Chop / Change / Change / Chop

 

Exciting times here – as readers of my online presence may be aware, I had a personal Blog at www.ijopona.org. I have since closed that down and moved all of the posts over to here, www.andybackhouse.blog

The reason behind having an anonymous personal blog was due to reasons beyond my control – however, I am Andrew Backhouse and this is my Blog.

There has been a gradual “Outing” of my self – but, I am Andy Backhouse & I write about a heap of nonsense.

The old blog on this another site, my Arty Blog, has been amalgamated into the monster that is the old Ijo Pona Blog but eventually left out.

There are vestiges of Ijo Pona on this Blog – I will not attempt to correct or change the text.

So then, other than that, I have not been up to much – Kathryn is out at a Rock night supporting Doctors Without Borders and I had a nasty dream involving Carol Vorderman. Apart from that, all is Groovy.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

 

I am going to start a new Tag for my WordPress posts – I am going to call in ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful.

I will not go through my old blog and update the post to inform the reader “I am cheerful – Look at me be cheerful” I am going to let it sit there like the smug bitch it is, brooding in a procrastinated fashion.

But, why am I cheerful at 3am on a Saturday morning – after no sleep for 40+ hours? Well, I could go in to details about Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs – no, in fact let’s explore that:

So, the base level of the Hierarchy of needs is Physiological – yes, I am woozy with sleep deprivation. However, that will soon be remedied when I lie down next to my wife and sleep the sleep of the righteous.

Next level up is the Need For Safety. Barring a slight altercation in a club tonight (one of the clients was a bit too merry) there is nothing to worry about. I am sat in my flat with the morning chorus going full tilt outside my window and it is quite a tranquil scene out on the street. Tick.

“Love & Belonging Needs” is the third tier. Kathryn*, family & a great circle of mates who have stuck with me through all of my mind farts.

“Esteem Needs” – Tricky one: I was No. 1 in the Beatport Reggae Chart for a bit and that kind of went away all too soon. It is respect more than self-congratulation’s that have been occurring. I am the last person to say “Well done Backhouse – here is a biscuit!” but my peers have been handing over their biscuit money in exchange for music.

The very pinnacle of the Hierarchy Of Needs is “Self Actualisation.” What the hell does this mean? The term “self actualisation” conjures images of people climbing mountains and over coming obstacles on the way to achieving their aim. If this is the case (and fill in the comments section in the footer of this post to correct me) then it was achieved tonight.

The “Self Actualisation” element of the Hierarchy was achieved in a little microcosm. We have the macrocosm explained. However, tonight saw me and Allan put the demons of Monday to bed. We had practiced and practiced our set to perform tonight at Henshaw’s. Right up until last night (Thursday night) we were sat in Allan’s kitchen getting our timing sorted. We nailed the gig on Friday (tonight)!

reasons to be cheerful
Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Here is the macrocosm: we performed the gig well. We had the admiration of our peers right there. We owned the stage and we belonged together (me and Allan) as a band – we had a right to be there and call ourselves Guerrilla Dub System. We were safe at the gig as it was for charity and Allan is good with PAs. The hole in our stomach was soon filled with Baked Potato so our physiological needs were sorted too.

Am I saying that being in a band and performing a gig fulfills Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs? I am uneducated oaf, but I do hold that I have achieved something by stepping out tonight in front of the crowd and succeeding.

I do not know if there are greater reasons to be cheerful.

*all that I hold dear.

The Future Of Anti-Depressants?

 

I have just returned from a family funeral – it was a great turn out and all the good and great were there along with me to pay our respects to my Granny. Whilst I was catching up with my family – I had the terrible news that my cousin (who will remain un-named so he has a veneer of privacy) has had a bad run with his mental health. Also, as readers of my blog are aware, I am currently getting help for all manner of brain maladies. Shake me and I rattle – one of the medications I am on is an anti depressant. With a new found enthusiasm to try and help my cousin, I looked in to ways of helping him.

I admit – when you are exhibiting the symptoms that are necessary to be prescribed the medication of anti-depressants – the last person you look out for is yourself. So, this is not me leaping to the aid of a relative in a foolhardy manner – no. I appreciate the torment he is going through and I am merely trying to find a way of helping him through his Dark Night of The Soul.

The thing that really shook me out of my crying-suicide-disease was a massive dose of Magic Mushrooms.

By the way, I should probably say this is a NSFW post. But, before the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, put a downer on shrooms by moving them from a something you could by in a high-street shop to a ‘A’-Class drug it really shot it in the foot for funtime-foragers. However, the real problem was in the start – Tim Leary went and completely mismanaged the early American acid trials in the 1960’s for the sake of trying to start a revolution – a lot of bad science went on and it set the movement back decades; the cool-aid acid test became a freak show to the detriment of a sustainable counterculture.

However, I found an article about the very topic of this blog post – The Future Of Anti-Depressants – on the website, VICE. in it, the article says: the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has been used in a clinical trial as an antidepressant. The science of antidepressants, is not, as it goes, an exact science. Two patients can react differently to the same drug. For some people, many of the existing drugs won’t have any effect at all.

Science is still struggling to work out why certain drugs only work for certain people. According to one study from Chicago’s Northwestern University, doctors treat the causes in a crude way, with drugs “aimed at the wrong target,” often focusing on reducing stress rather than depression itself. Others have suggested that commercial interests are skewing results when antidepressants are being tested. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some drug companies were selectively publishing studies on antidepressants that showed the drugs had a benefit and shelving others that showed there was no overall effect.

“There are a distinct proportion of patients who don’t get better despite taking lots of different antidepressants,” says Dr. Mark Bolstridge, an honorary research associate at UCL and a clinical psychiatrist. “That’s frustrating as a clinician, that even though we do have a lot of drugs at our disposal, for some people, none of them work.”

Bolstridge is already in the process of searching for alternative and unusual treatments. In particular, he’s been looking into the hallucinogenic compound found within magic mushrooms: psilocybin.

Bolstridge, alongside David Nutt, president of the British Neuroscience Association and former government drugs advisor, initially applied to run a psilocybin trial in 2013. Nutt had previously conducted small experiments before more stringent regulations around psychoactive substances were put into place. He felt that psilocybin had the potential to alleviate symptoms of depression and wanted to carry out further experiments.

Despite getting approval and funding from the UK Medical Research Council, there remained a number of roadblocks in doing the trial, because magic mushrooms were a class A drug. “We had a lot of problems getting the drug itself, because you need a special license to be able to use it… and it had to be imported from Europe,” Bolstridge told us. “Ethics committees tend to wave things through the first time you present your case to them. We had to meet with them three of four times before they were prepared to approve our study.”

He says he can see why they were met with resistance. “Your average person on the street is very skeptical of these drugs because they’re classified in the A category, which means, as far as the general person on the street is concerned, they’re dangerous, as they’re the same category as heroin and cocaine.”

But the red tape comes from more than just moral panic around class A drugs. Researchers in psychiatric hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s ran many studies linking psychedelic drugs with various therapeutic effects, including the treatment of alcoholism, depression, and even autism. But many of the studies were poorly controlled and controversial, particularly when LSD was given to the children of vulnerable people. “Studies were not performed to the contemporary standard of rigor,” says Bolstridge. “The methodology was a bit suspect.”

Since the 1970s, it has been very hard to get approval for LSD-based studies, but Bolstridge and colleagues were able, for the first time in decades, to run a clinical trial testing the effects of psilocybin on depression. They recruited 12 patients with a moderate to severe form of depression, and treated them in a controlled environment.

Unlike many clinical trials, there was no financial incentive for partaking in the trial. Bolstridge described how people were motivated to participate by a “sheer desperation,” saying, “Some patients had been on a whole load of different antidepressants, and nothing had worked. And they were still just feeling really shitty and really low, and they weren’t functioning in life. They were severely incapacitated. They weren’t working. Their lives just hadn’t planned out as hoped, as expected.”

Kirk Rutter, one of the participants in the trial, agreed to speak with us about his experiences. He told us he participated in the trial because he “thought it might help me clear the grief and get out the emotion.”

“The only way I can describe it is like when you drop a heavy object into a body of water where it kind of goes under and leaps back out, and it eventually steadies and finds its level.”

After his mother’s death, Rutter suffered with ongoing depression that resisted the treatment of antidepressants and psychotherapy. He believes the drugs prescribed to him were designed to “deal with the symptoms, not the problem” and was keen to get his hands on a more effective treatment. He volunteered.

After the treatment, Rutter says he felt “very, very positive. In the first week, I felt great. And then I felt like I was moving backward. It was like, Oh crap, you know, that didn’t last long. And then I felt OK again. The only way I can describe it is like when you drop a heavy object into a body of water where it kind of goes under and leaps back out, and it eventually steadies and finds its level. It’s kind of like that.”

Rutter says he now “doesn’t feel depressed” and is “certainly not stuck in the grief that I was,” although nine months after the trial, he is now experiencing “a slight decline” in his mood.

Rutter’s experiences seem to match the tentatively positive results from the trial. “The vast majority responded well,” says Bolstridge. “For the vast majority of people, the pressure ‘lifted.’ And there were some persisting changes as well, because this is very different to administering [traditional] antidepressant drugs, which you take on a daily basis. With the psilocybin, there were two doses, separated a week apart, and people responded even six months afterward. They were still better than when they first participated in the study.”

Publicity around these studies comes with its own dangers. Once people hear that magic mushrooms may treat depression, it won’t be long before all kinds of spurious headlines are seen to encourage people to self-medicate. Bolstridge says that will always be a possibility. “But I suppose we have to get out the message and disseminate it widely that people shouldn’t be messing around with these drugs, and not trying to self-medicate, because we know exactly what dosage we were giving. Someone foraging, trying to find which mushrooms to take—it’s really difficult to identify exactly how much they need.”

The psilocybin study could one day be remembered as a radical breakthrough in treating depression, but for now, there remains a lot of research to do. “This is such a preliminary project. This hasn’t been done for donkeys years, because it’s been so difficult getting hold of the drug,” explains Bolstridge. “We’re still trying to identify the best course of treatment.”

Going Steady

 

What is this Blog post about – well, it is about charts. Not the sexy visual charts – but a table of how well something is selling / performing compared to it’s peers at that given time.

The first thing I am going to prattle on about is the radio show I do – this week’s edition is currently No.#16 in the Noise Charts – not bad work for me. Here is an embedding of it –

As you can tell from previous incarnations of the show – I have had to drop the spoken links – I was getting a bit too hesitant when it came to pronouncing the artists with relatively exotic names. And, by exotic, I mean Icelandic artists – Like my good friend, Stewart, I have difficulty when it comes to pronouncing foreign languages; English is hard enough for me as it is. So, probably best I leave out the links.

Another thing about charts is that you only have a short shelf life for what you do – it is all or nothing really. Like how I am finding with the release I put on Beatport, Dub Force by my band Guerrilla Dub System – it peaked at No.#2 in the releases chart and did quite well for around two or three weeks. I has since dropped to obscurity in the releases chart. However, when I looked yesterday, one of the tracks from it was No.#31 in the singles chart.

The singles (although no track has been specified as a single) have all been charting at different times – quite impressive to see but it is not until July that we will have the statistics for April. Me and Allan wait with baited breath to see if we sold 4, 14 or 40 albums to get so high in the chart.

Meanwhile – my second EP (with Allan) is due out two weeks tomorrow. Pound Of Dub will see the light of day on CREAO Studio on the twelfth of May 2017. Here is an extract –

I will put a show piece for the artwork I created for the release at the bottom of this post. I am quite chuffed with the artwork for this release – I took a stock image of a mannequin’s head and crystalised the left hand half of the image. The font used in the writing is called DRUGS and is available from most font download sites.

I am writing this on Thursday afternoon – getting ready for my DJ set on Friday and trying my hardest not to sit here too smugly; see, our Landlady has just paid for us to have double glazing and it is already proving a hit. The rooms it is in (it is now in all of them) were noticeably warmer than the room without when the job was half done last night.

Anyway, I digress – here is the artwork:

 

Pound Of Dub – Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP.

This Isn’t Spam

 

I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is now just a tool for promotion.

Be this promotion of the self or promotion of a product or event. Maybe that is something cynical to say – but am I on point on this? If you think so then please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

I am trying to minimise my impact on my friend’s FB feeds by sticking to this blog. I have stopped the auto-publish to FB so that people will have to come to my blog, Ijo Pona, to find out what I am up to and I am not spamming up their feed’s.

This could be be seen as shooting myself in the foot, some people only use their computer to go on FB. However, traffic could dip and lull in getting people this site, but I need to re-evaluate why I blog.

The reason I blog is to keep a tab of what I have been up to – what with my memory and such, keeping tabs on what I have been up to over the past five years that I have been blogging would prove some what elusive. So, why do I need to promote it to FB? Wouldn’t I be compounding the theory that FB is just used for promotion? If I was trying to recruit FB’rs to visit this blog would that very act be ‘promotion’?

In days of yore, people used to post up pictures of drunken nights out and even what they were eating, photos of friends vomiting and cats – now FB has become a marketing tool to ‘further your reach.’ So, I am taking a break from FB (he says) to stick to Blogging a bit more – one of the things I am conscious of is that there is a whole internet lying out there ready to explore and I just stick to a few sites a day, on a loop.

Essentially, the blogging renaissance starts now: Blogging, for when you’re tired of Facebook dramas.

So, what else have I been up to other than thinking of funny things to write about Facebook?

The Weekend

This weekend has been a bit of a conundrum – Friday was spent with Ms Backhouse – we just chilled and pottered around the flat.

Saturday was on Hiatus for me as I had not slept the night in between. Kathryn had a wale of a time as she took her Girl Guide group to Bradford to go to the Media Museum and then ice-skating. She came home tired but satisfied around five in the afternoon to a warm reception from me. I just sulked all day and realised it is best for me to stay from semi-religious children’s units. With my interest in The Occult I really doubt people will let me in a Church.

Sunday has been great so far – I woke up nice and early at eight in the morning after a refreshing 10 hour’s sleep. The birds were tweeting and the sun was shining. A few cups of tea later and I was ready to lounge. I managed to listen to a repeat of Stewart’s Sound Of Wonder on the internet.

I then had a go at recording my own show. Here it is –

It is quite a relaxed show – if it wasn’t for the crap links I do then it will be near a decent production – well, I like the music – although it is not to everyone’s taste.

In other news I spent a good while on Friday eyeing up cheap digital, toy cameras.

Digital Toy Camera

Worry not, parents – this camera would cost US$9.12 on eBay – it has similar (ish) results to my Lomo cameras – as in saturated colours, inherent unpredictability and general awesomeness – but it only costs the price of a roll of film and that film’s development to buy the whole camera. It is very tempting to get it – everyone needs a hobby.

To ask if it is just as good as my DSLR is the wrong question – they are different sports, not different leagues. A completely different concept. With my DSLR I am after resolute documentation and fine images. With this Digital Toy Camera I am hoping for blurry, saturated, off-kilter shots that ooze fun. I think I know which one I would rather take with me to a gig and I think I know which one will get the majority of use – the toy camera, in all honesty.

At US$9.12 is is throw-away cheap – and at £13 to £16 to purchase a film and procure it’s development it really is a no-brainer.

First port of call when checking out a new camera is always Flickr. I am a Flickr Pro and I love that site – I can easily spend hours a day just sat there either curating or browsing – you get to see the world through other people’s microcosms – their little patch of Earth and all the particulars therein – it is a joy to behold. The point of interest is the group “Toy Digital” for this weekend – it has a whole load of images that drew my eye and made me think of digital toy cameras – plus the saving on the money front that going digital would reap.

So, food for though – but not thought for food (I imagine it would taste of Spleen).

1/4 2017 Complete

 

I am in the process of trying a change of mind set – but it won’t be easy.

The change of Mind is to start thinking of this Blog as if the Blog is asking me the question: “How are you today?” So that I do not go and write a “This is a post about” …post.

It could prove trickier than my last mental shift – the last mental shift I tried was to replace the word ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you.’ So, if I turned up late somewhere I would say “Thanks for waiting” instead of “Sorry.” Instead of saying “Sorry, you are wrong …” I would say “Thanks for your input, but I see it this way.”

Granted it could make me a bit of an annoying optimist – but it reaping rewards in the way I see myself. Confidence is key but I am picking the lock. Either way, we will soon be there. It was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to do so – and – as this is a summary of the first quarter of the year then I wil give myself a big pat on the back – and reply “Thank you.”

My 2017 got off to a bad start with the inauguration of President Trump – the sh*t flinging gibbon has been mad de facto leader of the west and seeks to pocket all of the proceeds (and play golf).

February saw me quite ill – It seems to be around that time of year that my sleep pattern really cocks up and I do not really get out of the flat: I slept all the way through Valentines Day which I am still kicking myself over (and Kathryn keeps reminding me). February saw us loose the worlds best dog. Paddy is no more. His remains are interred in the garden on my parents farm next to Muttley. It was when I came back to the farm on Mother’s Day and opened the door that it really hit me – there was not the waggy-tailed welcome that I had received every time I had walked through the door for the past fourteen years. He was a good pup.

March: well, where to start on that. I was living out the trauma’s of February’s sleep issues right up until the middle of it and then, before I knew it – I was a pop star! Mine and Allan’s release is now in all of the big shops as well as on Spotify. Dig it out – it is pretty heavy stuff …. I also became a Flickr.com PRO and took a whole range of images (some of them are good).

So what have I learned from 1/4 2017 – saying “Thank you” instead of “sorry” works and that the world needs more good dogs & dub.

60 Seconds Everyday

 

How many blogs are set up, and only ever see the initial “This is a post” post? Starting a diary, journal, or blog is easy, the hard part is maintaining it. If you’re one of the owners of the thousands of one-post WordPress sites, 60 Seconds Everyday could be for you. Every night you’ll get a phone call asking how your day went, you’ll then have 60 seconds to reply, and your answer will be transcribed and saved to your online journal.

They are currently only accepting phone numbers from the US and Canada. If you have a phone number from another country, enter your email on their site to be notified when they are available in your area.

I have tried the 365 Blogging Challenge and came up short – I only lasted until February and then there was a pause as I was kind of Blogged out. Maybe this is the solution?

For more details please see their site www.60secondseveryday.com – it seems reet!