Time during COVID

So here we are, about a month in to COVID quarantine times, and I been thinking about how I've been using my time. I've been wasting a lot of it doing non-financially productive stuff. The good news is that I've actually been healthier than I've been in quite a while. I've been doing exercise almost every day... just using X3 bands, plyometric stuff (pullups, pushups, burpees), and a stationary bike in the bedroom. I've been sleeping more than usual - and tracking this using an Oura Ring - with more average sleep and higher "readiness" scores than I've had since I got this about 10 months ago. Nice.

Up until about a week ago though, I used basically all my time daily on stuff that I would say has no real long-term value for my life. Lots of TV watching... I've watched: all of Dragon Ball (about 160 20 minute episodes), the recent Curb Your Enthusiasm season, Watchmen, Season 1 of Casa de Papel, current Westworld season. Throw in Youtube use... I've watched a good chunk of Extra Credits history series... lots of great series there (Punic Wars, WW1, History of Paper Money, D-Day, Articles of Confederation, Genghis Khan, Otto Von Bismarck... just a few that I liked quite a bit). And throw in a bunch more random YouTube watching. Yeah wow, just way too much of this...

Ok - really long aside here about some of these TV shows that you should skip if you don't care:

I watched Curb many years ago in the first couple season, haven't watched it since. In general I'm not a fan of comedy series as I think it's just hard to be consistently funny and usually the shows get stale quickly. (aside... like even Rick & Morty I think is starting to really go downhill in the recent season 4 which mysteriously stopped making episodes after #5... maybe because they were like - fuck these aren't that good we gotta do some editing... ok maybe not but my point remains and it is weird they released 5 episodes consecutively then just went AWOL for 4 months) Curb is up and down scene-to-scene and has better and worse episodes. That said, on the whole I enjoyed it and definitely have some LOL moments in almost every episode. DB was just a really enjoyable adventure. Kid Goku is just a good dude who lives in the moment. He really likes what he does - learning how to fight and get stronger - and has a passion for it that drives him. He lives in the moment and just enjoys the process and being where he is doing whatever he's doing. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and follows his code - without being overly judge-y. Just a good dude who is enjoyable to follow - and the rest of the show populated with some interesting people and kind of fun world-building. Watchmen I just finished... and was pleasantly surprised with how good it was... would recommend. Casa de Papel is an interesting one. It started out so strong... the first few episodes were really good. Well thought out, good characters and acting - super suspenseful. The plan behind everything and ideas were good and it keeps you guessing. The latter half of season 1 was a little weaker as some of the characters started to make less sensical choices, some of the events seemed less plausible, and so on... but on the whole season 1 was very good and I was ready to start season 2. And wow... I watched 3 episodes of season 2 and they are significantly worse. It's turbo-charging the negative direction the show was heading in during Season 1. The criminals are all insane emotional wrecks who keep making the stupidest choices. It's become a soap opera with everyone fucking someone and pointing guns at everyone else, and not a smart crime thriller. I haven't watched episode 4 now for a bit and unsure I'm going to finish the season. I'm really enjoying S3 of Westworld... I think it's a marked improvement over season 2, which I thought was solid but definitely a letdown compared to S1.

On top of this I've done a few more productive things... like after a 4 year hiatus I hopped back on Lumosity and been doing the brain games daily. Doing some chess tactics. It's too hard for me to go daily without pushing my brain to think some on its own and not just take in content....

But, then a little itch started to develop like 2 weeks ago... I saw a friend of mine post a video in a group chat of him messing around on his controller and I told myself it is time. Time to finally take some things off the shelf and do it. If I'm going to keep spending day after day not really doing anything financially productive - which is OK... think it's totally fine... I know though I will be more satisfied if I actually learn some things and really challenge myself rather than just lazily take in content others produce so much. So I contacted him and got some info and bought a Pioneer controller. I got it about a week ago.

Man, I got to tell you ... the first part of this is way less glamorous than you imagine. Between a number of technical issues with the drivers and the software and all that... so many help pages and whatnot to get that going then just learn how to use it... then now something much much more massive in organizing my music library... I mean I can clearly see now that being clean and organized w/ Genre, BPM, key... and all kinds of things will make mixing out of my library so much easier and more fluid going forward. But... I kinda stopped buying music like 5+ years ago, instead recently just making soundcloud playlists... sometimes listening to old playlists from iTunes, but not using it anymore other than for however it was organized years ago... Obviously during that time I've changed machines/hard drives some... so at this point everything is really poorly organized. Unfortunately too, I lost a good chunk of my old songs from M-Z. Fixing that for thousands of songs has been a big ordeal so far. I've tempered it with some pauses in order to just enjoy the very basic terrible mixing that I currently know how to do. (aside: i doing almost only electronic stuff) And I will say, without doing anything fancy like looping or whatever... just getting the right song to song, then getting the timing pretty decent... man it is a whole new level. I also playing around with a few no-lyrics long tracks to throw on at the same time as non-electronic songs... and found a few things that sound decent... I can already feel this is going to continue to be fun and rewarding. That said, even after I simply organize the music in to the new folder system and get the genres down... then begins the even longer (crazy longer) task of tagging and hot cueing stuff in Rekordbox. Yeah, so that will just be a process I do whenever I take some time to mix... just mixing old stuff going song to song, I figure I'll slowly tag and cue things and add the stuff I like to playlists to mix with later.

My lowest level goals with this are to 1) mix for events over at my house... people hanging out & 2) make some of my own mixes with all my favorite tracks mixed one after another.

Then my next goal is to eventually be decent enough to take a memory stick with me, be able to plug in and be solid enough to DJ on my camp's art car at burning man, if not other non-professional events like that.

That's it, nothing wild.

That and the general goal of it's pretty damn fun to just play around w/ music and think that this might sound good with that... and just go mash some shit up yourself.

And then earlier today while looking at some random email that caught my eye in my updates section on Gmail from Stanford ... that I was super unlikely to ever open.... then after open super unlikely to actually scroll down... but I did it because I had this question "I wonder what Stanford is doing about COVID..." and even though I forgot and never found out the answer to this question, I ended up linking over to the Stanford Continuing Studies website... and checking out some course offerings... and found some things that looked legit interesting. I ended up buying 4 books that were in a few courses I didn't sign up for: A Book That Takes Its Time, When Empire Clash: 12 Great Battles of Antiquity; Hannibal; Good Stocks Cheap. They are going to be added to my pile of interesting books that I plan on reading. I was interested in a course called "Negotiation Mastery: Achieving Outstanding Results & Relationships", but it was closed so that made that decision for me... and I ended up signing up for Diet and Gene Expression: You Are What You Eat; Blockchain, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, and More: Meet the New Technologies Shaping Our World; & Nutrition: A Personalized Approach. 3 classes... sounds really ambitious. But it's not. (buying those 4 books was very ambitious though... aiiiyah) They are all 1 Unit only, for 5 weeks duration, and I signed up for No Grade Requested which means I won't receive a grade nor have any work required. I'll just show up virtually for the lectures (looks like each class is 1/week) and read whatever I'm supposed to and maybe do any work if it seems useful. Sounds pretty sweet. I thought these classes would be good... nutrition info can be pretty sketchy w/ so many sources. I feel like learning a bit more how to adapt your diet to your personal and genetic needs - seems like something to get from a quality source (as opposed to internet searches). And then the other choice was because I wanted to learn more about the basics about these new technologies not only because they affect my life, I use them, I'm already a BTC aficionado, but also importantly because I believe a greater understanding will lead me to make sharper investments wrt stocks.

And to tie this together... today in particular I've been thinking more about time. I'm kind of OK "wasting time"... I've come to learn that I can get very in to something that has no real value - and consequently blow loads of time. I did it in college with Counterstrike big time... I have done it since on a number of things that didn't necessarily add value to my life. I think it is ok to enjoy your time and not necessarily have it do anything for you. Life is not all about psychotically doing everything because there is a rational reason to gain, nor should it be. Yet, I also find when I start wasting a bunch of time doing something that not only doesn't improve my life, also doesn't really improve me in any meaningful way personally - I start to become antsy and unsatisfied. The amount of time we have on this Earth is limited. And sometimes it can be so seductive to put your head in the sand and watch many hours of Dragon Ball every day, enjoying a totally fictional characters life... and then another fictional characters life. And thinking about those fictional situations... I get it... I've been there. But I find that when I take a moment's pause after doing something like that, there is something missing. Conversely, when I'm spending my time learning about something, or learning a new skill, I am way more likely to be satisfied. One of the biggest examples personally being learning Portuguese. That's added massive value to my life. I think an obvious aside here is understanding that your momentary enjoyment doing and learning this new endeavor needs to be there. You need to align and enjoy the process. But if you can match that up, that's where the magic happens. When I pause and think about me 2 years from now... and I think about the me who spent 1000 hours on his DJ/mixing hobby vs the me who just watched TV w/ that time... I am certain I'd rather be the me who spent 1000 hours on the hobby. The one with the ability to do something different and fun, rather than who had 1000 hours of mostly good entertainment pass in and out of my head, likely without the ability to really even discuss most of it deeply, even if I found someone who wanted to.

So yeah, there's that. And it's not like I'm going to completely give up watching TV. But, I think I'm ready to embark on a totally different type of isolation here... one where I'm going to make myself grow rather than one where I'm going to put my head in the sand. Here's to hoping this feeling lasts for at least 5 weeks. Cheers!

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brianrast@brianrast.com

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