Somebody’s Watching Me!

Thought I’d start today’s blog with a song, as I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere fast at all, and I’m hoping a song and a blog will help me on my way.  So I picked this rather cheesy, Top of The Pops clip of Rockwell, with Michael Jackson on backing vocals, just to kick things off, and to give us a theme for today if you like!

Great chat with the row girls last night (very late for me, as was up until 3am, being as I’m in Georgia and about 4 hours ahead of the UK, so logistically its always fun with the girls finishing work with patients and getting home late).  But it all works out well, and if nothing else, it will help us when it comes to the start of our polyphasic sleep training, so I should at least have an advantage on that one, since Isla my dog invariably gets me up for a pee about 7am, and the drunks have been brawling on our street until about 3am this week, with it being Easter holidays and all.  Guess the effects of alcohol and young men, is universal then!  Though I really hate being woken by drunk guys, sounds of punches and stamps on cobble, and shouts of ‘cheni deda’ which isn’t very polite at all! Being woken out of sleep that way kind of puts you in a state of stress, so I really hope that isn’t going to become a regular thing now that summer has begun.  I have to say that I love the winter for its quietness and people staying indoors, and in someways I guess I miss that social curfew of it not being acceptable to make noise after a certain time of night.

Anyway, I always love chatting to the girls and I’m really starting to get the hang of the old skype now.  We have loads to do still, including interviews and selection sessions for our final team mate, so I need to pop a few more ads up to see if we can get our fourth perfect match for the team.  Lots of applicants but hard to know who to choose as they need to compliment each of our personalities, but also bring something new to the pot.  So far its all just really natural with the girls, and we seem to be getting along really well, and I love that we are able to be honest and listen to each other too, and are looking out for each other, as its all pretty exhausting, working full time on other jobs as well as doing the row stuff. But its all equally exciting, and we are starting to find our feet together and slot the pieces nicely.  I just can’t wait to get over to the UK now, and to get my teeth into training and being on the water together.  We have two groups of rowing coaches working with us, one lot based in Bath, the other lot based at Imperial College in London, and all have trained up Olympic rowers and are eager to assess our baseline abilities and weaknesses, and to set individual training plans for us, and then to work on our different anatomies and help us to avoid injuries over our 6 month row.  So I’m itching to get over and have that side of things done, before I start any serious training as I don’t want to aggravate any old injuries, and I think its holding me back a bit at the moment as I’m a bit scared to start proper training and end up hurting myself because I know I’m out of shape, and that being the end of things for me row wise.  I really need to get on and try and get a rowing machine, swiss ball, and mat donated too as I’m just finding it tricky without them at the moment, and without having proper clothing.

Sleep Deprivation and Possible Paranoia!

One very exciting thing for me, especially as a Neuropsychologist is the polyphasic sleep plan, as we are going to be rowing for two hours, resting for two hours, throughout the entire journey, and in shifts with two rowing, whilst the other two rest (or entertain the others!).  We heard a while ago that one of the leading sleep experts in the world is going to be assessing and training us (but I needed to keep it quite until it was all a bit more sorted), and we are also going to be fitted with this little machine called a ‘Zeo’ which will wake us up when we are in lightest part of our sleep and help us to sleep more effectively.

Lots of athletes use the Zeo, and for a wide range of sports, including climbing Everest.  And I’m really interested to see how my own sleep is, especially given that I’m now on Georgian time and I’m also really lucky now as I can pretty much sleep as and when I want, though I do pretty much have a routine still.

When I was at Charlotte Mason College, I took part in a sleep experiment as part of my physiology module and with Colin Mortlock, renowned outdoor philosopher as one of my lecturers.  We had a choice of physiology projects we could chose from.  One was to give ourselves hypothermia and to track the different stages, one was to study the effects of different foods on our energy levels, and the other was sleep.  We figured that we loved our food and warmth too much, but sleep we could live without.  So my room mate slept for a maximium of 15 minutes in 24 hours (if I remember rightly, as it was almost 15 years ago now, maybe more!) and I gave up on sleep all together.  We would then spend the nights in the teacher training equipment library, building canals and playing with toys and trying to not be bored whilst the rest of the world slept.  And actually I think I came off a lot better than my room mate, as the 15 minutes of sleep was pretty much like torture to her body.  We lasted about 4 or 5 days, but started to become quite psychotic towards the end, and it was pretty dangerous to be honest, as we still had to go about all our normal everyday college work and lectures, including belaying for other students whilst they were climbing, and there came a point where we probably would have found it funny to let go of the ropes that were holding the climber up in the air, as we really did just become quite irrational.  The doctor who knew us and was also on the mountain rescue team that we trained with, actually got to the point where he threatened to section us if we didn’t stop the experiment, but when it came to it, we actually were not able to sleep anymore, even when given sleeping tablets.  It was pretty crazy in hind sight, but I case everyone knows better now, and we had no real idea of all the research or people who had died through lack of sleep, until after we had completed the experiment and started to write it up for our course essay.  We were young and thought that no harm would come of it, and to be honest, I think we (and our lecturers who approved our experiment and set it for us) thought that none of us would make it through even one night without sleeping.  But we were really studious and competitive, and once we got past a certain point, it became easy not to sleep.  I don’t think I’ve ever been the same since then, especially after my Guillain-Barre when all I wanted to do was sleep, but was told that I had to fight that urge, otherwise I’d end up with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  So, I’m really interested to see how I manage with the polyphasic sleeping, and also to know how to train myself to sleep more effectively.  Working in the hospital also involved many night shifts and irregular hours, so I guess that is why I love the way things are now, and also with teaching it was so freeing to work just Monday to Friday and to have set hours each week.  That just makes life so much better.

The Zeo used at Altitude!

The Zeo for Triathalon Training

So now you know why I am so excited about having sleep coaching!!! And I’m very much looking forward to working with this guy too:

So Whose Watching Me?

Well, I’ve had a rather intriguing day today, as I’ve been going through all our followers on twitter as I need to to include the data in a rather big and important sales pitch to a massively potential sponsor on Friday, which is why the team are all feeling a bit anxious as this is a huge deal for our future and there is a lot to prepare pitch wise.  Its ironic to think that whether a person sponsors you or not is all dependent on how many followers you have, and also the kind of followers you have on twitter or other social media, but its all business, and their needs to be an understanding of likely sales figures or your target audience.  To be honest, I actually had no idea who was following us on Twitter, so it was a very interesting and useful exercise to go through our list of twitter followers, not just for our Oceans Project Georgia page (!/OceansProject) but also for my personal twitter page (!/arrancat) too.

This is what I discovered:

  • individual follower of us with the most followers: Yoko Ono:  2,145,752 followers!
  • company follower of us with the most followers: Lonely Planet (687,916), Sony, and Paramount Pictures.
  • Lots of government followers, including the Prime Minister of Australia, and UK’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change.
  • Most unexpected followers:  SourceURL:Raymond E. Foster (retired LAPD Lieutenant): 16,497, and Roop Krishen Handoo (retired asst commissioner, J and K Government, Jammu, India): 462 followers.
  • Coolest followers: James Watson (New York, molecular biologist and zoologist, co discovered the structure of DNA in 1953): 880 followers, two professional mermaids, and Carsten Peter (National Geographic Photographer): 17,583 followers.
  • Best musician: Sharon Corr: 35,325
  • Unexpected, but equally cool: Gordon Buchanan Snr (father of BBC Wildlife Cameraman, Scotland): 42

In case you don’t know who Gordon Buchanan’s Senior’s son is, here is a clip of him, and why we are excited to be followed by his dad:

Loads of film makers, BBC folk, explorers and adventurers, and a few gold medal winning Olympians too.  So many amazing companies, and also some great leads that I can now approach for sponsorship and donations, so that is also pretty cool.  So I challenge you to take a look at your own list of followers, see whether or not you are surprised, as I was, and to try and think of ways in which knowing your followers will help you when tweeting or in promoting yourself, your NGO, or whatever in the future.  I’m excited by what I found out, but also a bit frustrated, because I’m sure that we could be using Twitter as a really powerful tool to broaden our publicity and coverage.  Lots of people, including Earthwatch and Paul Rose have already been re-tweeting for us, which is brilliant, but imagine if someone like Yoko Ono put her seal of approval on something and made it her duty to re-tweet something she was passionate about.  That would be an incredible reach, especially if they were loyal followers and read her posts often.  Makes you think doesn’t it!  I guess it has also made me think a little more from a sponsors point of view too, they want to know that you are able to maximise any investment they make in you, and that you are going to bring them a new audience some how, or give them something that they don’t already have.  Statistics are really great for that.  Take these examples:

  • did you know that more people have been into space than have rowed an ocean?
  • more people have climbed up Mount Everest than have rowed an ocean?
  • only 77 women have successfully rowed an ocean?
  • in the UK, 19,400 women row at least once each week?
  • rowing is a sport that attracts high income households? (loads of info here:

Neither did I! And it gets even more exciting the more you read about it!  So in this case, being watched is a great thing, and the more people who watch us the better it is for us in terms of sponsorship.  My PhD is all about watching too…more on that another time.  For now, back to the old fundraising. But I’ll leave you with a little clip of my hometown Henley-On-Thames, which has the oldest rowing club in the world, The Leander Club, and where the likes of James Cracknall can often be seen (btw, James is running in the London Marathon this weekend, along with my my team mate Laura, so I hope the weather is nice for them.  James is raising money for a children’s charity too).


About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
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