jeffcarp #13

Hi friends,

Where did November go? For that matter where did the 2nd half of 2019 go? I just completed my 3rd week at Waymo. It’s super exciting and I’m learning a ton. Riding the bus to Mountain View every day is not as bad as I thought it’d be—I have a lot more time to read. I’m currently reading On Writing by Stephen King, it’s really great so far. Highly recommend.

Speaking of writing, recently I wrote about:

For medical residents, long hours and sleep deprivation is part of the package. But do you know that this punishing schedule exists thanks to a professor at Johns Hopkins who was literally a crackhead? William Stewart Halsted founded the medical residency program in the US in the early 1900s and was addicted to cocaine, after using it on himself as an anaesthetic. His insane cocaine-fueled hours formed the base of the long hours medical residents still work today.

It seems cruelly ironic that the people protecting our health are exposed to such unhealthy working conditions. Getting less than 8 hours of sleep repeatedly is super degenerative on the human body—or so I've been told by Dr. Matthew Walker in Why We Sleep. This is the most important book I've read this year. Very likely top 5 most important books in my life.

Here are some things I learned from the book.

  • Caffeine has a half-life of 7 hours. So if you have a coffee at 3pm, at 10pm half of the caffeine is still in your system.

  • Breaking down alcohol produces chemicals that suppress REM sleep. So a glass of wine before bed will decrease the amount of dreams you have.

  • The type of sleep you get is dependent on your circadian rhythm, not on the number of hours slept. So getting 8 hours of sleep after going to bed at 10pm vs. at 1am is not the same thing. You miss out on a lot of NREM (non-REM) sleep when you go to bed super late. NREM sleep moves your short-term memory from the day before to long-term storage, freeing up your short-term memory for new tasks the next day.

Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will, through work, bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea’.”

—Chuck Close (American painter, 1940–)