The down side of energy drinks

You trick your brain into thinking your body has had enough restorative sleep when it hasn’t. Eventually, your body starts to break down. I’ve used 5-Hour Energy a few times over the last week and I’m kind of sorry I did. I don’t have side effects from the drink itself but haven’t actually gotten the sensible amount of sleep that would rid me of the need for it either. So, I haven’t fallen asleep at the office but I haven’t gotten the rest that my eyes and other body parts need either. My eyes are going a little crossed, I have a fatigue headache that won’t go away, and my brain just isn’t firing on all cylinders. I need some lengthy uninterrupted sleep this weekend, I think. And a regular sleep schedule. But, then, don’t I always?



Woke up feeling like something large was sitting on my chest…and it wasn’t the cat.

A smog advisory was issued for much of southern and eastern Ontario today. The humidity is oppressive. Even now, at 10:30 pm, it’s supposed to be 22 degrees Celsius but it is so humid that I’m absolutely soaked as I sit here typing this. It’s making sleep difficult and I’m having weird dreams when I sleep. Tomorrow looks to be more of the same.

What happened to the lovely dry, temperate weather we had a week ago? It was wonderful. It got up into the low 20s but it wasn’t humid and it wasn’t raining. It was perfection. This is just gross. I don’t know how people live in places where it gets even hotter and more humid. I suppose you’re used to it if you grow up there or you get used to it or you move there because you like it. I think I’d go insane.

My asthma has kicked in, my chest and back hurts, and I just feel icky and sticky.

5-Hour Energy

As you know if you read this blog, I have frequent problems with insomnia. I’m just not a day person. Even though I do like the daytime, I’m just more awake at night. Unfortunately, not sleeping properly at night means you’re groggy or even downright sleepy the next day. Not good if you’re working. I used to try to use Pepsi (my previous caffeine vehicle of choice) but that comes with all kinds of less-than-desireable side effects, including caffeine headaches (or, worse, withdrawal headaches), having to pee constantly, and sugar rushes/crashes. It does the trick but, boy, it makes a mess of you while it does it.

5-hour energyKnowing this about myself, and knowing that it was going to become an issue at least once during this new contract, I picked up some berry-flavoured 5-Hour Energy at a local convenience store a couple of weeks ago. Had seen commercials for it but didn’t know anyone who had actually used it before. Looked worth a try. Haven’t needed it…until today.

Couldn’t stay awake this morning, especially since I was doing a monotonous task that I was going to be doing ALL day. Tried to move around, take little stretch breaks, graze continuously but by about 1:30, I was done. A time if ever there was one to try the 5-Hour Energy.


Have you ever chewed a blueberry flavoured vitamin C tablet? Pretty tart tasting, yes? Picture chewing a handful of those with a packet of artificial sweetener. That’s what this tastes like. Not a bad taste, exactly. But really sour and really sweet at the same time. If you’re going to drink this, for the love of god, have a chaser waiting. Water will do. That’s tip #1.

I can still smell it…and taste it a little. Mind you, it seems to have caused a little acid reflux so that’s probably why.

It didn’t have the “wow!” factor of mainlining a little Pepsi or Red Bull but it seems to done what it promised, which is keep me awake without the jitters and sugar crash associated with many other energy drinks. It didn’t suddenly make me hyper perky but it stopped me from falling asleep at my desk. Tired, I can handle. Sleepy, not so much. My afternoon task was even more monotonous than the morning but I didn’t have to get up to move around to stay awake. I even stayed an extra 1.5 hours at work to finish what I was working on.

I developed a little bit of what I recognize as a caffeine headache at about 7 or 8 and, as I mentioned, had some acid reflux problems (trust me, it doesn’t taste any better coming back up). Probably best not to take it right after lunch so consider that tip #2 from me to you. Tip #3 would probably be don’t take it after mid-afternoon. It’s 11pm and I’m just now starting to feel really sleepy again. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have been able to go to sleep if I’d gone to bed as soon as I came home from work — I don’t know because I didn’t try — but if you have insomnia, why do something that might make it worse?

I see from their site that they now have a decaf version. Not quite sure how that’s supposed to work. The ingredients in their regular versions are vitamin B6, B12, B3, and B9 plus Citicoline, Tyrosine, Phenylamine, Taurine (ooh, like cats need for eyesight health), Malic Acid, Glucuronolactone, and caffeine. Do those really work as well without the little kick of caffeine?


No, not really. But it *was* a really incredible thunderstorm. The sky was so dark in the office today by a little after 4pm, you would have thought it was 8 or 9. We went to the windows (thankfully the boss is on vacation so we could go to his window — though I think he’d have been happy to have us there to watch with him even if he was there) and just watched for five or ten minutes — it was truly impressive.

I’ve never seen lightning this low and this close. I’m on the top of the building at work so the lightning was coming in at about eye level, with only a fraction of a second between light show and thunder crack. (Apparently, at least one of the cracks set off car alarms in the parking lot.) I’ve watched thunderstorms from home where the lightning has been directly above or very near my building, but close there is a dozen floors above me, not outside my window. It was beautiful.

Wish I’d brought my camera, but at least I found a decent ground-level video of it on Youtube:

Shorter school week

Came across a group on Facebook for a so-called official petition to get the school week changed from 5-days-a-week to 4-days-a-week. Unfortunately, they think that, once they have whatever arbitrary number of North American members they deem adequate, they can go on strike to get their way. After all teachers can strike, why can’t they? Um, because they’re teachers? You strike, you either get suspended/expelled or have to make up the time later. They’re not going to cave on something because you strike. Be realistic. If you really want a 4-day school week, work with the teachers’ unions as they’re the ones who might just have the wherewithal to get it implemented — and, if they’re not with you, no amount of striking and kicking up a fuss will get you your way. I don’t personally see it ever happening. One of the reasons for a 5-day week is that it matches what most parents work. I know how much the people I know who have children scramble now, with everyone on a roughly similar 5-day week pattern and with the odd PD day to deal with. Having to suddenly accommodate the children being off when the parents aren’t every week would throw a huge monkey wrench into things and, as a society, that’s something that has to be taken into consideration.

What’s absolutely hilarious is someone else has started up another group petitioning for shorter days, the concept being that they’re learning a lot of stuff they won’t need in the future so why sit around learning that (spelling being one of the things you don’t need when you’re working on a computer because apparently no one cares — who knew?) The starter of the petition is horrified that they have to spend 7 whole hours at school each day and thinks it should be half that (just wait until you’re in the Real World, sunshine) with the same holidays. Frankly, if we really wanted to prepare kids for the Real World, they’d go to school 50 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day with only recess in the morning and a 1/2 hour lunch break. Having summers off each year doesn’t prepare you at all for the jobs you’ll ultimately have that only offer 2 or 3 weeks of vacation a year.

Let’s face it, however much you don’t like school or don’t see the purpose of it, surely it’s a lot better than the alternative. And, no, the alternative isn’t hanging out with your friends all day. In the days before schooling was required or even common, as a child you could expect to be put to work as soon as you were big enough — in the family business, on the family farm, apprenticed out to a trade — and that work was many times harder than going to school. Ultimately, childhood (especially later childhood) is supposed to be preparing you to take your place as a productive member of society. If you’re not going to go to school, you’d better be learning a trade. I know a number of teenagers and young adults (including family members) who seem to have grown up with this idea that life should be easy, they should be able to get an easy job that pays big bucks and offers lots of time off without basic education or training, let alone specialized training.

You can’t find everything on the Interwebs

Youtube is great for 70s and 80s music videos. Looking for a little Men Without Hats, Kajagoogoo, Duran Duran, Devo, Boomtown Rats, Platinum Blonde? It’s all there, including two of my absolute favourite 80s videos from Men at Work, “Land Down Under” and “It’s a Mistake”

and Platinum Blonde’s “It Doesn’t Really Matter” (I remember seeing Platinum Blonde at a dive club in Halifax with my brother and his girlfriend (now wife) way back in 1983 when they were first starting out. They’d just released the EP that was the precursor to “Standing in the Dark” and they were fantastic. When they next came through the city, they were “too big” to play clubs and I refused to pay to see them at the Metro Centre.)

Anyway, getting back to the point. There’s one 80s song I keep hoping to find on Youtube. Hell, I’d be happy to see it turn up on the Internet at all, even on a lyrics site or Wikipedia, but it’s just not there. The song was called “Pills Are Painless”. I can’t remember who sang it (it was a Tony Basil-ish female singer but it could have the female singer of a mixed group and not a solo artist — I just don’t recall) but it did the rounds of the few music video shows that were on Canadian TV in the pre-Much-Music early 80s. I’m guessing it came out in 1983 or 1984 or thereabouts. I can only remember the tune, flashes of images from the video, and snippets of the lyrics:

He takes them in all shapes and colours
[something something]
He takes one, he takes two
He feels good if he takes a few
It’s a matter of [something] that I think he lacks
[something something]

Pills are painless
[something] is [something-ainless]
Steel is stainless
And Bill is brainless

I’d be happy if I could just find the lyrics so that I can sing it to myself without humming breaks, though seeing the video again would be awesome.

Just goes to show that the Internet doesn’t have everything you’d ever want to know. 😉

Updated December 13, 2008, based on Brittany’s comment below (Thanks, Brittany, for finding it — and thanks Eva for uploading it back in August):

“Painless” by Eva Everything:

Check out her Youtube channel.

Lyrics (may have a few mistakes as there were one or two places where I couldn’t quite decide what she was saying):

Oo oo oo
oo oo oo oo oo
Oo oo oo
oo oo oo oo oo

He takes them in all shapes and colours
He wants to feel what they do
He gets red, he gets light
He can’t afford to be uptight
It’s a medical affliction that he takes them for
Problem’s gotten worse, he must have more

For Pills are painless
Thrills are veinless
Steel is stainless
And Bill is brainless

Oo oo oo
oo oo oo oo oo

Every day he wakes up in a coma
Revival is just a state of mind
You take one, you take two
You feel good if you take a few

It’s a medical affliction that he takes them for
Problem’s gotten worse, he must have more

For pills are painless
Thrills are veinless
Steel is stainless
And Bill is brainless

Oo oo oo
oo oo oo oo oo

What’s for breakfast, Bill?
(Dah, what…scrambled brains)

Your painless proposition to deploy daily doldrums downing pharmaceutical feasts with dipsomania doesn’t deter deleterious dependence. Now I can’t knock a little inconsequential chemical courage but you’re a zero falling into the nano-negative integers so fast…you’re disappearing

You can’t get a brain transfusion easy
‘Cos donors are very hard to find
He gets live, he gets dead
He eats the inside of his head

It’s a medical affliction that he takes them for
Problem’s gotten worse, he must have more

For pills are painless
Thrills are veinless
Steel is stainless
And Bill is brainless

(repeat X 2)

So, the moral to the story is this:

The Internet *does* have everything you’d ever want to know, if you just wait long enough — or remember enough to search properly. 😉

Oh, and Eva Everything is awesome.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

I hope the book was really good.

Because the movie was mediocrity personified. It wasn’t “charming”. It wasn’t “enchanting”. It was poorly cast and badly acted and painful to sit through. Now, I like Freddie Highmore in general — I loved him in Finding Neverland and Arthur and the Invisibles — but not in this role. His American accent was strained, and his high, soft voice had echoes of a voice actor from animated films whose identity I can’t place (perhaps it was even his performance in Arthur and the Invisibles that I’m recalling, though I’m thinking it’s a female-playing-a-boy voice that I’m trying to remember), giving it the feeling of having been badly dubbed. Had it just been his voice and acting, the movie might have been salvageable, but the rest of the acting was nearly as dull. And Martin Short’s very recognizable voice as the brownie Thimbletack really just further distracted from what could have been a really good story.

The special effects were adequate — but nothing marvelous. It’s hard not to compare it to other recent children’s fantasy movies like The Golden Compass and Chronicles of Narnia, both of which featured better acting and more convincingly portrayed the world of the movies with excellent sets and special effects. I also kept thinking of one of my favourite children’s fantasy books, Alan Garner‘s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen — I’d’ve been horrified if someone had turned that marvelous little book into something this blah.

Again, I hope the book was good. If the movie accurately mirrors the book, then that would mean the book is mediocre as well, and that would be the ultimate in disappointment. I’m a little reluctant to find out which is the case.

(As an aside, the whole fencing practice scene outside the house really annoyed me — if Mallory were really taking fencing lessons, the fencing master would have slapped her upside the head for using her sword on someone not wearing the proper safety equipment.)

Solar eclipse

I almost forgot that there is a solar eclipse tomorrow (well, technically today, since it’s after midnight), August 1. It won’t be visible from here but a number of sites are offering live coverage online. Presumably there will be television coverage as well.

Exploratorium will be offering a live feed of images from their telescope from 6:00 am EST and live coverage from 6:30 am EST to 7:30 EST with their crew in China. You can also read crew blog posts as well. To quote their site:

“On August 1, 2008, a total solar eclipse will occur as the new moon moves directly between the sun and the earth. The moon’s umbral shadow will fall on parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, Russia, Mongolia, and China. The Exploratorium’s eclipse expedition team (our fifth!) will Webcast the eclipse live from the remote Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China near the Mongolian border.”

You can read crew blog posts as well as read about previous eclipses and get some background information. Apparently they’re also throwing a party in Second Life.

NASA also has a special page set up for today’s eclipse. Be warned, though — the servers are incredibly slow. They aren’t apparently offering their own live coverage as their webcast page points towards Exploratorium.

Jonathan Cainer has the following to say about the eclipse:

(from last week) “We are fast approaching a Solar Eclipse. It takes place on August 1 – but already the Moon and Earth are slowly moving into alignment with each other… and with the Sun. The astronomy of an eclipse is fascinating. The astrology is even more gripping. Mystics believe that an invisible cosmic portal opens up, allowing communication with other realms. Some say aliens find it easier to visit us, some say we get into psychic contact with our ancestors… and some just say we are more likely to get a little giddy! So really, this is best thought of as a week when ‘anything is possible’. Make sure your anything is a positive thing!”

(from today) “In some parts of the world, today’s solar eclipse will be a stunning sight. In others, we may notice a slight darkening of the sky. Astrologers have long known that it is possible to ‘capture the energy’ of an eclipse – visible or not. That is why many people choose such times for special ceremonies or to launch important plans. I am at the Big Chill festival in the UK working with astrologers to reveal this eclipse’s full meaning. On Sunday I will host a symposium on the subject.”

My horoscope for today:

“Right now, you may not have much of an option, but you do at least have an option. Should you really exchange a bird in the hand for a possible pair in the bush? Don’t you have needs that are urgent and can hardly wait another moment? The Eclipse of the Sun today, takes place in the part of your chart that governs safety and security. It suggests that something has to move and change, even in a situation that has become oppressively familiar.”