Sunday, July 27, 2008

Falling Asleep

I was once told there were two types of insomnia, sleep acquisition (can't fall asleep) and sleep inhibition (can't stay asleep). Luckily I usually only have one kind, can't fall asleep. So I was asked how I fall asleep. I've listed before some of what works for me.

My friend Alison said she would take 0.5 mg of melatonin when she couldn't fall asleep, followed by a second dose 30 minutes later if she still weren't asleep, and that always worked for her. That never worked for me, so I gave her the rest of my bottle. Then I learned that melatonin is released when your eyelids don't have any light on them, so I tried the eye shield, and that has worked well for me. As it turns out, the proper dose is 0.3 mg of melatonin instead. Melatonin is also effective for insomnia in ADHD children!

White noise is my other major aid along with an eye shield. However, I've also considered listening to an audiobook or podcast as I fall asleep. (Interesting note about working memory and falling asleep, sounds like it would also be effective for me.)

Other tactics ... I try to switch off multi-tasking (thinking about everything) by concentrating on something, like the white noise, or my breathing if I have no congestion to distract me. If focus doesn't work then I think about thinking about nothing until my mind is clear.

I like to do static stretches before bed and when I can't sleep. It runs off some energy, and it aligns my body. Then I climb into bed, making sure that I'm super-comfy with no pain points, all symmetric joints aligned, and no twists.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Food Cravings

Over the years, I've learned a few things about my food cravings. If I want salty food, I usually need protein. If I eat refined sugar, I just want more sugar (but I can turn that off with fruit, sweet but not refined). If I want chocolate, I'm stressed (or in the presence of really good chocolate). I'm not sure I believe all of it (but hey, it's worth a try), but here's a chart of what to eat for each craving. Some of these are ironic ... if you crave soda then you need calcium, and that soda will likely impair your calcium absorption! Others make sense to me. For instance, craving chocolate is linked to B deficiency, probably the same B's that are mal-absorbed under stress, completing the explanation of my rare chocolate cravings. I prefer the (hint of) scientific explanation for cravings, but since it's a sales pitch, it stops short.

The other craving I get is when I'm late eating a meal, I often get The Hunger, where I want to eat for the rest of the day. It's hard to fight The Hunger, and I'm gassy then too. (Like now. I thought that was a false alarm that I was hungry for lunch at 11:30 AM, but the after-effects indicate otherwise.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Busy with DNS

So we all heard about the DNS flaw announced by DoxPara. Boy, was that a busy week for us! Turns out, the secure version of BIND has this little problem with CPU load, accompanied with complaints about file descriptors, above a certain number of DNS queries per second. Ouch.

The immediate key to get it under control was to add ulimit -n 4096 to named.conf so that BIND would use more of the available file descriptors. The fix with more breathing room was to install the next beta version of BIND that has better performance. We've been out of the woods since then, and we're no longer expecting another shoe to flatten us.

In fact, now we can relax while those who didn't patch have discovered that the flaw has been discovered before its scheduled public announcement ... yikes!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Playing Bridge and Cooking

I heard that Omar Sharif once said women weren't frivolous enough to study bridge enough to play world-class bridge. Sandra Landry, a world-class bridge player, thinks men and women play a different game of bridge too.

Landy suggests that the male game is tougher and more aggressive because of testosterone levels. Men, she says, concentrate better, while women are multitasking, unable to give maximum effort to bridge. ''Obviously,'' she says, ''women are more balanced and lead less obsessive lives. They play bridge to meet people and to enjoy a stimulating pastime away from home, children and career.''

For some reason, this also makes me think of cooking. I know a number of people who cook for their families. The men prepare these outstanding meals. Fancy. The women, myself included, aim for fast and healthy. Scoop a one-bowl meal out of the crockpot? Awriiight! It's a completely different class of cooking. And Sandra's right, I'm not thinking about just cooking, I'm also thinking about my boys, maybe even thinking about work or about catching up with friends ... Impressing anyone with a fancy dinner is not on my radar. And bridge? It's merely a game. We can skip the cards and just chat, too.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I thought I'd try something simple first for the rough skin on the back of my arms and the back of my legs. I know that soap in the US is very drying because Americans expect lots of suds when they lather, and the sudsing agents are drying. (If your skin feels tight after washing, it got too dry.) Sell more suds, then sell more moisturizers, I suppose. I use a very small amount of moisturizing soap in the shower, not enough for suds but enough to feel the soap slide. However, I use an anti-acne soap on my back because that was the only section of my skin that didn't improve when I switched to moisturizing soap many many years ago. For the past month, I've been very conscientious about not spreading excess anti-acne soap off my back. I've trained myself to spread soap thin, so I was putting that extra soap on the back of my arms. Guess what? My arms are so much smoother now! I can't remember when my upper arms have had such smooth skin. And what a simple fix ... I was ready to look at keratosis pilaris treatments, but this is effective and takes less time!

Just (use less) soap. So simple.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Food, Allergy or Intolerance

I was looking for the most common food intolerances since Cale seems not to like something I'm eating. (This morning after breakfast, he was screaming and arching his back while nursing. Classic signs of baby gas.) I found CBS News on Food Allergy versus Food Intolerance, and it had just what I wanted to know, with plenty of additional background information.

A food allergy occurs when your body's immune system mistakenly thinks that a harmless substance (meaning whatever food you happen to be eating) is harmful. In response, the body creates antibodies to that food. The next time you eat that food, the body releases massive amounts of chemicals and histamines to protect you. These chemicals trigger allergic reactions, typically in the respiratory system or gastrointestinal tract.

An intolerance is typically when your digestive system has trouble processing foods that you've ingested. Other parts of your body (such as the respiratory system) may not be affected.

Someone who is allergic to a substance, such as food, will typically react to it in a very short time, whereas someone with an intolerance can react hours later. This is an important thing to keep in mind, because symptoms of allergies and intolerances can be very similar. They include trouble breathing, hives, vomiting, diarrhea and cramping.

There is evidence to suggest that if a parent or a sibling has an allergy, you are more likely to have one. There is also evidence to suggest if that one of these close relatives has a condition such as asthma or eczema, you are more likely to have a food allergy.

Common Food Allergies:

* Dairy

* Eggs

* Wheat

* Soy

* Peanuts

* Tree Nuts

* Fish

These are the most common foods to cause allergic reactions. That said, people can be allergic to almost anything. There are certain allergies (such as milk) that often start and finish in childhood. The nut and fish allergies are more likely to extend into adulthood.

Common Food Intolerances:

* Dairy

* Wheat

* Peanuts

* Tree Nuts

Again, you can have an intolerance to almost any food (just like you could have an allergy to any food), but these are the most common.

Interestingly, eggs, soy, and fish are likely allergens, but are otherwise generally tolerated. Hmm.

Anyway, I can easily track dairy, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts against how Cale reacts to a feeding. This morning, I had just had dairy and wheat (cereal). In the previous 24 hours, I also had tomatoes and peppers (in the nightshade Solanaceae family with potatoes) with garlic and onion (in the Allium family). We'll see how the food tracking goes!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My First Sewing Machine

I'm getting my first sewing machine ready for a new home (yay! I couldn't throw it out, but I rarely used it), and it makes me think of the checklist I used to select it in fall of 1991.

I wanted

  • straight stitch and
  • zig-zag stitches in at least 3mm and 5mm stitch widths,
  • variable stitch lengths,
  • reverse for easy bar tacking,
  • and hopefully a free arm for sewing in tight spaces.

What I sew determines what sewing machine features I use. I've made clothes, accessories (like purses), and some light household items (napkins and curtains). I've added applique accents. Sometimes I mend fabric things, but I usually mend by hand since it seems easier.

For my second and current sewing machine, the main feature I added to that list was a 1-step automatic buttonholer. I was, I confess, also swayed by all of the accessories and specialty stitches on my new one. However, those extras didn't add to the cost once "one-step buttonhole" made the necessary list. I noticed that I made shirts in one long weekend except for the buttonholes, and those took a couple of months to get around to finishing. Making buttonholes fun, instead of a chore, speeds up the whole project.

Between the first sewing machine and the second, I've also added a serger and an embroidery machine to my collection, so I didn't need or want a combination machine. I expect a combo machine to be jack of those trades, master of none.

Sewing machines can last a long time. When I say a working sewing machine is old, I usually mean that it needs to have its timing adjusted. However that service costs $50 or more, a good portion of the cost of a new not-too-specialized machine. Sewing machines have their timing slip most commonly when sewing heavy fabrics, like layers of denim. After the timing goes, a sewing machine doesn't stitch thin fabric as well as a new or recently tuned one. So my thought is, use an old machine for the heavy work, and new for light.

I don't like maintenance-free sewing machines (or anything else). They may go longer without service, but at a high cost. The maintenance-free failure mode is that it breaks, while the maintenance one just needs that tune-up. Hmm, several tune-ups (maybe many!) versus dead. Not a tough choice for me since I don't mind oiling and cleaning my sewing machine! Other than that, I like good workmanship (it just fits together well) and a good sound (easier to hear when you need maintenance).