NaNoWriMo completed!

I am a week late on this post but, to be fair, I was a little tired of writing when I hit the 50,000 word mark. But it’s done! I got just over 50K words, which comes out to 167 pages. It felt pretty good to get there

Though I have now completed the challenge, my book is not done. I always wondered how novelists could write books that were 1000 pages long, but now I think I get it. In my measly 167 pages it feels like I’ve only told half of the story.

But anyway, I’ve decided to finish the thing. So I’ll be pulling together some friends who also want to keep on writing their novels and do another round of WriMo-ing, though probably a little less intense this time. I think I’ll drop the goal to 1000 words/day, so that I can add another 30K over the next month.

But first I’ll be going through all of what I’ve written so far so that I can collect and fix internal inconsistencies and actually see if what I wrote is worth expanding upon. During the entire process I only re-read a few sections, so I’m not even sure what to expect. I would guess that my characters change eye colors, and maybe even names, throughout. And my timeline is probably a little wonky, creating cause-effect paradoxes. Finally, now that I’ve taken a week off I’m not really in a position to just keep writing without revisiting what I’ve put together thus far.

So off I go!

NaNoWriMo – Day 18

Playing catch-up. I managed to pump out over 7200 words through the afternoon and evening, and so am now less than a day behind. WHEW!

I spent a lot of my NNWM thinking-time yesterday assembling a clearer timeline for this story, and now have enough of an idea of what needs to happen to just keep on writing. Hopefully. I’ll still need to come up with characters to tell each part of the story, but that so far has been the most fun part.

Since I don’t want to give anything away about the content of this thing, I’ll just leave this post with a bizarre anecdote:

A key component of this story is a drug/poison/compound/whatever that causes a set of unpleasant physical symptoms. One of those is a serious nosebleed (the others are significantly less pleasant than that).

I took a short break to eat something before starting in on a part of the story where several people begin to display those symptoms. Suddenly the inside of my left nostril started to tickle. I thought, “Gah! Stupid runny nose!” and then found some kleenex and blew HARD.

Turns out it wasn’t a runny nose. Well it was, but the runny part was blood.

NaNoWriMo – end of week one

Last night marked the 7th day of NaNoWriMo, which I had decided to do a month ago and managed to convince a few others to do the same. 11,700 words. I’m not sure what the longest work I’ve written was, but I’m quite sure that the 50,000 word goal for this thing is well beyond anything I’ve done previously. Of course, most of those other things required a lot of research and so may have effectively taken up a similar amount of my time.

I’m hoping that forcing myself to write every night will boost my creativity a bit. I’ve been sort lost in a jungle of scientific papers, experiments, data, and thoughts, and really just need to go into creative writing mode. I’m not sure if it’s working yet, but I am having fun.

I highly encourage everyone to do this thing. It feels good to just start writing and then look back and see that you’ve put together another installment of some large story. The founder of NaNoWriMo wrote a book that is well worth the read, where he lays out an approach to this task that works almost as well as an approach for life in general. Read it.

Caffeine Wean: Results

It appears that there was some truth to both my hypothesis and the alternative: my caffeine addiction was likely causing withdrawal, but the caffeine dose seems to have been preventing idiopathic headaches as well.

I got to day 37 of my caffeine weaning adventure, which means I got down to 7.5% of my normal caffeine intake before I ran into any trouble. This mostly had to do with a few weekend trips that made accurate measuring of the instant coffee powder problematic. Anyway, after a few headaches and an extra week of slow weaning, I got completely off of the instant stuff.

So I’m still having a cup of decaf nearly every day, and on those days that I don’t have the decaf I mostly don’t have trouble. Seemingly independent of the decaf, however, I am randomly getting minor headaches a couple times a week. Usually starting in the early afternoon. So far I’ve been able to knock them out with a few hundred milligrams of acetaminophen.

In conclusion: it is likely that some low level of caffeine is somehow preventing some real source of headaches, and that I had also developed a dependency on the extra caffeine that I had been consuming which led to withdrawal headaches. I should probably figure out the biological source of the headaches that remain…

Caffeine Wean

I’ve dosed myself with caffeine every morning since I was 8. If I don’t have a dose within ~1 hour of waking up, I get a headache that will not leave until the next morning. The caffeine was originally a medication for migrations that had no clear source. Now it isn’t clear if I still get those same idiopathic headaches but caffeine treats them, or if I have just swapped whatever that problem was for a caffeine addiction that gives me headaches during withdrawal. I’ve attempted to kick the habit a few times in the past, but these always ended poorly. So, I decided to try again but with academic rigor so as to decide for good whether my headaches are withdrawal-induced or caffeine-treated.

Hypothesis: My headaches are caused by withdrawal from caffeine, a substance that I am addicted to.
Alternative Hypothesis: My headaches are due to some biological cause, and caffeine treats this undefined problem.

Experimental Approach: Attempt to slowly wean myself off of caffeine. If I can do this successfully and remain headache-free for an extended period of time, I will take this as evidence for a caffeine addiction. If I cannot, I will take this as evidence for a biological problem.

Today’s post explains exactly how I plan to do this, in academically painful detail (below the fold).

Continue reading

arduino: reaction time game

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am trying to teach myself some electronics. I’ve been perusing a pretty good book by Michael McRoberts called “Beginning Arduino”, and after putting together one of the first projects I decided to have fun with it and write some more interesting code than the one provided. The original scheme gave a series of three LEDs that would turn on as if they were a stop light, and then allow someone to press a button to get the light to change to red so that another LED, representing the pedestrian walk sign, could turn on. This wasn’t very interesting to me, so I made it into a reaction game instead otherwise using the same circuit. See the video immediately below, and the circuit diagram (made using Fritzing) and code below the fold.

Continue reading