Marijuana and Psychosis

So, everyone knows that I have what can politely be called “eclectic” reading tastes. I pick up odd things just for the fun of it and occasionally horrifying things simply because they’re too fascinating not to check out. Tell Your Children falls squarely into the latter category, but I cannot recommend enough that everyone give it a try.

TYC is about the links between marijuana usage, psychosis, schizophrenia, and violence. While mental health advocates take pains to argue that “individuals with mental illness are more likely to be victims than to be violent” and pro-marijuana advocates argue that the drug makes people “happy, sleepy and mellow,” the tragic truth is that mixing mental illness with marijuana is shockingly dangerous – and even without mental illness of any kind involved, the drug can cause users to become violently psychotic.

With so much attention focused on the opioid epidemic, so many people still associating modern marijuana with the drastically less potent varieties that were par for the course in the 60s and 70s, and such abysmal tracking of mental health diagnoses and drug use (particularly in the United States), it’s not a surprise that this topic is one most people aren’t aware of. Author Alex Barenson does all the math, science and connecting of the dots that modern Americans need to make better choices for themselves, their families, and when casting their ballots.

No matter what your opinion on drugs or politics, this is a must-read. Go check it out!

Ghosting on Ghost Map

(Experimenting here with pulling posts directly from my Goodreads page into the blog.)

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DNF. This has been on my to-read list forever so when the audio version came available at the library I snapped it up. Twenty minutes in, I called it quits. The subject matter *should* be fascinating (London underworld in Victorian times as the population booms and the grassroots creation of large-scale management systems for waste, etc.). I’m not sure if it was the narrator (who has a slow, ponderous voice) or the writing itself but I could not get into this. Sad, because I looked forward to it so long, but I’m glad it was free, at least! : (

View all my reviews

More Book Reviews

Today we’re going to take a quick look at two books I did not finish (DNF): The Secret Token (by Andrew Lawler) and Nutrition in Crisis (by Richard David Feinman).

The Secret Token started out decently by exploring the origins of the Lost Colony ofRoanoke. The book gives a pretty comprehensive look at the global climate at the time politically, economically, and socially. Readers get helpful comparisons and contrasts to other famous colonization efforts for reference.

It starts to get off track in the second quarter. The author gets into attempts to figure out what happened to the colony by archeologists, academics, and others. While portions of that are okay, other bits decidedly drag and wander into territory that doesn’t feel like it adds anything to the point.

It really derails after that (which is where I left off). The author decides that, since it’s impossible to find the lost colony or figure out what happened to it, he will track how figures from the story such as Virginia Dare (the first baby born in the colony) and Manteo (one of the Native American guides) have been “appropriated” by groups ranging from presidents to white supremacists to feminists over time… and I was done. While I can see how he justified including that in his book, it’s not at all what I was looking for or interested in. I’d have been much happier if the book had just laid out all the facts and then left readers after the end of the first quarter.

Nutrition in Crisis: Flawed Studies, Misleading Advice, and the Real Science of Human Metabolism

Nutrition in Crisis 
is written by a biochemist and it shows. While I think much of the information he’s trying to present is important, the formatting, setup, and writing style did not work for me at all.

The “advance summary” of his points that he started with felt all over the place despite ostensibly having clear framing. More aggravatingly, his “rules,” while not wrong per se, made the nutritionist in me want to throw the book across the room. Example: “Rule #2: If you want to lose weight, don’t eat. If you have to eat, don’t eat carbs.”

Technically, his underlying points are valid: you can lose weight if you starve yourself, and certainly eating a low-carb diet is proven to help weight loss in most cases. But in isolation, those bits of advice are just as likely to cause harm as do any good… which pretty much sums up my feeling about everything I read. It’s not that the author doesn’t know his science, it’s just that his presentation of it is problematic.

I also felt like he never quite got his writing “voice” ironed out. Sentences and paragraphs seemed to move back and forth between professional academic scientist and snarky, flippant commentator, with no cohesion between them. The information he attempts to provide is important, but I will continue to point interested parties towards other,better-organized sources rather than recommend this one.

My New Favorite App

December always gets my mind churning about the new year that’s just around the corner. Like most people’s, I suppose, my mind turns to what worked well this year, what didn’t, and what I want to do differently with the “clean slate” of the year to come.

One of the things that I’ve been aware needs a revamp for a while is how I am organizing my days. I adore working from home and having a flexible schedule that lets me adapt to the extremely fluid demands on my time right now. But I’m also inherently a creature who thrives on structure and organization. I tried using Asana for a while with some success, and also experimented with a fairly intensive paper day planner, but kept finding gaps in my system. While discussing this topic with my Fic Whining Circle author friends, I got to doing a little research on the systems they use such as Kanban Flow.

Entirely by accident in that digital meandering, I discovered Todoist. While I’m not generally a huge fan of organizing my life via app, this one is my new favorite thing! It downloaded onto my computer cleanly and I have the option to download it to my phone in the future if I want for across-the-board up-to-date coordination. (I don’t need that right now, but it’s nice to know I could. I intend to experiment with it as a single point of control for things like shopping lists and erranding organization down the line.)

The top five things that are making this app work for me:

It organizes All The Things in one spot. I can keep long-term projects, immediate daily to-do lists, and “don’t forget this” notes all in one place. The sub-tasks function lets me break big projects down into bite-size pieces, too, which I can then easily move between lists or schedule into individual days where I have time.

It has a timing/deadline function. I’ve never actually worked with a system before that had a super-functional timing feature. For example, I can type “give dogs vitamins daily” and it auto-adds that task to my list every day. Likewise, I can schedule recurring tasks for every couple weeks, every month, etc. and Todoist auto-adds it so I don’t have to keep track! While I still like having a paper planner for a visual monthly spread I can quick-reference, this feature is already proving incredibly helpful in getting stuff off my mind. Knowing that I scheduled it and don’t have to worry about remembering or wondering when I last did something frees up a shocking amount of mental space.

It has a Week At A glance feature. I unexpectedly love this because it means I can quickly and clearly see where I have free time or overly-scheduled days.  Moving something from an over-scheduled day to a lighter day is as quick and easy as click-and-drag. This, combined with the fact that it tells you the number of things you have scheduled, is proving enormously helpful in being realistic about what I can get done. 30 things on the day’s list? Probably not a recipe for success. Time to move something. Only a couple things for tomorrow? Instant prompt to grab one of the smaller tasks from a side project and slot it in!

It gives you kudos! I know this sounds like a small thing, but it’s a great boost to see the counter give you a little congratulations for knocking five, ten, or whatever number of tasks you’ve accomplished off your list. It feels like progress, even when your tasks (as so many writing project tasks are) are bits and pieces of something bigger with no immediate payoff or sense of completion. Plus, when you check off everything for the day, it tells you to “enjoy your afternoon/evening” with a little image of someone doing something fun – a powerful reminder of the value of rest and play in a world that tends to promote overwork and guilt.

It helps me log my work. I am currently on the roster at three different content writing companies. (I’m still looking to get on a few more and then eventually weed out the underperformers.) While this multi-company setup isn’t helping me much now, since business is slow during the holidays, I expect that once the new year hits and everyone gets back on their game there will be a lot more work. With each company running on different deadlines, different billing setups, etc., Todoist provides a centralized, integrated platform that I can use to track what I have due and when across the board.  I expect this to be hugely helpful.

As a bonus, the system offers a weekly review checklist that I love. It incorporates nearly all of the best practices I’ve seen in business, productivity, and time management books while also being compact and realistic to use.

Todoist may not be for everyone, but if you or a friend is looking for something new to help them tackle the challenges of life and time management – big or small, personally or professionally – I recommend giving it a try! All the features discussed above (and more that I’m not using yet) are free and it takes very little time to set up, so there’s nothing to lose.  : )

Inbox Zero

One of my goals for the start of 2020 is to finish all of the reviews I have agreed to do for Netgalley and close out my account with that program. For those of you not familiar, NG is a program whereby you accept free books (usually ebooks) in exchange for a review.

In theory, I love these programs and NG has consistently had nutrition books, cookbooks, healthy lifestyle books, and other things right up my alley. In practice, I’ve found that what happens is that I pick up books that look promising and then end up with a shelf overflowing with stuff I’ve committed to read and write reviews for. If I don’t love them or find them a rehash of things I already know, I still feel obligated to get all the way through before reviewing, which just drags things out. This is not only stressful but means that stuff I desperately want to read also ends up sitting neglected because I don’t have time to get to it.

So I’m currently putting in as much time as I can spare plowing through the books in my stack. Expect to see another handful of reviews going up in the (hopefully) near future as I complete this project and set myself up for a wiser, better-managed 2020.

Book Review: Bloated Belly Whisperer

The Bloated Belly Whisperer: See Results Within a Week and Tame Digestive Distress Once and for All by [Freuman MS RD CDN, Tamara Duker]This book review is going to be short and sweet because there are no caveats or conditions. This is THE must-read book for anyone struggling with bloating. Why?

  • It’s super easy to navigate.
  • The author clearly differentiates between different types of bloating and bloating symptoms, making it easy to narrow down what applies to you and what doesn’t.
  • The book provides easy-to-understand (but not dumbed down) breakdowns of different conditions, why they happen, why they cause bloat, and how to deal with them. It provides timelines, eating guidelines, everything – all realistic and actionable for anyone.

I read a lot of food, health and nutrition books and I’ve never seen anyone tackle bloating so well. This book is exceptionally well organized and well written and I unreservedly recommend it to anyone with challenges or struggles related to bloating of any kind.

Book Review: Eat, Live, Thrive

 I received Eat, Live, Thrive in exchange for a review and initially I had my doubts. The authors are very open about their Christian faith and, in my experience, faith-based diet books tend not to be strong. I was very pleased to find this one an exception to that rule!

Writing a very informal style, the authors hit pretty much all of the major points necessary to help women get a strong grip on their health and eating habits for positive, long-term change. They discuss:

  • Carb consumption.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Food allergies and intolerances.
  • Elimination diets.
  • Basic detox/cleanse supports and how to use them safely.
  • The differences between men’s bodies and women’s bodies in terms of nutritional. needs, particularly as we age.
  • Appropriate water consumption.
  • Integral lifestyle components such as sleep, which play a key role in weight and dietary control.
  • Paying attention to food quality as well as quantity.
  • The role of faith and mindset in diet and lifestyle choices.

While I didn’t love everything about the book, the authors deserve enormous credit for the realism and empathy with which they approach their subject and the extensive research they clearly put into this work. Both authors have experience with extreme food disorders/food-related health conditions, which gives them a special understanding of where their readers may be coming from. The book is probably the best fit for people wanting a single comprehensive program to take them from where they are to a healthier new lifestyle they can maintain long term with just enough science to follow along.

The only word of caution I would add is that most of the supplemental materials, such as worksheets and guides must be downloaded separately from their website. It is also unlikely to be appropriate for those not comfortable with the Christian faith. Otherwise, it’s decidedly better than most books in its genre!