Saturday, August 16, 2014

Brain Frisbees

From Trousering Your Weasel

In our last post, we discussed how marijuana should not be combined with leftover turkey. So how does marijuana work? Well, it goes straight to the brain, because most of the time that's already the highest point in the body, and it travels through the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier exists in order to allow helpful items like glucose and hormones into the brain's fluid whilst keeping out the little fatties like bacteria and Botulinum that are up to no good. This is why you can inject Botox into your forehead to smooth out wrinkles without worrying about smoothing out the brain also, which you do not want. The active ingredients in marijuana are sleek, and they slither right on in, often illegally, where they wander around before settling down in a few specific areas of the brain: the basal blobular area, the antebellum, and the hippocampus. Fortunately, you're not using most of your brain most of the time. The basal blobular area is only there to keep the rest of the structure from caving in, and the antebellum sits at the back end to provide a cushion during whiplash events. The hippocampus is from the Latin for "the quad where the large animals hang out and play Frisbee," and naturally it's the go-to spot for pot.

The cool guys who were good at tossing a Frisbee could toke on a joint, tuck it under the lip of the Frisbee, and send it to the next guy, and that's sort of what happens in the brain, too. The hippocampus, like the rest of the brain, is lousy with neurons. There are more neurons in the brain than you can count, because you'd fall asleep before you finished. The neurons are single cells but they are not physically connected, and if they want to communicate, they have to throw neurotransmitter chemicals at each other. The pointy end (the axon) of one neuron winds up and tosses the chemical information to the branchy portion (the dendrites) of another. It's all Neurons In Space in there, and the neurons rely on each other's ability to toss and catch to get anything done at all. If the receiving neuron already has its hands full, the doobie of information falls out.

And that's what happens with the pot. The THC in marijuana acts like just another Frisbee and jams the receiving end of the neurons, which gums up their normal functions. Which, in the hippocampus, include your coordination, your short-term memory, and something else. Something-something. I used to know.

So anyway you might look at a pretty red flower and think: oh, wow, that is so red. And a moment later you're still looking at the flower but you think it's the first time you've really looked at it, and you think: oh, wow, that is so red. And so on, and so forth, until soon you are steeped in a redundancy of redness and you will be moved to write a poem about it, a poem without any of the coherence you'd have if you could properly recall your most recent thought. But that won't be clear until you look at the poem later.

And sometimes the fundamental incoherence of your now-compromised neurons starts to set off alarm bells until you're in a full-blown panic about the situation, no long able to track time, with your past disappearing before your eyes and your future, by extension, in doubt. That's what started to happen to me every time I smoked pot, which did not prevent me from continuing to smoke pot. Our generation had a lot invested in the idea that marijuana was harmless, and it took a while for me to consider that it might not be that good for me, personally. In reality, many of us had trouble with panic attacks and paranoia, but we didn't blame the pot. We blamed the Establishment, which was out to get us, a fact we could perceive most clearly when we were stoned.

(Kids are idiots. They'd be better off if they were stashed in the basement at age 13 and not let out until they were 30. Of course, a number of us did spend an equivalent amount of time in the basement, and didn't turn out that well. But it could have been so much worse.)

41 comments:

  1. Which, in the hippocampus, include your coordination, your short-term memory, and something else. Something-something. I used to know.

    For some reason this put me in mind of Rick Perry. You don't suppose he indulges? On second thought, it might explain a lot.

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    1. Gosh, I don't think I ever reminded anyone of Rick Perry before. Maybe I'll get my thick hair back? You have to admit he's funny.

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    2. You have to admit he's funny.

      But unlike you, he's only funny when he's not trying to be.

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  2. So could you go on to explain to me how it's good for pain? Is there no room in the brain for the pain anymore, or do you lose your short-term memory for pain, or (probably) something else? I swear you missed your calling as a science teacher.

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    1. You know, it only occurred to me recently that that would have been a really fun job for me. Sure didn't occur to me when I was in school. As long as I could skip over the Krebs Cycle part, I would have enjoyed it. It's too bad I don't believe in reincarnation or an afterlife, or I could have given it a shot.

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    2. And now, dang it, I need to go thumb through the internets to see what the heck the Krebs Cycle is.

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    3. And I'm back. Did you know there's such a thing as Simple English Wikipedia? Explains that cycle lickety-split.

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    4. No. I did not know there was such a thing as Simple English Wikipedia. I needed to know that. For the Krebs Cycle alone.

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  3. Except that you have been rather emphatically emphasizing that you no longer indulge, I would swear you had to have been stoned when you wrote this. And I feel like had I been stoned while reading it I'd have been all "Yeah. Wow. MAN! That is so... huh? Ah, good times.

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    1. I think there have been residual effects.

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  4. Murr, you are a teacher. Of science and of other things. With a big, big classroom and some unruly (but grateful) students.

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    1. It's a WIDE classroom for sure, but there aren't that many students in it. Crowds scare me (I tell myself).

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  5. We were too poor to have a basement, I always got sent to the wood shed and I prayed that it would be solitary confinement. The wood shed was not my favorite place to entertain my Dad. .

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    1. These days, Dad could be sent to jail for that kind of entertainment.

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  6. I didn't use pot when I was a teenager (High school class of 1962.) The first time I tried it, I was 23, had a 2 yr old, and found the beauty of folding laundry (even diapers) fascinating. And oh yeah, my hands were fascinating too.

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    1. 23 with a 2-year-old. Sounds like you found a dandy coping mechanism. I have a friend who likes to get stoned and clean the sink faucets with a toothbrush.

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    2. At 23 I had a three year old and a one year old. Managed both without "aids" of any kind.

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  7. Thank you Murr. Bright as an illuminating thing it is you are. Is your middle name really wisdom?

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  8. Sheesh! I must be the only one of "that generation" who didn't get regularly stoned/drunk.Truth? The smell used to make me feel nauseous.Bit of a problem, back in the 60s when every party was shrouded in smoke! And I saw some ugly results of the "other stuff"
    Krebs? Something about acid, I think.No, not *that* acid.

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    1. I just realized I haven't given myself enough credit. Apparently I had enough of a clue that I didn't ever try acid.

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    2. Probably why you're still here and functioning.

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  9. I am now satisfied, indeed overwhelmed, with regular consciousness.

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    1. I would say my consciousness is fairly regular, but sometimes I skip a day.

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  10. In the antebellum, dendrites spread like hoop skirts, and axons fire only when triggered by the phrase "Northern aggression".

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    1. Let's just say there are parts of your brain you shouldn't visit after dark.

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  11. I was the panic attack sort, which embarrassed me. Which made it necessary, naturally, to conquer that character flaw by more vigorous application. In one dedicated year, I pummeled that oversensitivity into submission using scientific desensitization techniques. And that was the end of it. Wonder I lived to tell it! Not a chance I'd need to repeat that experiment medicinally.

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    1. You figured that out for yourself? I also suffered from panic attacks beginning in college, and they petered out after about six years. I have theories about why I had them, but I sure didn't know what they were, or had a name, or a treatment. Not back then.

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  12. Too much information... Boy that's red...I like red...That is really red...I read that...read what...what did I read?...Think I need another hit...Boy that's red
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  13. Ah, the Krebs Cycle, it's your friend. Unless you cross over the AT barrier to anaerobic metabolism it's in there chugging away every minute of the day. Much like me, I'm your friend unless........

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    1. I never wanted to disparage the Krebs Cycle. Not really. I didn't take Chemistry until my senior year. That would've helped.

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  14. Your standard of child-rearing (last paragraph) would, if adopted universally, produce a better end-product. I think. Maybe.

    Look! No kids on the lawn! How green is my lawn!

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  15. It might be an interesting ordeal to try to read this blog post over and over while consuming THC. Read it out loud to others as they are consuming THC while switching between a Chong voice and a Cheech voice.

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    1. I get them all mixed up. You go for it.

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  16. Yes, it could have turned out much worse, but here we are anyway. At least there are some pretty funny stories.

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    1. And those are just the ones we remember.

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  17. Well that explains it all. I'm not absent-minded. My dendrites need to be cleaned. All these bits of stuff hanging around and getting stuck onto other stuff. So I go into the garage to recycle the pickle jar and wind up doing a jigsaw puzzle I found in the Goodwill box and that's why I wind up late to things and half-dressed. It's the sticky dendrites!

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  18. Oh to have had you as my anatomy/phyisology teacher! I might have been able to actually grasp the neuron- dendrite couplet. When I finally did get stoned one night prior to watching Fantasia with a pothead, I thought my life was over so bad was my panic at this new "reality." I thought I'd be stuck in this very weird vortex for the rest of my natural life, and there goes the nursing license. (I was a Senior awaiting graduation with the prospect of getting that shiny new professional license to hang on my wall. And moral character was one of the requirements. So much for that.) Anyway, thanks for the pothead, who talked me through it, and I swore off pot from then on. So imagine my laugh at Maureen Dowd's pot brownie experience!

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