Melatonin

“I discuss melatonin’s effects on sleep & its safety with research up to 2015; I segue into the general benefits of sleep and the severely disrupted sleep of the modern Western world, the cost of melatonin use and the benefit (eg. enforcing regular bedtimes), followed by a basic cost-benefit analysis of melatonin concluding that the net profit is large enough to be worth giving it a try barring unusual conditions or very pessimistic safety estimates.”

-Gwern Branwen, “Melatonin.” gwern.net. 14 February 2015.

Inexpensive Landline/VoIP Service Replacement: The OBi202 Voice Adapter

Recently, I had a need for to have a plug-in, landline phone. A cell phone simply wouldn’t get the job done.

Our Internet provider was charging $50/month for VoIP, and even a VoIP specialist wanted $30/month. I wanted a less expensive VoIP option, and I thought there should be something that works with Google Voice. I found the OBi202 Voice adapter.

The OBi202 Voice adapter has two traditional telephone ports, two network ports, a USB and a port for power. This enables you to set-up a traditional telephone line and a separate line for a fax machine. Then, this plugs into the line between your router and the rest of your local network.

You pay a one-time fee for the device, between $65-100, depending on where you purchase and whether it is on sale. There’s a quick set-up process through their website. I had the whole thing up in running inside of 15 minutes. Recommended.

Introduction to Immanuel Kant

“The basic value in Kant’s ethics is that of human dignity – the rational nature in persons as end in itself. A person is a being for whose sake we should act, and that has an unconditional claim on us. This is the source of what Kant calls a categorical imperative: a ground for action that does not depend on any contingent desire of ours or any end to be effected by action set at our discretion. John Rawls corrected the basic and traditional misunderstanding of Kant’s ethics when he said that it is not an ethics of stern command but rather one of self-esteem and mutual respect. To this I would add that Kant’s ethics is also an ethics of caring or empathy – what Kant calls Teilnehmung: sympathetic participation. This is not sympathy merely in the sense of passive feeling for or with others, but instead an active taking part in the standpoint of the other which leads to understanding and concern.”

-Allen W. Wood, “Immanuel Kant: What lies beyond the senses.Times Literary Supplement. February 21, 2020.

Probably the most accessible introduction to Kant’s thought I’ve read. Also worth taking a look at the Five Best Books on Immanuel Kant.

Three Years Without Facebook, Most Social Media

Occasionally, I’ll see an article where someone talks about giving up social media or a specific service – such as Facebook – for a week, a month, 99 days, a year, or even that it isn’t possible for most people. The last may be true. If someone relies on weak ties to get through difficult times in their lives, they probably need to maintain those ties in an efficient way, such as by using Facebook.

For example, if you need to call Uncle Joe to come and pick you up when your car breaks down, Uncle Joe uses Facebook and you don’t see him much, then you probably need to be on Facebook. That’s your reality.

Another reality is that giving up Facebook is that you’ll lose friends. I tend to have a very small social circle. I have a couple of friends, and I invest a lot in those relationships. However, one of my friends lives far away, and we had moved to communicating primarily through Facebook. When I deleted most of my social media accounts back in 2017, the friendship slowly faded after.

So, there’s a price to be paid. You aren’t as connected, and it means some of your relationships will atrophy as a result.

I still maintain a few social media accounts. But, I’ve moved to a model where I do not post anything to social media and I don’t use it. I don’t browse. I don’t post. I don’t comment. On a very rare occasion, I might react or like something. But, I mostly use it so that if there’s a link to, say, Twitter in an email newsletter, I use a Twitter account using a free software app to view it on my phone. There’s no point being a zealot about it.

But, on the other end, I’ll never go back to being a regular user of a service like Facebook, which I don’t use in any form. It’s poisonous and manipulative. I miss my friend, but the cost of maintaining that relationship, and others, through Facebook was simply too high.

Looking at it after three years, I’d recommend leaving it, if you can. At the very least, try a sabbatical, so you can get a feel for what using the service is costing you in terms of your emotional well-being. Uncle Joe will still be there, if you decide log back on after a month off.

The P Word: Pandemic

“We want – and need – to hear advice like this: 

* Try to get a few extra months’ worth of prescription meds, if possible. 

* Think through now how we will take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected. 

* Cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organization’s ability to function.

* Practice touching our faces less. So how about a face-counter app like the step-counters so many of us use? 

* Replace handshakes with elbow-bumps (the “Ebola handshake”). 

* Start building harm-reduction habits like pushing elevator buttons with a knuckle instead of a fingertip. 

There is so much for people to do, and to practice doing in advance.”

-Jody Lanard and Peter M. Sandman, “Past Time to Tell the Public: ‘It Will Probably Go Pandemic, and We Should All Prepare Now’.” Virology Down Under. February 23, 2020.

Letters Live

Actors read historical letters from notable people. This one by Richard Feynman to his wife, who had been dead two years when he wrote it, made me cry. Lovely.

One Pot Wonders

“…the editors of NYT Cooking have put together this modest (and beautiful), wide-ranging (and tightly focused) collection of recipes devoted to the celebration of one-vessel cooking, on the stovetop and in the oven.”

Various authors, “One Pot Meals.” The New York Times. Accessed: February 16, 2020.