Practicing “Boredom”

I’ve always loathed boredom. Any time I heard a friend say “I’m bored”, I’ve always felt sorry for them. My response would be, “How does that even work? Find something to learn. Find something to create. It’s the 21st century, and you have a smart phone; the entire world is at your fingertips. How can you possibly be bored?” I can’t remember a single time in the last several years when I’ve truly felt “bored”. If my day is at a lull, I can turn on a podcast, quiz myself on something I’m learning using Quizlet, or browse the vast void of the Internet for various learning topics (recent favorites: Church history, population density around the world, and differing perspectives on what sidewalks should be made of). One of my favorite go-to spots when things are slow is TED.com. I recently listened to a talk by Manoush Zomorodi called “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas”. The premise is that the human mind solves problems subconsciously, and it does that best when it’s given long periods of quiet time. During times that we might normally get a sense of “boredom”, such as while folding laundry or sitting in a waiting room outside an office, the mind might actually be working productively in ways that it otherwise can’t. Zomorodi suggests that these quiet times should actually be sought out. This is contrasted with the nonstop “busyness” produced by constant connection: You have five seconds before your webpage loads, so you check your email; you’re standing in line for 10 minutes, so you watch a video; basically your brain...
Plane or bus? Why I’m taking a Greyhound.

Plane or bus? Why I’m taking a Greyhound.

I’ve done plenty of travel both by plane and by bus, and when I’ve reserved a whole day for travel, I think I prefer the latter. I’m about to spend a week in Phoenix, and I’ll be going from there to San Diego. I’ve chosen to take a Greyhound for all of the following reasons: Luxury Economy flight just isn’t my kind of “cozy”. A Greyhound’s spacious seats, power outlets, and free wifi make it essentially feel more like a workspace than like travel seating. Or, if you prefer, like a business-class upgrade for much less money than a plane ticket. View This one’s easy. The barren American West is gorgeous when you’re on the ground. I’ve done this drive multiple times, and it’s incredible. Do it if you have the chance. Smoother process Sometimes I tell people that I “don’t like traveling”, and they think I’m joking. But I’m serious. I really don’t enjoy the whole flight process. I basically reserve a whole day for it, because I know that checkin, security, boarding, etc. are going to take up pretty much all of my time and attention for the day. That’s all smoother when you’re bussing. So even if the ride is a lot longer, it’s easier (for me at least) to relax and focus on more important projects when I don’t have to think about flight. Cheap fares Whether you buy a $25 coffee mug or a $3 coffee mug, it still holds coffee. When the basic function of a product or service is equivalent at two different prices, it makes tons of sense to spend on the cheaper one. The “basic function” of...
Everything I did wrong on my first Buenos Aires trip

Everything I did wrong on my first Buenos Aires trip

I couldn’t possibly call my 3-month trip to Buenos Aires a “failure”. It was one of the most amazing adventures of my life so far, and I’ll remember it forever. At the same time, there were a lot of things that I did wrong. Very wrong. In a nutshell, it basically comes down to poor planning, but my experience simply was not what I hoped for it to be. Here’s a quick list of the biggest mistakes I should have avoided in planning this trip. Mistake #1: Absurd work load This was the number one issue, by far. Besides routine meetings with students, I set some ambitious goals for what I wanted to accomplish while in BA. Projects I planned to complete during my time in Buenos Aires included (1) replacing most of my Accelerated Spanish lesson videos, (2) making good progress on a couple of other new Master of Memory courses, and (3) getting a strong start in learning a third language. But project 1, replacing the Accelerated Spanish videos, quickly showed itself to be a much larger project than I bargained for. Despite hiring a transcriptionist and a video editor, it simply took all day, every day, just to get about half way through the project by the end of the vacation. So not only did I have to drop my other projects, I basically didn’t really have a life for half of my time in Buenos Aires. I barely even left the house for several weeks; after about 2 weeks of initial exploration, I locked myself up and worked, head-down, from 7am to 11pm six days a...