metaphortunate: (Default)
We ended our four-week experiment with no electric light week before last, just before leaving for the east coast for Memorial Day.
  • I was looking up my time off at work, and when I saw this I did a double-take and rechecked and it is correct: the four weeks of darkness were the first four-week period since I got back from my maternity leave in which I did not miss any work because of illness.
  • When the experiment ended, I joyfully stayed up late with my computer for two nights in a row (OMG INTERNET I MISSED YOU), and promptly came down with 1) laryngitis and 2) pinkeye.
  • Therefore I am instituting a new rule, which is that Sunday night through Thursday night my computer goes off at 9:30 pm, unless there is something vital that must get done. And by "vital" I mean more "must pay the bill online or the power gets turned off tomorrow". Not "must work on doing research for artwork/licensing requirements/travel/anything that is not going to cause me a financial penalty if it is not done tomorrow."
  • Because I do not have time to be sick all the time. This is actually more important than the fact that it isn't any fun. We have travel plans in the rest of the year. My best friend is having her second child, we are going to go visit her. She came to help me out after I had the Junebug; I am very grateful, and want to make sure that I remember to go out of my way for the people who go out of their way for me, and not take them for granted. I need to spend the time on things like that; I can't afford to be sick so much.
  • Candlelight is actually quite nice and I have been thinking about how you can enhance rooms by having lighting solutions in them other than the standard rental central ceiling fixture.
  • Unfortunately since we have a baby who is just learning to pull himself up on things, we will not be experimenting with floor or table-mounted lamps anytime soon.
  • I mean, we think he'll be strong enough to pull the floor torch lamps we already have down on himself, oh, maybe next week.
  • Ceiling-mounted light fixtures it is.
  • I think it was good to be forced to break the habit of carrying my cell phone everywhere like a teddy bear. I mean, I am carrying it around again, and I'm very happy to be able to read books on it again. But I had gotten into the habit of just idly checking Twitter or whatever all the time. And I am a big believer that it is often not what you do that's bad but whether you do it just because it's a habit or because you actively want to.
  • Mr. E thinks that 9:30 is not actually early to turn your computer off. We'll see how it goes.
On a completely different note:
The Junebug rides around with me on the bus in his Ergo all the time, and if we happen to be sitting next to a person trying to use a personal electronic device - which sounds like a vibrator, for which I apologize, because really I mean an iPad or cell phone etc. - he will sometimes try to grab it. At which point I block his little hand and clearly say NO we do not grab the people on the bus. Up until today people have beamed at him and said oh, he's fine, which I feel is the kind of thing you say when a baby is not actually being allowed to grab you or your stuff, and the Junebug usually grins back at them and makes friends and all has gone well.

Today the dude whose phone he tried to grab gave him such a glare that the baby burst into terrified sobs. It was the funniest thing. Poor guy tried to smile cheerfully at him afterwards but no dice. Had to sit next to a crying baby until our stop. He'll think twice about glaring at a baby next time!
metaphortunate: (for science!)
So, we began our no electrical lights experiment last Sunday.
In no particular order:

God damn, is our apartment gloomy. We’ve been trying not to use electric lights during the day except when necessary, and Christ it is dark and depressing at my place. Also, even in a room that is not very sunny, candles during the day are also pretty depressing looking.

The baby got a terrible cold and subsequently another ear infection. It was probably unrelated to the experiment, though. Poor baby. He’s feeling better now.

It turns out that if you want to actually use candles for illumination, buy tapers. We bought a bunch of pillar candles because you don’t need holders for them, you can just put them in a saucer. But the flame in pillar candles sinks down in the middle, becoming hidden behind a rim of glowing wax. Very pretty, if you want to create atmosphere. Fucking useless, if you want to read or cook by it. Tea lights are better than pillar candles because they don’t sink as far before you replace them, but they still sink. Tapers are the way to go.

One interesting feature is that I can’t help being aware of how many resources we are consuming in order to produce light. Intellectually I know that turning an electric light on burns, um....coal....or gas...or something in a factory far away, which is, like, bad...for the Earth. And will cost me money a month from now. But it’s deceptive like Amazon Kindle app 1-click ordering, really what happens as far as I can perceive is that I flip a switch and light pours out of my house inexhaustibly for free. Whereas with candles, I see how far the candle burns down in an evening. I know how often I have to replace the tealights. It’s obvious.

I will be interested to see what happens to my power bill these two months. (We started last week so that we could do this for a full four weeks before Memorial Day weekend.)

I am not getting to bed as much earlier as I had thought. The baby goes to bed at 7:30, and then I get in my half-hour of computer usage, and then I still have to cook and eat dinner, and clean up, and do a chore maybe, and talk to Mr. E for a bit, and pump, and hello, it’s 9:30 or 10:30. Wasn’t I going to get some reading in before I went to sleep?

We had people over for boardgames by candlelight this past weekend! It was fun! But it is REALLY hard to distinguish colors. We had to not use the green pieces (of Ticket to Ride) because it was impossible to tell them from the blue ones. And it was quite hard to tell the difference between orange and pink.

Unsurprisingly, turning off the computers at 8 is an even bigger deal than turning off the lights. Oh god, I miss you all so much.

My phone is an even bigger deal than the computer. I do a lot of casual reading on my phone: while waiting for water to boil, while snacking, while nursing the baby, most especially while pumping, I’ll be reading Twitter or a book on my Kindle app or something. And now I can’t. Pumping is the worst, because it really is awful without something to distract me. And I can’t really read a book while pumping, because I can’t get enough candles set up to give me enough light. Maybe I can get another taper holder and rearrange shit next to the sofa sometime this week.

I think Mr. E and I are talking more now that we are prevented from staring at our separate computers all evening, though. And it’s nice! I actually had a bit of worry that we’d drive each other mad if we were locked up with each other for several hours each evening with no computers and it being hard to read. :) Actually yesterday he came home and told me of eavesdropping on three younger women on the bus to work who had been talking about how awful it would be to be married: dinner with the SAME PERSON! Every day! And maybe on the weekend you go out on a date, but you go out with the SAME PERSON! Argh, how dreary! But somehow it is working out okay for me.

Anyway, I have to go pick up the baby, and I also just accidentally drank a whole cup of regular coffee. Shit. So tonight should be interesting.
metaphortunate: (for science!)
Earlier in the week we had a friend over for dinner. This friend is in her midtwenties, and single, and at some point we started talking about doing spontaneous things (as in, how one ends up on beaches in one's underwear) and she said that she was trying to really do that, because now was the time for that in her life. And I thought about how once upon a time I might spontaneously decide to drive to Oregon with a friend and call Mr. E from Redding where we stopped to buy clean underwear and tell him I'd be home at the end of the weekend, and now we leave parties at 8 pm so that the baby does not miss his bedtime, and I somewhat grimly said that yes. Do it while you can. Because our days of spontaneous crazyshit are over for now.

Which is of course how we decided to spend the month of May in the darkness on two days' notice.

See, I ran into this blog post on spending a month without artificial light, and I thought it was fascinating, and I sent it to Mr. E, and he thought it was fascinating, and we thought it might be fun to try it sometime...and then we stared at each other...and thought, why not?

Though first let's just get it out of the way that DUH, candles are artificial. But 1) the spectrum is different, and 2) the amount of light produced is an order of magnitude less. The idea is not to eschew the Works of Man, the idea is to cut down on the amount of artificial light in our life for a month and see what effect it has on our sleep patterns and anything else.

Another issue is that unfortunately our apartment is so dark that unless it is early afternoon on the sunniest of days, we have lights on during the day just to be able to comfortably read. We decided that we will work around this by allowing ourselves to have electric light on between the time of official sunrise (6:30 am) and sunset (8 pm). But we're going to do it as little as possible. Another exception: if we have to change the kid's diaper in the middle of the night, as baby happy butt is more important.

And then there's computers. Big source of artificial light. Big source of interesting things to keep you up late. Those are gonna go off at 8 pm too. The big problem here is that the baby's day lasts from 6:30 am to about 7:30, 7:45 pm, which you will note does not leave a lot of time for any necessary computer-reliant tasks. So we may have one slightly later computer day a week. Or maybe we will stay inside all weekend trading off watching the baby & being glued to the screen. If this motivates us to go outside less because we need to spend the daylight hours indoors on tasks that require computers or light it will have backfired. Only one way to find out! In any case, my recreational computer use is gonna go WAY down - especially since we are counting our smartphones as computers - so I won't be around much in May. Unless we decide this is bullshit a week in, of course, but we do want to give it time enough to have more than just the immediate effects.

Also, I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross both our minds that we are gonna have so much sex in the month of May. \o/


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