Thursday, May 30, 2019

Eazy-E Died of AIDS...Deal With It.

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Preface:  People are gonna see what they want to see & ignore the evidence they don't like.  There are conspiracy theories (or "alternate theories") behind EVERY celebrity death & major news story in history:  JFK's assassination, the moon landing, Kurt Cobain's suicide, 2Pac's murder, Elvis's death, etc.  Even upon seeing the death certificate & hearing from the coroner's mouth what happened, conspiracy theorists will remain steadfast in their beliefs that THEIR theory is correct.  So be it.  

The truth doesn't need anyone's belief or faith for it to be true.  Facts aren't affected by your feelings.  When choosing who & what to believe, it's best to look to sources that provide additional references to support their claims & who have some degree of knowledge about the subject at hand.  Since this topic involves HIV/AIDS, it's vital that the person studying it have a basic understanding of how the disease works.  That's where many online discussions of Eazy's death fall apart.

I'm putting this info out to counter all the ridiculous narratives that have hit the internet since the NWA movie came out in particular.  Not because I was a huge Eazy-E fan but because this is the same stubbornness that lead to his death & the high HIV rates in the Black community.  The recurring theme that straight people don't get AIDS; that people with HIV always look sick, that the sex partners of HIV+ people always contract the disease.  Those are just a few examples of the myths that get repeated ad nauseum when it comes to the Eazy-E death story.  His proteges Bone thugs-n-harmony (who I am a huge fan of) have said on tape that they think "something funny had to go on" regarding his death.  His own daughter is working on a documentary focused on "exposing the truth" about his "suspicious" death.  And the NWA biopic itself contained references to a conspiracy when Suge (Knight) said "I'll change you, boy."  🙊

Let's look at the straight-up boring facts, shall we?

Eazy-E lived the fast life he rapped about in his songs.  While he wasn't the exaggerated cartoon character he portrayed onstage, he did tote guns, smoke a ton of weed & have a lot of sex.  A lot.  It's safe to say he was probably a sex addict.  Prior to joining NWA he was a Crip who sold drugs locally despite growing up in a stable middle class family.  It's not known whether he ever spent time in prison as he dodged this question when asked about it on Howard Stern.  If he DID, that would've increased his exposure to the HIV virus since prisons are a hotbed of the disease.  Eazy was a very short & small-framed man who probably wouldn't have fared well in prison.  He even had a saying:  "N****s my height don't fight."

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Living the gang life as a Kelly Park Compton Crip

Even if he never stepped foot in prison or had any sexual contact with a man, it's quite possible for a man to contract the virus from a woman.  HIV/AIDS is primarily a heterosexual disease in Africa so the idea that it's a strictly gay disease is ignorant & dangerous.  Several factors can increase a man's risk of catching it from a woman:  having other STDs like herpes or HPV that provide an additional opening in the skin for the virus to enter;  having sex during a woman's period; anal sex; sex with an IV drug user; not being circumcised & most importantly, not using a condom or using the WRONG kind of condom.  One NWA lyric rapped by Eazy goes: "Ready to fuck until my dick is raw."  (Eww).  In this Howard Stern interview, Eazy admitted to never using condoms & not being afraid of AIDS.  He also told one of his artists--Blood of Abraham--that lambskin condoms felt superior to latex; the irony being that they are completely worthless due to being porous, which allows the tiny HIV virus to pass through.

The time period in which NWA were at their peak of fame also coincided with the peak of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.  Groupies were a major part of life for the band as evidenced by their songs & interviews.  They were very open about their lifestyle.  Nothing wrong with that--they were merely living the rockstar life that so many other bands enjoyed.  The problem was actively avoiding condoms during this dangerous time when having sex with countless strangers.  Eazy allegedly had group sex & would leave women stranded in his houses for days afterward.  There are stories of him sneaking off at a Guns-n-Roses concert to fuck a random girl in the bathroom.  He had 7 kids by 6 women (that we know of).  Plenty of proof of his horndog ways.

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Early incarnation of NWA (Eazy-E 2nd from left)

Point being, the man was highly promiscuous at the most deadly time in history to be having unprotected sex.  So what's so unbelievable about him contracting HIV?  People close to him found it highly suspect how fast he went from apparently healthy to dead, though even that becomes less suspicious when you put it under the microscope.  The first mention of him losing a drastic amount of weight was in a July 1993 blurb from a rap magazine.

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35 lb. weight loss.  That's significant.  Typical AIDS symptom.

Note that it mentions also extreme fatigue, which is a well-known symptom of advanced HIV.  Rather than seeing a doctor about the dramatic weight loss & fatigue, Eazy pushes through & continues with his superhuman schedule as an entrepreneur.  He also looked mighty thin in various appearances in '94, such as this one:

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Eazy in 1994 on Yo! MTV Raps

This disproves what conspiracy theorists say about him "suddenly" becoming ill with a cough in '95 & then dying out of nowhere.  Eazy's heavy use of weed likely helped keep his appetite up, which delayed the severe wasting some AIDS patients experience.  In fact, AIDS was one of the first conditions for which medical marijuana was studied.  Eazy both smoked & sold weed until the very end of his life.  He was self-medicating without knowing it.

For those who wonder why he wasn't diagnosed until so late in the illness, how was he supposed to be diagnosed if he avoided going to the doctor for his symptoms?  HIV tests aren't a part of routine blood work--you have to request them.  Despite having the resources, Eazy clearly put off getting help for his condition as long as possible.  Sadly, health isn't always a first priority in the certain communities--particularly those from low-income backgrounds.  When your basic needs like eating, surviving violence & paying the rent aren't being met, going to the doctor regularly isn't a priority.  Even though E had money in his later life, he was likely hard-headed about healthcare & not expecting to be gravely ill at his age anyway.  Old habits die hard.

hip hop Los Angeles cali california 90s RIP LA legend compton eazy e mexicans rest in peace Californication nwa gangster rap crips GANG RELATED crip gangsters rest in paradise Surenos califas chicanos Rest In Power ruthless records gang life eazy duz it Sur 13 legend of hip hop
Summer '94 event, looking gaunt

The other argument of conspiracy theorists is, why didn't ANY of E's women or mistresses contract the virus?  He was clearly having unprotected sex with a LOT of women & even had a child born months after he died.  Why wasn't his wife Tomica Woods infected?  Well, the problem with that is we will never know for sure whether she or any of E's partners is HIV+ because the AIDS cocktail meds came out in 1996 for widespread public use shortly after he died.  These medications have given people with the virus a new lease on life, allowing them to live normal lifespans without showing outward signs of illness.

Aside from that, there's the whole privacy factor:  HIV isn't exactly a stigma-free disease.  There's plenty of reason those women wouldn't have come forward to announce their illness if they WERE infected:  job discrimination, interpersonal problems, homelessness, etc.  AIDS patients were heavily discriminated against in the '80s & '90s, with many families even disowning their dying children.  So assuming these women would've come forward & announced their status is a flawed premise.  Even now, people aren't rushing to disclose their status with people other than sexual partners.  Would you?

But there's also the very real possibility that none of them were infected.  Strange as it sounds, this is the most likely scenario.  Just look at porn star John C. Holmes, who continued having unprotected sex in adult films with full-blown AIDS to support his drug habit & never infected his co-stars or partner.  Cookie Johnson allegedly never seroconverted despite a long marriage to Magic.  Actor Brad Davis died of AIDS while his wife never contracted the disease.  Same for Arthur Ashe & his wife.  I assume they weren't using condoms in their marriage.  (Who does?)  This goes to show just how fickle HIV can be in terms of transmission.  It truly is Russian roulette when it comes to who will be infected.  A matter of chance.  As stated, some activities are higher risk than others but unprotected heterosexual intercourse IS a route of transmission even with no additional risk factors.

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John C. Holmes: porn star who fucked raw with full-blown AIDS.  A devil indeed.

This brings us to the ridiculous notion that Suge Knight "injected Eazy with AIDS" (which is medically impossible because AIDS is a syndrome caused by a slow-moving virus).  This comes from a throwaway comment he made on a late-night comedy show in 2001 while talking to Jimmy Kimmel.  We can tell the comment was a rehearsed joke because Kimmel was ready with his "terror alert" chart immediately after Suge made the tasteless joke, which you can see in the clip below.  If you listen closely you'll also notice Suge says "40 mules and an acre," so...yeah.  Not the sharpest tool. 

Suge & Eazy were natural enemies in the early '90s due to contractual battles over who would sign rapper Dr. Dre to their label.  While Suge did show up with baseball bats & some henchmen to threaten Eazy into signing him over to Death Row, the notion that he also "injected Eazy with AIDS" is pure fiction.  Suge only wishes he could take credit for the downfall of his rival, but the man is neither that smart nor that competent.  His only talent was bullying people & using his muscle to intimidate.  He also had backup from the Bloods street gang who would do all kinds of dirty work for him, but physical violence is as far as it went with the brute.  He's no mad scientist.

And what about Tomica?  She ended up with the record label & the estate after a rushed wedding ceremony in the hospital as Eazy lay on his deathbed, out of his mind from advanced AIDS.  People have been suspicious of her for a long time and, while she definitely did profit from his death financially, that doesn't mean she somehow caused it.  Imagine being pregnant with this man's child & finding out he's dying of a transmissible disease that you & your baby may also have.  That couldn't have been a pleasant experience.  He had to leave the record label to somebody and, having just fallen out with Jerry Heller, he decided to leave it to Tomica...a decision that turned out to be a bad one in the end.  She had no experience running a label & ran Ruthless into the ground, but those are the kind of rushed decisions one makes when dying unexpectedly.  The will was drawn up on the spot & the rest is history.  Perhaps he should've had his affairs in order before something tragic happened.  Anyone worth that much money should already have a will in place, especially with that many kids & others depending on them for their livelihood.

There have been various other claims, such as the one that E contracted the virus from "tainted acupuncture needles," which is so retarded it doesn't bear exploring.  But the "Jerry Heller did it" theory is probably the most common of the Big 3.  Yes, the timing was weird.  Eazy fell ill almost immediately after firing Jerry & his brother Terry from Ruthless Records.  But AIDS doesn't work like that.  There is no fast-acting AIDS that would allow you to infect someone in February (around the time Jerry was fired) & have them dead by March.  And it was confirmed by Eazy's doctors that he did indeed die from AIDS, not some other unnamed mystery disease.  His symptoms of gradually increasing weight loss, fatigue, cough & difficulty breathing all support an AIDS diagnosis.  Heller would've had to somehow give Eazy the HIV virus 5-10 years earlier for this theory to pan out, which is...uh...no.



So let's recap:

Mid-1993:  Unexplained weight loss of 35 lbs. + extreme exhaustion noted in rap magazine.
1994:  Continued noticeable weight loss in photos & videos.
January 1995:  Cough begins.
February 24th:  Is hospitalized for cough + difficulty breathing & is diagnosed with full-blown AIDS when his T-cell count is near zero (see video below featuring Eazy's doctor William Young).
March 26th:  Dies of pneumocystis pneumonia caused by Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

There was also some weird behavior in January of '95 in which E inexplicably walks off into the freezing cold New York night after an evening of partying at a club called The Tunnel, which could point to confusion caused by AIDS-related dementia.  Everyone allegedly told him not to walk away without a coat as he would freeze to death, yet he insisted on doing so for no apparent reason.  This was shortly before he fell seriously ill so it would fit with the timeline of full-blown AIDS, but it's just a guess on my part.

Both Bone Thugs & Ice Cube witnessed this event & cite it as out of character for him but they don't make the connection with dementia, instead asserting that it might've been the night he acquired the cough.  But the truth is, you don't catch a cold OR pneumonia from being physically cold--both illnesses are caused by infectious pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc) so this wouldn't have been accurate.  The pneumonia that killed him, pneumocystis, is caused by an opportunistic fungus & causes fatigue, cough, chest pain & difficulty breathing--all symptoms Eazy suffered in his final days.  And it only strikes those with a severely depressed immune system such as AIDS patients.



Assuming Eazy first showed AIDS signs in mid-'93 with the weight loss & fatigue, that would put his likely time of infection between 1986 & 1988 since the average time from infection to AIDS is 5-7 years.  But incubation periods can stretch all the way to 10 years in some rare cases, so he could've contracted it as far back as 1983.  Once full-blown AIDS sets in, it's usually 1 to 2 years before death without any treatment.  All of this lines up with what we know about E's timeline of symptoms. 

Like cancer, AIDS isn't a one-size-fits-all disease:  the course is different for everyone, as evidenced by the wildly different incubation periods & infections that ultimately develop.  It's legitimate to ask why Eazy remained healthy looking for so long, but consider all the additional factors in his lifestyle.  Many of the gay men who succumbed to the disease early in the epidemic were co-infected with the Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV-8) which is the cause of Kaposi's Sarcoma--the big purple cancer spots typical of AIDS patients in the '80s.  These are the patients we automatically associate with AIDS in our minds since they made up the bulk of cases in the U.S.  Who knows what effect other STDs would've had on disease progression in those patients?

These men likely had different co-factors than Eazy, such as the use of different recreational drugs & additional diseases like Hepatitis B & bowel diseases which were common in gay men in the early 1980s.  It's quite possible those illnesses put a bigger burden on the immune system, as did the re-infection with multiple strains of the HIV virus during high-risk sex in gay bath houses where the virus was endemic in those days.  Certain genes can also affect how resistant a person is to the virus, as can the strain of HIV they acquire.  Some are more virulent than others.  As stated, Eazy was an avid weed smoker which probably kept his appetite up & prevented the wasting seen in many other AIDS patients too.

December '94:  DJ Yella's (center) last picture of Eazy

All of that is speculative, but one thing is not:  Eazy's AIDS is unique to Eazy.  Just as you can't compare someone's pancreatic cancer to another person's lymphoma, everyone's HIV infection will progress differently & follow a slightly different path if left untreated.  Ironically, Eazy himself made the mistaken claim that all of his sex partners "looked healthy" when asked by Howard Stern if he was scared of catching AIDS, as if you can tell by looking at someone if they're infected.  His fans are now making the same exact claim about Eazy when asserting that he couldn't have died from AIDS.  If that doesn't scare you, it's time to wake the hell up.

If Eazy were around to hear all the nonsense spouted in his name today, he'd be ashamed.  I can't imagine anything more disrespectful to his memory than to totally disregard his final message & make up an alternate ending you find more entertaining.  Or maybe it really is thinly-veiled homophobia?  It's been said that Eazy never got the respect that 2Pac & Biggie did because he died of AIDS & not murder... Perhaps this is Hollywood & his homies' way of turning an unpalatable death from what they view as a "gay disease" into a more 'gangster' murder plot?

I sure hope not because it does him a grave disservice & puts millions of young lives in danger.  This is one conspiracy theory that belongs in the trash alongside QAnon & Pizzagate.

Update 9/4/21:  WeTV just did a 4-part program entitled "The Mysterious Death of Eazy-E" which came to the same conclusion as this article written years before:  That Eazy died of AIDS acquired through his lifestyle.  While his kids and fans may not be satisfied with that boring conclusion, it is what it is.  If you appreciate the work done here please leave a couple dollars in the donation accounts below.  This blog may not be as fancy as a slick TV production but I do try.  😇


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Headline: Eric Wright, 31, Rap's Eazy-E, Recently Disclosed He Had AIDS











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[Review] - Phytodabs Full-Spectrum CBD Crumble

Vendor:  PhytoFamily / Phytodabs
Location:  Boulder, CO
Items:  CBD dabs, isolate, drops.
Website:  www.phytodabs.com
Rating:  4.6 of 5 stars


After my last order from Phytodabs of their Blue Dream shatter, I decided to branch out & try a different type of vaping product to see what else is out there.  So far I've only tried shatter & terpsolate or other variations of CBD isolate.  I opted for their hemp crumble this time which contains a more well-rounded blend of cannabinoids like CBG, CBN & CBC in addition to CBD.  They claim the crumble is more popular with customers than the isolate and it's now sold out, which supports this assertion.  Everything was on sale so I only paid $13.99 + $4.99 shipping for 500mg of crumble.  Groovy!


Shipping was fast despite the Memorial Day holiday.  Upon opening the container, I'm met with a mild smell of wax with a hint of woodsiness.  It's advertised as "low terpene" which is definitely the case.  I'm using my trusty old Yocan Evolve Plus vape for this test.  The first hit is buttery & tastes like it smells: very neutral but leaning toward something waxy & woody/spicy.   While the flavor & smell are less exciting than the shatter with terps, the effects have more of a full-bodied effect.  It's more akin to smoking hemp buds than straight up CBD isolate.  More relaxing & mind-expanding (obviously without the high of THC).  It almost feels "luxurious" if that makes sense...like a vaping product made for adults.  You can see the concentrations of each cannabinoid below:

Lab report for PhytoFamily Full-Spectrum Crumble
Phytodabs crumble is extracted with ethanol & water without solvents, resulting in a high concentration of cannabinoids with a mild flavor.  The single-source batches contain cleaned-up terps, allowing for more refined strain notes to come through in the end product.  At least that's what the website claims.  I definitely feel a slight difference compared to the straight-up shatter made from isolate.  My eyes aren't irritated like they were with the high-terpene shatter, which is a plus.  The flavor is smooth & gets more woody with each hit, causing less afterburn--a definite plus since most CBD solids are harsh on the throat. 

PhytoFamily Crumble, lid off

Overall I give this order a 4.6 of 5 stars for smoothness, effects & shipping time.  I look forward to trying more of the PhytoFamily's products since they carry such a wide variety of stuff.  Vaping CBD is my favorite method of ingestion so I gravitate toward vendors who carry a wide selection of vaping items like shatter, wax & crumble.  I refuse to pay $50 per gram though, as that's just excessive.  I blow through my grams way too fast for that to be economical so for now I'm just sampling smaller amounts of products until I find something that I love & can afford.  There's always the plain isolate slabs that sell for $20 per gram but I'm a sucker for terps & other perks. 

So until next time, CBD vapers...stay cloudy.  🌥



Monday, May 27, 2019

Reducing Abortions With Harm Reduction: A Common Sense Guide

Harm reduction doesn't just apply to drugs.  When applied to Sex Ed, it can greatly reduce the number of sexually transmitted diseases, rapes, unplanned pregnancies & other negative outcomes.  With all the recent abortion bans, there's been a lot of talk about what it means to be pregnant & give birth against one's will.  This is indeed a volatile & important topic, but there's been relatively little discussion about how to prevent those unwanted pregnancies in the first place.  And that's a shame.  While we'll never be able to prevent ALL abortions, it's possible to greatly reduce the number by spreading harm reduction information to people who need it.  Incidentally, that's not just teens & young people but anyone having sex who doesn't know exactly how pregnancy occurs.

The point of this post isn't to debate the correctness of these abortion laws but to empower people who want to avoid unplanned pregnancy.  (Which is something pro-lifers should be doing already if they truly want to reduce abortions...but that's another topic for another day).  I'm all about practicality.  What's more practical than giving people real, actionable ways to take control of their own reproductive futures?


Sex (Mis)Education & Family Planning


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Repeat after me:  IF YOU ARE HAVING SEXUAL INTERCOURSE & NOT USING CONTRACEPTION EVERY TIME, YOU ARE ACTIVELY TRYING TO ACHIEVE PREGNANCY.  

Sex Ed in America is woefully inadequate in many places.  Abstinence-only classes fail to offer any practical harm-reduction options for teens who choose to have sex, which we know a percentage will do.  The same is true with drug education--while abstinence is the only 100% way to avoid ALL risk, there are things you can do to reduce the risks should you decide to partake.  Those who choose to experiment with sex or drugs don't deserve to die or end up ruining their lives as a result of something that's an innate drive.

Teens aren't the only ones who suffer the consequences of crappy Sex Ed.  My own parents didn't know that pregnancy could occur with the pull-out method & ended up with an unplanned child as a result.  They were in their late 30s at the time.  This is a common theme in rural & inner city America, sadly.  Preaching at kids to "save themselves until marriage" works about as well as telling them to "Just Say No" to drugs, which is to say, not very well at all.  It's a great goal to aspire to but as for preventing disease & pregnancy it just doesn't work.  In fact, teen pregnancy rates tend to be the highest in conservative states where abstinence-only messages are the predominant form of Sex Ed.

Part of the problem lies in how we view having children.  Many folks never consider that having kids is a CHOICE in the first place, let alone the most important one they'll ever make.  Pregnancy should not be viewed as a punishment for having sex or some inevitable chore.  Babies are human beings who should be wanted & loved by a stable family unit--not seen as a mere consequence of sexual activity.  Unwanted children do not generally have bright futures whether they are raised by their biological parents or end up in foster care.  Abuse, neglect, poverty & other serious stressors are a constant for these kids, which increases their risk of ending up in prison or on the streets as adults.  That's not to say that they can't overcome adversity or have less innate value than children who were planned for.  It's just the bare facts.

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Teen pregnancy awareness PSA from New York
But it doesn't have to be this way.  Family planning is a common sense way to ensure that all children have the best possible futures.  Waiting until you're financially & emotionally stable enough to give a child your all is the best gift you can give both the child & society.  Abstinence can & should be a part of this discussion but realistically it will never be the ONLY part.  Sex isn't evil or dirty & our aversion to talking openly about it is hurting our children (and all children).


Empowering Women 


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The female of the species has both the biggest responsibility & the most agency when it comes to reproduction in that the pregnancy occurs in her body.  She will bear all the health burdens (weight gain, risks such as ectopic pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, death in childbirth, post-partum depression, injury to the genital region during birth & permanent incontinence afterward) while at the same time having the ability to decide whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy, whether to breastfeed & other decisions relating to how the fetus interacts with her body.

The impact of these things is immeasurably complex & life-altering.  Besides a terminal illness, pregnancy is the hardest thing a woman's body will ever go through.  Each one ages her DNA by approximately 11 years.  It's not a given that all women are willing to devote themselves physically to such an undertaking, and certainly not before they've had the chance to experience life & mature emotionally.  So what are some practical things women & girls can do to prevent unwanted pregnancy?  First, it's vital to know HOW pregnancy happens in order to prevent it.  This sounds simple but there are many myths that can muddy the water.

First, a female can get pregnant any time a penis enters the vagina for any amount of time.  Ejaculation is not required.  There are sperm present in pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) which means the pull-out method is not reliable for preventing pregnancy.  If ejaculation does occur near the vaginal opening, pregnancy may also result.  Sperm are resilient & it only takes one to fertilize an egg.  Secondly, the idea that a woman can't get pregnant her first time having sex, during her period or while having sex underwater are all myths.  And those ugly claims that pregnancy can't result from rape because the woman's body "shuts it down" if she's not turned on?  Absolute bull.  Finally, some young men claim to be "sterile" to goad girls into unprotected sex but this is a lie 99.9999% of the time.  Do not fall for it.  You are responsible for your reproductive health.  Don't leave it in the hands of someone who wants to put you at risk by having unprotected sex.  On the off chance he is infertile, STD's like genital herpes & HIV are still incurable and certain strains of HPV can cause cancer down the line.

Oral birth control pills are highly effective when taken as directed, but they can be made less effective when combined with certain other medications.  It's vital to check the interactions between ALL meds & supplements you take to ensure that your birth control is working optimally.  If you have questions about a medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist.  An additional method like a condom or diaphragm can provide another layer of protection against both pregnancy & STDs.  IUD's & injected hormonal contraceptives like Depo Provera or Nexplanon offer long-lasting protection against pregnancy that doesn't require daily dosing like pills.  These methods may be more suitable for teens & other young people who have trouble remembering to take a pill daily.  Other birth control methods include the vaginal ring, spermicide, patch, cervical cap, sponge, female condom & tubal ligation.  Ask your doctor about the benefits & drawbacks of these methods to decide which are right for you.

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CDC's comparison of contraceptive effectiveness

If something goes wrong & you suspect you may be pregnant, don't panic.  The Plan B pill is available at major retailers in all 50 states without a prescription to women of every age.  It can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.  It is not an abortifacient; it merely prevents the egg from implanting in the uterus.  There is no harm in taking it if you're not pregnant.  To find out more, check out the Plan B website here.  There are also other options in this category like Ella & Paragard (see chart below) that work up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

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Tips for Men


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And what about guys who want to reduce the risk of impregnating someone accidentally?  Unplanned pregnancy can be a huge burden for men as well.  Even if a guy wants no part of being a father, he can be forced to financially support a child if a DNA test shows he is the biological father.  Since pregnancy occurs in the woman's body, a man has no ability to force her to terminate the pregnancy--even if they've agreed on that previously.  This is why it's so vital for men to communicate with their sex partners beforehand & know their options for protecting themselves.  While there aren't as many birth control options available for men (yet), there are some classic tried-and-true methods that will give you some measure of control over your reproductive future.

Avoiding random hookups with strangers who may want to keep the baby should they end up pregnant is an important option to consider.  If you don't feel comfortable communicating about such serious issues, you might not be ready to sleep together.  Imagine every sex partner being a potential mother of your child & having 18 years of forced interaction with her because, realistically, this is what can happen if pregnancy occurs.  Talk about your wishes regarding children upfront before being intimate & leave at the first sign of deception or disagreement.  This is an irreversible, life-changing decision & no amount of sexual pleasure is worth the risk.  (Not pushing abstinence here; just choosiness about who you sleep with).  Trust is vital.  While it's possible for a woman to break your trust or change her mind, you're still reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancy by screening your sex partners for reproductive compatibility.

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Talk about contraception & pregnancy BEFORE hooking up
Avoiding penis-in-vagina sex & opting for other sexual activities like mutual masturbation or oral sex is another way to completely avoid pregnancy risk with women you don't fully know or trust yet.  Get creative.  In general, it's a good idea to avoid drinking or using drugs when having sex with any partner you're not in a committed relationship with, as this can lead to an increased risk of pregnancy due to contraception slip-ups.  Having a sober mind also enables you to make the best decisions possible when it comes to things like gaining consent & avoiding misunderstandings or accusations of sexual misconduct.

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How to put on a condom correctly
Condoms are a highly effective form of contraception provided they're latex & not dried out or expired.  Make sure to choose a brand that fits well & leave some room at the tip rather than pulling it tight.  Avoid using more than one condom at a time ("double-bagging") or applying spermicides that contain nonoxynol-9, as both can lead to perforations.  If you are certain you don't ever want kids, consider a vasectomy.  This outpatient procedure doesn't interfere with sexual pleasure at all (and often enhances it due to removing the fear of pregnancy!) and can sometimes be reversed if you change your mind about wanting kids down the line.  A new drug called Vasalgel is in testing that will provide the benefits of vasectomy for 10 years & is fully reversible.  All it requires is an injection into the vas deferens (yes, probably painful but less so than surgery).  The more men who show up & demand these treatment options, the more options men will get.

Combining condoms & other male contraceptive methods with female contraception doubles your protection, hence the importance of discussing your partner's birth control status before hooking up.  Never depend solely on the other person to protect YOUR wishes not to have children--that's on you.  Aside from deception, there are many other things that can reduce the effectiveness of female birth control so don't ever leave such an important decision in someone else's hands.


Conclusions

Abortion is a last resort when all other options have failed.  Nobody takes it lightly or desires it as a primary contraceptive method.  Despite their safety, both the surgical & pharmaceutical abortion methods cause unpleasant side effects like cramping, bleeding & nausea (in addition to the emotional burden that's often present when making that decision).  It's much easier to prevent pregnancy than to deal with it down the line, even if you support a woman's right to choose.  Knowing how to do that is vital for controlling your bodily autonomy.  The abortion issue is not just a woman's issue--it affects everyone.  Pregnancy, both planned & unplanned, requires two people & will affect those two people profoundly for the rest of their lives.

I challenge you to share this post somewhere you think this info is lacking.  It just might help someone prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Esketamine & Me: An Ongoing Log

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Being the broke-ass mental case I am, I go to a state-funded mental health clinic that doesn't prescribe any controlled substances...even benzos or other Schedule IV's.  So you can imagine my surprise when my psych doctor brought up ketamine nasal spray at our last visit.  She asked if I'd ever heard of it, to which I (maybe too enthusiastically) replied "Yes!  You mean esketamine, right?  I'd be open to trying that."  

I'm considered treatment-resistant when it comes to depression and anxiety.  I've tried every class of drugs except MAOIs & the old school antipsychotics like Thorazine--neither of which I'm interested in due to the health risks.  I've happily accepted every prescription she's written for me, which I feel has contributed to her willingness to let me explore more "experimental" options like ketamine.  Plus, the list of meds I've tried over the years is exceedingly long--in excess of 22 different drugs, many of which were very unpleasant or caused dangerous reactions.  To qualify for esketamine, you only have to have failed TWO depression meds.

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Spray away the blues with Spravato! 
I have Medicaid & don't think Spravato (esketamine brand name) is covered by it yet.  It's administered by a psychiatrist in an office where you must stay for ~2 hours while the effects wear off, and you must be driven home by someone else afterward.  That's as much info as my psych doctor has about it currently.  But I plan to keep up to date on any new info that comes out as it's one of the few substances I haven't tried already...be it prescribed or of my own accord.  Will update this log as I learn more & hopefully get to try it myself!

From my own research, plain racemic ketamine (generic) can also be administered intravenously or prescribed in the form of a nasal spray or lozenge and made by a compounding pharmacy for much cheaper.  That would be ideal since it could be taken home in the latter 2 scenarios & would be much more affordable.  Spravato seems to be a ripoff in that it's no more beneficial than ketamine but far more expensive.  It may be 20 years before I'm able to try it, but it's still something to be hopeful about.

Do you have any personal experience with using ketamine--either prescribed or "off-label"--for depression?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

15 Years Dirty (An Ode to Opiates)

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Am I an oddity?  An outlier?

2019 marks the 15th year I've used opioids to self-medicate social anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder & various other medical issues mostly without a doctor's prescription or knowledge.  In that time I've never overdosed, gone to jail, stolen or pawned anything, prostituted myself, spent money I didn't have or doctor shopped to obtain drugs.  My dose & frequency of use have not increased--I still get the same amazingly euphoric effects from the same low doses of substances like hydrocodone or oxycodone.  One pill is great; two is better.  Any more & I start to get nauseated.  And nausea is intolerable to me so I don't exceed that dose in any single 5-6 hour period.  I usually break them in half & dose gradually over time rather than all at once.

In addition to their wondrous effects on physical & emotional pain, opioids definitely have a recreational side for me.  I view them like a kid views presents on Christmas morning: with great excitement & anticipation.  (At least the good ones like hydro & oxycodone, which I rarely have access to).  They turn my world from black-and-white to technicolor & wake up my senses rather than numbing me or helping me "escape".  Opioids illuminate something deep within my soul that is otherwise extinguished & there's no denying that.  They are fun in the purest sense of the word.  It's a complex relationship.

There is a legitimate biological basis for why opioids "miraculously" alleviate depression, anxiety & other unpleasant sensations.  They mimic our body's own endorphins (endo = "endogenous" orphin = "morphine"), which are hormones that naturally relieve both physical & emotional pain.  Endorphins are responsible for the "runner's high" that marathoners often experience after a long, arduous run & they serve an important function in the body.  The theory goes that some depressed or anxious people suffer from a deficiency or malfunction within their endorphin system, which is why Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) therapy exists.  You can read about that here.  In addition, opiates also release a rush of dopamine--the brain's reward chemical responsible for feelings of energy, focus, arousal & motivation.

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Endorphin graphic (credit: mindblowingwellness.com)

My first opiate was hydrocodone.  I was 20.  Within a few minutes of dosing, I was talking up a storm & felt this powerful--yet totally natural--feeling of euphoria that seemed to come from nowhere.  In fact, I forgot I'd even taken the pill until I really thought hard about it.  From that night on I was in love.

I eventually branched out to codeine cough syrup, opium poppy pods, dihydrocodeine, Percocet, OxyContin 20s, tramadol, kratom...whatever I could obtain that I knew came from a safe source.  Opioids were never far from my mind & I took one of the above most days, yet there were times I couldn't obtain them for whatever reason.  Withdrawal wasn't fun but paled in comparison to SSRI withdrawal...at least in terms of duration.  The symptoms for me were nearly identical & mostly involved mental misery like severe anxiety & panic attacks.  The difference is that opioid withdrawal lasted about a week while antidepressant withdrawal dragged on for a full month.  (And neither compares to benzo withdrawal which is on another planet in terms of severity & duration).

Yet I never escalated to trying super-potent opioids, injecting anything or binging in a way that lead to problems with my finances, relationships or health.  When I ran out of opiates, which I did regularly because of my borderline-agoraphobia & aversion to seeking out IRL sources of drugs--I simply sat at home & endured withdrawal.

So am I really the exception to the rule?

There must be other pain patients or self-medicators who ENJOY THE EFFECTS of opioids but are able to control their use without letting their tolerance get out of control or overdosing.  Right?  We're told you can't both enjoy the high AND use these drugs responsibly for legit medical purposes without getting addicted (note: physical dependence does not = addiction).  Despite doing so myself for 15 years, if I were to confess my use of drugs to my doctor or psychiatrist I'd get the lecture about denial, addiction & needing help.  I would cease to be taken seriously as a patient with real physical & mental health conditions that needs help for those standalone diagnoses, with doctors focusing ONLY on my substance use.  And that sucks.  I've seen it happen even with occasional weed use in other people so I don't dare disclose that info.

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Happens every day

And now for the real kicker.

I wish I would've discovered opioids sooner--in my teens instead of my 20's.  I know for a fact they would've prevented a huge amount of suffering & bad decisions that caused me & others a lot of grief.  Maybe I would've felt more comfortable in my own skin instead of sitting alone at lunch & spending hours stuck in OCD rituals every morning.  Perhaps I would've had the courage to start a conversation or make eye contact with my peers instead of nervously driving right by them at the local hangouts or looking at my feet when we passed in the hallway.  At the very least, I KNOW I wouldn't have ended up in the psych ward repeatedly or gotten sent to alternative school for acting crazy.

I know this because opioids changed my personality so drastically that others commented on how "mature" I seemed immediately after starting them (without knowing why).  And I feel the change internally.  I'm slower to anger, more thoughtful, happier, more optimistic.  Just a more content person all around.  The only "denial" I've experienced has been when I've attempted to quit opiates & told myself I didn't need them...that they weren't beneficial & I could do just as well without them.  (I did the same thing with my antidepressants, going on a 6-year hiatus during which I convinced myself they were unnecessary.  That year was filled with so many drugs & even a couple suicide attempts that I eventually came to my senses).

It's the same with opiates.  I can't deny the positive effects they have on my life, even when you factor in the drawbacks.  And I HAVE quit for 6 months, 8 months & even a year at a time before, so I know what it's like to be totally clean & sober after long periods of use.  While I don't obsess or crave opiates after quitting, it just feels like I'm not functioning on all cylinders without them...like life is passing me by while I put on a fake smile & pretend to be something other than an anxious, unmotivated mess.  An alien walking around in a human-shaped meat sack.  And life is too short to feel that way when you KNOW there's something out there that can fix it with minimal toxicity to your body even with long-term use.  (Unlike many psych meds).

The only problems I can see with opioids is that they're not readily available to those who need them & there's a general lack of education among users.  Withdrawals are the problem; not the drugs themselves.  Withdrawals drive people--addicts--to do things they wouldn't otherwise do, such as panhandle, steal, prostitute themselves, lie & con loved ones to get their fix.  It's the withdrawals that do this; not the drug.  The drug is what allows them to feel somewhat normal for a time, even if it's not a practical solution to their problems (such as with heroin, which is too short-acting & potent/euphoric to allow users to live normal lives.  To say nothing of the risks of injecting drugs).  Drugs aren't a solution to life's problems.  They're a temporary Band-Aid at best.  But for some of us with severe emotional or physical pain, that's the best we're going to get.  

I choose kratom as my daily med now only because it's cheap, legal & available--not because it's superior to other options.  It's not.  It irritates my stomach lining to no end.  I get recurrent ulcers as a result of drinking daily kratom sludge, and the taste is nothing to write home about.  Plus you never know what heavy metals or other contaminants might be present since it's processed overseas.  But I'm grateful to have it.  If it were taken away by the DEA or FDA many people including myself would be in a major bind--forced to choose between possibly adulterated street drugs instead of a plant with centuries of safe use behind it.

Looking back on the past 15 years of responsible opioid use, I see a mix of positive & negative experiences.  But I fully expect to keep using them in this manner for the next 15 years.  Unless some miraculous depression treatment is invented, I will do what I have to do to make the most of this short life.  I refuse to let the shaming & addiction rhetoric from concern trolls make me feel bad about a catastrophe that has not materialized.  The real catastrophe is untreated or under-treated mental & physical illness and pain.

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(Note:  I don't suggest anyone start using kratom or other opioid agonists if they don't already.  I'm also not claiming they're an easy class of drugs to resist going overboard with.  But if suicide is your plan & you haven't tried kratom or opioids, what's there to lose by exhausting ALL your options before checking out?)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Exposing America's Justice System (Plus a Survival Guide)

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The U.S. bar goes off the margins! 'Nuff said.  --->









PART I:  The Bare Facts

If you live in the U.S. you're probably not aware of JUST how scary our nation's prison system really is (unless you've been caught up in it yourself).  After watching A Survivor's Guide to Prison on Netflix this weekend, I was left even more disturbed than ever by just how shaky our entire justice system really is, from the police on the street all the way up to the judges & juries that determine the fates of thousands each year.

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Excellent documentary (Netflix)
This info is, of course, vital to every substance user and--as you're about to learn--law-abiding citizen as well.  According to the film, there are so many ridiculous laws on the books in this country that the average American unknowingly commits 2-3 felonies per day.  You read that right.  For instance, simply telling someone you're going to "beat their fucking ass" is considered a "terroristic threat" in many jurisdictions whether you touch them or not.  Whether you actually get arrested for saying an off-handed comment like that depends largely on who you are & who you say it to.  People of color are disproportionately targeted by police & tend to receive longer sentences for the same crimes as white & Asian people.  Class is another factor.  But we'll get to that in a minute.

The U.S. locks up more of its population than any nation on Earth.  That includes communist China, Russia, North Korea & any other place you can think of.  Our prisons outnumber our universities & colleges.  Do we REALLY have that many more dangerous criminals in the "greatest nation on Earth", or are our laws just more unfair?  To get more specific, America accounts for 1/3rd of all incarcerated women in the entire world.  Not 1 single state has use of force laws that meet even the most basic international standards.  Police aren't required to have any education beyond a high school diploma or GED.  Is this really reasonable for a position of such authority?  Worse, no independent organizations oversee police or prosecutors when issues arise--they are entirely responsible for investigating themselves.

Due to the insane backlog of cases in the courts, the vast majority of defendants are pressured to take plea bargains in which they plead guilty to a lesser charge whether they committed it or not.  Refusal to do so can result in lengthy prison stays if you can't afford bail (see: the tragic case of Kalief Browder who spent 3 years in Riker's Island awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack).  95% of all cases are "resolved" by plea bargain in this country.  If you are brave/stupid enough to demand a trial, be aware that judges & juries are subject to authority bias--a phenomenon in which a person tends to believe an authority figure such as the police, government agency or media over an individual such as a defendant in a criminal trial.  This bias is inherent in humans so you can expect to face it no matter how good your lawyer is.

And that brings up another issue:  public defenders tend to be stretched thin & not have a great track record of winning criminal cases where the cards are stacked against them.  So unless you can afford Johnny Cochran or another member of the Dream Team, taking a case to trial can be very risky and the stakes are much higher than taking the plea deal.  If you lose, you get the whole sentence...whatever that may be.

Once you're actually IN prison, you can probably expect to do some time in solitary confinement.  Iran has a 2-year maximum limit on solitary confinement; California's average length of stay is 7.5 years.  Inmates may be placed in solitary for disciplinary purposes or for their own "protection" if deemed a target by gangs or other dangerous individuals.  And inmates in general population don't fare much better.  1 in 10 prisoners is sexually assaulted, to say nothing of physical & verbal assaults or other types of abuse such as medical neglect.

If you expect your jail time to be full of reading & relaxing, don't bank on it.  Approximately 1 million U.S. prisoners work for corporations behind bars for pennies a day.  There is no minimum wage & no benefits and organizing/unionizing is not allowed.  If you refuse to work you are put in solitary.  Prison labor is a multi-billion dollar per year industry.  Private prisons are paid to house inmates on a per-bed basis & taxpayers foot the bill even for empty cells.  This incentive to incarcerate citizens leads to exactly what you'd expect:  lobbyists pushing for tough-on-crime bills in Washington to guarantee a steady pipeline of inmates into these for-profit hell holes.  Immigration laws are also greatly affected by this system.  State prisons have an 80% recidivism rate, which proves how little effort goes into rehabilitating inmates.  And why would it?  The profit comes from keeping people incarcerated.  The word 'slavery' comes to mind...

But what about violent offenders like rapists, child molesters, murderers & domestic abusers you ask?  Don't they DESERVE the treatment they get in prison?  According to the Innocence Project, between 40,000 & 100,000 innocent Americans are estimated to be sitting in prison on wrongful convictions.  A majority are people of color & poor whites.  Some of these are on death row; others languish in solitary confinement indefinitely or face other atrocious living conditions.  Over half a million Americans are locked up for non-violent drug charges at any given time.  So while we all want to see violent psychopaths separated from society & punished, the way we're currently doing it is not making that happen.  Sentences for rape & child abuse are often disgustingly short compared to non-violent drug crimes in the first place.

We need to work toward making prison a place ONLY for violent offenders who pose a real risk to law-abiding citizens; not a place to house those whose lifestyles we disagree with--the poor, sex workers, drug users & dealers, low-level thieves & the mentally ill.  These people deserve rehabilitation & counseling.  Medication in many instances.  Education.  And prisons themselves must be made more habitable even for the violent scum who stay there because the majority of inmates WILL be getting out one day.  It just makes good sense to offer rehabilitation & keep them out of solitary to prevent them from becoming more crazed while locked up.  Losing their freedom is the punishment.  Promoting rape & assault behind bars doesn't benefit anyone and makes us look as vile as the sick fucks who commit these acts to the rest of the developed world.



PART II:  Survival Tips You Can Use


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1.  Don't argue with an aggressive officer.  Calmly ask "Am I being detained?  Am I free to go?"  Pick your battles & don't do anything that could be perceived as a challenge to their authority, such as yelling, cursing or running.  If you're not being detained, leave immediately.  Say nothing else.

2.  Never answer police questions without a lawyer present.  Demand an attorney even if you're 100% innocent.  Your words can be used against you but never for you.  You have the right to remain silent for a very important reason.  Use it.  Cops will use many tactics to get you to talk--never do so without a lawyer present.

3.  If wrongfully convicted of a crime, send a preservation letter to the police department labs & courts asking them to save all the evidence in your case.  Do this as soon as possible to prevent evidence from being destroyed, which it can be within 30 days if you don't request preservation.

4.  Seek out an Innocence Project to take your case.  Unfortunately this can take years, so be prepared to wait.  Write as many well-worded letters to as many Innocence Projects as you can to increase your chances. 

5.  When entering prison, be quiet & observe the way things operate.  Find allies within your own race or from your neighborhood but keep a comfortable physical distance.  Don't accept commissary or other "gifts" from inmates or you'll be expected to pay them back later with interest.  (You can fill in the blanks as to what "interest" and "debt" are).

6.  Focus on your education & hobbies in your spare time.  Exercise, read & do other things to occupy your time & better yourself.  Don't get involved in drugs or prison drama.  Many prisoners become "professional inmates" & end up with more time tacked onto their sentence due to stupid choices made behind bars.

7.  If seriously confronted by another inmate, don't back down.  Physical violence is sometimes unavoidable in prison & the rules are different than on the outside.  Never pick fights but stand your ground & don't let anyone demean or mock you, steal your belongings or do other disrespectful things or your stay will be highly unpleasant.

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Hopefully you'll never need this information, but better safe than sorry.  Nobody thinks this stuff applies to them until suddenly it does.  The horror stories are real & all too common nowadays.  Stay safe.












Sunday, May 5, 2019

[Review] - VLNT Kratom: Red Borneo & Red Sunda (2 kg)

Vendor:  VLNT Herb
Location:  Indonesia
Items:  Kratom (kilograms only)
Website: www.vlntherbstore.online
Rating:  4.8 of 5 stars

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Since my long-time vendor Swirl Girl Inc closed up shop, I decided to branch out & try to find the best, most affordable kratom vendors to satiate my massive appetite for the good leaf.  There are countless Indonesian-based vendors on Facebook who contact me daily, but I prefer sticking with ones who have long-standing reputations in the community.  VLNT Herb is one such vendor.

Before the big 2017 crackdown on domestic vendors, VLNT was one of the most highly-praised suppliers for some of the most popular U.S. kratom sellers.  So why not just go directly to the source & cut out the middle man?  Well, many Indo vendors require a bulk purchase of 5-10 kg or more, which I definitely can't afford.  Luckily VLNT was willing to work with me & offer a 2 kg deal: 2 kg for $140 total including shipping.  Awesome!

Having tried several VLNT strains through another vendor in the past, I knew exactly which two I wanted--Red Sunda & Red Borneo.  The former is a darker brown & has a more relaxing effect while the Borneo is probably the most energizing red I've found anywhere...and potent.  The smell of both strains is somewhat like cherry Play-Doh, which I've always associated with high-quality leaf.  Sure enough, one tbsp of Red Borneo in some tea has me feeling warm & fuzzy and ready to stay up late fiddling around on the tubes.  I've not tried any of his white, green or yellow strains but really enjoyed my last order of his Red Maeng Da too.  It's a close third to the others.  He also has more exotic options like "White Bentuangie" and "Green OV".

I already transferred the Borneo to a Ziplock bag, so I didn't bother taking a photo.  But here's the Sunda in its original vacuum sealed package:


Shipping was faster than it's ever been for an overseas order of any kind.  Not sure why exactly.  It was sent April 24th & arrived May 3rd.  Perfect timing.  You can usually expect to wait 2-4 weeks depending on how fast the mail is moving though, so plan ahead.  Indo vendors are better for stocking up in advance--not emergency buys.  But the money saved is SO worth it, and the product passes through fewer hands so is theoretically safer & cleaner.

I give this order from VLNT a 4.8 out of 5 stars for shipping time, quality & price: all of which were stellar.  I was given a tracking number as soon as it went out which allowed me to watch it progress through the postal system.  The only downside was his dysfunctional website, which has some major kinks to work out.  It's best to contact VLNT via his Facebook page (Google it) or through email.  Will definitely be ordering again.

Swirl Girl Inc: 2012-2019

It is with much sadness I announce the closing of one of my favorite long-time vendors, Swirl Girl Inc.  They were my go-to source for kratom, CBD, hemp buds & a whole host of ethnobotanicals for years.  It appears they narrowed their available payment options & then just closed up shop altogether some time in March.  Whether they'll be back one day is unknown, but it was a great run while it lasted.  From talking with the owner it sounds like a happy decision to move on; nothing ominous.  Just not profitable any longer & too much work.

On to new horizons!  🌅

Friday, May 3, 2019

[Double Review] - Blue Dream CBD Shatter: Phytodabs & Extract Labs

Vendor:  Phytodabs / Phyto Family
Location:  Colorado, U.S.
Items:  CBD Shatter, drops, dabs, vapes.
Website:  www.phytodabs.com
Rating:  4.4 of 5 stars





For funzies, I bought two orders of Blue Dream CBD shatter from two vendors to see which I liked better.  After my bad experience with Steve's Goods I'm shopping around for a full-time affordable source of CBD shatter.  Coincidentally I've never smoked actual Blue Dream weed but always liked the sound of its effects, so that's why I chose it for a double review.  I also picked up 5 new replacement coils for my vape so I'd be sure & get some clean hits.  (Yeah, bitches.  I'm goin' all out).  Keep in mind the opinions on things like flavor, aroma & smoothness are totally subjective.  My favorite thing lately has been to binge-watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt while vaping CBD and laughing my ass off so I should be set for a while with this double purchase.  😎

First up is Phytodabs Blue Dream 99% High Terpene Isolate 2.0.  I grabbed the half-gram ($24.99 + $4.99 Priority shipping) since I wasn't sure I'd like the flavor.  Some terps irritate my GERD severely, and with this being a high-terp product I didn't wanna go all-in with a whole gram until I knew if I liked it.  It's described on the website as "Blue Dream, originating in California, epitomizes the easy daydream of a West Coast weekend."  Sounds delish, if a bit non-specific.  I'm definitely getting Snoop Dogg vibes.  It smells of pine mostly, but not very strong.  There's an underlying sweetness too.  


Phytodabs Blue Dream High-Terp Dabs

Phytodabs uses custom-blended terpene mixes derived from plant sources in their shatter, and their CBD comes from Colorado-based hemp farms.  This product is technically a "dab" rather than "shatter" so I'm not sure how it'll work in my vape pen.  I've never used dabs, wax or anything other than shatter in my life.  Guess we'll see...

First impression:  The flavor, like the aroma, is primarily pine-y.  Not overwhelmingly, but that's really the only smell or taste I'm picking up.  The strength of the terps seems to be irritating my eyes & nose a bit.  The hits are smooth af & each "bowl" lasts a really long time.  I really dig the texture of these dabs--they're much harder & thinner than the waxy/flaky shatter I'm used to.  Much easier to handle with my little vaping tool & don't leave residue all over it.  This stuff tastes truer to actual cannabis terpenes than the previous shatter I've used, though the Steve's Goods Blueberry OG has it beat in the flavor department for me.  But this one isn't really comparable because it's not blueberry-flavored at all.  It's more like a sweet pine forest on a snowy morning.  Subtle flavor but potent effects.

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Vendor:  Extract Labs
Location:  Colorado, U.S.
Items:  CBD shatter, softgels, crumble, topicals.
Website:  www.extractlabs.com
Rating:  4.7 of 5 stars




Next day I pack the Yocan with some Extract Labs Blue Dream CBD Shatter.  Because the price was right I went ahead & got a whole gram ($30).  The website claims this is their best seller for "mood elevation" which is right up my depressed alley.  The terpene profile is shown on the website, which is pretty cool.  Myrcene & pinene dominate at 26% each, with beta-caryophyllene & limonene coming in a distant second.  I must say the price is very attractive compared to what I've been paying for a gram.  Steve's Goods charged me $58.99 for a gram of Blueberry OG w/ shipping which is what prompted me to look elsewhere (among other things).  I've already gone through that whole gram.  Extract Labs uses CO2-extracted hemp & all-natural terpenes in their shatter, which contains 0% THC.

The aroma is more well-rounded with this Blue Dream shatter by far--less pine & more of a floral, minty undertone.  Much truer to actual cannabis or hemp than the Phytodabs even.  Oddly enough, the smell is stronger than the Phytodabs despite the latter being a "high-terp" product.  The hits are also smoother.  No burning in my eyes or nose on the exhale, though I'm not sure I'd call the taste "yummy" like Steve's Goods shatter.  Perhaps I need to look for something that's actually berry flavored instead.  These both taste like straight-up Christmas trees, lol.  This stuff is the exact same texture as the dabs--thin slabs that break off cleanly & easily.  Produces nice fat clouds but each bowl doesn't last as long as the Phytodabs stuff.

I feel mostly mellow after finishing a bowl.  Not drowsy but not stimulated either.  I've been extra run down lately due to Springtime fatigue & a flare up of my bladder issues, so it's hard to judge the effects properly.  But no negative side effects are noted with either product after lots of vaping.  Sometimes I'll get a mild headache or acid reflux after a vape session but not this time.  The Phytodabs stuff did irritate my eyes noticeably, which I've had happen before with terpsolate.  But it's nothing bad enough to put me off using it.

Extract Labs Blue Dream CBD Shatter

In conclusion, I give the Phytodabs High-Terpene Dabs a 4.4 for potency, texture & shipping time and the Extract Labs Shatter a 4.7 for price, aroma & flavor.  I appreciated being able to pay with a secure, preferred payment method with Extract Labs and the price was super affordable so I'll definitely be using them again.  Both companies shipped my orders out the day after ordering, and I got tracking numbers with both.  Phytodabs arrived a day earlier so extra points for them in that department.  Both orders came from Boulder, CO.  I look forward to testing out more products from these companies since they each have a long line of vape-able CBD shatter, dabs & crumble: all of which are said to work in my vape pen.



That Time I Tried: 4-HO-MET

I first tried 4-HO-MET around 2012 during the absolute pinnacle of the research chemical Golden Era (2010-2015).  It was the 2nd psychedelic...