Ways to keep busy in a boring class

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theta4
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Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby theta4 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:42 pm UTC

What are ways to keep one's hands busy? For example, I like to draw pictures (my folders are riddled with little pictures, especially lettering) or make maps of imaginary cities (I like to pretend I can redesign the disaster of a city named Phoenix), make slide rules out of paper (I can only get the powers of 2, though), and even make origami (though it's usually just symmetric folding patterns).

I find it easier to focus when I have something like this to do. Sometimes it's right-brained (drawing pictures, making origami) and sometimes it's left-brained (making maps and slide rules). I'm sure I'm not the only one. My dad is like this too, so there has to be others.

Is anybody else like this? What kinds of things do you do? Why are some people like this?
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Earlz » Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:52 am UTC

yea, I'm distracted when I have nothing to fiddle with while listening to someone. I usually just make lines across paper that end up looking like nothing in particular. or fiddle with a pen cap or about anything to keep my hands busy.. (tearing fringes from paper is a favorite)

I really need better ways of keeping busy though..
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby theta4 » Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:46 am UTC

I take my pens apart and put them back together. I try to get them into as many pieces as I can. Sometimes I like to switch parts around and see if it still works.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Carolus » Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:52 pm UTC

theta4 wrote:I take my pens apart and put them back together. I try to get them into as many pieces as I can. Sometimes I like to switch parts around and see if it still works.

I do this. Unfortunately I sometimes find that the little springy bits have sprung out, so the pen never works again.
I currently have no useable pens in my pencil case.

I also do drawings in my stuff, sometimes cartoons, schematics or even just squiggles.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Velict » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Try taking copious notes during class, if there's any relevant discussion going on. You won't be as bored if you're using your brain and your hands, and note taking is a good habit in and of itself.

If the particular class happens to be both boring and frivolous, I just do homework or occasionally write a bit of short fiction.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Two-Fry » Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:42 pm UTC

I've taken up balancing pens on my fingers, and trying to see how many you can get at a time.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Vohu Manah » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:33 am UTC

I like to try writing with my right (non-dominant) hand when I'm bored. Being (semi) ambidextrous is pretty useful if you can't write with your normal hand, and you take longer to finish your assignments (which is helpful when you have 30 minutes to complete a 15 minute assignment.)
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby tentacleTherapist » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:40 am UTC

Mostly I just doodle. Not always cartoons, but some kind of shading, or simple shapes which I fill in with pencil. As a result, nearly all my exercise books and booklets are really messy XD
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby megabnx » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:41 am UTC

I used to entertain myself in such primitive ways as you with doodles and exploding pens but I have since evolved into a higher medium of entertainment. Calculator games :D

Most of my classes have always been math or science so I could get away with having the thing out the entire time, and even in my humanities, the teachers tended to not care. However, they really started getting upset when I shared the games. By the end of the year our entire calculus class was playing Tetris. You know it's bad when your history shows more Tetris89() than actual math problems.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby RockoTDF » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:43 am UTC

I start doing math. I tell my friends that if they see me integrating, then I'm REALLY not paying attention.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Reverse Transcriptase » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:53 am UTC

I try to figure out palindromes using words in the room or from the lesson

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:49 am UTC

I take pens apart and put them together, occassionaly I do this with otehr people's pens that i've taken without permission but with every intention of returning, one piece at a time.

I also am trying to make a decent proof that e^iπ=-1. I started with an assumption of Euler's law (not sure if that's the right name but it was one of Euler's) (e^ix=cosx+isinx) and am currently in the process of proving that. I've got to prove that the taylor series give e^x. Once I've done that I'll prove any other theorems the proof is based on.

I also try to find 'interesting' quirks of maths. Did you know for example e^x is its own derivitive?
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Rakysh » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:00 pm UTC

Pen spinning! Yay. It's both fun and doable while listening. Also can be fairly impressive when done well.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Vaniver » Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:00 pm UTC

I read in high school. In college, I don't attend.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Qoppa » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:58 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:I also am trying to make a decent proof that e^iπ=-1. I started with an assumption of Euler's law (not sure if that's the right name but it was one of Euler's) (e^ix=cosx+isinx) and am currently in the process of proving that. I've got to prove that the taylor series give e^x. Once I've done that I'll prove any other theorems the proof is based on.
Um, if you assume Euler's formula, then you don't have to prove it. Proving it though would make the proof non-trivial, since once you have that fact, showing e=-1 is simply a matter of evaluating e = cosπ+isinπ = -1+i(0) = -1.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby The Binkster » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:57 pm UTC

I start with an A4 sheet and make origami water bombs. I see how many I can make with one A4 sheet and my current record is 14. My old physics teacher had a great way of entertaining yourself.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Dingbats » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

theta4 wrote:What are ways to keep one's hands busy?

Ahem... :oops: :wink:

No, but seriously, I usually just doodle whatever or draw mazes using the grid in the notebook.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Vieto » Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:00 am UTC

I doodle, make mini-puzzles and stuff for myself when I get bored on the side of my binder and margin of my page.

I also tend to have mini-naps. Perfect for catching up on missed sleep when you finish tyhe math homework before the lesson is even over :D
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby punkymonkey » Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:50 am UTC

I will typically doodle. Sometimes my mind will wander off and I will completely zone out. Sometimes I'll just count. That's actually something I do a lot, not just something I've done in class. I will count the number of people in the class.. then count the number of boys.. count the number of girls.. count the number of darker shirts.. count the number of lighter shirts.. count the number of desks.. etc.

I really don't even know why I count because it honestly frustrates the hell out of me. (for some reason, I'm not good at counting).
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:32 am UTC

Qoppa wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:I also am trying to make a decent proof that e^iπ=-1. I started with an assumption of Euler's law (not sure if that's the right name but it was one of Euler's) (e^ix=cosx+isinx) and am currently in the process of proving that. I've got to prove that the taylor series give e^x. Once I've done that I'll prove any other theorems the proof is based on.
Um, if you assume Euler's formula, then you don't have to prove it. Proving it though would make the proof non-trivial, since once you have that fact, showing e=-1 is simply a matter of evaluating e = cosπ+isinπ = -1+i(0) = -1.


Of course. What I started with was to assume the formula and then I had to prove the formula and then prove what that gave me and so on and so forth. I was proving it backwards effectively.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby PoliteProgrammer » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:55 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:I take pens apart and put them together, occassionaly I do this with otehr people's pens that i've taken without permission but with every intention of returning, one piece at a time.

I also am trying to make a decent proof that e^iπ=-1. I started with an assumption of Euler's law (not sure if that's the right name but it was one of Euler's) (e^ix=cosx+isinx) and am currently in the process of proving that. I've got to prove that the taylor series give e^x. Once I've done that I'll prove any other theorems the proof is based on.

I also try to find 'interesting' quirks of maths. Did you know for example e^x is its own derivitive?


I should also mention that the Taylor series are very often used as the DEFINITIONS of the sine, cosine and exponential functions and there is thus no need to prove them. So all you have to prove is that e^ix = cosx + isinx, which is pretty trivial when you know the series expansions of each function.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby fobeidin » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:00 pm UTC

I guess I doodle sometimes, but what I do most is this:
I write my notes like normal, but when I inevitably get bored, I start morphing the letters and words into weird shapes. It's funny when someone else tries to read my notes.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Two-Fry » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:16 pm UTC

I've started learning TI BASIC so I can code during math classes
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby The EGE » Sat Aug 29, 2009 2:35 am UTC

Let's see...

I program my TI-84. A rocket simulation program mostly, but occasionally games. My current project is tetris.
Run simulations of rockets. Mostly on my calculator, but i'll do the recursive stuff with just paper and pencil if I'm trapped in English without my calculator.
Design rockets. Draw 3-view and oblique drawings; make comprehensive parts lists, make internal views.
Draw topo maps and then try to draw them from a side angle.
Teach myself calculus.
Draw strangle topology things, mostly involving polyominoes.
Memorize pi. 104 digits and coutnting.
Read the textbook, and look for errors. Make note of them to point out to the teacher later.
Try to hold my breath for a while. Works best in band where no one is looking at me and it's noisy anyway. I can do it for up to 90 seconds after a few tries.
Calculate stuff, like applying the Kaprekar process to all integers and looking for loops and strings.
If the teacher really doens't care, do a 5x5x5 cube or read a book.
Play tetris in my head. Yes, I can do it.
Draw maps of places I've been to the best degree possible.
Pick an argument with the teacher over a tiny point that I know a lot about and disagree with them over.
Do homework for the next day
Trade codes with a friend.
Derive equations, like the parachute equations for rocketry, or find alternate ways to the quadratic formula.
Teach myself relativity.
Attempt to draw people.
Replay whole songs from memory.
This.
Close my eyes and stay absolutely awake but perfectly still. My teachers get worried and are rather startled that I've been paying attention.
Design logic gates to do a given function.
Calculate utterly ridiculous things, like the number of marshmellows that would fit into the room (about 250 million of the small ones, or 50 million of the large ones).
Disassemble and reassemble my pens.
Draw the room, Nethack-style.
Write the world's worst poems.
Try and figure out the notes for random songs.
Simulate a bunch of randomly colliding atoms on paper.
Do mental calculations, usually multiplying 3-digit numbers.

... yeah I pretty much don't pay attention in class. I can only imagine what I'd do if I brought my laptop under the guise of taking notes.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby theta4 » Sat Aug 29, 2009 3:28 am UTC

Wow, The EGE, that's an incredible list. Some of these are great ideas and sound like a lot of fun! My favorites are:
I program my TI-84.
Try to hold my breath for a while
Play tetris in my head.
Replay whole songs from memory.
This.
Close my eyes and stay absolutely awake but perfectly still.
Design logic gates to do a given function.
Draw the room, Nethack-style.
Write the world's worst poems.
Try and figure out the notes for random songs.
Simulate a bunch of randomly colliding atoms on paper.
Do mental calculations, usually multiplying 3-digit numbers.

I especially like the logic gates one. I used to do that, but I was only making things like 3-bit adders.

When I was reading GEB, I used to play around with the MIU system, pq- system, and TNT.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Squid Tamer » Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:28 am UTC

I draw mazes. Really, really big mazes. They can take months to finish.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby The EGE » Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:44 am UTC

Squid Tamer wrote:I draw mazes. Really, really big mazes. They can take months to finish.

I'll have to try that.
sillybear25 wrote:But it's NPH, so it's creepy in the best possible way.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby sje46 » Sat Aug 29, 2009 5:02 am UTC

theta4 wrote: make maps of imaginary cities

Ha! Wonderful! I was really into this in 7th and 8th grade, abouts. I probably played too much Sim City. I also really enjoyed designing space ships, especially my conception of the dome ship in Animorphs.

Also, in eighth grade I invented my own "language". Not so much a language as a substitution cypher. I invented new characters for each letter, and I just would fill up entire pages of notes with words the teacher said. Or words I like. I also attempted to actually form a constructed language, and shorthand as well, but that never caught on. This wasn't just a child hood thing; I still fill my notebooks up with Seanese, and I'm going into junior year of college.

I also wrote a "novel" in sophomore year. I place this is quotations not because it was really short (it was actually probably about 3-400 pages if it were in paperback) but because it really sucked. All during class I would think about the characters, maybe spend the class writing in between notes, or I would write constant Seanese with how I planned the chapters or just the characters' names.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:30 pm UTC

The EGE wrote:Teach myself calculus.

[snip]

Read the textbook, and look for errors. Make note of them to point out to the teacher later.

[snip]

Pick an argument with the teacher over a tiny point that I know a lot about and disagree with them over.

[snip]

Derive equations, like the parachute equations for rocketry, or find alternate ways to the quadratic formula.
Teach myself relativity.

[snip]

Design logic gates to do a given function.


epic win to all of these.


Oh and I forgot about factoring the time. Occupied myself for the spare two thirds of my maths exam, besides teaching myself calculus.

Also, during work experience I did logic gate networks for every possible two input truth table. I did it once with just nand gates the first day and the next two days I did it with nor gates. Good fun.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby achan1058 » Sat Aug 29, 2009 5:10 pm UTC

Can't people just do something "normal" like solving sudoku or something?

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Troy Martin » Sat Aug 29, 2009 5:41 pm UTC

I draw on my binders. Sometimes I write stories (makes it look like I'm taking notes) and sometimes I just make up a TV show or movie in my head.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Saphy » Sat Aug 29, 2009 9:03 pm UTC

I like to doodle a lot. Sometimes do homework for other classes. Depending on the class, I'll go on my iPod and AIM with people. :O I'm such a rebel. haha.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby thejohnli » Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:16 pm UTC

I just talk to my friends, draw pictures, and sometimes throw stuff and people I don't like. The teacher almost never notices, and if they notice that I"m doing something then somehow I manage to get out of it. It's pretty awesome.
Homework for other classes work well too.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby Tofer » Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:31 am UTC

If things get boring, I daydream about the hottest girl in that particular class (there's not really a lot to choose from in most engineering classes). Am I the only honest person here?

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby lulzfish » Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:46 am UTC

I don't actually know most of the other students in my classes, so I can't exactly daydream about them.
I usually think about computers or something.

I did manage to install Lua on my Palm thing, but I'm not sure if I can use it in, say, Japanese History without the teacher calling me on it.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby mochafairy » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:46 am UTC

I get on irc, play on my calculator, take notes, read, do homework, play my DS or flash games, text, e-mail, doodle, think about what I'm going to have for dinner, do random calculations in my head, code...

college is awesome

Most of my classes are entertaining, though, so I'm paying attention this semester.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:29 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:Can't people just do something "normal" like solving sudoku or something?


but that would be boring. :P And I could never remember to carry enough sudoku with me.

Also I find sudoku terribly boring, its probably because I do a nice methodical approach that takes a while but is guaranteed to get there eventually with no false turns.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby HarleyQuinn » Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:36 am UTC

I wind up filling up my notebook with doodles and perfecting wordart. I swear, half my Spanish notebook was
A. The Joker face
B. Words in really nice calligraphy and font.
I'm a font addict.
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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby achan1058 » Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:28 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Also I find sudoku terribly boring, its probably because I do a nice methodical approach that takes a while but is guaranteed to get there eventually with no false turns.
So do I, at least on the easy ones anyways. You can't quite do that on the hard ones unless.

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Re: Ways to keep busy in a boring class

Postby The EGE » Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:05 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:Also I find sudoku terribly boring, its probably because I do a nice methodical approach that takes a while but is guaranteed to get there eventually with no false turns.
So do I, at least on the easy ones anyways. You can't quite do that on the hard ones unless.

I can solve all but the nastiest sudokus without having to do much hard work. I bought myself a book of sudoku variations - hyper sudoku, wacky shapes, kakuro, killer soduku, and alphanumeric substitution - and that's taking me a while. I'm over half done with the book, though :(
sillybear25 wrote:But it's NPH, so it's creepy in the best possible way.

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