Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, April 11, 2003

 

Rain - knock me out please!


Let me add rain to that envonmental noise problem - I can't sleep through it, either. The randomness of raindrops on the roof is like trying to grok Chaos theory while your mind wants to shut off. Natural rain, the kind of rain you hear outdoors, camping, is great, but the roof clunks between raindrops in a pattern my mind tries frantically to understand. In college I used noise masking to try and drown out the noise of living on the dorm... I had a bunch of environmental records, my favorite was of a thunderstorm that I played often... a natural thunderstorm, recorded outdoors. My roomate and I would get into a gradually escalating war with our neighbors trying to drown each other out, until one day someone banged on his ceiling with a broom and shouted:

Can you turn that thunderstorm down?


For the past two weeks I've been able to get snatches of sleep, 3-4 hours each time, here and there. Every time I do manage to get to sleep on the cpap machine, I wake up feeling pretty good. I'm not tired, I don't need coffee to function. But most of the time I just lie there for hours listening to the machine - it has a high pitch when breathing in, and a lower pitch when breathing out. I've tried - heavy exercise, warm milk, chamomile tea, meletonin, and night time sinutab. Nothing works, especially when it's raining. I think I'm ready to consider modern medicine for a change. Give me an Ambian, doc, pleeeease.

I'd like to configure something like webvan to drop off a supply triggered off whenever weather.com indicates a bad spell ahead. I figure the technology could be configured to deliver things like prozac to the houses of people that need them. I keep imagining some sort of autodoc-like dispenser - every morning, based on your workload, weather pattern, traces of chemicals in your blood, and the political situation, it would create a custom pill to help you face the day.

Now, I'm strongly of the behavioral modification school, there are many things that I can do, to improve my sleep and mood through behavior, like diet and exercise and jedi mind tricks like Uncle Bill's Helicopter. None of this compensates for - we were meant to swing from trees instead of being tied to computers or commuting. No matter what I do or don't do, waking up exausted is no way to start the day. I'm beat today. It's been raining for three days. Ambian, yea, that's the ticket. Maybe.

A step back in time for a bandwidth junkie


My friend greg just got off his boat, got here, built a cable for the cisco 2500 that worked the first time (miraculous!), and got my ISDN connection to the net working. I've had ISDN installed for 3 months now and "It still did nothing". I was a big proponent of ISDN back in 1995, as the pure digital 64kbit. connection was ideal for interactive use (like ssh), and a dramatic improvement over modems. I built out my ISP's network using pure digital lines. Nobody but us techies wanted it, or understood it ("Would we discount an ISD line for this customer?"), or wanted to pay for it. Now, with the advent of DSL and cable, ISDN's irrelevant in all but the most remote areas of the country. But man, after living with a T3, downgrading to 1.5Mbit wireless 5 years ago, going down, ultimately to a 24k modem when I first moved deep into the woods in september... going back up to ISDN is like getting a hit of oxygen. I feel potentially 6x more productive.

But if I want to download redhat 9, I'd better head towards a local cybercafe to get it done in a couple hours, rather than days.

Fandom Stuff


The hacker's diet is pretty good. I've been trying to follow the Zone/Atkins diet for a few weeks, and have dropped a few pounds - This diet is analytical, and appeals to the engineer in me - there's spreadsheets with charts and graphs, and best of all, the charts in the back actually give you calorie counts for stuff engineers actually eat - mcgreasies, candy, donuts and so on, unlike every other diet book I've ever read. The author, John Walker, made a pile off of dough off of autodesk, and was at the same stage of life as I am now. He looked around, and asked "Why am I so sick and unhappy?" -and learned to control his diet analytically, dropped 60 lbs, and kept it off, and got happy. "Engineer, fix thyself!" Best of all, he published how he did it on the web. Thanks, dude. I'll try it. Share some of that stock with me, though, please? I've been through 11 startups and got nothing except heartache, overwork, and lbs from them. It's hard to focus on fixing yourself when you got to work 60 hrs weeks just to keep the lights on, the internet up, and the mortgage paid, track the war, blog about bad stuff like the super dmca bills entering the state houses everywhere, etc., etc..

A bunch of people have written me about my piece on technological environmental noise - one linked it to potential asbergers syndrome, and Chipper called in this morning - motobob is doing him some good... and "That lead poisoning analogy might be prophetic. We've been raising the noise floor of our society to where subtleties get lost. People do not just communicate verbally - as we get overwhelmed with things, the core ability to communicate what we really mean is lost, drowned out by reverbrating undigested images of the television."

I envision a horror movie: set in some future archeological dig of a post-apolocolyptic society - a fully functioning, still powered up 2003 home, with 1600 hours worth of tivo television in it - and all the other noise sources, heater, fridge, light bulbs, chimes, doorbells, flyback transformers... All the people working on the dig gradually go insane and start killing each other in weird ways until the pit is filled with concrete to keep the evil out... and then of course, there's the inevitable sequels. Somebody call Hollywood, this could be bigger than Blair Witch!!

I also keep thinking of a Kurt Vonnegut story - where everyone is made equal by the state. If you are physically fit, you wear weights. Pretty? a disfiguring mask. Intelligent? Headphones blasting random sounds. There is no escape from mediocrity. The police gun you down if you try.

Michael
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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