Orange

Something that this blog, if and when I take to writing on it regularly, will likely focus on is topics about sleep, or the lack thereof. This is now my second post about the matter, the first of which I plan to eventually edit into its own page for the good of the people. I think about sleep because getting it has always been something I have struggled with. There are many factors that go into my lack of sleep and this post will kick off some personal research I plan to do in the coming weeks or months.

Early this week Apple previewed iOS 9.3, which contained some exciting features (to me at least) including one out of left field called Night Shift. Night Shift, as described by Apple,

...uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location. Then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, making it easier on your eyes. In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings.

Put another way, it makes your screen orange at night so your brain thinks the wavelengths being delivered to it are from the setting, rather than mid day, sun. It's a "lifehack" that resolves a dispute between modern life and our evolution.

I immediately downloaded the certificate (another exciting feature of iOS 9.3), installed the beta, and enabled the feature in the Display and Brightness settings on both iPad and iPhone. Additionally, I downloaded F.lux to my Macs, which not only does the same thing but had been hacked onto the iPhone just a few months ago before Apple put the kibosh on it and promptly sherlocked the developers. I have tried F.lux before, but given that during darkness hours I primarily used my iOS devices, I never really saw the benefit to my screens being slightly more orange. Now I am all in and experimenting with the feature to see if it improves the quality of sleep I get, which has recently been sliding in the wrong direction according to Pillow.

Coincidentally, I learned this week that a friend of mine has been having an even worse time getting a good nights sleep and has consulted a doctor on what she can do to get to bed. I have offered to help solve her potential technology problems and maybe give her a pointer or two on her pillow technique. I'm going to suggest we do this experiment together, and if she'd like she can offer any insights she gains for follow up.

I will write a follow up post in a month or two with all sorts of great accompanying charts. In addition to orange screens I also rediscovered an app that I had tested a few months back called Sunn. Sunn is clever in that it also uses your location and time to slowly adjust your Phillips Hue or comparable smart (someday we'll drop the smart modifier) light bulbs. This experiment leaves me desiring the orange feature elsewhere just to be completely thorough. My TV will still be providing a large dose of blue light, and unfortunately Destiny doesn't have a Night Shift mode of its own.

5 Favorite Songs of 2015

I listened to a decent bit of new (at least to me) music in 2015. This is a very short list of my favorites. For more you can check out this Apple Music playlist

Dan Deacon - When I Was Done Dying

Someday I'll write a manifesto about how everything is inextricably linked. For now this song will have to do, easily making it into my top 10 favorite songs of all time.

Still Corners - Don't Fall in Love

Don't...

Horseback - Hatecloud Dissolves into Nothing

There is nothing quite like driving through the mountains listening to Horseback. Definitely still a bit surreal to me thinking about something that happened almost 6 months ago.

P.M. Buys - Jester and the Queen / The Way Down Wanderers - Truth Son

I saw these two acts together playing a summer show and liked both so they get to go together and I get to cheat.

Marion Hill - One Time

I'm pretty into this lone female voice paired with some heavy bass trend, just like last years Sylvan Esso.

Goal #1 for the New Year

Last year I set out to do something kind of big. I wanted to ride my bike  the equivalent of an average distance across the United States. Doing a short bit of research, I decided I would aim for 5000 kilometers (~3000 miles) between my workouts and commutes. By more rough math I can say I got close, riding roughly 4300 km.

But...

I didn't make it to my goal. It was a good and achievable goal (only about 150x20 mile rides which are short jaunts for me). I started out great and was over half way done in the first half of the year. I hadn't foreseen my second to last semester being the most challenging and taxing of my college career, nor did I know I would be transitioning into a larger role at my job. These crappy excuses led me to feel like I couldn't sacrifice my time to ride as much as I'd have liked to this fall. But looking back, I wish I'd chosen to ride a little more than I did (I'm not a great college student).

Don't lose focus

Don't lose focus

As of today, the 2016 clock is ticking and I am exactly 0 kilometers into my new 5000 kilometer goal. I am fully intent on completing my goal this year and will probably blow it out of the water.

I am always looking for riding friends. Feel free to follow me on Strava.  In addition to Strava, I use an app called Human to track my commutes because it can track movement activity passively using your phone's GPS and movement tracking and works with Apple Watch. Strava has some great data visualization tools and always celebrates the year with a personalized recap video. Here is mine recapping most of my non commute rides.

Iron Banner - Day 1 Highlights

After a long day at work I thought about calling it a night early. I'm glad I didn't though because instead I was melting faces in Destiny.

I thought I was playing kind of sloppily (I just bumped my look sensitivity back up to 10) but I was topping the boards all night. After my first game I'd completed the Top Score and 10 kill streak bounty requirements. I thought it was a fluke so I started capturing videos of some of the crazy that was happening. The result is below. Enjoy!

Notes

Subclass - 308 Night Stalker

  • Vortex Grenade
  • Triple Jump
  • Quiver
  • Snare (smoke grenades)
  • Path Unknown
  • Lockdown
  • Way of the Fearless
  • Keen Scout (I love keen scout, and miss it on the other subclasses. To me it's much more useful than the unreliable roll)

Loadout

  • 310 Zhao Supercell
  • 305 Conspiracy Theory-D (custom roll with full auto and Performance Bonus)
  • 298 The Smolder (custom roll with tracking (useless))

Armor

  • 318 Helm of the Jade Rabbit
  • 308 Bog Wild 1.0
  • 310 Sealed Ahamkara Grasps (Usually use an exotic helmet, but don't want to infuse that 318 Jad Rabbit just yet. This turned out to be great as the extra smoke grenade was really helpful)
  • 308 Winged Sun Legs
  • 311 Wolfswood Cloak
First Game (Top Score/10 Kill Streak) 

First Game (Top Score/10 Kill Streak) 

A decade of Photos Organized - Lessons Learned

Over the past few weeks I have been digging through my (very disorganized) hard drives in search of all my photos in order to add them to the new Photos.app for OS X, which in turn uploads them to my iCloud Photo Library. It's been an arduous process to say the least as my photo organization system resembled a junk close with filing cabinets tossed in from an 8 story building at best. I'll talk about my strategy later or in another post if your storage scheme is similar. Regardless, I got through a majority of the photos I have taken or collected over the past decade and I wanted to share some quick thoughts/lessons learned from the experience.

Always shoot in color. You can change to black and white or whatever else you like later.

After you get "the perfect shot", keep shooting.

Revisit old photos, which means you should keep your originals (aside from blurry/garbage photos). You may find you like a photo more down the road, or maybe you just want to take another stab at getting the perfect edit.

Take pictures with your friends doing stuff. Even if they don't want you to.

If you love doing something, it's alright to do it for free.

Take self portraits (selfies if you must). It will teach you how you like to look in photos and prepare you for when it counts. It'll also help you correct for awkward poses when you are shooting portraits. And who doesn't like a nice photo of themselves every now and then.

iCloud Photo Library (so far...) on an iPhone

iCloud Photo Library (so far...) on an iPhone

All in all, I am very impressed with Photos and iCloud Photo Library on OS X and iOS. It has been a lot of fun to relive all of these memories (though the awkward teenage photos are a bit painful). There is a lot more to learn, but I don't think these topics are talked about enough.

Bike Test Footage

As part of my last few rides of the fall and early winter I took some video with my phone to show a friend of mine my route and gain a little insight on my riding form. I clipped that up and put some four tet in just for fun.

Pillow Scientist

After a few drinks and a tiny amount of ridicule about the number of pillows I have on my bed last winter, I donned a new cap as a pillow strategist. See, the ridicule I had been enduring (for all of about 5 seconds) was misinformed. My friends were discussing how crazy and haphazard my sleeping habits must be with the number of pillows on my bed. I quickly informed them that they were wrong to assume that the placement of my pillows was in any way random, not knowing that I have been thinking about these things for years as I have struggled putting my racing mind to sleep. And thus began an hour long discussion of pillow strategy in the bar, followed by demonstrations and critiques after arriving by at my apartment. Below are some of the notes of what was discussed, but I will probably save some details for my self help book with the working title of "Pillow Preacher".

Dual Layer Primary Pillows

The biggest and most amateur mistake I see almost everyone make is only sleeping with a single pillow under their head. As someone who sleeps in the proper stomach twister position, I know that proper sleep can only be attained with two pillows under your head. Why would you need two pillows under your head you ask. Well my friend it is all about pressure points. If your asshole self decides to cross its arms overnight you can wake up sore or with some dead arms and nobody wants that. Start with a relatively thin (3 inches or so) base layer body pillow, stick your bottom most arm under that. Then add another relatively thin regular sized pillow on top of that and place your upper forearm under that and above the base layer. With your arms separated from each other and your face you will feel magnificent, and they will stay nice and cozy tucked under your pillows.

Alternatively, you can wrap your upper arm around a cuddler rather than placing it under the second layer. If you like this strategy, bump up the thickness of your base layer body pillow by an inch or two for proper support.

Slappers

A slapper is a pillow placed above the primary pillow at an angle adjacent to the bed resting in the gap of the mattress and the headboard. Slappers serve numerous purposes. First and foremost, slappers protect your hands from your asshole unconscious self in case of any rowdy midnight punches you may throw upward towards that hardwood headboard or spackled wall. Secondarily, a slapper keeps your hands warm and cozy like the rest of your body all night long, as well as preventing them from drooping over the edge and allowing them to fall asleep.

Cuddlers

Cuddlers are pretty straight forward, you spoon the shit out of them with either an elbow and upper leg if you employ the dual layer primary system, or your entire upper arm and upper leg if you find that more comfortable. What size you ask? These should be as big as a human adults torso which is equivalent to a nice and thick king size pillow. What’s that? You’ve never heard of a KING SIZED PILLOW. Look it up and send me a dollar for saving your life and get spooning. Best practice is to have two cuddlers available, just in case you need to roll over for some cool comfort in the middle of the night.

*Note, it is completely appropriate to replace a cuddler with a significant other if you happen to have one and they don’t mind being the little spoon.

Insulators

Insulators again are very obvious. Place them around you in the winter to hold in the heat. Retired base layer pillows will do. Keep them on the sides of the bed, at your feet, and between walls if you are a one sider.

Something new for 2015

I am not really one to make New Year's resolutions because if I want to work on something I usually just start working on it. That being said, winter has put somewhat of a damper on my biggest current hobby of riding my bike, and as the year changed, the tempurature has dropped to a level that I am not as comfortable venturing out in for a 100 km ride. I will definitely catch rides when I can through January and February, but as I have gone all in on cycling I've learned that doing so will definitely require a lot of maintenance.

So I have started learning how to maintain my bike and do all my own mechanics. I am enjoying it thouroughly so far despite myself being poor and the tools being expensive. Believe it or not, bikes have their own set of propreitary tools, so I am pacing myself and going through component by component. After reading four articles and watching eight youtube videos on how to remove, clean, and maintain a cassette, I execute and record my experience and take notes for each of my bikes.

chian whip

Progress, as I noted, is somewhat slow, but I have started with all the biggest of the moving parts. I am now ridiculously knowledgable about a bicycles drive train, bottom bracket, wheel hubs, and next up, cabling. I am excited to get my tuned bike out on the road, not only so I can make fine tuned adjustments, but because I have a new confidence on the mechanics of my bike. That and as immune to cabin fever as I am, I miss the meditative state that rolling up and down hills provides. Something that a trainer bike in a stinky gym can't come close to providing. I may clean up some of my notes and post them here depending upon how extreme and/or long this winter ends up.

Winter Cycling Excursion

60.8 miles in Iowa's frozen tundra

It's been a few months since I've been out on my bike. With school, work, and weather all being obstacles, getting out for a winter ride is harder than the rest of the year. I should have know it was a sign when I overheard a girl saying how the squirrels were going to be confused by the nice weather. Anyway, after finishing a test I realized I had the afternoon free, or I could go to work...

I couldn't pass up the opportunity, so I got ready to roll.

My neighborhood is home to a roving cat. I try to give it treats whenever it's around, though usually he just wants a good rub. As I was pulling my bike out he snuck into my house, but then followed me back out and made sure all the other cats knew I was taken.

It felt great to be out. I brought extra gear just in case I got cold, but didn't end up needing it. After about 20 miles I decided to get a picture in front of Lake Macbride on my way back from Solon.

After two months of riding trainers in a stinky gym, I just wanted to roll. To feel the hills and the turns under my wheels. My body was putting off enough heat to keep me warm, and my training has kept me in good enough shape to keep going, but as the day wound on I started losing daylight and a 4 hour ride is hard to replicate on a trainer and I started to get a little stiff. 60 miles in was enough. I can't wait for conditions to be favorable again so I can get back out.