful of the elevation.  Apparently, alcohol has an increased potency effect at this elevation.  That explains Coors.  Fortunately, nobody in my group had been drinking, or at the most had very little before the trip.  Nobody pulled out early.  Nobody got overwhelmed or anything.  Everyone was kind, and the atmosphere was joyful the entire time.  There were probably about 20 of us on each bus.  I didn’t count, which is amazing.  I usually count as many things as possible.  I didn’t count anything today.  This is a good thing because sometimes it feels more like a compulsion than a desire.  I don’t like it when I waste a lot of time on automatic pilot.

There was one guy on the tour whom I’ve met before at a conference.  He’s also a former googler.  We spent the first half of the tour taking turns staring at eachother, trying to place where we crossed paths before.  It was a nice mix of Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian.  About half Millennials, and half Gen-X.  It was an amazing amount of information, too.  That was awesome.  I didn’t expect them to go into such detail, but I’m so glad they did.  That’s one thing I like about Denver.  There is an undertone of excitement among the people here.  It’s contagious, and everyone I pass has a smile or a head nod.  This kind of blows my mind, as it’s so much larger than Sioux Falls.  I never realized this before, but there’s a different type of relationship between big city dwellers, and small towners.  But it’s not less, or more.  Just different.

I expected a big city to have a lot of distrust and disconnect between strangers.  I don’t see that here.  People are calmer.  This is a big deal to me.  It’s so much easier to be around calm people than chaotic.  It’s like the difference between cashmere, and a hair shirt to me.  It helped a lot today.  I had such a good time.  My face hurts from smiling and laughing so much.  I was fine up until the final 30 minutes.  I needed to pee badly, but didn’t want to use one of the public facilities during the tour.  I made it in time, but it was a close call.  I tried to picture in my head what would happen if I lost the battle.  I didn’t manage to do so, which is probably a good thing.  I’m proud of myself for managing this challenge.

Denver bound

I’m off to Denver today. Yay!! I’m excited to go this time.  My anxiety is a little high, but not more than I can handle.  I didn’t sleep well again.  More Trump nightmares.  Sigh.  It’s just so hard to reconcile the fact that it’s 2016, and so many are still ignorant and full of hatred.  I’m trying not to think about the fact that the 2 leading candidates are racists.  I’m not feeling terribly proud to be an American.  For the next few days, I’m going to have fun, and try to forget about the ugliness.  At least I’ll get some sleep.  Hopefully nightmare free.

Military Memories

So much for sleeping tonight.  I went to bed and lay there for a few hours with my eyes closed.  Even my cat didn’t buy it.  She started walking on me, then licking my arm.  I thought only dogs did that.  It’s not a pleasant sensation.  It made me start laughing, and then there was no point in staying in bed.  It’s warming up and the wind died.  -6 F with no wind is no big deal.  We don’t get the wet cold like on the east coast.  The gym opens in about an hour.  I can feel the Depression Monster riding my back, telling me it’s too cold to walk over to the gym.  I won’t be cold for long.  When I finish running and walk back to my building, it’ll cool me off.  I’m hot blooded anyway.

The debate was fun to live tweet.  I have followers who support candidates other than Senator Sanders, so I read lots of opinions.  I love that people got so passionate about what they believe and what’s important to them.  Also, I refuse to write a person off as someone I can’t relate to based solely on different political views.  Most of the Trump supporters I read on Twitter are decent people who think he’d make a good president.  I disagree, but don’t find that a valid reason to hate someone.  I shed my blood, sweat, and tears for all the people of my nation, regardless of the fact that I was duped into serving in the first place.  It was a life experience that paid for itself in wisdom gained.  I don’t regret it in the least.  I went in an incredibly sheltered, and naive teenager.  I got out with a chronic mental illness (PTSD), a newfound confidence in my abilities, a world view, and a strong sense of personal accountability.  It was worth it.

I also learned how to make any activity fun.  I had a rough time adjusting to the military at first, because I asked too many questions, and made unsolicited suggestions.  I thought, “because we’ve always done it this way” was not a sufficient reason.  I got in trouble for thinking a lot too.  Whenever you get called out, and your reason is, “I thought it would be more efficient to do it this way”, or anything else that starts with, “I thought” or “I think”.  At first, I felt picked on, and unfairly treated when I’d get extra duty for these behaviors.  My childhood proclamation, “It’s not fair!” was pathetic in the Army.  It just made whoever I said it to laugh.  Which would make me angrier, rinse and repeat.  Finally, I decided I was going to act like I loved doing extra duty, thinking I was using reverse psychology on them, and they’d see me having fun, and not give me extra duty again.  Yes.  I am embarrassed to admit this.

So pretending to have fun somehow became actually having fun.  The acoustics in a military latrine are awesome.  When I had 14 days of extra duty once, there were 3 of us that got in trouble at that time.  We got caught racing vehicles in the back of the motor pool.  They were M113’s and it was a training unit, so it’s not like we were speeding.  It was an ironic race that began spontaneously as we were lining up vehicles.  And I have to say, it was so worth 14 days of extra duty.  I loved driving tracked vehicles.  So we started singing while we cleaned the latrine, and making up new words for songs that were currently popular.  We ended up laughing really hard, and having a good time.  We continued doing this for the whole 14 days, and were good friends by the time we finished.

We had a 1st SGT who had a thing about making sure whatever you did on extra duty was menial and a waste of time.  The latrine we scrubbed for 2 weeks was in barracks that were closed for destruction.  Other times, I had to dig deep square holes for the first week, and fill it back in for the second.  I guess the pointlessness was part of the punishment.  Eventually I got tired of being teased by my peers over getting in trouble, so I learned how to shut up and do it the traditional way, even if it was stupid.  I stopped making suggestions, and stopped playing with military equipment where I could be observed.  Instead, I started to volunteer for everything, and in doing so got to do a lot of really cool stuff.  I remember volunteering to go with the advance party to set up for a field problem in Fort Bliss.  We used a scoop loader to dig the bunker, which was super fun.  We also spent most of a day trying to disprove the theory that a Hum V can’t flip.  It totally can if you really set your mind to it.

We had to do some sand construction to make it happen, but we made it happen.  I also learned how intense manual labor can be incredibly satisfying.  When you work so hard that your legs shake, and you can’t lift your arms over your head, it feels awesome.

Made it

I made it to Denver without a single catastrophe.  I did, however, hit a few bumps in the road.  The first was when I left to drive myself to the airport.  I debated about calling a taxi, but parking is cheap, so I parked in long term parking.  The second I stepped out of my car, I looked down and saw I was standing on ice.  I managed to unload my luggage and walk in without falling.  It was windy and cold when I walked in.  I had gone back and forth about just wearing a hoodie instead of a coat.  I’m so glad I went with the coat.

My plane was delayed because they had to de-ice it.  It took about an hour.  When we landed, a couple seated behind me started freaking out because they had 1 minute to get to another gate for a connecting flight.  Denver has a huge airport.  I had to take a fucking train while still inside the airport just to get to my ride.  It was super crowded, and people kept smiling and pushing their way aboard even though we were already so close we were no longer strangers.  When it took off, I started to fall into a guy next to me, who laughed, caught me, and braced me just before we stopped.  The stop was even worse.  It was like the way you drove for your first year.  You always followed too closely, waited too long to apply the breaks, and caused passengers to jolt forward and fear for their lives every time you stopped.  Like that.

Finally, I arrived at the agreed upon door and found my ride straight away.  I got in, fastened my seatbelt, and was handed a portable vaporizer.  They vaporize the THC with heat rather than burning it, so it doesn’t cause a contact high for the driver.  I think it might be illegal, though.  I’m not sure.  Anyway, I went from the airport to the dispensary.  It took a lot longer than I was expecting.  They had me smell various types, and explained the difference between indica, sativa, and various hybrids.  There were several ways to ingest, and they showed me various tools and forms available.  I got flowers and some new thing that was recommended that’s supposed to be an improvement on a previous thing.  I was stoned beyond comprehending by that point.

One of the tenders was so hot.  Too young, though.  He looked to be about 22.  He had a ponytail.  I must finally be growing out of my attraction to a military buzzcut and a uniform.  This guy looked to me like a cross between a skater boi, a stoner, and a granola eater.  I need a skater boi, stoner who eats meat not just because he finds it delicious, but also out of spite to vegans who mention being vegan to people who aren’t on the verge of preparing them food, but still loves animals.  And reading.  And speculative fiction.  And computers.  And software development.  I’m so stoned that I just noticed I went from an excruciatingly long, run-on sentence, to a few really short sentences.  I’m amused by this, which is how I know I’m stoned.

I can’t feel the back of my head.  It’s a delightful feeling.  I haven’t stimmed since I got here.  I’m not shaking at all.  I wish I had my violin.  I think I’m going to sleep well tonight.  That alone makes this trip worth it.  I’m having such a good time so far.  Tomorrow I have to eat at a restaurant I haven’t been to before.  I hope they will make me grilled cheese.  Flying dehydrated me and my legs hurt from random charlie horses.  I know this is another reason I need to sleep well.  My body wants to heal from my last long run.  I’m going to try to sleep now.

Be

Playing around with Illustrator.  I figure I may as well use it since I’m paying for it.  Adobe charges an annual fee to utilize their products now.  I can’t help but feel like they’re trying to recoup all the money they lost to pirating of their software.  I know that for about 15 years, anyone with a little bit of internet savvy could download a cracked version of Photoshop for free.  It was basically purchased by students, graphic designers, and corporations that dealt with media and art.  But it was probably the most stolen software program in existence.  So, I can’t blame Adobe for jumping through multiple levels of hoops to prevent this from continuing.  It’s just that they make it very obvious that you’re only renting.

For those who read the fine print, it’s always been the case.  They just allow people to rent it by the month, or for a year with monthly installments.  Or you can save a little and rent it for a full year up front.  I’m not sure if they still sell it outright.  If they do, they’ve not made it obvious, as I didn’t see the option while casually browsing their site.  It’s a smart move on their part.  Those who can’t afford to drop a few grand up front on the suite now have affordable access with the installments, so I’m sure they’ve increased their customer base.  They do release a light version of Photoshop and Premier that you can purchase outright, but light is an understatement.  You’re better off using Gimp for free than bothering with Photoshop Elements.

The fact that an entire new industry was created surrounding Adobe applications is kind of cool.  Books, tutorials, and university courses that teach it’s uses have been steadily glomming off Adobe’s success for as long as I can recall.  It can cost a few hundred dollars to take an online course for Photoshop.  However, it’s for those who want someone to hold their hand while they figure out the features.  You can use the built in tutorials, free tutorials on websites like DeviantArt, and trial and error to get to the same level of expertise.  I’ve found that trial and error is the best teacher for me.  I tend to remember when I click a new button and have it destroy the project I’ve just spent hours creating.  Thank goodness for the history, (undo) option.  You learn quickly to take snapshots as you go to save time.  It’s why I prefer digital painting to tactile painting.  No mess, and no waste.

Illustrator is interesting and surprisingly simple to dive in without prior experience.  I’m sure my Photoshop skills come into play regarding the tools to some degree, but there are lots of new ones that I have yet to explore.  The mesh tool was taunting me while I worked on the above.  Next time I’ll play with that.  I’m going to break out my Wacom tablet next time.  Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Audition look like fun, too.  I’ll have to pace myself.

Gamify Your Life

I slept well last night.  I have a feeling I will again tonight.  It’s starting to cool off and may result in snow tomorrow, so my days of running outside may be coming to a pause.  I’m not as bothered by this because there’s a new treadmill in the gym downstairs.  I haven’t been using the gym in the leasing building recently because for some reason they completely redecorated it.  They put in new flooring, furniture, window treatments, and fixtures.  They even changed how the furniture is arranged.

It looks nice, I must admit.  It took a bit for me to muster the courage to look it over.  I gave myself double points for doing alone.  There’s a new treadmill in that gym too, but the one I always use is still in the same spot.  I might use the new one if nobody else is working out.  It’s in the middle of the row of cardio equipment, which means the chances of someone working out right next to me are higher.  I’ll go at 5AM.  That way it will just be me and the weight lifters.  They just watch their form in the mirrors and ignore everyone else.  They also allow me to cut in to do my reps while they stretch, which is nice.

The people who are there just before closing are the Indian immigrants who live in my building.  They’re always nice to me, and sometimes they do cricket team workouts which are fun to watch in the mirrors.  Especially when it’s dancing.  It’s so cute to watch several guys doing the same dance moves in unison.  I’ve seen them playing cricket on the softball fields in the park across the street.  The ones who live down the hall from me play their music loudly, but you can only hear it when you’re in the hallway.  It made me feel more confident to play my violin.  We have soundproofing between units, just not the entrance doors.

I started a new project today with a friend I met on Twitter.  He’s a software engineering student.  We’re going to build a site that encourages people to do the things that challenge them in life, and reward them like any other video game would when they conquer a task.  I’ve done this for years, and it’s helped me stay motivated when doing things that are hard for me.  I love that rush I get when I finish a task that I really didn’t want to do.  Grocery shopping comes to mind.  I award myself points and do a victory dance for a bit afterward.  It feels good, like any other accomplishment, so it totally counts.  I keep score in my head.  I’m totally winning.

He’s far more into web development than me.  I got burned out on web dev years ago, and now I only do personal projects here and there.  The programming languages change over time, and the process is constantly getting easier.  I’m a firm believer in utilizing open source software, rather than recreating it myself whenever possible.  It’s kind of the point of open source-ware.  My friend wanted to build a custom content management system from scratch, but when we realized his language of choice won’t work on the server I rented, he agreed that we should use open source.  We’ll probably go with either WordPress or Joomla.  I’m leaning more toward WordPress, as I like it.

I’m excited about it, and am probably going to spend lots of time making award titles and graphics.  It’s a system that works well for me, and I hope others will find it useful too.  I’m a gamer, so it was a natural thing for me to do.  Non-gamers might also enjoy the benefits of the accumulation of small victories.  I hope so!  Either way, I’ll have a blast building it.