19 December 2005

On Being Nocturnal

Posted in Life at 7:44 AM by Greg

An extremely long night at a friend’s house on Saturday, and my failed attempts to adjust for it, have thrown off my sleep schedule by around 10 hours and have given me some interesting things to think about in the past two days. I figured I would give this journal a boost by posting them here. (A condensed version of this weekend’s events is that I woke up at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, went to bed at 8 a.m. on Sunday, woke up at 1 p.m., went back to bed at 5:30 p.m., and woke up again at 12:30 a.m. Monday.)

The first observation I have to make is that the sun is really important in maintaining the regular cycle of going to bed and waking up again. It’s 7:15 a.m. right now, so given when I woke up I should theoretically feel like it’s mid-afternoon. But I don’t. I’ve been taking care of various things around my apartment, eating meals, messing around on my computer, etc. for almost seven hours, but I find I don’t have a good sense of how much time has passed. I’m starting to feel hungry (for the third time today), and the only way I can figure out if it makes sense to eat or not is by making mental calculations of what time it would be if I’d gotten up on schedule. To get back to the point of the paragraph, I think this is because the sun is just now rising. I’ve been living in the dark and have therefore been deprived of a system of subconscious time-cues (i.e. changing light levels) that usually provide a sort of informal hourglass to measure the day with.

I wonder what it would be like to consistently work a night shift and have your mental paradigm permanently shifted from everyone around you. The streets, even here in the city, are really quiet at 2 a.m., and this morning I had to keep ruling out any activity, like washing dishes or doing laundry, that might be considered semi-noisy by the people in the apartments above and below me. Not being able to carry out these normal morning activities, I suppose, only reinforced the odd sense of being in chronological limbo that I was talking about before.

It must be clear from everything I’ve written so far that pulling all-nighters is not my thing. Throughout my entire college career I probably averaged more than seven hours of sleep per night. It may be interesting to note that school work has never kept me awake for more than 21 hours straight, even as so many people here this week are describing 40- or 50-hour marathon programming or paper-writing sessions. (Apparently that’s the point at which the hallucinations start.) Even including the times I’ve stayed out late having fun with friends, I still have not found it necessary to surpass 24 hours.

So I have some work to do in getting back to normality as soon as possible; I can start by going downstairs to get the newspaper, which should be here by now, and then heading to the kitchen for an “afternoon” snack!

9 December 2005

Scenes From a Snowfall

Posted in Life at 1:45 AM by Greg

I love it when it snows at night. The night suddenly becomes twice as bright, and everything takes on a certain yellowish tint from the reflection of all the streetlights. Small sounds — the crunching footsteps of the pedestrian across the street — carry for remarkable distances, but the cars glide noiselessly by on the streets at 15 or 20 miles per hour as if their chugging engines have been replaced by battery-powered motors. Walkers make slow progress along the sidewalks.

The 48-hour snow forecast shows a great yellow blob centered right on the city; the accumulation began shortly after 7:00 this evening. I had to go out, by bus, a bit after 10:00, by which point roads, sidewalks, parked cars, and rooftops had all been evenly coated with about two inches. The world felt like one of those no-echo rooms filled with foam cones. I elected to walk back home, close to 1 a.m., and my route took me though dormitories on the north edge of campus. Snowmen were on display in front of two houses. A sliding contest was being conducted on one side of the street, while on the other a seperate group sent a bombardment of snowballs at a thrid-floor window. Sounds of merriment from the buildings further back could be heard. Half a mile further on, two figures ran and slid in the car tracks left in the road. A few blocks later, a point of light flashed near an apartment building from a camera pointed up at it by one of the tenants.

My street was a silent stretch of flat space, bordered on either side by a row of white lumps and surmounted by converging lines of yellow lights. When I arrived at my door, I took off my gloves and shoveled the front steps. The scraping echoed off the businesses at the end of the road.

5 December 2005

Dress Your Family in Courdoroy and Psychology

Posted in Psychology at 11:41 PM by Greg

Here’s an idea for what (I think) would be a really interesting senior project for someone majoring in either psychology or fashion design. I guess I would call it the “Clothes Make the Man” study.

I noticed about a week ago, as I was changing in the locker room on campus after having gone running, that a rather strong source of non-verbal communication coming from a person might be what he or she is wearing. There are definite styles of outfits, and I don’t suppose it would be hard to assign them to different types of people. A 65-year-old man wearing some of the things that my teenage brother’s got in his closet would definitely turn a lot of heads — and so would the reverse — and I think it would be fun to see just how much our perceptions of other people are influenced by clothing.

So here’s the idea for the study: A subject is placed in a room somewhere, and into this room come (one at a time) people of varying ages wearing varying types of outfits. For completeness, there should probably be a few people wearing bathing suits or something similarly negligible, in order to approximate the effects of a “null” outfit. These… exhibits wouldn’t be allowed to say anything to the subject. The subject, after observing an exhibit for maybe 10 or 15 seconds, would have to write down how old he or she thinks the exhibit is. Then the next one comes in and so on. With enough test subjects and outfits, and knowledge of the exhibits’ real ages, whoever’s conducting the experiment should be able to judge the overall effect provided by the different sets of clothing. The protocol, of course, could also be adapted to simiarly determine the effects of hair styles, body posture, conversation style, speech patterns, etc.

I haven’t a clue if this has already been done or not, but since I had the idea recently I thought I’d throw it out as my first serious post. Maybe someone who’s progressed beyond Psych 101 would know a bit more about the topic?


Posted in Informational at 12:26 AM by Greg

Hello everyone! This is the third web interface I’ve created for an almost limitless string of text (my thoughts) that I’ve been pumping out and putting online for the last few years — I’m starting to feel a bit like the BBC. This one, unlike the first two, however, is not going to be a relay station for my daily journal; that appears elsewhere and is already easily accessible. But I have decided recently that I’d like an additional outlet for more serious posts — something going beyond when I woke up today, what I did in class, what I ate for dinner, how many hours I managed to waste on my computer this evening, etc. That’s what this is going to be.

I should probably explain my title to those of you who don’t speak French. I wanted something more exciting than Greg Internet Three, so I made use of a really fun verb, (se) répandre, which can be used to mean a variety of things like “to spill,” “to spread oneself,” or “to get around” in the case of information. This journal’s subtitle (“Devenir de plus en plus connu…“) is a tiny excerpt of that verb’s definition as found on this amazing site (in French). In English, it says roughly “to become more and more known; to put an emotional state outward in the form of an abundance of words, gestures, etc.” Quite fitting.

I guess that’s enough for a first post. Feel free to leave a comment if you’ve got something to say!