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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeSep 3rd 2012
    #comics - TOPLESS ROBOT and COMICS ALLIANCE are both good sites for news. Very snarky, gloriously lowbrow without being TOO offensive. Blank stares at anything too outside the mainstream but still, not bad. (Too much video game news too but whatever.)

    Guy in Toronto called Christopher Bird has a blog called that often features lively & interesting comics discussions. John Seavey contributes and his opinions are always informative & interesting. (Plus, they have some kind of love on for Rex The Wonder Dog so there's that.)

    I'd like to start a regular thread here about comics - 'HEY KIDS! IT'S COMICS!" or somesuch - where people can offer reviews or opinions or whatever. Ariana would probably murder me in my sleep if I did this, though, as it'd be more trouble than it'd be worth, probably, to moderate it and make sure there's no crying or whining or spam or whatever.
  1.  (10788.2)
    i had to stop reading migth god king and most of comics alliance because their senses of humor just annoyed the shit out of me, plus there no real msg board there, so you just get a lot of idiotic comments instead of real comics talk
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2012
    #alternative medicine research

    Two part question -

    a. Google is nearly useless when it comes to researching supplements, as there are so many astroturf sites that just plug products. Can anyone recommend a few sites for researching things such as the effectiveness of St. John's Wort on treating depression?

    b. A friend of mine has pretty severe PMS/PMDD, and had been taking both expensive birth control and an antidepressant supplement for it, which she can no longer afford. Any recommendations on effective supplements to help alleviate that would be welcome.
  2.  (10788.4)
    #alternative medicine research

    St John's Wort is a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor. MAOIs interact strongly with many other drugs, often with lethal consequences. It should not under any circumstances be taken if SSRIs are still in the system. I can't offer any good web addresses but I can tell you that MAOIs are very dangerous in combination with a great many legal and illegal drugs and that St John's Wort, while weak (and therefore usually pretty ineffective) is one.
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2012 edited
    #alternative medicine research

    For a more detailed list of St. John's Wort's MANY MANY MANY drug interactions (including some very serious ones), check here.

    St. John's Wort may have worked well as a homeopathic anti-depressant before the days of modern medicine, but at that point people had shorter lifespans anyway and didn't always understand what killed them, and they weren't taking a bunch of modern pharmaceuticals.

    ( is actually a pretty reliable site for checking drug interactions, including some of the homeopathic drugs)

    Edited to add: Because large scale clinical trials to determine safety and efficacy and dosing are really expensive, they haven't been run on St. John's Wort. Plus dosing for antidepressants can be an incredibly nuanced thing. Too much of something can have disastrous consequences, and too little just won't have enough of an effect.

    (This trial/experiment reason is part of why I think medical marijuana is a terrible place to try and fight the battle for legalization. For marijuana to be medicalized, there needs to be a laaaaaarge set of clinical trials examining its effects in various diseases, optimal dosing rates, and potential negative effects for certain conditions. Medicine is the exact wrong place to be fighting for marijuana legalization)
  3.  (10788.6)
    (Medicine is also the exact only place that legalization can begin in the US. It will remain a Schedule I drug with nuclear federal penalties until it has 1) an accepted medical use and 2) established medical standards for its safe use. There's no other route to that changing, short of rewriting DEA rules, and Congress will never have the balls to tinker with the legislation that also makes coke, heroin, and LSD illegal.)
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2012
    (And unfortunately, testing marijuana in wiiiiiiide clinical trials is not something anyone will fund. Ever.)
  4.  (10788.8)
    #alternative medicine research

    I've been looking into 5-HTP lately. Results are mixed but some people find it effective to treat depression, anxiety and sleep problems. The good news is unlike St John's Wort you can mix it with anti-depressants (SSRIs) and other drugs, although obviously double check specifics first.
    It basically replenishes serotonin. Which is often depleted in people who have depression, anxiety, sleeping problems and/or have taken lots of euphoric stimulating drugs.
    I'm gonna order some soon try it out myself. Think they sell it in most health shops.

    Magnesium (good for depression and PMS), potassium and calcium are supposed to be good for depression.

    Also consider these: eating good meat, milk, bananas, exercising, Omega 3, iron, iodine, vitamin C, plenty of water, vitamin D etc. Or just eating the fruits and vegetables that contain good vitamins and minerals anyway (But where's the fun in that?).
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2012
    #alternative medicine research

    re: 5HTP. I took this for a while and it seemed to have an effect. I also combined it with foods like bananas which supposedly replenish serotonin and stuck to a routine and some strict rules about no reading in bed - bed being only for sleep - and getting up when the alarm went off, and getting exercise.

    Accumulatively, it helped sort me out, but then I was just going through a rough patch and had symptoms that were reasonable for someone dealing with that and not actually anything chemically wrong with me.
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2012 edited
    #alternative medicine research

    Thanks for the info all. I'll have my friend check out 5-HTP.
  5.  (10788.11)
    #alternative medicine research

    This isn't so much alternative medicine advice as getting help paying for expensive meds help. It's very possible that there is a medical non-profit in the area. She might end up having to drive a little extra, and do a little more paperwork, but the savings will make a difference. She could start with any women's health non-profits (Planned Parenthood is the famous one, but there can be more than that), and they can point her to other non-profits. It's very possible that the non-profits have programs that help with getting expensive meds at quite a huge discount (or even free).
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2012
    #alternative medicine research

    What Trini said! Also, if she's on a brand name medication, some pharmaceutical companies do have payment assistance plans. It depends on the company, her level of income, and her insurance coverage, but it might be worth talking to a nurse/doc about that. They usually have experience enrolling people in the payment assistance plans.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2012

    Also, and I realize that Walmart is The Evil, but my mom and dad used to buy their meds there because they apparently have a list of medicine that only costs like $4 a fill. I can't remember if that's for everyone or people without insurance or what, but it's worth looking into. Basically you ask for a copy of the list and take it to the doc and ask if they can't prescribe one of those so that you can actually afford your medicine.
    • CommentAuthorsteevo
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2012
    #Creative Writing Masters (#CWM) - So I'm thinking about going back to school for creative writing. Clearly, I hate money and I'm getting a bit bored of burning my own, so I figured I'd look into burning someone else's until they ask for it back after a year or so, at which time I will laugh and run away to an island in the South Pacific so remote that it has no name. There I will live out the rest of my days as Dr. Livingstone and people will think I'm just the crazy coot what came in on the raft that one day. But I'll know that they're absolutely right.

    Anyway, I've done a little research, but I'd love to see what you folks think. It seems like the biggest upside of doing something like this is that you get to meet a bunch of industry pros. That is followed closely by the fact that it will actually force me to write, since all the exits to my house will be blocked by walls of flaming cash. Thoughts/similar stories/ways for me to rationalize this to myself as a good idea (or reasons I shouldn't)? Also -- Schools/programs to look into? Alternative (read: cheaper) methods of going about this with similar results?

    Any and all advice is gratefully appreciated. Thanks, Whitechapel.
    • CommentTimeSep 10th 2012 edited
    I am always wary of anyone who says they want to go to school because it will motivate them to write do anything - it sounds more like it is this thing that they are fetishizing, rather than something they are ultimately passionate about.
    I say this as someone who, in pursuit of my BFA, wanted to go for a masters in creative writing after so that I could do illustrated novels. But writing was something that I enjoyed every so often but definitely was not doing every day (aside from blogging, which was really just glorified whining) and it seemed like if it was that far down of my list of priorities, that going into debt over it would not end well. I also say this as someone who works from home as a sort of freelancer/business manager who also hires other people who work from home. A lot of people want the freedom but do not have any of the discipline. And the main place where that discipline comes from is that it is the only thing you care about doing when you wake up.

    I would generally say, look at your motivations for pursuing that path & make sure that you're ready for what doing it professionally will entail. Are you going to pursue a career where you will be at home, having to self motivate and make/meet your own deadlines? Are you capable of doing that now, why and why not? What will school bring to this pursuit that you cannot learn on your own or taking workshops like Clarion or equivalents? Professional connections are incredibly important (it's part of why i went to my undergrad school) but if you're not going to keep up the momentum post-grad, they'll eventually become meaningless (also happened to me, where I graduated burnt out and didn't do anything in the arts for the following couple of years, kind of rendering the education moot except for all the materials/techniques I learned that I might not have been exposed to on my own).

    Alternates involve local writing workshops, big international workshops, attending conventions & talks by your favourite writers, online courses, etc. Basically anything that won't leech years of money out of you/other people. Then again, if it's a free ride out of the 9-5 day job rut/an excuse to get out of your current town/any sort of change that can justify the price tag, dooo eet!
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2012 edited

    Just completed one of these Steevo, here are my thoughts.

    If you've never been in a writers workshop group before, using something like the Milford Rules, then a CW course is going to introduce you to that,l and it can be a powerful tool for improving your work, especially if your fellow students are good writers. I had a wee bit of experience of workshops before I started my course, so was able to get into the workshop mindset very quickly and make it work for me. I spent a year revising drafts of chapters from a novel, testing them on an audience who gave detailed critical feedback, rewriting.... eventually i nailed three 'voices' for the characters which I found satisfactory, and that pushed me to write the novel. I'm nearly finished now.

    By contrast, the first novel I wrote (in 2003) was terrible - it was never workshopped, and it took four years to complete, then didn't sell. This one has taken a year (and counting) and an extract was nominated for a literary prize, so for me the results speak for themselves (although it should be said, I found and entered the contest myself, nothing to do with the Uni).

    The reading list on the course was nothing short of inspiring - I was exposed to writers I would never have even looked at, and we analysed them for techniques we could replicate or experiment with. That kept me writing every day, even the days I didn't feel like it. Finally, the writers on my course were, for the most part, much more polished and ambitious than me - being around them really made me think about what I wanted out of writing, and how to achieve it.

    The cost, obviously, was a burden - one that hasn't even begun to mess with me yet... I had to borrow a substantial amount of money to cover the fees and living expenses - the course has yet to result in any kind of paying work, so the prospect of paying that back is daunting. I'm even less inclined now to go back to teaching or office work (although realistically, I know I will probably have to).

    Also, I think that because I went in with such a firm idea of what I was doing, the course worked for me - I knew I wanted to begin a novel, I also knew I wanted to relaunch Weaponizer Magazine. i used the course as a way to achieve these aims. People who went in with less of an idea may have felt that the course was not structured to achieve specific aims - rather to provide an environment in which to achieve one's own aims. Whether that suits you depends entirely on you, I'd say.

    I think the poets in the class really got the shitty end of the stick - anything not formally structured, or anything with end-rhymes, was dismissed as 'prose poetry' which is an academic's way of saying it's shite. If I had come to Uni to write poems (I've had poems published, performed at festivals etc), I would have been pretty raging about the academic contempt for spoken word / free verse. But then, they didn't seem to mind genre fiction - I'm sure twenty or even ten years ago, it would have been frowned upon. Now House of Leaves is on the reading lists.

    Another thing to mention just briefly - the course was, I hoped, a way to meet industry professionals. Publishers, agents and the like. There were lectures and events and talks, and I attended as many as possible. None led to me having 'friends in the industry.' The attention I received from agents and publishers was down to the competition I entered, not the course. But then, I'm an antisocial bastard. At least a few of the other folk on the course are now best pals with the pointy-shoed, skinny-jeaned, Arran sweater wearing, horn-rim spectacled, Belle & Sebastian-listening mob that run the Scottish Literary Fiction 'scene.' Basically, there's no way these people would ever consider me a friend or a peer - I write what they consider trash (Crime, SF) and so it's unlikely I would ever have gotten an invite to an event, a publishing credit or a smile from most of them. That's as it should be. What I'm into is not what they are into, and the course wasn't going to change that.

    Finally, to address your point about the course allowing you to 'find the time' to write, all I will say is that yes, it did that for me... Mainly because I survived without a 'real job' for 12 months, taking on bits and bobs of freelance and borrowing from the bank. It gave me a year to write because I set it up that way - other students had to work in bars or whatever, and found the deadlines and wordcounts challenging. I'd say if you're determined to write for a year, can find a local workshop group that suits you, and can make room in your life for daily sessions on your project(s), you don't really need a CW course. But if you choose to do one, it may well be the environment,and the spur, that you're looking for.

    (Post script - I agree with Glukkake's final conclusion - the course got me out of a job I was due to lose anyway due to cutbacks, and out of a city I was so over it was making me miserable. Life is better because the course helped me make that change.)
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2012
    @steevo -

    Chances are this won't do you much good, but Grub Street in Boston ( offers multiple workshops per year, and is well spoken of. Less demanding than attending a full time program, but therefor probably not worth coming here just to take.
  6.  (10788.18)

    After losing a tech job, I took a part-time bar job, and enrolled in art school. I loved it. But I haven't been able to get a decent job since: too old for entry-level creative positions (yes, age discrimination is real), and too career-interrupted to get mid-level jobs in my previous line of work. In my experience, creative studies are a one-way ticket to self-employment. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing... will vary.
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2012
    creative studies are a one-way ticket to self-employment

    They need to put that above the door and give every kid a leaflet about what that really means :-)
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2012
    #iphoneapp #notetaking

    Does anyone know a (free) way to make a table for note-taking in the iPhone? I want to make an Antecedent Behavior Consequence Chart I can update hourly.