bugs and cannabis

Elsewhere on FB I got to unleash some entomology knowledge I packed away 24 (23?) years ago, for a class I took as a post-Bacc just so I could get access to the student free clinic. I thought it would be fun to learn about bugs.

It was a very memory intensive class. For the lab practicum (half our grade) we had to memorize every insect order (there are 24 IIRC) and most insect families extant in the temperate world (hundreds), in order to identify every specimen. The practicum was just hundreds of bugs pinned to cards with a number next to them, and for every bug you had to write down the class and family. There were dupes which is SNEAKY. Bonus points for genus and/or species.

I studied for that class while working the graveyard at Kinko's. I copied relevant pages from the textbook & made my own illustrations and then pasted it all up by hand on templates I made in Aldus Pagemaker, & copied out study sheets on color-coded paper & put them into a special 3-ring binder. (You have a lot of free time working the weekend graveyard shift at Kinko's.)

At the same time I was also taking a graduate fiction-writing seminar at night, taught by my departed friend Gerry Shapiro. Which somehow over the semester migrated out of the classroom and into Duffy's tavern.

The night before the Big Entomology Practicum was the last fiction class, and that night the “class” ended at a house party. Maybe it started there too. After "class" I got more stoned than I have ever been in my life before or since; I lost the capacity for human speech and could only laugh and groan and bark. The next morning I rode down to East Campus for the practicum — not hungover, in fact I felt great — and sat on the floor leafing through my obsessively compiled, hand-designed practicum study guide which 24hours prior I knew by heart. Page after page: gone. Just gone from my head. What WERE all these crazy bugs? Beats the heck out of me.

(I passed the practicum BARELY somehow. Probably a couple giveaways like Hymenoptera, Apidae, Apis mellifera; the domestic European honey bee. That's like 2 extra credit right there!)

Anyway despite all that 24 (23?) years later I can still whip out Hemiptera, Acanthosomatidae (shield bugs) and Hemiptera, Pentatomidae (stink bugs).

SO THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS

Public education gave a 22-year-old lazeabout a purpose for living AND free health care (OK not free I did pay tuition) AND useful knowledge about insects

AND ALSO

Cannabis might wreck your short-term memory but anecdotal evidence suggests it does not affect long-term memory.