Coming Out of 2020: A Data-Driven Approach

Start by staying informed to prevent those feelings of helplessness and take what action is in your control. There are tons of resources linked in this article.

‘Beschreibung des heyligen Bischoffs Eusebij: der ain junger un[d] diszipel des heyligen Sancti Hieronymi gewest ist…’; book on the life of St Jerome, published by Lazarus Spengler and printed in by Hieronymus Höltzel, Nuremberg, 1514, containing on the verso of the title-page a woodcut of 1512 by Albrecht Dürer, showing St Jerome sitting in a cave in front of a stone desk, reading; on the left a lion. 1512 (1514) Woodcut and letterpress © The Trustees of the British Museum

As new vaccines develop and creeping out of our caves feels within reach, I can’t help but feel anxious about what may come in 2021. Multiple conversations I’ve had this year have included topics like, “I can’t tell what’s real anymore,” “I’m a total mess,” “It’s the end of the world,” etc. These passively nihilistic thoughts are no longer sitting under the surface, but have become more active and immediate. Maybe, it is the sudden collective awareness of the things that have been prodding us unconsciously that is causing the angst and frustrating feelings of distrust. The learned helplessness of modern life is no longer complacent as the chronic anxiety of a global pandemic pushes us to the limits of our humanity.

At the center of a lot of these systems and means of control is data. Data and analytics can lean dystopian or utopian and it definitely feels as if we’re leaning more dystopian, these days. The motivation for a lot of big data collection and the end to its means is survivalist Machiavellian capitalism, instead of a sustainable approach like human-centered capitalism which measures success by quality of life for all.

We’re human. We can only handle so much before change is necessary. As unemployment continues, the pandemic rages on, stay at home orders wax and wane, and we increasingly consume media feeds, while giving away our interests and attention, for free — institutions continue to profit and grind through public health control experimentation, corrupt politics, and produce sensationalized media that gets more harmful with every share, like, and follow that we inform them with. So, what can we do looking forward towards a less dystopian future where we aren’t just mindlessly doing things, without really considering the consequences — living a conditioned life and submitting to another authoritarian institution that some highly controversial individual established, and reaching another point of no return (I’m guilty of using the highly wasteful and unethical convenience of 2-day delivery, too)? We need authentic, radically-informed, and intentional change.

We’re undergoing a collective existential crisis where we’ve been shaken out of our ignorance and either thrown into despair or emboldened with a spirit of organized change and revolution. I had been going through an existential crisis, since the end of 2019, and was realigning what I wanted to do with my career and how I saw my relationships. When the pandemic hit, that period of introspection was catapulted into a more actionable state. I instantly shed a lot of baggage that had been holding me back. I got involved with online crisis counseling as a way to support and keep an open mind about others’ life experiences. I also got involved with contributing my skills (and getting the opportunity to develop new skills) to political organizers that I felt aligned with. And I finally decided on a career path that could get to the core of our current reality, use my previous education and experience, and could help shape the outcome of our future — data science.

We need more diverse people and perspectives influencing how AI and data science are being used, because technology will continue to influence how our American society is shaped and if it’s done right, we could be more like The Jetsons and less like 1984. There is so much open information out there and this information can be used for progress, not oppression. We have to take action (and keep trying when we fail), individually and collectively, instead of watching from our screens and posting our complaints — feeding the system that is the thing fueling our frustration. Start by staying informed to prevent those feelings of helplessness and take what action is in your control. There are tons of resources linked in this article along with some more below:

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) — great for keeping up with current litigation cases regarding data rights

The Data Dividend Project (DDP) — if you want to get paid for your data

The Center for Humane Technology — digital wellness resources and lots of other radical progress from industry experts

We are capable of so much, good and bad, but we have to keep exploring new frontiers, fearlessly, and see where leaving our current not-so-comfortable comfort zones can take us. If we can see the potential in shaping a sustainable human-centered world that benefits the many, and not a shrouded reality that only benefits the few, then that could be just enough motivation to keep going forward after the collective hell that was 2020.

Cannabis Products & Their Applications

To avoid over consumption, novice consumers are recommended to start between 1–5mg (microdose), moderate using consumers are recommended to use 5–20mg, heavy users can consume 25mg+ (macrodose). These are more conservative dosing guidelines than most industry standards. Attenuation can occur and different doses can be used for various desired effects, once a consumer has become accustomed to their individual experiences.

LESS Method

L: start low E: establish potency S: go slow S: supplement as needed

Inhalation (flower, concentrates)

  • Cannabis can be heated (vaporized or atomized) or combusted and then absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs into the bloodstream. Cannabinoids and terpenes then travel through the bloodstream to areas of the body including through the blood-brain barrier where psychoactivity can then ensue once receptors in the brain are stimulated.
  • Quickest onset; most efficient way to receive a large dose; effects last ~2–4 hours
  • Inhaling plants or concentrates (wax, oil, hash, kief, etc.) can be done through glass/ceramic pieces, joints or blunts, vaporizers, dab rigs, vape pens, etc.
  • Can titrate doses by spacing inhalations at intervals and increasing or decreasing inhalations
  • *The recent vape crisis involved vape pens consisting of concentrated oil. Additives to the cannabis oil, may be the cause of adverse health effects.

Oral Consumption (edibles, capsules, beverages)

  • Resin is extracted from the plant, and most commonly added to an alcohol-based solvent or fat-based solvent, then used as an ingredient in food. Solventless concentrates may be put directly into capsules as clarified oil or mixed with coconut oil, for consumption.
  • New technologies are constantly being developed to create non-fat-based solutions for beverages — from nanotechnology to using a tapioca-based powder.
  • 1–2 hour onset, due to digestion; effects last ~6–12 hours
  • Liver process Delta-9 to Delta-11 THC; metabolite can lead to greater stimulation of CB1 receptors in the brain causing greater psychoactivity
  • Most common method that leads to over-consumption

Sublingual/Oromucosal (tinctures, strips, etc.)

  • Administered through tinctures (drops or sprays), mouth strips, lozenges, decarboxylated oil, etc. Anything that is orally administered and will absorb through capillaries in the mouth (most commonly under the tongue).
  • Onset is 15–30 minutes but the peak may take longer to occur (due to partial digestion), effects last ~2–5 hours

Topical (lotions, balms, bath salts, lubricant)

  • Cannabis may be locally applied on the surface of the skin for pain, inflammation, psoriasis, dermatitis, dry skin, etc. May also be used as a first aid item for scrapes, bug bites, and burns
  • Typically extracted into alcohol, a salve, or some sort of fat base and often mixed with other essential oils or beneficial skin substances
  • Penetrates to CB2 and inflammatory/pain receptors in the dermis, does not make you “high” but trace amounts may enter the bloodstream
  • Onset in as little as 5 minutes, effects last ~2–4 hours

Transdermal (patches, gels, etc.)

  • Formulated like nicotine/birth control patches with a gradual release of cannabinoids, through dermal absorption, accompanied by a formula to help the medicine pass through the lipid bilayer straight to the blood stream
  • Onset is within 15 minutes, effects last ~6–12 hours

A Walk in the Woods

I decided, instead of taking my typical hiking photos of landscapes and wide angles, I’d focus on the little things with my macro lens in Mt. Tamalpais near Bolinas, California. This experiment proved more useful than I thought.

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I forced myself to slow down. Not worry about distance, speed, and time. Instead I shifted my focus from the grander scene to the small details that surrounded me. Step-by-step, foot-by-foot, these tiny environments that had so much to offer and learn from.

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Every step I took led me to a new world, a new object to admire and be inspired by, to lose myself in the details of something that can be so easily overlooked.

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Bolinas Ridge Trail, Mt Tam, California

So much quality can be found in such a small space. I feel like within this Western world we live in we get so caught up in productivity, mass, longevity, quantification, more is more is best. When I force myself to focus on these tiny details, to slow down, I open up another world of possibility–another world to show me something new, something beautiful, something that makes the other worlds seem less immediate and overwhelming.

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Bolinas Ridge Trail, Mt Tam, California

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Alamere Falls

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Alamere Falls is a great hike for those who are able to complete ~9 miles of moderate hiking. Located in Point Reyes, the secluded destination is beloved by all Bay Area hikers. Simply follow Hwy 1 to rural roads shrouded in eucalyptus trees, followed by a dirt road, just past the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. You can enter Palomarin Trail Head as your Google Maps destination but be mindful of losing data services once you get into Point Reyes. Once you park your car in the trail head parking lot, go up the stairs and keep following signs for Coastal Trail. Along the trail, you’ll see beautiful cliffs, lush forests (especially during the rainy season), hidden lakes, and lots of wildlife. The few hills you’ll come across have a very moderate slope but will definitely give your glutes something to talk about the next day.

The trail is lined in poison ivy and poison oak so be sure to bring some Simple Green, or other degreaser, diluted in water to rinse off the irritating plant oils–or just wear pants and long sleeves! The invasive species are pretty easy to avoid until you get to the trail shoot-off that takes you out to the coast where the California beach waterfalls are located.

Follow the Alamere Falls trail and duck through arching foliage until you see blue waters. Keep heading to the right and you’ll see the upper cascades of the breath taking coastal falls.

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To get down to the beach, cross over the falls and keep moseying over to the right. You’ll hit a little slot canyon that you can boot scoot down to the sea.

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Over the years, this trail has become a pretty popular one among San Francisco Bay Area hikers, so get there early, or on a weekday, for some solitary nature therapy. Backcountry camping is also available through the Bear Valley Recreation Center for Point Reyes National Seashore. I hope Alamere Falls becomes your next hiking destination and you enjoy it as much as I did!