The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide

I first took LSD on my 50th birthday. It was a spiritual event. Before that I looked long and hard for some kind of guide to orient me on what to expect, how to set the atmosphere, and in general how to go about this in a sacramental way. Most of the little specks of advice I found about “dropping acid”  dated from the 1960s, and were not very helpful. I need some utilitarian guidelines, a checklist. How much do I take? Alone or with others? Outside, or inside? What happens if it turns nasty?

I wish I had had this book. James Fadiman was one of the original scientists testing LSD when it was still legal in the US and he has gathered a bookful of useful advice from his own research and in the collections of others. Fadiman promotes guided sessions, where a guide accompanies the voyager. (I used that method myself.) This new manual supplies very practical advice on how to attain the goal listed in its subtitle: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys. And it covers other psychedelics besides acid, although less deeply. Another bonus: it is helpful for either the guide or the voyager.

-- KK  

The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide
James Fadiman
2001, 352 pages
$13

Available from Amazon



3M Document Holder

This document holder sees daily use over here at the Book of Joe World HQ. It holds varied paper sizes such as letter, legal, and A4 in portrait or landscape orientation.

The small, compact design is weighted to prevent tipping and remains unobtrusive on the desktop. Spring–action clip secures documents and holds up to 20 sheets at a time. Keeps paper in easy-to-read upright position. Works nicely for phone messages and notes.

-- Joe Stirt  

3M Document Holder Wedge
$8

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by 3M

Sample Excerpts:




Stalking the Wild Asparagus

There’s a bunch of watercress growing wild at the low end of our creek. And wild plums thick at the upper end. And stinging nettles in between, and all three of them delicious. I know this because I first read Euell Gibbon’s charming book on foraging for wild food 50 years ago.  All these years later it’s still one of the best books on finding wild foods in North America. It won’t help you identify the edible plants and critters; there’s no photos, only a few minimal line drawings, and very little in terms of identification help. Gibbons assumes you’ll use other sources, including friends, to help you learn to distinguish them.

What Gibbons offers in his books (including his sequels on herbs and beachcombing), is what to do with what you find, and why bother. He is a delightful writer who tells memorable stories about his life-long adventures in discovering wild foods and uncovering (through historical research) how they can be prepared. Gibbons is not concerned about the survival aspects of wild food. For him the adventure is culinary, and an antidote to white bread and office work. It is hard to convey the paucity of cuisine in suburban America at the time he was writing. His passions helped open up American palates. And despite the fact that you can buy dandelion greens, fern fiddles and wild mushrooms at some farmers’ markets today, his books can still open your eyes to the edibles and adventures that lie unseen in your own neighborhoods. I enjoy re-reading him every now and then to be reminded of wild foods I overlook. I’ve used his advice many times. I get an immense and distinct satisfaction from adding even a small bit of wild food to a meal.

-- KK  

Stalking The Wild Asparagus
Euell Gibbons
2005 (1962), 303 pages
$13

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

Another point in favor of foraging as a family is the handiness with which it can be practiced. One doesn’t need to go to the mountains or virgin forests to find wild food plants. In fact, mountains and dense forests are among the poorer places to look. Abandoned farmsteads, old fields, fence rows, burned-off areas, road-sides, along streams, woodlots, around farm ponds, swampy areas and even vacant lots are the finest foraging sites.

*

Did you ever stop to think how much specialized knowledge and fine discrimination are required in order to tell a head of cabbage from a head of lettuce on a grocer’s shelf? How would you describe the difference, so someone who had never seen either could be certain what he is getting? Or how would you go about telling someone the difference between Swiss chard, beet tops, spin age and turnip greens? yet most of us are not aware of ever having made an effort to learn to discriminate between the common vegetables. We recognize them intuitively, just as we do other familiar things. The same thing becomes true of wild food plants after a short acquaintance.

*

Since then, each spring I go out along the field borders and byways and gather wild asparagus, not only enough for current use, but some to store in the freezer, so I can bring back the joyous spring days any time of the year merely by cooking a dish of wild asparagus. That five minutes I spent so long ago, concentrating on one dead asparagus plant, has led me to many pounds of this most delicious of early vegetables. The eyetraining it gave me has lasted until now. Whenever I drive, in the late winter or early spring, my eye automatically picks up the dead asparagus stalks by the roadside, and I make an almost unconscious mental note of the places where the green spears will be plentiful when warm weather returns.

*


Black Birch

To make a wintergreen-flavored tea, cut some sweet birch twigs in small pieces and cover them with boiling birch sap. Let it steep for a minute or two, then strain out the twigs and sweeten the tea to taste. Some like to add cream or hot milk. Children are usually very fond of this beverage and it’s perfectly harmless and wholesome.

*

For the number of different kinds of food it produces there is no plant, wild or domesticated, which tops the common Cattail. In May and June the green bloom spikes make a superior cooked vegetable. Immediately following this comes the bright yellow pollen, fine as sifted flour, which is produced in great abundance. This makes an unusual and nourishing ingredient for some flavorful and beautifully colored pancakes and muffins. From fall until spring a fine, nutritious white flour can be prepared from the central core of the rootstocks for use as a breadstuff or as a food starch. On the leading ends of these rootstocks are found the dormant sprouts which will be next year’s cattails. These can be eaten either as a salad or as a cooked vegetable. At the junction of these sprouts and the rootstock there is an enlarged starchy core the size of a finger joint. These can be roasted, boiled or cooked with meat. In the spring, the young shoots can be yanked from the ground and peeled, leaving a tender white part from six to twelve inches long which can be eaten raw or cooked.

*

Don’t feel like a vandal while digging day lily tubers. A spading fork full of plants removed here and there from the clump will only give it a much-needed thinning and cultivation. If you would like to see more of these interesting and useful plants growing, then set out some of the plants in new places after you have remove the tubers. They will live and each one will soon form a new colony about itself.

*

Once I stopped my car by a roadside stream, and in ten minutes speared eight large frogs. A good way is to get right up into the stream, wearing old clothes or fishing waders, and walk up the middle of it, spearing or shooting frogs on either bank.

A head for a frog spear can be bought at most any sporting goods store. It is a small three- or five-tined fork looking something like the trident carried by Poseidon. Many frog-hunters will disagree with me but I think the best handle for a frog spear is made of a good stout piece of bamboo ten to twelve feet long. Such a rig looks as if it were all handle and no spear, but I have walked along narrow streams spearing frogs on the opposite bank with such a long-handled spear very successfully

…The next time you are camping and bullfrogs are keeping you awake, don’t fret or become angry. Just lie there and plan a menu for next day’s dinner that includes plenty of brown, crispy frog’s legs. You’ll be surprised how much a difference it will make in that sound.




EBike Shipper

This is the cheapest way to ship a bike in the US. Most airlines have hefty charges for your bicycle as accompanied luggage, so this compact box and subsidized FedEx ground rates are the best deal I’ve found. It will cost about $100 when you are done if you use their full service. While it is the cheapest way, it is not the most convenient way. Here is how it works.

ShipBikes.com will ship you a box, called an Ebike Shipper, to your sending address.

Inside the box is a much larger box folded up. You unfold that box into two parts (top and bottom), and then you disassemble your bike and tie it in.

You need to remove both wheels, pedals, handlebar, seat, fenders, racks, and maybe the front fork.

It will take a hour or more, and can be done with two common tools. (And of course you need to rebuild it at the other end.) Then you tape up the box, print out a label from an email they send you, and then call FedEx who will come to your address to pick it up, and then deliver to the address you designate. This delivery and pick up is really fantastic at the end of a bike trip when you are shipping a bike back home from a far destination.

The shipping box is very cleverly designed to arrive in the mail folded up and to just squeak under a pricing threshold when unfolded. Thus the tight fit and the need to strip the bike down. By coming under the FedEx price threshold the box will ship in the US for about $53. The cost of the box and shipping it to you is $48. You can stuff some gear like a sleeping bag and pad into the box for padding but it won’t hold much beside the bike.

The alternative is to use an AirCaddy from the same company, which is a triangular shaped box that takes the bike with almost no disassembly. (The AirCaddy box is also reusable.) You can load it in 10 minutes. But it costs $99 to reach you, and about $96 to ship because of its larger size. That extra simplicity will cost about double the ebike box option. But this is by far the most convenient way to ship a bike: Box comes, you unfold it, pop bike in, they come to get it, then deliver it its destination. Done for $200.

Of course if you have use of a car you can find a free used box from a bike shop, drag it home, and ship it yourself, but you’ll pay higher rates, close to $100. ShipBIkes has some kind of deal with FedEx that gives you a discount on the freight. Or you can get a free bike box at a shop and then haul the packed bike-in-box to the airport (and then out of the arriving airport), but for most airlines this will still cost you about $90- $100+, and it requires a car, which you may not have a the end of a long tour.

There are still a few airlines that will ship a boxed bike for $50 as accompanied luggage, but they are rare, and you still have the problem of getting the box and then getting the bike to the airport and back. Lastly, the ebike box is so well designed that there are four layers of cardboard around the perimeter, everything is tied in with straps, the wheel axels protected with rubber bumpers, and the whole thing much more protected and secure than a free bike-shop box, which has been used and is not meant to be shipped in luggage. I recently received a bike shipped this casual way and the front wheel was so damaged it had to be rebuilt. The bike we shipped via ebike was intact.

Any way you do it, it will cost you about $100 to ship a bike in the US. (ShipBikes will ship overseas but the costs vary so much I can’t summarize.) But if you count the hassles of the alternatives, the hassles of disassembling your bike into a provided box and having them pick it up to deliver works out to be the cheapest way to do it.

-- KK  

Ebike Shipper
$48 per box
ShipBikes.com



Sanuk Vagabond

These are the perfect camp shoes while backpacking. They are awesomely light and they flatten into almost nothing; you stick them in the side pockets of your bag. They are a total luxury comfort but also abreakthrough product for me because I’m really glad to stop and take my boots off to dry my socks and prevent blisters. With these on the trail I don’t have to cripple around barefoot.

-- Stewart Brand  

Sanuk Vagabond Slippers
$43+

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Sanuk



Zip Kicker

When you are working in the special effects industry there’s never enough time. You have to make things — and make them work –  right now. One of the secrets of every special effects master is the use ofcyanoacrylate glue with an accelerator. The accelerator is called “Zip Kicker” and it makes super glue dry and cure instantly. You lay down the cyanoacrylate glue, and you put your piece of material in it, and then you lay down a little bit of the kicker right on top of it. The kicker increases the evaporative effect of the cyanoacrylate glue and it sets almost immediately. When you are making something complex with many parts, instant glue makes a HUGE difference.

-- Adam Savage  

Zip Kicker
$8

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Zap



Doodle

Doodle is an excellent web app that allows a bunch of people with disparate and complicated schedules to determine the optimal meeting time or date among them. It is the easiest of these types of tools I have tried, and does not require people to register or do anything other than fill in their name and check off boxes. It is free. Doodle has advanced features that allow you to do “if this, then that” type of scheduling as well, but I have so far just used the basic set up.

-- Alexander Rose  

Doodle
Free
Available from http://doodle.com

Sample Excerpts:




Nelson Quick Hose Connectors

This review is a replacement for the previously reviewed plastic Melnor Quick Connects.  I did not write that review, but these brass connectors are MUCH better than the plastic ones.

These little brass hose connectors make the job of attaching and detaching hoses quick and simple. You pull the collar back on the female connector, and insert the male connector, and you’re ready to roll. Really, it just takes a second or two to provide a secure, leak-proof connection. There are several brands of cheap plastic connectors out there, but these brass ones will last a lifetime. I have a number of them that are 10+ years old, and they work amazingly well. I attach these to everything hose-related: faucets, both ends of the hoses, and all the attachments, and they save me a lot of time and annoyance.

There are two drawbacks to these connectors: people unfamiliar with them will unscrew the whole set up, so if you have handymen, contractors, or yard men who are going to deal with your hoses, you’ll need to explain how they work. The second is that they’re easily lost and misplaced.  Even though these connectors are easily lost, they’re so long-lasting and sturdy that when they turn up again, they’ll work perfectly!

-- Amy Thomson  

[Note: For those with multiple hoses Amazon also sells the male component on its own.--OH]

Nelson Brass Hose Quick Connectors
Male/Female Set
$7

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Nelson



Brooks Saddles

Nothing is more important for enjoyable bike riding than a saddle that fits right and feels good. Most of your weight presses down on some very sensitive parts of your body. Up until the 1970s, most bicycles came with leather saddles and for very good reasons. They breathed a little, better than plastic in hot weather, looked great and most important, they broke in over time and got more and more comfortable with every ride. After a few hundred miles, your leather saddle will feel like it is a custom fit.

Brooks England has made saddles since 1882, and they offer models for every taste and preference. Remarkably, they designed their “Imperial” model with the cutaway top to reduce perineal pressure for men and women back in the 1890s, a century before anyone else. You can still buy one today. Take a look at their Web site; you are nearly certain to find exactly what you want among the wide assortment of beautiful saddles available. It will arrive carefully packed in a beautifully printed box, including a wrench for adjusting and complete directions.

You’ll want to have it for a long time and you can. Brooks stands behind their products with a two year warranty and they will accept them for repairs forever. Buy a tin of their Proofide conditioner. It’s tiny and expensive, but a little goes a long way and that’s what they recommend for a perfectly broken-in saddle. You also want to make sure to keep it dry in the rain by covering it with a plastic bag, shower cap or the Brooks Rain Cover.

I have had a B17 on my road bike and a B67 on my city bike for nearly twenty years. They are a little heavier and more expensive than the plastic ones, but it’s hard to put a price on the lasting comfort and quality they represent.

[Former editor Elon Schoenholz first reviewed Brooks Saddles for CT back in 2009.--OH]

Brooks B17 Saddle
$93+ (price varies with color)
Available from Amazon

Brooks B67 Saddle
$122+ (price varies with color)
Available from Amazon

Brooks Proofide Saddle Leather Dressing
$10
Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Brooks England