Things I’ve been thinking about

On weed-out classes

⁃ Someone might take an intro to computer science class and get spooked at the difficulty, never taking computer science again. Maybe the class was a weed-out class, intentionally designed so that only the most talented continue with the major. Can’t dumb down the curriculum. If the class was slowed down to cover the same content over the course of two semesters, then twice as many people would continue onwards. But as it is, needing an extra three months to understand the material apparently means that you’re never going to understand, don’t even try. Even though a person’s career could be 60 years long.

⁃ Challenging classes where every day is a struggle and you feel like you’re taking a drink from a fire hose are the ones where you learn the most, and that’s why research keeps coming out showing that memory is compromised when you’re under stress.

On time being finite

⁃ We tell kids to focus on school, yet we praise the ones who focused on outside interests and found success—a college magazine highlighting a student who wrote a novel in their free time. Companies ask workers to do their job duties faithfully each day and then ask during performance evaluations what they did above and beyond their duties. If society wanted us to do interesting/innovative/kind/creative/generous things with our time, maybe it’d have better luck if it didn’t commandeer so much of our time with other things.

On asking what people do for a living

⁃ Sometimes the question feels like this tweet: “People ask what you do for a living so they can calculate the level of respect to give you.” The book What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson has a different take on it:

“The Question is how we hold ourselves accountable to the opportunity we’re given. We live in a rich country, so rich that we’re blessed with the ultimate privilege: to be true to our individual nature. Our economy is so vast that we don’t have to grind it out forever at jobs we hate. For the most part, we get to choose. And so a status system has evolved that values being unique and true even more than it values being financially successful.”

⁃ It might be fun to be an orangutan researcher or a skydiver instructor, if for no other reason than to impress people with your whimsical career.

Continue with the current, not against it

⁃ When kids are stressed out and anxious about school so they can get into the best colleges and internships and then go to the best companies and be stressed and anxious trying to get promoted or at least not get fired and dealing with too much work or mind-numbing work, the default state becomes going against the current. You can’t listen to what you want to do because you’ve been muffling the little voice for so long. And it seems like if we want to have a school system that promotes anxiety and depression in most of its students, there would have to be a pretty darn good reason to do so. But the reason is usually to get into a competitive college and then a demanding job, and I’m not sure at what point happiness enters the equation. I also don’t know why doctors have to work 100 hours each week. It doesn’t feel ethical. There are also people who want to volunteer and have to fight for time-slots to help out, and it feels there’s a misallocation of resources going on.

The reason for society and the meaning of life

⁃ My understanding of the premodern era is that life was pretty good–more social than current life, less sustained stress. Our lives would look more similar to those of non-human animals, like birds. And when I think back to the life of our ancestors, while I want to think it was pretty nice, the high childhood morality rate makes me think again. The average mortality rate of children was about 50%. If you had a baby, there was only a 50/50 chance it would live long enough to reach to puberty.

So at its most basic level, maybe society is meant to prevent people from losing their loved ones, whether it be through food, shelter, or medicine. When I look at the rigamarole of modern life, it’s easier to tolerate when I remember the problems it’s solving. You can orient your life around solving the problems most resonant to you, helping people who’ve gone through something you’ve gone through or achieve what you’ve achieved.

Why people don’t say “thank you” to their teachers:

⁃ After Jesus healed ten people with leprosy, nine people didn’t say “thank you.” An extraordinary gift and they didn’t express any gratitude whatsoever. Why?

My own theory is that maybe they didn’t feel worthy of the gift. Maybe they were planning on coming back once they had something to show for it.

On exercise:

⁃ Last I checked-in, I was working out 45 minutes per day and planning to continue doing so indefinitely. As an update, I do six pushups each day as my exercise. I recently increased it from five.

How to Sign Up for the Covid Vaccine

After becoming eligible for the vaccine, you’ll now have to traverse a maze of websites to sign up for a spot. I became eligible April 7, and after a few days, I was able to get an appointment. In this post, I’ll quickly share the sign-up process in the hopes that the example is useful.

First I looked at Walgreens and Walmart’s websites. No slots were available, and it became discouraging to continue checking. I wasn’t sure when the websites refreshed and provided a new day of slots. However, I knew that one of my friends got their appointment by checking at midnight, and another got theirs by checking at 7am. So on Saturday night near midnight, about 12:35am, I went to the following website: https://www.walmart.com/cp/1228302. There were no slots available at the location nearest me, but there were two slots available at the Biddeford Walmart for the next Saturday. I booked one immediately.

Thus, it’s worked out very well so far. I’m glad I looked on a Saturday night to get a slot the following Saturday, since it’ll be easier to go on a weekend. For those of you trying to sign up, good luck! Headaches are a potential side effect of the vaccine, so you shouldn’t have to get another one just signing up for the appointment.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Springtime

Spring is here, as is a parody version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” to mark the season’s arrival.

The idea for this song came many moons ago, when I came up with the lyrics, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Springtime / Everywhere you go / Take a look at the flowers bloom / Wiping away all the gloom.” I never developed it further until now. The beautiful spring weather had put it top of mind.

Without further adieu, these are the lyrics! I may add a recording at a later date.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Springtime
Everywhere you go
Take a look at the flowers bloom
Wiping away all the gloom
A field alight with color, no more snow!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Springtime
Vivaldi plays his song
And outside there’s a pleasant tune
Made by robins, wrens, and loons
Won’t you sing along

A full Easter basket with bright eggs of plastic
Is the wish of Janice and Jay
Marshmallow chicks and some blue pixie sticks
Is the hope of Marvin and May
And the parents close their eyes at all the sugar for the day

It’s beginning to look a lot like Springtime
Everywhere you go
The sun is shining its yellow rays
Bringing warmth that does amaze
It helps the weary earth begin to grow!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Springtime
New leaves spring from the trees
A gorgeous sight here does unfold
Of the daffodils so gold
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

It’s beginning to look a lot like Springtime
Vivaldi plays his song
And outside there’s a pleasant tune
Made by robins, wrens, and loons
Won’t you sing along

New Lyric Video– learn all the Midwest states and capitals in 2 minutes! (Plus some ranting about technological snafus)

I made a Youtube video for my “Midwestern States and Capitals” song. I found a blank U.S. map on pixabay.com and filled in the color of each relevant state using MS Paint. Then I made a slide show using Google Slides and put the whole thing together using iMovie. Here is the end result:

I’m pretty happy with how it came out!

I had a devil of a time getting the video together. First I tried making the video on iMovie, which I’ve used before. But when I went to re-download iMovie, I got an error message saying that I’d need a more recent OS version to install it. I tried to install a more recent OS but couldn’t figure out how. So I downloaded a different video editor called Movie Edit Pro, spending a few hours creating the video. When I finished and went to export the video, the program told me that I’d need to pay for a non-watermarked version. The watermarked version looked like this:

Not wanting my effort to go to waste, I was like, sure, I’ll pay the $20 to get the full program, whatever. The payment link directed me to the App store to add money to my account, and then to an error message saying that such a page did not exist. The page did not seem to exist elsewhere either. I should note that my computer is from 2012, so I can’t be too mad it doesn’t work swimmingly. But in any case, Movie Editor Pro was a bust at that point.

From the App store, I found another page with iMovie displayed, saying that I could download an earlier version of iMovie if I wanted, one that was compatible with my OS. That…would’ve been a good option to have at the beginning. In any case, I downloaded iMovie and reluctantly began the process again. I’d been watching How I Met Your Mother while making the slideshow and having a fairly good time, but it was still not a process I wanted to repeat. I took a break and walked around the block with my sister before I continued on.

After finishing the iMovie version, I tried to export it to Youtube. A little symbol showed that it was about 25% complete, and I left to do something else. An hour later, I went back, and it still showed 25%. I tried exporting it again in a million different ways.

Concurrently, my sister was trying to set up a Nokia 1.3. Holy moly. The first step is to pry the back of the phone from the display to put in the battery and SIM card. The official instruction is “Put your fingernail in the seam between the back cover and the display, bend the back cover open, and remove it.” This was a bit of a red flag to me, since anything that requires the use of fingernails doesn’t seem super high tech. But anyway, we tried, and we absolutely could not get this thing open. As this hilarious review explains:

“I found this simple task difficult – because my nails are not made from adamantium.”

We watched a tutorial video and found fellow strugglers in the comments:

We tried every derivation– my sister holding the top while I pried at the bottom with my nails, using the leverage of a bottle opener, jamming a butterknife into the side. Nothing worked. The only thing left was to return it, which seemed a frustrating but necessary resolution. But my sister kept at it and ended up prying it open with the help of a cheese knife with a small engraving of a Christmas present on the back. She said she’d never felt so happy in her life. Here’s the phone splayed open next to all of the tools we used along the way:

Our rejoicing was short-lived, however. The rest of the set-up process continued to be an absolute nightmare. It wouldn’t let us activate the SIM card; every action led to an error page or a “try again later” notification. One step triggered an automatic call to support, so when the support representative asked why we had called, I paused awkwardly before answering. The phone is a bit more functional than a hunk of metal, but a hunk of metal has never made me nearly so frustrated. So +1 for the useless hunk of metal.

With regard to my iMovie saga, I found an old forum where someone said the problem resolved itself after they cleared their cookies. I cleared my cookies, and for whatever reason, the problem did go away, more or less. I had to download the file to my desktop rather than uploading it directly to Youtube, but at least it finally went through.

All in all, a banner day for technology in the Calypso household. What I’ve learned from the experience is to never get a Nokia 1.3 and to clear my cookies before using iMovie. I’ve also learned the capitals of the Midwestern states through the course of listening to the song so many times while editing, and I’m hopeful the song will be helpful to someone out there as well.

The worst lyrics I’ve written yet

This is a song I’ve put off sharing for about 8 months. It’s a follow-up to my song “States and Capitals (of the Northeast!).” The new song is called, “Midwestern States and Capitals.”

When editing a project, I sometimes become aware of how inconsistent the line lengths are, or how irregular the pattern of stressed/unstressed syllables is. I then revise the piece so that it has consistent line lengths and/or regular meter, even if that’s not the effect I’d been going for. Actually, I shouldn’t make it sound like a regular thing—I’ve done it twice in my life. I did it once with a flash fiction assignment about a paragraph long. The fact that it could be about anything made me self-conscious, and as I was re-reading what I’d written, I couldn’t handle how “off” everything sounded. So I revised it to be kind of sing-song in iambic meter, which ended up not being good at all. The second time was this song, when I was re-reading lines of all different lengths and decided the only way to make the song cohesive was to make the lines more or less all the same length. I later realized that lyrics generally do need varied line lengths to stop the song from being repetitive, but the damage had been done by that point. I figured I could make the song more varied by changing up the order of the simple chord pattern I was using, going F Am G C at points instead of C G Am F. Like how saying, “Doing you are how?” is a fresh way to liven up your greetings.

My sister sang the song beautifully, as always, but I’m not sure if even her dulcet tones were enough to salvage the discordant words and jarring phrases. However, if just one person can remember an extra state/capital as a result of the song, I suppose it will have been worth it.

Lyrics:

Midwestern states I know by heart
Let’s take a look at where to start

Ohio looks like a rhombus
And its capital is Columbus

Michigan looks like a mitten
Makes your hands soft as a kitten
And when the knights are advancing
It’ll protect your hand as you’re Lancing

Indiana is a fun state name to sing
Indiana, Indiana yes it rings
But its capital is even more euphonious
Indianapolis sounds really quite harmonious

The sounds of spring are a joyful noise
Hear the bluebirds and cardinals play
For all this and more, come to Springfield, Illinois!
It’s a bright and shining day

Awesome Wisconsin known for its ice cream
I wish I lived in Wisconsin
I do not, which makes me mad
So I think I’ll visit Madison

Look at that we’re almost through
Just West North Central left to do

The next state’s like a blank sheet of canvas
A place to find what you are seeking
Travel through the great plains of Kansas
The moon and stars to you are speaking

Eureka– Topeka!

Missouri is the third state south
And the third state from the east
The third president was Jefferson
So think of Jefferson City

For five dollars I will ask ya
When I’m in Lincoln, Nebraska

I’ll buy some heavenly sodas
In St. Paul, Minnesota

On an ear of corn I’ll spend my coin
In Iowa, close by Des Moines

I’ll watch the bison maunder north
In Bismarck, North Dakota
Vacation in the south of France
With Pierre from South Dakota

Thanks Midwest, you’ve been a blast
We know your capitals at last

How to Get Bangs in Three Easy Steps

I think that my forehead’s too visible
I need something to make it invisible
I would close my eyes tight
So to block out the sight
If I wasn’t afraid to be risible

This past week, I got bangs. You may be wondering how you, too, can join this elite group. Well, I’ll tell you.

Step 1: Have your sister suggest that you get bangs

After she says this, wonder if you look horrific in your present bangs-less state. Ponder how many nightmares you have triggered by subjecting others to your bare forehead. Remember other times people have made gentle suggestions to alert you to your major faux pas, memories that usually only pop up when you’re trying to fall asleep.

“What I like to do is use my knife, not my finger, to push the peas onto my fork,” your brother told you when you were a child, but still too old not to know better. The regret comes in waves.

Step 2: Order a hairpiece on Amazon

Amid all the “Should I get bangs” articles you read, see one that suggests buying a hairpiece for a glimpse of how having bangs would suit your face. Like the temporary nose ring and tattoo you got when you were feeling rebellious but not that rebellious. Have your sister say, “There’s no way that’s going to look good, and besides, you already know what you look like with bangs because you’ve had them in the past.” Order it anyway.

Have the package arrive, the tuft of disembodied hair not coming close to matching your own hair color. An impressively wrong shade of blonde. Clip it on your head and see what people say.

“Did…did you dye your hair?” your dad asks after glancing at it and then looking at it and then staring.

The experiment a success, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Have your sister give you a hair cut

Sit on a stool in the kitchen as your sister clips your hair into sections.

“I’ve never cut anyone’s hair before, besides my own,” she says.

This is fine, you think. She cuts a lock of hair across your face.

“It’s a lot harder to cut someone else’s hair,” she says.

This is fine, you think.

Make a deal that if she does a bad job, she has to sweep up after, and if she does a good job, you have to sweep. Align the incentives. Remind yourself that hair grows out.

Look in the mirror and see a stunning result—your sister is a natural. Post a picture to the family snapchat group and reap the compliments. Everyone says you look just like your sister, which may have been her plan all along.

The next morning, your bangs are floofed up high on your on your forehead, and you look like the Tiger King. You fluff them back down, and the illusion fades.

Congratulations. You now have bangs.

The Best Pointless iPhone Trick

Liven up your messages with animation effects! This can be done using iMessage and holding down the Send button. There is an animation effect for every occasion. Some of them produce a satisfying “buzz” effect too if you have a recent enough iPhone version. For this post, I send a bunch of messages to my sister to demonstrate each effect. I used some quotes from The Great Gatsby, which entered the public domain January 2021.

  1. Echo
  1. Spotlight
  1. Balloons
  1. Confetti
  1. Love
    (Excuse the typo– the quote should read, “The tears coursed down her cheeks…”)
  1. Lasers
  1. Fireworks
    (This is the start of a new quote from the book, starting at p. 1.)
  1. Shooting star
  1. Celebration
  1. SLAM
  1. Loud
  1. Gentle
  1. Invisible ink

Those are all of the animated effects. Some messages trigger a certain effect automatically, just by sending the phrase.

  1. Happy birthday!
  1. Happy Chinese New Year!
  1. Congratulations!
  1. Pew pew
    (Your mileage may vary with this one. It didn’t trigger the effect when I sent it from my phone, but it did trigger the effect when my sister sent it to me.)
  1. Happy New Year!

As a fun note, the invisible ink function works well with emojis, creating a fuzzy image of the emoji underneath.

Finally, here’s a how-to!

P.S: Here’s something that may be common knowledge that I just learned the other day. I’d always thought I’d need to download a giphy app or something if I wanted to send a gif, but the red magnifying glass icon brings you to a huge database of gifs that you can search.

All in all, what the text effects lack in utility, they make up for in joy. The animation effects really are quite pleasing to look at.

Through the course of preparing this post, I learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t use the Oxford comma or hardly any commas at all. I also learned how to make gifs using giphy.com. Maybe you learned something too, but it’s okay if you didn’t. In any case, as February draws to a close, may the 13 text effects bring you good luck in the month of March.

The 3 Most Helpful iPhone Tricks That You May Not Have Heard of Yet

If you use an iPhone often, you likely rely on it for a whole host of purposes—navigating, staying informed, keeping in touch with friends and family. You may sign documents using a picture of your signature drawn in the Notes app, and you may re-stock on essential items by ordering them from your phone. Your phone is already one of the most useful tools at your disposal. However, here are some lesser-known features that can optimize your iPhone usage even further.

  1. Use the Notes app to scan documents

No need to download an additional app or worry about a cumbersome scanner! Use the Notes app, which comes preinstalled, to make high-quality scans. Perfect for forms, homework assignments, contracts, and more.

To access this feature, open the Notes app on your phone and begin a new note. Above the keyboard, press the (+) button and select the top result: “Scan Documents.” Then use your camera to scan the relevant document. Once it’s scanned, it becomes a PDF that you can email, text, or AirDrop at your convenience.

  1. Switch to Grayscale mode to combat phone addiction

The iPhone is addicting, which can suppress its usefulness as a tool in your life. However, there’s a feature in the iPhone itself that can help combat its addictive properties. Specifically, the iPhone has a grayscale mode, which allows you to use the phone normally except without viewing color. As the bright enticing colors are part of what makes extended screen time so alluring, grayscale mode helps you get what you need from your phone and move on with your day. In fact, in a study looking at the effects of the grayscale setting, participants whose phones were placed on grayscale mode used their phones an average of 38 minutes less than participants whose screens were in color. Think of what you could do with 38 minutes a day!

To implement this feature, go to Settings on your iPhone. From there, press General, then Accessibility, then Display Accommodations. Finally, press Color Filters, which brings you to a screen allowing you to select the Grayscale option. As an additional feature, you can also set up a shortcut to easily switch between Grayscale and Color. You can do this by selecting Accessibility Shortcut after the Accessibility page, and then pressing Color Filter. This allows you to go back and forth between color and grayscale by pressing the Home button or side button three times. You can imagine this coming in handy if, for instance, you’re looking at an image that’s hard to distinguish without color but want to return quickly to grayscale afterwards.

  1. Read QR codes with your camera

If you’ve ever seen a QR code and figured you’d need to download a QR code scanning app to know what it leads to, you may be pleased to know that iPhone cameras can do the reading with no extra steps needed. Simply open your Camera app, point your lens at the QR code, and the relevant link will pop up on your screen. Whether you’re at a restaurant where a QR code leads you to the menu or your company has taped QR codes around the building in support of a new fitness initiative, you can always be in the know. A recent New York Times article reports on the increasing worldwide popularity of QR codes, indicating that the camera’s ability to read them will only increase in importance.

Which iPhone features have you found helpful lately? Help spread the word by leaving a comment below.

New Song! “Blue Light Glasses”

For this week’s blog post, I wrote a song, since I haven’t written a song in a while. The inspiration comes from my eyes hurting after looking at a screen all day, which I’m sure is a lot of people’s experiences right now. It talks about blue light glasses being a bandaid solution for the problem. It’s kind of a novelty song in the style of Bo Burnham. My sister did an absolutely beautiful recording of the song, which you can listen to below:

Lyrics:

I can’t keep staring at a screen all day
I think my eyes’ll pop out
But my life requires that I do
So I guess I’ll made do
And try my best not to pout

After all, I’m lucky to live in a society
That address such issues as these
When my eyes get tired
I can stay inspired
By reaching for a pair of my

Blue light glasses
Blue light glasses
A fashionable solution
For my circumstances

Do they make my eyes feel better?
I guess a little
At least for a couple minutes

Blue light glasses
Blue light glasses
Their benefits accrue
As fast as molasses

I work real hard for my insurance
So I can fix the eye twitch
That I get from working hard

And if I keep working hard
I can retire
I’ll go see the pyramids
If my vision’s not too marred

They say that eye strain
Won’t cause eye damage
That’s what they said ’bout
Radium too

At least Narcissus was looking at
Something that brought him joy
If I’m tethered to my screen
What can I do?

I’ll reach for my
Blue light glasses
Blue light glasses
A fashionable solution
For my circumstances

Do they make my eyes feel better?
I guess a little
At least for a couple minutes

Blue light glasses
Blue light glasses
Don’t need more rest
When you have
Blue light glasses

I want a cucumber eye mask
And I want an Excedrin
All things that money can buy
I need an app that tells me
When to stare at the horizon
A different vitamin for each eye

Don’t need a shorter work day
Don’t need to rethink anything
All I need are my

Blue light glasses
Blue light glasses
Surviving my dystopia
With blue light glasses

Some things that inspired each line are as follows:

  • I watched a debate a while ago between libertarians and socialists, and the following exchange helped inspire the main idea of the song:
    Vivek Chibber, one of the people arguing in favor of socialism, said, “In a socialist society…wherever we end up, it won’t be a utopia. It will still be a place where you can get your heart broken, you might still be depressed, you might still feel lonely. It won’t cure your stomaches, your nausea, your indigestion, all that stuff. But in the process of getting there, I think we’ll solve a few of our animal problems, so we begin to start tackling our humans ones. Socialists know the old system isn’t working, and we know that a democratic one, where people could live freer, more fulfilling lives, is possible. That’s the extent of the claims I can make.”
    Katherine Mangu-Ward, one of the people arguing in favor of capitalism, responded by saying, “You know, it’s funny what you said right now–your system won’t stop you from being heartbroken or lonely, won’t cure your heartburn or your stomach. Capitalism kind of does do those things, actually. I’m sure all of y’all have been on Tinder, I’m sure all of y’all have bought Pepto-Bismol, and those are the gifts of capitalism. And it sounds silly, but it’s true.”
    I majored in English, so I’m not at all qualified to comment on economic issues. But the exchange has stayed with me because Tinder and Pepto-Bismol seemed like such banal benefits to cite. The song riffs off a similar idea, that we are lucky to live in our current society because it enables us to have blue light glasses, an incredibly banal benefit that’s only purpose is to address a problem that the current societal set-up causes in the first place.
  • The song is also inspired by my experience with buying blue light glasses a few weeks ago. Blue light glasses aren’t meant to help with eye strain, but a lot of people, including me, use them for that purpose. They seemed to work like a charm at first, but now they don’t really make a difference.
  • “As fast as molasses” is an inadvertent reference to Bo Burnham’s song “Rant.” I didn’t mean to steal the line, but I realized after the fact that I had. I came up with it while editing because I didn’t like that “circumstances” rhymed very imperfectly “glasses,” so I didn’t want to keep repeating it. I don’t know if stealing a line is okay or not. Maybe I can spin it as an intentional reference, since the song is meant to be in his style.
  • The reference to radium came from Radium Girls, which I watched last night.

I came up with the idea for the song last night as I was falling asleep trying to think about what my blog post for the week would be. I started scribbling my ideas down in an adorable journal with a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it, which my sister gave to me. Then I wrote the song this afternoon in an hour or so, and my sister recorded it shortly after. One of the most valuable pieces of writing advice I’ve heard is, “Don’t start with a blank page.” Whenever I start with a blank page, it’s completely paralyzing. You don’t want to ruin the blank page with your dumb musings since you want to write something that is Good, and that’s the only direction you have. That’s why I try to have a bunch of notes before I start anything, so it becomes a matter of building something from your notes, rather than creating something out of nothing.

Pictures of my notes and blue light glasses are below!

Getting Into the Best Shape of My Life

While the fact I’ve never been fit or athletic has its drawbacks, it makes getting into the best shape of my life a pretty low bar.

Summer 2017 is the golden era I currently hold up as my peak. I had graduated college and moved to a new city for a job. Without homework assignments to do on the weekends, I found other ways to fill my time, such as exercise. I started with a seven-minute workout app, completing a workout every day. It began to get easier and easier, so I would do the workout twice. I went to a friend’s wedding and was complimented on how fit I looked. I could do feats of great strength, such as retrieving something from the cargo area of a truck.

As time went on, I would skip a day here and there to account for going to happy hours or hanging out with friends. This made me get out of shape and stop exercising altogether. After going vegan for a hot minute, I got the skinniest I’d ever been, but I wasn’t particularly strong or healthy. And that about sums up my fitness since that golden summer.

A few months ago, I posted optimistically about a new workout routine I was trying, where I’d follow a pilates video each morning for the rest of my life. I made it a few weeks. Then I switched to Walk at Home videos, which seemed a lot easier and more fun. I did that for a week or two and then switched to running up and down the stairs five times each morning, since it took less time. I did that for a week or two and then started exercising with a friend every few days. We would do push-ups, sit-ups, and bicep curls. With the combined weight of these experiences and every productivity-related book, podcast, article, and app I’ve encountered, I’ve come up with a routine that I’m fairly pleased with.

Each night, I watch two episodes of Community. During the first episode, I stretch for a few minutes then pedal on an exercise bike. During the second episode, I do rotations of push-ups, sit-ups, and bicep curls, stretching at the end. For the bicep curls, I thought I was lifting 10-lb weights, but it turns out they were only 8 pounds. So there’s some space for improvement there.

My tentative goal is to get into the best shape of my life by this summer. As mentioned, I don’t have a great track record of sticking with an exercise routine for long periods of time. However, I’m hoping that this new TV-watching routine will get me into good enough shape that new exercise avenues will open to me. Maybe I’ll find running more fun if my muscle mass and lung capacity increase.

I was talking to a friend from college recently who reminded me of a time I went running with two other classmates. A few minutes into the run, I apparently said, “Yeah, I can’t do this,” and turned around and walked back to my dorm. Which is a decision that is both on-brand for me and that I still stand by. If someone has done years of sports and training, it’d be pretty weird if someone with no training (me) would be able to keep up with them. That’s what felt too difficult about following exercises on Youtube as well—these were exercises done by people who had dedicated their lives to exercising, so of course they’d be able to do the routines faster than I could. Now with my new routine, I’m setting my own pace and making it as enjoyable as possible.

I’m thinking I’ll set my goal for 5-6 times per week, since things do come up that make every day too difficult. I’m also going to print out little motivational phrases like, “Don’t give up!” to hang on my wall. It’s interesting to predict whether I’ll stick with the routine or not. I control my actions, so presumably, I’d know if I’ll continue taking specific actions or not. But I really can’t say for sure what will happen. For now, though, I’m confident I’ll keep it up, and come a few months from now, I’ll be in the best shape of my life.

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