Saturday, August 25, 2012

Caffeine Cutback

Long time, no see.

Travis Bradberry published an article for Forbes the other day about caffeine's effects on both the body and a person's emotional state.  It raised two points that made me sit up and take notice.  The first dealt with caffeine and adrenaline; the second, with caffeine and sleep.  Since I experience issues with both of those things from time to time, I decided to cut my daily caffeine intake.

The Forbes article mentions the fact that drinking caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline in the body.  The adrenaline elevates the body to at least a partial "fight or flight" state, increasing energy and blood pressure, letting emotions run wild as chemicals bypass the brain's "wet blanket" of thought and reason.

I love this state.

For a long time now, I've known how to trigger a sizable surge of adrenaline in my body.  I adore the heightened, explosive, happy, angry, destructive, devil-may-care feeling it provides.  It's something of a Berserker state, and it feels amazing.

At various points in the past year and a half, however, I found that I couldn't tap that Berserker adrenaline.  No matter how hard I tried, no matter what methods I used, the adrenaline I needed wouldn't come.  The realization that I lost an ability, combined with the lack of the regular emotional flushing provided by a good rage, left me as close to depressed as I ever become.

Bradberry's article made me think about the problem in a new light.  The body develops a tolerance to almost any chemical after prolonged, regular exposure.  With the amount of caffeine I drink, it seems reasonable that my body was developing a tolerance to both caffeine and adrenaline.  The first isn't that troubling as regards this problem; if my body produces less adrenaline in response to the same amount of caffeine, it reduces the chance of adrenaline tolerance somewhat.  However, I'm sure there is still some production, some adrenaline release, and a growing tolerance due to the regular presence of adrenaline in my system.

Wouldn't that make it harder to get to Berserker state?  It's likely that all the old methods are still trying to produce adrenaline to flood my system.  Unfortunately, they're probably tapping a reservoir that is nearly dry from a day's constant use.  On top of that, the "cup" that must be filled gets larger and larger as my tolerance grows, and can hardly be filled by the trickle available.

Seems a decent reason to cut back on the caffeine, no?

Bradberry's article also points out that caffeine drastically influences sleep, especially when combined with its trigger of adrenaline.  He points out that the amount of time caffeine remains in the body, working its "magic", is fairly long.  An average cup of coffee in the morning leaves a quarter of its caffeine in the body twelve hours later, which he notes leaves any caffeine ingested after noon in a prime position to still be affecting the drinker at bedtime.  The body has trouble sleeping, can't progress as easily through the necessary sleep cycles.  Through the magic of science, "[c]affeine and lack of sleep leave you feeling tired in the afternoon, so you drink more caffeine, which leaves even more of it in your bloodstream at bedtime".

My problem here is that I don't just get tired in the afternoon.  I get bone-weary, thought-addled, lie-down-right-now-and-sleep-for-two-hours-or-else TIRED.  I hit the bed almost every afternoon around 15:30 or 16:00 and usually make my way through a 90-minute sleep cycle.  It's frustrating, especially when I usually don't wake until 10:30 most mornings.  I'm only awake an average of five hours before my body needs an extra sleep cycle, and up to now, there hasn't seemed much I could do about it.  Regular exercise and increased nighttime sleep didn't do anything to blunt the force of the Nap Hammer when it gave me my afternoon bludgeoning.  Now I have something else to try, with a decent causal relationship behind it and a genuine hope it might prove effective.

This will be a fairly large change for me.  I drink a lot of soda.  It's about the only sugar I regularly consume (since I naturally prefer low-carb foods and simply abhor most desserts).  I don't mind other sugary drinks, like fruit juices or Kool-Aid.  With three kids in the house, however, sugary drinks don't last long.  I bought two types of cranberry juice yesterday (Friday) afternoon, totaling four quarts; I'll be surprised if either bottle lasts until Sunday afternoon.  As such, I decided to make a serious attempt to cut my intake of sugary drinks, too.  It should prevent me from worrying so much about the costs and availability of caffeine alternatives.  (It should also be healthier, but when the need for a daily nap is the only indicator that I'm not hale and hearty, health isn't much of a concern.)

So, the plan involves a dedication to consuming only one or two caffeinated beverages a day, and doing my damnedest to avoid sugar water the rest of the time.  (Oh, and remembering to drink enough that I don't become dehydrated from not constantly guzzling soda.)  I hope the results come quickly enough to reward and strengthen my resolve.   Soda is ever-present, after all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

DWI No Refusal Weekend: An Explanation.

I was curious what the "No Refusal Weekend" mentioned on local highway signs meant, so I investigated. Here's my understanding of the process.

While DWI suspects still have the right to refuse to give a chemical sample, the police and DA can ask for a warrant to collect a chemical sample (usually a blood draw) from a DWI suspect. This involves drafting a warrant and getting both the prosecutor and a judge to sign off, and is usually a time-consuming process. As we all know, the faster one gets a chemical sample on a DWI case, the better; with time, the body continues to process alcohol and it leaves the blood stream. I imagine this usually makes the submission and issuing of warrants a rarity.

On "No Refusal Weekend[s]", county judges, prosecutors, and police work to temporarily streamline the process. A warrant template is drafted. A judge and a prosecutor are readily available to submit and issue the warrants, and paid nurses are on-hand to perform blood draws from suspects. The DWI suspect can still refuse to volunteer a chemical sample, but the police are empowered to procure a sample without consent in a quick enough time frame for the sample to be worthwhile evidence. In past weekends, the entire process was videotaped to help ensure the suspects' rights were protected.

I know I was initially confused by the name of the program. I hope you find this explanation helpful.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hello Oblivion: Surgeon General's Warming

click for full picture

Fucking Blogger.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tortilla Soup

You'll like this.
  • 6 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 can corn/1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • tortilla chips
  1. Chop/slice vegetables (obviously); crush garlic into pot.
  2. Cook down onion, garlic, spices in oil in large pot.
  3. Add broth, tomatoes, beans. Boil.
  4. Add celery, carrots, corn; simmer ~30 minutes.
  5. Serve soup over tortilla chips.


Monday, December 27, 2010

The Holiday Recap.

Recap: I didn't see my extended family this season, but stayed home with my own little family that I love.  Google sent me a Cr-48 notebook.  I'm seeing an amazing new woman and feeling very close to V.; they both make me smile on a regular basis.  I'm quite happy lately, and I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Selected Text Messages.

A: Goddammit my typos ruin my cute texts
Me: Ruin? Does someone need something ruined?
A: Then put back together and then ruined again.
Me: Yes ma'am. :9

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TSA "Opt-Out" Day.

Now that the idea of an "Opt-Out" Day has penetrated the public consciousness, there are a growing number of counter-protest news pieces.  One suggests that you should go about your business, citizen, because you're not being kind to the TSA agents who don't enjoy handling your junk.  Another suggests the protest will be ineffective, likening it to former "mass protests" that didn't work due to poor planning and general disinterest.  These pieces are finding a foothold with some of the populace.  For every five individuals who speak out in favor of the protests, there seem to be at least three who decry it, who want everyone to simply "shut it" and go along.

"Don't bother to show your disapproval, citizen: we don't care and you'll only make yourself look like a jackass," these articles effectively state.  That's not really true.  TSA agents may not care if you make your flight, but they really don't want to handle that many thighs and genitals.  Your fellow passengers may think you're being ridiculous, but they will quietly note the number of "idiots" making the effort.  It will be an obvious protest by the citizenry AND likely generate a susurration in the ranks of the workers.

Sending a letter to someone in Congress results in a return form letter three months later.  Inconveniencing yourself and the TSA workers generates a lot of quiet and not-so-quiet frustration.

The number of people trying to stop a simple protest in favor of OUR REGAINING CIVIL LIBERTIES really fucks with my head.  It's an outcry in favor of intrusion because the intrusion is convenient.  Illegal wiretaps?  Convenient: no need to bother a judge, no risk of an alleged criminal getting wind & disappearing.  Full-body x-ray scanning?  Convenient: step in a box, let someone look at an image of you nude1, move along.  "Thet's all background stuff.  I'll never know it if they monitor my location via GPS or rifle through my luggage and find my vibrator.  JUST DON'T MAKE ME LATE FOR MAH PLAAAAAANE!!"

The biggest issue I see with this protest is one that, sadly, DOES make me think the whole thing is a bit ill-conceived: it's not likely to inconvenience one's fellow passengers.  They have the simple option of stepping in the radiation box, waiting a moment or two, then heading to their gate.  That's also the biggest reason why, if you think this whole thing is pointless, you should simply shrug and let it go.  If you don't want to be late, go through the scanners.  If you don't care about the protest, don't participate.  Just, for fuck's sake, don't try to stand in the way of others by saying "That's dumb.  Look at that.  Think that'll work?  Guh, that's dumb.  You're so dumb."  The protestors are trying to gain redress for what they consider a legitimate grievance.  Note it, turn away, and go about your business as the TSA wants.

1 I know there are two camps regarding the fidelity of backscatter-generated images.  Some of the "genuine" pictures they're supposed to create are blotchy, blocky monstrosities that only vaguely seem like human forms.  My question: if those are the actual images, how is an agent supposed to notice some sort of foreign object?