Friday, 10 April 2020

Sauna at home and Vivid Dreaming

Due to the current situation where we are all at home and most public places are now closed I've invested and bought myself a sauna.  I got a Valo 2 person sauna and it's been great so far.  I purchased it for ~A$1600 (before a price rise due to the exchange rate).  If you are reading this in early April 2020 they may still have stock here of the same model:

I had looked at a number of sites for a sauna that would fit into my 1 bedroom apartment and more specifically on my balcony.  I briefly thought of a 1 person sauna but I'm so glad I got a bigger sauna as it's already a bit like a confinement space and to have a smaller space again I think would be a bit too claustrophobic.  Originally I had thought to buy the sauna from Appliances Online due to my previous great experiences but the delivery timeframe was too far away so I cancelled my order and ended up buying it from Luxo Living (link above) since they had stock.  It may not have had a known brand name but I'm glad I've received the sauna sooner rather than later as it's been good!

 Here are some pics of my building of the sauna:

My what big boxes you have!

And heavy 'panels' - there were 6 in total.

In tight quarters it does make it hard to get each panel out... esp when they are quire heavy and you have to do this by yourself because of Coronavirus meaning you can't get help from anyone you know.  (at least no one I wanted to risk!) 

Each of the panels is easily slotted together... once you can move them into place.

Almost there except I had to take it apart again to get the bench seat thing in.

Finally built and ready to go!  (And yes it was dark by this time)
Prior to the 'lockdown' I had been taking advantage of the Fitness Passport and using my local swimming pool and dry sauna there.  The main reason I even sauna'd in the first place was after doing a DNA consultation with Dr Anthony Jay - his analysis of my DNA suggested that I do saunas 3+ times a week.  (Hmmm looking at this again I need to make sure I read the book too about artificial estrogen chemicals).

I've also since done a further hormonal test (DUTCH test) which does indicate that while my estrogen (in this case estradiol) is in the 'normal' range, my progesterone and my testosterone is almost nil!
It's not a good thing and I'm not sure what the DUTCH test says about doing a sauna but I do find it interesting as I assume the DUTCH test would indicate I'm estrogen dominant (because I don't have the other two sex hormones at all!)

I digress.  Back to saunas.  So I'm not sure what the manifestation of my low testosterone and progesterone is although I still have other issues.  I wasn't expecting anything particular about saunas except better sleep.

I had a great experience in early 2020 when I had gone to a spa place where I did an infrared sauna, sensory deprivation float and a salt room session.  It was good but I didn't get a "aha" moment.  Then the following morning I got an amazing feeling of contentment or happiness when I woke up.  And it wasn't just one day.  It lasted for about 2 weeks!  Every morning I'd get up and have this feeling of "happiness".

Sleep, Dreams and Happiness

I wouldn't say I felt like I slept better just that I felt this amazing feeling in the morning when I woke up.  I couldn't work out which of the therapies or combination of therapies worked.  Now I know it was definitely the infrared sauna. As I've managed to replicate it with the sauna I have at home!  I'm trying to remember if I had the same feeling with the dry sauna but now I can't recall.  It's likely.  The feeling of well being is pretty amazing.  It's not something that is easily explained as I call it "happiness" but it's more a feeling of peace and wellbeing. 
My Oura ring stats do not seem to indicate my sauna gives me any better sleep than normal.  Actually I do wish my sleep stats from the Oura ring had some sort of pattern but I haven't managed to discern one yet. 

I'm also taking a lot of supplements to detox and fix my hormones so some of these could be affecting my sleep as I'm definitely not sleeping 'better' as I feel like I'm waking up more than usual. I say I'm not sleeping better but my Oura ring data isn't indicating my sleep is any worse than usual.

One thing I have noticed from a sauna is the vividness of my dreams!  I'm not sure if it's more vivid than normal but I'm remembering them.  From silly dreams that still make no sense (like rows of hedges!?) to scary ones where I wake up in the dream and see spooky signatures (mine!) all over my walls.  Thank goodness it was all a dream.  I have since Googled this and I'm consoling myself it's a symptom of detoxing. 


My skin has seen a marked improvement from using my infrared sauna and the dry sauna from weeks ago.  There was a difference that I could feel when I had the gap between the dry sauna and my sauna at home.  The main thing was the "moisture" in the skin.  I could feel that my skin felt older and more 'crepe-y' when I hadn't been in doing sauna therapy.  I also found that when I did saunas and now I just don't need moisturiser.  I know it's crazy but it's true.  My skin somehow is creating it's own level of moisturiser so I don't need to add it to my face or hands.  Not sure if this will last into our winter but I'm hoping so!
Not sure if you can tell which is the post sauna hand... but it's the bottom one which has a bit more moisture!

Also when I first started the dry sauna experience I had a pimple.  I know it doesn't sound great but I'm just going to assume it was my skin detoxing.  As you may have guessed I haven't had a pimple for decades. 

My mother also reckons my pores are not as huge as they were before and seems to think I now have better skin :).

So in conclusion I think saunas are great!  The biggest benefit is the feeling of contentment and secondly it's my skin.  If you don't feel comfortable in your skin, who will ;) 

If you get down this far into the blog post I hope you are well.  It's 9 April 2020 and Sydney, Australia is in semi (stage 3) lockdown due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).  We can go out and shop and attend to essential services but can't meet with anymore than one other person.  But that doesn't include visiting anyone.  You can't visit anyone.  Unless they are your partner or part of your family unit (as in your close family unit).  But we're flattening the curve!  So our daily case count isn't too bad -- 85 for Australia today and a total number of known cases of 6109.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Fitness Passport membership locations on a map

My Fitness Passport membership is now live!  Woohoo!  So I get access to a heap of gyms and pools and classes.  For someone who isn't interested in a gym membership I'm not quite sure why I have joined!!  Peer pressure.

I'm very fortunate that I have the opportunity to join this type of membership as then I can go just about anywhere in NSW.  The membership site gives you a list of them but I had no idea how close they would be to either work or home so I copied and pasted the details into a Google Sheet and then put them in a Google Map.  I thought it may be useful for others too.

You can access the map by this link too:

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Air Quality in Sydney atm is awful and the affects

I know I know.  The bushfires are terrible and here I am worrying about air quality. 

I'm really affected by the poor air quality.  Probably a bit more so than others.  I know I am already sensitive to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) - you know the 'new car smell' that other people love?  Well I don't love it.  At all.  It makes me ill.  I get a headache and actually feel like vomiting.  Poor air quality affects me the same way it seems.  Not to the extent of VOCs but it definitely makes me feel not so well.  Maybe I feel it more now that I've felt so good mentally on a ketogenic diet?  Not sure.  Regardless I get a headache and the tip of my tongue feels tingly when air quality is bad.  And the air quality we have is based on bush fires and not on pollution so it is 'better' in some ways I suppose?  I can't recall feeling bad when I'm next to an open fire (camping or at an outdoor space in a pub/restaurant) so I'm not sure if it needs to be a particular level for me to feel bad.

The air quality has prompted a few things.  Firstly the building of an Air Quality level map.  I was sick of looking at the NSW Environment site on my mobile which isn't responsive or friendly to a phone. So we put it on a map.  We want the data anyway to mash together with other data points in the future to provide alerts through GARP.  It's pretty cool although somewhat limited due to the lack of air quality meters in NSW and around me.  

air quality map by Datascout International

Certainly I feel that I get a better gauge about the air quality by just looking out on the balcony and seeing if I can see Sydney.  Here's the contrast from my balcony.  One pic was just a 'normal day' in November.  The other was New Years eve - 31 December 2019 when there were many bushfires blazing.

I've also been wearing a mask when I feel the air is bad.  It's not the best mask in the world but does have a PM2.5 filter it in.  The bad air can still get in the gaps but due to my inability for handling VOCs I can't go the whole apocalyptic mask like Richard can!  

As much as a feel a bit weird in the mask it's still better than having a headache and goodness knows what it's doing to me if I feel it as a headache!

I've also bought air filters for the office (a Breville Smart Air Purifier) and for home (a Ionmax ion390).  It's better when it's on and when I have my doors closed and air conditioning on but I wish someone would tell Sprocket that.  He still likes sitting and sleeping on the balcony in the bad air!  And that means I leave the door open for him to go in and out.  Yesterday when it was very smokey and hot I had my air conditioning going and the air filter and went out into the apartment corridor and felt the difference in air quality almost immediately.  Urgh.  (Today I went outside to visit my mum and had to double back to get my mask due to the smoke outside!).

I'm doing what I can do reduce the affects of smoke for immediate affects but I do wonder about the affects longer term for everyone with this bad air... there have been some articles indicating that bad air quality can affect health in the longer terms :(

What else can we do.  We can't all move to Tasmania 😆.  So air filter and mask it is!

Friday, 6 September 2019

Is it Keto?

The keto diet

I have been eating in a ketogenic way since October or November 2018 (I've been saying October but think it's actually November!).

The main reasons are for general health given my mum and dad have both had cancer... and my mum and grandparents have/had diabetes.  It also helps that generally the advice from many influencers whom I follow on social media and podcasts have adopted a ketogenic or low carb diet.

I've been on this way of eating for quite a few months and yet it still intimidates friends and family who ask what I can eat and still think "a bit of flour" is keto (cornflour or other flour in cooking).  Or the other evening when my friend organised "pork ribs" which was precooked and prepared and COVERED in BBQ sauce.  (Read the post I put up on Is it Keto about what to serve a friend if they are keto). 

You may be aware I set up my Keto 4 Asians site as I wanted to adapt to eating foods I like but with a ketogenic mindset.  It's not too hard to adapt but there are still substitutions or elimination of some ingredients.  But recently on talking with a friend we decided to create a "Is it Keto?" site.  Because often it's a phrase used to check if something is suitable to the ketogenic diet.  "Is x keto?" we ask often. 

So I put together a website - Is it Keto?

I even added capability to easily add extra entries into the database... as I had forgotten to add tofu to the list.  (doh!).  Anyone can contribute -- it creates a draft post for me to add in and the option for a link to the keto person's site or social media location.

If you are wondering - yes I still eat keto after 10 months or so.  I haven't lost a heap of weight (boo!) but I feel great and my mental state is a lot better.  I don't feel as tired and am able to take on a 30km hike without dramas! 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Best Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in an app

I found one of the best examples of a privacy policy and terms of service in an app in a long time!

I downloaded and installed a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) app on my phone this morning and whilst the app won't work for me (more on this below) I was very impressed with their implementation of the terms of service and privacy policy.  During the onboarding it was very clear what Terms of Service were as it was in simple plain English and not legalese.  It was short and concise in a dot point format and clearly made sure that it was clear that they were going to use your data but it was still owned by you.

It was short enough I actually skimmed / read the Terms before pressing the Continue.  Surprisingly there was no easy option to not continue.  I suppose for me the phone back button would have been the option.  

The next step was the Privacy Policy which was almost as easy to review as the Terms of Service.  Again the summary was clear as to what the privacy policy was about.

I wish all app developers who are collecting data for use would simplify their terms and privacy policies.  I'm sure there were more detailed versions of both somewhere on the Elite HRV app site and in app although I didn't attempt to read any more.  

I can't understand the ridiculousness of expecting users to 'read' and agree to the terms when there are pages and pages and pages of information.  Why bother?  I wonder what percentage would have even gone past the first "page" of the terms of things like when you first load up an iPhone?  I know they have the option of emailing the terms to yourself but you have already agreed at that point even if you do end up reading the 100+ (app) pages of terms! 

Often called "clickwrap" there is the implication that you have read it if you click the button (in this case the "Continue" link.  

We, as everyday users, have to rely on the good will of the organisations that build the app.  What about the Face App (the one that creates an "older" version of people) which seems to have terms indicating they can store and use the data - even after you have long deleted the app -- and the developers are based in Russia?!  Eeek!  I got wrapped up in that too.  

If everyone had to create simple English terms which were agreed to it would make the app world a better place!

One of my gripes about the user experience of the Elite HRV app which is where the above Terms and Privacy Policy are from is the 'compatibility" which indicated that as a Samsung Note 8 user it would be compatible (assuming that was going to be using the camera on my phone to measure my heart rate... ) and yet when I was trying to get a reading wanted to connect to a Bluetooth... something!  (assume a heart rate monitor).  Their site needs to be clearer that Android devices maybe compatible with ANT+ and other heart rate monitors but you still need the heart rate monitor to work!

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Bathing in Vitamin C and Water Dechlorination in an Apartment

In the past I have had a home which had a whole of house filter.  To filter out all the chlorine in the home and even the fluoride for drinking.  Since I've moved to an apartment things have to be a bit different as the water that comes into the apartment for hot water is already hot.  Which means any "whole" of apartment filter needs to be able to cope with hot water too.  It's not that there isn't such a thing just that it was too hard to get the right plumber in for the job who knew what they were doing.

So I decided to just get an over the sink kitchen filter for drinking water (and cooking and cleaning fishtanks and watering plants) and for my shower I just got a shower filter.  And I worked out that I could buy special vitamin c tablets to dechlorinate my bath water. 

I've been using the dechorination tablets for over a year (you get about 20 tablets per tube and I got 5 tubes) when my mum was telling me about how she's going to start having baths again (since she moved into a new place).  So I gave her a tube to try.  She LOVED it.  She raved how wonderfully it felt and how it meant her skin was no longer flaking and dry.  That's a huge wrap from her!  I had given her a new brand of tablets which I had bought from Amazon.  Unfortunately getting them here in Australia was super expensive (as Amazon forces you to get it from Australian Amazon).  So something that was A$18.99 became A$70!  I ended up getting a set from US Amazon and sending it to a shipment fulfilment service.  I paid a lot for the shipping but I think I still ended up slightly ahead (maybe $4...)

So this post is very much just sharing that I think Vitamin C tablets for a bath are great and does stop the flaky skin and the feeling of dry skin. 

Now I'm wondering if just buying vitamin C powder will have the same effect as I think that will be a lot cheaper than buying tablets.

I'll post back after I give it a go :)

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Transitioning to Apartment Living

I've now moved to Hurstville into a 1 bedroom apartment... with 2 dogs ... from a house for a year.  And LOVE it.

In this post I talk about some of the things I love about apartment living.  I also cover some of the gotchas and what I don't like about it.

1.  Security

I love the secure feeling of living in this particular apartment block.  I know it's not universal with all apartments but one of the things I was seeking was a feeling of security (or rather a lack of not feeling safe.)  I live on a high floor which helps too.  If I had all the same features but was on the first or ground floor I don't think it would be the same at all.
My apartment block has a swipe card/fob access for the lobby door and then a further swipe is required to get to any floor on the lift.  My apartment door then has a normal lock although I've seen other people install an additional lock I don't feel the need for this.  My floor only has a handful of apartments so well seem to recognise each other.

2.  Garbage Chute

I love, love, love having a garbage chute.  What is this magical thing?  Well it's a handle box thing which you pull open, throw your garbage (in a garbage or plastic bag please!!) close the box thing and voila... garbage is no longer in your life.  Ever.  (Don't throw out anything you want because goodness knows where it goes and I don't think you will ever see it again!)  It's very cathartic.  I believe there are lots of people who are watching the Marie Kondo Netflix series... and any decluttering person will tell you that you should not let your stuff own you.
The garbage chute is inside a garbage room which has space for me to put my recycling.  When I first moved in I had a lot of IKEA boxes.  And I mean a LOT.  The room was chockers full with my recycling and the next day I opened the door (probably to put more IKEA boxes into it!) and it was *poof* gone.  I mean magically.  It was an amazing feeling.  And our apartment block has cleaners who keep the room nice and clean and tidy.  It never smells funny or is left dirty.

3.  Storage Cage and Parking Spot

In my last house, we had a double ++ garage.  It was huge and we also had roof space and under house space where we could store stuff.  I thought I would miss having a garage where my car was kept safe and away from the other 'stranger' cars.  But the car space system works fine.  It's good to have enough space on either side of the car to get in and out and good to know that all there is space for is the car.  Once I get down to the car space I'm in the car and away!  (but I do have to go up 4 ramps and two security doors before I can get out but I do have a remote opener so it's not too bad).

The storage cage is also good.  It's good that it's far away in a sense and I do have enough storage in my apartment for most things so only the large things that I don't have space for or need for on a day to day basis goes down there.  Things like suitcases and not yet used potting mix or dog food or if anyone is going to Costco and buying toilet paper!  Mainly I put my suitcase and half worked on projects (I'm looking at you Big Mirror Project!) and my trolleys for big items.  Oh and that giant rug I still hang onto cos I love it but my apartment is too small for.  (I really should give it away... )

I lock the storage cage with a lock with chain - similar to a bicycle or motorcycle lock.  People are able to see into my cage and I don't have anything special in there so I don't expect there to be any theft.  It's good as it's not very dusty down there nor is it damp and it is well lit so all in all I think it's an improvement to most sheds or garages.

4.  Low maintenance (although high costs)

Living in a small apartment is great!  Dusting and vacuuming is minimal (well compared to a house!) and no lawns need mowing.  I only have one bathroom to clean and I clean as I go (as in I don't have a dedicated cleaning schedule).  My balcony is undercover so a sweep and mop is good to keep it clean even though I have two dogs.

The strata for the building is expensive especially since the only 'special' things is the two lifts our building has.  But cleaning and maintenance isn't free so each of us have to pay our share.  Having said that I believe maintenance for a house (time spent mowing, mowing, cleaning gutters etc) can add up over a year so for the < $5000 I pay per annum I think it's an OK trade.

5.  Mod cons (modern conveniences)

I live in a fairly new apartment so have a lot of the modern conveniences.  I installed an air conditioning unit when I moved in but probably only used it 10 times in the last year either for heating or cooling.  But it's good to know it's there.  The apartment comes with appliances such as the dishwasher, microwave and dryer (although I've had to replace the dryer).  The place also comes with an intercom for security and access.

It's hard to think of anything that this apartment needs.  Maybe one of those 3 in 1 things in the bathroom for winter.

I did replace all the halogen downlights with LEDs but as they were easily replaced.

6. Convenience

There's little not to love about my apartment!  The convenience most of all.  The ability to lock up and go is great and the location makes it super handy for me to get public transport around Sydney and also in Hurstville I get access to a Westfields as well as lots of restaurants and banking services.

7. Views and breeze

How can I forget one of the selling points of this apartment?  The view!  The view from this apartment is phenomenal!  And with it comes the breeze.  I'm fortunate to have an east facing apartment.  I originally looked at getting a north facing apartment but I actually think this is better!  Views of the ocean, airport and city... sunrises that are so magical.  Moon rises too!  And all whilst being protected on the north and south by neigbour's properties!  So I get a cooling breeze without the gale force winds.

Things which are a little annoying:

Lack of bathroom window for air - the compact size means both my laundry and bathroom are "internal" and have no windows to the outside.  Actually in my apartment I have NO windows!  But I have two massive stacker doors that lead out to the balcony.

Noise from upstairs - the noise from neighbours can be annoying if they are stomping around in the middle of the night but I think that my neighbours above must be away most of the year as I only occasionally get a few nights of noise.  And then silence for the rest of the year.  So I'm happy when they are all away!

Waiting for a lift - if you are in rush this could be annoying.  With two lifts servicing the building there are some times where you need to be patient and wait for the lift.  Unfortunately you can't rush these things.  If desperate there is always the stairs (although I have yet to work out how to get into the stairwell from downstairs).

Keys! - don't forget them! - every time I go out I double check for keys.  Unless I'm holding the keys in my hand when I'm about to leave my apartment I don't walk away.  The door self locks so I'm always worried one day I'll lock myself out.

That's it.  I can't think of any other things that don't work for me.  I'm sure there are small things but overall I just love it!  Yay to apartment living!

Startups - I can multitask right?

One of my co-founders of CrowdQuests / HackSauce has rightly pointed out that my last post was saying I am only focusing on one Startup.  Well I was.  But then we did GovHack 2018... and started up a new startup CrowdQuests which is something I find we at Transport for NSW need and I'm sure other data hungry organisations also need.  We've often talked about getting data more accurate and crowdsourced to keep costs low.  So now there is such a company and app that does that.  CrowdQuests :)

So CrowdQuests is the product and HackSauce is the organisation that has the four founders attached to it.  I say attached as we have it currently as a partnership with the 4 companies that each of the founders is a sole director of as partners.  I know confusing, right?  But it works for us and we are likely to incorporate HackSauce to make things a bit easier when submitting tenders and quotes and proposals.

More about CrowdQuests and what we are doing in a different post when I have a bit more time... but I also started a new blog which may or may not become a 'thing'... because I've been following a ketogenic diet for the last couple of months.  The blog is Keto4Asians.  It's a resource for me to share my keto stuff and knowledge.  And will obviously have a bent towards Asian related foods.  But I just blog about whatever.  I've also set up a matching Twitter and Instagram account.  Let's see what happens with it but it's meant to be a low effort (mainly because of my interest) activity and also helps me keep motivated in following the keto-esque diet.  I am doing what they call "lazy keto" as I am not tracking much except estimating in keeping my net carbs under 20 grams.