The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma

This weekend we finished watching the Netflix original: Social Dilemma. Oof. It was powerful. I find its argument compelling and extremely cautionary, however I wonder if all people would derive value from it. I’m curious if those deepest within their own echo chamber, after watching it, would throw their fists in the air and shout unironically at those that oppose their views “see! wake up sheeple! Everyone ELSE needs to pay attention to this” Are any of us even remotely aware of the bubbles we live in?

I’d like to think I am. But I bet everyone thinks that.

In response to watching it, I deleted my Facebook account and downloaded a chrome extension that removes YouTube recommendations. I’m happy with these adjustments. But my biggest weakness is Reddit and Google news. These are my primary news sources. How do I clean this up?

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to get bland, boring, unbiased, news? Honestly, a newspaper would probably be smarter – but the convenience of digital media is that it’s free, quick, and easy. Three things that old fashion media is not. I frequent which I feel confident in, but that’s mostly politics and sports. Where do I find out basic life stuff and socially relevant content? Vaccine updates, social concerns, pop news? I think this is still relevant, but how can someone remove the manipulation from news sources?

I’m mostly stumped on this. Recommendations welcome.

Sleep Update

Sleep Update

On May 5th, I had my first sleep consultation with the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi) experts at Yale. Over the following 8 weeks or so, I met with them weekly to go over various strategies to improve my sleep. It’s now about 5 months later so let’s look at the data.

DISCLAIMER: I’m using fitbit data which is generally frowned upon by experts for being far too unscientific. To that I say Whatever. I think it still tells a story.

Before CBTi
Jan 1 – May 5: Average hours asleep = 6.1

During CBTi
May 5 – July 7: Average hours asleep = 6.4

After CBTi
July 7 – Oct 7: Average hours asleep = 6.7 (woo!)

Let’s take a look at the charts for the before and after:

What have I noticed? Perhaps even more significant than the general increase in my average sleep is the fact that my nights with horrific sleep are virtually gone. Those are the nights where I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. You can see them as the big white gaps in my first set of data. I used to be nervous when it was time to go to bed. I would anxiously wonder if it was going to be a terrible night again; but that’s all gone. These days I go to bed every night and fall asleep within 10 minutes or so. Most nights I do wake up, but I calmly go back to sleep without an issue and then I wake up with my alarm or just prior. I have found that I’ve been waking up before my alarm more often than I’d like, but I’m not really worried about that sort of thing.

I still have bad night’s sleep once in awhile, though now it’s usually due to an extrinsic event. My work phone rings or I have a looming deadline or presentation that is making me nervous. But these can be easily explained and dealt with.

I’m really happy I finally pulled the trigger and sought help with my sleeping. It’s made a huge difference.



I didn’t start appreciating quality writing until well after the conclusion of my formal education. I met most of my required reading through school with zero enthusiasm. Someone could put exquisitely creative language in front of me and I would respond with little more than recognition of its existence. Typically, if there was any interest at all, it was centered around the plot – and even my plot awareness was shallow. I remember thinking that the Great Gatsby was a fun book about a really happy guy who liked parties.

I’m not sure when this changed, but my current respect for language couldn’t be more opposite from what it once was. I am extremely envious of those skilled persons who can craft the perfect combination of words to perfectly describe anything: emotion, experience, action, inaction.

Recently, I was exposed to David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” commencement speech. Shortly thereafter I came across this Rolling Stones article telling of his life and last days. It talks about the origin of some of his brilliant phrasing skills. The Rolling Stones article linked me to his Cruise Ship Piece which communicates so cleanly David Foster Wallace’s absolutely refreshing perspective. And this article is just that: An article! I have to try my hand at Wallace’s books. I can only imagine the vibrancy captured in their pages.

I know there’s more amazing word craft out there. I need to find more time to read beautiful language. It inspires.

The Fast and the Laborious

The Fast and the Laborious

Timeline of my second 70 hour fast attempt:

Wednesday 8/5/2020
8:30pm: Dinner ended around 6:30, but my last food occured at 8:30pm: One serving of almonds as dessert. Let’s get this party started.

Thursday 8/6/2020
7:00am: Breakfast? Nah. No need. Had some water. Feeling good.

11:21am: My first twang of hunger has come across not as a growling stomach or as an ache for food but instead as a quiet thought of “oooh, it’s almost lunch time.”

1:45pm: I smell some coffee. It smells delicious

2:41pm: My second twang of hunger. I’d enjoy a snack. This urge will pass.

4:30pm: I feel a little weak. Not, like, crazy weak just mildly fatigued. If you outta nowhere invited me to attend a Crossfit class I’d probably opt out.

6:30pm: My stomach growls for the first time but I’m still feeling pretty good.

9:00pm: bedtime.

Friday 8/7/2020
2:45am: I fell asleep without any issues, but here I am now awake. This poor quality sleep is very similar to last time and is expected. If I can make it through today I’m curious if tonight will be just as bad (or worse) or if I’ll get some quality back as a recovery night.

7:00am: I didn’t get back to sleep, but my morning is going better than last time. My meditation session was okay. I opted for some small body weight exercise instead of attempting weights. We’ll see how the morning goes.

8:27am: I did better at reducing caffeine before this fast. I started 3 days prior and reduced it as follows: Sunday: 2oz espresso (my normal dose), Monday: 1oz espresso, Tuesday: .5oz espresso, Wednesday .25oz espresso. The had an afternoon of irritation Monday but otherwise was okay. Next time I’ll add an extra day at 1.5oz. No caffeine headaches at all this time around.

10:00am: I’m feeling good! But I think mentally I might be operating a few sandwiches short of a picnic, if you know what I’m saying. I’m sure it’s not coincidence that the first analogy that popped to mind was a food one.

1:30pm: Feeling a little lightheaded when I stand up after sitting for awhile. Bizarrely, I’m not hungry. The idea of food appeals to me greatly, but I’m not hangry. This is surprising to me.

6:00pm: I just had a pang of hunger, but I wonder if it was habit driven again. It passed. Anytime I feel hungry I push some water. I’m drinking about 100oz of water a day. Occasionally I’ll add a pinch of salt to the water to help my electrolytes, though this is anecdotal and highly unscientific.

Saturday 8/8/20
6:45am: Another bad night of sleep. After a fitful night, I ended up waking up at 5, but I fell back asleep for a few minutes before waking up again at 6:15. I am extremely confident that I will make it through the day. Other than the tiredness, I feel totally fine.

10:45am: We completed a hike. Me carrying Ava in a backpack. Other than maybe a general slowness of operation, I feel completely normal. This is great.

12:30pm: After thinking this over a bit, I think I’m going to stop my fast at 68 hours. Coming back into a state of sustenance is suppose to be slow elongated process. I want to start back in with hourly eating. Waiting too late will limit the number of small eating events before bed.

1:45pm: I’m definitely irritable. My patience is limited and I’m finding myself mildly lashing out at minor infractions. Nothing crazy, but it’s noticeable. 4:30pm is right around the corner. I look at my watch every 15 minutes.

4:30pm: I did it! I did it! Woooooooo! Time to celebrate with some delicious bone broth and a serving of almonds! We’re also are making pizza tonight. I’ll have a tiny piece of pizza at 5:30. Then an egg. Then some blueberries.

5:45pm: Okay. The pizza was a terrible idea – kind of. It was the most delicious pizza I’ve ever made (and not just because of the fast! I’ve been experimenting with my grilled pizza technique and I think I’ve greatly improved the quality). The size slice I had was smaller than a deck of cards but DANG. It feels like a bowling ball in my stomach. As I looked into this more it seems complex carbs are a bad idea after an extended fast. Next time it’s not just going to be the size of meal that I control after a fast but the type of food. I’ll keep it to veggies, proteins, and simple grains.

10:30pm: I opted to stay up later tonight to try and increase my sleep pressure to get a better quality sleep.

Sunday 8/9/20
5:40am: Okay, that didn’t work. My sleep was horrendous. I was hot and uncomfortable. I wonder if this relates to the pizza.

General Sunday update: Felt good for most of the day. Had some stomach discomfort, but kept things simple and light for the most part. My dinner Sunday night was TOO big. I find it interesting that I had an easier time controlling the fast than I did controlling the reintroduction of food. I’m very confident that I could do this better.

Monday 8/10/20
General Monday update: Another HORRIFIC sleep. This time I woke up sweating with panic. I don’t know if it related to my overly large dinner last night (comparatively) or some other external factor. But… no bueno. Again, I must reiterate: I need a stronger discipline in my eating ramp next time around.

Curiously: I had a much more significant weight loss than I expected. I am already quite lean and I expected maybe a 2-3 pound dip. At the start I was 132.5lbs and at my conclusion I was 127. That’s 5.5 pounds: Geeeeeze. Also curiously, this low point was the day AFTER my fast conclusion. I can’t explain this. Perhaps it was because even with some food introduction I was still in a calorically reduced state.

Tuesday 8/11/20
FINALLY: a great night of sleep. As of Tuesday morning I came back up to 129.5lbs. Presumably some of my weight loss was nothing more than a lack of food going through the digestive system but it’s interesting nonetheless. I’m not trying to lose weight, in fact I’m trying to gain weight. I’m curious to see how quickly I can get back to my previous weight. In order to grow mass I need to push consumption.

So far, Tuesday has felt completely normal. That means I need to plan for two FULL days of recovery time for a three day fast. Interesting. Next month we try again!