If nothing else, reading this post may put you to sleep before you get too far in.  You’re welcome.  I had to do something to break this writer’s block.

My quality sleep issues began in my late teens or early twenties.  Short of prescription drugs I tried a variety of methods to get a good nights sleep, from liquor, or weed (in the early years), or just staying up as late as possible until I fell asleep where I was sitting.  My success at sleeping longer than 4 hours straight eluded me much more often than not.  I needed more sleep than that.

After retirement I turned to an over the counter med called Melatonin.  Once adjusting to the correct dosage I needed, it helped quite a bit and often got me over 6 hours sleep.

I should note that for the past 2 or 3 years or so, I awake in the middle of the night, usually between 2:30 and 3:30am, and stay awake most nights between 60 and 90 minutes.  I write this off to being an old person.

I find that sleeping under a significant of number of heavy blankets in a cold room is helpful.  The comfortable weight somehow eases me into a session of less interrupted sleep.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t play well on hot summer nights.

For a number of years I’ve used digital devices to track and report my sleep behavior.  Currently I use an Apple watch.  I find out how often I woke up (some unnoticed by me) and for how long, as well as the times spent in the different sleep stages.  The watch gives me stats on the overall sleep amount and the individual stages of quality and deep sleep, as well as my heart behavior.

But the war goes on.  I was recently managing between 5 and 7 or more hours a night.  I’ve slipped back into the mode of 4 to 5 hours often just giving up and rising between 4:30 and 5:00am, beating the sunrise.  And with summer almost here, I can only hope it’s not going to be a non-stop scorcher.  I need my blankies.

Apple Watch Model 3

I was growing a bit frustrated with my FitBit activity tracking device since the company’s new owner and charter added more subscription services, which in turn brought more ads and promotions to the FitBit. This often occurred multiple times per day.

My interest in the Apple Watch was renewed and I began researching the health analytics it could provide, both native and in free or low cost watch apps. It appears to do a deeper dive into activity stats than the FitBit. These stats are accessed from or loaded into the apple Health App database.

I then saw that Apple dropped the price on the Apple Watch model 3 to $200, which is the one I was considering. The newer Apple Watch 5 is out of my budget range. So I bought the Model 3, smaller of the 2 screen sizes offered, as that size matched the screen I was using on the FitBit with no readability issues. I did not add the cellular option, having no desire to emulate Dick Tracy and talk to my wrist, or pay for another cellular connection. Besides, as long as you are within Bluetooth range of your phone, you can answer calls and converse.

I’ve had the watch now for a little over a month and am fairly impressed. The data on exercise activity is impressive. Right now I’m leaving options active that prompt you to get up off your ass if you’ve been sitting too long, or do a minute of slow deep breaths to clear your head.

I definitely need to learn more about the device and check out watch apps that fill a few holes in the stats. For example, the watch itself does not track sleep as the FitBit did, but there are inexpensive Apple watch apps that do. It took me awhile to home in on the one that worked the best, because it allowed you to fine tune more parameters related to how you sleep. This tuning took a few days, but the results are near as accurate as with the FitBit, but I’m not done tuning yet.

I will probably create a Chapter 2 version of this post later as I find other things the watch can do that I would be interested in. My only complaint so far is battery life, which may be my fault as I have yet to shut down services it’s running that I don’t use, and stop notifications I don’t want. This will be a tedious exercise.

I still have a lot to learn about all the things it can do, that would be useful to me. Even with as little I’m using it for now, I’m happy I made the jump off FitBit.

Talking to Robots

Recent experiences at trying to get to a blood pumping, lung breathing, skin draped human when I’m trying to resolve an issue with a large corporation have been mind crushing.

I will sometimes succeed when the robot voice answering the call offers numerical choices I can respond to with my keypad, but when they want me to actually speak to them about what I want, this technology all too often leads me to blast profanity, at high volume, that could get me incarcerated.

Sorry. I could not understand you. Please try again.

This morning’s call into my service provider was the best example yet proving we are still in the infancy stages of this technology. The large corporations using it do so to decrease their head count, and look hip. Twice in the first call I was redirected back to the very top of the question and response chain after spending 3 to 4 minutes trying to provide the reason of my call. If the police or federal agents knock on my door sometime today I will not be surprised.

Sorry. I could not understand you. Let’s start over..

On my second call in, I responded to every request for information with a 5 second hold down of my zero (0) keypad button. This finally led to being dumped into a call center, and after a 5 to 10 minute wait (no problem with that, my headset is on and I’m doing other things), I actually got to an actual live person. It wasn’t the right person (my bad for the hold down the 0 ploy), but a nice person who sent my call to the right place in less than a minute, where my issue was resolved in less than 2 minutes by another pleasant person.

I really do try to play nice with the bots when they present themselves, but the technology just isn’t there yet. And when it starts listing the different issues you may be calling about, I find all too often mine is not offered as a selection. I do use online services so I almost always search the target corporation’s web site for an answer on my problem, or specifically where to call.

Suggestions to our Corporate Czars? Back off a little with the reductions in headcount in the customer service area, until the bot voice technology catches up as a quality replacement. And the folks in your company managing the bot technology may need to understand the human interface a little better.

Sorry. I am not working well for you. I will transfer you to Margie. She will help you.