Category Archives: Travel


Melatonin for Jet Lag: The short and simple answer.

I am going to be doing a few red-eye flights in the near future, to time zones far from my own. I decided to review the scientific recommendations around melatonin for jet lag. Unfortunately, most of the articles that have the needed information are behind paywalls, so I bit the bullet and bought a review article. Now I can share the important information with you, dear readers. Here it is:

  • Take 2-5 mg of fast-dissolving or liquid melatonin about 30 minutes before sleep.
  • Do this when you’re ready to sleep on the red-eye flight
  • Do this every day at your destination for the first 3-4 days
  • Maybe avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Do NOT take melatonin earlier in the day, or at any other day or time beside what is listed above. This includes not taking any in the days before your flight.
  • Try to get dark when you should be sleeping and light when you should be awake (by the time zone you’re adjusting to).

That’s it. Lots of long-winded discussion exists on the internet. Many abstracts tease at this information but don’t give it. But now you have it. Happy travels.

Lessons Learned: 2009 – Principles to Live By

The past year has been a tumultuous one — learning to raise a child, traveling all over the place, both by myself and with my family, finishing my Ph.D., starting a company and a couple of side businesses, and much more.

This year I finally started keeping track of lessons learned, not on a per-incident basis, but in the form of ‘principles to live by’ — things I’ve noticed forming a pattern over time. I’ll preface this list by saying that these principles apply to me specifically — I won’t say that they’re appropriate for everyone. However, they might give you something to think about in terms of your own best practices. None of this is original either, but out of all of the advice I’ve read, these things have really worked for me. Without further ado:

Brock’s Principles to Live By Based on Personal Experience

  • Don’t exercise until done with work for the day
  • Don’t drink alcohol until done with work for the day – yes that includes irish cream in the coffee and a beer if you go out to lunch with people and they’re having beers.
  • Exercise regularly, both strength and aerobic
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit caffeine consumption to the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per day, and none after lunch
  • Eat enough fiber
  • Plan your day
  • Don’t plan to do any work while watching an infant/toddler
  • Plan to clean/tidy/play while watching an infant/toddler
  • Limit work hours – work expands to fill the allotted time
  • Batch
  • Emphasize the positive, deemphasize the negative
  • Don’t complain
  • Know your goals
  • Say No
  • Don’t buy it if you can rent it, unless you’re going to use it regularly
  • Don’t keep it if you’re not going to use it regularly or unless it’s very hard to get. Give it away or sell it.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt
  • Clean environment – clean mind
  • Keep an accountability partner
  • Where possible, never leave any preparation to the day of an event — things always seem to pop up that prevent last-minute prep
  • Avoid instant messaging. It makes it too easy for conversations to drag on. Use email for asynchronous and phone for synchronous conversation.
  • Act professional in business, and give the best you can at the fairest price you can. It will pay itself back quickly and repeatedly.
  • Wait for the upgrade. You don’t have the time or money to be an early adopter anymore.
  • Pack lighter. You can almost always buy something you need there.

Much of this learning has been done through and inspired by the “Think Try Learn” / Edison philosophy/platform, now at v1.0. I’ve learned some other, more specific things through that site, including how to really increase my strength and musculature quickly, and how true the “what gets measured gets managed” mantra is.

What have you learned this year? Do you have any “principles to live by”?

Old Habits Die Hard

I’m back in Baltimore until tomorrow. I had a course on research ethics (8 hours to say “don’t abuse human subjects…”), and have been shipping, selling, and giving away the remnants of my stuff that didn’t make it to MN on the first trip.

Today, I’m working in the lab, borrowing an empty desk. It’s in the room next-door to where my old desk was, a desk now occupied by someone else. Every time I get up to use the restroom or whatever, I walk into the wrong room (my old one) when I come back. This has happened at least three times, and several more times where I’ve stopped myself before actually opening the wrong door. I guess I can’t unlearn almost a year’s worth of habit forming in one day.