Lines composed on the occasion of having a metric shitton of time to kill whilst on a suicidally boring cardio machine at the gym in the middle of the night.

Motivate — er/id,
sisyphean beaver is
infinitely dammed.

Yes, I just outright consciously peed on almost all of the traditional principles for haiku writing. You don’t like it, Hirohito? Complaints may be sent care of the Pacific Fleet.* Though I’m actually in a better mood than most of the meanings of this wee haiku (surely a redundancy) suggest, though mainly because while stretching I ended up talking to a charming rugby player. Also, this is amusing.

Also pleasing: I may have found a way to make the endless hours on fucking cardio machines tolerable. Composing mediocre poetry in my head is a great way to make the time pass. (I’ve given up trying to read while bouncing around those things, peppy music just drives home the despair, and books-on-tape seem like a fabulous way to utterly ruin a good book.) Perhaps next time I’ll try for something wild, like a sestina. I’d do math problems instead, except there’s no intrinsic interest in math problems except in difficult unsolved ones, and I don’t know any of those. (As a teenager, I whiled away many an hour trying to figure out how to violate the four-color theorem. Unsuccessfully, of course, since, you know, it’s been proved and shit.) I suppose when I get to the stage of the dissertation where I’m writing models (Yes, there will be models in my dissertation, in quantity. Yes, I’m still a theorist. But I like to do models.), I’ll be able to compose those on cardio machines, and that’ll be a nice break from the doubtless books full of mediocre poetry I’ll have cardiocomposed by then. Or perhaps by then I’ll be able to do a whole short story. Or reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. Who knows?


* There goes my cosmopolitan cred.

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9 Responses to “Lines composed on the occasion of having a metric shitton of time to kill whilst on a suicidally boring cardio machine at the gym in the middle of the night.”

  1. x. trapnel Says:

    Have you tried using the exercise bikes instead? I find I can read on those, so long as what I’m reading is reasonably light.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    hmm… Might be worth trying, thanks. Although I’m nearsighted enough that I’d have to wear glasses with attendant logistical conflicts. Or finally get over the contacts phobia, I suppose. Also, exercise bikes offend my sensibility because they simulate something useful (riding a bike to get somewhere) while utterly stripping it of its utility. It’s like the conscious cultivation of futility. But perhaps in winter when real biking is too unpleasant.

  3. ben wolfson Says:

    I just want to highlight

    “Sisyphean beaver”

    Thank you.

  4. Mike Says:

    Also, exercise bikes offend my sensibility because they simulate something useful (riding a bike to get somewhere) while utterly stripping it of its utility.

    Redefine your terms. The utility is losing fat. Thus, the bike performs exactly as it should.

    As for boredom….. I do one of two things. I play “pulse games.” Many exercise bikes have heart rate monitors. So I adjust the levels of resistance on the bikes to raise and lower my HR.

    Also, when doing longer slow cardio, I use Teaching Company lectures on my ipod.

  5. Paul Gowder Says:

    I had also contemplated working in some reference to the wetness of the watery force that makes the dam a sisyphean task.

  6. Paul Gowder Says:

    Teaching company lectures! I like that idea! Thanks! Though I suspect you and X are only making helpful suggestions in order to spare yourselves more blogoetry. :-)

    What are the odds that the teaching company has a stochastic processes lecture? Low, but perhaps opencourseware…

  7. Matt Says:

    Maybe things like the Iliad or the Odyssey would be good to listen to. I did the former on a book-on-tape and let myself think this was fine because they were part of an oral tradition originally anyway, and were chanted long before they were written down, so listening to them was the more authentic experience. Or you could get some of those tapes on philosophy narrated by Charlton Heston. The Hume one had the quotations from Hume done in a Scottish accent. I didn’t listen to the others, but if you did you could report back what accent they use when quoting Spinoza or, even better, Plato.

  8. Paul Gowder Says:

    That is delightful and actually tempting.

  9. x. trapnel Says:

    1. I agree with Mike about redefining your terms. Plus, if you’re reading fun stuff (perfect example of exercise-bike reading material), then that’s the benefit.

    2. Here’s the solution to the glasses issue: 39dollarglasses.com. Seriously. I got a pair of black plastic-rimmed ones–the prescription’s fine, they look decent, and I don’t worry at all about breaking them. A cheap, light pair of glasses like this can be worn while exercise biking–you needn’t worry about smudging them with sweat, and if you drop them while wiping your face with a towel, it’s no big deal.

    YMMV, but this has worked very well for me.

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