Over the last couple days, I’ve been trying to get out of the house more by going on a walk every morning. It’s summer, after all; I don’t really have an excuse not to.

After breakfast, I’ll usually just grab my phone, my mom’s earbuds1, and a mask2 before exiting the house. Once outside, I open Spotify and put on my favorite podcast, and as I hear the words “This is Hidden Brain. I’m Shankar Vedantam” in my ear3, I set out to explore the world – or at least, my neighborhood.4

Yesterday’s route was pretty straightforward: straight up and down the main road passing by my neighborhood, to an early 20th-century Methodist church and back – about 1.1 miles each way. I tackled it at a rather aggressive pace (thanks to years of marching band teaching me how to walk fast), taking a little under 37 minutes for the round-trip while listening to a discussion about the psychological effects of inequality. I remember walking back from the church and noticing the speed of my walk, and I just thought to myself, 132 – I was walking at about 132 steps a minute, or somewhere around that much.5

Today was a bit more relaxed. I semi-wandered through the area, taking more local roads in addition to the main one. I passed by the elementary school and observed that a car was parked in the vice principal’s spot. It’s the Tuesday after school ended, I thought. Shouldn’t they be on break? I guess the answer to that is no. I also caught sight of a line of construction vehicles along the side of the road, and it appeared there was some work going on behind them – I saw lots and lots of dirt stretching out, but no people or machines. I saw a blue sign with the county logo and (presumably) information about just what was being undertaken at the site, but of course there had to be a bright red pickup truck with a construction company’s name emblazoned on its side parked right in front.6 It’s fascinating seeing how much development has been going on over the last few years at the old prison site, and I’m slightly disappointed that I won’t be around when everything is up and running.

When I arrived home, having just passed by the old lady on her porch two doors down and preparing to turn into my driveway, I caught a glimpse of something – I think it was a small squirrel? – skittering away from me. I don’t usually see squirrels on my front lawn, so intrigued, I sauntered over to see what it might be up to. After a second or two of searching for it, I found the squirrel hiding in a small empty patch in the grass, but then, as if it knew somehow that I had seen it, it was gone again… into the ground? Wait, what? I’m really curious now. I grab a nearby stick and prod at what appears to be a hole in the ground. It’s at a slanted angle and definitely appears to go farther than surface level, though I’m not entirely sure just how far. I suppose our squirrel friend must be using it as a hideout.7 Out of respect for the squirrel, I have not informed my dad of the hole’s existence, because I know if I did he would go and close it up (and probably drive off the squirrel as well).

In any case, I guess going on walks is a good form of exercise, I get some time to be by myself, and my parents get me to go outside for once, so it’s a win-win!8 For anyone who has read this far, please send me podcast recommendations – Hidden Brain is great, but I feel I ought to diversify my portfolio some.

  1. My Apple EarPods are neither wireless nor good at actually staying in my ear for more than 10 seconds when I’m walking. [return]
  2. I’ve been fully vaccinated for a while at this point, so it’s really more for the appearances (and respecting the wishes of anyone I might come across who is particular about this stuff, though I haven’t found one yet) than anything. I keep it in my pocket. [return]
  3. Having been born with a Y chromosome, I have the privilege of not having to worry as much about going places alone as my female friends do, but I still only walk with one earbud in to be more aware of my surroundings. [return]
  4. Even after 16 years, there’s always something to explore… [return]
  5. Keeping in mind that I can clear 1.1 miles in about 18 minutes, that puts my speed at approximately \(1.1\cdot\frac{60}{18}=\) 3.67 mph and my stride length at about \(\frac{1.1\cdot 5280}{18\cdot 132}=\) 2.44 feet, or 29.3 inches. It also means that my legs, which are roughly 32.5 inches long (as per some rough measurements I made with a ruler just now), make a \(2\cdot \arcsin(\frac{0.5\cdot 29.3}{32.5})=\) 26.8 degree angle when I walk. Hooray for mathematics! [return]
  6. Not that I could have read the text anyway – my vision (with glasses on) is good, but not “read smallish letters from across a four-lane road” good. [return]
  7. Do squirrels even live underground? Was that even a squirrel? Should I know these things? [return]
  8. Except for the fact that my Fitbit isn’t tracking the route I took. I still can’t figure out why. It irritates me. [return]