Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Minutiae’

Debris from Shaw

March 31st, 2011 4 comments

Every two weeks or so, I come back home to Victoria and have to throw out mail from Shaw. The contents of the mail are generally offers for HDTV, or more channels, or better channels, or something else – none of which I care about.

I wrote to @shawinfo (Shaw’s Twitter account) indicating how obnoxious I found this behaviour. Ultimately, it just makes me resent the company. They’re wasting my time, paper and other resources.

The response I got back was to send an e-mail requesting that I be removed from the list. I’m reproducing the transcript from that conversation below – what do you think? Is this an acceptable response from Shaw?

Shaw

Thank you for contacting Shaw E-Care, Adam. We appreciate the opportunity to correspond with you.

We understand that you no longer wish to receive promotional/marketing material from us via mail to your address. We wish to clarify that as with most companies, we do issue bulk, unaddressed mailings to large areas. As these are not specifically targeted mailings and are delivered to all addresses, we are unable to stop these from being delivered to your door without you indicating to Canada Post that you do not accept unaddressed ad mail. However, for targeted mailings, we are able to prevent information from being mailed to your address. Please allow up to 8 weeks for this request to take into effect.

Please provide us with your mailing address so we can ensure your request has been processed and we have the correct account. Please also confirm if this is only for mailers you are receiving or emails as well.

Should you have any further concerns, please contact us at 1-888-472-2222 or visit our Online Customer Chat by clicking on the link

My response

Thanks for getting back to me.

Shaw’s attitude may be that bulk mails to my address is acceptable because that form of advertising is “the cost of doing business” or it would be impossible to stop those coming to me without alerting Canada Post.

That explanation may satisfy Shaw, but it does not allay the frustration I experience every time part of my day is wasted dealing with this type of mail, nor does it change the opinion in my mind that this is a totally wasteful practice.  Shaw may be able to accept, on principle, that “everyone else is doing it, so it’s okay”.  I am not, and this kind of attitude just crystallizes the fact that many larger companies are content to remain complacent rather than try to be truly innovative with their consumer outreach.  (as an example, having a twitter account to respond to requests like mine helps to some extent, but I was still required to do all the legwork to actually stop this mail coming in to me).

You have my business, so presumably this is considered moot and can be brushed aside without any fear of it generating corporate cognitive dissonance – that’s generally the way individual consumers are treated, after all.  Nevertheless, I see that both accountability and integrity are listed below in your company’s list of values. Perhaps sustainability isn’t part of either of those values, or maybe all bets are off when it comes to advertising?

 

My address is:

 

I do not wish to receive any advertising from Shaw, either in mail or email format (nor phone call, tweets, text messages, in person, singing telegrams, people in gorilla suits, and any other format you can dream up).

Shaw’s final response came the next day

Thank you for your further email Adam.

We can confirm we have processed your request to discontinue targeted mailings from being sent to your address. Please allow up to 8 weeks for this request to take into effect as mailers may have since been printed and sent to your address.

Furthermore, we appreciate the time you have taken to forward your thoughts in regards to the mailers you receive from us.  While we appreciate your feedback, we are unable to stop mailers which are not addressed to you from being delivered to your home address.  We have forwarded you comments to the correct area for further review.

Satisfied?

As a consumer, do you feel that this sufficiently addresses your concern?  Do you feel that this ends the conversation?  In the same position, I would be following up this e-mail with another one from someone working higher up.  In general, I feel a little cynical about the state of ISPs and their customer relations – we can only wait and see if this experiment will alter that balance for the better.

Share/Bookmark

Don’t YOU want to be a centenarian?

March 9th, 2011 No comments

A quick post today, just to bring you an interesting article on the world’s Blue Zones.  These are the zones in which a significant portion of the population live above the age of 100 years.

Most relevant (in my own eyes) are the following things that each of the blue zones share in common:

  • Family – Family is put ahead of other concerns.
    • This should help ground us all right off the bat.  On Planet Money’s most recent podcast, the host mentioned that he felt embarrassed when he would have people from Baghdad or Burundi come and visit him in New York, on account of the wealth that is displayed.  Much to his surprise his guests didn’t say this at all.  Instead, they consistently commented that “everyone here seems so lonely – they spend all their time working, and so little time with their families”.  This is a message we should all take to heart.  Family doesn’t necessarily need to be your immediate family.  It could be your close friends, or whoever it is that helps you through the day.  The point that I take to heart here is that we should spend less time worrying about our careers and money, and place a priority on those that are most important to us (including ourselves).
  • No Smoking – Centenarians do not typically smoke.
    • This shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us – it’s never too late to quit!
  • Plant-based diet – The majority of food consumed is derived from plants.
    • This is an interesting one.  At a risk of having every vegan on earth simultaneously say “told you so”, there’s a lot to be said for shifting your diet toward the consumption of more plants and less meat.  Bay and I made the decision to do this ourselves because of our own principles.  Sustainability and Ethics factored chiefly in my own decision.
  • Legumes – Legumes are commonly consumed.
    • This and the last item were listed in Wikipedia’s article out of order.  Since giving up meat for the most part, I find myself eating a lot of legumes in order to make up the protein and iron (mmmm chickpeas!).  I wonder if these two items are related.
  • Constant moderate physical activity – Moderate physical activity is an inseparable part of life.
    • When my brother and I were raised, it was never a question as to whether you were going to get physical activity.  Every Saturday was a soccer game, every Sunday was either swimming or skating with the family, and during the week we had soccer practice.  Although we can’t all have had the benefit of parents that gave us the awesome head start we were given, we can all take to heart the message that they imbued in me: physical activity shouldn’t be something that you do when it’s convenient.  It’s an ever-present part of your life.  Do you drive to work because it takes 30 minutes to walk there?  Start walking!  Do you take the bus to get across town because you’re in a hurry?  Start planning better and taking the walk.  Take the elevator up to your office?  Take it up to four floors beneath your office and walk the stairs the rest of the way.  Figure out ways to include physical activity in your daily regime, and don’t think of it as an option.  It’s simply part of your day.  Use the body you’ve been given.
  • Social engagement – People of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities.
    • As someone that goes absolutely mental without social contact, I can especially appreciate how important this element is to everyone.  Social engagement with your wife or husband is, of course, an essential component, but what about with friends?  Without outside contact, you’re never given the chance to question or challenge the beliefs that you hold in your head – and by direct correlation, you’re never given the chance to grow beyond your boundaries.

Definitely something to think about..

Social experiment: Bringing myself closer to smiling

March 6th, 2011 3 comments

Last summer, I ran a social experiment: No matter who I passed in the street, I had to force myself to make eye-contact with them.  You can read the full story about that experiment (and the surprising results) here.  The main rules for this experiment were only that I had to make initial eye-contact, and I couldn’t be selective about who I connected with.

This was a very rewarding experiment.  I learned a lot simply by committing myself to doing something positive that I wouldn’t normally do.  I didn’t set any additional rules, because that would have complicated things, and this first step seemed like enough to take on for now.  Thinking about it further would simply have complicated things and made me less likely to stay committed.

General Rule #1: If you’re trying to change a habit or take on something new, keep the terms of your goal as simple as possible, while still remaining true to the aim of achieving that goal.

Based on how much I got out of such a simple exercise, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do this Spring was conduct another experiment.  The first couple of weeks, while suffering from a lack of inspiration, I wasn’t sure what this experiment would be.  I wasn’t concerned that I didn’t have something in mind – it was enough at the time to know that I wanted to run something like this and leave it at that.

I ended up with the appropriate experiment after watching TV with Bay, of all things.  She mentioned how Patrick Jane, the main protagonist in the Mentalist, had a good bemused look, and that he and I share a similar smile.  I like Patrick Jane.  He’s charming, and he probably gets away with more than he should because he’s got such a pleasant and charming disposition.  Lastly, I liked the concept that lies behind a look of bemusement on someone’s face.  It’s like they know something that you don’t.  It’s the hint of a smile, ready to break free and show teeth at any moment.  It’s a little mysterious.

“I’m bemused quite often… why aren’t I showing that more?”

That was the question on my mind a few weeks ago.  So, I decided that would be what I was going to work on for the rest of the term.  I wasn’t concerned with actually feeling more bemused – I just wanted to practice the look more often so that I was comfortable having it on my face.

So, as odd as this may sound, I sat in front of a mirror for a few minutes and trying to figure out what the look on my face was that signalled this emotion.  I played with it a bit, and then took the bus back home to Vancouver that Sunday.  If you had been sitting across from me on the bus that day, you would have probably thought “That guy is nuts”.  I sat patiently and calmly, and settled in to my look.  It felt really awkward.  If you’re not used to holding your face or your body in a certain position, you feel like everyone is watching you when you do it.  In reality, you’re just hyper-conscious of how you look.  No one is paying any more attention to you than they otherwise would, but you’re going out of your way to pay attention to every single sidelong glance and incidental eye-contact that sweeps across your field of view.

This is actually a very interesting piece of psychology at work known as the spotlight effect.  I see this most often in the dance class that I teach (and participate in as a student).  Literally every single person in the studio is completely focused on themselves in the mirror, while simultaneously thinking “Oh my god, I just screwed that up and everybody saw me!” (oblivious to the obvious irony here).

Whereas the eye contact I had sustained last summer was typically brief and fleeting, I noticed right away that holding a look of bemusement on my face somehow made me feel less vulnerable when making eye contact with people (naturally I kept my newly-acquired habit of initiating eye contact throughout this).  I felt like, even if we were holding eye contact, the look on my face told them “don’t judge me so quickly – I know something that you don’t”.  Whether or not they actually felt this way, I have no idea, but that is never the point when we’re talking about our own psychology.

General Rule #2: When talking about your own psychology, it doesn’t matter what other people think.  All that matters is what you think.

The next thing that I noticed was that while I was initially forcing myself to hold a certain look on my face, over time, I really started to feel more bemusement.  The organic process started to take over, and my body started to take the natural cue that my face was giving it.  I knew something that my friend-in-eye-contact didn’t know!

This last point was very intriguing.  I had read most of Malcolm Gladwell’s books last summer (interesting books, but should be taken with a grain of salt), and one of the things he’d mentioned in Blink (I think it was Blink) was a story about two academics doing research into the many expressions that a human’s face can show.  Most specifically, the academics noticed that on the days where they were both taking turns practicing the unhappy facial expressions, they went home feeling awful.  After realizing that they both were feeling this way, the conclusion appeared obvious.  To some extent, your physiology can influence your psychology (and I’m sure it doesn’t require too much of a stretch of your imagination to imagine times where the reverse has been true).

General Rule #3: Be aware of the look on your face, and the attitude that your body language is projecting.  It affects more than you realize.

The last thing I noticed was my favourite.  With my new baseline having become the hint of a smile, my face was naturally closer to becoming a smile than it had been in the past.  As a kid, my dad had gotten me a book called “How To Make Anyone Fall in Love With You”.  “It’s a good book!” he said, as I joked about it.  The gift was an interesting one, as I was dating a girl at the time (no longer though, obviously), and it’s kind of a weird gift to get from your Dad.  But, it was heartfelt, and he was right about the book – it was good.

The author spent a good deal talking about the power of eye-contact and smiling at strangers, and how simply knowing someone else is interested in you increases your own likelihood of finding them attractive.  Think back to the recent past.  You can probably remember times where you found out someone thought you were attractive and your own feelings were elevated for them as a result.

Walking around as a young, hormone-packed man, I couldn’t figure out how to smile at someone without it seeming like a huge leap.  I have a fairly animated face, and a pretty big open-mouthed smile (I’ve been described in the past as “Hey, you’ve got a lot of teeth”) – it’s a big leap to go from plain-faced to maximum smile.

When walking by people, I have tried to make eye-contact and smile at them, but it felt awkward and forced.  This time, none of that was the case.  With a bemused look on my face, I was already half-way toward smiling.  The natural progression if I caught someone’s eyes was for my smile to widen.

I loved this!  Finally I felt comfortable smiling at people that I didn’t know!  This ability to directly engage people and to smile at them if we sustain eye contact may read trite, but the concept is a very powerful one.  For one, I simply felt better.  –But why?  I suppose that part of it is simply feeling good to not feel the need to furtively shift my glance when I make eye-contact with someone.  (Don’t want them to think I’m staring at them!)

“Got a staring problem?!” – that was a cry I heard frequently as a kid when I had accidentally caught the glance of someone more cocksure and secure than I.  But now, I no longer wanted to pretend that I wasn’t looking at people – I actually found myself wanting them to know that I was looking at them.  If they did realize that I looking at them, I was comfortable holding my gaze, and even sharing a smile with them if they were willing to go that far with me.  If not, then I simply returned to my half-smile, and carried on.

With my default closer to a smile than my old deadpan expression, a smile that was not returned also felt less awkward.  Instead of my own perception being that I had been shut down, I felt like people that saw me smile at them but didn’t return it had a thought process that went something like “Did that guy just smile at me?  I don’t think so… he’s kind of half-smiling now..  Did he smile at me?  Does he know something that I don’t know?  Why is he smiling at me?  I’m intrigued!”.

Being the person that is willing to fully engage someone gives you an odd sense of humble confidence.  The connection that I am seeking to share with someone isn’t a challenge – it’s an invitation.  I’m extending a part of myself to you as we walk by each other and offering the opportunity to share in something brief together.  If that stranger is not willing to engage, then that is their, but I walk away from the encounter knowing that I put myself out there.  I exposed a small part of my self, and came back from it just fine.  Every time you successfully do this, you’ll find that you come back a little bit stronger, a little bit humbled, and a little bit better prepared to try it again.

What really underlies the way I was feeling is the most important thing to take away from this.  By putting more of myself out there, I was more likely to have that positivity come back.  Projecting a warm positive attitude does not have some magic power over people that makes them return the same.  But it does have a psychological power to it.  When you’re presented with warmth, you find yourself much more inclined to return that warmth.  When you see someone willingly exposing a bit of vulnerability, you find yourself a little more willing to do the same.

General Rule #4: The more of yourself you’re willing to put out into the world, the more you’ll receive back from it.  The person that risks nothing ends up losing everything.

And so that’s where things currently sit.  As far as the terms I set for myself, my experiment continues until the end of the term, but it has already been a success, and now that I’ve opened a gate to engage with people, I have no desire to close it.  Sharing yourself with people, in whatever quantity you can make available, is a wonderful feeling.

The Summary

I made things easy this time.  Here are the four general lessons or rules to take away from my experiment:

  • General Rule #1: If you’re trying to change a habit or take on something new, keep the terms of your goal as simple as possible, while still remaining true to the aim of achieving that goal.
  • General Rule #2: When talking about your own psychology, it doesn’t matter what other people think.  All that matters is what you think.
  • General Rule #3: Be aware of the look on your face, and the attitude that your body language is projecting.  It affects more than you realize.
  • General Rule #4: The more of yourself you’re willing to put out into the world, the more you’ll receive back from it.  The person that risks nothing ends up losing everything.

Songs to #journey to – the compiled list

February 28th, 2011 No comments

Not too long ago, I sent out a request asking for people to send me their suggestions for songs that evoke for them the concept of journeying.  As promised, the results are shown below.

First, the list of songs that I received:

  • Hell Hath No Fury – Klute
  • Sting – David Kira
  • Simple Minds – Mandela Day
  • Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part 2 – My Morning Jacket (don’t be frightened away by the title)
  • Another Noon – Jon and Roy
  • Holes to Heaven – Jack Johnson
  • By the Time My Light Reaches You I’ll Be Gone – Blu Mar Ten
  • Song About My Dog (Subwave Remix) – Bop
  • This Dark Matter – London Elektricity

My friend Eric Lamsa suggested “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the Baha Men.  However, that song is already in my #BestSongsEver playlist, and so won’t be included here⸮

And the list of my own songs that have been tagged with #journey since I posted my initial request:

  • Cada Beijo – Bebel Gilberto
  • Empire – Hybrid
  • Amor Amor – Nino
  • Flirting Shadows – Sehnaz Longa
  • Beautiful (Spen’s Dub Mix) – DJ Spen
  • Trying to Find Myself – Nick Holder
  • Shiraz – Sharif

This has been a neat social experiment.  It’s interesting to hear what journeying sounds like in different people’s ears.  Most of the music that I choose generally has an exploratory feel to it, like Cada Beijo, or Flirting Shadows.  Other songs, like Hybrid’s Empire, get tagged with #journey because I liken them to a specific part of a journey.  Empire evokes the imagery of Jason Bourne travelling to his next rallying point.  When I sit on the bus and listen to this song, I don’t just feel like I’m passively being driven somewhere.  I feel like I’m assessing everyone around me, aware of my surroundings, and planning what my next move is going to be.

Some songs speak about the start of a journey to me – Beautiful, by DJ Spen, is a good example of this.  Very slow to build, it makes me think of the very beginning of a journey.  I don’t yet know what will unfold, but I’m following a direction and something new lies along that path.

Thanks to everyone that participated.  Check out some of these songs if you’re looking for something new – I can’t guarantee that they will all be to your liking, but there are definitely some great tracks here.

What was the deal with that backwards question mark?

Did you catch it?  If not, go back and see if you can find it.  The punctuation that you saw (it’s at the end of the sentence talking about “Who Let the Dogs Out”) is called an “irony mark“, and it’s languished in obscurity for far too long.

The irony mark was originally suggested by the French poet Alcanter de Brahm (alias Marcel Bernhardt) at the end of the 19th century to indicate that a sentence should be understood at a second level (e.g. irony, sarcasm, etc.).  In this case, my use is there to indicate that my statement should not be taken at face value (if you’re having trouble following here, it indicates that I was being sarcastic about Baha Men’s hit being a good song).

As we continue to move more and more of our communication up into the cloud, we are becoming increasingly separated from the subtle verbal and visual cues that connote context in our communication.  Emoticons offer one way to provide people with an indication of what we really mean.  For example, people usually put a smiley at the end of a sentence when they’ve been a jerk and want to get away with it⸮

While emoticons are functional, they’re clunky and inelegant.  There’s something nice and clean about punctuation.  It fits coherently with a proper sentence, while an emoticon can be jarring to the reader.  We’re pulled out and away from the words and reading, and made to visualize a face – effectively translating the emoticon (as time progresses, I think this is becoming less and less a factor, and more natural to everyone).

The irony here (no pun intended) is that the more our verbal communication gets pushed up into the digital medium, the greater the punishment we inflict on correct grammatical structure and proper punctuation.  If “R U up 4 it 2nite” qualifies as a proper sentence, it’s pretty unlikely that people will start using esoteric punctuation like the irony mark.  But that’s okay, because you can help carry on this crusade.  Proper punctuation does matter, it does have a place, and it does connote a meaning in a way that is subtly different from an emoticon.

Have I sold you yet?  Well, if not, that’s okay; I like the mark very much and am happy to bear this torch on my own.  That will likely be the case, as actually getting a mark to print out on your screen requires a bunch of fiddling – ultimately you either need to copy the symbol from a web source (wikipedia works), or fiddle with your keymap.  But if you care about irony as much as I do, I welcome you to light your torch off of mine and fight off the darkness.

“c u l8r”⸮

Find your analogies..

February 6th, 2011 No comments

We are often presented with situations in our life that are new and unfamiliar.  These are the situations that breed stress and anxiety, but also the situations from which we can draw the most new knowledge, wisdom, and growth.

A new situation is stressful by the very fact that it is new.  Old situations become familiar, and no longer generate much stress (provided you’ve learned how to approach and deal with them).  Consequently, they lose their ability to inspire new breadths to our ways of approaching the world.  Once you’ve learned how to deal with a situation, whatever it may be, it’s unlikely that you will generate new great new insight from addressing the same situation.  You may very well develop new insight specific to that endeavour, but as I have mentioned before, working within the same situations will generally only provide you with the ability to generate new insight within the confines of your current set of knowledge.

So, how then do we deal with these new situations that generate stress?  If the goal is to continue to pursue things that are outside of our comfort zone, we need to find ways to keep this stress manageable and to mitigate it.  One of the angles that I apply in these situations is to seek out analogies.

In Law, we spend a great deal of our time attempting to draw analogies.  New situations are constantly arising where there has not yet been existing law laid out that address the specific situation (since humans are dynamic and constantly evolving entities, it would be a contradiction to suggest that you could develop one set of laws that address all of the contingencies that could arise).  In order to evolve our system of law, while keeping it coherent with what has already been laid out, it becomes essential to draw analogies from what the current set of facts to what has been decided in the past.

The same requirement applies to our own lives.  We want (hopefully) to keep our working set of knowledge evolving, so that we may continue to evolve and develop cognitively.  When we are presented with new situations that we are not comfortable with, it is important to look for analogies from which we can draw on our wisdom and experience to help us deal with the unfamiliar.

The ability to see and connect analogies from new situations to those we have dealt with in the past is one of the hallmarks of wisdom.  Those able to apply their experience to each subsequent situation they encounter will better be equipped to deal with the stress and challenges that the new situations bring to the table.

Great wisdom is the ability to apply your working set of knowledge not only to the new situations in front of you, but to those contingencies that may or may not arise in the future.  The more analogies that you can juggle in your head, and leverage to assist you in determining what the best path to take is, the better equipped you will be to make decisions, remain confident in those choices, and mitigate the stress that may attach itself.

When bumping up against new situations that are pushing you outside of your comfort zone, find a moment to take pause, be present and aware to how you are feeling, and seek out the analogies that may help you address what you are dealing with.

Seeking inspriration

January 7th, 2011 4 comments

I competed a retrospective blog post on my ferry ride over to Vancouver last Monday, and left a note to myself to edit and publish it the next day.  However, when I logged back in to do exactly that, it turns out that my saves had not properly saved.  I’m not sure if it was somehow related to the spotty internet connection you get when you travel across the Georgia Straight, but for whatever reason, the post is gone.

I could rewrite the whole post, but every time I’ve tried to do something like that in the past, the result is uninspired and is a tedious process.  No matter, it’s a good segue into what I’m going to write about tonight.

Two-and-a-half weeks off is a great amount of time to spend with friends, family, and yourself.  However, towards the end of that time, I noticed that I was starting to drift.  I didn’t really have much to focus on, and the time that I wasn’t spending with Bay was generally being spent playing video games, or partying.

These are good things in moderation, but when I turn to activities like this as a way to simply pass the time, it’s a warning sign.  I don’t like doing something simply for the sake of passing time.  The best way to maximize what I get out of life is to avoid doing things out of boredom, and spend my time doing productive things that I want to do (this is my formula, and I make no contention that it will necessarily work for you).  The implication here is that once I start doing something simply as a way to pass time, I’m no longer really doing it because I want to – I’m doing it because I’m bored.

In part, I was okay wasting my time because I knew that I was moving to back to Vancouver and would be gaining new focus in the coming weeks.  Living in a big city by myself provides a tremendous amount of solitude, during which I can focus myself on personal projects and achieving goals.  I also knew that once I started working again, I would have less free time, so it was okay to appreciate llan abundance of time to myself, even if it meant being bored during some of it.

But, this week in Vancouver has not felt much better.  I’ve spent some time getting settled, and have started to familiarize myself with the new workplace and our wonderful tax statutes (good luck to any layperson trying to understand our Income Tax Act – better to just do what you’re told).  But, I  haven’t felt inspired.

And that’s what I’m really waiting for.  I can achieve a lot, given the right inspiration, but without some inspiration to get the ball rolling, it’s pretty hard to turn my focus toward anything in particular.

This doesn’t mean that I sit down and wallow in my lack of inspiration.  It means that I go out and try to find things that inspire me.  I read books, I take dance classes, I go out and walk the city (when the weather isn’t dreadful), and I listen to music.  Because I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately, I’ve turned to meditating in the evening – an hour spent meditating is a preferable use of my time to simply playing video games out of a lack of anything better to do.

So… yah.  That’s where I currently am.  I would write more about this subject, but… I’m not really feeling inspired, so I can’t.  The most frustrating part about a lack of inspiration is having the energy available to act on an impulse, but lacking the spark to ignite the process.

I recognize that posting about this kind of thing is a little self-indulgent, and for that I apologize, but one of the ways that you get yourself un-mired when in these situations is to accept that things aren’t optimal and make do with what you have available.

Without a doubt, more to come as time goes on…

Update, pure and simple

November 15th, 2009 2 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in, and that is a tough thing to feel slipping.  When the crunch periods are on, it’s hard to find the time or mental energy to think about subjects that I want to expand upon; when the crunch periods are off, it’s hard to motivate myself to do even more writing.  As you can see, it can be a challenge trying to find a place to write creatively in there.  When time is a scarce commodity, the best approach for me is usually to go back to the basics, so that’s how this post rolls.  Just an update for you, and an opportunity to do some writing that isn’t schoolwork for me.

School..

has been going really well.

This past week, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve felt like the material has been starting to sink in, and the landscape is a little bit more clear to me.  We also got our first midterm grades back, which was a welcome piece of feedback that I think we were all ready for.  I did better than my expectations, and so that made the pill a lot easier to swallow, but I think that most of us were really just happy for the opportunity to be given a benchmark.  Our professor sagely commented “for those of you who did well..  Don’t fall in love with it”, and so I will be making an effort to remain vigilant as we continue onward.  I don’t know what other option I really have.

After the last couple of weeks, the remembrance day holiday was a welcome reprieve, and even though one I had a make-up class scheduled on Friday, the workload has been a little bit lighter this week.  I think that I’m also starting to gain a better understanding of how I can best absorb the material, which is making me a little more efficient.  That’s the hope, anyway – I won’t be able to tell anything for sure until I have the means to test that: time passing and more data.  So, we’ll see.  If nothing else, I have certainly been trying out a number of different means for approaching this material.  On that note…

Habits and productivity..

are a mandatory topic in any blog post.

This wouldn’t feel like a blog entry if I didn’t include some notes about productivity or habits of mine, as of late.  In the process of training myself better moderation, I’ve had some minor epiphanies, which has been exciting.  The opportunities in life for growth are really a significant aspect of what makes me tick, and so it’s always exciting when I’m lucky enough to reflect on one of those opportunities as it’s occurring.

The first thing I’ve noticed about my own habits, and I suspect, many others, is that training moderation is easier when we give ourselves the opportunity for flexibility.  When it isn’t absolutely necessary (it rarely should be) to abstain from something, a flexible system with clear boundaries will provide you with a habit that has a greater chance of sticking for the longterm.  Abstinence does not provide you with any opportunity to adapt to new circumstances, and is not really a practice in moderation at all.  Some people may tell you that abstinence is a virtue, but my own belief will always be that life and happiness are about balance, and part of that balance is the skill of moderation.

The most significant thing about that has come out of this process has been my growing understanding and ability to articulate the concept that moderation is a skill.  The significance of this discovery is that I can now begin to approach this skill with the wisdom and hindsight that I’ve gained in the past, trying to train other skills.  Never mind that – the fact that moderation is a skill at all means that it’s not just some innate ability that someone is born with, but rather something that you can make better, over time, if you wish.

Some of my own thoughts as I’ve begun to think more about this notion are that:

  • Moderation works best in a framework
A framework provides you with some kind of boundary.  It gives you a benchmark from which to practice moderation.  If you take away these boundaries or benchmarks, then you will fall into the trap of shifting baselines, a concept pioneered (I believe) by the thoughtful Randy Olsen (his movie Flock of Dodos is excellent).  The longer you spend doing something a certain way, the more natural that way feels, and the more difficult it becomes to objectively assess where you sit. (Randy applied this concept to the Great Barrier Reef, I believe, noting that the baseline for what the reef looked like when it was healthy shifted dramatically between his time as a student, and when he took his own students to see it.  The reef had shrunk and withered significantly, but to the class, this was the baseline that they would be acquainted with, and see as natural, dulling the sense of urgency to do something to maintain its health as an entity).

With a clear framework, you have an objective baseline to which you will always be able to look and ascertain if you’re moving in a positive direction toward your goals.

  • Moderation and Willpower hang out together

The more you practice moderation, the greater your willpower becomes.  Moderation, over time, means becoming adept at following through with something when you desire, but doing so in a manner that looks ahead to the future.  It requires exercising a degree of restraint and willpower, but in a manner that leaves you with reserves.

Willpower, then, can be thought of as our energy to moderate.  For your muscles, you have a finite amount of energy that you can expend before you need to back off and give them a rest.  For the practice of moderation, you have willpower.

Make no doubt about it, willpower is a finite commodity.  We all have some measure of willpower that we are able to exercise when we need to.  But once that willpower is expended, it is like any other muscle or mental quality that can be trained; we need to give it time to recharge.  The more that you practice and exercise moderation, the greater your reserves of willpower will become.  When you practice abstinence, you make decisions rarely.  You are not exercising moderation or your willpower, because you are rarely exposing yourself to the situations that would allow for it.

  • Moderation works best with flexibility

By providing yourself with a flexible framework, you give yourself a clear, objective boundary within which to work, but allow yourself some flexibility within that boundary.  Setting yourself up in this manner gives you the opportunity to adapt to circumstances as needed, and allows you to exercise an element of control at multiple points.  Part of the key to moderation is actually providing yourself with the ability to make decisions at multiple tiers of willpower.  When you practice abstinence, you train only one level of willpower – never doing something ever.  However, what about if/when that level of willpower fails you (and let’s be honest here: nothing is truly failsafe; especially our willpower)?  You haven’t trained any other aspect of your willpower.  That one level fails, and you cave with no more defences.

Flexibility gives you the power to exercise your willpower on multiple levels, and on a continual basis.  Doing so allows you to check in with yourself more frequently, and see how you’re doing.  It gives you many small victories, which encourage the growth of your self-esteem, and a few small losses, or failures.  But failure is an essential part of life; it’s better to have a small failure, with small victories surrounding it to ground your perspective, than one big failure, with the last success far enough of back in time to be fading from your memory.

Flexibility lends itself to iterative change and continual feedback, two qualities that lead to greater success in many of the endeavours that we choose to pursue.

  • Moderation can be applied to anything (it is worth practicing)

Some people will think that talking about moderation means that I’m talking about either alcohol abuse or drug abuse.  But moderation is a skill that we practice in everyday of our lives, though much of it is beneath our level of awareness.  It isn’t until you start to think about moderation as an independent skill unto itself that you begin to see its presence constantly.

Injured yourself playing a sport, but want to keep playing?  Want to stay up, but know that you should go to bed?  Know that you should be working on an assignment, but procrastinating instead?  All of these are examples of situations in which we are aware of what the correct decision is, but must exercise our willpower to overcome our short-term impulses.  In most cases, we don’t even contemplate the reserves that we are or are not exercising, make a decision, and get on with our lives.  Wouldn’t you like to have a little more willpower?

  • Moderation itself requires moderation (it is reflexive!)

Moderation really does apply to everything, including itself.  It’s important to find times when you allow yourself a little bit of excess.  Remember, the act of practicing moderation is one that uses up willpower.  The difference to be aware of is that the moments of excess you allow should be ones of which you are cognisant, rather than simple lapses in judgment.  By mentally allow yourselves these breaks, you will ensure that you keep an eye on your baseline and prevent it from becoming a habit.  You keep your goals in sight and stay true to them in the longterm.

Okay, I’ve covered off the productivity update, if that’s all you’re here for, see ya!

Dancing..

is made better by having awesome students.

Our studio has been doing well, and the classes continue to be enjoyable.  My own growth has come in the form of improving my ability to choreograph, and working on technique when I can find the time (not as often as I’d like).  My class’s progression has been rapid and fun, which is great – I’m enjoying the process of learning along with everyone.

I finished off the last term with some more work on popping and a little bit of waving.  In order to do some work on gliding, I decided that we would work on a little bit of gliding at the start of two or three of our classes.  Partially to warm the class up, and partially because gliding can be a very disheartening skill to learn when you first tackle it: the balance required is slow to build, and it can be painful on your calf muscles.  Additionally, it’s just not a way that we’re normally geared to move, so there’s a reasonable amount of muscle memory that needs to be trained.  We also added in some new fundamental techniques, some of which I’d just been shown this summer, like the popcorn.

Two of my friends from school came and checked out my first class of the new term, which was a lot of fun.  Because we hadn’t done it much last term, and because I love it so much, I started the first term off with some locking.  I went through some fundamentals with the class, and then began putting some choreography toward the end.  We went considerably far back, starting with the Watergate, a social dance that Sugarpop taught me this Summer, and that ties in directly with the lock from which the dance gets its name.  The fundamental movements that we went over this class included:

  • The pace
  • Uncle Sam point
  • Giving yourself five
  • The lock
  • The pimp walk
  • The scoobot

I have never taught some of these before, so it was a lot of fun figuring out how best to convey this information to the class, and seeing how people handled learning some of the new movements (some of them much better than I did when I was learning!)

The next class I reviewed the choreography that we had learned so far and we then moved to tutting.  The class all groaned when I announced that this was what we would be doing next class, so I was happy to see that most people seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Tutting can be a frustrating art to learn; it requires moves that demand a good deal of flexibility in your fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.  Though lots of people work on flexibility in their lower body, it is less-often exercised from the forearms down.

I was disappointed to see that one of the students that had shown considerable promise last term didn’t return, but I saw some other new students in his place, so things balance out, as they usually do.

Squash..

still rules.

But I’m not getting to play it as much as I’d like.  I have been biking to school, and teaching dance classes, so my fitness and flexibility have not suffered to a great extent, but my touch is starting to fade as time goes on and I don’t have the opportunity to hit the ball as often as I’d like.  I have been playing on the squash ladder at school, which is a lot of fun and a good way to meet new friends, but the level of play isn’t equivalent to that which you would find at a club that is dedicated to squash.  Still, it does give me an opportunity to work on my length, and it’s a lot of fun.  I’ll take squash wherever and whenever I can get it!

And that..

is it.

That’s the end of the update for now.  Although my updates will continue to be sparse while I’m in school, I absolutely intend to continue writing.  If I stopped doing this, I think that I would have lost a significant aid to my own growth and potential.  Thanks for continuing to read, and stay tuned!  Please leave me a comment if you have any questions related to the content I post, or the subjects I write about.  I’m always looking for more inspiration to fuel writing, and if it comes from without, it saves me some of the mental energy required to come up with new ideas.

RSS Feed changing, please update your feed reader

October 15th, 2009 1 comment

Or, if you prefer, “So long, and thanks for all the blogs!”
No, the blog is not shutting down. PERISH THE THOUGHT!

After sticking by MovableType as my blog software for something like seven years, it’s time to move on. Before I do, a very brief (and by that I mean long and boring) history.
I started this blog because I wanted to take on a project that would be a little bit fun, would give me an opportunity to get my hands dirty with some open source software, and because I wanted to see if I could set up and effectively manage and run my own UNix server. Additionally, I received some excellent encouragement from my friend Davin at the time, when he told me “you’re definitely someone whose thoughts I would be interested in reading”. He may not remember saying it, and he’s probably said that to a number of people. No matter, it was enough of a catalyst to get things underway.

I was indeed able to do all of those things, and while working through a Computer Science degree at the same time too. I had an old computer sitting around, and setting up the FreeBSD box that I initially used to do my hosting was a challenging task, and a great opportunity to learn. My friend Myron had already spent a good deal of his own time working with FreeBSD, so I was fortunate enough to have access to his knowledge in getting things working, which was a good thing, because even though techies will tell you that “UNix and Linux have come a long way and almost any idiot can install and run them these days”, THEY ARE LYING. Well, at least in my opinion they are. I have been working with open source OS’s for over seven years (my final swan-song was just before making the switch to Apple’s fantastic line of computers), and I have yet to find one that didn’t have me trying to compile my own code and search through forums online for the four other people that are encountering the extremely specific problem that only we seem to have. Oh well. I got things up, got a free hostname from DynDNS.org, and http://fresh.ath.cx was born.

I was able to keep things running smoothly for a while, and even hosted Graham’s blog for him for a while. My initial interest in blogging was mostly .. well I don’t know really. I guess you would call it a diversion. I wrote entries that made me laugh, and hoped that they also made my friends laugh. I never bothered to fool myself into believing that I had an audience of more than seven close friends (and still don’t), but if I made myself laugh while I was writing, that was sufficient for me. At the time, I was working a job that did not have very much for me to do, so an opportunity to fill that time up with something marginally constructive was better than sitting around doing nothing (I can assure you that this is not an indication of a poor work ethic on my part).

As time pressed on, I started to fall out of touch with the administration duties inherent to running a server and hosting a website. Things went down hard for a couple of months before I was able to muster up the endurance to go through the process of reinstalling and running Linux again. When my server went down a second time, I was in the midst of dating a new girl (now, I’m happy to say, my lovely wife), and had other interests keeping me occupied. Fiddling with a server just wasn’t a priority.

And so my blog sat, idling in obscurity. It wasn’t until I started playing squash, after graduating, that I realized that if nothing else, blogging could act as a way for me to record my thoughts and progress as I attempted to improve in a sport that I soon realized I had a long way to go in (and still do). So, I brushed the dust off the server, spent some time fiddling once again, and got things running once more.

Traffic to the blog picked up considerably about a year later, when a controversial set of events were set into motion when I reffed his match at a tournament in Comox. The end result was that the story I blogged upon getting back home was passed around to almost everyone in the squash community in Victoria, and the link got sent as far East as Ontario. this provided me with new impetus to keep writing, and I stuck at it up until the third and final time my server died on me.

This time, I was done playing the role of server admin. It took time that I didn’t have, and required knowledge that I was no longer willing to maintain. Hosting your own server is cool if you can stay on top of it, and is certainly nerd bragging rights; but, beyond that, it’s work, and it’s troubling if you’re not 100% sure that you’ve got everything secure and locked down, and have the potential for running a zombie computer that’s been compromised by an evil hax0r. So, the blog disappeared for a third time.

The next resurrection came as a result of a significant event in my life – our wedding. As a way to keep people up to date and aware of what was going on, and to provide a reliable place for people to go and get information about the date. That site still exists here, for a little while longer anyway. At this point, I decided that hosting a server was no longer a practical option, so we sprung for webspace and a domain name. Fortunately, the last name Quiney is relatively rare in North America, so it was fairly easy to grab my name and set something up there. I migrated my blog software and archives over to the new server, and we were once again ready to go.
From here on up, the main changes were aesthetics. Trying to figure out a way to make a change to my design without overhauling everything, I upgraded MovableType and installed one of their pre-installed themes. Unfortunately, those sucked, but I didn’t have any other options, and my time was fairly limited. So, rather than do anything about it, I posted entries complaining about how ugly my site was, and offering to trade some of my own time as a project manager, an efficiency and productivity coach, and a dance instructor, for someone else’s time. Naturally no one responded. And so I complained…

The site’s design changed one more time to the blue and green style that was around for a while, and that brings us to this summer, where, four days before I started law school, a new, exciting, challenging, and terrifying chapter in my life, I attempted to completely update the design of my site.

And the result of that is what you’re currently looking at. For someone as keen on productivity, self-improvement, positive habits and realistic, intelligent planning, as I am, this decision really didn’t reflect any of that.

Anyhow, that’s all changed. Thanks to the advice of a new friend, married to another new friend, and fellow law student, I’ve set up WordPress on my server, and have updated the site. Going to http://adamquiney.com should now take you to the new site, and this will be the last entry that gets posted on this RSS feed. If you are still interested in hearing what I have to say, please update your feed reader to point to: http://feeds.feedburner.com/adamquiney/ewmx

Again, in large bold letters, that new RSS feed is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/adamquiney/ewmx

If you’re visiting the site manually, you won’t need to do anything differently – http://adamquiney.com should resolve just fine to the new site. If you do encounter any problems – please let me know.

So long, and thanks for the blogs. See you guys at the new site.

Back once again, the incredible..

October 3rd, 2009 No comments
Welcome back
I haven’t been able to update for about four weeks.  The reason for this is that I, rather uncharacteristically, decided to dive into the work of updating my blog with four days left before school started.  I had been making excellent progressive during the past three weeks, and cleared off a ton of tasks.  The remaining items that I had left seemed manageable, so I felt it prudent to start in on another project before school started.
What I didn’t foresee was that Movable Type, the blog software I use, and the theming capabilities that it comes with, are iffy at best.  Actually getting a particular layout to work with my blog, based on my own anecdotal evidence, is very fiddly work.  On top of that, I have very little CSS experience to draw upon, and just don’t really enjoy doing the work.  Although the idea of using themes was to avoid having to do any of that, the themes that you are given are quite limited, and if you want to go even just a little bit outside of the box, you need to be willing to get your hands dirty.  I was not fooling myself that this would be necessary, but didn’t anticipate that school would get as busy as quickly as it did, and that installing a theme would bring down my whole blog.
If you are viewing this site directly, you can currently see that it’s extraordinarily ugly (and I’m actually surprised you’ve read this far if that is the case, instead of just refusing to accept my imposing something like this on your sensibilities).  If you’re viewing it in an RSS reader, then that’s all good, and really the main aim to which I publish anyhow.
Still, people are bound to be googling my name from time to time, and it sucks that this is the ultimate result that they end up at.  Enough of that for now.  Change will come, at some point down the road, and until then, we’re all stuck with either using a feed reader (which you should be doing anyway – check out Google Reader if you haven’t yet), or reading text on an ugly site.
Law School

I don’t know what I can write about law school at this point that won’t end up coming off as hopelessly optimistic or simply trite.
Suffice it to say that I’m really enjoying the faculty, the classes, my classmates, and the subject matter so far, and that although I’m sure the workload (and consequently, the stress) will increase as time wears on, I’m optimistic in my belief that I will continue to feel positive about both my decision and the new field of study that I have chosen to pursue.
Law bears a lot of overlap with a way of thinking that I have pursued and espoused for a while now: skepticism.  Being in a degree program where we are not just encouraged but expected to make use of faculties that focus on seeing both sides of an issue and determining the most effective ways to argue for either of those is challenging and rewarding.
Dancing

The fall term has kicked off at Vibestreet Dance, and things are going great.  I’ve finished giving my third class so far this term, and have also started giving some private lessons.  The students seem to be enjoying what I’m putting down, and that’s good, because I really am too.
So far I have taken the class through the basics of popping, waving, and tutting, and this Tuesday I will be giving an intro class to locking.  Although I am nowhere near the locking instructor that some of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to train with are, I think that I am good at conveying information in a way that other people can understand, and I do spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to understand the fundamentals of these dances.  I’m excited to teach something that is still very new to me, and especially a dance that I have so much respect for and that has so much history behind it.
Giving private lessons is also a new experience, and allows for a much more organic approach to teaching.  Whereas class teaching requires that I keep things at a basic level, stay on track and can only address individual students for a brief period of time, teaching one-on-one with someone allows us to follow diversions that may come up, and to spend much more time on a specific piece of foundation if the student is having trouble with it.
I was fortunate enough to be awarded a small scholarship by Liz Vaesen, an instructor in Vancouver that brings hiphop workshops over to Victoria about six times a year.  As a result, I’ll be taking a dance workshop tomorrow in old school hiphop and locking from Keeley Kaukimoce.  It’s an honour to be chosen for something like this, and quite humbling.  Homework allowing, I’ll blog about my thoughts post-workshop.
Productivity

School is busy and requires a lot of time, but by staying on top of classes, reading, and managing my time effectively, I’m finding that I still have time to fit everything else that I want in.  We are given classes only from Monday to Thursday, and Fridays are reserved for make up classes.
So far, I’ve spent my Friday’s studying and fitting in a game of squash around lunch time.  With a little bit of discipline, it’s pretty easy to avoid falling into the trap of treating Friday like your weekend, and getting through a ton of your work.  I get up at the same time I do on the rest of the weekdays (6:30), put in four hours of studying, g
ive myself two hours off, and then come back for another four hours.  By the time I’m heading out the door to meet up with friends in the evening, I’ve completed most of my reading for Monday and Tuesday.  
One of the most valuable habits that I developed through my previous work in project management, and learning and applying the principles of GTD, has been minimizing and eventually quashing the tendency to procrastinate.  Defeating this bad habit is one of the better ways to squeeze more time out of each day.  You don’t actually gain any more time, but you are now controlling 100% of how you want to spend that time.  Whereas, when procrastinating, you are forced into undertaking activities that fit with the aims of procrastinating (typically short in duration, because you won’t allow yourself, mentally, to start anything big, knowing that you’ve got something else you really should be working on; usually somewhat fun, and usually a bit of a distraction – Facebook anyone?).
If you’re interested in more tips on eliminating procrastination, check out some of my archives related to Productivity and GTD.  Ah, excellent.. clicking on those links currently appears to be broken.  Bah.  Well, look for those later then.
The rest

I’ll end on a curio that Bay and I picked up this weekend at Future Shop, shown below:

IMG_2700.JPG

This little piece of plastic acts as a power-free amplifier for my iPhone’s speaker.  If you look, you can see taht the plastic has a series of curves cut out of the interior.  These curves operate on a similar principle (presumably) to that of many brass instruments, and you can see that at the end the cut-out spreads out into the shape of the bell of a trumpet.  Simply by putting my iPhone into this device, I can amplify the signal considerably, without needing any power.  Although you can see a wire coming out of this guy, it is simply cable that connects my iPhone to my laptop.  This can be removed without affecting the way this device operates, and is simply there to allow me to use the amplifier as a dock as well as it’s original purpose. 
I’ve got my homework/study space set up at home on our dining room table (though it’s pretty easy to move to the office), and I can use this dock to hold my iPhone when it’s acting as a remote to our home stereo.  That looks like this:

Laptop-and-AirCurve.png

Kind of cute right?  It’s pretty functional too.  When I want to listen to my voice memos, the amplifier serves quite well, as I just turn on my speaker and shoot them through it.  Makes it quite handy to process those ideas at the end of the day or week (during my weekly review).
Anyhow, enough of that.  More to come now that I’m back up, but until then, at least I’m publishing again.

Biphasic Sleep Journal – Week Three

September 7th, 2009 2 comments
It’s now Monday on the long weekend, and this marks the end of my experiment with biphasic sleeping.  I’ve included the third week of journaling here, and then below that my final thoughts on the experiment.
Week 3
——
Day 15 (Monday)
I felt a cold coming on last night, and elected to maintain a monophasic sleep pattern to ensure that my body got as much rest as possible.  Nothing else to report today, though I am returning to biphasic tonight.
Day 16 (Tuesday)
Back on the wagon.  It was again, fairly easy to get up at 4:00AM this morning, and I’m 100% convinced now that if you need to get up early for something, the way to do it is to ensure that you sleep for some multiple of 90 minutes: 90 minutes, 1.5 hours, 3 hours, etc.  Whatever it is, if you stick to this rule, getting up is a snap.  It’s now the morning and I have not been particularly sleepy or yawny.  However, the first day is usually easier, as there appears to be less sleep debt overall that I have accumulated, versus later on in the week.
Day 17 (Wednesday)
The pattern continues – easy to get up, though never a pleasure having the alarm ring at 4:00 in the morning.  On especially busy days, I also find making time for the nap a bit of an inconvenience.  The best way to work this is to schedule it in your calendar and honour that appointment.  This way I am inclined to treat it as just another thing that I have to get done during my day, and like any other meeting.  The only trouble is that napping feels like wasted time, rather than something that is actually productive.  I sure wish I could find a way to make the ubersleep pattern actually work.  However, this is far too much for any normal human to accomplish, and I am skeptical of the physical costs that sleeping a total of only 2 hours a day would have on your body, regardless of whether or not you were able to function fine mentally.
-Nap-
As is now the usually case, I feel groggy for about 30 minutes after waking up from my nap.  This is very frustrating.  Even if it’s only a temporary thing, it’s just annoying feeling this way a second time during the day.  I can still function fine during this period, it’s just like being uncomfortable for a scheduled 30 minutes every day.  Is it worth suffering through this to gain an extra two hours every day?  Yes, absolutely.  But, I don’t have to like it.
Day 18 (Thursday)
I’ve made another realization today: sleeping biphasically is not that difficult physically (aside from the annoyances I’ve mentioned previously), but it is definitely a little bit taxing psychologically.  Even if my body is getting enough rest, it is very difficult to accept the fact that when I go to bed, exhausted, at 11:00 in the evening after a hard day of exercise and work, I will be getting up in 4.5 hours.  I am used to looking forward to waking up feeling refreshed and shedding that exhaustion over the course of 8 hours of shut-eye.  Even if this is purely a mental thing, it is difficult to adjust to.  Just the fact that I wake up at 4:00 thinking, “Man, only 4.5 hours of sleep”, takes a small toll on me.
I assume that as time wears on, this feeling will disappear, as sleeping biphasically will be the norm, rather than the exception, and so the concept of sleeping 8 hours will be the thing that feels weird.  I have heard people that operate on a polyphasic sleeping pattern feel this way about everyone else sleeping a single, contiguous block of 8 hours, but I have never heard anyone write about what it’s like when they’ve returned to monophasic sleep (which has happened plenty of times).  I would be interested to know if it took a while for the psychology to right itself and accept once again that they were sleeping for 8 hours each night.
I’ve reached the conclusion that once the experimentation period is over, I will continue on with biphasic sleeping, though revert to monophasic on Saturday and Sunday.  The aim here is to try and eliminate some of the debt that I felt I was accumulating during the second week of this experiment.  Getting a full 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday may help in this capacity, or it may throw off my schedule completely.  In truth, I don’t know exactly what will happen, but that’s okay.  I suppose the experiment will continue, even after the official end-date has passed.
Day 19 (Friday)
This will mark the last day of my biphasic sleeping experiment, as I intend to revert to monophasic blocks of sleep on Friday and Saturday nights from here on in.  I finished all of my working out for the week yesterday, and did not feel like practicing any dance.  As a result, I didn’t have any physical activity to stimulate me in the morning, and I’ve felt quite tired for the last four hours (it’s now 8:45AM).  Again, I’m drawn to wonder whether or not this approach to sleeping actually gives the body enough sleep, or if I’m just gradually building more sleep debt or getting used to the feeling of perpetually being a little more tired throughout the day.  Part of my reasoning for getting two unbroken blocks of 8 hours on the weekends is so that I can see if that leads to feeling more refreshed during the rest of the week.  Time will tell.
A funny thing happened last night: I went to bed at 11:00, as I normally do.  At some point in the night, I woke up.  It felt like I’d been asleep for quite some time, so I assumed that my alarm had gone off and I had “rested my eyes” for a few seconds.  This is a dangerous trap to fall into, as you turn off your alarm, “rest your eyes” and then wake up four hours later.  Anyhow, I’ve gotten myself into the habit of jumping out of bed as soon as I catch myself doing that, and so I did the same this time.  I got up, put on my clothes, grabbed my iPhone and waterbottle, brushed my teeth, and then started checking my e-mail.  It was at this point that I noticed that the time was 2:00AM.  I must have finished a sleep cycle, had a brief moment of wakefulness, and then gone from there.  I went back to sleep until my alarm actually DID go off, got up, and started the day.  If this is indicative of anything, it’s probably just that I’ve now trained myself to get up fairly easily whenever I like, provided I’ve finished the most recent sleep cycle.  Getting up at 2:00AM didn’t feel any different from 4:30AM.
—–
My thoughts

Although I’ve really enjoyed the extra time that this sleeping pattern has provided me with, I’ve consistently felt like I have not been getting enough sleep.  There has always been a slight undercurrent of sleep debt throughout my days.
If I could get away with this sleeping pattern but feel well-rested throughout the day, I would do it in a second.  Taking the naps is not the issue, and I would gladly put up with the inconvenience of having to schedule around a nap in order to gain an extra two hours of free time each day.  What I am not willing to do, however, is sacrifice feeling good and optimally productive during my waking hours.
Even though it was weird and met with some resistance and odd looks, I’m really glad that I took the time to conduct this experiment.  If I had not, I would forever be wondering if this was a viable option. &nb
sp;Additionally, even if I was a little more tired than I normally would be, I got a tremendous amount of stuff done during these three weeks.  Obviously three weeks is a lot of time off, and most of us would hopefully be able to get a lot accomplished in that amount of time.  Nevertheless, I do think that I put those two hours to good use – spending time working out, practicing dance, and checking tasks off of my todo list.
Some people will have a lot of trouble adapting to a new sleeping pattern, but there are a few things that I felt I did that made things much easier.  Most importantly was the fact that I was very disciplined in the times that I went to sleep, took naps, and got up.  Many people asked me if I snoozed a lot, and my answer was always a resounding no.  Snoozing is an excellent way to destroy any progress you make in establishing a new habit like biphasic sleeping, and is the worst thing you can do for your sleeping pattern.  You gain no real benefit from snoozing, and you’re much better off planning your sleep to end at the completion of a sleeping cycle.
On that note, one of the things I gained from this experiment was a better understanding into how sleep really works, and how the duration of our sleep cycles can effect how easily we wake up.  Before this, I never would have believed that I could go to sleep for 4.5 hours and rise quickly and easily when my alarm goes off.  Going into this, I figured the hardest part would be waking up and getting out of bed, but this was never an issue.
Further Updates
If you view this site directly, have tried to post comments, you’ve probably noticed that the layout is currently borked and commenting is not working.  I am aware of this (but thank you Davin for pointing it out), and it will only be temporary.  The reason for this is that I’m working on updating the design and layout of the site, as the old design didn’t feel like it quite fit with the intent and direction that the blog has moved in over the past few years.
Additionally, the identity of the blog as Adam’s House o’ Fun, while it seemed fitting when I was doing my undergrad, no longer really feels like it reflects the content that I am publishing.  Rather than bother coming up with a catchy name, I like the idea of simply using my name as my brand.
Although I imagine that I’ll be busy for the next week, I intend to put in a decent amount of time next weekend to get things proper.  Web design is definitely not my strong suit, so if anyone is interested in trading some of your time for some of mine, I would be happy to help you get organized or get on top of your own projects – if you’ve got the spare time, what do you have to lose?
Once that’s finished, adamquiney.com will be up and live, and things will continue rolling as before.
Also, tomorrow is the first Fall class that I’m teaching at Vibestreet Dance this year.  I’m very excited to start teaching again, as I’ve had a fantastic summer related to dance, learned a ton of stuff, made some really great friendships with keen dancers, and had a chance to let a lot of it soak in.  If you’re interested in taking classes, get in touch with me!
That’s all for now, but expect to hear soon on how the first week of classes has gone.