Rodiq » Posts in 'eco' category

Sleep and biorhythm tricks

One winter I stayed so much in the house, that I could not go to sleep any more, my biorhythm was completely off. My luck,  I had the time to make my own research and experiments. In case you want to try (with no warranties), here are my “workarounds” for a good night sleep:

Step 1

Making sure the body knows when the day starts

According to recent studies we need to expose in the morning for 15 minutes to light of 1500 lux. The trick: there are 1500 lux outside, even if cloudy, but not so often in the house. My shortcut: taking breakfast on the balcony, or going for a short walk early in the morning. A lux meter app on the smart phone is useful to check the light intensity.

Some cold face on the face and hands may help to amplify the morning cortisol spike.

Scheduling cardio exercise in the morning also is a good sign we send to our body the day has started ;)

Never tried, but Philips blue light lamp for the mornings seems an excellent idea.

Also it seems that exposure to outdoor light during the day improves the production of  melatonin in the night.

Step 2

Making sure the body knows when the day ends

After a normal day ends it helps not to expose yourself to blue light, which is specific for daytime. To do so:

- use warm light bulbs in the house (approx 2700 Kelvin). I prefer halogens, the color spectrum has higher quality than the economical light bulbs.

- i installed f.lux on my laptop, it makes my screen orange after sunset. I installed a similar app on my smart phone and tablet.

- I do not use a computer screen to watch movies, I project them on a wall, like in cinema.  TV screens have too much blue light, it does not help watching TV 1-2 hours before going to bed.

- special trick: late in the night I close the light on the ceiling and I start a light that stays on the floor (to mimic sunset). We are also influenced by the position of the light source.

- I changed to red/orange colors the background  on all devices that I use after sunset (anything but blue is better)

- no cardio exercises in the evening. If this is not possible, it helps at least lowering the exercise intensity and scheduling it as many hours before sleep time as possible.

- I prefer lower light intensity in the house 1 hour before going to bed.

- in the bedroom there is complete darkness

- I use a kindle paperwhite to read before falling asleep. E-ink technology makes pages visible with very little light, and it does not disturb my sleep quality. It is so much better than using a tablet, and even better than reading a “real” book with a light bulb on

- I try not to use lights if I wake up during the night. Low intensity red lights with movement sensors may help avoiding to turn on the lights. These night lights are easy to find in the stores.

Step 3

Making sure the body knows that you want a high quality 8h sleep

A new study suggests we are hardwired to sleep in the coldes 8h of the  24 day hours. Having a slightly colder bedroom seems to help (19 to max 21 degrees Celsius)

Our body knows if it is spring/summer/autumn/winter  via Vitamin(Hormone) D3 levels. Our metabolism, like the metabolism of all living things on this earth, adapts to seasons, and our sleep patterns also. D3 is a very smart season indicator, used by animals, because naturally you can have it very elevated only during summer, and very low only during winter.  During summer the night is short, so  we sleep without waking up in the night. Nature is abundant in the summer, so the body knows it has lots of energy to use as needed.  In winter nights are long, the sleep is not continuous, we wake up from time to time. Animals conserve the  resources in winter, because they are scarce, and they have a lower metabolic rate. But as we stay all day indoor, working in our offices, our D3 levels indicate to our body that is winter. But we want to stay up at night until late, as it was eternal summer…   Optimizing D3 levels is a long story. There are lots of info at Vitamin D3 Council. There is a blood test called 25OH, to add to the yearly medical checkup. Optimal daily sun exposure is very important. If needed, D3 supplements can be used when the sun is not strong enough.

 

Step 4

Diminishing other potential biorhythm disruptors.

- as low caffeine as possible. Some people (like me) are more sensitive to caffeine, as it is processed  very slowly. Usually I am ok with green tea. I gave up caffeine addiction many times. Always is the same for me: for two weeks  there is hell, then I start feeling as good without coffee as I was before with it. Bonus, sometimes I manage to take a nap after lunch (but not when drinking coffee in the morning). To be able to lower caffeine, I found music gives me a great energy boost, also fresh air and exposure to cold water.

- not (too much) alcohol before going to bed (it lowers sleep quality)

- no eating heavy meals before going to bed

Step 5

Adding good daily routines

- drinking lots of water in the morning, right after getting up

- eating at the same hours each day (small meals if we are so not hungry)

- opening all the house  windows for at least 10 minutes early in the morning, and again before going to bed at night. Also during winter.

I could watch the quality of my sleep improving using my mobile phone. I installed a good sleep app and put my phone  under my pillow (in airplane mode ideally). I liked it more than using a wrist sleep monitoring device, because in the morning I could immediately see the sleep report on the phone screen. No need to synchronize a second device with a phone app. For iphone/ipad I liked a lot an app called “Sleep Cycle”. My prefered smart phone app a year ago was   “Sleep as Android”.

 

Of course, we would not need these tricks if we lived the lives of our grandparents. The biorhythm is disturbed in a soft but definitive way by our technology (artificial light, screens of devices, staying all day indoor, not exposed to the elements). The good news:  solutions like the ones above are very easy to apply.

 

 

Wizdom of crowds and tomorrow’s batteries

One book that fascinated me and changed my perspective about modern world is The Wisdom of Crowds, by James-Surowiecki

And today is the perfect moment to observe wisdom of crowds in action. As green energy usage has grown from an insignificant less than one percent amount, to a significant slice of the yearly average and more than 50% of power production for the peaks (very sunny summer days or extreamly windy days). But there is a but. The old power grid requires that the power usage equals power generation. This worked ok during the old days, when the power generation was constant, and has become a nightmare when power generation  massively fluctuates .

An extreme example: the solar eclipse at noon, on 20 March, if it will be a sunny day,  will make power management a nightmare for Germany, more  explanations here.

The problem is that we currently do not have a cheap battery technology to allow efficient and  with no significant environment damage to stock the peak green energy  output until the moment it is needed. And this problem is also a great business opportunity, someone could have huge gains from buying energy cheap and selling it at a high price when the demand is great. Not to mention that if the battery is highly reusable, the gain is multiplied by the number of reloads….

Of course we also need better battery technology for our mobile devices (smartphones and laptops), and mostly for electric cars. But this is a secondary issue, we have the current batteries, that do their job, and electric cars can wait, while we use electic common transport in the city, electric trains for efficient long distance travel and the extraordinary already available bicycle technology. The question is how to store for a few days the huge power output of a solar plant or wind farm. Until now the problem could be ignored, while these technologies were not significantly used, but this is not the case anymore, not in Germany, and not in the United States either.

So here it comes the wisdom of crowds. I did a quick search and found quite a few creative ideas for battery technology of tomorrow. Which technology(es) will win? Time will tell. The wisdom of inventors will team with the wisdom of users and the best will win.

Huge liquid metal batteries?

Compressed gas?

Hydraulic rock lifting?

Computer designed chemicals?

Molten salt?

Pumped water storage in dams?

 

The Super Supercapacitor

Cu bicicleta la mare

Incerc sa imi gasesc cuvintele. Si am usoare retineri, pt ca degetele imi mai sunt inca inclestate.

A fost frumos, si a inceput pentru noi participatii acum o luna, cand ne-am grabit sa ne inscriem si am prins un loc. Pentru organizatori, incepuse probabil de mai mult…

Au luat 250 oameni startul acum 2 ani, am socotit eu ca daca se va trage anul acesta  linie la 150 de inscrisi, se vor epuiza locurile ca painea calda. Ceea ce s-a si intamplat.

Pregatiri inainte nu am facut suficiente, doar o tura de o zi prin padure, de 70 km. Fata de acum doi ani  m-am echipat mult mai bine. Tot mtb (mult dintre cei inscrisi  au avut cursiere), dar un mtb usor, cu sa f moale  si slickuri umflate la  maxim. Plus alte mici conforturi: manusi, bluza racoroasa si mulata, pantaloni cu buretel, ochelari, crema cu factor 50, borsetuta la ghidon, sa nu am rucsac in spate.

Cu o zi inainte am trecut pe carbohidrati: paine, croissanti, cartofi, mamaliga, paste, seara paste, noaptea paste, dimineata cafea. Ma simteam la start plina cu varf de energie. De neuitat atmosfera incinsa si entuziasmul nebun, la iesirea din Pantelimon, cu gandul sa ajungem toti pedaland pana la mare, depasind sirul nesfarsit de masini blocate in trafic, propulsati doar de vointa.

Bun, zis si facut, incepe pedalarea, nu inainte de a recunoaste cu mult drag fetele cunoscute de acum 2 ani dar si o multime de oameni noi. Multe masini, dar si noi multi, si cu echipaj de politie de partea noastra. Pedalam frumos, 20/ora, o vreme perfecta, soare, fara nici o sansa de ploaie. La intrarea in Islaz prima oprire, mai iau o gura de apa, imi pun manusile, timp pt o poza si am si repornit la drum. Mult mai usor decat data trecuta, imi gasesc locsorul in randul lung de ciclisti, la adapost de vantul din lateral-fata care ne-a luat oarecum prin surprindere, o data ce am iesit din primele sate. Soarele a inceput sa urce, si deja asteptam a doua oprire, care insa n-a mai avut loc… M-am ambitionat sa nu ma opresc si am tinut-o mai departe, km 40, 44, 46, … 50, sete, 55, … pana vad o tasnitoare pe margine si mai multi “de-ai nostrii” opriti in iarba, n-am mai rezistat tentatiei, am oprit si am terminat jumatate de litru de apa fara sa ma opresc. Mi-am scos si manusile (mare greseala ca nu le testasem in tura lunga, ma strangeau suficient cat sa fie mai bine fara) si am pornit mai departe. La km 60 oprirea mult asteptata iar la  km 70 prima  oprire oficiala, aici surpriza, exista un cort cu umbra, munti de apa, si muuulte portocale gata taiate rondele. Plus energizante si croisanti. Deodata nivelul de energie uuuum  sus la maxim.

Pornim mai departe, acum parca se simtea mai tare vantul, dar deja ne facusem cunostinta cu oamenii din pluton si conversatiile erau in toi. Apoi la un moment dat a venit marea liniste, doar noi si drumul si campurile de rapita. De pedale uitasem deja ca si de griji si trafic. La un moment dat ne impartim in 2, cursieristii care vroiau sa ajunga mai repede la Amara la o bere au luat-o inainte, restul am ramas impreuna, cu gandul sa ajunga cati mai multi dintre noi la Slobozia la sfarsitul zilei. Opriri mai dese, din 15 in 15 km, si nu stiu cum dar a zburat timpul si am ajuns la Drajna, unde se face stanga.

Moment magic, vantul care batea din dreapta ajunge sa bata usor si din spate si sa ne dea aripi. Zburam pe asfaltul perfect, pe langa lanurile de rapita, drumul are o usoara panta foarte greu vizibila dar foarte dulce. La un moment dat cineva din pluton observa ca mi s-a descheiat un siret. Foarte greu ma hotarasc sa ma opresc, sa nu pierd plutonul, din fericire nu ma opresc singura si usor usor ii ajungem din urma pe ceilalti.

O ultima alimentare la Lidl in Slobozia, si apoi ocolim orasul impreuna (nu singuri ratacitori ca altadata) si ajungem la rondul spre Amara. Toata lumea goneste, mai putin eu care ma stiam neantrenata, cu musca pe caciula , si ma hotarasc sa imi dozez putinul de energie pt maine. Merg incet, ma opresc la intrarea in Amara pt o poza.

La hotel, totul impecabil, garez bicla in 3 minute, recuperez rucsac din autocar, imi iau cheia, am fix timp pt un dus si cina e gata. Mancam toti portii gargantuesti si meritate. Aplaudam din tot sufletul organizatorii si sponsorii, primim cadouri la tombola. Cu greu ma despart de colegii de masa si la 11 seara adorm cu mintea confuza intre linistea pedalatului si bucuria socializarii.  Noaptea, inca un baton cu energie, fara nici o mustrare de constiinta :)

La sapte dimineata fix micul dejun, paream distrusi seara dar dimineata nu prea vrea nimeni sa o ia inapoi. Un mic dejun copios, o cafea tare, putina incalzire, si la 8:45 plutonul era in miscare. Se porneste tare insa incerc sa nu fortez si ajung printre ultimii la Lidl unde are loc marea regrupare.

Pornim repede la drum intins si ne prinde farmecul drumului, soarele nu e inca tare, drumul coboara foarte usor spre Dunare, si nu se misca nici o frunza. E liniste si mergem in grupulete, unii mai repede, altii mai incet. Imi gasesc intai un grup care insoteste un Brompton (ma intreb oare a mai facut vreun Brompton drumul pana la mare?), apoi ne regrupam cateva fete mtb-iste si baieti cu gecile in vant. Mergem chiar si noi mai incetii cu 23-25. Tin si eu trena pentru putin timp (micul meu moment de glorie). Ne oprim cam din 15 in 15 km, in curand si primul pitstop, ca de obicei reincarc 1.5 litri de apa. Nu am idee cati litri de apa am baut toata tura, insa nu a fost putina. Imi simt un ligament in lateralul genunchiului, si ma resimt la pulpa dreapta, imbinarea cu tendonul lui achile. Ma bucur ca am luat tape cu mine si improvizez un x pt genunchi si cu un y de la calcai imi ajut si punctul meu sensibil, tendonul lui achile. Imi dau seama ca s-ar putea sa nu pot termina astazi, si ma lupt cu mine, incerc sa ma conving sa nu cad prada tentatiei de a termina cu orice pret. Ma bucur mult ca exista autocarul in care ma pot sui oricand daca nu mai pot. Dupa cateva curbe largi apare majestuos mult asteptatul pod peste Dunare, trecem, savurez momentul. Imediat dupa alt punct de regrupare.

Nu pierdem timpul pretios, nu este bine ora pranzului si deja ne luptam cu Dobrogea. Daca pana la Dunare drumul te invita sa il pedalezi, parca a fost facut pt asta, cum treci podul, vine vantul din fata si pantele si incepe greul. Dar nu chiar imediat, inca mai sunt cativa km cu pante mai domoale, iar vantul e taiat de baietii de nadejde din pluton. Cand incep insa pantele, pentru mine incepe greul. Cum incec sa cresc un pic viteza, cum simt ca fortez piciorul, si raman usor in urma. Un baiat ma vede chinuita si sta cu mine multi multi km, ma tine de vorba, imi taie vantul. Ne reintalnim cu ceilalti la opririle din 15 in 15 km. Ma hotarasc sa numar pantele. Prima este cea mai parsiva, abrubta la inceput si foarte lunga dupa, dureaza o eternitate. La un moment dat ma uit la kilometraj si am 7 la ora. Ma gandesc apoi sa nu ma mai uit :) Cum ajung sus ma opresc si ii fac o poza.

O vale frumoasa, inca o panta si iar ma regrupez. Merg usor usor sa nu imi stric ceva la picior. Schimb mereu vitezele, e destul de greu, am degetele alunecoase si amortite.   Ma uit la ceas si ma gandesc ca e inca devreme, soarele e inca tare si sus deasupra capului. Pe la nr 5 sau 6 pierd numarul pantelor. Pe marginea drumului este o banda de asfalt proaspat, soarele bate tare de sus, si mi se face teama sa nu ametesc, ma opresc des sa beau apa. La un moment dat vad in zare pe panta pe cineva care urca pe langa bicla. Un baiat cu o bicla foarte grea, dar nu vrea sa renunte. Merg si eu pe bicla pana ajung langa el si apoi urcam impreuna pe picioare.  Ne intalnim mai multi, aflam ca va fi un punct de alimentare in 5 km. Urmeaza o panta grea, insa dupa ce o urcam dupa cateva sute de metri dam de punctul de alimentare. Ma trantesc in iarba, mananc batoane si imi trag sufletul.

Organizatorii formeaza un pluton de mtb-isti si se pleaca impreuna la drum, in ritm incet, si cu multa voie buna. Eu cu piciorul meu totusi nu reusesc sa ma tin de ei, dar ma hotarasc sa aman renuntarea cat pare posibil. Incep sa atac pantele singura. Gasesc un ritm, de melc, dar functioneaza. Cu bucurie ajung din urma plutonul la urmatoarea oprire, insa iarasi nu pot tine ritmul cu ei. Imi regasesc ritmul meu, il regasesc si pe baiatul cu bicla grea, si mergem iarasi impreuna. Iarasi regasim plutonul, sunt extraoridinari, nu se grabesc, se asteapta si se ajuta. Umbrele au inceput sa se lungeasca, doar imi reumplu bidoanele cu apa si o iau inainte, vajaie masinile cu viteza si vreau sa stiu plutonul mare in spate, macar de-as ajunge cu ei pana la Kogalniceanu, unde se fac 2 benzi.

Aflu ca mai e putin si se termina dealurile. La o panta vad in vale salvarea mea, o caruta, masinile incetinesc sa o ocoleasca si scap si eu de vajaieturi si sperieturi. Ajung caruta, nu o depasesc, conversez un pic cu oamenii din ea si incepe o panta. Calutul, cu caruta plina, ma depaseste grav (ma consolez doar cu gandul ca nu vine de la Bucuresti), insa ii ajung iar din urma la vale si de data asta ii depasesc. In curand ajunge si plutonul din urma, incerc sa stau cu ei, insa nu reusesc. Ma hotarasc, nu mai vin altadata atat de neantrenata.

Bucurie maxima, din sens opus vine comitetul de intampinare din Constanta. Baietii sunt geniali, aplauda pe toata lumea care a ajuns. Ma ajuta sa stau si eu in pluton. La un moment dat vreau sa ma opresc, dar nu se poate, trec pe langa autocar si oamenii ma incurajeaza. In capul pantei dam peste alt baiat care luase o ultima pauza. Constanteanul inimos care m-a ajutat pana aici preda stafeta baiatului din iarba. Ne intelegem perfect din prima: la vale e simplu, la deal e greu. Umbrele sunt lungi dar gasim de undeva puterea sa terminam si ultimii km, iesim de pe banda dubla, scapam cu chiu cu vai de Lumina, fara pene si nespulberati de microbuze, de gropile din Navodari, trecem podul, si vedem marea, ne reintalnim cu toata lumea si facem cunostinta (eu si baiatul care am facut impreuna ultimii 30 de km…)

Tirul se umple  varf cu bicle, autocarele cu ciclisti. Seara tarziu ajungem in Bucuresti, unde gasim biclele aliniate in parcare (multumiri anonimilor care le-au descarcat din tir-ul pus la dispozitie de Edy Spedition) si plecam tot in pluton pe la casele noastre.  Totul a fost impecabil, multumesc sponsorilor si organizatorilor: ProSport, Lucian Mandruta, Geo Batesaua a fost o tura splendida!

Ce carti am mai “consumat”

Cateva carti poate cam serioase, insa mi-au placut:
“Zoomenirea“, Desmond Morris (de acelasi autor Maimuta Goala, despre care am mai scris aici). Mi-a prins foarte bine ca am citit-o inainte de vizita la NY – orasul cu mai mare densitate umana din State, a fost la un moment dat si cea mai dens populata zona de pe glob.

“The Theory of the Leisure Class“, Thorstein Veblen.  A fost un chin sa o citesc in engleza, textul este disponibil aici. Sper sa gasesc si varianta tradusa in librarii.
E fascinat sa gasesc societatea de consum explicata atat bine  cu mai mult de un secol in urma. M-a minunat ideea ca societatea in care traim este un produs direct al naturii umane. Exista influenta media, dar se bazeaza pe pornirile noastre ancestrale. Ce va urma? nu se stie, insa cei pe care i-am intrebat sunt de acord la unison ca nu se poate trece la alt sistem pana cand nivelul de trai nu este suficient de mult timp ridicat incat oamenii sa se gandeasca si la altceva decat la capra vecinului (sau pana cand nu va mai ramane nimic de consumat). Nordicii par sa fie deschizatori de drumuri.

Din aceeasi tematica am citit mai demult “Societatea de consum“, Jean Baudrillard.

nostalgii velo

Zgribulita si adormita de atata ploaie, imi aduc aminte de vremuri mai bune. Instantanee velo din vacanta, pe o vreme perfecta de pedalat ….

cu bicicleta la mare

Ca antrenament, pentru ca ma bate gandul sa ajung la prima evadare, si cum mi s-a povestit de atmosfera incarcata de energie de la deja traditionalul mars de 1 mai al velorutionarilor catre mare, am vrut sa insotesc anul acesta plutonul pe 30-40 km, urmand sa ma reintorc in Bucuresti, si poate la anul, mai bine pregatita, sa incerc intregul parcurs.

Zis si facut, de 1 mai, la 9 dimineata, cu bidonul plin de apa si 3 bagete de susan la mine, pe mtb, in Parcul Circului. Atmosfera incredibila, peste 230 de oameni entuziasti gata sa porneasca la drum. In curand a ajuns si amica mea Catalina, ce urma sa ma insoteasca in acest scurt antrenament. O surpriza placuta, erau prezenti foarte multi dintre oamenii pe care ii vazusem cu cateva zile inainte la costum pe bicicleta.

Am pornit in curand, in directia Branesti, primii km s-au evaporat pur si simplu. Am incercat sa gasesc si alti amatori de o intoarcere rapida, dar toata lumea vroia sa mearga pana la capat.

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business pe bicicleta

Ziua buna se cunoaste de dimineata: trezita usor mai devreme decat de obicei, am participat la prima defilare pe bicicleta in tinuta business –   se poate, chiar si in Bucuresti :)

Cateva poze de la eveniment:

http://www.len.ro/photo/20100429-business-pe-bicicleta/index.html

Si site-ul oficial:

http://www.businesspebicicleta.ro/

a theory about sustainability

i am not an expert in history, but i think that studying it we can observe various models of societies, usually a model being in time changed with another, and exception the usual despotic regimes (that never had a long life), the models used improved in time. there were all sorts of experiments, from old Greek democracies to feudal empires, primitive capitalist societies and communism.

one thing communism tried to do is to solve the people problem by solving equally the basic needs of all society members. it was an interesting model in theory, but a very bad one in practice. even it took quite a while, it was obvious in the end that it was an utopia, that people were not generally happier than in other models currently available, and of course people changed it.

now in Romania we are fast adapting to a consumer society, making the change fast forward. it has some curious effects this transition from one extreme to another, change being many times faster than in western world. the perspective is different. but people embrace gladly that rat race of consumerist society, working, spending, watching tv, working, again spending, again watching tv. some people are happy, having the freedom they did not have before, some people start wandering what is the purpose of all that effort, if you never get satisfied and truly happy. but the model is good, there are countries that for hundred of years live in a consumer society, and up to know to my knowledge there were no revolutions that changed this model.

so what’s up next? hoping that one day all inhabitants of this earth will live in a democratic society, will have a house, a car, washing machine and vacuum cleaner and go at least twice a year on holiday?

i think that a simple calculus based on the resources available gives shortly the answer that this is impossible. this idea may have been a bit strange a few years back, but lately, with the world financial crisis, people are putting to themselves a lot of questions. it is easier to accept now that we are depleting earth resources at a rate higher than ever.

the way i see it is like we are all on a trip, in a fast train going forward. the view is nice on the window, the people are nice in the compartment, everything is going well, we are all in fashion every day and we never get bored. but here is a big wall in front of us. it is not yet in the line of site. but we are going towards it and the train is going faster and faster. this train having everybody on board, is a huge mass with a huge inertia.

one day we will be able to see clearly the great obstacle in front of us. and we will push the breaks. but the train is so heavy, it is quite possible that if we wait until then, there will be not enough time to stop before hitting the wall.

i wander then what can we do, so that we don’t get there. and one thing that came to my mind is sustainability, achieving a point where our actions do not change the the balance of the environment, so that our way of living can be extended and perpetuated indefinitely.

ce am mai vazut

Dupa conferinta de la Copehaga si mesele bogate de Craciun, cateva documentare “de sezon” :)

Food Inc: “You’ll never look at dinner the same way again”

The story of stuff: “A look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns”

Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers