Caffeine is Not My Friend

This has sort of turned into the “dumb things J.D. does” blog. Here’s yesterday’s dumb thing.

I drove to Eugene to participate in a neuroeconomics study. I spent an hour inside an MRI scanner answering questions about personal finance. For this, I was paid $120.

Because I knew I might fall asleep, I had a diet soda for lunch. Lying on my back for an hour (or more) is a recipe for slumber, even if I’m supposedly taking a survey for money. Sure enough, even with the diet soda, I was very, very groggy.

After the study, Paul and I spent more than an hour working out at the gym, and then went out for Thai food. (I could splurge — I had an extra $120!) I was still groggy, though, even though I had exercised. The sun was warm, and I had a long drive ahead, so I ordered diet soda. Three times.

“You know what I do when I’m groggy and have to drive?” Paul said. “I stop at a minimart and pick up an energy drink.”

“Like a Red Bull?” I asked.

“Sort of,” he said. “Only bigger. And with more caffeine.”

So, about half an hour north of Eugene, I pulled over to pick up an energy drink. There was an enormous selection. I had no way of knowing which one was “best”, so I just grabbed a can of something that boasted 344mg of caffeine. I drank it. I drove home.

“Are you coming to bed with me?” Kris asked at ten o’clock. I wasn’t tired.

“Uh,” I said. “It’s too hot. Plus I had too much caffeine.”

“How much caffeine did you have?” she asked, but I didn’t really have an answer. Now, a few hours later, I do have an answer. Twelve ounces of Diet Pepsi have 36mg of caffeine. By my calculations, I had four such servings yesterday, plus the energy drink, which contained the equivalent of ten similar drinks. In other words, I had a much caffeine as if I’d had fourteen Diet Pepsis.

No wonder I couldn’t fall asleep until 3 am. I probably won’t be able to sleep again until next week.

My Wife is Always Right

Here’s the product of my recent misadventure:


Yes, those are as painful as they look. Kris feels smug in an “I told you so” kind of way. Several people have told me I need to print up those “Kris Gates is always right” t-shirts. Lisa even did research on where I could get them done.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

“What in the world are you doing?” Kris said, stopping in the middle of the road. She pointed at my bare feet.

“It’s just a whim,” I said. “I want to see if I can do this.”

“It’s over a mile to Paul and Amy Jo’s house,” she said. “The asphalt is hot.”

“My feet feel fine,” I said. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s go.”

We walked up the hill, past the smokey bar, and then down the hill to Laurie Avenue. We chatted about her job, about how Mom is doing, about the garden.

“Hold up a second,” I said. “I think there’s a rock stuck to my foot.” Kris gave me a knowing look. I rubbed the bottom of my foot, but there was nothing there. That seemed a little strange, but I kept walking.

My feet began to hurt a little. For large stretches along Laurie, there are wide expanses of asphalt that are basically smooth tar. Walking on these was a blessed relief. I sighed inwardly at the cool, smooth surface.

At the end of Laurie, I stopped again to pull pebbles from my feet. There was nothing there. “That’s strange,” I thought. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I began to realize this might not have been a good idea.

The last few hundred yards to Paul and Amy Jo’s house were sheer torture, but I tried not to show it. My feet were on fire.

“Look at me,” Kris said, turning into the driveway. “I’m walking on gravel.” I ignored her and walked up the lawn. I relished the cool, green surface where the grass had recently been watered.

Amy Jo opened the door. “I’m not even going to ask,” she said.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” I said.

“I tried to make him go back and put on shoes,” Kris said. “But he wouldn’t listen to me.”

“How do they feel?” asked Paul.

“They hurt,” I said. And they did. In fact, I was in pain. I slumped in a chair on the back patio. “Ouch,” I said. I looked at my feet. Each one sported two huge blisters.

“You know what that is, don’t you?” Kris said.

“No. What?” I said.

“That’s psychological,” she said. “Right now you need to be an adult. Your mom’s situation requires you to be at your best. This is you rebelling. You’re being a kid.” I gave her a look. Like she knows anything about psychology!

Paul brought me a pair of socks. “These should help,” he said. I put them on, and while they did help some, my feet still felt like they were on fire. We ate dinner. We talked about life and about work and about the weather. We talked about our gardens. We ate berries and burgers and ice cream.

When we’d finished, Paul said, “Are you going to walk home? Or would you like me to drive?”

Everyone was silent. I didn’t want to speak. At last I said, “I guess you’d better drive us.” My companions laughed.

“And what did you learn from this?” Kris asked.

I was reluctant to admit it, but I knew the correct response. It’s the same response to every conflict we have. And so I said, “Kris Gates is always right.

Five Eight (and a Half)

On my recent visit to the doctor’s office, a nurse weighed me and measured my height.

“How tall am I?” I asked. “I can’t ever get a good measurement.”

“You’re five-eight,” she said.

“Ah,” I said. “I thought I was five-nine.”

She laughed. “You’re like every other guy — always trying to say you’re taller than you really are.”

If I were a cartoon character, a little black cloud would have formed above my head. I don’t give a rat’s ass how tall I am. I’m not trying to be macho by claiming to be five nine. I weigh more than 190 pounds, for goodness sake! If I’m going to lie about something, it’s going to be my weight. I say I’m five-nine because that’s how tall I think I am.

Today I finally went to the sidebar at Get Fit Slowly to change my vital stats. Heaven forbid people believe I’m five-nine when I’m only five-eight!

As I was changing my data, I took a look at the vital stats from the doctor’s visit. I noted that the nurse had indicated my height was 174 centimeters. “That’s strange,” I thought. “Wasn’t I 175 centimeters before?” I checked.

Sure enough, when I measured my own height, I had come up with 175 centimeters. The nurse came up with 174 centimeters. But you know what? Here’s how those numbers convert to Imperial units:

  • 174 centimeters == 5 feet, 8.50393704 inches
  • 175 centimeters == 5 feet, 8.89763135 inches

So, not only was the nurse quibbling over about one-half of once percent of measurement, but she was also truncating instead of rounding. That is, she was lopping the fraction instead of rounding up to the nearest whole inch. I really am five-nine.

But just so you don’t think I have some sort of macho need to overstate my height, let’s all agree that I’m five-eight-and-a-half.

Barackula: The Musical

Here’s my foldedspace philosophy right now: yes, I know it would be great if I had time to write all sorts of fun little stories, but I don’t really, so I’m just going to post whatever I find that I like. Sound fair?

For example, here’s a hilarious video I found via Airbag:

That’s better than eagles and goats, isn’t it?

An Easter Cartoon

When I was in college, I subscribed to The New Yorker just for the cartoons. now I subscribe to it because I like the articles, reviews, and stories. The cartoons are an added bonus. Sometimes, though, they’re the best thing in the issue. This, for example, is one of the funniest cartoons I’ve ever seen:

As I told Kris the funniest part of this cartoon is the Easter Bunny’s limp body. And hidden face. Great work by the artist. I love humor that skewers sacred cows. Or sacred bunnies.