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Choosing to Walk
walking is good, pathological 'rationalism', wtf New England burns oil for energy production
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This year I wanted to start tracking my resting heart rate and be more deliberate about working on my cardio. I bought Amazon’s health tracker, the Halo, to help me track my resting heart rate. It was much cheaper than the other options, although it is not yet at all comparable to the Whoop or Oura. However, the most useful features are sleep tracking (it’s surprisingly comfortable to wear to bed)—although the data is kind of bad—and the step counter. I just like the step counter because it gives me a heuristic—a kind of ruler—to judge if I've been too sedentary or even ‘rational’. More on this later.
As I mentioned previously, I still do not own a car—although I want to buy one within the next year. Austin is a car city, full-stop. However, I have been able to get by with riding the bus, biking, ubers, great friends, and walking. Since I’ve been [successfully] freelancing, I have been choosing to walk more and more often.
On days where I don’t feel like going to the gym at 6 am, I’ll still get up and focus on completing my most important tasks by noon. On my most productive mornings, I’m done with my biggest to-dos for the week by 11 am and feel like I have license to do whatever I want for the rest of the day. It takes me 10 minutes to bike to the gym. But when it’s sunny and I’m not in a rush, I’ve been walking instead. It takes half an hour each way and I’ll walk close to 8,000 steps during the journey. I love it.
As I write this, I’m currently sitting at Hank’s—my favorite café in Austin. The other week I took the bus here in the morning and then I walked an hour home. That day I clocked over 15,000 steps (I had walked to the gym in the morning). It put me in an amazing mood and I slept like a baby. Usually I just walk, no headphones, no checking my phone.
Other times, I’ll cold call my friends and family and see who picks up. If you’d like me to do this to you, let me know.
When I tell people that I do this, sometimes they’ll make a comment about how I don’t “value my time”. It’s easy to do some kind of low-grade economic analysis where one might think, “It’ll take me an hour to walk there. I make $50/hr. If I pay $20 for an Uber it’ll take 10 minutes…” This is madness. Do you value a long walk on a sunny day at $0? $20? Why not $100? There’s a time and place for this thinking but this kind of ‘rationalism’ is pathological.
If you find yourself thinking like this, you need to do something ‘irrational’. You’re too inside the box, conventional. There’s a world beyond what you know and can ‘compute’. I’m not kidding. The map is not the territory.
Next time there’s a sunny day, walk somewhere you’ve never walked before. Don’t plan to use that time to do anything. It’s not about steps. It’s not about calories. It’s not about productivity (“I’ll listen to this audiobook so I can…”). You’re human. You’re free. You don’t need a reason to simply walk somewhere.
Favorite Recent Read
For my research for FREOPP, I have been studying nuclear energy policy and energy markets. If you do this, you’ll learn that popular conceptions about energy usage, storage, prices, etc are on-average abysmal.
This is the result of living in localities where people could trust that decision-makers were going to keep the lights and heat on. This may no longer be a strong assumption. Unfortunately, the threat of rolling blackouts and rising energy costs are becoming a reality in numerous states throughout America and Europe—particularly states with a [previously avoidable] dependence on Russian natural gas and oil *cough* Germany *cough*.
I highly recommend reading Shorting The Grid: The Hidden Fragility of Our Electric Grid by the lovely and incisive Meredith Angwin. The book focuses mostly on grid dynamics and energy markets in New England. Did you know that New England burns oil to produce electricity during the winter?!? Kind of weird for states that pride themselves on how progressive and sustainable they are. If you want to find out why, read the book!
[To get a taste, I covered some of the fundamentals in my piece for FREOPP, How regional electricity transmission organizations like Texas’ became fragile]
Next week I’ll have a non-energy related recommendation. I promise.
New From Me
(yeah, you can invite me on your podcast and I’ll probably say yes—for now)
Texas’ February 2022 freeze was a crisis averted (for FREOPP)
What’s the best article or book you’ve read in 2022?
Feel free to send me a reply to this question or anything else. My favorite part of writing these is reading the replies.
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