Signs of an Idle Mind

There are times when I find it difficult to even look up from my laptop due to the pressure of work. And then there are times when I tire myself out wondering what I should do next. It is for these excruciatingly uneventful days that I have a whole list of activities to choose from:

  • Following “sports” on TV
    • Snooker – Okay, I begin with a lie. I love watching Snooker and I don’t watch it to kill boredom. The games tend to get fascinating and there is so much intelligence and skill involved in each frame, that Snooker becomes almost irresistible.
    • Darts – I never knew that there was an official World Championship for Darts, till I found myself channel-surfing on a lazy Saturday afternoon in London. I remember Ted Hanky winning that particular championship and I even found myself picking up the rules of a standard Darts game. I learned that the Bulls-Eye doesn’t get you the highest score, but “Triple top” (3×20) does. That was the only time, though – I have never tried watching Darts after that.
    • Marathon – How do you explain watching a bunch of people keep running for a few hours? I have never been able to explain it myself, but somehow I have never shied from watching a marathon unfold – it is a guaranteed method of keeping you occupied for around 4 hours.
    • Preliminary rounds of Grand Slams being played by two women, neither of whom is Maria Sharapova – I love tennis and I love watching tennis. But I find women’s tennis to be of a decidedly low quality these days and when Maria Sharapova isn’t playing, the incentive to watch is even less. However my love for the game often overrules the poor quality of play and you will find me glued to the television watching the early rounds of the women’s grand slams championships, provided of course, I am either idle or I am trying to avoid work.
    • Ball-by-ball textual cricket commentary updates on Cricinfo, for matches between Zimbabwe and Netherlands – I love cricket, just like I love tennis. Technical difficulties in the US prevent me from getting a dish installed at home, and as a result I have no access to telecast games. However there is the old and reliable source – Cricinfo. Truly speaking this is not the TV, but in terms of simulating the experience for a person with a hyperactive imagination like me, it gets pretty close. Ever since I was in college, trying to tune into the cricket action in between classes, I have found Cricinfo to be the best source available. When I have nothing to do I first visit Cricinfo and see if there is any match going on – Ranji trophy, English county cricket, matches between Zimbabwe and Netherlands; anything at all. Then I start following the ball-by-ball commentary for it, staying glued to the screen.
  • Keep looking at a BitTorrent or a download to see how far it has gone – I used to download stuff by BitTorrent occasionally, prior to the advent of Hulu. I always found the bytes and file segments being downloaded to be of profound interest, often leading to impatience on my side when things would slow down.
  • Keep looking at the timer on the microwave to find out how much longer before something is cooked – When I have time and not necessarily when I am idle I like to cook rather elaborate meals. However when I am genuinely idle, I love watching the timer count down on the microwave oven.
  • Keep checking my Alexa Rank every few minutes to see if it has improved – This is a somewhat new thing with me. Alexa updates its ranks everyday, so there is no point in checking every few minutes. However I find myself checking the ranking ever so often, in the futile hope that it has improved.
  • Checking my email every minute, even though I have all notifiers installed – This is a classic symptom of ennui, straight from the IIT days. Those days it used to be “nfrm” (“new from”) and now I have the Outlook notifier and Google Talk notifier. The fact remains that no matter what the tools are, I still find myself slinking off to my mailbox application, just to see if the notifiers are indeed working correctly.
  • Looking for real estate in the Bay Area, when I know fully well that I am nowhere close to being able to buy property – This is one of those pipe dreams that I love hanging on to. Given the current state of my finances I am a long way from being able to buy real estate of any sort in the bay area. But I love visiting sites like Remax just to see what houses are available in the locations that I prefer … and wondering when I will be able to buy something.
  • Looking through the Lexus, Acura, BMW and Audi websites for SUVs, though I will be buying none in the near future – Yet another idle fantasy of mine. I love going through the websites and salivating over these cars, wishing that I hit the jackpot somehow so that I might be able to buy one.
  • Looking for tennis racquets on Amazon – I have a couple of pretty good tennis racquets obtained at bargain prices, but that doesn’t stop me from frequenting Amazon and checking out the discounts offered on various high-end models. It does take restraint to stop myself from buying one of them, though.
  • Checking the prices of an iPod Touch – I really want to buy an iPod Touch. But I don’t want to get the current version because my songs will not fit into the 16GB version and the 32GB version is too expensive to splurge on. And yet, I find myself checking out Amazon, eBay and PriceGrabber whenever I can, just to see if some dealer has some throwaway prices for the 32GB version.

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