How I Watch Football

I was never one to watch sports, but the first season I played fantasy football, I was hooked. I wanted to watch every game, and I did just that. Well, almost. Whatever was available on network television at the time. Over the years, I would upgrade to RedZone so I could see every touchdown every week.

I would also dive into the world of fantasy football podcasts, of which there are many. At one time, I was listening to 5 football podcasts a day, most of them centered around fantasy, but also ones that were just about the league in general. And Sundays from September ’til February you could find me glued to the couch in a zombie-like trance, watching game after game with laptop and phone open to the various fantasy apps and websites.

Fast forward to today, where Sundays are spent outdoors, running various errands, working on projects. Free to do as I please. No longer glued to a television. It feels wonderful! And best of all, I still get a bit of a football fix. Just not a full day (or week’s!) worth.

How do I do it? Very simple:

1. Avoid knowing the outcomes of any games you are interested in. This sort of implies that you are not actively checking your fantasy team (if you have any). It also has the added benefit of not getting worked up or frustrated about your team’s performance. Out of sight, out of mind!

2. Wait until the games that you want to watch have concluded (plus around 30 minutes to an hour afterwards).

3. Locate the highlights video on Youtube and consume. Typically my searches are something like “nfl highlights week 4” or for a specific matchup, “rams seahawks week 10 highlights”.

Average game length on TV: 3.5hrs. This highlights video is 13.5 minutes.

Why do I do this? I still want the thrill and excitement of watching the game, but I don’t feel like devoting every Thursday night, entire Sunday, and Monday night to the television. I’ve cut back a lot on my football watching time since the peak. Last season I was still watching every game’s highlights, but this season I have cut back to just 1 team (GO RAMS!) and the occasional nail-biter that I’ll hear about from Twitter.

This has saved me a ridiculous amount of time. Let’s assume the average football game is 3.5 hours, the average highlights video is a conservative 15 minutes, and that you want to watch every game.

256 games over the course of a season * 3.5 hours = 37 days, 8 hours

vs just watching highlights videos:

256 * 15 minutes = 2 days, 16 hours

What will you do with those extra 35 days?

If that doesn’t convince you, I also found this nice breakdown of how much actual football occurs during a typical game (hint: it’s mostly commercials!).

Photo courtesy of Daily Snark

Of course, when it comes time for playoffs, I will still watch the occasional full game. There is still no substitute for watching the game in real time. However, I’m very happy to have my Sundays back and be able to watch a game in 15 minutes while still experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that go along with it.

Mind Tricks For Distance Running

Over the years and miles of training runs and races, I’ve developed a few simple tricks that help me when my mind starts to negotiate with my body. You know those times where your body is saying no more and your mind starts agreeing even though you’ve still got miles to go. I’ve used the tricks below countless times to get through some tough training runs and races. Hopefully they can provide some help to you, too!

Trick #1 – Marker

Pick a marker, such as a tree, lamp post, parked car, etc., and tell yourself you’ll only run up ’til that marker. Little does your brain know that you’re going to pick another marker once you pass it and do the same thing. I used this recently while trudging through the last few miles of my 2nd marathon. I was starting to consider just walking, but instead, I ran to a lamp post, then the public restrooms, then the pier, etc. Before I knew it, I was past the finish line.

Trick #2 – Ease

Remind yourself how easy the remaining distance is and how you’ve already done it before. This is especially helpful towards the end of your run. On mile 17 of a 20 mile run, remind yourself how many times you’ve run a 5K and how easy they are for you. Or if you’ve got 1 mile left and you’re struggling, remind yourself of how short a distance 1 mile is, how it will only take you X amount of time, and how you’ve run countless miles in the past. What’s one more got on you?

Trick #3 – Fantasize

Think about what you’re going to do once you complete your run. I’ve had fantasies about food, smoothies, being a complete vegetable for the remainder of the day, taking an extra hot shower, etc. while struggling on long runs, and they kept me moving so I could fulfill them more quickly. On longer training runs, I usually pass a food truck that has me craving fried chicken (of the plant-based variety, of course). Even on shorter runs, thinking about that post-run smoothie helps keep me motivated.

Trick #4 – Only

Focus on what you have left and use the word “only” a lot. I only have 3 miles to go. Only 1 more hour. Only a few more steps. For some reason, when I put the word “only” in front of any amount of distance, it doesn’t seem that far. Use this in conjunction with the Marker trick for double the distraction: I’m only running to the next traffic light.

Trick #5 – Math

Trick your mind by using percentages or fractions. Let’s say I’m on an 18 mile training run, I’m at mile 10, and I’m already feeling the urge to stop. Start calculating! Mile 10 of 18 means I’m just about 2/3 of the way through, meaning I’ve only got 1/3 to go. I’m also more than halfway through and really, what’s another 8 miles? You can even break up the remaining mileage, so once I’m at mile 12, I’m 1/4 complete with the remaining 8 miles and now am actually 2/3 done. If your mind is distracted calculating weird math, it won’t be able to focus on how tired your body is.

You may sense a common theme with all of these tricks: distract the mind! Anything you can do to get your mind to stop thinking about how tired you are or how you want to stop should help you squeeze out those extra few miles. And remember: MEFOM!

How I Sold My Video Game Collection

I have been on a minimalism kick lately after listening to a TED Radio Hour episode that contained a segment by Graham Hill on how much stuff we accumulate throughout our lives.

This episode and this talk in particular inspired me to take notice of what stuff I had accumulated in my relatively short time on this planet. In particular, my eyes fell upon a shelf above my desk filled with old video games, some of which I had yet to even crack open and all of them gathering dust. I didn’t want to just toss them or leave them on the curb outside for some lucky stranger to stumble upon. No, I was willing to go through the tedious process of listing them all individually on eBay and shipping them to their new owners. What follows is the process I took to accomplish this.

Retro video game cartridges at Video Games New York store

1. Using your preferred device (in my case, iPhone), take pictures of every game. For cartridge games, I took 3 pictures (front, back, side that includes game title). For disc games, I took 4-5 pictures depending on the number of discs (front, back, side that includes game title, inside).

2. For each game, search eBay for a similar listing. If you have the case with a barcode, the search bar in the iOS app includes an option to search by scanning the barcode. I found this the easiest method to find the game I was looking for.

3. Tap into a listing with a good title. I found a good title to include the game title, system, and year the game was released. For example, “Spyro the Dragon (Sony Playstation PS1, 1998)”. After tapping into the listing, scroll down and look for a button labeled “Sell One Like This”. This simplifies the selling process greatly. Tap this button and the listing creation screen will pop up with a lot of information pre-filled.

4. Add the photos taken earlier for the title, set the proper condition, set the format to a weeklong auction and price to $0.99, and list it! I suggest using the auction format at a low price so that the item actually sells. The goal, after all, is not to make money. You’d be surprised at how much some titles actually fetch, though. A note on shipping options: I went with what eBay suggested, although if you’re feeling up for the challenge, you can go pretty in depth with what shipping options you offer.

5. Complete steps 2-4 for each game. eBay allows a certain number of free listings per month. Be careful when listing that there is no fee to list it.

6. Once all the auctions have begun, it’s time to pick up some shipping supplies. I ordered a bunch of bubble envelopes from Amazon that even PS2 games manage to snugly fit into. These are great for mailing out individual games, but there are some instances where you can combine shipping. In these cases, I went to my local shipping supplies store and picked up envelopes on an as needed basis. In addition to envelopes, clear packing tape is a must.

7. Wait until all the auctions end (in case the same buyer wins your first and last auctions and wants to combine shipping). Once the payments start rolling in, you can begin printing shipping labels via eBay, taping them to each package, sealing the game up inside, and dropping them in the closest blue mailbox. Make sure to also leave positive feedback for your buyer.

USPS blue mailboxes

8. You’re done! Swim in your Paypal balance like Scrooge McDuck. Seriously, I’ve amassed over $500 by doing this.

I managed to clear out a lot of old games that are available digitally on newer platforms if I suddenly feel the urge to play them. I took down the empty shelf and the apartment feels more open and less encroaching. I feel far less overwhelmed by all the games that have traveled with me for so long. And now I can make the money earned work for me via an investment account. Far better than old, dusty games sitting on a shelf taking up space and not being played.

Room filled with video games

I encourage you to watch the TED talk above and listen to the podcast. Maybe you will have a change of heart like I did and realize that many of the things surrounding you on a day-to-day basis are things you don’t use or need.

Hello World

2 words to begin it all. I guess a good place to start would be my programming journey. After all, where would I be without it?

It all began when I found the most wonderful site on the internet: Neopets. For those of you not cool enough to know what Neopets is, it’s a magical place where you can raise virtual pets, train them to battle, play Flash games to acquire Neopoints (NP, the currency of the site), collect all sorts of items, sell those items in a customizable store, play the stock market, join a guild…the possibilities are endless.

Neopets trophies

If you were good enough at the Flash games, you could even acquire trophies to decorate your profile and let everyone know how l33t you were. On the first of each month, the leaderboards were reset and if you were able to get in the top 3 spots by midnight you’d have yourself a shiny new trophy to display. I had already collected a good amount of gold, silver, and bronze trophies. I was looking to add to my collection with a game called Extreme Potato Counter.

Extreme Potato Counter screenshot

The concept was simple: each round count how many potatoes fly across the screen. The more rounds and potatoes one counts, the higher one’s score. I was eager to attain a trophy on reset night. So eager, in fact, that I downloaded an application to assist me in my triumph. I achieved glory, but it was short-lived as my account was suspended shortly afterwards. I attempted to reason with the site’s gatekeepers, but it was to no avail.

Neopets policeman

I immediately began scouring the interwebs for a new home. Luckily, many other teams realized the allure of Neopets and attempted to create rival sites with their own twist on the formula. I stumbled upon a list of such sites and proceeded to have accounts and new internet pets on many of them. One of them in particular began to beg more of my time than the others. This site was called Terapets (which apparently is now an Android game?).

Terapets banner

One great thing about Neopets being so large was that there were many fansites, guides, and forums on all the minutiae one could possibly want to get lost in. This I sorely missed from Terapets. There were a smattering of basic sites but none were really the go to spot for all things Terapets. Armed with the little HTML knowledge I had from modifying my Neopets shop page and Myspace profile, I set out on a journey to create my first true website.

Screenshot of Dreamweaver application

My memory is slightly fuzzy on the exact details, but I’m fairly certain I used Dreamweaver and a boatload of tables to create what was lovingly dubbed Wrath of Zoya. Zoya was one of the most difficult monsters one could battle on the site with their pets. Needless to say, I was eventually banned from this site, too. Thus ended my love of virtual pet sites, but not my love of programming. No, that was something that would stick with me for the foreseeable future.