Tag Archives: coffee

Starting work at 4am is a mixed bag

Step 1: Wake up at 3AM

You remember your youth? Going to bed at 3AM after having a lot of fun? Maybe playing video games or drinking at a bar? It felt a little rebellious and irresponsible to be up that late (it’s almost early #LOL). Maybe if you had a late class or a flexible work schedule, you did these shenanigans on a weekday! Those were fun times. This is the exact opposite of that. Try to go to sleep at 7, but fail. Go to sleep at 9 instead and wake up barely able to function.

Step 2: Protein

Cereal over the age of thirty is a bad idea. Even bran cereal. That’s just sugar, and sugar wants to take up squatter’s residence on your belly. It’s harder to evict than your derelict former roommate, Martin, who ate your eggs, but doesn’t feel bad about it because they are not free range and factory farm cruelty excuses theft, apparently. Cook an egg for breakfast because you are a grownup.

Step 3: Coffee

Using a clean coffee maker, brew up 8 to 10 cups of Walmart’s Great Value Medium Roast. It’s a great value! There are no calories in a cup of black coffee but there are 100 milligrams of caffeine (It is by will alone I set my mind in motion). Drink a cup (or three!) to get you started and put the rest in an insulated container to nurse over the rest of the morning. Coffee kept hot on a hot plate will taste like death in less than an hour.

Step 4: Go to work

To start the day, read a nice think piece about your work. There’s no need to jump right in to the real work of the day. You’re in at 4AM. If you read for an hour to get your head on straight, you’re still ahead of the game. For God’s sake, don’t read the news. Not even as a joke. Block that on your own computer if you have to, like NetNanny for adults. Yes, there is an app for that.

Step 5: Panic at 6AM

Holy crap, have you  been at work for 2 hours? What have you accomplished? It’s the equivalent of 11 AM for anyone on a non-insane schedule. Have you written anything? A blog post, at least? Part of a paper? Code? What’s the point of getting up before dawn? You could have “slept in” until 6AM. That’s a statement that is absurd on its face. Maybe you should meditate or something.

Do you prefer your morning routine parodies in video form? Here you go:


Coffee makes us happy


As if we didn’t already know, coffee makes us happy. Actually, any warm drink would do, it seems. And it’s not so much happy as it is cooperative and trustful. It’s Science!

Neuroscience Marketing reminded me of this phenomenon. I saw it first in a documentary about making decisions. It seems that the NYT noticed it a few years ago when it was published in Science.

What’s the gist? Well, it seems that if you handle a cup of hot coffee you are more apt to trust and accept people. They tested this by giving people either a hot or cold beverage for a minute. Then they asked people if they would hire a new acquaintance or not. Subjects were statistically more likely to hire the candidate if they had a hot beverage relative to a cold beverage.

Surprising? Maybe. Bear it in mind for interviews, I suppose.


Caffeine and Hallucinations

According to this little Science Blog post, caffeine has been linked to hallucinations. This was corroborated by (badly spelled) anecdotal evicence at the Lycaeum (only when dealing with “drug culture” does poor spelling adds to authenticity and credibility).  The original article (subscription required):


In diathesis–stress models of psychosis, cortisol released in response to stressors is proposed to play a role in the development of psychotic experiences. Individual differences in cortisol response to stressors are therefore likely to play a role in proneness to psychotic experiences. As caffeine has been found to increase cortisol response to a given stressor, we proposed that, when levels of stress were controlled for, caffeine intake would be related to hallucination-proneness and persecutory ideation. Caffeine intake, stress, hallucination-proneness and persecutory ideation were assessed by self-report questionnaires in a non-clinical sample (N = 219). Caffeine intake was positively related to stress levels and hallucination-proneness, but not persecutory ideation. When stress levels were controlled for, caffeine intake predicted levels of hallucination-proneness but not persecutory ideation. Implications of these findings are discussed and avenues for future research suggested.

Translation: There are chemicals that seem to be related to craziness and also to caffeine. It turns out that, among 200 people, the crazy ones drink a lot more coffee… we don’t think it’s a coincidence.

I took their questionnaire. At the end it referred me to intervoiceonline.org, The International Community for Hearing Voices.


Alcohol is a carcinogen? Solution: more coffee!

I figure if booze increases cancer risk, then I’ll drink plenty of antioxidants in my coffee to counter the effects. There’s no way around it – I would never make a good mormon. I’m not all broken up over it. But the fact is that I see using one indulgence to ward off the ill effects of another as clever rather than immoral.

That means I’d be a bad catholic, too. I figure even though adultery is a bad sin, and condoms are (supposedly) are a bad sin, the two (in this particular case) partially cancel each other out. I mean, if you have to explain to your wife how you gave her the herpes you caught from a prostitute but it’s not as bad as it could be because you avoided the sin of using a condom… I’ll bet that won’t go over well.

What was I saying? Oh – coffee and booze. Not sins. Cancer. Right. So, alert reader Jason wrote me a note saying that the NIH lists alcoholic beverage consumption as known to increase the risk of cancer. On the other hand coffee seems to help for breast cancer, anyway. And I love coffee! So maybe they cancel.

Wishful thinking?


Gumption traps and how to get motivated, part 3: Coffee

Coffee is a major way I stay “motivated” (read: higher energy than a jack russel terrier). I mentioned my rampant caffeine addiction in an earlier post. It’s not the only legal recreational stimulant anymore. According to some interesting news published at Nature a lot of scientists are using some fun new substances on the prescription market.
I’m not one to pass judgment. For the time being, I’m going to stick with sleep, runs and a bit of caffeine. OK, more than a bit of caffeine. If things change, who knows. Maybe I’ll find that I need something extra and an understanding physician to make it happen.

In the mean time, I’m going to give you the run down on how to make good coffee. There’s lots of information over at the old rec.food.drink.coffee usegroup FAQs page (the wealth of info stored in the old usegroups FAQs is pretty amazing). But the long and short is this: it doesn’t matter how good your coffee is if you have a dirty coffee maker. That’s step 1. Clean your coffee maker. Once that’s done, consider your water. Step 2 is, if need to filter your water, filter your water. Don’t buy bottled water. Step 3 is to buy some decent coffee. Don’t overspend. Make sure the grind is right for your machine.