Monday, November 29, 2010

Entry 111: The Mystical Journey

The phone rings and I pick it up.  It's my dad.

"You ready for some Hawkeye action?  Yeah, baby! I'll be up there to pick you up at 11:45.  We have a lot of grilling work to do. Be ready."

"Yeah! I don't know if I'll quite be ready... I'm currently playing Halo and haven't showered or anything."

"Hmm.  Anyway, be ready.  See you at 11:45."


He picks me up and tells me to grab a coat.  But I heard it was supposed to be warm, so I'm pretty sure that a sweatshirt will do. I grab my light jacket and throw it in the truck, and after grabbing the moon flower seeds I bought online I hop in and we had off to the local bar (technically a saloon and general store).

Oh, right, the moonflower seeds.  I read on the Wikipedia main page that these common, pretty flowers have seeds that can make one trip out in a similar way to LSD.  Since I've never done LSD, and these are cheap and obviously legal and common, I decide that it's a good idea to buy them and give them I try.  I didn't expect much.

I chew up a couple handful of seeds on the drive to get grilling stuff from the house of Big Gay.  Dad and I arrive at the bar and setup our grilling station.  Chicken legs, burgers, brats, and steak are all on the menu.  We start with the fire way too hot and burn a half dozen burgers or so.

Dad says, "Well, looks like these are toast.  Good for the dogs I suppose."

I says, "Wait- what if we cover them in this shitty BBQ sauce and say they're 'blackened-cajun BBQ burgers'?"

We do, and sure enough we see later on that they were eaten.  Some people will eat anything, right?

After a couple of hours grilling, I'm freezing.  Turns out that reality is a much better forecaster of weather than day-before internet weather reports. 

I'm shivering and I head inside to feast on the grilled deliciousness we had created.  Before I get there I stop on a bench outside the bar and remember that I still had the rest of my moon flower seeds.  Since it had been over 2 hours since I ate the first few, I decide to finish them off and really give this a try.  The entire amount that I bought is less than online-people had recommended to trip anyway, so I was probably going to be fine.

Inside, I start to warm up.  But the shivering won't stop.  I panic; what if these seeds really did  do something?  What if I just took the equivalent of a bunch of LSD and I'm about to go on some crazy trip and freak out?  No. I'm cool.  It's in my head- like a placebo effect.

Wait.  No, it's not.  This is happening.  What's happening?  I don't know, but a lot of it.  Yup.  Definitely happening. Uh oh. And wait a minute- this is just hitting from the first batch I took; I just doubled that! Am I going to start tripping double in another couple of hours?

I feel the nausea that the website said I would.  I want to puke or something, but I never puke.  And besides, then people might suspect that I'm tripping ballz. Did I just admit I'm tripping balls?  Then I definitely must be.  Time to escape outside for a smoke; I just need to collect myself and act normal.

I go inside and someone says something to me about the food.  I scramble to come up with a 'typical Caleb' funny response. I say, "You taste the sauces on those brats?  There's probably one you might not recognize: the spice of love.  Dad and I sprinkled a generous amount on all the food we cooked."

They laugh, I'm off.  It worked.

For the next few hours I settle into a pattern that alternates between freaking out that I'm way messed up and feeling an awesome sense of peace and calmness.  Okay-ness, really. Regardless, for safety reasons I decided to take an emergency xanax (yes I brought one just in case) and rush to get as drunk as I can so as to disguise myself in an alcoholic haze.

I find a lady that I can talk to and not feel strange.  She was an older woman who is on every prescription known to man, including 12 (yes, 12) full 1mg doses of xanax per day.  There's no way she can think I'm tripping.  This plan is pretty good until the bright bar light that I'm under becomes unbearable.  I realize: lights and ambiance have a very significant effect on your immediate mood and contentment.  Why have I never realized this before?

The first time I go to the bathroom I stop and examine myself in the mirror.  Do I look all weird?  Let me check. Nope, fine, I'm just- oh wait a minute.  My eyes.  Holy shit. I have no irises!  I'm all pupil! Whoa. I look like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons when they dope him up and people think he's an alien.

Hours pass, I try to stomach a bite of food unsuccessfully, and I call The Nerv to leave a funny message.  At this point I've still kept my seed-experience to myself; something tells me that if I divulge my secret before I'm ready that it's going to cause me to panic.  Don't want that.  So I leave Nerv a long message that I can paraphrase for you now: "I like boobs."

Each time I had stepped outside to smoke I was freezing.  This got worse when the sun went down, which in winter apparently happens around noon.  That was hyperbole.  At about 7 I sit outside on a bench, smoking, talking to The Bear on the phone for a while.  We plan a fun trip (no pun intended) after I realize that I had usually only hung out with him in relation to other friends.  Time for just us to hang out.  Why had I never realized this?

As I'm sitting there, freezing, I try my hardest to not feel the cold.  To only feel it as an effect, and not be miserable or shivering.  Shamans and yogis can do it, right?  Apparently so can I.  My dad comes out and I finally tell him that, "you remember those seeds?  Yeah.  They're, uh, working."  I explain my ability to withstand cold and the connection I feel with the universe.  He calls me "The Mystical One."

Finally enough alcohol kicked in that I could just act drunk. And it wasn't that I wasn't drunk; only that I was a tripping, all-knowing mystical shaman who happened to be drunk.  I paid attention to stories and found I could actually place myself in another person's shoes.  Or memories, as it were.  Did you know that they used to have large outdoor music fests in small towns throughout Iowa where people would shoot off guns and ride their horses?  That was only like 25 years ago!  Crazy.

I was dropped off at another bar closer to home and think I talked to some people there.  I think.  I walked home later (2 blocks) and woke up the next day still feeling a little off. 

I wish I could better explain to you the effects of these seeds, but I mostly have to relate it to other drugs because they're all I know.  It was like a mix of everything I'd ever done, plus some new effects thrown in for good measure. There were a lot of things that I realized that night that have stuck with me.  Even throughout this week I've felt more calm and peaceful about life.  Weird.

Oddly enough, when I asked my dad about it he said I seemed perfectly normal.  I'm not sure I know exactly how to interpret that.

I won't say I recommend them for everyone, but I will say I am probably going to try them again. 

Caleb "The Mystical One" Shreves

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Entry 110: The FDA Drives Me Loko!

Today I'm getting on my stump to defend Four Loko.  More importantly, I'm here to call out the FDA for bureaucratic shenanigannery, hypocrisy, and poor logic.

Four Loko is a brand of flavored, caffeinated beer.  It comes in tall cans with about the same amount of caffeine that's in a cup of coffee and a high alcohol content.  It also tastes like horse piss.
Story: In Nov. '09 the FDA heard reports that people were having fun drinking Four Loko, and promptly issued a warning letter to the maker of Four Loko (Phusion Projects) warning them that caffeine and alcohol
mixed was dangerous and not approved by the FDA.  Phusion sent a response back in June of '10 to the FDA while 4 states individually banned the drink. Now, the FDA sent a warning notice to Phusion again saying that they had not proved their product to be safe and would be subject to penalties and enforcements under [code section sub-heading paragraph blah blah blah].  Four Loko is caving and discontinuing their product.


The FDA cites Phusion for not proving that FL is "generally regarded as safe (GRAS)." They also say, and I quote, that "a food additive is unsafe unless a regulation is in effect that prescribes the conditions under which the additive may be safely used..."  If you read that as "everything is banned until we say otherwise" you're on the right track.

They go on to say that "safe" is defined as "reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use." [What, exactly, is NOT harmful about trans-fats, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.?]

3 safety concerns the FDA cites:

"Reports in the scientific literature have described behavioral effects that may occur in young adults when energy drinks are consumed along with alcoholic beverages" [I think alcohol by itself pretty much covers this one]

"Studies suggest that the combined ingestion of caffeine and alcohol may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations because caffeine counteracts some, but not all, of alcohol's adverse effects. In one study, a mixture of an energy drink and alcohol reduced subjects' subjective perception of intoxication but did not improve diminished motor coordination or slower visual reaction times using objective measures" [So?]

"Because caffeine alters the perception of alcohol intoxication, the consumption of pre-mixed products containing added caffeine and alcohol may result in higher amounts of alcohol consumed per drinking occasion, a situation that is particularly dangerous for naive drinkers" [So?]

Reading through the entire letter will give you some idea of how this system is set up with so many regulations and crap that they can basically approve or deny any product they want and create some sort of justification for their cowardice.  I call it cowardice because they (Joann Givens) don't have the cajones to come out and say: 

"Look, this shit will f8ck you up way faster than you realize.  Young adults are too dumb to behave themselves. Even if 99% of people were to safely use this, I don't want to allow the remaining 1% to get even more hammered than they're probably already going to get and go crash cars and puke their guts out."  
That to me is at least a sound opinion.  I can disagree, but it's honest.

So you can't package alcohol and caffeine together, but you can mix Grey goose and red bull or Captain and Coke.  It's like toys for children at Christmas; you can buy the toy and you can buy the battery, but the
batteries can't be included. Or, to provide a more apt (and damaging) analogy, is it similar to how you can't buy a loaded gun?

And when you start down a road of banning things that have "behavioral effects" or that people are presumed to be too dumb to handle responsibly, where does it end?

It doesn't.  That's why I take up issues such as this.  I hate Four Loko- it literally tastes like the fruity urine of the dragon that Satan rode to the North Pole to stab Rudolph in the eye with his pitchfork. But I defend the right for people to have Four Loko if they want.  I defend the right of people to choose whether to wear a helmet, or use drugs, or smoke cigarettes in their own house. I don't presume to direct people on what they should do, or abdicate responsibility to defend those who can't defend themselves from gross harm and negligence, I only fight for the responsibility of personal welfare to sit squarely on the shoulders of the individual rather than an impersonal and distant government.

You know, shit like this is going to get me recruited in the Tea Party. Crap.

What I ask of you is to see how easy it is for our rights to be attacked when they are broken up piecemeal. When you see an issue come up and you have no dog in the race, realize that maybe the next issue under attack will be one you do care about and you'll wish you had idealistic people who will rally to your flag.  That's how I find myself here today, defending the shittiest beer ever made on the Earth.

Caleb "seriously don't drink that shit" Shreves

Monday, November 15, 2010

Entry 109: Christmas Shopping In Anal-Town

This is one of my favorite stories, and since it's just about that time for everyone to go Christmas-crazy I thought this an appropriate time to share.

I have an uncle.  He's handy and hard-working, but not exactly what you'd call a charmer.  He doesn't have a lot of what you might call "people skills."  He works hard all day, everyday, no sick leave, no vacation, and feels that everyone ought to do the same.  I can't imagine him hugging.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think in all the years I've been alive that I've seen him wear anything but his slightly grease-stained jean shirt and jeans.  He has a low, grumbling voice and a long ponytail.

A couple of years ago he asked my mom to take over his Christmas shopping, which he claimed was so stressful that he couldn't handle it.  My mom agreed and he gave her money and a list.

Now let me clarify what I mean by "list."  He gave my mom an excel spreadsheet that had dozens of names of people that he gave gifts.  And, he had recorded every single thing he had ever bought going all the way back to the 80's!

What did I get in Christmas of '92?  A He-man action figure.  '96? $15 Blockbuster gift card.  Crazy.  Who keeps a list like that?  Plus, he bought for people who would stretch anyone's definition of "extended family."

People are strange and I love their little quirks.  I love the surprises people give you when you get a glimpse into their lives.  Forgo 'normal' people, my friends, and surround yourself with the interesting and bizarre.  You'll be much happier when you do!

Good luck shopping.

Caleb "I only shop for kids" Shreves

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Entry 108: What. The. Fuck.

True story.

I'm looking up snowmobiles on Craigslist under the "RV" section.  I see this headline:

"To the guy for the Tri-Z"

And I'm like, "huh?"

So I read the post:

"Tried to get ahold of you but couldnt. Would you be willing to trade for Garbanzo Chickens? Would be willing to throw in some Meat Rabbits to sweeten the deal if needed." 

Um.  WTF.

He's going to throw in some "meat rabbits."  Oh wait, sorry, those are capitalized.  "Meat Rabbits."

I think I'm going to have to email this guy.

Caleb "No seriously WTF" Shreves




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Entry 107: Just A Little Sodomy, Right?

Canada just got awesomer. 

Say that you and your partner thought it would be fun to engage in a little erotic asphyxiation.  You're pretty sure that she said a little dildo-anal action was okay, but now she kind of... passed out.  You can't wake her up and have her officially consent to anal fun-time, so do you go ahead with it anyway?

Sure you do.

And everything's fine.  But then you have a fight with her 2 months later and, you guessed it, now she says it was non-consensual.  You go to court; lose.  You appeal; win.  Now the case is before the Supreme Court of Canada!  (How 'bout that, eh?)

The court is now going to have to decide whether a passed-out woman from voluntary erotic asphyxiation could have given consent to having a dildo shoved up her butt. 

Who says the law is boring?

How do you rule?  I'm going with innocent here; they were dating, they were having sex, she agreed to be choked out.  I'm sorry- you're saying that she had a "line" somewhere that was crossed?  Huh?

Shreves out. 

PS Article

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Entry 106: Why I'm Not Voting Today

Is there a nefarious plan to make people think that all candidates suck and to not vote? Maybe that's part of how the people on top of the political heap stay in power.  If so, it's fairly brilliant because it has worked on me and I'm ideological opposed to not-voting.

When I hear an attack ad, I immediately go all LSAT-y on it and pick it apart for its logical fallacies, out-of-context quotes, and general ass-ishness.  I think to myself "I'm going to vote for the other guy simply because this guy is willing to make and ad like this." 

But then I hear an ad for the other guy, and it's just another attack ad on the first guy.


Then who do I vote for?  Some fringe candidate who wants to [insert radical proposal here]?  No, no... that's not good.  There's no alternative, and there is no lesser evil.  Just two equal evils and a system designed to keep out reasonable and sensible candidates. 

So I stay home.

Some of you will probably know me enough to also assume that I'm probably just lazy, and don't know where to vote or know what I need to vote or have the research done ahead of time to know specific candidate's policies.  And you would be right (mostly).

But I say that there is a difference between not voting because you're lazy when you should vote, and not voting because you're lazy when it's not worth voting in the first place. 

Sadly in this midterm election it seems like I'm facing the second option.  Oh well- more time to finish the Halo Reach campaign on legendary.