What is a Luddite?

It’s difficult for me to write about a controversial topic like electric vehicles, cord cutting (dumping cable TV), cannabis medicine, or renewable energy without using the term “Luddite.” Recently, a friend’s cousin commented on one of my articles regarding Blu-ray players: “I am a real Luddite…I have to read directions to play a DVD…so, what is a Blu-ray?”

I explained that she isn’t a Luddite, but merely ignorant of the details of the topic. A neophyte, if you will—although this label implies she’s already embraced the new system.

I realized that, if I’m going to be throwing this largely misunderstood historical term around like a drunk college kid hitting on people at a party, I might want to provide a bit of definition and clarity.

Historical Definition

According to Wikipedia:

“The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-replacing machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

Although the origin of the name Luddite is uncertain, a popular theory is that the movement was named after Ned Ludd, a youth who allegedly smashed two stocking frames in 1779, and whose name had become emblematic of machine destroyers.”

We’re living in a period in which the introduction of disruptive technology is faster and more pervasive than at any time in the history of the world. We used to call it paradigm shift. Now we love the term “disruption.” Whatever the label du jour, it’s a way of describing the merciless onslaught of myriad digital technologies, social media networks, next-gen transportation models, and brilliant biotech breakthroughs.

And then there’s the old guard. The folks who profit from and control the outdated legacy tech used by millions or billions of people; the corporate status quo and their political allies. They don’t easily release their grasp on our lives—or our wallets.

Plain and simple, Luddites are protectionists. They’re the mob heavy standing on the corner who sneers, “Beat it, kid. This is our block.”

I’m sure the entrenched, wealthy powers that controlled horses and buggies were freaked out by the first automobiles. It’s clearly evident that television intimidated the hell out of film makers and cinema owners in the 1950s (it explains the plethora of experimental aspect ratio introductions to differentiate cinema from TV’s 4:3 format).

I wouldn’t doubt if smart whiskey companies were alarmed by the invention of the hypodermic needle prior to the Civil War—fast-acting morphine being the disruptor.

Luddites are Everywhere

Luddites are everywhere. Ebook authors Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler write about the desperate and short-sighted efforts of those in the legacy publishing industry. Automobile industry Luddites grabbed headlines in 2015 for their successful campaigns to halt test drives and sales of electric cars in Iowa and Michigan. Cable companies like Time Warner and Cox act like Luddites in their attempts to keep you from cutting the cord and using only streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

And, of course, the very Ludditist Koch Brothers and Big Oil will do their best to prevent folks from obtaining new tech like electric cars and power from sustainable sources like solar, wind, and nuclear energy. Despite superior (and affordable) alternatives, fracking continues almost unabated.

Bloggers and writers, both professional and amateur alike, need to focus on how easily their communications are understood, not necessarily impressing readers with big words. But in a time of severe disruption and technological advancement—and the displacement of entrenched old-school corporate and political players—terms like “Luddite” are more necessary than ever.

Stay vigilant, dear readers. Don’t let the Luddites destroy the new digital looms.

_________________________________________________________

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

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Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 3

As promised, please find herein another episode of the intrepid adventures of a canna-cyclist who likes to get high and play in Texas traffic. That’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

To catch up with the party, check these out:

Gooey Rabinski 


I have to admit, the efficacy of cannabis for exercise—be it of the endurance nature or just a quick ride around the block—proved itself to me on my last cycling adventure in a way I simply had not anticipated.

Mechanical Meltdown

I should have guessed that a particular sound meant a mechanical breakdown was imminent. But the distracting click came and went. And when it wasn’t present, I was a happy, ignorant pig in asphalt mug, ignoring reality while I tried to avoid a close encounter with a Ford F-150.

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It no longer sits in the snow. #NotAustin

Not even two miles out, it happened. The manifestation of a mechanical meltdown. I was mired in merciless melancholy.

Actually, I was barely frustrated. In fact, I was slightly entertained.

I squinted at the evening sun as I considered pausing the Foo Fighters song on my iPod. Instead I elected to simply begin the awkward walk home. Those cleated cycling shoes are worthless off the bike (I deserve a prize).

Being late in the evening, with only about an hour of dusk left, I was out of commission for the day. I had screwed the pooch, as my U.S. Air Force-trained father would have said.


In a more wholly un-American move than I have pulled in several months, I was happy in the face of bad news. Instead of the ignorance-infused hate spewed by many eager candidates during this election season, I was going mad scientist Aussie and laughing at the crock.

It had been a stressful week. Disruption is often good and sometimes bad, but always stressful. I was in need of a beating on the bike. I had jonesed it for the duration of the day. As I finished my work, the anticipation of the ride continued to build, like some primitive lust for a harsh, familiar lover. (Meh, remind me to rewrite that….)

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Master garden in Humboldt County, California (2006)

Normally an episode of this nature could elicit more than a few select—and decidedly crude—words from my otherwise PG-rated lexicon. But not this time.

Having consumed cannabis during my funky deep-toking breathing exercises prior to my ride, I was medicated enough to do no more than silently laugh as I walked my carbon fiber ballerina the 1.8 or so miles back to the house.

As traffic zipped past on the busy boulevard, I smiled at a cloudy, puckered sunset. I doubt I would have noticed it had I been madly pushing down the road, all bike parts fluidly co-mingling in the synchronous mesh I like to call “the shit works.”

I certainly wouldn’t have taken it in as I was at that time, my skinny dilapidated two-wheeler in tow and the very real prospect of a fairly pricey repair bill awaiting me (enough to purchase plenty of herb on the Austin black market).

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The stuff that doesn’t always work….

Mechanical breakdowns, flats, and other maladies of the road are an inherent part of cycling. They’re actually a large slice of what make it special, if you can follow that twisted logic. A long ride lacking a breakdown or tire puncture is obviously always one for the win column.

“Suffering such problems is merely part of the risk. And maybe why I and a couple million other road cyclists get so excited about it.”

Performance = Rolling with the Punches

My breakdown was actually one of the best days of the cycling season. As ironic and mildly psychotic as that sounds, it’s true. I know my nature. I know how I typically respond to things.

If conservatives want to balk at my playing in traffic “high,” I’ll simply counter with the fact that I’m not the one popping pills and sucking down sugar and alcohol all day long as I text and check Facebook in rush hour traffic.

You think I don’t see the flasks, fries, and ADD-addled driving when I’m on the road?

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Home grow in the American Midwest

I don’t believe cannabis is a drug; it’s an herb. Pot is no more a “drug” than the oak tree in my backyard. People need to use those slick smartphones for more than Twitter and sexting and research stuff every now and again.

But let’s assume cannabis is a drug. Ok, fine. My “drug” helps me deal with stressful situations with calm alertness, maturity, and rational confidence. Try that with booze or pharmaceutical drugs.

Pot doesn’t shut down my mind or perceptions. In fact, it heightens them. This is why some get paranoid, especially newbies who don’t have solid canna-mentors. With cannabis, regardless of the situation, I can retain my manners and respect for others. Unlike booze, I can maintain my personal dignity—even when the shit hits the fan.

Pot vs. Booze and Pharmies

I seem to recall friends and colleagues who took a variety of pharmaceutical drugs over the years telling me how they experienced disturbances in sleep or sex drive or became angry or depressed or experienced anal bleeding or any number of truly nasty symptoms. Anecdotally, it seems that well over half the time, the condition for which they were taking the drug never—or only temporarily—abated.

For those of you afflicted with TV commercials: If the narration must speed up by a factor of 2.5 to include the legal disclaimers for a drug commercial, you might wanna reconsider your wellness strategy.

Oh yeah, cannabis for performance enhancement. Now where was I?

Professional cyclists have gotten so pissed that they’ve thrown their bikes into the ditch. Anger is a nasty beast. The ability of cannabis to mitigate the anxiety resulting from mechanical breakdowns when on the road is…well, let’s say significant. At least in my experience.

Once such a lesson in calmly dealing with a crappy situation is experienced, and the benefits become apparent, the same intelligent strategy can be employed—with or without cannabis. Just because one learns a lesson when experiencing the mild (or not so mild) euphoria of THC is no reason they can’t remember it and live by it at all times—high or not.

Workday Benefits

Invaluable is the ability to roll with the punches and live with a happy memory—instead of the embarrassment of having blown a gasket (mine, not the bike’s).

If cannabis can do this during endurance exercise, what can it do during the workday? When caring for children? Reports say quite a few Americans—as in possibly 10 percent of the workforce!—consume cannabis before or during their workday.

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Cannabis eased the pain of the brakes being applied to my ride

Are they gaining similar benefits to my experience? Are they not “going postal” on an unreasonable boss or an incessantly obnoxious co-worker because they’ve experienced the calming and sometimes positive intellectual effects of a good hybrid or sativa cannabis?

The cycling season in Austin began in mid-February. It will last until November. We all still have a lot to learn. There will be plenty more unanticipated pros—and possibly cons—of consuming cannabis with the goal of performance enhancement.

Stay tuned and subscribe so you don’t miss any future installments in the Cannabis for Performance Enhancement series.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Exposing the Lies of Cannabis Prohibition

I’m having another challenging day.

Not drunk-throwing-whiskey-bottles-across-the-room challenging, but I’m sufficiently frustrated that it’s putting a dent in my mood. It’s nice that cannabis has the power to calm one’s mind, mitigate anxiety, and put us on a path to intelligent introspection that may lead to better decisions.

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Era of final-stage pot prohibition.

Once again, I’m pissed off by cannabis prohibition. I was raised to approach life from a science-based perspective and to employ critical thinking and logic when assessing a situation.

You can see why people of this mindset might get a tad frustrated with the situation of cannabis being illegal in the United States. This is a situation that has pervaded for 80 years (as of August of this year).

Everyone has an opinion. I try to respect them all. But the chemistry of the human body is not an opinion. The behavior and nuances of neurons, cell walls, metabolites, endorphins, long-chain proteins, and endocannabinoids cannot be swayed by propaganda or corporate agendas.

Nearly each day, I communicate with very sick patients around North America. Many are so ill they cannot hold a job. Some scream out in pain over social media because they are relegated to prohibition regions where black market bingo is the only game in town. They either have poor medicine, cannot find cannabis, or simply can’t afford it.

As a result, many patients are financially constrained. In New Jersey, Chris Christie’s twisted example of a state medical cannabis program charges such patients $500-550 for an ounce of top-shelf cannabis medicine. Now that’s one for the WTF file….

What’s wrong with this picture? I could toss out dozens of other examples for why the seemingly science-fearing, anti-cannabis mindset (and behavior) of conservative forces in the United States hurts patients on a daily basis.

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New Jersey governor Chris Christie. M&Ms aren’t his only problem (not my photo).

I honestly don’t want everyone in the world to think like me. I enjoy being unique, as should you. I’m not trying to convince prohibitionists that I’m right. I’m trying to convince the citizens who voted for them that their elected officials are hypocrites and propagandists.

I don’t see another way to oust the corrupt leaders whose actions prove they have no compassion whatsoever for society’s most frail citizens. We’d be fools to further tolerate their smoke and mirrors.

Could it be time for our smoke?

Unfortunately, dethroned politicians typically just slither back to their law firms and corporate consulting gigs—if they can resist the temptation of lobbying money. But the masses hold the power. General Motors and Toyota are nothing if no one purchases their vehicles. Johnson & Johnson will wither and die if nobody buys its bandages and toothbrushes.

Even a cursory overview of the hard research (as in human trials) reveals a strong efficacy of cannabis for patients. Conditions from cancer to anxiety to multiple sclerosis to dystonia can benefit from pot. As I’ve discussed in the past, this is simply because cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and THC-A are such powerful medicine for symptoms such as inflammation, nausea, and pain.

Cannabis advocates have the moral high ground. They have science.

The situation sometimes makes me think that, if we allow prohibition to continue longer, it’s our bad. I’m not suggesting violence or militant rebellion. But we need—as a culture, movement, and industry—to better communicate to the masses the science of cannabis and how it truly helps patients.

My parents don’t get it. Yours likely don’t. Despite our progress, the majority of the country is mired in ignorance that has spawned decades of suffering and billions of dollars wasted in a fruitless war on drugs begun more than 40 years ago.

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Some beautiful homegrown plants from the American Midwest.

But don’t waste your time trying to convince the staunch conservatives and Luddites. It’s not worth it. Focus on the innocent—and often naive—citizens who elected them in the first place.

Make them smart, give them science, and touch their hearts.

Even conservatives and arguably most evangelicals are pissed off by patient suffering (the recent actions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints notwithstanding). Human compassion permeates political allegiances and programmed partisanship. Take advantage of their humanity and simply give them the information and examples that they need.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Dying on Mars: The Muskian Mission

There’s a fine line between madness and genius, and you need a little bit of both to really change the world.” — Chris Anderson, WIRED


Mars, the legendary red planet observable with the naked eye, has captured the imagination of scientists, authors, filmmakers, and laypeople for centuries.

From Galileo, the first human to view Mars through a telescope in 1609, to NASA’s Curiosity Rover, which landed on the planet in 2012 and continues to send back photos and data, the human obsession with Earth’s inspirational planetary neighbor has never abated.

The Interviews

Elon Musk is CEO of two companies: Disruptive electric car maker Tesla Motors and SpaceX, the ambitious company he founded in 2002 with the goal of privatizing space exploration and extending humankind beyond its planet of origin. In interviews with media outlets, Musk has talked extensively and frankly about his vision of establishing a human colony on Mars.

mars-no-backgroundIn March 2013, during a keynote address at SXSW in Austin, Musk said his biggest disappointment would be if humans don’t make it to Mars during his lifetime (the father of six is currently 47). “It’s the first time in four and a half billion years that we are at a level of technology where we have the ability to reach Mars,” he told the audience. Musk said he believes that space travel is necessary to “extend the life of humanity.”

What about opponents who claim space exploration is a waste of money and resources? What is Musk’s response to those who believe the efforts of humanity should be focused exclusively on planet Earth and the people who live on it? “It’s sort of like why you buy car or life insurance,” he told British newspaper The Guardian in July 2013. “It’s not because you think you’ll die tomorrow, but because you might.”

He continued, “There could be some series of events that cause [the] technology level to decline. Given that this is the first time in 4.5 billion years where it’s been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we’d be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time.”

In a 2013 interview with PJ Media, Musk was asked, “Why is space exploration important? Shouldn’t we be focusing on what’s going on here?” He responded, “I largely agree that we should have 99 percent plus of our energy focused on solving problems on Earth. But I think we need to preserve a small amount for a future beyond Earth. You can say, well, how much money should we spend on extending humanity into space? And certainly it should be far less than we spend on health care, but maybe more than we spend on lipstick.”

Actually Doing It

It’s one thing to have this vision, but another to actually accomplish it. During his interview with The Guardian in 2013, Musk said, “The key thing for me is to develop the technology to transport large numbers of people and cargo to Mars.” And how does one fund this technology? “But of course we must pay the bills along the way. So that means serving important customers like NASA, launching commercial broadcasting communication satellites, GPS satellites, mapping, [and] science experiments,” he told the newspaper.

“A future where we’re a spacefaring civilization is a far more exciting and inspiring future than one where we are not.”  — Elon Musk, 2013

In September 2014, NASA selected SpaceX to shuttle American astronauts to the International Space Station by utilizing the pioneering company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. According to the SpaceX website, “The Dragon spacecraft currently resupplies the space station under a $1.6 billion Cargo Resupply Services contract with NASA.”

Let’s dig a little deeper. Simply snagging a few NASA contracts doesn’t give a company the ability to establish a human colony on a neighboring planet that’s between 34 and 100 million miles away. After all, companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin have been winning NASA contracts for decades.

The Trick = Reusability

Musk has emphasized that the development and evolution of space travel will be possible only if reusable rockets and spacecraft are employed. He claims it’s this reusability that will enable the economic feasibility of space exploration and the eventual human colonization of any planet in the solar system—Mars or otherwise.

elon-musk-at spacex

SpaceX has been developing and testing what Musk calls a “fully and rapidly reusable” rocket. He points out that the fuel to propel a rocket outside the atmosphere is only 0.3% the cost of the rocket itself (about $200,000). Thus, simply throwing away an uber-expensive rocket (which costs about $60 million) after each use is, understandably, so massively inefficient that it is arguably stupid.

Thus, a $60 million dollar rocket that can be used, say, 30 times, obviously equals a per-flight cost of only $2 million, a mere 3.3 percent the cost of a one-time use rocket (SpaceX has already reused rockets up to 20 times). It’s easy to see how the old model of a one-use rocket results in a prohibitively expensive method of space transportation, one that even the governments of wealthy nations like the United States, Russia, and China find politically challenging to fund.

During an October 2014 interview by the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department, Musk emphasized the reusability issue from an economics perspective. “It is a chicken and egg sort of situation. The reason that there’s low demand for space flights is because it’s ridiculously expensive. At some point, somebody has to say, ok, we’re going to make something that’s much more affordable and then see what applications develop.”

Musk went on to analogize rockets to jet planes. He asked the audience to imagine if a modern jet, like a Boeing 747 costing $250-300 million, provided only a single-use (meaning two would be required for a round-trip). “Nobody’s paying half a billion dollars to fly from Boston to London. And, if that were the case, there would be a very small number of flights for scientific and military purposes [only]. People would say, wow, the market for aircraft is so tiny. People really love going by boat [laughs].”

To help put things in perspective, Musk told WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson during an October 2012 interview, “America would never have been colonized if ships weren’t reusable.”

The lowest cost estimates for a four-person mission to Mars are around $100-200 billion (one 1989 study figured a cost of $500 billion). Musk told the MIT audience that he estimates a 10,000-fold reduction in this cost will be necessary to enable people to afford the trip, and that this would be facilitated only through the reuse of rockets and spacecraft.

Colonization

Musk—typically considered to be a pretty smart guy—has said that he wishes to take millions of people to Mars. When asked by PJ Media how this could be afforded, he responded, “The key threshold, I think, is half a million dollars to move to Mars. In order to achieve that, you have to, first of all, have a fully reusable system that can travel to Mars and back. If someone were to work hard and save their money and really have that as their goal, then by the time they hit their mid to late 40s, most people in America could do that—if that was their goal.”

Elon Musk

He added, “Of course, you’d sell your house and all your belongings on Earth, because you’re moving to Mars.” Musk admits that half a million dollars for a vacation “would be crazy,” but suggested “If you want to move there, you don’t need your house on Earth, that’s for sure.”

I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact.”  — Elon Musk, 2013

When compared to the $35 million trips to the International Space Station that were being offered by the Russians in the past, Musk’s vision certainly seems more financially feasible. The charismatic dual-CEO has stressed that it’s not just an issue of reaching Mars, but rather of establishing a permanent colony on the red planet. “The thing that really matters in the long-term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multi-planetary,” he said.

Don’t assume that a flight or two can pull off this monumental task. According to The Verge in October 2014, “In [Musk’s] vision, 100,000 flights over the next century will allow us to build a sustainable colony of a million people on Mars.” One-tenth of a million flights. Over the next century. More inhabitants than Austin, Texas. Extending life beyond Earth is no trivial exploratory mission. Establishing the colony is one thing. Sustaining and growing it is another. Over time, it would involve literally trillions of dollars.

This effort would begin with a colony of 80,000 inhabitants who were stocked with the supplies to construct a city on Mars, complete with a pressurized transparent dome and everything necessary to farm on Martian soil. Musk views the establishment of this initial colony—with the eventual goal of a million Martian citizens—as a joint effort between the private sector and government that would cost, in today’s dollars, roughly $36 billion.

elon musk for twitter 2

Many of you are probably pondering how humans can withstand the harsh radiation that penetrates the thin atmosphere of this storied planet. A November 2012 article by Forbes reported, “Thankfully, radiation isn’t a worry, as Mars’ atmosphere was recently revealed by NASA to shield radiation to the point where humans can survive on the surface.”

Lest you consider Musk an insane genius, he’s always focused on the real risks of such a venture. In April 2012 he told Forbes reporter Alex Knapp, “It’s a terrible risk-adjusted return. But it’s gotta happen. I think that for me and a lot of people, America is a nation of explorers. I’d like to see that we’re expanding the frontier and moving things forward. Space is the final frontier and we have to make progress.”

The Naysayers

Not all fans of technology and space travel agree with Musk.

Noted astrophysicist and media personality Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of them. During an August 2013 interview, Tyson stated, “Private enterprise will not ever lead a space frontier. Not because I don’t want them to, but because my read of history says they can’t. It’s not possible. Space is dangerous. It’s expensive. There are unquantified risks. Combine all of those under one umbrella; you cannot establish a free market capitalization of that enterprise.”

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Eric Mack, a writer for CNET, in an October 2014 article questioned the practicality of Musk’s vision. “I wonder if this new interplanetary society and economy is further away than Musk believes…maybe SpaceX hasn’t really commercialized space travel so much as it has just established itself as a reliable government contractor for the same old space program we’ve had for decades now.”

Mack continued, “I think my Martian condo and the Earth-to-Mars economy that will make it possible are a little further off than some billionaires would have you believe.”

Despite such opinions, Musk has never been one to cave under the pessimism of critics. In fact, the greater the odds against his goals, the more motivated and determined he seems to become.

In August 2012, during an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Musk said, “The thing that got me started with SpaceX was the feeling of dismay—I just did not want Apollo to be our high-water mark. We do not want a future where we tell our children that this was the best we ever did.”

Whether you’ll be able to purchase a $500,000 ticket to Mars in 2030, however, obviously remains to be seen. But if Musk has anything to say about it, your biggest quandary may be deciding if you want an aisle or a window seat.


The following videos provide informative interviews with Elon Musk regarding his dream of colonizing Mars:


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

The Power of Critical Thinking

Recently, I was feeling beaten. Battered. Tired of the game of cannabis prohibition, I was yearning for more progressive neighbors than I find in Central Texas.

Despite the trendy music and art culture and hipster neckbeards abundantly scattered throughout Austin, the fact that I’m a daily consumer of cannabis—but live in a prohibitionist state—was weighing on me.

And the real kicker: This is the case with the majority of cannabis consumers in America. Despite great progress in states like Oregon, California, and Washington, most patients and adult users are simply playing the same ol’ game of black market bingo, often with stiff penalties if they get caught.

Anger & Intelligence

Anger isn’t an intelligent emotion. It almost never improves a situation or is a recommended strategic interlude during one’s planning sessions. Like tens of millions of other cannabis advocates around the world, I was not happy.

I took my downtrodden, pathetic self and attacked the road on my bike (think carbon fiber, not Harley Davidson). It was a blatant and desperate effort to forge through the mental and emotional fog that was thwarting some of my best attempts to be productive and drop insightful words into articles.


Research is a big part of the jobs of writers. While finished articles, books, and courses are often sexy (stick with me, here), the research that enables their creation typically isn’t. From flakey Wikipedia entries to bad links buried in academic research papers, my days often aren’t worthy of entertaining discussion at the weekend barbeque.

With such a torrent of information passing through my eyes and ears, I’ll admit, standout pieces are rare. I sometimes just shut it all down and go spend time in nature or playing in traffic (cycling) in an effort to escape from the same tired memes and oversaturated article topics streaming through social media.


Then, one evening, after a restless post-ride sleep that, while physically refreshing, left me mentally frustrated and still full of angst, I found a burning bush.

The Burning Bush

I was trying to rationalize my state of mind. “Challenging days are good,” I thought to myself. “Hard days give you empathy for patients, like folks who can’t get out of bed or are relegated to a wheelchair,” I preached to my jaded mind.

I imagined what a traumatized sissy I was, waylaid by a single mildly confrontational day. I was able to physically get out of bed this morning. I was able to work. My fingers functioned on the keyboard. I was able to eat unassisted.

What the hell was I whining about?

I was angered by things like placid bureaucrats and unresponsive senators. Stories of families uprooted from conservative states such as Kentucky, Ohio, and Kansas to move to more enlightened areas, where they or their children can gain safe access to laboratory tested, high-quality cannabis medicine, were a big part of my negative feelings.

Regardless of how much Denis Leary or The Doors I listened to on Spotify in an effort to improve my mood, it just wasn’t working. Even my mad, sativa-pimped cycling adventure missed the mark (losing myself in riding is typically my break-glass-in-case-of-emergency move).

Then I came across a photo on Twitter of a middle aged man in the suburbs urinating in the gas tank of a car (he resembles my deceased grandfather, sans the beer).

Research. Politics. Botany. Psychology. Chemistry. It all became seemingly so absurd in light of a photograph of an adult peeing into the side of a late model Ford Taurus, replete with a can of what appears to be Budweiser precariously perched on the trunk (maybe the Photochop experts in my reader base can discern this detail).

man-peeing-on-Ford-Taurus-Gooey-Rabinski-was-here

And then something magically simple happened: The poster asked for feedback on a video he had put on YouTube.

You know what? It was one of the best damn videos I have watched in a long time. Was it the massive production budget? No. The amazing CGI effects? Um, not quite. The sexy cleavage heaving forth from a young blonde more intent on discussing her contrived opinion of rolling papers than the plight of sick patients?

No again. Thank effing god.

It was critical thinking. It was a young person brave enough to plug in his brain, use it, and speak truth to power—with his face on camera.

In a world enamored by a massive amount of shitty content, the good stuff sometimes seems oh-so-rare. Making it oh-so-fantastic when one finally trips across these golden nuggets of information.

Instead of me describing it further, why don’t you check it out for yourself? Watch it before you go to bed, and think about what you heard as you attempt to drift off. Especially if you’re getting to sleep with the pharmaceutical drug Ambien instead of a good cannabis indica.

How safe are the people who are being addicted to opiates by a medical establishment that places profits over patients?

The power of social media and mobile technology is creating a revolution in how information—and opinions—are expressed and shared. Don’t make my mistake and get so frustrated that you forget the power that resides in your keyboard or webcam.


All text Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His freelance work appears online at Green Flower Media, The Kind, Whaxy, and others.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Hope for Hydrogen: Fuel Station Buildout

Welcome to the second installment in the Hope for Hydrogen series: Hope for Hydrogen: Fuel Station Buildout.

In the previous article, the premise of this series was explained:

Pretend there are no battery electric vehicles in the world. Imagine that hydrogen fuel cell cars are the inevitable replacement for the 194-year-old internal combustion engine and the two billion gas-guzzling cars currently roaming the roads of planet Earth.

I left off discussing the availability of hydrogen fueling stations. Currently, in the United States, there’s only 13, 70% of which are in Los Angeles. In a country of 120,000 gas stations that thrives on convenience, the situation obviously must improve.

So, what is being done about the problem?

_______________________________________________________

Genesis in California

In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown allocated $200 million for the construction of 100 hydrogen fueling stations in his state. While they are going up relatively slowly, at only about nine stations per year—and won’t be complete until 2024—it’s still a start. This is government attempting to kick-start what private enterprise and large energy corporations, driven (and funded) by consumer demand, must complete.

Let’s also dispel the myth that hydrogen fueling stations cost $3-5 million to construct. California is proving that they can be built for $2 million each (if they can stay on budget). If a new hydrogen fueling station can be constructed for $2 million, it goes to assume that existing gas stations, like those operated by Shell, BP, and Exxon (or their franchisees), could be fitted for hydrogen at a lower cost. Let’s just assume this is $1 million (and maybe provides only two or four pumps, meaning waiting queues in areas of dense FCV adoption).

Criticisms that hydrogen is dangerous and highly explosive are somewhat, um, overblown here. Gasoline is also dangerous and highly volatile. Yet, we’ve managed to construct regulatory oversight, a production (refinement) infrastructure, and distribution networks that deal with it and protect consumers, ensuring public safety.

If we assume that big energy companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron must spend $1-2 million to retrofit existing gas stations with hydrogen fueling capabilities, the picture begins to clear. Despite the recent dip in gas prices, these are international corporations with deep pockets. If they choose to begin the mass conversion of petrol stations to hydrogen depots, they certainly have the funds.

Lack of Fueling Stations: Only Temporary

Criticisms that there are no hydrogen fueling stations, while currently true, are potentially very temporary. In only two to three years—if big energy companies and their franchisees wave their magic wands (bags of money)—there could be tens of thousands of such stations in the United States.

However, let’s be realistic about the cost. Unless the driving range of fuel cell cars in the future greatly exceeds that of current gasoline cars (as in 500 or even 800 miles on a single tank), the convenience our society demands probably won’t be satisfied. There would need to be roughly the same number of hydrogen fueling depots as there currently is gas stations.

Because the genesis of hydrogen fueling infrastructure is California, let’s consider the Golden State as a case study. With 10,000 gas stations, it would cost between $10 billion and $20 billion to convert them all to hydrogen (assuming a cost of $1-2 million each).

Modeling the Nation

California is, admittedly, a large and very populated state (at 39 million, it exceeds second in line, Texas, by 12 million residents). Thus, for ballpark numbers, let’s assume that all other states would cost only half of California’s numbers to convert existing stations to hydrogen. Remember: These are just rough estimates. Pretend we’re blind and just trying to get a feel for the size of the elephant.

Thus, best case, 49 (states) x $5 billion (half the cost to equip California) = about $250 billion. Assume occasional budget overruns, unexpected engineering challenges, and consideration for heavily populated states (like Texas, New York, and Florida). This would inevitably drive this cost to $300 billion.

The building of hydrogen fueling stations in the United States—minus all other production and distribution infrastructure—will cost more than a quarter trillion dollars. And possibly as much as $400 billion or even $500 billion (because this ain’t our first rodeo).

However, several factors could help lower the expenses associated with the construction or retrofit of hydrogen fueling stations. I hit up Aaron Turpen from CarNewsCafe for his opinion:

“Currently, there are only a couple of companies making the compressors and such that operate these fueling stations. And those items are the second largest expense, next to the tanks, for building a station.”

Turpen continued, “We can safely assume that, if the stations were to begin to roll out in quantity, others would enter the game and costs would drop significantly, purely through economies of scale and market competition—never mind any technology improvements that lower costs.”

Could this price tag also be dramatically decreased by implementing a model like that developed by Toyota and the University of California (described below)? In a nation where convenience is king, will picky (and arguably lazy) consumers be willing to drive long distances to refuel?

Will the millions of drivers not within a few minutes of a hydrogen fueling station eschew the technology, instead choosing to continue purchasing old-school gas burners or opting for alternative clean technologies?

Enter Toyota’s 15%

Toyota, the company that in the fall of 2015 introduced its flagship hydrogen fuel cell car to the U.S., the Mirai, has offered an even more innovative solution. At the January 2014 CES show in Las Vegas, Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota, said to a packed crowd:

“If every vehicle in the state of California ran on hydrogen, we could meet refueling logistics with only 15 percent of the nearly 10,000 gas stations that are currently operating in the state. We don’t need a station on every corner.”

The Toyota executive emphasized that satisfying the needs of a hydrogen fuel cell driving population isn’t about the raw number of fueling stations, but rather their locations. He said that Toyota developed this model with the Advanced Power & Energy Program at the University of California and, “…collaborated on a spatial model that maps out specific distribution of stations. The locations considered a variety of data, including hybrid and electric ownership patterns, traffic patterns, population density, and so on.”

Carter stressed that this minimal refueling station distribution model centers on the assumption that owners desire to reach a hydrogen fueling station “within six minutes of their home or work.”

I have to admit, I’m cynical of his assertions. I want to believe, but it simply sounds too good to be true. However, we should all support any effort to construct 1,500 hydrogen fueling stations in a single state in an orchestrated and intelligent approach to serve an entire population of drivers propelled by clean car technology.

Will the Government Help?

Will the U.S. government, which currently extends subsidies to the big energy companies equaling tens of billions of dollars per year, help fund this burgeoning hydrogen infrastructure? Will Uncle Sam allocate new subsidies and tax incentives aimed specifically at speeding hydrogen fueling station buildout?

How much of this tab is government—and, thus, U.S. taxpayers, many of whom don’t care about clean cars or the environment—willing to assume? (A 2014 study by Yale University revealed that 23 percent of Americans are climate change skeptics or deniers.)

To start, California threw $200 million at the task—about 1% of the final tab to convert those 10,000 stations to hydrogen, or 13% of the cost to convert Toyota’s hypothetical 1,500 stations. Private enterprise and the energy company stakeholders and executives of the existing fueling infrastructure will obviously need to step up to the plate. But will dipping gas prices (lower revenue) and a sluggish economy disincentivize them from doing so?

Will Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and other FCV manufacturers step in and help fund the buildout? Can Toyota and Hyundai afford to assist in this effort if they’re already giving away hydrogen fuel (at $50 a tank, retail) to their buyers and lessees? Automobile companies must invest billions in the development of new hydrogen fuel cells, advanced powertrain control systems, and the cars wrapped around them. Can they really afford to be helping build hydrogen production facilities and fueling stations at the same time?

Sales Will Falter Without Fueling Stations

Let’s face it: Nobody is going to purchase a Mirai, Tucson Fuel Cell, or any other FCV as long as they don’t have a fueling station within an acceptable driving distance. That means close to their home and office and on the path of their commute (like they enjoy now with gasoline). We already know that Toyota and Hyundai won’t even sell a Mirai or Tucson Fuel Cell to anyone but those who live within five areas, most of whom reside in Los Angeles.

“We expect to have over 50 stations [in California] by the end of 2015, early 2016. So it’s going to happen very quickly from here on out,” said Catherine Dunwoody, former Executive Director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, adding “We have nine stations that are currently open, fueling cars today, and that will grow very quickly over the coming years.”

Yes, we have a bit of the chicken and the egg here. Which Toyota is obviously trying to remedy by spending billions to introduce to market a comfortable, quiet FCV that is basically an entry-level Lexus (with a matching $58,000 price tag), despite the fact that it wears the Toyota badge.

Lest you perceive that it’s only California that’s forging ahead with efforts to establish a viable network of hydrogen fueling stations, the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association, based in Washington, D.C., on January 16, 2015 released a document outlining national efforts. “Eight states are working to develop a network of hydrogen fueling stations to support growing numbers of zero-emission FCEVs on their roadways,” the organization wrote in its press release.

Taking Sides

For those who care about issues like clean car tech, taking sides is not only inevitable, but also human. Be your motive political, technical, financial, or environmental, if you’re reading this, you probably feel strongly about hydrogen cars, whether you’re pro or con.

Don’t allow your allegiance to any particular transportation technology or platform to stand in the way of envisioning a hydrogen future. I’d be frustrated if someone wasn’t at least willing to consider my perspective on an issue—and think them very close-minded for not even entertaining the idea that it might be a good way to go.

Critical thought requires understanding both sides of an issue. Sometimes, to gain that understanding, we need to do some intellectual gymnastics.


All text Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Hope for Hydrogen: Imagine Fuel Cell Cars

Welcome to the first installment in Hope for Hydrogen. In this series of articles, I ask you to imagine a world void of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). In this contrived intellectual exercise, pretend that the inevitable replacement for conventional gas-powered automobiles will be the venerable hydrogen fuel cell car.

We’re at the cusp of the end of the 156+ year reign of gasoline-powered personal transportation. It has been driven, literally, by internal combustion engine (ICE) technology. No, these vibration-riddled, maintenance-prone, noisy, polluting vehicles won’t go away overnight; the shift will be gradual.

However, the switch has begun. In the next few years, the speed of the transition will only increase. Prices will precipitate. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will improve, offering greater driving range, lower cost, and certainly more convenience.


Replacing Two Billion Cars

Consider that there’s more than two billion ICE cars in the world today, and 100 million new gas guzzlers are sold each year globally (with nearly 17 million of these in the United States). Only then do we begin to understand that it will take a while to overcome not only social stigma about new transport tech, but simply replacing the installed base.

It is estimated that it would take 20 years to accomplish this, based solely on existing production and consumption numbers. And this is if we could magically snap our fingers and immediately eliminate sales of all ICE cars today. Obviously, we must take a long-term view of the situation.

As passenger cars featuring outdated ICE tech inevitably begin to vanish, what will replace them?

This is an issue of no small contention within the ranks of experts and laypeople alike. We’re a culture of duality. You’re either a good guy or a bad guy, and your white or black hat gives you away. Republicans versus Democrats, Christians versus atheists, and progressives versus conservatives split our creative and intellectual aspirations into competing cultural camps.

Typically, the respective fans of battery electric and fuel cell vehicles find it difficult or impossible to reconcile or respect one another. For many, there’s no room in the Venn diagram for an overlap. In fact, there’s no Venn diagram whatsoever (but, fortunately, no gasoline either). There are only two distinct and widely separated circles. While both feature zero emissions, neither is void of a carbon footprint somewhere in the “well-to-wheels” energy lifecycle.

Hope for Hydrogen Series

Enter this series, Hope for Hydrogen. Today our intellectual game will be to pretend that there are no battery electric vehicles in the world. We’re going to assume that “Supercharger,” “LEAF,” “lithium-ion,” and “Soul EV” are terms that never entered the lexicon. We’ll psych ourselves into believing that our common vernacular is free of phrases like “range anxiety,” “charge time,” and “CHAdeMO socket.”

Instead, assume the new kid on the block is hydrogen. Pretend, for just a few hundred words of text, that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the clean car model that will be embraced by one and all (which could turn out to be the case; none of us has a crystal ball).

This is, of course, what reputable corporate titans like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai are telling us. Organizations such as the California Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership and the South Carolina Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Alliance, among others, are touting the advantages of hydrogen over gasoline and aggressively advocating its use for personal transportation.

Family heir and Toyota Motors president Akio Toyoda has said that his company will migrate away from petrol-powered piston pumpers within a decade. “I do believe that [the] fuel cell vehicle is the ultimate environmentally friendly car,” he told Businessweek last December of 2014. Even the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, is promoting hydrogen fuel cell cars. He took delivery of Toyota’s first Mirai in a public ceremony in Tokyo in January of 2015.

Thus, as a mental exercise, let’s embrace the mindset of hydrogen and explore its merits.


Excitement For a Better Car

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of ICE cars (with the exception of a few classics, like the Porsche 911, those gorgeous C2 Corvettes from the 1960s, and that Audi TT I owned a few years ago). The expense of gasoline and maintenance alone is enough to make me jump ship from internal combustion and the noise and pollution that it brings.

One might as well just hitch a horse to a buggy and try to find a blacksmith. This is the 21st century, and old-school 19th and 20th century tech just won’t cut it. At least not where our wallets and the environment are concerned.

This being the case, many are excited about the availability of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Toyota began selling its flagship FCV, the Mirai, in September of 2015. Hyundai has already begun a limited leasing program for its first hydrogen-powered car, the Tucson Fuel Cell.

That’s right, all of us now have the ability to lease or purchase a space-age hydrogen car that emits zero polluting emissions and features a familiar driving range of 265 to 300 miles (just shy of what most ICE cars achieve; improvements to these first generation versions will obviously extend this freshman effort).

Lack of Fueling Stations

Well, not so fast. These groovy vehicles aren’t really available to all of us. In fact, not most of us. Why? Because we don’t live close enough to a hydrogen fueling station. According to PC World, Toyota won’t even sell you a Mirai if you don’t live within a “reasonable” distance of a hydrogen fueling station. The same is true of the new Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell.

And here’s the rub, especially if you pride yourself in being an early adopter and want to put your money where your mouth is in terms of progressive transport tech: There’s currently only 13 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States. Nine of these 13, or 70%, are clustered around Los Angeles. The other four? One each in downtown San Francisco and downtown Sacramento, plus Wallingford, CT and another in Columbia, SC. Unfortunately, that’s it.

If you look up hydrogen fuel cell cars on Wikipedia, it will indicate that there are more stations, like some in Dearborn, MI, Phoenix, AZ, and at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. However, these either no longer exist, are private (like for corporate and commercial fleets), or are prototypes. In other words, you can’t drive up in your Mirai or Tucson, swipe your debit card, and fill your hydrogen tanks.

As such, residents of cities like Portland, St. Louis, Miami Beach, Ft. Worth, Boston, and Indianapolis couldn’t even purchase a fuel cell car if they wanted.

Creatures of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit. Thus, many will enjoy that FCVs offer the familiar experience of visiting a fueling station and standing next to their car for three or four minutes as they inject pressurized hydrogen into two or three tanks that reside under the back seat. Unfortunately, hydrogen fuel currently costs more than gasoline. In fact, the cost is about identical to pre-dip gasoline prices (think the first two-thirds of 2014).

Although both Toyota and Hyundai will be incentivizing new customers to purchase their fuel cell vehicles by offering free fuel for the first three years of ownership (including lessees), owners of other models—and Mirai owners after 36 months—will be paying roughly $50-55 to fill their cars with hydrogen (deriving about 265-300 miles of travel from the expense).

This is somewhat disappointing. Can’t we come up with a transport tech that would allow us not only more flexibility in filling stations, but also a lower fuel cost? No wonder people don’t like to give up their gas guzzlers or be early adopters. There may be savings in maintenance (no oil changes, tuneups, transmission work, or conventional exhaust repairs), for hydrogen-powered cars, but there clearly are not in terms of fuel costs. At least not currently.

Only the Beginning

However, let’s be fair. This is, after all, the genesis of a revolution in personal transportation. Passenger vehicles didn’t instantly overtake the horse and buggy at the turn of the last century. Henry Ford’s Model T, introduced in 1908, didn’t spontaneously replace competing forms of transportation. Unlike today, there wasn’t a gas station on every corner when the Model T was first introduced (there are now 121,000 in the United States, with nearly 10,000 in California alone).

To make hydrogen fuel cell cars practical, we need not only a solid network of hydrogen fueling stations, but also what pundits call “infrastructure.” By this, they mean not only the consumer-friendly stations at which people will swipe their card to fill their tank (and buy a soda or a pack of smokes), but also the production and distribution networks that create (extract), pressurize, and transport hydrogen to these stations.

Lest this become a 4,000 word treatise, let’s consider only the fueling station side of the equation. You already know that there are paltry few hydrogen fueling stations in the United States. Basically, it’s currently practical to own an FCV only if you live in one of five areas in the U.S. (and, to be realistic, mostly Los Angeles).

It’s easily possible that you live 30-45 minutes from one of the stations in any of these regions. Personally, I have a gas station that’s two minutes from my front door. Anything less convenient or more challenging than their current situations will be perceived as a pain by most consumers.

But that’s just the here and now. What does the future look like? What is currently being done to alleviate the lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure?


All text Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

 

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series,  the topic of potential performance enhancement gained from the consumption of cannabis by folks indulging in exercise was discussed—specifically endurance athletes.

Can amateur or professional athletes really gain solid, measurable improvements in their performance via cannabis therapy? A lack of research prevents solid data from being presented to skeptics. However, disbelievers and prohibitionists have neglected or dispelled solid data for decades, so the availability of such metrics may not be the solution to convincing the unenlightened.

Gooey Rabinski 


I’ve been thinking quite a bit—especially when on the bike—about the bronchodilation effects of cannabis. I’ve earlier written about how I perceive cannabis, when used with intent and comingled with breathing exercises directly prior to exercise, to expand airways within the lungs and, thus, aid in the efficiency of respiration.

This, in turn, can result in a significantly better exercise session. For endurance athletes specifically, it allows them to push harder and achieve milestones with greater efficiency and speed. Which is kind of a big deal.

gooey-rabinski-masi-road-bike

Some people balance their lives by hitting the road

One nice aspect of any form of exercise is that one can indulge at a minimal level, “taking it easy” on a run, ride, or swim. Likewise, one can push extremely hard, testing their limits. For those who like to push themselves, certain physiological results are typically predictable.

Burning Lungs

While all people are different (something very important to remember when considering the efficacy of any herb or medicine, including cannabis), most runners or cyclists can anticipate a certain set of results from a hard core endurance session.

During a session, these can include fatigue, shortness of breath, a runaway heart rate, and even dizziness, disorientation, or heat stroke—if one pushes things too far. These are symptoms that, especially for older individuals or those who are not in shape, are serious and should not be taken lightly.

When using cannabis to expand passageways in the lungs (via deep breathing exercises while smoking or vaporizing), I have noticed a decrease in the burning in my lungs that typically accompanies a hard ride and the accompanying rapid, intense breathing.

Pushing Hard

In situations where I want to push harder, like when I’m playing in traffic and racing cars off the line (fun is a serious part of a balanced life, no?), I find that I’m able to push harder and sustain a relatively higher level of effort. I can also sustain this greater level of effort for longer periods, it seems, than in the past.

I can simply exert, or achieve, a higher level of energy than when I wasn’t using cannabis with the intent of improving my performance. At least that is how it feels.

For the first time since I’ve purchased my current road bike, I’ve felt as if I am finally becoming in good enough shape to leverage the performance capabilities of this amazingly light road machine.

Some may label me a zealot, but I attribute much of this benefit—not experienced in years past when I was not using herbs with intent—to be derived from cannabis. The combination of a decrease in anxiety with the improved lung capacity delivered by THC is, to me, a winning combination.

toking-you-are-doing-it-wrong-gooey-rabinski-2

A young toker in Toronto, Canada

Because I don’t feel the burn in my lungs and the overall signs that I’m pushing my system to the limits of its capacities, I’m able to push harder and enjoy the ride considerably more. I understand that skeptics might argue that I’ve simply dulled my senses and am not aware of the damage I’m doing to my various parts of my body.

Resuscitating Ride Recovery

However, if cannabis was simply masking my pain (pain management is one of its most powerful capabilities, after all), I’d pay the price during not only the second half of long rides, but also in recovery for the next day or two.

But I don’t. In fact, my recovery seems to progress faster than ever. Pro athletes who use cannabis are telling me the same thing. In fact, when asked the number one benefit of pot for elite athletes like themselves, they note improved recovery.

In some respects, especially after a long ride, I’m shocked that within just a few hours to think that I covered the distance I did or achieved a particular average speed. I don’t seem to suffer the punishment that I did in the past when riding hard and trying to attain a weekly mileage goal.

I had always considered a certain level of physical suffering to be part and parcel to the endurance exercise experience: We push hard, our bodies hurt, and we recover. Rinse, repeat the next day.

Now, however, I feel as if my cannabis-free riding years were plagued by unnecessary pain, minor injuries, and slow recoveries that could have been not only faster, but also more pleasant. Meaning I could have pushed harder on the following ride, improved my training, and achieved a feeling of success (obtaining goals, in all areas of life, is certainly psychologically healthy).

There are numerous benefits to a faster recovery for any athlete, from the most casual amateur to the best of the pros. It really comes down to a more enjoyable experience and the ability to safely get back on the road or trail or in the swimming pool for the next session.

An important side benefit for the average athlete: A more enjoyable experience is one that a person is more likely in which to again indulge. Nobody, but nobody, will argue with the fact that, within reason, more exercise is better than less exercise.

cannabis-for-performance-enhancement-gooey-rabinski-2

The gears that make it go

When using cannabis as an aid in recovery, many of the typical negative aspects of the beating to which I expose my body seemed to be significantly decreased—such as muscle soreness, injuries, low energy, and overall fatigue.

Also note that all of my observations are occurring at the beginning of this season of riding. I’ve been blessed with a nice climate in Central Texas, which allowed me to begin serious riding in mid-February. This is precisely why this is part of a series.

Take my testimony with a grain of salt now because of the launch of the season. Wait until July or August, however, to really see how things are going (subscribe to my blog and you won’t miss a single installment).

Preventing Injuries?

I spoke at length in Part 1 of this series about the way cannabis can reduce anxiety and, thus, improve one’s focus on their exercise. However, I also believe that this reduced anxiety may help aid in preventing injuries.

Stick with me here. When pushing hard on a bicycle or running in a pair of Nikes, our bodies are tense. They’re under load. If we are unnecessarily stiff, tense, or employing the wrong body position or form, the chances of causing or suffering an injury are objectively greater.

In my own riding, I have noticed that I am more easily able to position my body for the optimal riding position. Because my lungs are not burning, I can maintain that position for a longer period of time and exert more effort during the entire session.

thoughts-on-suicide-gooey-rabinski-6

A home garden in the American Midwest

Aches and pains that sometimes manifest themselves as minor injuries haven’t plagued me this season. That certainly doesn’t mean they won’t. So far,  a minor problem with my ankle and typically recurring  pain from a college knee injury have either disappeared or simply aren’t putting a dent in my performance.

That, quite frankly, has shocked me. It’s premature to attribute this preventative advantage to cannabis. It may simply be that I love the Central Texas air. Or maybe it’s lessons learned from past seasons that I’m unconsciously incorporating into my training that are producing a large portion of these positive pot perceptions.

The Psych Game

Most professional athletes will tell you that the main ingredient to success in competitive exercise is the right mental mindset. In other words, most of the secret sauce is in our heads (or not).

One element of the endurance exercise experience that is often neglected is an athlete’s emotions. Did they learn of a pending layoff at their company and are now worried about losing their job? Did they suspect that their spouse is having an affair? Have they encountered financial pressures? Are their children having difficulty in school or being bullied?

All of these factors can easily dull an exercise junkie’s edge during a session. If cannabis did nothing more than ease some of the stress that results in anxiety—which disrupts mental focus—it would be a wonderful supplement to one’s training diet and highly recommended.

thoughts-on-suicide-gooey-rabinski-1

Are we listening to our bodies? (Subject: guitar virtuoso Joe Rollin Porter)

Fortunately, cannabis also aids in reducing inflammation and pain, which is why pro athletes who use cannabis are telling me in interviews that they find the most efficacy from this herb in terms of aiding their recovery.

I’m curious to get the opinions of readers about the role of anxiety reduction in exercise. While most will probably focus on how cannabis can kill pain during or after strenuous exercise, I want to learn about how anxiety reduction aids riders or runners both physically and mentally.

Please Note

Please note that there’s no hard science behind my observations. They are purely anecdotal and very subjective. This isn’t a double-blind placebo-based human trials study being conducted by a reputable academic institution.

Also keep in mind that your proverbial mileage not only may vary from mine, it will. In fact, some folks just aren’t cut out for endurance exercise at all—like I’m not cut out for chess or cooking you dinner. We all have our things, and if exercise isn’t yours, the entire topic of performance enhancement from cannabis may be moot in your world.

However, those who do gain benefits will do so in sometimes markedly different ways.

And, just think: If cannabis can provide these types of fine-tuning results for endurance athletes, what could it do for you? Could it help your mental focus on the job? Could it help you be a better parent? A better student or volunteer?

Which begs the question: Does relieving pain, anxiety, and depression aid in performance? This one seems easy: Undoubtedly. I simply don’t need a research study to embrace this viewpoint. And neither should Congress.

How have you noticed cannabis helping your performance? Let me know in the comments below. 

— Gooey Rabinski


I’m curious to get the opinions of readers about the role of anxiety reduction in exercise. While most will probably focus on how cannabis can kill pain during or after exercise, I want to learn about how anxiety reduction aids riders or runners both psychologically and mentally.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 1

As promised, I’ve decided to at least attempt to document some of the experimentation I’ve been doing with cannabis in terms of performance enhancement. In my particular case, I have been using it to enhance and improve my road cycling.

I enjoy endurance cycling, but will attempt in this series to avoid boastful mileage claims and all the competition-fueled ego fluff that too often accompanies social media updates and even friendly conversations with amateur athletes (we all know one; it’s why Facebook’s Unfollow feature was invented).

We also all indulge in particular hobbies, be they athletic in nature or not, because of passion and true interest. It’s our precious free time, so we better do something we damn well please, right? If your thing is chess, that’s cool. But you’re probably reading the wrong article….

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The chain and gears that help the rubber challenge the road. My bike in cleaner days.

However, I’ll attempt to spare selling you on my passion for cycling. It’s just something that works for me and many others, but it’s not a miracle for everybody. Nor do most sane humans want to spend this much on a pile of carbon fiber, snappy racing colors, and purpose-driven electronics.

I will, however, constantly encourage readers to exercise. An enlightened friend once turned me onto an interesting theory: 20 minutes of exercise, three times per week—if it raises your heart rate enough—will give you the majority of the health benefits of exercise.

You simply don’t need to head out for 16 miles of running or 50 miles of cycling. Efforts that are much more reasonable and practical in terms of time and effort can give you all the health you need.

Cannabis, I believe, can help. Even if it does nothing more than break a spell of anxiety or depression that had previously kept you away from the track, trail, or pool. However, cannabis is only part of a holistic approach to wellness and health. Exercise and a clean, science-based diet are just as important. I’m told meditation and yoga don’t hurt, either.


The few pro athletes I’ve spoken with have indicated that cannabis is very impressive in aiding their recovery from training and long endurance sessions. This is something I have noticed personally and will explore more in future articles in this series.

Breathing: Considering Bronchodilation

Any runner, cyclist, or swimmer is naturally concerned with the capacity of their respiratory system. The efficiency of their lungs and heart is critical to performance and reaching training goals.

Despite his controversy, a big part of Lance Armstrong’s success wasn’t just his venting of anger toward his father (his admission, not my observation), but also because of his significantly above average respiratory and cardiovascular capacity (his heart and lungs are simply larger and more efficient than many of his peers).

Personally, I have been using cannabis directly before a ride in combination with breathing exercises. I take very slow, long, deep tokes, getting the smoke or vapor as deep within my lungs as possible. If you’re using the good stuff and it was actually cured, this won’t be a problem (another reason to support legal, regulated dispensaries).

Herer demonstrating his pipe at a trade show in San Francisco

Jack Herer in San Francisco in 2006.

Because THC acts as a bronchodilator (read my asthma article for MassRoots for more info), it means that pulling smoke or vapor that is rich in this special psychoactive cannabinoid as deep as possible within the lungs serves to open passageways and increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of these critical organs.

I have been both medicating pre-ride by smoking flowers and mid-ride via use of my handy Puffco Pro vape pen. It handles only concentrates, which is perfect. I desire to stop for a relatively short period and arouse no suspicion of my true activities with the smell of burning flowers (I’m riding in Texas, after all).

The Psychology of Fear

It’s easy to get scared of training. There’s pain and a need for an almost constant push. It’s intense, and I can easily understand why some don’t want to participate in this game of racing the clock (or, for some, other humans).

I’ve found that this fear can be debilitating when it comes to good performance. The consumption of good cannabis, however—especially a top-shelf sativa variety—can reduce or almost eliminate this fear. At least for me.

After medicating with cannabis, I felt no trepidation whatsoever about my training. Now, this may be due to the sativa-dom strains that I prefer, which are naturally energizing (obviously good for endurance exercise). Cannabis caused my mind to calm to the point that I’m able to block any outside stress that might result in anxiety that would distract me from my ride. And, in the process, distract me from pushing as hard as possible and improving.

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A backyard bush near downtown Toronto.

We all have too much drama in our lives. Crude bosses, ex lovers, children, pets, daily commutes, and finances can all suck away much of our best energy. This is energy that’s desperately needed during endurance exercise. Or any exercise, in my humble opinion.

I’ve always believed in the power of focus. Cannabis simply allows me to better focus on my ride. The anxiety of my next article deadline or the topic of my next book or how well my daughters are doing in school fades to issues with which I will deal after I get off the bike.

As one of my old corporate clients used to post in their conference rooms: Be Here Now. Cannabis helps many—including me—do exactly that.

Unless it’s a critical analysis or sorting things out in terms of strategy, what can I really do for the other areas of my life when I’m on the bike anyway? I ride to improve my career, health, and interpersonal relationships. Why would I want to allow these very things to, ironically, put a dent in the effort designed to improve them?

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

This said, I do want to emphasize that the total elimination of fear during endurance exercise isn’t wise. I have no choice but to play in traffic when I go riding. I live in the suburbs, not the country. I often ride to the country, but I must pass thru some heavily congested traffic arteries to do it.

Also, a full elimination of fear may result in over-indulgence in strenuous exercise, which may produce injury, unnecessary fatigue, and a prolonged recovery period. Overtraining is one of the most common and harmful potential aspects of competitive exercise.

If I drop my alertness for one second in the middle of rush hour traffic, I could literally be wiped out by a 4,000 pound vehicle. Those furniture vans cruising down the state highway at 65 MPH aren’t exactly my idea of sexy bedmates.

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Know when to put the brakes on smoking + exercise.

Thus, a heavy indica, with a narcotic effect, would not be recommended for this type of activity. Also, getting extremely high is not on the recommended list. Know your limits; use intelligence. Don’t ever venture into uncharted territory with cannabis flowers or concentrates—in terms of potency—and then go out and indulge in endurance exercise.

Always be very familiar with the medicine you are consuming before or during exercise, especially if you are out and about in society and not just sitting at home on an exercise bike or a stair climber.

I realize that the majority of the cannabis consumers in the United States are in areas where the possession or consumption of pot is illegal. Relegated to black market bingo, sometimes a heavy indica is all you can get. If you’re lucky enough to get anything at all.

Thus, what I’m doing isn’t practical for all. You might not have Maui Waui or another nice sativa-dom to get your motor running before a long run or ride. You might not have access to concentrates like the BHO I’m putting in my Puffco Pro.

But if, just if, you can get decent cannabis, I believe you can improve your performance with mindful use with intent. That, plus a little knowledge of how THC works to expand your bronchial passages.

It works for asthmatics. Why not cyclists and runners?


I realize I’m going to attract plenty of glares and a few arrows from those in the cycling and running communities, especially cyclists in more conservative areas of North America.  To those of you who think cycling is akin to golf in terms of physical exertion, um…no.

To those who are hardcore endurance athletes and are offended by the idea of even considering the use of cannabis for performance enhancement, I say wake up and smell the coffee. Drop some science on yourself. There just might be something to this.


Don’t forget to add your comments to this piece. I’m interested in how others are using cannabis for wellness, mental focus, and a healthy, fast recovery after a long ride or run.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Addressing the Cannabis Skeptics

Skeptics wonder how cannabis can be so effective against such a wide variety of conditions. It’s simple: It is very good at mimicking the body’s own internally produced medical molecules, chemicals called endocannabinoids.

Because modern life and its pollution, lack of exercise, and highly processed foods often result in very poor diet, humans are typically deficient in these molecules. Recent science has revealed that such a problem, called endocannabinoid deficiency, results in a lack of homeostasis within the human body.

It is theorized by some intelligent researchers that this lack of homeostasis may be the root of literally hundreds of conditions. This imbalance, because it involves the central nervous system and immune system, can result in diseases as wide ranging as multiple sclerosis, asthma, strokes, and epilepsy.

Because so many conditions involve inflammation, pain, and nausea, cannabis is simply very effective in treating them. It should be noted that this herb is not always able to treat the core disease or condition that ails a patient, but it typically is an excellent way of decreasing negative symptoms.

One Research Example

Back to the science of cannabis: A 2013 human trial study in Israel revealed that 45% of participants with Crohn’s disease, a potentially fatal form of Irritable Bowel Disease, experienced a full remission of their disease after only eight weeks (they consumed high-grade cannabis containing 23% THC). All subjects were patients who had tried conventional pharmaceutical drugs, but had experienced no relief from their disease or its symptoms.

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CBD oil can  help children with untreatable epilepsy avoid seizures

This is just one of literally hundreds of examples of research studies that either hint toward or prove the efficacy of cannabis. However, “proof” in the world of science means repeatable results.

With the U.S. government opposing cannabis research that extends beyond petri dishes and test tubes due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, such research won’t be occurring in the United States anytime soon.

If you’re offended by this, let your representative or senator know.


How have you benefited from integrating cannabis into your wellness therapy? How does it help you psychologically, emotionally, and physically? Have you been able to reduce or avoid opiates and other conventional pharmaceutical treatments by substituting cannabis?


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, MERRY JANE, Herb.co, Emerald Magazine, CannaBiz JourbnalCannabis Culture, Twelve High ChicksHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Flower MediaGreen Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.