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Wow.

forty hundred million half-drafted posts.  Wow.

Fibonacci spirals.  You know, the ones from the Golden Mean drawings, and snails, and Pythagoras and the typesetting for the Ubersleep book.  :)

Ever notice how everything seems to happen in those spirals?  I won't even get into how prevalent they are in kungfu, but just look at life – how often have you felt a thing nudging, invisibly at first, then as it starts to curve the long tail those changes rode into your life-situation start to become apparent, and then the curve gets sharper and you think woah, shit is really happening now — and then suddenly flick!, the tail whips around unexpectedly, dots the i you didn't realize was undotted, and vanishes from sight.

So, so many of my life-changes seem to follow that pattern.  I think another one is right now.  This morning, I felt the whipdot of a hundred ideas and connections with people and glimmering half-possibilites crack into place.  I'm sorry if my language is veering abstract, but things are still all shiny.  :D

And this has to do with polyphasic sleep!  I can't even begin to talk about it publicly yet, but I did want to say "I'm not dead, I'm buried in research, stand by to receive large transmissions"…and just to be excited about the way all of this is happening.

Also, I'm teaching taiji like four times a week now, and it's incredibly cool.  Plus, I'm starting to barter for classes a bit, because people are offering, which is sort of jaw-dropping!

I hope you're all well and here, have a picture of one of the things I did with this gorgeous, sunny Sunday:

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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!!)

Holy cow I suck at videos

But I did another one anyway!  Thank you to the people who requested that I get back on the ball with these; they're really helpful for me.

Though to be perfectly honest, I really have no idea what they're for.  They're where I'm dumping a certain kind of informational…synthesis…I'm slowly growing out of my internal travels.  

That's what it is.  An interskull travelblog.

Recorded by someone who has no clue about video.

Aren't you guys lucky!  :D

(P.S.  The video ends abruptly because I have to shut off the fan that keeps my computer cool to keep the sound from being all sssSSSSSSsssHHHHhhhhHHhhs, and sometimes the computer then overheats and kills the video.  This time it happened when I was like one sentence from the end, so I left it.  Sorry!)

Subject matter

I've not been writing a lot here, lately, because so much of it would be about depression*, and I'm rarely proud of what I write about it when I'm in the middle of dealing with it.  But definitely go read what Wil Wheaton has to say about it, because holy shit does he nail it, and in a really good, useful, positive way.  This recent post is a great place to start.

*and the rest would be about sex — another pretty poor blogging topic.  ;)

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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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Biphasic

Wow, with as often as I get asked about biphasic sleep, it's nice to finally have something to say about it.  ;)

I've been using Everyman 6/1 (six hours' sleep and one nap) as a stop-gap on days where I miss two of my regular naps for a few years now, but I haven't felt like that gave me enough information to discuss it as a schedule — I know that Everyman 3 and Everyman 4.5 work for me, so if the biphasic E6 schedule was accumulating sleep-debt, I could be just fixing it by reverting to one of the other two — maybe even without realizing it; if I was tired the next day, I'd get an extra nap or two, sleep the corresponding 3 or 4.5 hours at night, and wham, fixed.  

(REMINDER:  I've been polyphasic for years, and wasn't able to switch schedules like this until I'd done it for over a year.  Be consistent while you're adjusting to a new schedule!)

But I've been doing E6 a lot more often in the last few months — since I took this job, I suppose, which was three months ago.  And while I still think I consider and prefer E3 or 4.5 as my regular schedule, I looked up the other day and realized that I've been on E6 for probably five days a week for the last several weeks, and I feel like I understand it better now.

My biphasic schedule looks like this:  I sleep for six hours at night — which feels like a lot to me — and then I catch one 20-minute nap during the day, usually around 1-2pm.  The schedule can shift, though; at least one day a week I seem to get too tired by about 9-10pm doing this to comfortably stay awake, so I sleep until 4am, and sometimes my next day's nap is my morning one, around 7:30.  (When that happens, though, I'm likely to be tired enough to take my 7pm nap too, and then since I've had two naps, I only need 4.5 hours of sleep at night — you get it.)

As you probably know, most biphasic schedules involve a nap of longer than 20 minutes — often betwen 45 and 90m.  While I can see needing a bigger chunk of sleep if it's to be your only one to break up 18 hours of being awake, I can't take longer naps.  I wake up ridiculously automatically at around 18-19 minutes now, feeling refreshed and ready to roll.  So even when I'm sleeping 6 hours at night, my one nap is still ~20 minutes long.

But overall, while I don't prefer biphasic sleep over one of the shorter Everyman schedules (or Uberman; let's not forget that I'd happily do Uberman if I could), and while I'm unsure that I could do just six hours' core plus one 20-minute nap every day and not become tired, I think I can say now that E6 is pretty viable as a sleep-schedule:  Probably at least as viable as 8-hour monophasic sleep was for me, and quite likely moreso; plus it does take 1.5 hours a day away from the standard amount of overall sleep needed.  There's already a ton of evidence that 4-7 hours at night plus one ~1-hour nap works (and I've never argued that it doesn't), but having done E6 as much as I have now, I guess I can add that this one works too, and that biphasic sleep in general is a pretty good thing.

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Required Online Etiquette for Businesses 101

We make a lot of fuss about when a commenter or blogger is violating some spoken or unspoken rule of conduct, but MAN do we let companies off the hook for some obvious things that are just terribly rude and inconsiderate!  Here are some of the worst, IMO:

  • If you take an order / allow sign up online, you must allow canceling an order or unsubscribing online.  Giving someone a convenient way to give you money and making them switch to a less convenient one to get it back is just pure shady.  And don't give me shit about how it costs *you* more money somehow — no it doesn't.  If you have the infra to take an order, you have it to cancel one, and if you won't cancel it the same way you took it, you're just a jerk.
  • If you allow customers to deal with you online, and they contact you online, do not ever ever call them, but most especially do not call them a) during business hours, when you know damn well you're interrupting their work, or b) over any simple or easy question that could easily be resolved by using the email address you almost certainly have.  We know it's rude when you call to ask a company a question and the next day a door-to-door salesman shows up uninvited at your house; why don't we ream companies for forcing conversations onto the phone for no good reason?  My phone is on in case people who know me want to use it to reach me, thank you; and even they know better than to call me when I'm working unless it's important.
  • Your security measures should be as obnoxious as needed and no more; if in doubt, let your customers pick the level of protection they want. If one more little retail site forces me to create a hardened 16-digit two-factor-auth password, I'm going to seriously slap a techie.  (Might be any techie, so look out.)
  • And for gods' sakes treat online customer service like customer service.  It's fine if Billy Teenpunk turns into a raging shithead when given a difficult email to answer, but he's not being paid to do it.  The number of snide, terse, flippant, or outright rude online exhanges I've been subjected to from various companies is truly shocking.  You know you'd fire any employee who acted like that to a customer's face…so what's the deal?  Not paying attention, perhaps?  THEN SELL YOUR COMPUTERS and stick to business you're actually willing to do the work for.

…Yes, I'm having a tough day, but come on, all of that needed to be said.  ;)

Here's to relaxing times later!  (It's underwater hockey night!  That usually beats all the tension out of me pretty well.)

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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.  

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