Reflections on 2012

I’ve always found that even-numbered years are usually more fun, looking back, than those of odd years. I’m not sure why that is, if it’s psychological, or if it’s something to do with 16, 18, 30, etc. appearing on even years, but this year was no exception. If I had to sum up this year in a word, it would be change. So many facets of my life are different now from where I began 2012 that I can barely remember them all.

Like most of the last few years, I did monthly resolutions this year, at least for part of the time. This led to some amazing times, especially Fearless Month, which I think I’ll carry with me the rest of my life. Fearless month led to trapeze, trapeze led to a blood clot in my leg, putting me face-to-face with my mortality for a while, and eventually led to me taking a daily multivitamin and walking around more, especially at work.

I got married. My wife is an amazing person, and continues to stun me with the depth of her compassion and the care she shows me and our life in general. It’s been over six months, and we’re still doing well. We’re continually conquering one of the biggest hurdles our marriage can face–money–and we’ve got hope about the other ones and working on them in the future. I find myself happy, and with New Year’s eve approaching, a holiday I used to dread, I find myself excited and confident about what the next year will bring.

We’re having a child. Within the next month, we’ll give birth to our first son. People keep asking me, “Are you ready? Are you excited? Are you scared?” and, of course, I’m all of those things. I’m ready to be a dad. I’ve been ready to be a dad for a long time, insomuch as Plato believed he was a genius. The only thing I know about being a parent is that I’ll never be ready to be a parent, so why not now? I’m scared of the mistakes I’ll make, and I’m excited about the potential I have to become a better person through my son, and help him become better, too.

We moved to a nicer neighborhood. Our loft in Oakland was great, but it was huge, cold, in a bad area, and not much of a “home.” Also not my favorite place to raise a child. The idea that my wife can walk with our son to the park and not worry about crime the way we used to is an incentive greater than many others. The new house is already more of a home to me, and the workshop in the garage doesn’t hurt either. I’ve started making furniture, and I’m already a lot better than when I started.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better year. I’m happy, healthy, relaxed, and productive. If I can keep this up for the next 70+ years, I’ll be in good shape.

Changing Table Plans

With our son on the way in less than three weeks, and with a pair of reasonably successful bookcases under my belt, I’ve decided to tackle making a changing table. We’ve been looking into lots of different options and, while some of them are very nice, I don’t think any of them would be perfect, if for no other reason than I’m 6’8″ tall and they’re all made for short people.

I have some 3d modeling experience from back in the day, and I’ve dabbled with SketchUp before, so I cracked open version 8 and got playing around. The interface is very nice, and perfect for something like producing woodworking plans. If you’re good with math and have any vector graphics experience, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Wood List:
1 – .75″ plywood 2’x4′
1 – .75″ plywood 4’x8′
1 – 1×6 x12′ or 2 – 1×6 x6′
1 – 1×6 x10′
1 – 2×4 x8′
1 – 1×4 x8′
1 – 1×4 x6′

Cut List: Note: The cuts only fit in the wood specified in a specific way. Please review the cut sheet below before cutting anything!
Main Body:
5 Shelves – 40″x15″x.75“
2 Sides – 33x15x.75″
1 Top – 43“x18.5″x.75″
7 Back Slats – 1×6 x33″
4 Legs 1.25″x1.25″x36″
Top Frame:
2 Sides – 1×4 x42″
3 Dividers – 1×4 x16″
2 Separators – 1×4 x9.75″

Here’s the cut sheet:
Lists CutDiagram

Here’s some mockups of the changing table I’m planning to build this weekend, complete with Skubb Ikea Drawers:
ChangingTable4 ChangingTable3 ChangingTable2 ChangingTable

Here’s the breakout with the biscuit locations shown:
ChangingTable Breakout1 ChangingTable Breakout2 ChangingTable Breakout3 ChangingTable Breakout4 ChangingTable Breakout5

And here’s the measurements for the various parts when assembled:
ChangingTable Measurements1 ChangingTable Measurements2 ChangingTable Measurements3 ChangingTable Measurements4

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

These are the cookies I like the best. They may not be the kind you like, but oh man, if you do, and if you’ve been looking for a cookie that’s not crispy, but is moist and soft and a little teensy bit crispy only on the edges but has way too many chocolate chips in it for your own good, then look no further. This is your recipe, too.

4 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Melted Unsalted Butter
2 Cups Packed Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
4 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 325.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, brown, and white sugar until mixed. Beat in the eggs, yolks, and vanilla until creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients just until mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thin, feel free to refrigerate it for 30 mins if you need help getting it out of the bowl. Recommended size: 1/4 cup per cookie. Makes 36 cookies. The cookies really spread out, though, so leave enough room. Allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pan.

Here’s where the fun happens. This is a recipe that lends itself well from cookies that are silver-dollar sized to a full-blown pazookie. We made a set that were about tablespoon sized that turned out about as wide as half a dollar bill. We also made a set that were the size of salad plates using a full cup per cookie. They were all delicious. The small ones were crisper, the big ones were gooey.

Polyphasic and Sickness

Tuesday morning, I slowly developed a cold. It’s always only a matter of time, but eventually you’ll have to deal with sickness on polyphasic. There’s two ways to do that, muscle through or go monophasic until it blows over. During acclimation, this is compounded by a lack of habit and a lack of flexibility. I opted for the latter and slept monophasic for three days. It was an easy switch back, which is a sign that I’m still not acclimated. I’m back on the wagon tonight, but I worry that I’ll be going through the hellish first three days again. Every time gets easier, right?

On the bright side, the cold may have been just allergies, or was short lived. I don’t like playing around with sickness, so I think monophasic was the right choice, either way. I’ve started watching The Wire. It’s an interesting show–a bit more realistic than the cop shows I’m used to. I guess watching every episode of Castle will make The Wire seem pretty unfamiliar.

Polyphasic week 3

Things have started to solidify now; I’ve been having dreams, including one rare nightmare, waking up without my alarm, and feeling great during the day. The only real problem I’m facing is my 4:30 am nap. I have trouble waking up from it and I have trouble staying awake after. I find myself bobbing my head, drifting off, even in the middle of a battle of DiablO III. Travesty, I know.

I don’t know how to handle the lack of acclimation I’m feeling. Usually by now, I’m on cloud 9 and way too wired to worry about any of this. The surroundings are really different, the company is different, the job is different, I guess it’s not too much of a stretch to think that my acclimation might be different, too.

I wonder how much of this is stress-related, though. I’ve been feeling a lot of stress lately from various facets of my life and I could easiy point the problems I’ve been having at that. In the past, polyphasic has helped alleviate my stress and I fee, some of that now, but not to the same degree, I feel less in control of my life in general, so maybe the effects are stifled. Im still on track with about 3.5 hours of sleep a day on average, so regardless of difficulty, I’m still doing very well considering.

My wife’s recommended the compromise of the everyman schedule and I think she may have a good point. I’m going to research it tomorrow and see what that schedule should look like and whether I could easily fit it into the work schedule that had been working so well for me so far.

Polyphasic Week 2

Acclimation has started pretty well so far. I’m feeling more alert, more capable, and more flexible in the fastness I stay to the pattern. This is both a good and a bad thing, considering that I’m not fully habitualized yet. If I don’t keep it up, I risk losing the last 2 weeks of effort and I need to keep my eye on the prize of this becoming a life decision, not a passing fancy. I’ve got more reasons than ever to make this work and I will keep sticking to it. My wife has been a huge help with this as well.

I’ve missed a nap or two and have slept some extra as I felt I needed it. This morning being a bad exception when I slept almost 2 hours more than intended. The bright side is that I’ve begun to awaken on my own after about 20 minutes, fully alert and refreshed. When this becomes the norm and not the exception, I’ll truly feel acclimated and then I’ll worry less about pushing myself toward uberman.

I’ve found myself embarrassed or inconvenienced by the pattern more and more lately. I’m a decently active person and with a wife and roommates, I find myself out and about more often than in previous acclimations. When I’m out and about, I feel like I’m missing out on what’s going on by sleeping in the midst, or I Feel like I’m annoying them by asking them to chill out for 20 minutes while I take a nap. Almost all of this is mental, since they all seem to support me, and I know if the roles were reversed I’d do the same. I just need to keep this in mind as time goes on. As the pattern becomes more and more the norm and people get more and more used to it, It’ll be much easier to ask for and have people expect this kind of thing. I’m an ambassador for a new life option. Don’t judge me because I sleep differently than you. I have a dream that one day my children will be judged not on the amount that they sleep but on the content of their character. Or something like that.

# days polyphasic: 15
Average time spent awake per day: 20:52 (3:08 asleep)
Average Nap length: 0:31
Naps attempted: 90
Naps Failed: 2

Polyphasic Week 1 – Retrospective

What a roller coaster ride it’s been. Experience counts for something when it comes to Polyphasic, but it’s always different. I’ve been humbled by my own brains and their irrational desire to sleep for whatever reason. I’ve got my theories on why we sleep, but I think the truest reason is because if we don’t, we’re wired to go a little crazier and crazier until we do. I know polyphasic is a loophole, but it’s a tight squeeze there between “okay” and “look at the unicorn.”

What I do remember that still works is that every night is another chance for re-acclimation. Discomfort due to sleeping is temporary. I’ve seen so many people give up after they get to this point and I’ve always wondered why. There’s plenty of people out there who’ll tell you that you have to adapt perfectly, but I’ve always found that if you fail at uberman, you end up landing in everyman and then, as you acclimate, you can go closer and closer as needed.

The feeling I get is that if you had enough to do in your spare time and enough love for doing it, you’d be uninterested in sleep anyway. Learn something new — this is why so many polyphasers are also coders, the process of coding is addictive and hard-won. At the end of the night, when you’ve forced yourself to take your naps instead of continuing your hobby, you’re doing well.

Find what you love and do an extra 6 hours of it daily. I’ve been playing Diablo III, programming, watching bad TV, reading, cooking, and cleaning.

Polyphasic Day 8 – Routine

Today was normal as far as acclimation goes. Naps were uneventful, my evening was mild, I woke up without event. I feel good today, and I’m expecting that if I don’t do anything rash and just stick to the plan that tonight will again be uneventful and hopefully, more productive. So, with that in mind, I think it’s time to make a list of the things I’d like to accomplish while I’m not sleeping.

Up until now I’ve had the staples: watch TV that I’ve been meaning to watch, read the news, write more, do minor things when I get around to it. The next couple weeks will still be difficult, so I’m not going to be doing anything crazy. Take er’ easy, I think that’s plenty.

I’ve got a website that needs a new gallery
I’d like to combine my wedding website, my travel blog, and my personal blog into the same website
There’s a new project I’ve been thinking about working on.
I need to port a project from Air to Android
I need to work on a thank you video
I need to write thank you cards
I need to finish and oil a piece of woodwork I’ve been building

Polyphasic Day 7 – Missing Naps

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you planned. I’m not giving up polyphasic, oh no, I mean the whirlwind, last-minute road trip to LA that left me missing two naps in a row on Sunday. That was definitely not planned and reminded me the grave situation that polyphaic puts you in.

I’ve experienced missing naps before. When I was fully acclimated, I could skip a nap here or there without too much downside. In fact, I found that if I skipped a nap, I could just sleep that night for about 2 hours and not notice much difference. This was something that had to be done sparingly, but was sustainable. Missing two naps in a row, though, was like a death sentence.

Missing a nap is like staying up all night. You get that excited pump of your brain being overworked, but you can deal with it. You can function, but if you relax you fall asleep. Going two days without sleep can cause hallucinations, physical problems, or worse. That’s where I was last night after the road trip.

Take this as both a learning experience and a warning. You’re never more than 8 hours from being legally insane, and you’re a slave to your nap times. If you don’t sleep during your nap, you didn’t nap. That’s the meat of it. I laid down in bad places, with too much noise, without precaution and I paid the price.

That said, the 7 hours I slept last night were sufficient to put me back on track and I expect a difficult but doable evening. Laundry night, here I come!

Polyphasic Day 6

The worst oversleep yet. I missed my 12:30 alarm entirely and didn’t wake up until my next alarm at 5. I’m glad I set one! The day was pretty good, otherwise. I went to a wedding and the ceremony fell neatly between sleeps. I I think I like this :30 business–nobody seems to schedule anything for my nap times, and that means I have to be more careful about starting my naps on time.

I’ve started dreaming more often and occasionally waking up on my own just before the alarm. I’ve often wondered how I’d do on a “sleep polyphasically as much as you like (SPAMAYL)” pattern. It sounds like an interesting way to go, though I wouldn’t be able to do it as readily with a job and I have a feeling adaptation would be worse.