Category Archives: Life Improvements

The 24 Hour Watch and The Annual Clock

I have a love/hate relationship with time. On the one hand I waste a lot of it. On the other hand it is all we really have. It can hurt my head if I think about it too much.

What options do we have to measure time? A 12 hour clock or watch? A calendar? I don’t like these. I like the big picture; I like the long term. So I have two alternative timepieces to give me a different perspective. A 24 hour watch and an annual clock.

24 Hour Watch

24 Hour Watch

24 Hour Watch

This is my 24 hour watch. I bought it my senior year of college Continue reading

Cabin Fever

It always seems that the heart of winter leads me to think about the greener grass of summer. It is easy to escape to the future and the better times ahead. But these daydreams come at the expense of the present.

I generally spend a lot of time inside during the winter avoiding the cold, but in summer I spend a lot of time avoiding the heat. Sometimes I will take a walk but generally once I get home I stay inside. Sometimes I get to thinking where I am going; what is my destination?

Overture Center for the Arts

I was riding my bike to work earlier this week on the bike path and I saw bootprints and a set of dog paw prints in the freshly fallen snow. They pretty much moved in straight lines but the dog Continue reading

Radio – My Kind of Entertainment

100_3514Reflecting on your journey can help you as you move forward

My journey of life improvement has lead me to cut down on my television consumption. I always read that watching less or no tv was better for you, but until you try it you just don’t understand how much better it is. I still keep a 20″ tv for the Packer’s games and the occasional Rick Steves’ Europe episode.

For entertainment I find myself listening to the radio more. The main advantage of listening to the radio is that it does not lock in your sight and sound the way television does. I can wash dishes, cook, write or just plain stare out of the window while listening to the radio. With a tv I keep my butt in the chair and my eyes on the screen. My apartment is small enough that I can listen to it all over with ease.

One of the favorite things about the radio is that there are some stations that are commercial free or commercial “lite”. These are the stations I like to listen to; I have grown an aversion to advertisements. Some of my favorite stations in the Madison area are:

  • Wisconsin Public Radio – I especially like Old Time Radio Drama. They had some interesting advertising back in the day!
  • WSUM – the student station of UW Madison aka the Snake on the Lake
  • WTMJ – for the Brewer games & Bob Uecker
  • 88.7 Classical Music – part of Wisconsin Public Radio I think
  • WORT – community radio at it’s finest

Thanks to the internet I can listen to stations from all around the world or those just outside of my geographic reach:

Those are my favorites but I am always looking for more. When I was out in South Dakota I heard an advertisement for a radio show called the “Floydian Slip”. You just don’t get that on normal radio stations!

Do you have a go to radio station? Do you ever listen to radio from other countries or in a different language?

Space – or “Nature abhors a vacuum”

Tile floor at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, SD

Tile floor at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, SD

Today I am going to write about space, or, more specifically, living space. My recent move has been an upgrade from the 300 square feet of living space that I had previously enjoyed. (Have you ever seen that billboard advertisement that says “Bigger than your first apartment”?). Now I have all this empty space and I am afraid of nature filling it up.

I did like my old place, but the location left something to be desired for my current situation. A small space meant it was much more economical to heat and cool. And when I was looking for something I only had one closet to rummage through. Now I have 4 closets!

My new place feels much bigger. It is no longer just one room. One of my favorite things is the large, south facing window in the living room giving lots of light. The winter won’t concern me as much because I don’t pay for heat. My living space is very open right now and I will try to keep it that way. My bedroom has my mattress, a lamp and a small nightstand. There is nothing on the walls and it is very peaceful. The living room is also sparse. I have my computer, chair, stereo, lamp and plants. I have an antenna TV but it is not plugged in. (I have developed a serious dislike for commercials.)

The only major thing I am considering buying is a couch. It would be nice to offer people a place to sit when they visit which is rarely. I would also like to be able to host Couchsurfers. I am not sure Middleton is a big destination but I guess you never know.

I am worried about my space filling up with stuff. I like open space. Plus it is cheaper to not buy things in the first place. One way I am combating this is by not having a car. Everything I bring into my apartment is carried or biked. That should keep my apartment empty for the time being.

Have you noticed your space filling up? Have you ever couchsurfed or hosted someone? Let me know!

I relocated to Middleton

If you have been reading the blog you know that I mentioned moving. Well last weekend was the big move to Middleton. My mom, my brother and a friend of his came down and helped. It only took a few hours, and we rewarded ourselves with lunch from Sonic. (For the longest time I saw Sonic commercials here in Wisconsin but I never saw a Sonic)

I now have a new commute. Driving distance has been cut from 6.8 miles to 2.7 miles. But that would be if I drove. The best part about my new location is the bike commute. It is a short 2.3 mile ride door to door. I take about 15 minutes. There is minimal traffic unless I leave work at 4:30 or 5:00 on the nose. Compared to my old commute by bus I am saving just about an hour a day – which is 5 hours a week, 20 hours a month, or 240 hours a year (10 days!).

The extra $100 a month this rent is over my last place is well worth it. I am looking forward to discovering more of Middleton. I have already found my way to the Willy Street Coop, the Village Green, and Tiedeman Pond.

Are there any can’t miss things I should add to my “to-do” list?

A Walk to the Store

I had a hankering for some cookies, and my go to cookie is oatmeal (it has to be marginally healthier than anything with chocolate chips, right?). As I was getting all the ingredients together to bake I noticed I was out of brown sugar. What a perfect excuse to walk to the store!

I live on Old University Avenue and my store of choice is the Regent Market Co-op. I have gone to quite a few grocery stores since I moved to Madison in October of 2012. I have settled on the RMC for several reasons, the first of which is location! It is less than a 10 minute walk from my door. It also has everything I need and nothing I don’t. I don’t waste time deciding from 27 different kinds of peanut butter. It is small, with full shelves. It reminds me of some of the grocery stores that I remember from my semester abroad in Poland. From the front door to the back of the store isn’t even halfway across the parking lot at many stores. It also has a sense of community – most of the time I see the same people working there. For me it is a good fit. When I eventually move it will be one of the things I will miss the most.

The walk there on Allen Street is a pleasant one. It seem like a nice neighborhood, almost idyllic. Someone had a sprinkler out and it was hitting the sidewalk. I tried to come up with something clever and the best I could do was “Those who water the sidewalk shouldn’t be cross if pedestrians walk on the lawn.” Kind of a poorly executed modern day Confucius says. I need more creative exercise.

It has been hot out and I have been trying to keep my apartment cooler. My south facing window, an asset in the winter, has become a liability in this summer heat. I have had to decide between keeping the blinds and curtains closed and letting my window plants suffer and keeping them open and letting all the heat in. But this morning I found a happy medium. I opened the blinds half way and put the curtains behind the plants. By the time I returned from work the area in the light was 90 degrees F but the rest of the apartment in the dark was a cool 85 degrees. I am chalking this solution up as a “win” for life improvements.

Have you improved your life recently, even with something as small as keeping your room cooler?

Website for Regent Market Co-Op here: