3rd shift – take two

I’m now working on my second week of third shift. Thankfully, it’s my last for at least another few weeks. After a week of trying to convince my body that day is night and night is day, I’ve come to understand a few truths about third shift.

1. Caffeine is your friend. Caffeine has kept me awake in the middle of the night when my body really would rather be sleeping. Specific amounts? Well, Sunday night to Monday morning, I consumed 2 cups of coffee (290mg caffeine), 2 Red Bull energy drinks (160mg caffeine) and 1 Diet Mountain Dew (55mg caffeine). That comes to a total of 505mg of caffeine. The rest of the week, I can maintain an average of 2 cups of coffee/tea (94mg – 290mg caffeine), 1 Red Bull energy drink (80mg caffeine) and 1 Diet Mountain Dew (55mg caffeine) per day. That totals out at somewhere between 229 – 425mg caffeine. Breaking myself of the caffeine is going to be painful next week.

2. Melatonin is also your friend. 1mg of melatonin taken every morning when I’m ready to go to sleep has helped my body actually get into a deep sleep and stay there for some decent number of hours. I would not be able to pull off the small amounts of caffeine I’ve been drinking if it wasn’t for the decent amount of sleep I’ve been getting during the day.

3. There is no good solution to moving your life around in order to work a third shift. Just find something that doesn’t force you to completely put your life on hold and go with it. Supposedly, the best way to work it is to take your normal schedule (Sleep, wake up, go to work, come home, play, repeat) and just shift the entire schedule to accomodate when you’re at work. That way, your body doesn’t go completely whack on you. That doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s definitely the most popular piece of advice I’ve received.

4. Sean is an absolute angel. I technically already knew this, but this experience has reinforced it. I’m really not good for very much during the week. I get home around 11am – noon. I go to sleep. I wake up at 7pm (Sean’s already been home for a couple horus at this point and has been nice enough to stay quiet). I’m coherent for a few hours in which I spend that time with Sean so that we don’t become strangers. At about 10pm, Sean goes to sleep and I head off to work. Not a lot of time in there to actually be productive and get stuff done. As a result, Sean’s been cooking dinner and usually cleaning up afterwards while I take a shower. He’s been really quiet while I’m still asleep and he gives up time that he would normally have for World of Warcraft so that we can spend time together. Thank you Sean!

it’s like dragon*con, but without the pie

Last night, I started my first night of most likely many more, working a third shift at work. Being the test engineer means that you’re at the very end of the software development cycle and it also means that you tend to be ignored a bit until all of a sudden the developers realize that I have to get my job done and I wind up with sucky shift.

I equate it to being at Dragon*Con, but without the pie. I stay up long hours, sleep a few hours during the day and then drink lots of caffeine to stay awake the rest of the time. Oh yeah, and no friends. My one friend in the lab is the Radio/CD player. Without it, I would be lost (and asleep).

quest for the bean

On Christmas day, Sean and I had a tasty baked ham for dinner. There were other items for dinner, but the ham is the important one. Part of the ham is the ham bone. Every time we have ham, the ham bone is set aside for later. Later always means that eventually I’ll make up a batch of red beans and rice.

Enter today. We decide to invite two of our good friends out to the house tomorrow night for dinner and a trial at a new game they gave us for Christmas called Arkham Horror. Red beans and rice always means mass quantities of tasty food that I can just let sit and cook all day, so I decided tomorrow night would be a great time to make said red beans and rice.

One thing to keep in mind about red beans and rice is that the beans have to be dried red kidney beans. The beans then soak overnight with the hambone before then cooking all day with same hambone. That meant we had to go out tonight to get the beans so that they could soak overnight. We have two grocery stores out where we live. The next closest grocery store is 15 miles back in town. We went to Fry’s (Kroger’s for those east of the Mississippi). They had a spot for kidney beans, but were out of the beans themselves. We went to Basha’s. They had small red beans, but not kidney beans. I really wanted to make these beans and Sean wanted an excuse to go to Best Buy to finish off some store credit we had there, so we trooped up into town.

Here’s where a bit of a nightmare begins. We start heading out of Maricopa, towards Phoenix. Right on the edge of Maricopa, we see an accident. It’s a bad one. The police have an entire side of the intersection roped off. Then we see the headlights backed up on the only road that leads between Phoenix and Maricopa. By they time we realized that those headlights backed up really far (approximately 10 miles), we couldn’t turn back without being stuck in the traffic anyway, so we decided to just head on into town.

AJ’s, one of our favorite specialty stores, had the andouille sausage I wanted to add, but no kidney beans. Finally, another Fry’s in town actually had the kidney beans. It took four stores to find a common item such as kidney beans. I bought my two bags of kidney beans and a soda to hold us over for the drive back home. Thankfully, our trip to Best Buy also yielded us three new CDs to listen to.

After a sidetrip down one of the few roads that connects from the interstate and the road to Maricopa (aka Maricopa Rd), which cut the line of traffic for us from 10 miles to about 4 miles, we finally made it back home 3 hours later. 1 hour of that was spent going 4 miles down the road. The quest for the bean, though, was satisfied. The beans and the hambone are now happily soaking in my dutch oven pot and will hopefully yield a very tasty batch of red beans and rice. If not, Sean might just be forced to strangle me.