Running the Gauntlet to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

I actually wrote this blog post in my head a few weeks ago at 3 am when I should have been sleeping. I should have written it down, but instead I repeated it over and over again in hopes that I’d remember it, because I’m actually 5 blog posts behind in my queue, and that’s a personal record that has me stressed out beyond belief.

Yes, this is a self-imposed deadline, but not missing a post since I started this blog in December of 2012 puts a certain amount of self-imposed pressure on me, especially since I know that several people consider reading it a part of their routine. You’d think that when I switched a while back to only posting on even numbered days, rather than daily, it would have reduced the pressure by half, but no. Now my blogs seem to be longer and require more research than they once did. Again, that is self-imposed.

Since I knew that repeating posts in my head was part of the reason I could not sleep, this post is about the many things that can prevent me from sleeping. Most of them are thoughts. Some are noises.

My husband, and the vast majority of the men I know, won’t be able to relate to this at all. They can fall instantly to sleep and not wake up ‘til morning. I find this quite annoying, because they’ll say to me, “Why are you so tired? It sounds like we both went to bed at the same time.”

All I can do is tersely reply, “Well, we most definitely did not go to sleep at the same time.”

So here are the many challenges I have when it comes to getting a full night’s sleep.

  • My CPAP machine breaking its seal on my face and whistling loudly.
  • My CPAP machine breaking its seal on my face and blowing a jet of air that flutters my eyelashes.
  • My bladder.
  • Soreness in general.
  • My dogs, wanting breakfast at an ungodly hour, and therefore doing an impatient tap dance on the wooden floor.
  • The sun rising at freakin’ 5:11 in the morning and setting at 9:11 pm in the Seattle area around summer solstice.
  • The sun rising at freakin’ 7:57 in the morning and setting at 4:17 pm in the Seattle area around winter solstice.
  • My dog, snoring, and why I find it annoying sometimes and endearing other times.
  • Hearing a random, subtle sound coming from the other side of the house.
  • My dogs barking at the least sign of any sound.
  • Wondering if I remembered to lock all the doors.
  • How intensely I love my dogs.
  • My feet scratching on the sheets.
  • Funny things I forgot to tell Dear Husband.
  • Delightful conversations I had that day.
  • Negative conversations I had that week.
  • Young men with tiny little penises motorcycling or drag racing down our street at random hours.
  • Grown men with tiny little penises shooting guns or fireworks off in our neighborhood at random hours.
  • Things I’m looking forward to.
  • Things I’m dreading.
  • Am I forgetting anything?
  • The beeps of our computers or phones when one of us forgets to turn them off before bed.
  • Am I good at this marriage thing?
  • The things I do that I’m glad are not qualities that my Dear Husband possesses, and how lucky that makes me.
  • How much this blog post will upset DH, because he wants me to be able to be as positive, optimistic, and carefree as he is.
  • At what point did I lose all ability to keep things organized, and why is that?
  • What I need to do tomorrow.
  • Upcoming social obligations, and whether I’m dreading them or looking forward to them.
  • What I was supposed to do today but did not.
  • Health issues for myself and my loved ones.
  • The state of this country, and the state of the planet.
  • My next vacation, and how much of the world I still long to see.
  • Past vacations and how wonderful they were.
  • The many ways I feel I have fallen short.
  • The many ways people want me to change but I find myself incapable of doing so, despite my best efforts.
  • Did I remember to water the plants?  
  • Do I have my lunch ready for work tomorrow?
  • Which drawbridge will I be working on?
  • Which shift will I be working on?
  • Work BS.
  • Am I forgetting anything?
  • How lucky I am, generally.
  • Potato chips.
  • My imposter syndrome.
  • Do people think I’m weird?
  • Why do I seem so much weirder than most other people?
  • How can I convince people that I’m not weird?
  • Why do I care what anyone thinks?
  • OH SHIT WHAT TIME IS IT? DID I OVERSLEEP?
  • My irritation that my eyesight is so poor that I can’t always reliably see what time it is without putting on my glasses.
  • My disappointment at not being able to read more books.
  • The many new and unsettling things I’ve learned about myself in the past few months.
  • How grateful I am that I can still learn new things.
  • Aging.
  • The future.
  • The past.
  • My understandable love of naps.
  • My bladder again, and whether I should hold it until the alarm goes off in an hour, or just admit I need to pee, get up and do it, and then return to bed and try to sleep for that last precious hour, knowing I won’t achieve REM sleep in that timeframe.
  • Am I forgetting anything?
  • Attempting to change positions as quietly as possible so as not to wake the dogs.
  • Cheese.
  • My desperate need to meditate before bedtime, which I never quite get around to doing.

Welcome to my brain.

After that, I usually remember to do a body part relaxation exercise, and I fall asleep for what little time I have left.

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Science Questions from Toddlers

There’s nothing more amazing than the wonder of children.

I just stumbled upon a series of articles that is called Science Question from a Toddler, on the website fivethirtyeight.com. It’s a fascinating bunch of articles. Be prepared to get sucked down a rabbit hole of queries if you go there.

These articles explore complex questions such as, “Who Took Care Of The First Baby?” “Can You Unwrinkle A Raisin?” “What Would Happen If There Were No Number 6?” “How Big Is A Fart?” “How Big Is Space?

To that last question, I’d be tempted to reply, “A heck of a lot bigger than a fart.” But don’t go asking me. As my mother would say, “Look it up.”

I digress.

There’s nothing more amazing than the wonder of children. It’s such a shame that so many of us lose that with age. I think that the more your brain gets crowded with information and beliefs, false or otherwise, the less room it seems to have for inquiry.

It’s rather sad, really.

I remember asking, as a child, where light went when it got dark. I was really frustrated that no one could tell me. I mean, it had to go somewhere, right? And where does sound come from?

I’m surprised I survived to adulthood.

I think that it’s the unanswered questions that give life purpose. May you never stop asking questions, dear reader. Knowledge is power.

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Questions for a Conspiracy Theorist

What does one say when hit with a loony concept?

The other day I was chatting with an acquaintance of mine. He’s very gregarious and therefore quick to start up conversations. He’s a pleasant man, the kind of person that makes you grin, but in truth we don’t have that much in common. Mostly we stick to safe topics, such as the weather.

But on this day, it turned out that the weather wasn’t as safe a topic as one would hope. He said, “Well, you know that all those tornadoes that are being kicked up out East are because they’re seeding the clouds over California to make it rain, don’t you?”

True confession: I’m not particularly quick on the uptake. I kind of blinked at him for a few seconds. I mean, what does one say when hit with such a loony concept? It’s probably best that I am a little slow in these instances, because the first thing out of my mouth would otherwise be, “You don’t really believe that, do you?”

I could easily disabuse him of this belief if he were willing to listen, which I’m sure he wouldn’t be, and if I had the energy, which I’m sure I don’t possess. I could just pepper him with the following statements and questions until he was left realizing he didn’t have a retort.

  • What are they seeding the clouds with? Because it sure isn’t working. California is dry as a freakin’ bone.
  • California consists of 163,696 square miles. How much of that stuff do they use, where do they store it, who supplies it, and how have we overlooked the hundreds of planes flying back and forth in a grid pattern to distribute the stuff?
  • If you are referring to “chemtrails”, see, also, my blog post entitled, “Debunking Chemtrails.” And besides, contrails are in sloppy, messy patterns over well-established flight paths, so these wouldn’t equally distribute this substance, whatever it’s supposed to be, and it would interfere with commercial flights, so private passengers would get awfully cranky.
  • The whole problem with having a drought is that there are very few clouds to be had, so where are the clouds coming from that they are seeding?
  • And who is “they”?
  • How do the chemicals in the West wake up the tornadoes in the East? Do they use Twitter?
  • And how are the hundreds of people it would take to pull off this little caper, the pilots, the materials producers, the distributors, the logistics personnel, the air traffic control people, the accountants, the support staff, and so on and so forth, able to keep it a secret when three people can’t keep most secrets?
  • Where are the Smart Phone pictures?
  • And if this project is causing so many weather disasters and not producing rain for California, why don’t they just stop?
  • And why is it a secret?
  • Isn’t it much more likely that it’s all of us doing our own horrible part with our disastrous carbon footprints trampling the planet (especially the major industries who are the very ones paying a great deal of money to prop up your conspiracy theory), who are the cause of the weather problems? Hmmm?
  • And even if global climate change caused by man didn’t exist, despite the fact that 95 percent of the world’s scientists say it does, why would you resist the urge to take care of the only planet we have, just in case?

But you know, while I was blinking at this guy, I suddenly felt tired. Nope. Nope. I couldn’t. I just didn’t have the energy. Because some people, as nice as they may be, just have no grounding in science, education, and critical thinking to grasp reality.

So instead, I just stammered and said, “Erm… well… California could certainly use the rain…”

And we both went on our merry ways, his way comprised of utter fantasy, and mine, at that moment, full of frustration and disappointment and shock.

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Science is a Journey

It’s not a destination.

All scientific inquiry begins with a question. How is this possible? Why is that planet behaving that way? How old is that thing? What is that made of? How do we catch the flu? Once you have a question, you can set about determining an answer. That’s science, and in my opinion, it’s a thing of beauty.

What frustrates me most about people who disparage science is that they tend to say, “Well, science used to believe this. But now we know that’s wrong.”

Uh… YEAH. That’s the whole point. You add to science as you increase knowledge and extend your inquiries. Surprise! Blood letting isn’t the best idea for the feverish! The earth isn’t flat after all!

Science, by its very nature, is not rigid and set in stone. It’s a journey, not a destination. It grows. It (dare I say it?) evolves.

The reason science and religion seem at odds with each other, in my opinion, is that religion doesn’t want you to question. It wants you to believe without question. It doesn’t want you to change, other than to get with the program. It says, “These are the rules. Stick to them.” It believes that the way we thought 2,000 years ago is the way we should think now.

Science is messy. It says, “Hold on… what about this?” It’s ever-changing. It’s fluid. That’s a scary concept for some, but I firmly believe that learning and growth make us better people.

This may surprise you, but I genuinely believe that science and religion don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are questions that will never be answered in our lifetime. If religion helps you with the great unanswered, then more power to you. And if you believe in God, surely you must believe that he or she gave us curious brains so that we could use them.

I am so grateful for both the gifts of intelligence and morality. I will never squander those gifts. (Not that morality is exclusive to religion, mind you. But sometimes it is nice to have a guidebook, even if we don’t always consult it.)

I am very excited by the prospect of knowing more tomorrow than I do today. I look forward to applying that knowledge in a way that benefits mankind. Life is good!

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How Easily We’re Taken In

If you’ve got a website, you must be legit, right? Hmph. Anyone can have a website. What apparently is much harder to acquire is critical thinking.

Case in point, The Shed at Dulwich. For a few weeks, it was London’s number one ranked restaurant, according to TripAdvisor. It was the place to be. Their phones were ringing off the hook, but it was a wasted effort on hungry diners’ parts, because they were so exclusive, they were booked for weeks in advance.

The food on the website looked delicious. Their meals were mood themed. My favorite one is “Comfort”. It consisted of “Yorkshire blue Macaroni and Cheese seasoned with bacon shavings and served in a 600TC Egyptian cotton bowl. Comes with a side of sourdough bread.”

And even that didn’t raise eyebrows? I guess the thread count was high enough to give it authenticity. No pilly-sheeted bowls for their patrons!

Here’s the thing, though. The Shed was, literally, a shed. In someone’s back yard. No address, as it was “by appointment only”. No food to be had, unless you wanted to share the resident’s TV dinner. The food in the pictures was actually made of shaving cream and urinal cakes and even, in one case, the author’s foot. It was a huge hoax. It was all just an experiment to see if he could punk TripAdvisor, and wow, did he ever.

Before you say you’d have never fallen for it, ask yourself how many times you’ve bought something that was completely unnecessary simply because it was popular. Can you deny that you’ve ever regretted an impulse buy? Have you ever stood in line for the latest iPhone when the one you have is perfectly functional? Who among us doesn’t look at pictures of ourselves from 35 years ago and think, “What the devil was I thinking when I bought that shirt?”

Let’s admit what the advertising industry has known all along: Humans will follow trends even if it takes them over the edge of a cliff. Even the Russians know this. It’s why we have a buffoon in the White House.

This destructive tendency is even more acute now that we have the internet. Now we can have our misinformation more quickly and act upon it with even less thought. How lucky are we?

We need to teach ourselves and future generations to ask questions and check sources and listen to that little doubtful voice inside our heads. We need to value education and actually apply that learning to our daily lives. Otherwise we will plunge off that cliff to our urinal-caked doom.

Urinal Cake
Urinal Cake, anyone?

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On Being Off Grid

My laptop has been circling the drain for many months now. It was booting up at a snail’s pace, and then freezing up every minute or two, regardless of what software I happened to be using at the time. It was beyond frustrating. You’d think, living in the techno-savvy Seattle area, I’d have tons of friends who could help me with my dilemma, but noooo… As per usual, I was on my own.

I knew that when I started to seriously contemplate throwing the damned thing in the canal or using it as a very expensive door stop, something had to be done. But that would mean taking it into a shop. And that was akin to cutting off my oxygen supply.

You see, I don’t have a smart phone, or a tablet, or any other device that would keep me connected to the wider world. Without my laptop, I don’t even have any way to watch “TV”, because I left my TV on the curb out of utter frustration about 5 moves ago, and haven’t had one since. And I knew that the repair folks could potentially hold on to my electronic baby for a few days.

So, with a virtual tear in my eye, I abandoned my child with a total stranger. And then I got home and nearly panicked. What does one do without internet? I couldn’t respond to comments on my blog, or make snide remarks on Facebook. When a question popped into my head, I had no way to answer it.

My laptop is also my main source of entertainment. Fortunately, I had the foresight to go to the library and check out a book. And heaven knows that my new house is overflowing with home improvement projects just screaming my name.

So I took a nap.

And then I woke up. I was thinking of ordering pizza. But I had no way to get the number to the pizza place. I could starve to death without my laptop.

This was ridiculous. I managed to live half my life without internet. I didn’t know what I was missing. I got along just fine. But I had phone books and encyclopedias and maps. I’m convinced that if the grid went dark, a good portion of humanity would be rendered incapable of life itself. That’s rather sad, when you think about it.

One thing was certain: If I didn’t get off my butt and find something to do, I was going to freak myself out. So I started doing home improvement projects.

I cut and put up 7 shelves. I hung a cork board and a coat rack. I installed a doorbell. I cut dowels to put in my windows for added security. I put up my rain chain. I planted some concord grapes and some flowers.

And then the phone rang, and it was the repair guy saying that they had replaced my corrupted hard disc and removed an impressive amount of dog hair and dust from my fan, and I could come get my laptop.

So my baby is back in my loving arms, after serious surgery. Now all that’s left to do is reinstall all the software that I lost. And that sucks, because for the life of me, I can’t find my Microsoft Office product key and really, really, really don’t feel like paying 175 bucks to replace it.

Dependencies on top of dependencies…

But really, I did get a lot more done than usual, and I’d forgotten how much I miss reading actual books. Maybe I should have computer-free days every now and then. It would do me good.

Oh, who am I kidding?

pexels-photo-196655.jpeg

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Try Listening

I know a guy who talks so much that people actually scatter when they see him coming. He’s a nice guy. He means well. But he can suck, literally, hours out of your life as he holds forth on whatever he has chosen to blather on about on that particular day. And you’re expected to just stand there and say, “Uh huh.”

I doubt, even after all this time, that he knows much of anything about me. I can’t get a word in edgewise. And he doesn’t seem the least bit curious about anyone else. He never asks questions.

I think this is really sad. I personally would be bored silly if the only topic I was willing to discuss was me, me, me. I know me. I’ve done me. I’d much prefer to learn something new, or experience a unique perspective. This guy isn’t capable of that. His life seems very limited.

He also seems rather short-sighted. He doesn’t seem to notice people running away from him. I’ve seen people who have had to get rather rude to shut him up. One guy started his leaf blower right in the middle of a story. Mr. Talky-Pants didn’t even seem surprised or insulted. I bet things like that happen to him a lot. You’d think that someone who is that inwardly focused would be more aware of insults, but he lacks that quality.

When you are talking to someone, try listening as well. Every once in a while, check in with yourself and say, “Am I learning anything new?” If not, ask something. Show some interest in those around you. Keep doing that until it comes naturally to you. People will most likely be charmed by your sincere curiosity, even if it does take practice.

That, and knowledge is power.

A big rule of thumb is that if people are running from you, you are either too big of a proponent of open carry, or you most likely aren’t a pleasure to be around.

'Listen^_The_enemy_may_be_talking._Don't_talk^_The_enemy_may_be_listening.'_-_NARA_-_514901

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Yes, There ARE Stupid Questions

I have a friend who likes to say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” That always makes me cringe. I know what she’s trying to say. Don’t afraid to ask questions. It’s important to communicate. And I agree with that, wholeheartedly.

What I take issue with are those people who ask questions without thinking first. Some people have no filter whatsoever. It’s offensive.

For example, never ask a question you wouldn’t want someone to ask you. I once heard someone ask a transgender person, “So, do you have a dick?” I wanted to say, “Do YOU have one?” I mean, seriously, no one has ever thought it was appropriate to query me about my sexual anatomy, especially a total stranger in a public place. That simple courtesy should be extended to everyone.

Someone once asked me, “What is that THING on your face?” (Apparently I have a tiny patch of slightly darker skin. To be honest, I had never noticed until that point.) Thanks a lot.

Here are few questions one should ask oneself before opening one’s pie hole: Will the person’s response benefit me in any way? What purpose does this question serve?

Tact is a quality I value greatly. Tactful people are usually also discreet. And they generally have the ability to think of others as well as themselves. All of this falls within the realm of emotional intelligence. You might want to make sure you’re at least within shouting distance of that neighborhood before asking your question. Just sayin’.

question-mark

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You Learn Something New Every Day

Uh oh. Now I’ve done it. I’ve stumbled across a website that is sure to suck up huge chunks of my time. Because it’s fascinating. Zidbits.com is what I found when I Googled “I want to learn something new.”

The fact is, I always want to learn something new. And this site promises that you’ll learn something new every day. And with just one visit, I already have.

On my first encounter with this site, I came across articles that answer a whole host of questions it wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask.

Does a diamond really last forever?

Why didn’t the Europeans get wiped out by Native American diseases?

That red juice in your meat isn’t blood?

What is the hardest language to learn?

Do salt and fresh water drown you in different ways?

Can your hair turn white from fright?

That’s it. I’m officially doomed. I shall forever wander the zidbits website. But I’ll be learning all sorts of new stuff in the process. When all is said and done, that’s not such a bad way to go.

diamonds

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Silly Thoughts

Quite often I have too much time on my hands and my mind wanders. I never quite know where it will go. You might say I suffer from a preponderance of ponderings.

After a while I’ll wind up with so many unanswered questions rattling around in my brain that they cause me to lose sleep. What follows are three of my typical trains of thought that seem to have recently jumped the tracks.

  • Who was the first person who thought it would be a good idea to put a tiny little umbrella in a cocktail? Why? Did they want to keep the ice cubes cool? Why did they think this would be more attractive than, say, a flower? There must be companies out there that do nothing but make little tiny umbrellas all day. Do they have a special holiday for the inventor of this frivolity? Is his or her picture on their factory wall? How many acres of rain forest have been destroyed so we can have tiny little umbrellas?
  • On several occasions I’ve read mystery novels or seen movies in which the detectives notice that there’s a knife absent from the victim’s knife block, so surely that must be the missing murder weapon. If that’s the case, if a detective ever visits me, he’s going to think there’s been a massacre. My knife block has several empty slots, which I’ve filled with knives from other incomplete sets. Am I the only one who has a knife block deficit? What do other people do, throw out the whole set when one knife goes missing? Wouldn’t that provide the general populous with even more murder weapons?
  • The other day I was packing my suitcase and it occurred to me that suitcases must have originally been cases for suits. I can only think of one occasion in which I’ve packed a suit in a suitcase. I suppose people must still do so when they are going on business trips, but thank God the concept of formal wear in office environments seems to be slowly going the way of the dodo bird. As I stuff my sweat pants and jeans and t-shirts into my suitcase, I get a little thrill that I’m misusing this handy device, and I’m thanking my lucky stars that I don’t need hat boxes, and will never have to worry about gloves, high heels, panty hose, and corsets.

Now, get out of my head. It’s already crowded enough. Here. Have a cocktail.

[Image credit: myrtlebeachholidayinn.com]
[Image credit: myrtlebeachholidayinn.com]