Category Archives: better thinking

Attention is everything. Onward and upward!

big_brawl

The Big Fight

I feel like September's adaptation is shaping up to become a biiiiiig fight.  And maybe not one I can win!  Look at these "gotchas" that might interfere with my own adaptation:

  • unexpectedly (I just found out), I'm moving to a new apartment on or about September 1st
  • I have an irritatingly slow-to-heal sports injury I've been dealing with for a while, which I knew about and figured wouldn't be a big deal, but the recent intense acupuncture treatments (which are really working, yay) totally wipe me out.  After the last one I slept 7 hours on a day when I'd had two naps!
  • September might be my only chance to go freediving this year, so I was hoping to plan a weekend trip involving lots of gear and deep water…but that would be um, mid-adaptation…
  • ALSO, SEE: MOVING right when the whole thing's supposed to be starting!  The apartment is nice, but I'll have roommates, and their flexibility and tolerance for my being up / noisy is still an unknown.

So yeah, big fight.  Not that there's ever a perfect time, and nothing about this is really a deal-breaker yet; just a bit daunting.  Nonetheless, no sense dwelling on it; intstead, I figured it warranted discussion of one of my favorite movies of all time.

It's from 1980, though I probably didn't see it for the first time when I was two.  (Who knows, though.)  My dad had Enter the Dragon and used to put it on all the time, but I, at whatever very young age I was, couldn't really get behind the screechy guy who was funny without really being funny (this is how Bruce Lee looks when you're single-digit years old), so one day he put on something else.  The (VHS) case it was in said The Big Fight, though everywhere I've seen it since it's been called The Big Brawl or Battle Creek Brawl.  It was not, let's say, a commercial success.

It's very silly, very dated, and has many flaws.  But for all that, it may be the perfect kungfu movie.  Partly becuase it's silly enough to not let you take it seriously, but (unlike other gems like Kung Fu Panda or Shaolin Soccer) not silly enough to be only secondarily about kungfu.  The plot is classic, but well-paced; and the characters are stereotypical, but really well-executed.  And it's got everything you might want:

  • young Jackie Chan in sweater-vests and jaunty hats
  • inventive, no-special-effects fight-scenes with tons of humor, crazy props, and who-sat-down-and-thought-this-up stunts (including one of the first, I think, of Jackie Chan's "accidental fight" scenes)
  • the rollerskate race from hell:  makes underwater hockey look like a tame sport!
  • hilarious stereotypes, but not too many of them
  • awkward cultural and sexism stuff, but not too much of it
  • excellent old-school catchy whistled tune
  • a badass traditional Chinese uncle / Sifu / trainer who mercilessly beats his student into shape, like Mr. Myogi but cooler (trust me)
  • a surprising amount of sex — PG-rated, but a lot of getting laid goes on in this movie, and it's handled with fun and humor and hell-yeah without ever being squicky (or even really romantic, since "the girl" in this movie is the main character's established girlfriend, so they're like, obviously doing it and loving it whenever they can, but not "falling in love," which I find refreshing).  

In short, if you haven't seen this movie I've been watching for a score of years and still dig, go do it!  (At the moment, you can even watch it on YouTube. :D)

And if you think you can help with my own Big Fight in September, stepping up would be welcome!  I've barely started and already I feel behind.  :-\  …But that's another challenge I guess; August for me is going to be CRAZY, and I've just given up even trying to worry about my sleep then, figuring I'll focus on improving my diet (which has kind of sucked lately) and healing my foot, alongside the usual.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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More Details on the upcoming Group Adjustment (you have until 8/1 to sign up!)

Hey world! I've been meaning to get more of these details out to everyone, but signing up more than 20 people so far has meant a lot of conversing! :D

Behold, information:

The start date is about 85% set for the first week of September.  So far this is amenable to everyone, and I want to be finished with my transitioning before it gets cold out at night.  

There is still time to sign up if you're interested in being part of this group adaptation — but not much!  See below for more on what it means to be involved.

The schedule I'm adapting to (first) is a variant of Everyman 1.5 (E1.5), which usually involves a 90-minute core nap and four or five naps (depending on your sleep need).  I've done E1.5 with four naps for a day or two at a time before, but it's never been my main schedule.  Now I hope to use it as the basis of a schedule with less total sleep-time than Everyman 3, but which can still be used with an inflexible 8-hour workday.  If it works, I'm going to push farther and see if it can be used as the basis for a work-friendly full-on Uberman schedule.

(Good question:  Why not just stick with Everyman 3, which I know works for me and fits around my job?  Two reasons:  One, E3 is a tad *too* flexible; especially since I'm now so used to swapping 3, 4.5 and 6-hour cores, it's too easy for me to not get my naps when it's inconvenient.  Two, I've been hearing about jobs and polyphasic sleep so much for so long, and specifically how those of us who love Uberman wish we could have it back even though we need to work; I feel like I should give it a serious shot.)

Everyman Cake (E1.5C)

A quasi-polyphasic (in Stampi's terminology) schedule involving one 90-minute nap and four (optionally five) 20-minute naps per 24 hours, for a total of 2.75 (or 3.25) hours of sleep per 24.  This variant involves naps that are deliberately unequally-spaced from each other, widened apart over the sleeper's work-schedule to allow for six (or possibly more?) consecutive hours awake.  For the experiment to proof-of-concept this schedule, I'm also putting in one flexible nap, which is typically tolerated by E1.5.  (Note:  Many people swear that Uberman can tolerate a flexible nap too, once one is thoroughly adjusted to it.  I've never tried that, but maybe I will later on in this experiment, with Salaryman.)

I called it Everyman Cake because:

  • it's a blatant attempt to "have your cake and eat it too":  One of the biggest, and perhaps defining, benefits of monophasic sleep is the ability to stay awake for so many hours straight — smart people have theorized that it's why we developed mono sleep in the first place, and may even be the whole explanation for why we do monophasic sleep but the vast majority of other animals don't.  (Most animals are polyphasic, as are people when we're born.)  When you're polyphasic you have to sleep more often — that's kind of the point, and it's also the price to getting the benefits of repeated rest-activity cycles per day…
  • …but maybe if we're cagey about how we "slice the cake," i.e. if we make our bigger chunks happen at times when our energy is highest, taking advantage of the circadian rhythm's effect on the ultradian one(s) as well as the usual vice-versa, we can manage a schedule that has the benefits of polyphasic sleep (reduced overall sleep, excellent energy-levels, etc) but still keeps monophasic's I-can-stay-awake-a-while benefit.
  • also I am wishfully thinking that maybe it'll be a piece of cake, because I need that kind of psyching-up right now; and perhaps also I have this weird relationship to cake since I developed a wheat allergy.  Or the band is nifty.  I dunno; for some reason I like the word.  As you probably know by now, this is largely how I name things.  ;)

Here's what the Cake schedule I've roughed up looks like:

naptime time  since previous nap
02:30 – 04:00 3.5 hours
07:00 3 hours
13:00 5 hours
07:00 5-7 hours*
23:00 2-4 hours

The *flexible nap in the evening is typically where my rest/activity rhythm is the most "unstable", or likely to be different by an hour or more every day; and it's also in a part of the day when I've often scheduled something I don't want to miss but that means a challenging nap.  There are plenty of things I can do to address the reasons that nap is challenging, though — we'll discuss them in the group.  You can see that the naps during the day, specifically during my high-energy hours in the late morning and early evening, are farther apart by quite a bit (and one is flexible, because as a schedule with a core this should buy us a flexible nap, and most work-schedules need one).  Keep in mind that I know my daily energy/activity rhythms very well and that's how I built this schedule.  I'm happy to help other group-members come up with a schedule that matches theirs, if that's useful.

If E1.5C works, I plan to (once I'm nice and adjusted) try replacing the core with two naps, thus hopefully winding up with a version of Uberman (pure polyphasic) that fits around an 8-hour job — kind of a holy grail for me!  I'm calling that schedule Salaryman, because I am incorrigible sometimes.

So let's talk more about what being in this Adjustment / Experiment group means:

You do NOT have to be transitioning to E1.5C, or Salaryman, to join up.  You are totally welcome to help me test these schedules (if you have experience being polyphasic, since I really think new polyphasers should start with known schedules — we aren't positive these will work at all!), but you don't actually have to be transitioning at all, though the group might be more helpful for you if you are.  But if you just really want to be part of this experiment and have another schedule in mind, or don't actually want to change your own sleep-schedule at all, sure; we could use all the help we can get!  

The group exists because:

  • My own task-list is full to overflowing, but there are a million cool things that could really advance polyphasic sleep which could come out of this adaptation.  I know I can't take advantage of them all, or do them all justice; but I also know that there are many other people out there who are interested in some angle of polyphasic sleeping, who could both help and benefit from what we're doing.  People with skills like research, data-visualization, web dev, scripting / coding, video-making, etc. will all be super handy and treated like minor deities in exchange for their assistance.  :)
  • Group adaptations are much easier in several ways that I think we all know — people to be around, to call when you need them, and to keep you honest and on-track are super valuable during any difficult life-transition, sleep schedule modifications included.  I both would like this help, and think I'd be good at providing it to others.  Plus as someone with both a huge long interest in polyphasic sleep, and a career in management, I'd like to try leading one.  (Don't worry, I'm an awesome manager. :D)
  • I want feedback on testing and data-gathering, on what information could be useful to have (both for science and for practical purposes, i.e. other people who want to transition) and how to get it, collate it, and display it; and this is not my forte normally, nor something that I have time to delve into.  I'm hoping others in the group can make it happen.  (We already have a few really useful brains signed up — yay!)

Being in the group will involve:

  • Getting access to a chat room, email list, video hangouts, google docs and forms, and stuff of that ilk that we're just going to keep closed to the group for now.  Members are encouraged to firehose the group with absolutely anything at all that seems like a good idea at the time; we can't have *too* much data to use later, and having fun is definitely a priority too!  I personally go all grey and slimy if I don't get regular silliness.  Help setting up and maintaining these resources is encouraged!
  • Pretty much endless advice and help scheduling, transitioning, tweaking, rejuvenating your love-life, holding your breath for four minutes, and ummm pretty much everything.  The group is there to support each other, and I for one will be as available as I can to everyone for at least a month.  (The actual group will probably continue longer, but after about four weeks we'll let people opt out of further data-collecting and tasks, probably.  The details of how long and what will be up to the group as a whole, I think.)
  • Telling the group what you need or would like as far as helpful contact, information, buddy-systeming, etc., and hooking up with group-members in whatever ways are helpful so that everybody can support, encourage and be awesome to each other.
  • There will be a task-list of things we can do to improve the quality of data we're generating about polyphasic adaptations, to help make transitioning easier or more fun for group-members, and to get our data into useful, shareable formats.  Everyone in the group will be expected to take at least a few of those tasks and make them happen (and if you come up with more / ideas for how to collate and use our data to benefit current and future polyphasers, that's excellent — the more brains on it, the better!).  I'll make and maintain the task list because I'm kind of kickass at that.  ;)  It also means you'll have a secondary BFL (curated by a professional no less) to rely on!   
  • Giving feedback will be suuuuuuper important — about how you feel, challenges to your transition, and how being in the group helped or didn't help you.  
  • Not being a shithead is a gating factor for inclusion and continued inclusion in the group.  People transitioning may get tired and snappy at times, but NBAS means you get back on and apologize and try to make it up to everyone and move on, and I expect to see 100% excellent behavior from everyone, or we won't be seeing that person again.  It'll be a democratic group in terms of what projects and ideas we pursue and how we assign/share tasks, but when it comes to shittiness I will hold the banhammer and I will swing it with my usual this-part-is-not-a-discussion efficiency, for the comfort of the group and success of the project as a whole.
  • YES IT'S FREE, though there may be apps or resources that we decide as a group everybody should get — if there are, we'll make sure they're cheap.  And hey, it's possible that maybe I won't personally help groups transition for free forever, so who knows, you could be getting a deal.  ::big hopeful grin::

Other True Facts About The Group that may interest you:

-  I'm seriously looking at possible code to help visualize our data in a way that other polyphasers could then use (inputting their own data and comparing their results with the data collected so far)

-  I'm in contact with some researchers about how to share out, and possibly publish, the information we get from this

-  If it works really well, I'm very interested in doing it again, possibly as a regular or rotating thing, to bring small groups together and help them help each other change their sleep-schedules.  I'm very interested lately in bringing polyphasic sleep out of the "FOR INSANE DA VINCI TYPES ONLY" stall and giving it some air in the main corral; I think that it's specious and wrong to assume that one schedule is going to work for everybody, and that we (I) should be working on ways to help everyone understand that sleep modification is possible, and help them do it if it will improve their life.  This is all future stuff, but it's on my mind and I will welcome feedback about it from the group.

IF YOU WANT IN, YOU CAN STILL SIGN UP UNTIL ABOUT AUGUST 1:  After that point, we'll start collecting information and setting things up that would make adding people disruptive; plus I want everyone who's changing sleep-schedules to have at least a month to prepare.  All you need to do to sign up (for now) is send me your email address, either in a comment, email, tweet, whatever.

Have a great day, everyone!

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Better faster better more ::clickclickclickclick::

I type fast…but I type a LOT, and anymore I feel like my typing is too slow; especially that having to use both a keyboard and a mouse, and typing in longhand, is costing me too much time.

Does anybody else feel this way, or have ideas for solutions? I'm already haunting the frogpad2 — here's hoping I find two benjamins laying on the street when it comes out! — but am also really interested in software that lets me increase my speed via typing shortcuts / macros. (I used similar software a zillion years ago and learned that in order to actually work / save time, it has to be REALLY well-designed.) I also use all three major operating systems pretty regularly, and would like any solution I use to work with at least two of them.

*sigh* The tribulations of being a high-performance nerd! This 90wpm isn't doing it for me anymore — someone bring me ROCKET FUEL! :D

Have a great day, everyone. Mad exciting polyphasic stuff going on; update very very soon I hope!

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Realizing how big a tree is

One of my favorite perception shifts in this life comes from suddenly realizing how big a tree is.

You're walking along, idly thinking or just perceptively assuming that you're passing these giant sticks with branches and big umbrella-tops with leaves, and sure, they're pleasant but they stay still and just hang there providing shade and cool breathable air and most of the time, you don't give them a thought.

Then something happens — You approach a ravine-edge, or some other spot where the tree's roots are exposed.  Or your brain just catches your eyes and your perceptive awareness up to reality, for no reason (it happens!).  And then you see it.

You see — no, you feel, you really realize – that that umbrella thing is in fact twice as big as you thought it was; that fully half its body is deep underground, and that you are walking through the middle of it.

It's not a cute umbrella of truffula harmlessness, that tree.  It's half-subterranean, half light-loving; and its body curves around just so that you, and everything else, can walk and sit and pass right through the center of it.  It is a massive hugger of the world; a giant of a living thing that's utterly friendly to being walked on, climbed through, and hung out in.  You think you're standing under it, but you're passing through it, standing on it, being held by it.

It creeped the heck out of me at first, to be honest.  But I've since come to love the sensation of re-realizing that, of brushing my fingers on a trunk and imagining that I can feel it all spreading out beneath and above me.

Daoists thought that trees were holy because they were always exposed to the elements.  Their entire being was shaped by never once hiding from the wind, the rain, the cosmic radiation.  They had reality so nailed.

Whenever I realize how big they are, and how I'm in the middle of one, I get a sense of awe and of cosmic radiation, too.  I'm such a frail, tiny thing next to this sturdy half-buried behemoth; and yet here I stand, rains of radiation pouring on my head too, and for the moment, we're both surviving it together.

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Sleep Dep Tricks: Acceptance Game

…And a general update; thanks everyone for the replies, and feel free to keep them coming — I'm going to just gather data, and people, for a few weeks I think, and then I'll start sending emails. (If that confuses you, see the previous post and contact me anyhow you like if you're interested.)

So since this will be a very challenging adaptation — I'll talk more about why later, I'm sure — I'm preparing the heck out of everything I can. And funnily enough, because I've been polyphasic so long and in so many different configurations and circumstances, it's almost intimidating to sort through all the stuff I've experienced and decide what to do now.

One thing I'm doing is getting a camp chair, so that I have somewhere to sit besides my bed (which is also my couch; it's an awesome futon fold-up thing and I adore it) and the two flat square wooden stools I have. The camp chair will also fold away and be useful in other places (like camping) as well, yay. But it will serve as my late-night working spot, and hopefully not give me RSI as bad as the stools, but be less sleep-friendly than the bed.

I also bought a video game — Skyrim – since I know that a new, interesting game is a great way to while away the night hours on the first few days.  No, you can't do it in the throes of terrible sleep-dep, but the fact that it's there and waiting really helps you get out of bed, I find.

Today, it being a lovely Saturday and me having the charge of an energetic pre-teen, I found it difficult to nap — I did get one, face down on the dock in the sunshine, that was glorious — but I also kayaked and swam my guts out and didn't get a second one — and so as I sit here, still not quite bedtime, I've been yawning-tired for about an hour already, and done with the chores and stuff that were keeping me out of bed.  But I knew I wanted to stay up, because if I sleep extra tonight I'll only find it easier to not nap tomorrow (and tomorrow is full of kungfu — three classes!); I know that I want to go to bed on time and wake up on time — in 4.5h — so that I want and prioritize my naps.  (Remember, for me polyphasic sleep is a thing that I know works better for me than monophasic sleep; so if I'm off-schedule, it's the polyphasic one I'd rather go back to.  It's my default and I like it that way.)

Anyway, I found myself resorting to a trick I know for warding off sleep-dep symptoms that I don't think I've ever written down before (but I'm sure I will again):  The Acceptance Game.  I actually learned this as a breath-holding trick, but it works against being tired, too.  As you start to feel discomfort, and to cast about for how to fix it, stop and ask yourself, "Can I just let it be this way for a minute?  Can I just…relax, and let this exist, just for right now?"  

The Acceptance Game talks you into pausing, into waiting, into not taking that breath quite yet, into not giving in to sleep.  It stops you from fighting against the difficult shit, and therefore conserves your energy for enduring it.

Anyway, I plan to write down more of these as I think of them, that is, unless Skyrim is that good.

Peace!

 

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Teaching, writing, maybe occasionally throwing people in the grass

Time to be brash nerd:  I love, love, love this blog.

What is it?  It's a detailed exploration of taiji and internal martial arts' depictions in Avatar: The Last Airbender.  The piece I linked is a guest blog on tui shou (push-hands) — with excellent animated .gifs! – and as you can maybe imagine, I about exploded into a poof of anime flowers when I saw it.  

SO, SO GOOD.

For those of you who haven't heard me squeeing about it in another format, I've been teaching regularly since the start of this year, and it's been eye-opening and absolutely huge for my education.  It's definitely a truism that if you're good-but-plateauing-before-excellent at something, a great way to advance is to teach beginners.  It's doubly good for me, since I want to do more teaching — teaching kungfu full-time would be a dream come true — but even if I was only in it for my own training, it would be totally worth the work I'm putting in.  People ask great questions, need different explanations, and give you an excuse to practice all those things you've been meaning to do more, over and over and over, with multiple partners.  And then they buy you a coffee and thank you for it!

And now, I'm off to a three-class-in-a-row day…since I need more things to do outside, I've been scheduling extra free-to-anyone classes whenever I can, in the local park.  Please wish my for-some-reason-still-annoyingly injured foot luck!

(P.S.  Internal sweeps are very hard to learn — I knew this, as I struggle with them.  Yesterday I learned that when teaching beginners, maybe stay away from things that *you* think are challenging — they're harder for you to explain, and can be frustrating for people who are still learning the early stuff, even if they are, like sweeps, legitimately fun and fascinating.  Use your teaching as time to practice your the all-important fundamentals.)

(image from en.qoloq.com)

Whups

Ruh-roh.  I made a mistake.

So, I started a project this week.  I'm not quite ready to tip my hand about it yet, but I think it's cool and it is loosely related to polyphasic sleep, so I'll talk about it soon.  But in planning out this project, I dedicated an hour after work, five days a week — for six months.  

Two days in, I realize that I get off work at six, and the library closes at nine.  (I need the library for the first three months.)  That's doable, but it leaves very little time to get my evening nap, and I'm already not that great at getting the evening nap.  I really didn't want to make that a ton harder and less likely to happen than it already was.  >,<

The tough thing is, now that I'm doing the 9-5ish M-F thing again, the stuff I have to stop doing to catch a nap at ~7:30pm is stuff I really want to be doing, like climbing or swimming or writing or being in the library.  

Hm.  This'll need some pondering.

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It’s a whole new world, and I can’t run as fast as the damn flying carpet

To say I've learned some things lately would be the grossest possible understatement.

But I can't seem to keep up with what I've learned.  Oh, I remember it, even when I haven't yet gotten a chance to write it down (another way things are changing faster than I can run); but even where I've internalized the lessons and changed my thinking in ways I know are logical, correct and good, I keep running into conclusions I'm not ready for.

Like, wait.  I have to forgive everyone, because every way in which I hold onto anger is just my indulging my own ego's desire to try and force change by punishing someone (often me)?

I have to let go of that horribly painful series of episodes, those fights and insults where I know I was deeply wronged, because to think about them now only keeps alive my own anger and pain for no useful purpose?

I have to accept this uncomfortable circumstance, fully and unreservedly, without being either sad or angry, because to do otherwise is not only arrogant, but will keep away positive change?

It's not that I object to forgiving, letting go, or accepting in general — on the contrary, I'm a huge fan.  At the very least, they keep your brain uncluttered, keep the ol' mental oil free of black gunk.  But it's relatively easy to be in favor of those as correct behaviors, as long as you can keep your favorite blind spots in place.  But the crackings-open I've been doing lately have laid a lot of my blind spots bare, turned the sun on them, and started drying out some tar-pits that I really wasn't ready to stop wallowing in.  

And now, of course, it's Put Up or Shut Up:  PRINCIPLES VS. HABITS DEATHMATCH!

*sigh*  And those always make problems like "shit, I'm behind a bunch of blog posts" or "geez, that would be a REALLY cool video, I should get on it" seem pretty minor…

(I'll fix them, I swear.  I'm actually keeping up really well considering the tonnage of stuff going on, inside and outside; but the whole blog thing is a little slippery for the moment.  Won't be soon, promise.  Hope you're all well!!)

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Score! Great polyphasic advice spotted in the wild!

Yay!  This tumblr post answering the "how do I consider / start polyphasic sleeping" question is dead on.  I see those so rarely, and this may be the best one in terms of clarity, accessibility and not-being-wrong-ness.

I'd say my day was made by that find, but sadly my day had already been made — by beer.  MY beer, that is.  After finishing my first batch of home-brewed beer, which I was quietly proud of, I invited over my serious-brewer friend to try it, and then together we snuck a taste off the second batch, which is entirely my own recipe and "I did it all by myself"…and the second one is incredible.  Even my friend, who can do crazy things like taste a beer and decide to replicate it and get it right on the first shot, was really impressed and proud of me.  That felt great — I've never had a real talent for anything food-related before, but beer just seems to make sense, and so far both of my tries at making the beer I'd want to drink have been totally successful.  (Not that I can't tweak things.  But they're both not only excellent beers, but darn close to exactly what I was trying for when I made them.)  

So we'll compromise — YAAAAAY and a link for the excellent polyphasic writeup by an Everyman 3 sleeper like myself (hello!) that I had no input in and is still totally great advice! — and today's picture is of the beer.  

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The beer is an IPA that wound up named Iron Palm Application, by the way.  Because nerd.  ::grin::

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What you need, when you need it

When I started training Iron Palm, my sifu gave me a stout canvas bag, sewn permanently shut, stamped with Chinese characters in faded blue on one corner.  It was full of…mung beans.

mung beans

Yup.  Mung beans.

Now, beans are a good "starter filler" for this kind of conditioning — from there, it moves up to gravel, and then steel shot; and it's hard to explain why, but the beans do feel a bit softer.  (I've done a little on the gravel bag too.)  But why mung beans?  Just because they're cheap, or a good size, or something?

Nope, turns out it's cooler than that — mung beans are healthy and used as good food and medicine for many things, but the powder is often put into poultices to help reduce swelling and heal injured tissue.  As you smack this bag, you pulverize the beans just a little — you can see the powder puff out, in the right light — and simultaneously rub it deep into your skin.  It's a punching-bag that makes its own medicine.

It's a punching-bag that makes its own medicine.

So there you have it:  Technology without ingenuity can spit out crap products all day long, but ingenuity only needs canvas and beans to make a badass piece of tech.  

<3

(The image up top is of the dent I left in the bag, practicing.  I just like the texture.)