Tag: xkcd

Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life…

"It's a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it's light out."
                                                    -Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Normally, I'm an extremely deep sleeper.  I can (and have) slept through babies crying, toddlers screaming, and even freight trains rumbling past a window while their conductors blew their 100+ decibel horns.  I have to temper this deep sleep activity somewhat when my wife needs me to help in the middle of the night, but given no extenuating circumstances, I sleep like [a log / the dead / insert other inanimate object here].

I've also always been a long sleeper.  Six hours a night will just get me sick if I keep it up longer than a couple days.  Eight is about the minimum I need to stay healthy, but I've been known to sleep 10 or 12 hours at a stretch with no effort.  Combine this with my night-owl personality and you've got a recipe for disaster (or at least missed appointments) if I'm not careful.

Here's an xkcd comic that brought back some fond memories from college:

No, I was never crazy enough to try this kind of schedule.  But probably only because it hadn't been posted to the internet yet.  No, what I did was in some ways better, and in some ways far worse.  I adopted a 36-hour awake, 12-hour asleep schedule.

There were some extenuating circumstances behind this decision – this was my 4th year at UVA, and in addition to classes, I was DJing at the local radio station AND had started working for Gumby's Pizza as a delivery-guy.  A standard shift at Gumby's was 4 PM to about midnight, or 6 PM to 2 AM.  Of course the newly trained DJs at the station usually got the "extra fun" shifts of 2 AM to 6 AM.  So really, what was I supposed to do?  I wasn't about to quit spinning discs or running pies, so I worked out a way to do both…by staying awake.

Once I got the details worked out, my typical weekly schedule looked something like this:

As you can see, I'd normally wake up around 2 or 3 PM, go deliver pizzas until about 2 AM, and them come back to my place to do homework, watch movies, do laundry, or just generally futz around until the sun came back up.  Then I'd head off to classes for the day, work on some homework, and then go take on another delivery shift.  As soon as it finished up, I'd come home and crash from about 2 AM until 2 PM the next afternoon.  Depending on my schedule, I might repeat the cycle, or fit in a shift at the radio station here or there as needed.  As time went on, I was able to take on some of the 4-6 PM or 6-8 PM radio shifts and might forego the second delivery shift in my 36 hour day in lieu of some extra time spent on my engineering courses.

Surprisingly, this whole bizarre sleep schedule went pretty well, overall.  I had a roommate, but I told him not to worry about making noise in the room while I was sleeping, as I knew it wouldn't bother me.  I also tried to take care to not wake him up if I came back and was killing time until classes; I spent a lot of hours working in the computer lab, even though I had a perfectly good computer sitting on my desk.  Really, there was only one drawback to this schedule – one I'm sure the more astute reader may already have noticed – my 12 hour sleep period, running from 2 AM to 2 PM, meant that I slept through part of the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This in itself would not have been a problem, if not for the fact that I was still enrolled in college and had a class scheduled during that time!

It wasn't an important class, of course, or I probably would never have been able to keep up this schedule.  If I recall correctly, it was an Astronomy class – either 101 or 102.  From 8:30-10:00, twice a week, a class of around 150 students sat in a big lecture hall and took down notes from a blackboard they could barely see, rehashing material already found in their textbook.  I think this was the only elective I was able to take that 4th year, and I milked it for all it was worth.  Since nobody ever took attendance, I figured all I had to do was read the textbook, participate in the 3 mandatory lab sessions spread through the semester, and take the midterm and final to make a decent passing grade.

One morning I got home around 2:30 AM and said to myself, "Hrm, I know the midterm is coming up soon.  I wonder which day next week it is, and whether I should go to class today to see if they're doing a pre-midterm study session or anything."  I pulled out the class syllabus and noticed, to my surprise, that the midterm was scheduled for that very same morning!  I spent the next 4 hours gulping down a pot of coffee and cramming from the textbook.  I went into the midterm a little jittery, but received my test back the next class period with a big red "93%" scrawled across the front page of the exam.

I think that scare was my wake-up call (pun totally intended) that I couldn't keep up this schedule forever due to the unflexible aspects of my life.  I did maintain it up through most of the remainder of the semester, however, and then went back to a regular 16-hour awake, 8-hour asleep schedule after I graduated.  I knew the job I was starting in August wouldn't let me be that flexible, so I adapted my body back into the "regular" sleep schedule that I've pretty much had to keep up through to present day.

Nowadays, with a three-year-old and an 11-month-old in the house, neither my wife or myself gets enough sleep on a regular basis.  I expect this will continue through until the kids leave the house for college (although later on, I suspect we'll be losing sleep worrying over what they're up to).  That's ok with me, though.  Once you've mastered the 36-hour-awake day, going a little short on bunk-time seems like child's play.

[NaBloPoMo 2008 – #6 / 30]

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Facebook – Stalking For Dummies, or a Match Made in Heaven?

If you didn't catch the genius that is xkcd in my last webcomic repost about Fixed Width, maybe you'll savor the wit Randall Munroe can muster about Facebook:

Seriously, if you enjoyed this comic or the previous one I posted, check out xkcd on your own.  You (probably) won't be sorry.

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Fixed Width

From xkcd: I am so geeky that I could see myself responding this way.  This comic is just genius.  If you're not reading it, you should be.

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