Productive sleep and what does it mean?

Last night was the second time where I had a dream about solving a software development problem that I was having. Each time I have had these sorts of dreams I came up with the solution and it worked in my dream. I then woke up, implemented the solution in real life, and it worked there as well.

The first time it happened I thought it was a really neat thing that I was able to do and how awesome it would be if I could do that more often. But I never really thought about what actually happened in my dream. They key part being that I didn’t just come up with a potential solution in my dream. The code actually worked in my dream.

One might just simply assume that the reason it looked like it would work in my dream was because my mind believed it to be correct. So it showed the correct result as a form of confirmation bias.  I believed it should work in my dream so my dream made it appear as if it did work. That it actually worked in real life is just a happy coincidence.

But what if it is more than that? What if the reason that it worked in real life was because my brain did the calculation of that logic while I slept. I developed all of the code for both of these projects. Is it possible that my brain created a simulation based on all it has seen and then produced an end result based on the information it had retained from the development?

Mind blown…

This Halloween don’t drink and drive, take an Uber on me*.

It is Halloween time again. Children will be walking around our neighborhoods asking for candy and adults will be heading to costume parties and enjoying some creepy cocktails.

When enjoying yourself please make sure to not make anyone a ghost prematurely. If you do not have a designated driver and have never tried Uber, you can enter in the following code into the app and get up to $20 off your first Uber trip.

uberRideShareDanUE

Enjoy yourselves, have fun, be safe, and happy haunting!

* Free rides are only available to new Uber riders and the credit will be up to $20 on one ride only.

Uber driving: Day 3

I decided to take my Uber driving to a Thursday night, mostly because of the Saints game at the dome. Uber suggested that this may very well be a good night to make some money. So after I finished work I left my garage and immediately got a call on the app. That was the first of 7 really short trips. Each of them paid a small amount, but in the long run they added up to me earning $45 before I decided to go home and watch the Saints on TV. But the most important thing was that the 7 trips made me top 25 total trips. This meant that my referrer would be getting a bonus ($200 in New Orleans) and I would also be getting a $100 bonus on top of my earned fares.

But the time I got home I looked at my earnings statement and saw yet another $100. One of the guys I had referred was killing it down in Orlando and had already driven the requisite number of rides to qualify us for the referral bonus as well.

The Saints won (WHO DAT!) and I went back out to pick up others. These were fewer trips but longer distances (meaning more money). At the end of the day I netted $111 in fares plus $200 in referral bonuses for a grand total of $311. I also intend on driving Friday and Saturday nights as well. This should be a very good weekend for extra money.

The referral program is still going on. So if you would also like to become an Uber driver and earn an extra $100 bonus, please sign up by clicking this link.  Please shoot me an email (DanielJayZimmerman at Gmail) when you do sign up so we can make sure everything goes through properly. I have been enjoying it and I think it is a great opportunity to earn some extra cash on the side.

Low carb peanut butter shake recipe

Until today I had not gotten too creative with my Atkins diet. Eggs and bacon for breakfast, burgers and salads for lunch, various meat options for dinner with either broccoli or salads. Sometimes I would use an Atkins prepared meal or bar to vary things up.

However, while I was in the grocery store I looked at the powdered peanut butter and noticed it was not very high in carbohydrates at all (3 total carbs and 1 net carb for 2 tablespoons). I wondered what might go well with that. I got some unsweetend almond milk (which looks to have 0 net carbs in it). I also got some sugar free maple flavored syrup (1 net carb per 1/4 cup).

So in this version I used 6 tablespoons of the powdered peanut butter, 1/4 cup of syrup, and 2 cups of almond milk. I mixed all that in a blender with some ice and made myself a shake and was happily surprised with the results. It actually tasted better than what I expected.

So for a grand total of 4 net carbs I had a shake that tasted much better than any Atkins shake I had ever tried before. Next time I may try to include some extra items like fresh strawberries or some other options to make it even better. But as of now it was my first attempt to try something “different” and it was a success.

My current weight loss is 22 lbs, with many more to go.

My second night of Uber driving.

I did my second night of Uber driving on Friday night/Saturday Morning. It was still an overall good experience. I never really got to surge levels like I did the previous time. I did net about $110 in net fares (i.e. total fares less what Uber keeps before they pay you).

I guess the only thing that slightly bothers me about the night was that I did not end up with a perfect 5 star rating like I did the first night. I guess that is bound to happen. I have not rated anyone less than 5 stars so far as all of my trips seemed to be enjoyable.

I have one or two guesses as to why my rating may have been dinged. Once I ask Uber a question I will make another post about the subject.

But my overall rating is 4.86 after 26 total trips. I will try and keep that up and expect that issues like that are few and far between.

This brings me to my reminder about how have the opportunity to earn money via Uber yourself. If you sign up as a driver and make 25 trips by the end of October you will get a $100 bonus.  Just use my link and I will get credit as well. It took me less than 8 hours of overall driving to get 25 trips. You can easily do it too.

 

A little update since I haven’t posted here in a while

I havn’t gotten a chance to do much writing recently and I really need to get back to it. I am in the middle of a very short story that I have had in my head for a while now. It, like some of the other ones, goes to a dark place (which I still find odd because the book I do want to write is not dark at all).

I have also started driving as an Uber driver. My first experience was pretty good. In 3.5 hours I made $101 in fares. I wouldn’t mind doing that 2-3 times as week for some extra money. Seems worth it to me. And if you sign up via my referral link they currently have a special going on where you can get money once you finish a certain amount of drives. Sign up here.

I have also been doing Atkins again. Since Labor Day I have lost 20 lbs. One of the things that has made this go around easier is the SplashH2O beverages. They have a peach/tangerine version that is really awesome and I just tried the lemonade version and that is pretty darned tasty too. Typically I don’t like lemonade drink mixes. But these guys do it up right and they have no carbs in them so it is perfect for when I want something different than water.

I am also finishing up the final stages of my Disney trip, using all my “BudgetEars” knowledge and putting it to good use. I am very excited about that as well.

I hope to get more stuff written for all my blogs and some more stories finished up for publishing here. Anyway, just a heads up.

 

 

Writing: The Tourist Trap

This was the last assignment of the writing class I had taken. It was based off the Finn McCool’s writing contest of 2013. The piece had to contain every word in a given list. This is the story:

————–

“You don’t want to go in there” warned the stranger on the other side of the street. “It is a real tourist trap”. David shrugged his shoulders at Mary and replied to her“It looks harmless enough”. Mary nodded her head in agreement. The door was ornately decorated. It looked as if it would whisk you away into another dimension. David grabbed the golden doorknob and twisted it with fake apprehension, hoping that the stranger would see it. “Are you ready to be trapped?” David asked as he pulled the door open.

He was surprised at the size of the room. He didn’t think it would be this large on the inside. “SLÀINTE!” shouted a crowd in the corner as they clanged their glasses of beer together. The group of men tussled the hair of the ginger looking one. Perhaps he was getting married. Hallways and staircases littered the exterior of the room in every direction. The couple sat down at the bar. The bartender walked by and quickly handed the pair a laminated drink menu. Mary pointed at the menu at the Bloody Mary and smiled. David ordered one for her and a rum and coke for himself. The bartender gave them both generous pours. David returned the favor with a generous tip. David noticed a woman sitting at the end of the bar playing one of those quarter quiz games. She looked as if she had been there for days. But maybe she had just had a long day herself.

Mary finished her drink and excused herself to go to the bathroom. She disappeared into the crowd as David ordered another drink. One drink became two, and then three. Several more people entered the bar. More cheers came from the Irish lads. He didn’t really know if they were Irish or not, but he and Mary loved to make up stories about the people they saw around them. “Where is she?” he muttered to himself. As his buzz turned into a haze his concern grew for her. He took for granted how easy they communicated now. She wouldn’t have much luck with strangers. He left his bar stool and approached the lads. “Have any of you see my girlfriend?”.

The ginger responded “Sure, she is fit!”.

“Yes, I am well aware” David responded, assuming fit meant something other than in shape. He assumed it was good. “She wandered off, did you see where she went?”. The group stared at each other for a moment and shook their heads no. Carrying his drink he ventured down the hallway he assumed she had walked down. He saw no bathroom, just another bar. “If only she had taken some breadcrumbs, she wouldn’t have gotten lost” he thought. The group in this bar looked stranger that the first, and a little more drunk as well. He opened up his wallet and approached the bartender. He showed her a picture of Mary and asked “have you seen anyone looking like this?”

She responded “Sure honey, I see people looking like that all the time. I am sure if you wait you could find one just like her”. Frustration welled up in him like a geyser. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw her climbing the left stairway and turning a corner. He felt like a salmon swimming upstream as he tried to make his way past the people on the stairway. “MARY!” he shouted in vain. As he reached the top he looked down the hallway. He couldn’t see anyone, just a few closed doors. He opened one of them and walked through the door. He couldn’t believe what he saw. It was yet another bar.

He passed several more halls, and bars, and stairways. Each time he found people stranger than the last. The situation left him discombobulated. Perhaps it was a bad idea to have left his initial seat. He doubted that he could find his way back through this maze. He needed to find her. As he opened another door he found a bar with dance music. Strobe lights flashed and the drunk people waved back and forth in a rhythmic trace, much like seaweed reacting to the ebb and flow of a current. He hopped up and down trying to catch a glimpse of her in the crowd. She did love to dance.

A drunk girl, no older than 21, approached him and asked “why are you hopping”.

He responded, “I am trying to see someone”.

“Shucks” she said. “I was hoping you were a frog. I need to find my prince. Maybe if I kiss you that will turn you into a frog?”. She grabbed him and drunkenly leaned in for a kiss.

He pushed her away and shouted “MARY!”. One by one, each dancer shouted Mary to the beat. “What a bunch of weirdos” he thought. Maybe they would be useful. If all of them started screaming, Mary she would find the room. He waived his arms up and down to try and get them to shout louder. “MARY MARY” came from the crowd.

The music suddenly stopped. The DJ shouted some profanities at him that would make a sailor blush and stormed off. With the music gone, the crowd dissipated quickly. The room emptied and a familiar figure sat at the bar sipping on a long island iced tea. It was Mary. She looked more lost than he. He grabbed her trembling hand and said “this was a bad idea”. They opened the door on the other side of the room and saw the ginger husband to be. He quickly made his way to first door. A picture of the stranger across the street was posted on the inside of the door. “I told you so” read the caption. As the door opened it was not a street he saw yet another bar, with a maze of halls and stairs. The tourist trap had claimed another two victims.

Initial Game Thoughts: 1846

I got to play a complete game of 1846 for the first time yesterday. It is a really good game.

For those not familiar with the particular genre, players in 18xx games will control one (or more) railroad companies in a particular geographic location. Each turn will contain stock market rounds and operating rounds.

In a stock market round you deal with issues like founding companies, setting their initial stock values, and dealing in stock transactions. If you started a company you might not end up with it at the end of the game. This can happen by you dumping stocks to make someone else the majority owner. It can also happen by someone else getting a majority share of the company.

In an operating round players use the capital available to each company owned to set up rail lines from one destination to another and purchasing new and improved engines capable of collecting funds from an increasing number of stops.

In 1846 each player starts with $400. There is an initial number of smaller companies that can be purchased via a secret draft. The cost of these smaller companies are paid out and then a stock market round happens. Players then take turns either starting their own larger rail companies or buying shares in the companies of others. A company is funded when 20% of the available stocks are purchased by the President. Those funds go into the treasury. Any stocks purchased by any player will put more funds into the treasury of the corporation.

I had a really good starting position in the game. I was able to get the best of the minor companies (one that operates its own train) along with a very good companion rail company (Grand Trunk Railroad). I was building a very attractive company. However, I neglected to purchase enough of my own shares. Because of this another player was able to get a majority share of the company and take it over. In the next stock market turn I was able to force him to protect that company and in doing so I was able to obtain enough shares to take over his company. It was a good saving move, but not enough to save the game for me. I basically grasped defeat out of the jaws of victory. I had seen some criticisms online of the Grand Trunk Railroad and how it doesn’t play well for the long haul. However, if you can start it with the Michigan Southern private company I believe that is a very strong position. M.S. starts earning money immediately and you wind up with a very easy path to make an “East/West” route (something that gives you bonuses). I haven’t played the game enough to determine what the “best” starting position might be. However, with the randomness that comes with drafting private companies and who gets to start bidding, it is unlikely that a player will get the “ideal” start if it does exist.

After playing this game and 1830 once before, I look forward to playing more of these games in the future. I am hooked.

The Park Bench

In the writing class I took with Stephen Rea we had several assignments meant to help assist us with our writing goals. So I created the “class assignments” sub-category under writing. One of the assignments was a story, no more than 1000 words, about a woman in a park who notices a man on a bench. This is the story I wrote, slightly edited taking into consideration the comments received in class.

——————

Sarah noticed the handsome man sitting on the bench in the middle of the park. She had often come here to exercise and had never noticed him before. He was older than what she typically went for but he was definitely attractive. He had an antique briefcase sitting next to him, which seemed kind of odd. Nowadays people typically carried laptop bags with them. She purposefully jogged by him and smiled. He responded only with a nod and scribbled something down on a small pad. For some reason the pad looked a little too thin for its size. She didn’t know why that stood out, but it just did. It was frustrating to her that she couldn’t get more than that out of him. She knew that while she wasn’t the most attractive gal in the world that typically a smile from her would earn more than just a simple nod. She completed another circle around the park and sat down on the bench across from the stranger. She opened her water bottle and took a slow sip, peeking at him as she drank. As she slowly twisted the cap back on the bottle she locked eyes with him again and smiled a hello. His response was a simple hi while he continued scribbling in his notebook.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what are you putting down in your little book?”.

“Nothing of consequence, at least not yet” he responded. This man had become a puzzle now and she felt challenged to solve him. She changed benches and sat down on the other end of his bench. He closed his notebook as she joined him.

“Has anyone ever told you that you are a bit strange?”.

He responded “Why yes actually, sometimes my mannerisms can seem a bit odd. But then again a lot of the mannerisms of ‘normal’ people seem odd to me”.

She laughed “I have actually feel the same way. Most of my friends don’t approach strange men in parks”.

“Likely a wise choice, you never know who you might meet. Would you like to see what is in my notebook”.

This was going to be easier than she thought. “Would I?Absolutely!”.He reopened it to the first page and there was a beautiful stipple drawing of a dog. “Tell me about the dog” she said.

“Well, he was my old family dog. I drew it mostly from memory, he has long passed away”.

“That is so sad, I am a dog person too. I love my beagle.”

The next page had another stipple drawing of a flower, and then a bird. He said “I like to draw things of beauty, and you can find beauty almost everywhere”. He turned to the last page and it was clear that it was a drawing of her. Her face flushed as she pushed the piece of hair not in a ponytail back behind her ear.

“Oh come on, I am just a sweaty girl running in a park. Beauty?”.

“Absolutely” he responded. “Unfortunately with you running around I can only draw a little bit at a time. If you would come back to my studio I could finish it”. She didn’t know why she agreed, but she did. She couldn’t figure out if it had just been so long since she had been with a man that she was just throwing caution to the wind or if she was just that stupid. But she found herself following him back to his studio apartment in the city.

He opened the door for her and let her in. As he closed the door she half expected him to just push her on his bed and ravish her, not that she would have minded, it had been far too long. Surprisingly enough, he told her to sit on the couch and brought her a glass of red wine. It was a good flavor, not too strong but not too sweet. It seemed to complement him perfectly. He set down in the armchair across from her and resumed making tiny little dots in his pad. He would get up occasionally to refresh her glass. The wine, just like the man, was growing on her.

He completed the drawing and grabbed her another glass of wine along with one for himself. “A toast, to my new work of art”. They clanged glasses as he revealed it to her. She was amazed at the detail that stippling could bring out. “I love it” she told him. He told her that it wasn’t quite ready yet. There just needed to be one final piece of the puzzle. She knew that this would be the moment that he would make his move. But instead she started feeling extra groggy. As she fell he caught her and guided her back to the couch. “Almost complete indeed” he stated with a wry smile.

A week later the man took his briefcase to a small cafe. He sat with his back next to the wall and entered the combination. He pulled out the small notebook, one piece of paper thinner. He had carefully removed the bits of paper that came with tearing the old page out. That page remained where his new piece of art was. Before he closed the briefcase he took a smell of the new lock of hair adorning the inside of the case. He set the case to the side of his chair. A waitress walked up and he ordered a cup of coffee while jotting a few dots down in his notebook. The waitress smiled at him and asked what he was putting in his notebook. “ He replied, “Nothing of consequence, at least not yet”.

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