Saturday, June 30, 2007

Going to the markets

It's Saturday morning. While we wait for the markets to open, (although in theory they might since it's 6.30am) here is the post I promised earlier from last weekend's trip to Sacramento and the Jelly Belly factory.

We go to the markets every week. It's usually way cheaper than the supermarket and often what's in season is more apparent (and discounted obviously). Here I am in the carpark outside the markets, actually a drive-in movie theatre.
It's very busy - on one side are the retailers selling something close to a garage sale, and on the other side are stall-holders shouting out in Spanish the equivalent of, "Get your nice juicy avocados here! 3 for $2!" or whatever they're selling that day.

There are also a few Chinese market gardeners, selling the most unusual herbs, vegetables and things like bitter melon (I can see Mealz screwing up her face right now!) and horseraddish. They always try and give you extra stuff you don't really need for "just $1 more" and you have to know when to say no, but sometimes they also give you free stuff so I think it evens out.

Mmmm, look at all the yummy food! The big swathe of yellow in the left centre stall is actually the most amazing mangoes, I've already written about them in the last post I did about the markets, a few months ago. (Click on the image to see better.)

Here is a slightly rude photo of eggplants. The grower had no idea why they did that, but she thought it was funny too.

At the moment there's a guy who always talks to me in Spanish, I need to practice cos I only understand about 2 words of what he says to me and it's embarrassing. I buy cherries off him (usually $1/lb but currently $3/lb), though the last decent ones of the season were last week. Time to find a new snack food! (I've been buying big bags each week... yummy!)

Brendan always buys pistachios - once we had salt, lime and tequila-flavoured ones! Mexicans seem to really like chilli on everything, and so it's hard to find plain ones. And of course it's all over-salted.

Later, we went to Walmart to buy some sun shades for our car, since it's getting a bit unbearable when you open the car door after leaving it somewhere.

Here is our favourite diet-killing row of shelves: Everything chocolate-related!! Note at the top right, Reeces Peanut Butter cups minis in large packet form . We should have bought the chocolate for our wedding from here!!

Lastly, a little video made from photos I took while driving home from the markets. It's like the "as if you were there" of our driveway, though sped up slightly at the end.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Most Hilarious Product: Tofurky

We found this today in the supermarket. I consider it one of the most hilarious products I've ever seen: Tofurky

And, a related concept, Turkey Jerky.

That is all. Be sure to comment if you have something more hilarious.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The One-Month Vegetarian Experiment

I've been thinking about going vegetarian for a long time, a couple of years really. I've never really been into meat in a big way, and I only started eating fish again last year after ten years. I was always reluctant though because I never thought Brendan would agree - he screamed untelligible things about steak every time I suggested giving up meat.

Recently, though, one of the side effects of polyphasic sleep has been our smaller meals and many more snacks. Combining this with drinking protein shakes again and getting back into the gym means Brendan's now very willing to give it a go for a month, as he doesn't feel he "just need[s] something else".

I've started on it slowly - for the past two weeks we've eaten mostly vegetarian, and had meat once a week. I love it. I feel so much more healthier and energetic, and I have a suspicion that eating healthy in this way and cutting down on peanut butter cups made us both lose a bit of weight. I don't miss meat right now - ask me at the end of the month and I'll let you know.

We'll still eat cheese and other dairy products, and most likely eggs, though we almost never eat those anyway. And Brendan insists on keeping fish, because, as he says, "apart from the danger of Mercury contamination, it's the one thing that nutritionists always recommend". Which really makes us pesco-vegetarians. So this experiment should be called the One-Month Pesco-vegetarian Experiment. Twice the confusion and half the shock value, somehow...

I think I have sufficient practice now in what to cook that we're ready to go the full hog, to excuse the pun. After all, as with the polyphasic experiments, if we don't like it as much, it's only for a month. The month started last Sunday, so today is day 3.

The one rule that we have set is if we go out, we're allowed to order meat if we want, mostly because it's so hard to get decent vegetarian takeaways at your standard American fast food outlet. (I'd still rather eat vege - that way I know there are less yucky things in my hamburger. Duncan and Anita, I know you both don't go to McD's etc but what do you order when you go out? Have you been to Pita Pit in SJ on 2nd St? It's like Subway, but with much healthier pita bread and fillings.)

HIIT Training Tracks

A couple of people have shown some interest in the mp3 tracks I created for High Intensity Interval Training. For those who don't know, I created the tracks to let me know the timings of the intervals while I'm out running, without needing to check my watch. Each track contains a beep for the start of the high-intensity interval, and another beep for the end. To help even more, I've overlaid the beeps onto excepts of songs where the music matches the high-low intensity of the intervals, i.e. where the music has a slower/quieter buildup to a sudden period of more intense music.

So, as promised, here the ones I've created so far.

What the download contains
The download is a .zip file containing nine 45-second mp3s. These particular tracks are designed for 30-second low-intensity, 15-second high-intensity, a reasonably "pure" form of HIIT, but I do intend to make longer versions (45/30, 60/60) later on.

Each of the songs selected has a section in which the music builds up to a sudden climax (where you start sprinting). There are two beeps in each track; one after 30 seconds to tell you to sprint, another at the end to tell you to stop sprinting. Most of them are trance/techno because they contain many examples of this sort of build-explode pattern and because I find the intensity and beat good for working out.

And before anyone asks, while I like each of these songs they are not a good representation of my overall musical taste :P

Samples from the following songs are included:
  1. Rob Dougan - Chateau (from Matrix Reloaded)
  2. Chaah - The Funkiness of You
  3. The Immortals - Mortal Kombat Theme
  4. Rob Dougan - I'm Not Driving Anymore
  5. Warp Brothers, Aquagen - Phatt Bass
  6. Armin van Buuren - As the Rush Comes (1)
  7. Armin van Buuren - As the Rush Comes (2)
  8. The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up
  9. Porn Kings, DJ Supreme - Up to the Wildside

The number on the end of the file is added by the file-hosting service by the way, I haven't actually created 1237 versions of this.

How to Use the Tracks
Firstly, you'll want to select those songs you like and think will work well for you. Listen to each one and pick out those where you can really imagine wanting to go nuts and sprint at the first beep. Since HIIT workouts are supposed to be short, you don't need many to get a decent variety. Similarly you could also just have a single looping track that you really like if that works best for you.

Next, decide how long you want your HIIT session to last (I've only just started doing "true" HIIT, so I can barely y manage 5 minutes) and work out how many 45 second tracks you'll need.

Copy the track you've selected to your mp3 player (if your player doesn't support playlists you'll need to have multiple copies of some files for longer workouts) and set them up in their own folder/playlist. Finally, just make sure you have your player set up to only play each file once (or to only go once through the playlist) so that you'll know when to stop!

Notes on HIIT
I'm sure most of you are more than capable of doing your own research on what HIIT is and how it works, but here's a quick overview.

HIIT is a kind of cardio training which alternates periods of high and low intensity activity. The difference between HIIT and normal interval training is the degree of the high-intensity interval: in interval training you alternate between slow and fast, while in HIIT you alternate between slow and as-fast-as-you-can-go. This means that if, for example, you are running, HIIT doesn't require that you run fast during the high-intensity interval, it requires that you sprint. If you can do it for more than about 20 seconds, you're not sprinting.

HIIT is considered an advanced form of training. Most people report that the first time they try it they literally feel ill from exertion by the end. So do yourself a favour by starting with a short session (5 minutes or so), and by taking the time to build up your fitness if you haven't been active for a while.

The key advantage of HIIT is that you only need a relatively short session (in fact more than 15 minutes is not recommended) to get substantial benefits. It increases your cardiovascular fitness faster than standard interval training or normal constant-rate training, and provides better fat-loss rates than the long low-medium intensity workouts most people associate with weight-loss. The fat-loss aspect comes from the fact that HIIT raises your resting metabolism for up to 24 hours after each workout.

Suggestions for HIIT Tracks?
Do you have a favourite workout song that you think would be a perfect HIIT track? Feel free to leave a recommendation in the comments and I'll see what I can do :)

Also, if you are interested in different timings, let me know what your favourite interval times are and I'll put it on my todo list.

Now Download and Enjoy... in a painful sweaty kinda way.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tina, Brendan and the Chocolate Factory

Or more accurately, the jelly bean factory, but they do chocolate too.

It's on long weekend trips that I really appreciate our Everyman sleep schedule - we still get stuff done we want to. Many times a trip wouldn't be possible otherwise, like Yosemite.

So, the summarized version of the day:

Markets at 7am, Walmart at 8am to buy some car stuff, home. (There will be a post about this with pictures.) Nap and leaving around 10am, arrive in Fairfield around 1pm due to vast amounts of traffic and a rather pointlessly expensive toll bridge.

Attempt to nap in a swelteringly hot car and fail despite bright shiny reflective window shades covering all windows. Spend the rest of the day with a slightly heightened sense of awareness that the next day will be a bit more tiring. Tour factory, get disappointed that there aren't any beans being made on the day. Discover Fairfield is really simply a mall for cars in the absolute middle of nowhere with about 5 houses and the jelly bean factory added on. Buy McDonalds and marvel at number of automalls.

Drive to Sacramento. Spend ages looking at various pretty governmental buildings and restored old buildings and boats swarming with tourists. Drive to Stockton. Better attempt to nap in the carpark of a Taco Bell beside the freeway despite Stockton's reputation for car thieves - I think we must have fallen asleep for about 5 mins each. Drive home and eat even more jelly beans. Feel like not eating jelly beans for a while.

But you don't want to hear about that - you want to hear all about the Jelly Belly factory! The Harry Potter jelly beans! The incredible cheese-fest of pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger and other famous people done in jelly beans! The robot dance!

A large floating inflatable jelly bean man was anchored outside the entrance. A few kids took flying leaps and jumped on the 'feet'. I contented myself with sitting on one. (A large inflatable black 'foot', not a kid.)

To go inside the factory, we had to wear ridiculous hats (Health and Safety reasons, blah blah). So with a sigh of embarrassment and inevitability, we put on our hats and stood with the rest of the tour group. (Some people resisted for another five minutes but peer pressure and some staring from the guide won out.)

The guide led us down hallways lined with pictures made from jelly beans, and along a carpeted, enclosed walkway above the factory floor. (The carpet also had jelly beans on it.) At certain points we all stopped and watched videos from large televisions suspended above the factory floor, while the guide explained and made jokes and asked people questions. He also announced a blanket "no photos" policy.

I was extremely well-behaved and didn't take photos of the factory, as much as I wanted to. And Brendan hovered over me the whole time and threatened to take my cameras away if I even so much as stuck my hand in my bag to get one out...

The cuteness point of the trip was the robot dance: one of the four yellow packing arms was anthropomorphicized with a stuffed jelly belly figure on top, a voice and a little sign that it picked up and waved. It told us that its three friends would also dance, and so they did. At the end, they waved goodbye with 4 little flipper-like feet. Brendan and I both enjoyed this a lot. Apparently Ronald Reagan liked these jelly beans very much and used them in all his meetings, so the factory tour was filled with miscellaneous questions asked of the audience about obscure American history references to Reagan. And apparently Abraham Lincoln played the flute leading his troops into battle. Who knew??

As we left the factory, we were each given a small sample of the chocolate coffee-pebbles that they made, and a larger bag of jelly beans. Free stuff! We wandered back to the entrance and tasted various different flavours guarded and given out singly by an employee - Brendan tried a jalapeƱo one: the guy laughed and said, "keep chewing, keep chewing... there we are." as Brendan's face registered a look of surprise at the sudden burning.

Here is the 10kg of jelly beans (approx - 12 x 2lb bags - maybe more like 11 kg) we bought - an entire box of "Belly Flops"."Belly Flops" are beans that are too big, small or ugly to make the final cut. But they taste just as great and are a quarter of the price.

Kids standing in line next to us stared wide-eyed in open jealousy. Ah, the perks of being an adult - the money to buy things that you wanted as a child but the wisdom/ guilt to know how bad they are for you... (Anyone else ever dream of how many lollies you could buy with $100 as a kid?) We hope to make them last a year, but we'll see. So far the majority are well hidden from everyday sight.

We also bought some Harry Potter jelly beans with especially unappealing names such as 'vomit', 'earwax', 'soap', 'earthworm' ("Dirt with a hint of meat," said Brendan) and 'booger'. The tour guide told us that flavours were made by taking the original flavour and working backwards from there. I can only imagine who volunteered for the 'booger' tasting... and who volunteered their boogers.... Brendan and I sat in the carpark afterwards taking turns to feed each other one blindfolded and guess the flavour. We both voted the worst to be 'rotten eggs' - one bite and you were breathing out noxious sulphuric fumes! From L - R: Earwax, Booger, Sausage, Black Pepper, Vomit (was supposed to be Pepperoni Pizza but all their best attempts only produced 'Vomit'), Dirt (very realistic!), Soap, Rotten Egg, Pickle and Earthworm.

Driving out of Fairfield on the way to Sacramento, I glanced over and noticed another driver who'd forgotten to take his jelly bean hat off.

Sacramento was pretty. We looked at the State Capitol building for a while, and the centre of town. We also looked at the "Old Sacramento" area, full of tourists but some nice old wild-west stye buildings which had been restored. The yellow bridge is the main one into Sacramento - it's an old drawbridge which moves up and down to let bigger ships through.

I'm not putting most of the photos from this trip up though unless you ask, because they're singularly boring and mostly consist of landscape and freeway shots of nothing in particular. But I am making a little video-like slideshow of driving down our street, and the markets from this day for another post... look out for it.

See, average freeway shot. We are in the carpool lane which gives you a faster commute during business hours. Otherwise, its the "go at 90mph (160 kmph+) if you can" speed for some Americans, though we prefer to do much closer to the speed limit for safety reasons. This particular freeway has 6 lanes at that point, on each side.

Overall a good, if overly sweet, day.

(Actually) Running in the Dark

A couple of days ago I got the crazy idea of going running at 4am so as to make better use of the first hour of my Polyphasic day (currently I spend that hour sitting at my computer feeling tired and looking at Digg). So I gave it a go and discovered that going running at 4am is less like going for a run in the morning and more like going for a run in the middle of the night. I.e. a bit weird. So I went back inside and sat at my computer.

But the idea wasn't entirely dead. First I established that I didn't actually need to go for a run at the same time as Tina (who most certainly didn't want to go running in the dark). Then I spent a few days doing a couple of industrious things:

Firstly, I made a fully-fledged workout program, including plans for runs each weekday.

Secondly, I made some experimental "HIIT" (High Intensity Interval Training) mp3's. When you're running outside, you have no real way of timing when to start and stop your intervals (unless you want to look at your watch all the time). The idea behind the mp3's is to let you know when to start sprinting and when to jog (e.g. 30 second low intensity, 15 second sprint, repeat).

So, for example, my current set of tracks are all 45 seconds long, and each has a small "Beep" 30 seconds in to let me know it's time to sprint, and then a second, lower "beep" to tell me to jog again. My epiphany was to overlay the beeps onto sections of songs that already have high and low intensity parts. Think of how many songs incorporate a quite, calm build-up to a sudden explosion of more intense music. All I did was time it so the sprints start right on the point where the music gets intense. Aside from letting you know when a sprint is coming up, it's a great motivator to really give it your all.

To make a complete HIIT session, you combine the different tracks however you like to a total time approximating how long you want to work out for. Just make sure you don't have it on loop or you won't know when to stop... and if you are doing HIIT properly you will be very keen to stop.

So today, at 4:30am (I woke up a little late) I went running in the middle of the night, and it was great. I much prefer running outside to the treadmill as you actually experience how quickly you're moving, and you can push yourself as hard as you like rather than being limited by a treadmill which takes 15 seconds to get up to maximum speed each time.

As for how I fared on the actual HIIT; I found it substantially more challenging than our treadmill approximation of HIIT, because when you're actually running a sprint really is a sprint. To use Geoff's word, I got dominated. But I still felt great for having done it, and look forward to my jog tomorrow morning.

P.S. If anyone is interested in my schedule or the HIIT tracks, let me know in a comment or email and I'll make them available here on the blog. I just need to sort out a decent file-hosting service.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Job-getting update!

Recently, I've thrown everything into getting a new job. I prefer to work and use my degrees instead of being a "desperate housewife" as I have been in the past 4 months - and yes, housework has suffered and I don't care. I want my job.

I've interviewed PR people about the jobs I want, networked and networked some more ( I even have flash business cards that everyone likes! Guess plain white backgrounds are too ubiquitous), been to several fantastic PR professional development breakfast courses and applied for every PR agency job that I thought I could do in the San Francisco region, even though I'm not keen to be travelling several hours a day each way. But the one place that I really wanted to work was Hoffman PR Agency.

Ranked 11th in the US, this agency is global with offices in places like Russia, Germany, China, London and Taiwan. Its HQ is directly opposite my church. I've wanted to work there ever since I saw it the first time we went to San Jose Downtown. (Here's the Google street view so you can pretend you're there.) So imagine my delight when a position at my level opened up... I found out about it at 2pm, and it was posted online that day. At4pm Brendan and I were rushing around at the printers, trying to print it, and at 4.45pm I arrived at the agency to hand-deliver my resume, only to find the doors locked!

I decided to wait anyway and see what happened... when a guy walked up to the doors and walked in, I thought, "oh it is open!" and followed him in. He seemed a bit surprised to see me but I handed him my resume and he promised to pass it on. Later I realised that this unassuming man in a flannel shirt was none other than Lou Hoffman, the founder of the agency!

I had interviews for this position, with four different people. I was so excited because this was absolutely my dream job, and even more so when I interviewed with them. Everything I was looking for and far more. I found out yesterday though that they'd given the role to someone else, which is very disappointing.

However, the HR person told me that she'd held off on telling me, which implies that I was second choice for the role. She also told me that a position may be opening up in a few months which would be suitable for me, which is excellent. So I guess that information is a good consolation prize. The competition here is so fierce that PR actually pays less than average because everyone wants to work in a Silicon Valley agency, and some people don't care how much they earn to do so.

I had an interview on Wednesday in San Francisco as well with a recruiter, so that should be interesting as well.

A lot of people have been extremely helpful - it's amazing. People are always willing to refer you to someone they think can help you, or give you advice. Just this morning I got a call from a PR recruiter in San Francisco who someone else had passed my CV on to - while he did only senior level PR recruitment, he gave me lots of leads for jobs and things. Which is really nice.

Since I needed proper work shoes for interviews etc, we went to Marshalls which sells cheap label clothing.

The store contained: "Fabulous Shoes".

Or rather,

"Fabulous shoes" x 10,000,

but my bank account said 'x 3 only!' so I had to pick carefully.

elegance + 5
comfort - 3
stability - 1

elegance + 4
comfort + 2
stability -1

EDIT: After wearing these shoes for a night out, I have revised the score to Comfort -7.

elegance + 2
comfort + 5
stability - 4
colour in photo - 10 (it's grey)

(If you don't get it, it references the conventions of RPG games, where items can give you psitive or negative qualities and abilities. Ever notice how magical clothing and jewelery clothing items in RPGs seem to magically fit everyone from the giant down to the dwarf in your party?)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Car ate my Zen Stone

I've been thinking for a while that I need a flash-based mp3 player for using at the gym. They're smaller, lighter and have no internal moving parts to get munched when I get tired and begin running like an elephant with bad knees. They store a lot less music, but I only need a few good workout tunes (which I won't share because many of them are embarrassing; you've got to go with what works).

So after a little research I decided to get one of these, a Creative Zen Stone:

It's cool, cheap, simple and small. Very small as it turns out.

So we drove to Circuit City to pick one up (along the way we also encountered a large intersection where the traffic lights had gone out. The Americans were confused and annoyed, and demonstrated this by honking and waving gestures out of windows). It came in packaging clearly designed to leave no doubt in anyone's mind when the merchandise had been opened. So on the way home I struggled mightily to get my new toy out of its plastic shield, until eventually (with a manly grunt and girlish squeak of surprise) the Stone came flying out of its package and fell into the car.

When I say into I don't mean that it fell on the floor or down the side of the seat. Oh no. With perfect precision the tiny player fell through the 1cm gap our boy-racer ex-owners left between the racy new red trim and the old brown gearstick.

I have no idea what's down in there but all I could see were wires, cables, and old food crumbs. I had visions of my new geek accessory falling right through the car and joining its stony brethren on the road. I spied it nestled amongst some wires and yelled at Tina to drive very carefully least she jiggle it loose, which she did admirably until the Americans started honking at her to speed up.

We pulled into a car park and tried to work out how to extract the player from its second impenetrable location of the day. Neither of our fingers would fit inside the gap, and we would need to get our hand in down past the knuckles to reach it. So with great care, we took turns wrenching the racy red trim away from the old brown gearstick while the other person risked their fingers delving into the innards of the car. After a few near-misses we eventually managed to knock it into a more accessible location and delicately lift it out.

I count my little stone as that much more valuable for having had to dig for it myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

(Not) Running in the Dark

Under our current sleep regime, I wake up at 4am and have a meeting at 5am (at least on weekdays).

I've been trying for a while to think of a productive use for that first hour. It's too early to have breakfast. It's too early to do any housework that involves noise (plus I'd feel like a tool getting up at 4am to do housework). The gym doesn't open until 5. We're too tired to do anything mentally taxing (monophasic or polyphasic, the first hour of my day is never going to be my favourite). Our options are somewhat limited.

So currently, we sit at our computers at feel like crap for an hour.

Yesterday it occurred to me "Hey, I don't need the gym to go for a run", and figured I'd just go for a run in the park instead. This even had some advantages for my interval training regime. Doing weights would be out of the question that early, but I don't mind doing cardio as being tired during cardio is the whole point. Plus it wakes you up and sets a good mood for the day once you're done.

So at 4:15am I strapped my iPod on and head out the door, knowing Tina would be following soon after. And, quite abruptly, I realised that I was going for a run in the middle of the night.

At 5am it seems like early morning when you walk outside. It's dark, but light is beginning to bleed in around the horizon and you see the occasional car or person. You feel like you're experiencing first-hand the rare and solitary world of the early riser. You feel wonderfully motivated and efficient for going about your day at a time most people are asleep.

At 4am it's just night-time. You're going for a run in the middle of the night and it's weird.

Standing out there in the dark and cold I also realised that despite living in an area whose slogan should be "Safety Through Boredom", it probably wasn't a wonderful idea for Tina to be running around at that time. And so with that noble excuse in mind I chickened out and went back inside.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Rebooting" Your Sleep

A number of polyphasic sleepers beleive it's good to have a "reboot" sleep once a month or so on a polyphasic sleep pattern. So, having been on Everyman a little over a month now, and being a little frustrated with the final patch of morning tiredness we've been unable to get rid of, we decided to have a planned reboot this Saturday morning.

My understanding is that a reboot is a little different to a "crash", which many people experience during adaptation to a polyphasic schedule. A "crash" is unplanned and basically involves falling asleep by accident and then waking up many hours later (even up to 9 or 10) wondering what happened and feeling deeply demoralised. A reboot is planned and forms a regular part of your long-term schedule. The supposed benefits are based mostly on the fact that test subjects on Uberman actually exceeded their pre-polyphasic alertness and reasoning scores for some time after a reboot (after merely matching them previously), and that many successful polynappers have monthly reboots built into their schedule.

In any case, we took our regular core sleep (1-4am) and added on our first "block" of awake time to the end (4-8am), giving us 7 hours overall. 7 hours, of course, is actually still less than a standard monophasic nightly sleep for most people, but compared to the polyphasic schedule it felt like heaps. The extra hours were very nice (as sleeping in always is), and we obviously felt more awake getting up at 8am rather than 4am, but we'll have to wait and see what effect it has over the next day or two. We'll still be having our usual naps today, and we got up and about the time we'd usually finish our 8am nap, so we're hoping to get the benefits without seriously disrupting our schedule.

Will update at the end of the day :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's hot here....

Yesterday it was 96 degrees F here - about 35 degrees C. Apparently San Jose central was 100 or so. Very very hot. The internal temperature in our house was 85 degrees F - which felt hot until you went outside and realised the outside temperature was at least 10 degrees higher. The pool has become very popular recently - if you go in the evening it's really warm and the air is warm the whole day so it's quite nice.

Here's today's: (as of 4pm)
  • San Jose, California Now:88°F
  • High:96°F
  • Low:55°F

  • Yep. Hot. We went out around 12.30pm to go to the markets and to Circuit City cos Brendan spilled milk over his keyboard and a weird bug has appeared on the SHIFT buttons which means they only work sometimes. So we were very hot in the car - the AC needs to be re-gassed so it blows really hot air from the engine - it's cooler to have hot air blow in the windows instead.

    Also, at temperatures like this, Brendan found out yesterday that the steering wheel was too hot to touch! He had an intern BBQ at work, and they stood around for hours in the hot sun with no shade... silly people. He's a bit sunburned, shall we say....

    Polyphasic sleep update - is it possible to go backwards?

    Just when we were being very awake and not allowing ourselves to go back to bed (me at least), a new round of tiredness has ensued in the last two days, much like that of the second week. In the early morning periods, from 4-8am, I'm extremely groggy again and have trouble staying up. I can get out of bed, but I can't really stay there with my eyes open. Also I've had a few groggy periods between the 8am nap and about 10.15 - I looked at my watch yesterday, and right on 10.15am, I could literally feel my energy levels and alertness rise to normal.

    I partly attribute my early-morning grogginess to firstly having a slight cold, secondly missing a nap two days ago, and thirdly just not expecting to be tired and thus surprised by it. We didn't expect full adaptation to take this long, and so we hadn't est aside enough disturbance-free schedule time. But we've both been pretty tired in the morning, so I'm not sure about Brendan.

    Lucky Everyman sleep is so forgiving when moving nap times around - I find I can move them around at least an hour or so, and in fact I should really keep them consistent and stop moving them by over an hour.

    I think we've changed something and not realized it, to go backwards. I don't think this is normal for other people. Part of it is that I have a timetable which isn't constant, like Brendan's is most of the time, and so I spend a lot of time being very late for naps or slightly early.

    Workarounds: yesterday Brendan and I each had an extra 20-min nap at approximately 6am, and a 5-min nap on the couch around 9am. Today we added an extra hour to the core nap and had a 5-min nap at around 6am. I think that's fixed it now.

    Once Brendan finishes his major current work project, around early July, we plan to experiment for at least a month with moving the core nap to 4am to 7am and keeping the rest of the naps mostly the same (last one around 11pm). While it has some obvious disadvantages, and I really like having time in the mornings, this timetable would be closer to our student sleep timetable (and placate our friends).

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    What American Accent Do You Have?

    Hmm... A northeastern American Accent aye... Good to know American Dictionaries are based on my pronounciation ;-)

    What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


    Most people don't know it but this is actually what dictionaries are based on. If you don't believe me, pick up any American dictionary and look up "source" and "sauce" and you'll see they are written with the same vowel pronunciation.

    Personality Test Results

    Click Here to Take This Quiz
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    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Party weekend! Saturday night birthday party for Eric at the Cellar

    The Cellar is a great San Francisco club right in the heart of the entertainment district. Alla's boyfriend Eric is an amateur (but very good) DJ, so for his birthday she organized to book the club for two hours and let him play dance music.

    So it was very fun. We drove up and parked right next door where they have valet parking - a weird experience when someone else takes your car keys and parks your car - I prefer it given my track record with a couple of near-miss reversings recently!

    The bar was a long expanse of pink and blue fluorescent lighting, with the entire bar table lit up from underneath and slowly changing colour. It made every drink go pink, which looked very cool. Here are photos from the official club photographer, (the first few only) and from Alex, who is a surprisingly good dancer. And Brendan danced a lot, and very well, and he normally isn't that keen so I was pleased.

    Alla had put on great mini-fruit muffins and chocolate brownies and other yummy finger food, and everyone danced for ages. At 10pm the club was opened to the rest of San Francisco, and so we danced for a few more hours in a packed club with another DJ and tried to avoid the couples who climbed on the equivalent of tables there. Hmmm...

    We left just before 12 and drove home (once we worked our way out of San Francisco proper - our instructions on the way home missed the first, crucial step) to our little house in San Jose, thinking of the great time we'd had and playing dance tunes in the car. We even arrived home just past 12.30, a journey which normally takes an hour.

    We really must find a good club which plays techno. And get our nap times to work in the car. I haven't been out in so long.

    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    Ok I'm awake....

    I think. I've been very good for the last few days and not sleeping in or taking extra naps. Yesterday morning and this morning I got up at 4am and was alert pretty much immediately. This is what polyphasic sleep is all about! I've been actually able to finish working on my friend's CV.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Party weekend! Friday night leaving party for Timmo

    While discussing this party with an acquaintance here, we both came to the rather embarrassing revelation that neither of us actually knew who Timmo was! We'd just received invites via other people (always the best way to meet new people! I like parties...).

    So we turned up after our nap to find the party underway and going strong, and the fooseball table manned by keen German peoples mostly who had had lots of practice at fooseball.

    To see more pictures of the event, click here. I've kept it brief because there are so many other pictures floating around on various photo-sharing networks about this party.

    The sad thing was that when we talked to Timmo (and actually met him!) who was going back to Germany because he'd failed to get a different visa to stay here, we could see how upset he was to be leaving. His face visibly dropped. If he ever did manage to get another visa, it would be after a year. We both felt pretty bad for him. His American girlfriend is also going to come to Germany for a few months to visit him, but it would stil be pretty devastating.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Polyphasic update - week 4

    We were doing really well with this, and felt more awake than we ever had on a monophasic sleep pattern. Unfortunately, some social engagements came up, so we moved our naps around a bit more than we should have to accommodate them. While we'll have that sort of flexibility later on, we probably shouldn't have messed with it yet.

    Now I'm having trouble not sleeping in. I can't properly open my eyes and feel alert until 2 hours after we get up, again. Whereas previously, right at the 20-minute point when or before the alarm went off, I would snap awake and get out of bed immediately, and feel fine.

    It's frustrating because we adjusted, and now we're back to non-adjustment again. I slept in again this morning by something like 45 minutes, and again for my first nap. Luckily Brendan woke me up. (Or more accurately, pulled me out of the bed and upright, and caught me when I stumbled. I'm so much more groggy - in the past few days I've actually almost fallen over several times when I tried to walk across the bedroom!) It's hard because it interferes with my productive time in the morning, and I end up playing strategy games on my computer.

    I try to wake myself up by doing physical things such as housework, and our 6am interval training runs help a lot. Otherwise I sit online and read various newspapers - I read about 5 on a regular basis to keep up with trends and current events, because you absolutely need to know in PR. And I enjoy it. And 'studying' PR articles to improve my knowledge and skills. But looking at computer screens and reading are both activities that make me sleepy.

    (I agree with Brendan's point below - because it feels normal, it's easy to convince yourself you can stay in bed a little while longer, rather than forcing yourself to get up straight away. Which is when you fall back asleep. Getting into bed for a nap has the warm comfort of a Saturday morning - except it happens three times a day! So it's hard to give up that fuzzy feeling and jump out immediately on the dot.)

    We've been considering the idea of moving our core sleep from 1-4am to 4-7am so we can make our evenings more flexible for going out etc. and for travelling - in line with most other peoples' schedules. But Brendan's work is quite enjoying having him around for their 5am CA time meetings...

    Brendan: I think we've fallen slightly back into a semi-adjusted state. It still feels natural to have our naps and core sleeps at the times we do, and we are fully awake for most of the hours of the day, however the tired "brain-fog" patches in the morning hours (I find 8-9am the hardest) have returned in force (Tina seems to be having a rougher time with her mornings that I am, possibly because she has thrown her naps out a little more due to church stuff).

    I think this is partly because of willful changes to our schedule (e.g. going out clubbing and stretching the time between our evening nap and core sleep), but mostly during the past week we've gotten too relaxed as the schedule seems increasingly normal. Whereas previously I was very motivated to get out of bed right away at 4am even when much more tired than present, now my morning brain (which as we all know is a very different beast to the night before brain) does silly things like decide it's OK to lie there for a bit while I wake up. Luckily, while once upon a time this would have led to oversleeps of 2 or more hours, now it's rarely more than 30 minutes. I don't know if Tina's reasoning is the same however as she says she really does feel too tired to get up sometimes. This might be because Tina oversleeps naps more regularly than I do (although again, never more than 20-30 minutes), but that's pure speculation.