If You’re Going To Operate A Leaf Blower

If you’re going to operate a leaf blower in my neighborhood, let me operate a super soaker in the same vicinity.  I promise it’ll be quieter and will disturb no more than one person.

Anonymous asked
I strongly believe medication has its place in treating depression. I don't think it's a panacea by any means; I see it a metaphorical life jacket of sorts-- something to keep one's head above the emotional waters long enough to allow development of solid coping skills through therapy (after which the medication can hopefully be discontinued). I agree it can be dangerous to push it as the best/only option, but I think it's equally dangerous to push in the other direction when lives are at stake.

Thanks for writing!  I think I agree with your main point that medication has a place in treating depression.  I think the use of medication that you describe, seems to make sense than other, more long-term uses.

I still remain skeptical of it though, for two reasons.  One of the reasons is that I’ve seen significant evidence that taking medication can increase the risk of suicide.  The heart of what you’re saying, lives being at stake, is a major factor in why I’m skeptical of medication—I’m not convinced they save lives.  I’m not convinced they don’t either…I just think it’s a topic that is has a lot of uncertainty.

The other reason is publication bias (drug trials without strong results tend not to get published), which has been studied a lot lately (thankfully).  I am aware that there’s a pretty wide consensus in the medical establishment that, while people are taking them (and after the first 6 weeks or so of use), antidepressants have a positive effect, greater than placebo.  I’m not 100% sure that I buy this though—due to concerns of publication bias, and the huge profit motive behind the pharmaceutical industry.  I am aware that I have my own personal bias against medication—I’ve seen some people close to me have terrible things happen to them, after being pressured to go on medications by doctors, and I tend to have a visceral negative reaction to the idea of medication…which is my own hangup due to my own life experiences, and which I’m aware I sometimes take too far.

There are some meta-analyses which attempt to account for publication bias, see this one, for example.  That one concludes:

compared with placebo, the new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even very severe depression, but show significant effects only in the most severely depressed patients

This would seem to support that antidepressants might be a good choice for people who are severely depressed, especially for whom nothing else seems to work.  But interestingly, they also write:

The findings also show that the effect for these patients seems to be due to decreased responsiveness to placebo, rather than increased responsiveness to medication

This is some food for thought…what’s really going on here?  I don’t know.  I’m willing to consider it a “black box”…and say, hey, if the medication works for a particular person then that’s great and run with it.  I just don’t want therapists pushing drugs on me (or others) as the first choice, because they have been duped by the pharmaceutical industry into believing that the drugs work more effectively than the science actually suggests.

Why Plant ID Is A Good Skill To Have

I see people pulling plants as weeds, weed-whacking them, spraying herbicides on them.

Then I see some of the same plants for sale in garden centers.


"Depression is a Disease" - I’m Cautious Of Where The Reasoning Goes After This Statement

When I hear people say things like “Depression is a disease”, especially when they follow it with a narrative that emphasizes the manifestations of depression in brain chemistry, I often have this negative visceral reaction, associated with a fear that this narrative is going to lead people to think that the best (or the only) way to treat depression is through medication.

I’ve had bad experiences with counselors trying aggressively to push medication on me, for depression, after me paying out-of-pocket for several weeks of therapy, in spite of me telling them up front that I did not want to take antidepressant medication.

I’ve researched different methods of therapy and one reason I don’t want to take antidepressants is that I know there’s no evidence that they provide any relief from depression after you discontinue their use—whereas there is good evidence that other proven therapy methods, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, have evidence of providing sustained benefits, even after the therapy is discontinued.

Years later, I feel like I’ve mostly overcome depression…never took an antidepressant, and I credit mainly cognitive behavioral therapy.

When I hear people talking about depression as a disease, I think this is great if they use it to remove the stigmatization of mental disorder, and speak out against the judgment or condemnation of depression and other forms of mental illness.

But I am so uncomfortable with people using the “depression is a disease” as an implicit soapbox for pushing medication as the main solution or the best solution or the only solution to depression.  Type II Diabetes is a disease; it can be prevented by diet and exercise.  The common cold is a disease; the body fights it off on its own with rest.  And the mind-body connection is powerful…just because depression manifests in brain chemistry and other physiological forms, doesn’t necessarily mean that the best way to treat it is through medication.

Let that sink in.


Loose-leaf ancient emerald lily green tea, from Rishi Tea, sold at Whole Foods.  This tea is grown in China’s Yunnan province.
Photo by Alex Zorach.

I really enjoyed drinking this tea.


Loose-leaf ancient emerald lily green tea, from Rishi Tea, sold at Whole Foods.  This tea is grown in China’s Yunnan province.

Photo by Alex Zorach.

I really enjoyed drinking this tea.

Why the idea that “hurting someone’s feelings” is a bad thing, which many of us are/were so heavily taught as kids, is such a dangerous concept…one that obscures the way emotions really work, and that can lead people vulnerable to manipulation…

…and a healthier way to approach things, just being honest, and respectful…and if people get upset because of something you do, and you were being honest and respectful, then that’s not your problem.

People Who Identify As Cis Can Still Benefit From Examining Their Gender Identity And Questioning Gender Norms




if you identify as cis but haven’t actually taken time to sit down and examine and analyze your gender identity, it’s probably time to do that otherwise you’ve just given in to society forcing a significant part of your identity upon you.

if someones comfortable with their gender identity to the point that its not even on their mind then theres no need for them to analyse it

as someone who basically identifies as cis i think it’s very much important to examine your gender identity. it might lead to small things: e.g. after i did that i stopped shaving because i realized that i wasn’t doing it for myself. further, i’ve stopped seeing my own face as a gendered thing and this makes it easier for me to be respectful of the identities of others, and easier to be happy with the meatsack i live in. i think that it’s very important for cis people to consider what aspects of gendered existence we hold sacred. peeing in a segregated space? if so, why? i mean this is exactly the kind of question trans communities have been trying to get us to deal with forever and i think that answering it on a cultural level will come with exactly the type of introspection that OP is asking for. 

some of the best advice i’ve got in college so far is “make strange what is comfortable” and hey, after you take it apart, you can put it right back together again if that’s what makes you happy but it’s still important to evaluate why you perform your gender the way you do and what rituals are essential to that? why are they essential? are they worth perpetuating? the answer might not always be yes EVEN for people comfortable with the label of their gender assigned at birth

I totally agree about questioning things being worthwhile even if you identify as cis.

I’ve never felt a desire to be or identify with the opposite gender from what I was assigned by society, but I’ve often found many gender roles stifling…and I’ve found breaking out of them to be incredibly liberating and just…really satisfying.

Again it was often little things for me.  Like one day I shaved my legs and I was like…oooooh…smooth…and I looked at them and I was like, damn I have fine legs and I never noticed that.  Okay I am going to shave my legs now.

But sometimes it’s deeper stuff…like how I think, how I relate to people, how I think about sex, relationships.  When I’ve been able to embrace aspects of female identity, it has produced some interesting results.  For example, I’ve found that like, when I assume stereotypically “feminine” postures or body language, it often changes my thinking or emotional responses, which may have biological roots, due to the mind-body connection.  This can lead to profound insights.  I can’t ever understand exactly what it would be like to walk down the street as a woman, or interact with strangers in a bar as a woman, but I have been able to get much closer to this experience, in terms of empathizing with it and feeling it intuitively in my mind and body, by questioning aspects of my gender identity and then actively experimenting with things like posture, body language, clothing, or other things that I have relatively more control over.  Sometimes the effects can be much more pronounced than I would expect, and I end up with deep insights.

And that thing about the bathrooms…I experienced “co-ed” or gender-free bathrooms for the first time at college…and it was nice.  I got over any awkwardness within a few days, and the result was immensely practical…there’s no more wandering around for your gender’s restroom, and I actually have found mixed-gender restrooms tend to be cleaner than single-gender ones.

So it’s like…when we start critically questioning gender…there are lots of unexpected benefits.  We broaden our mind and our horizons, and we may also produce significant benefits for society as well.

I Love You But Please Don’t Post Things From Weheartit

I love you but please don’t post things from weheartit.

Weheartit is a site that facilitates reposting…it clutters up tag pages, and worse, it ends up taking credit for a lot of people’s original work, without having it credited to the original author as a source.

Good, Cheap Loose-leaf Tea


Does anyone know where you can get cheap loose tea?

Ahmad Tea, available in most middle-eastern import stores, is an excellent source of very cheap black tea of outstanding quality.  Also look for Caykur, the brand of Turkish-grown tea, which is even cheaper and is still good.  Both of these are available online.  I recommend Ahmad’s loose-leaf Ceylon Tea as my favorite.

Slightly higher-end, but still offering great value, Upton Tea Imports has a huge selection of loose teas, many hovering around $4-7 for 100-125g, often for single-estate artisan teas.

Take a peek at my reviews on RateTea if you want more specific recommendations!

Here’s a key idea that I wish I had learned earlier in life, an observation which has helped me hugely to feel comfortable at parties. I share an example of how I used this idea, telling a story about a party where I initially felt really uncomfortable, but ended up having an awesome time in the end!