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5 New Things to Try in Quarantine

By: Max Marinelli (Reporter ‘22)

1. Read

Read! And no, not just for school. With all the extra downtime, reading is a fun and imaginative way to fill your time. For fantasy lovers, crime fanatics, and future mathematicians alike, there are tons of books that suit all interests. Choosing books can be as easy as picking up the first one you find around the house, asking your parents for their favorite book, or reading all the books by a specific author. Recently, I’ve been reading books by John Green and David Levithan, two of my favorite authors.

2. Solve a Rubik’s Cube

This is a skill that can be learned off Youtube in a relatively short amount of time. I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube last year over winter break while I was bedridden, which is part of why I thought to share this list in the first place. Although I was only bedridden for a day or two due to a common respiratory virus, quarantine deeply reminds me of this time because many of us feel confined to our homes. Thankfully, due to modern technology, we need not find ourselves at an intellectual impasse, for little puzzles like Rubik’s cubes are here to keep us busy. Remember, however, to welcome boredom—it is completely natural in any circumstance and is not something to be fought. Now, back to cubing. One of my favorite parts about Rubik’s cubes is that there is such a wide variety of Rubik’s cubes and ways to solve them: from puzzles as simple as a 2x2 cubes to Rubik’s cubes that aren’t even cubes at all—like dodecahedrons (for those who don’t know, a dodecahedron is a polyhedron with twelve flat faces). If you don’t already have a cube, you can find the basic Rubik’s cube for around five dollars on Amazon. Personally, I like to use a speed cube so that the turns are faster and smoother. Another great aspect of the Rubik’s cube is the thrill brought about by competing with yourself and others to achieve faster and faster times. The fastest human solve of a 3x3 cube, so far, is 3.47 seconds; however, a robot has solved a cube this year in a blazing 0.38 seconds!

3. Learn how to Pen Spin

This is a quick trick to learn, and although it may not seem super useful or exciting, it certainly helps pass time. When you’re sitting at a desk, in a cubicle, or anywhere around pens and pencils, you can now pen spin the time away instead of just twiddling your thumbs. After mastering this basic skill, there are always more advanced variants to practice and master that look even more smooth and impressive. If this doesn’t come to you right away, don’t fret, it’s not supposed to. But it’s very easy to practice; I practice during Zoom calls for school and have felt myself improving. The great part about pen spinning is that it establishes muscle memory so that soon one can do it without even looking or paying attention.

4. Jam as Many Digits of Pi as You Can into Your Head

This grants instant credit among math geeks anywhere. Knowing beyond 60 or so digits is irrelevant in practical use, but who is memorizing the digits of pi for practical use anyway? It doesn’t take away too much time either. I learned the first 100 digits within a few days, spending only 20 minutes or so per day memorizing. Who knows, maybe it will even help on an extra credit assignment someday, or just as a cool feat to impress your friends. If you’re uninterested in pi, there are plenty of other things to memorize. I have been memorizing a couple of Robert Frost poems, namely “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and “In Hardwood Groves” and have greatly enjoyed it. Memorizing is a good exercise to keep your brain sharp during quarantine.

5. Learn to Juggle

Max juggling rubik’s cubes

Like the Rubik's Cube, this is another skill that can easily be learned from Youtube. It only took me 15 minutes to get the basics of juggling down. I actually chose to do my eighth-grade showcase presentation on juggling and learned how to juggle in just a few weeks prior to the showcase—call that daring, or foolish, it’s your choice. Once you learn to juggle, the possibilities are endless: you can juggle two balls in one hand or juggle three in two hands, or four, or five, etc. You don’t even have to start by juggling balls. I started by juggling three rolled-up socks. If you decide you like juggling, you can also inexpensively purchase juggling balls off Amazon, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, juggling clubs. Here’s a tip: if you start with balls, do NOT use tennis balls. Real juggling balls are heavier, but more importantly, they have a filling similar to a bean bag. This allows them to almost take the form of your hand, while tennis balls are meant to bounce and do not squeeze. That is why I recommend using rolled-up socks. I hope you enjoyed the list of little things to do over quarantine, and I hope that at least one of these items on the list piqued your interest.

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