Radio Active #99: Sleepless in Easton

On this episode of Radio Active, I talk about returning to model rocketry, one of my all-time favorite hobbies, and then run down some of the great sci-fi shows I’m watching. The bulk of the show is dedicated to my trials and tribulations with getting enough sleep. It’s always been hard for me, but it got so much harder during the pandemic.

Nuketown News

  • Back to Model Rocketry
    • I inherited a bunch of rockets from my dad.
    • They’re old classics from the late 1970s and 1980s.
    • Examples include:
      • The Space Shuttle (Skill Level 4, Estes) – Features an orbiter glider that separates from the external fuel tank and SRBs at apogee
      • A Mercury Redstone – A challenging-to-build scale model of the iconic rocket
      • An SR-71 Blackbird – A hefty, double parachute rocket.
      • A Soaring Eagle – a glider that launches as a rocket, then spreads its wings and flies back to Earth
      • The Starship Enterprise – An ungainly rocket that doubles as a display model. Check out my build on Lair of Secrets
    • Working on finding places to launch in PA and NJ, which is harder than you think. Or maybe exactly as hard as you think.
  • So much good sci-fi streaming!
    • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+) – All of the hope and optimism that you want from Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Lower Decks (Paramount+) – My favorite new Trek, at least until Strange New Worlds came out. That same sense of optimism, but told from the perspective of those who aren’t on the command staff.
    • The Orville (Hulu) – The Orville started as a joke Star Trek, or at least, that’s what I thought it was. It’s still crasser than the series that inspired it, but it tackles serious topics.
    • The Peripheral (Amazon) – based on William Gibson’s book in which meddlers in a future timeline muck about with the past. Shades of cyberpunk, with temporal shinanigans.
  • Ready Player One Replay
    • The Ready Player One Replay continues, which is my attempt to play all of the video games mentioned in Ernst Cline’s novel (Amazon).
    • I finished Level I, consisting of 18 video games, in March 2022. I then started Level II, which is another 25 video games, that same month.
    • Why different levels? No reason, other than tracking effort. It also gives me breakpoints for reflection.
    • Recent games include Space Invaders, Pitfall, Kaboom! and The Empire Strikes Back.
    • Current playing the surprisingly complex Star Raiders, which is a prototypical starfighter simulator that inspired X-Wing and Wing Commander.
      • It was difficult to find a functional version of Star Raiders because it shipped with a dedicated keypad used only for that game (and which emulators had a hard time replicating … as in, they didn’t even try).
      • The keypad was needed to navigate the galactic grid (which allowed you to fight enemies and defend starbases. )
      • However, the Atari 50 collection (Amazon) includes a functional version from the Atari 5200, which includes an interface for the keypad.
    • Speaking of which, Atari 50 is a fantastic collection; probably the best retrospective collection I’ve seen. Has Atari arcade games, 2600 games (and successor systems like the 5200) as well as Lynx and Jaguar.
    • Includes a completed version of Swordquest: AirWorld (based on design concepts by series creator Tod Frye)
    • Also includes interviews and artifacts from throughout Atari’s long run (including experiments like its pinball division)
    • Still no third-party games (e.g. E.T. and Pitfall), which makes for an incomplete story. But still, it’s damn good.

Sleepy Thoughts

  • I’m a night owl.
    • Since high school, I prefer staying up late and sleeping late.
    • Worked great as a reporter. Worked great as a dad with young kids.
    • I fought insomnia (which I’ll define as the inability to sleep for more than 2-3 hours a night for a few days) on and off when I was younger. The solution was to pull an all-nighter, then sleep for 12-14 hours and reset my internal clock.
    • Doesn’t work so great in the modern age, with kids and parents who could suddenly need help.
    • Still … I was making due before the pandemic. (friends might disagree. they might be right.)
  • The pandemic played hell with sleep patterns.
  • Defensive Maneuvers
    • No caffeine after 1 p.m. I usually have 1 or 2 (ok, maybe 3) cups of caffinated coffee in the morning. After that, I switch to decaf. I may have a Coke or Mountain Dew with lunch (often one of the small 7.5 oz cans) but mostly, I’m drinking water, sparkling water, or decaf coffee.
    • More consistent bed and wake-up times. My goal is to get to bed by 10:30 p.m. and turn off the lights by 11 p.m. My wake-up time is 6.
    • Seven hours of sleep a night: My goal is to get seven hours of sleep a night. I’m averaging about 5 hours, 30 minutes. That’s been slowly moving toward 6.
    • More consistent exercise: I was in a great routine in the run-up to Philmont, less so afterward. Exercise is supposed to help you sleep more soundly; I can’t say that it does for me, but there are a lot of other variables at play here, so I want to keep doing it. A good workout every day (at least 30 minutes, preferably 60) is my goal.
    • Medication – Hydrozine: I occasionally take hydrozine. which is a mild anxiety medication. It helps with getting back to sleep by assisting me in short-circuting the endless “what if” loops that my tired brain gets caught in when I wake up in the middle of the night.
    • Recording Sleep: I experimented with adding a line for “sleep” to my habit tracker in my bullet journal, with three levels – red for a bad night’s sleep, gray for adequate sleep, and black for a good night’s sleep. I didn’t gain any great insights from the process, so I stopped doing that.
    • Is it working? We’ll see. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.


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