Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trying to Get Right with Light

So... an interesting thing happened a month or so ago. Windows 10 installed a major update on my computer, and with it came a new feature: Night Light.

It's basically a setting that allows you to set up a schedule to automatically filter out the blue light which supposedly prevents your body from producing melatonin, and thus, keeps you up at night. I wasn't really expecting it to have much of an impact on me, but boy was I wrong!

A few days after installing it, I started noticing something I've never really experienced before... evening drowsiness.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I am a life long night owl. Every few months I vow to reform my ways, but I just always feel wide awake at night, and it's really, REALLY hard to force yourself to go to bed when you feel more alert the later it gets.

I mean, seriously, I've been fighting this issue my entire life. And I don't just mean my entire adult life... I've been battling with bedtime as long as I can remember. At some point early on in my childhood my mother just gave up, and decided to let me stay up as late as I wanted. I think she thought I'd just inevitably get sleepy and the problem would correct itself, but what really happened was that I was just tired all the time, and had and impossible time getting out of bed in the mornings.

Honestly, it almost felt like my body was just wired wrong or something - like I was meant to live on a planet with 28 hour days or something. There's even a name for this syndrome, it's called "Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder." Anyhow, over the years I've tried sunlight therapy, full spectrum lamps, forcing myself to get up earlier, forcing myself to go to bed earlier, "sleep hygiene" routines, melatonin supplements, and pretty much anything else I could think of. None of it ever worked, so I had basically come to the conclusion that his was just something I'd have to live with for the rest of my life.

But suddenly, here I am, actually feeling tired at night! What a revelation! Could it really be that simple?

Anyhow, I did some reading and discovered that there is some evidence to suggest that people with chronic night owl syndrome like me are simply much more sensitive to artificial light than your average bear. Hmmm... 

Suddenly I recalled a visit to the eye doctor where I was told that I was not a good candidate for Lasik surgery because my pupils were too big. Hmmm...

Well, long story short, I decided to make a concerted effort to avoid exposing myself to artificial light - at least blue spectrum light - in the evenings.

I got some special light bulbs designed to filter out the offending blue rays...

I installed an app called "Twilight" on my television (it's and Android TV) - which does pretty much the same thing the Windows Night Light settings do.

A friend bought me a Himalayan Salt Lamp - which is supposed to help you sleep. They claim it works by emitting negative ions, but I think it might have more to do with the reddish light it emits:

And I even bought some LED candles to use at night instead of turning on the overhead lights. I have them scattered throughout the house, and once your eyes adjust, they are plenty bright to see by.

The results have been nothing short of life altering. I don't think there's any risk of me becoming a morning person, but I've actually been going to bed 2-3 hours earlier and getting up closer to 9am than noon for the first time in my adult life. And the thing is... I'm not struggling with it. I mean, usually when I try to reform, it's a matter of will power - I have to force myself to go to bed when I'm not sleepy. But this time around, I'm actually getting sleepy before I go to bed.

I don't want to get ahead of myself here, because I've tried and failed soooo many times before, But I am honestly hopeful that this time around it might actually stick. And I have to say, these short days of December don't seem nearly so horrible when you can actually get up in time to enjoy a few more hours of daylight.

So I'm wondering, has anybody else out there had any experience with this sort of thing? I'd love to hear what has and hasn't worked for you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Water Closet Report

Hello World! Anybody still remember me?

Well, on the off chance that you do, I figured I'd write and give you an update.

So, I finally got to a good stopping place with the bathroom, and... well... I stopped. At least for now.



The tub still needs to be refinished, It needs a coat of paint on the walls, and I have to decide what to do about the tub surround. But honestly, I sorta got tired of living in a construction zone, plus, I wanted to give it a few months to see if my shower fix was gonna hold.

This is a long story, but for the 20-some-odd years that I've lived in this house, the shower has never worked. There was a problem with the diverter valve that points the water to either the tub or the shower. I replaced it several times, but it just didn't work right, and after a few turns, water would come out of both the tub and shower, making it really hard to use either one. Soo... I had given up and just figured that I had to choose either having a tub or a shower, and being a fan of long hot baths, I chose tub.

But, given the fact that I'm planning on replacing the tub surround, I decided it was time to either fix it, or tear out the wall and replace the entire fixture. I honestly wasn't hopeful about fixing it, but in my online journeys, I happened upon someone with a similar problem. Turned out that the faucet was made by Delta, and that the valve was a replacement made by a different company... which, while it looked exactly the same, was slightly bigger in diameter, and thus it didn't fit properly. So, I ordered the genuine replacement part from Delta and... voila!

I had to replace the shower head, but the results are sort of amazing. I feel a bit like I've jumped ahead a few centuries in terms of bathroom technology. Honestly, having a functioning shower is sort of life altering. I'm not giving up my hot baths, but having the ability to take a quick shower is really, really nice.

Anyhow, I decided to wait on dealing with the tub surround just to be sure that this fix is gonna hold, and also because I'm finding that what works for baths does not necessarily work as well for showers when it comes to things like shelf position, towel storage and the like. So I figured it would be good to sort out exactly what I want before I delve into replacing it.

That's my excuse, at any rate.

So here's part two of the water closet report...

Meet my other water closet!

As part of my efforts to be prepared for whatever, I decided that in addition to having surplus food on hand, I ought to stock up on water. So, whenever I end up with a glass bottle with a screw top, instead of tossing it in the recycling, I wash it out, fill it with water, and store it in a closet in the basement. I also have some commercial bottled water, and an emergency filter called a "life straw" but, it seems silly to pay for water and/or containers, when you can get both practically for free.

So tell me, do any of you have an emergency supply of water on hand? I'm curious what method you use.

In other news... we've had insanely warm weather here in Denver, so CatMan and I have been riding up a storm. It was 81 degrees yesterday (27C) and we took full advantage of the weather for a long bike ride to the top of the Bear Creek Dam.

The sun setting fast... just enough time to race home before it got completely dark!

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season. Would love to hear what you've been up to in the comments!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bathroom Update - AKA Slow Progress is Still Progress

Holy Moly, folks... I feel like it's been forever since I've posted. Sorta feeling like I've been swallowed by my bathroom!

So, let's see... since I last blathered about this topic there have been many trials and tribulations, but I am making progress.

I was gonna go through each of my hurdles and whine about them all, but I decided that you're probably not all that interested. So here's the abbreviated version.

I had to install a new toilet shut-off valve and deal with a lead flange and lead bend drain pipe that weren't installed properly to begin with. This involved a week or two of research, and I thought I might actually have to tear out the sub floor and have the entire toilet drain re-plumbed. But I managed to come up with a solution that didn't involve going that far.

So then it was FINALLY on to the tiling part. As it turned out, Lowe's wouldn't cut the tile for me after all, so I ended up buying a wet saw - which turned out to have a bent blade... which I didn't realize until CatMan told me that the thing should NOT be vibrating so strongly that it walks across the workbench. So that had to be returned and replaced.

I ended up re-working my pattern a zillion times to come up with something that was both aesthetically pleasing and minimized the difficult cuts... I still butchered a few pieces of tile, but at least I didn't saw any fingers off.

Then I had to go on an adventure figuring out which sort of mortar to use for the underlayment and the tile... and it got complicated - and I ended up having to drive all over town to get the right stuff.

And then I had a bit of difficulty using the "single component" grout which resulted in me screaming at the top of my lungs at 1 o'clock in the morning after many, many hours of fighting with the stuff. At which point I realized that the window was wide open, and I started wondering if one of the neighbors was gonna call the cops. Nobody did... and I'm not sure if that's comforting or not.

But anyhow, the final step (so far) was to paint the hideous plastic wall tile... which I just finished a few hours ago.

Sooo.... there is still much to be done, but here's how it looks so far:

It's sorta hard to get a decent angle for a photo in such a small room, but you get the idea.

So tomorrow the toilet goes in... Oh, I can't wait to not have to run down to the basement bathroom umpteen times a day! And I really hope that the flange extender/repair system that I bought works!

I had to special order baseboards because I needed a funny height - but they should arrive next week. And now that the wall tile is all painted, the wall is looking quite dingy to me. I think maybe I'll paint it a very light gray color.

And, of course I need to replace that horrible mauve colored tub surround... but I did manage to get the shower diverter valve fixed... which means that I don't actually have to tear out the wall and replace the faucet, I can just do the tub surround. And once that's done, I can have the tub resurfaced.

Of course... doing all this makes me want to replace the sink with a vanity and replace the medicine cabinet... but that will mean tearing out the plastic wall tile and dealing with all that... so I think that part will have to wait a while.

I do think I'll get a new towel rack and replace the mini blind with a cellular shade though. And next time I have to deal with the sink I'll probably try to replace those plastic train pipes with chrome - it would look much better. And I really would like to deal with that horrible hole in the door...

Gah! Well, so far my little project, which I naively waded into thinking it would take me 2-3 days has taken about 5 weeks. Oy!

I suppose that's to be expected though, when you don't really know what you're doing, and every step of the way you have to stop and do a bunch of research and then bumble your way through. Thank God for the interwebs though. I can't imagine how anyone ever managed a DIY project without it!

Anyhow, that's pretty much what I've been up to for the past month! If I wasn't so tired, I'd go back and fill this post with cute kitty pictures, but instead, I think I'll just go collapse in bed.

Hope you're all happy and well, and enjoying the beginning of autumn!