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I’m waiting for Jabez to come back as a hot new trendy baby name.

Go get it helicopter parents! Guaranteed to be unique in their classroom.


Jet lag

Everyone has a recipe for getting over jet lag. Food, timing of meals, entraining sleep before leaving [1], not eating on the plane, blah blah blah.

And believe me, I have suffered from the jet lag. I have read a shitload of books at 3 am, and faceplanted uncontrollably more than once in the cleanroom at 3pm. I have felt about as shitty after a week without more than two consecutive hours of sleep as I ever want to feel. As a result, sleep has gone from being something I could take or leave to being something I treasure. I don’t need a lot, but I want those six hours.

After I figured out this recipe, the last half-dozen trips have been fairly painless, even with a 10-12 hour time change.

Here’s what works for me, honed down after about three dozen flights to Europe, Asia, and Australia [2]:

  • Exercise – Get out and get tired. It helps if you can do this in the…
  • Sunlight – Obviously. For me, Greece or Spain is easier than Germany. But a gym works. Get a workout every day for the first few days.
  • Melatonin – Seems to help me. In any case it doesn’t seem to hurt.
  • Ambien – for the first two or three nights. IANAD [3]
  • Tension Tamer – Again, works for me. Reliably makes me nod off about 20 minutes after I take it, just about the same time the Ambien kicks in. So get those teeth brushed and get in bed.
  • Sleep mask – Get a good comfortable one.
  • Earplugs – if you are in a noisy place. Whatever brand works for you. You want to sleep through the night. Turn your damn phone off.
  • No booze – especially if you are taking a sleep aid like Ambien. I relax this later, but for the first few days, it just doesn’t help. Yeah, it’ll make me sleepy. But then I am wide awake at 0300, and there is nothing worse than that.

Screens don’t seem to make any difference to me, except in the sense of it’s better to unplug from the world for a while before you go to bed. iPad/airplane mode/reading is fine.

YMMV of course.


[1] This just seems like you are moving the pain to before you leave instead of after, if you are going to bed at 1800 before the trip, or fasting or whatever.

[2] So that’s about six dozen episodes of JL, if you are counting – coming and going. Yes, it is easier going west than east.

[3] I am a doctor, just not that kind of doctor. Ambien works for me. I’ve struggled with this. I am reluctant to take drugs, and I’ve been awake at 4 am lots of times looking at the bottle knowing it’s too late to take it now because I have to be at work at 7 am. Wishing 10pm me was smarter than 4am me.

Not everyone reacts well. I have heard all the takes on this – it’s not real sleep, it’s hallucinatory, it’s sleepwalking, sleepeating, sleepdriving. I have no evidence that I’m not sleepwalking when I take it, but I wake up eight hours later in bed in the same position I fell asleep, feeling refreshed. The fridge is still full. I’ve never taken it more than three days running – I’ve never needed to. Two nights in a row is usually good, then TTT and melatonin will do the trick by themselves.

But I don’t try to tough it out anymore. At 2200 local time, for the first two nights, I drink the tea, take the melatonin, and take the damn Ambien. 10 mg is pretty much a guaranteed eight hours of sleep. Eight hours of drug-induced fake sleep is way better than being exhausted.

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So my work email server decided once again to be incompatible with Apple Mail 1. I could see my inbox, but all archived mail Went Away 2. Still, Outlook sucks. Search is horrible.

In looking for the solution, I found the interesting official Apple Exchange Support document:

11k emails max! 5k emails recommended! Are you kidding me. I’ve worked on the same projects for literally a decade 3. Since launch is scheduled for 2034, I expect to have a few more email strings that I’d like to refer back to in the course of my work. I don’t even know how to begin to cut my email back to 11k.

Fuck you MS, and what genius at work decided that Exchange was a good choice.

Sadly though, most of my old emails have been “archived”, thus seriously affecting their usefulness. “Archived” means that all the attachments have been moved from the email server to another server, thus destroying the integrity of the email for archival purposes while not actually saving any disk space. Old emails are just text and free-floating images now. Context is gone.

This is a Seriously Bad Thing – many of the decisions we made back then affect the design of the mission in 2034, and the data that will be taken in 2043, were based on arguments made in long email chains of plots of simulations and analysis and discussion. Those are now borked, in the name of saving space on one server, but not on another. Good work folks.

The same people are now implementing an ID-card based login identity verification. You can’t log in to any computers at work unless you plug your chip-enabled card into a USB dongle. Not sure how that works if you:

  • Forget your card – turn around and drive back to Santa Monica/Palmdale/Irvine?
  • Need to run an overnight simulation? This is the same card that gets you through the front gate.
  • Need to use more than one system? I have two computers, laptop and desktop.
    I can’t run a sim on one and go to a meeting with the other? 4
  • Need to log into my desktop from Germany to get a file? Because, you know, I’ve only been to Germany about 30 times now to work on a collaborative project. For work.

Let’s not even consider that most of the documents on my computer are also on my phone. Shall we attach a dongle to the phone to make me plug in a card to use that?

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