Hey all! I carry a spiffy tin in my always-with-me bag with basic first aid supplies, and it's come in super handy, and others have asked me about how to make one. The real reason I'm posting this here, though, instead of just telling the people who've asked, is that I just don't think there's any excuse for people to not have basic first-aid supplies on them at all times. If all you carry is a tiny purse, you can still throw an Altoids Mini cannister in it with at least half of what I list below; and if you have a laptop bag, you can carry twice what I do and add next to no weight. (Your house and car should have their own kits of course, and those can be bigger and, if you prefer, just storebought; but for a personal kit, I've long found that hand-rolling one is a) way cheaper and b) much more useful, since you can limit it to just the stuff you really need / care about. Most store-prepared kits contain a lot of things that you, in your daily life, just won't need; and are conversely missing some that you will.)
So let's do it!
PD's Cheap Easy Hand-Rolled First Aid Kit
1. A tin of suitable size, preferably metal and at least somewhat waterproof. You'll want to base the specifics of your tin on where you typically are and what you're usually doing…a hardcore hiker may carry an Otterbox; people with small bags may like Altoids containers. Mine is medium-sized and says "AUNT GERTRUDE'S INFAMOUS INFLATABLE MEATLOAF" on it, which I think explains a lot, don't you?
2. Once you have a suitable tin, you'll want to decide what you must put in it. Obviously if you have specific needs, you'll want to work them into your kit — epi pens, allergy pills, etc. — make a list of these before you start, so that you plan adequate space and conditions for those things. (By "conditions" I mean, do they need to be on top; must they be replaced or replenished often; do they need waterproofing; etc.)
3. Once you have your "must have" things listed, choose from the below "handy things" that I carry and recommend and add those; some you may not need, or may choose to exclude for space-reasons. To make this easier, I've put a star (*) next to the ones I consider dead important. Clever tips for storage and space included, because I love you.
- duct tape. Simply take a piece and roll it up into a flattened tube — it can be stored in a "roll of itself" in any size for unrolling and using later, and is — this will shock you — super handy. ;) Alternately, and I love having discovered this, wrap a water-bottle, or your med-kit itself, or something else you always carry, in duct-tape; it'll protect the object as well as make for an easily-accessible stash of tape later if you need it. (Oo! Just thought of this today…if your tin has an indented bottom, like mine does, stick the flattened roll of duct-tape there! Super-easy access and uses otherwise unused space. <3)
- gauze* and a needle*. I keep these together by wrapping the gause into a little square/flattened tube and securing it with the needle.
- alcohol wipes* or other sanitizing thingy. Not optional.
- bandages of some sort for small injuries or to cover blisters (I like waterproof band-aids for this, but that's probably becuase so many of my relevant injuries happen in a pool ;)
- bigger bandages, or butterfly closures, or dressings (I carry a few Tegaderms since they're easy to fit and mostly waterproof)
- your favorite anti-inflammatory* — I recommend ibuprofen, but that's a personal call. LABEL all drugs that are not in their original containers!!
- any other drug you may need on the fly — for me, Sudafed, since if I'm even a little stuffy and need/want to go swimming/diving, I must have it. If you play with fire, include a small quantity of aloe or Silvadine, for sure.
- a small tube of super glue* and a small amount of single-ply toilet paper or kleenex* — this is the best combo for securing a deep cut, once the bleeding has stopped, so that you can keep moving/working/doing stuff
- something for "bonks" — muscle and joint injuries, bruises, and generally ouchy things. I like salonpas; biofreeze or arnica are also good. (Note: Flying Tiger Cub Balm is actually my favorite-favorite thing for sore muscles / workout-related stuff, but I don't carry it since a) it's bulky and b) I can usually get home when I need it. I also carry a small thing of biofreeze since it's easy to fit and good for giving to people I don't want to cut my salonpas up for. ;)
- a scalpel-blade* (usually the handle is too big — but I recommend having a real scalpel-handle, blades and a hemostat as part of your home (or bigger kits), because cheap and hella useful). Wrap this in the gauze, tape it to the bottom of the tin, or secure it in some other way so you don't cut yourself! I taped two, in their sterile foil packets, to the inside lid of my kit — using waterproof adhesive tape that I can re-use when I remove them. Takes up NO space.
- at least one condom*. Besides the obvious reasons to have one (which include possibly being a lifesaver for someone else in a tough spot!), they make a great waterproof barrier or germ-blocker (substituting for gloves if needed); AND they can be used as a tourniquet AND can transport water in a pinch.
- matches or a lighter if there's room (I usually carry them elsewhere, but here is a good spot if you've got the real estate)
- Emergen-C (I use this whenever I miss sleep or get around sick people and need to duct-tape my immune system, so I carry some on me since, well, often when that happens I'm away from home)
- Thera-Flu (or whatever your oh-shit-I'm-really-sick drug is)
Now, GET CREATIVE about space, and fit it all neatly in the tin! This is kinda fun if you're a system-thinker and if you're not, just get a bigger tin or carry less stuff. My little Meatloaf tin holds a LOT — almost everything above — plus it's fun to unpack in front of people and watch them go o.O at the clown-car aspect of it. Make some sacrifices for quantity and usefulness — I took out my biofreeze to add another condom recently; stuff like that — and make sure you go through your kit periodically to add/replace/tweak things (a good time is whenever you run out of something).
…And that's basically it! Some other hacks that I've run into that might be handy:
- Cover the whole thing in duct-tape, as mentioned above…or sail-canvas, or silicone sheeting, or any other material you often find yourself needing or wanting
- Alternately/ in addition, close or wrap it with a really huge fat rubber-band, a bunch of smaller ones, a tourniquet, a length of paracord or waxed thread, or some other handy fastener
- If you can't pick your tin based on the pocket you want to keep it in, or really like a tin that doesn't fit well anywhere, make a space just for it — use velcro or tape to affix it inside or outside your bag, or sew it it's own pocket. This is different than carrying sunglasses, and it's awesome for it to have its own permanent location in your gear.
- TELL PEOPLE that you have a medkit on you! Especially if you're out doing something crazy and they may not know. I've been asked for mine plenty by people who would have just suffered along if they hadn't seen me showing off my inflatable meatloaf tin. ;)
…And tell me (and others) here about your clever ideas, mods, and hacks for having a first-aid kit around!
(And a P.S. — regarding "other personal supplies" like a toothbrush, spare contact lenses, etc. I carry those — a full complement of them actually, since I hate feeling like I *need* to go home just for some personal care thing that I could have easily handled with a little preparation – but I have them in a gallon zip-lock bag, so that when I travel, I just throw that bag from my everyday pack into my luggage and wham, done. I like having my personal supplies separate from my first-aid ones too, so that if someone needs my medical stuff, I'm not handing them a bag full of tampons and my toothbrush (mm!). That's all my $0.02 of course; do it however you like!)
April 17, 2013 2 Comments
1. A glorious new friend pointed me to Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics….oh my holy entropies.
2. And there are multiple other glorious new friends too! Seriously, the cycles, they burnnn…and also, of course, they really only appear in retrospect. I can now look at the last two years — all the self-esteem work, the war on social anxiety, and the crazy-difficult divesting of harmful relationships; then the long struggle with loneliness and learning how to not mis-apply those feelings as time-bound judgments of myself; the first steps into having a few casual friends and how conscious I had to be about not reacting to the automatic pain their casualness caused me at first — and it seems not just right, but inevitable that this should happen now: That the right people and the right things should be there at the right time, when I had done the work and gone through the process of becoming someone who could benefit and benefit from them.
I always know when I've really managed to surf a good swell in life because my head fills up with images of spinning around (maybe this is what Sufis know) and the phrase KARMA YOGA MOTHERFUCKER!
There's a good and a bad kind of determinism, folks. (Remind me to either write about this again sometime, or dig up one of the old articles…nah, maybe write it again; it'll be good for me.) This is unequivocally the good kind, the kind where you create the universe and I'll be damned, it does result in one heck of an apple pie…because it HAD TO, and the mystery it seemed to you because you couldn't see all the steps in-between is okay, really. All of physics is a bigger computer than you; you don't have to understand it all. Anyway, you're part of it; you can function correctly without intellectually having every piece in your consciousness, just like a fuel injector doesn't need the specs of the clutch in order to do right by the car. Intuition is really okay, I promise.
(Besides gleeful cussing, this is the biggest thing that winds up in my head as a result of major Wins At Life: An overpowering sense that it really is acceptable to go with your guts, as long as you're honest about interpreting what they're saying (which is no joke, to be fair).)
So yes. Sometimes — and I apologize to Christianity but I swear this is true — all the world requires of you is that you pause a moment and enjoy it. Really.
Also, IT'S FINALLY SPRINGTIME — holy ice-crucibles this was a long winter — so if you've been holding out on a redolent grin from the hammocky parts of your soul, I highly recommend these coming weeks as a time to air it.
…And that's me, lately.
I KNOW, RIGHT? ::GRIN::
3. Lastly, I owe a video something terrible, I know, I know! I'm sorry! I even know what this one needs to be about — and that may be part of the problem, along with all the new friends and also the big glut of work that I really financially needed which has me filling every crack of my 20-hour days (when I'm not staying up though naps drinking a bit too much with the new friends, which I've been doing about once a week now, whups but eh, worth it ;) — because I know what I want to talk about with some specificity, I keep putting it off until I can organize my thoughts better, instead of just plopping my butt down in whatever I happen to be wearing and spitting it out. Hrmf. Will fix soon, I swear.
April 10, 2013 3 Comments
Guess what, world? I'm confirmed for Penguicon, as a speaker on two panels! One is about sleep hacks in general, and the other about polyphasic sleep specifically, and they are of course both going to be AWESOME.
Penguicon is quiiiite possibly the coolest thing in Michigan and a huge chunk of the rest of the world besides; and I'm fortunate to be homies with a bunch of the people who run it (and now several more of them, like Ed Platt, who — get this — lives right near me in Boston and is running the Sleep Hacks panel at P-Con!). Check out this incredible video my good friend Scott put together for the con:
Sadly, the book won't be ready by then — it's just 3 weeks away, and proofs from the printer take that long — but I WILL have some materials for pre-ordering and discounts for the con people; and in lieu of copies, I'm bringing a sharpie to sign boobs.
–Wait, did I say that out loud?
March 31, 2013 No Comments
"Contracting" in tech is a bullshit arrangement almost entirely skewed to favor the employer.
A true (independent) contractor arrangement requires tons of freedom on the contractor side — for example, they can't tell you where you work from, or what hours — only what they need done and to what standards.
Real "contracting" is also a *negotiated contract* that usually includes things like agreements about how much notice will be given in the case of termination — completely different from that BS they call an "at will" arrangement.
Since the IRS requires that level of freedom if you're paying your own taxes, employers get around this by taxing you as an employee but putting you "on a contract" that you usually get no say in negotiating, which gives them all the benefits of having an employee without you getting any of the benefits of actual employment.
In essence, you're yolked like an employee — required to work times and durations that make job-hunting nearly impossible, chained to one location unless you can beg for some WFH time as a "perk", etc. — except you get the (often) lesser benefits and total lack of job-security that contractors get (and worse IMO, since a real independent contractor can line up other work while they're employed much more easily than someone stuck on 9-5).
Plus you're making employee pay, not contractor pay, which is always higher to compensate for the lack of stability and fringe benefits. Fringe benefits which, of course, are less and less meaningful every year — we're all paying more for health care, getting less (if anything) for bonuses and retirement, and never mind cushy things like transportation, leaves of absence or meals (which may sound luxurious for tech now, but weren't all that uncommon for office-workers decades ago).
And while *technically* your status as a "contractor" lets you terminate your employment at-will, with no notice etc., the professional expectation you work under is that of an employee — if you did just walk and leave everyone hanging, it would reflect very badly on you professionally if it got around. Whereas, of course, the company gets the full benefit of at-will: they could lock you out of the building after you leave today for no reason and with no notice, and suffer not a whit. So even where the arrangement is "fair on paper", it's not in reality, because employers have gotten such amazing free reign to cherry-pick which parts of the employee and contractor arrangements they like.
(Whew. I've wanted to say those things for *years*, and it finally occurred to me that I can now. And that I'm sick of seeing my friends get screwed, and my home profession gutted by bean-counters.)
March 29, 2013 No Comments
Difficulty concentrating today.
Strange bruises up and down my forearms from spinning (staff-spinning! Am learning to spin staves and holy hellfire is it awesome).
I tend to go looking for food when I'm tired. (Yes, when you're polyphasic you have more chances to sleep, but you also have to miss less of them due to stress before you feel ickyshit.) Thankfully apples are tasty and make me feel full, so yay lack of nutritional consequences.
I will be carless again for a while, it looks like. I had gone a year carless, rather enjoying that you can do this in Boston and I'd never done it before, until I bought my last car six months ago. That car (which darnit, I loved) was totaled in an accident this month, and I won't be able to afford to replace it for a while, so back to carless I go! To keep it from being depressing, I will treat it as an adventure, a reason to get better at fixing my bike and skateboarding on the very lumpy streets and sidewalks, and an opportunity to learn some more cultural lessons.
I owe a video to, um, who or whatever I'm doing the videos for. Better be quick before too much else builds up to talk about, I think. One thing I'll put here to save myself some time there: Physical exertion often brings about some degree of 3D; I think that's in part why some people do it, especially the really extreme/scary kinds. BUT it feels TOTALLY different to do it on purpose, for example when you're swimming six inches from the bottom on your tenth consecutive underwater pool-length with twenty or less seconds to breathe in-between, and there's nobody there to make you keep going all the way to the other wall but you need to if you want to get better, so as a last-ditch effort you reach in and twist…and suddenly you're looking at the bottom of the pool in 3D, and your heart-rate drops and you make it the rest of the way clean and easy as underwater pie.
One other interesting 3D thing: What you see in 3D, you remember. Something about that focus writes things really, really clearly into your (or at least my) mind. I can still count the dirt-grains on the pool-bottom, and that was two days ago. Hmm!
Had my evals for taiji today. Am doing okay — fundamentals getting a bit ahead of form, but it's warm out so I'm adding forms-practice in the park some mornings starting next week. Had an AMAZING experience where the instructor is patiently explaining, explaining, explaining how to switch focus (I KNOW RIGHT) from using muscular force to allowing chi-force (later; that's a book and a half) to drive your movements, and I've heard it before but suddenly I get it, it happens, and the whole physical world goes FLIP HAHA and oh my shit, I feel awesome. It lasts about thirty seconds, but it was thirty seconds I'd have gladly paid a year's tuition for again and again. That…well, if 3D is a different dimension of attention, this was the corresponding different dimension of physical control. (And think about how easy it is to control where your attention is — how little effort it takes to move it — versus how easy it is to control your entire body, and you'll realize why it takes decades to learn this thing. The analogy is conjecture of course, but I'll stand by it for now.)
And writing is awesome…I'm 7/10 done with my novella (yup), I think my epic poem about Detroit is finished (yeah I know) and I got an idea for an updated Desiderata-type bit of prose that's only about 1/3 finished but really fun (shut up hehe).
The key to difficult times is knowing where your keys are. Mine are in taiji, in writing, and in being able to communicate with people — having contact and conversations, and maybe also some drinking and snogging if I'm lucky. ;) So however tricky and tired and expensive and etcetera things are lately, I know that I'm doing okay, because I know what lights to measure by.
May yours be known and shine bright, too!
March 29, 2013 No Comments
Hey all — So, I got several more offers to write a testimonial for the Second Edition of Ubersleep, but only ever got two completed ones. That's not enough to make the new section worth it, so if there aren't any more I plan to strike it entirely. I'm not really wedded to the idea anyway, since testimonials are really easy to find online, compared to the other kinds of information I've tried to gather here. But it did seem like it'd made a nice addition, to have a few well-considered ones. While two isn't enough though, three seems okay, and for three I'd keep it.
Anyway, I hold in my hands the VERY LAST editable copy before the book goes to print. If I should happen to get another testimonial (following these guidelines), I'll add it to the last round of edits and there'll be testimonials; if not, the section will be struck. I won't be disappointed either way — it's up to you!
Oo, it's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure of publishing, isn't it? Pick your sections, Internet! ;)
March 27, 2013 2 Comments
…because whatever it is, that's me today. Everything I touch turns to Broken.
I wrote a long and relevant polyphasic post, and then the site broke — literally; I spent the rest of the day futzing with tech support just to get it working again, and when it did, of course it had saved a "draft" of the post with nothing in it but the title.
And I broke plenty else today, but meh, why go into it. Not a bad day, over all; just the kind where you have to work hard to not curse and throw things (or to not do it again).
I've also been fighting off a persistent sadness today. It's uncaused, I think — or rather, it's caused by Psychology; brain-stuff. I can feel it keep trying to rise up, whenever there's a pause in the action of the day. But unlike many other days where this has been true, I've been able to be pretty consistent with my application of 3-D focus. And it keeps working.
Verb-check: It doesn't *work* work, in the once-and-for-all sense. I think you can't "be conscious once and for all" any more than you can eat breakfast once and for all — it's part of living, so it takes work as long as you're alive. (And maybe after; but following Wittgenstein, thereof I remain silent.) But it *is working*, every time, every second and minute I can keep it on; it does help, and it helps notably and deeply and thoroughly. So that's worth noting, and worth continuing, even if it's tough to keep trying sometimes, when all you want is A Fix, Dammit.
There is no noun Happiness. There is only verb-happiness. Happiness exists in moments — which, rather paradoxically, makes it eternal; but it makes our experiences of it, including the work we do to achieve it, continuous.
Remember Rule One: Keep Trying.
Even when you could really use a hug and you can't have one, keep trying. (Or maybe especially then. There'll be a hug eventually!)
(And that other post, I'll resurrect later. Sorry!)
March 26, 2013 2 Comments
Exciting things are happening too fast for me to write them!
First of all, the Second Edition of the Ubersleep book is nearly there, and I expect to be able to release it in May! That's right, this May — in just a few weeks!
(Uh-oh, that's three in a row…hang on, let me get these out of my system: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
(OK, hopefully that does it for a few paragraphs…)
Ahem. On top of that, after much futzing with schedules and whatnot, I've decided to take the opportunity afforded by the Second Edition to do some meeting of polyphasers and questions-and-answers as far and wide as I can. I'm thinking Boston right after launch (since I'm here and all), some more of New England through the summer to give me time to plan, and then a serious road trip — possibly all the way to the West Coast — in the Fall. We'll see how it goes, money- and interest-wise, but the few speaking engagements I've done so far have been a blast, and I would love the opportunity to do more of them.
Expect more updates on my road-tripping schedule(s) soon, and if there's a place you think I should go — a bookstore or sleep clinic or school or whatever — then please drop me a line so I can add it to my already-awesome list!
(Darnit, the bangs are back. !!!!!!!!!!!!…yup, I don't think I'm going to run out of them this time…it's too exciting! Grr. Sorry, everyone!)
March 24, 2013 1 Comment
(A: Nothing is truly random. ;)
Devoting a post to the ton of small wonderful things I've run across this week!
- MyFitnessPal: I've been looking for a simple app/site to help me track basic calories-in-calories-out forEVER, it seems — and this one finally has everything I need! Simple interface, comprehensive database of food and exercises, and it's free. I've found that I do SO much better with an app like this around — without it, I'm liable to either overindulge in high-calorie food because I have no concept of what I've burned off in exercise today; or for the same reason, fall several hundred calories short of anything reasonable and feel like crap. Tracking takes maybe a total of ten minutes a day, and it keeps me in healthy limits with hardly any other trying at all. I've really missed it since DailyBurn began to suck, so finding this one is a huge win!
- Remojobo.com: A simple site just for remote-friendly computer jobs? YES PLEASE! I wish it were bigger, but hey, at least someone thought of it finally.
- Twitter Bootstrap: I've come to love HTML5 anyway, but as someone who's *not a designer* and often called-upon to "just throw up a simple page for…", Twitter Bootstrap has totally saved my bacon. I can make a clean, simple, and VERY professional-looking site in almost no time, now…it doesn't free me from hiring a designer when one's needed (and why would I want to? the designers I know are pretty awesome), but it is a big improvement for those of us lower on the web-development food-chain who still have to do it sometimes. (If moving this site wouldn't be such a pain, I'd be considering it — but I have enough to do, heh.)
- The Magic Work Cycle: I mentioned this briefly before, but hoooooly wow is it awesome. It's like sticking a firehose into your flagging motivation's tender bits, pulling out a starter pistol, and gesturing meaningfully. I was having trouble getting "real work" done, what with so much of it and *also* so much else going on, but thanks to this thing (and the helpful website-companion here), I'm getting *crazy* amounts of stuff done, and not feeling overworked at all. It's very, very simple: You work 30 minutes, then you play 30 minutes. Play is anything you wait it to be that isn't work. The built-in deadlines and context-switching keep you focused, motivated and from getting stuck. Simple and brilliant = WIN WIN WIN.
- The song "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield: This is an old song and you've probably heard it — I hadn't, because for decades I couldn't bear music that wasn't in some way angry, and this is the pick-me-up song of the century. It's goofy and it doesn't care, just like that friend you (hopefully) have who makes everyone feel great and doesn't care if that's not hardcore or "cool". It's all over YouTube, it breaks the usual popular music laws by having competent and meaningful lyrics, and if you need a smile or a boost, I highly recommend it!
OK, playtime is almost up (seriously, magic work cycle FTW), so I'm outie — OH, but one last thing; I saw a proof of the new cover of the Second Edition! Hopefully I can post it here soon, but for now I'll just say o.O!
March 14, 2013 2 Comments
(No, no, I'm not drunk. I've just had the old ditty "What do you do with a drunken sailor?" in my head lately, and needed to write a post about what to do with 4am's.)
Four a.m. is becoming a challenge for me.
I still like it. I still wake up pretty automatically at four-ish, unless there's some crazy mitigating circumstance. And there have been plenty of times when the quiet period from four to seven has been a really pleasant opportunity for various things, as I think is well-evidenced by the number of "YAY FOUR AM" blog-posts I've written.
But sometimes four a.m. is a really tough time to *utilize*, y'know?
If I'm in the middle of reading something compelling, that's easy; it's a natural reading-time. But my couch/bed is the only comfy place to read, so I can't really use the time for study; a half hour of dry reading in the quiet will put anybody to sleep at four a.m.
I generally try to stay off the computer, because I'm on it so much of the rest of the time, and my eyes and neck get unpleasantly, sometimes damagingly tired from the overuse. (My eyes are really not happy with me right now, actually.)
Of course nobody's awake — this is one of the really, truly dead times when *nobody* is awake — and international or long-distance company is generally computer-driven. I also have zero desire to go out this early; it's chilly — four a.m. is chilly in August, I swear; it's just a cold time — and nothing really presents itself out there that I'd like to be doing right now.
The real rub of it is that I have a roommate now, *and* she's a light sleeper, so I have to stay out of the kitchen: One thing that used to work really well for me early in the morning was some kitchen-time. Time keeping life organized, maybe playing a little music, maybe inventing or doing something for the hell of it — the kitchen is right by the tool-room, and within easy reach of the art-supplies — but I really can't do that anymore; really I can't even make coffee until at least seven, because of the noise.
Being stuck in my room (which I like; it's a great room…but pretty small) by myself and (ideally) off the computer for 1.5-3 hours a day (it's 3h, but I don't mind reading for a chunk of it) is tough, and it's starting to wear on me. It's tempting to go back to sleep for a bit just to rest my eyes — and that, to me, simply means I'm not doing an adequate job using the time.
March 14, 2013 4 Comments