Well, Asian midgets aren't my time toilet, but I'm not sure mine are much more admirable. Here's what I've been doing recently.
- Computer games. For some reason I've started playing Civilization V and Tropico. Civilization V is a game in which you can "take over the world." I'm not very good at it. I play it at kindergarten level and still screw it up. I don't lose that much anymore, but I can create such a clusterfuck that it becomes tedious to get out of. Yet I've usually become so angry at some other world leader that I feel compelled to finish the game just to kick his/her ass. Tropico allows you to be the dictator of a small island nation. It's mostly a building game, or at least can be played that way. I've wasted a remarkable amount of time on those two games over the last year. Unfortunately, I know roughly how much time I've wasted. My kids turned me onto Steam. You can buy games on Steam and not have to worry about keeping up with disks and codes. The drawback--it tells you how much you've played the game. Actually, it tells you how long the computer has been on the game. I have a bad habit of leaving the game and going to something else, but it credits me with being in the game as long as the game is up on my computer. I own several games on Steam, but the two I mentioned are about the only ones I've played recently.
- Scribd. It's wonderful. Netflix for books. It was also Netflix for audiobooks until last month,but the audiobook publishers figured out that it was killing their sales and for all practical purposes shut that down. (You can now listen to one book a month) But since I'm not a big audiobook fan anyway I didn't lose much. The content is truly astounding. Complete? Not hardly. But astounding. I get more for my nine bucks a month than I get from a lot of other
- Texture (Next issue). More expensive and not really as good as Scribd. It's about fifteen dollars a month, and it is slower and clunkier than Scribd. It's a subscription to hundreds of magazines. The reason I signed up for it was that a number of magazines that I was subscribing to on the Kindle were also available on Texture. I saved money. One of the disadvantages is that it doesn't seem to work on the Kindle, so I have to read magazines from a computer screen. One of the disadvantages is that many of the magazines take advantage of the advantages of computer screens over print, but it seems like different publishers use different gimmicks. The touch and feel of Time is different from that of Wired.
- Questia. Years ago I bought a lifetime membership on Questia. It's basically for academic online books. It's a very good source, but like just about all sources like it, the very best and recent references aren't available. But it makes up for that with older and still very good references. If you're like me and can get interested in dozens of weird, bizarre, or unusual topics, it can be a remarkable time waster. For instance, I've been perusing a book on Cantonese grammar.1. Virginia Yip and Stephen Matthews, Basic Cantonese: A Grammar and Workbook (London: Routledge, 2000), 83,http://www.questia.com/read/102845175/basic-cantonese-a-grammar-and-workbook. I realize I'll never learn Cantonese. Hell, I haven't learned much Mandarin, and I have spent hundreds of hours on that. I'm an eternal beginner. One of the great things about Questia is that it is designed to allow you to use it for academic research, meaning that the pages are clearly numbered, and if you want to drop something into an academic paper, it will allow you to do so. It generates cites in MLA, APA, or Chicago formats, with advice on how to insert quotes in your paper following the rules.
- Kindle. The original time toilet because it does so much. There are books, newspapers, magazines, and now with Amazon Prime movies and music. There are games (fortunately not as good as the Computer games above). There are also some software programs such as a good Chinese dictionary available for Kindle. The Kindle was the first electronic book I could actually use comfortably. I recommend it, so long as you don't go crazy and fill up your library.
- Exercise. Helena and I had been walking regularly until I came down with erythema nodosum on the bottom of my right foot and both legs. I couldn't walk far without a lot of pain. But I could ride a bicycle. She got me a stationary bicycle and now she's encouraging me to ride it at least 30 minutes a day. I can watch TV or Netflix or YouTube while exercising. I've tried reading, but that's harder. I also still have some old Great Courses that I listen to sometimes. The erythema nodosum seems to have finally subsided (for the most part--enough that it's no longer painful) but I'm still riding the bicycle.
I need some time toilet paper.