Constructive cures for cabin fever
May 6, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I am caring for an elderly relative who needs someone nearby 24 hours a day. I'm left with a lot of free time that I'd like to fill with something constructive. What (cheap, indoor, offline) things can I do that will have satisfying results in the 4-6 weeks I'll be here?

My relative and I already spend time together talking about things like historical events and his childhood memories, of course; I've also been cooking for him and trying new recipes. But when he's napping or watching TV or just wants some time alone, I'd like to develop skills in my weaker areas, such as math and physical fitness. I've been thinking about relearning calculus or taking an introductory logic course, if it's possible to make much progress on that in a month's time, but I'm open to almost anything, including useful life skills and unusual hobbies.

There's one big problem: he lives in Nowheresville, USA. Civilization and groceries are an hour's drive away. I can't leave him alone very often, so whatever I do can't require too much in the way of supplies or leaving the house. I could order a book or two from Amazon, but anything more than that would either be too expensive or too much to pack when I leave.

Other caveats:
* Technology: I have limited internet connectivity. Text files and small programs are fine, but downloading large files or watching videos is out (so no university lectures, unfortunately). I can spend as much offline time as I like on the computer, and I have a printer.
* Fitness: I have a healthy BMI and don't need to lose any weight, but I could definitely be in better shape in terms of stamina, strength, coordination, etc. Fitness suggestions that don't reqire equipment or going to the gym are most welcome! The more idiot-proof, the better.

My throwaway email is I may take a day or so to respond. Thanks in advance!

Asking anonymously because my family reads MetaFilter.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps now is the perfect chance to craft that Great American Novel?
posted by spinifex23 at 5:30 PM on May 6, 2011

Netflix! Get a 7-at-a-time subscription and design your own film studies course.
posted by mochapickle at 5:35 PM on May 6, 2011

Yoga? Or kickboxing? Or pilates? Something like that where you can get a video or book to learn some of the basics.

You could use the time to read classic literature.

If you're really in the middle of the no where, you could go stargazing at night and learn to identify constellations etc.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 5:40 PM on May 6, 2011

Can you take him out in a wheelchair?? Seems win/win if you could push him in a chair (it's hard work!) and he'd get to get out.
posted by beccaj at 5:42 PM on May 6, 2011

re: exercise: one hundred pushups

re: other: musical instrument. You mention expense; I'd look into renting something, perhaps. Acoustic guitar? Or buy a cheap harmonica. Also, for math, order a workbook of whatever level you're interested in off Amazon.
posted by curious nu at 5:59 PM on May 6, 2011

How about knitting?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:57 PM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. Sign up for a Wikipedia account and learn how to edit Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not demand much bandwidth - you'll need to be online but low connectivity is OK. Don't be intimidated - anyone can edit Wikipedia and there are people ready to help you directly.
2. Choose a topic area that hasn't been well-covered in Wikipedia but is something you love and think is important for an encyclopedia to contain information about (or perhaps you could choose a historical topic that your relative knows a lot about and so you can involve him in the process too). Alternatively choose a topic area that other people have pointed out hasn't been well-covered or topics that people have specifically requested.
3. Create a new article or a series of articles in your chosen topic area. Work on your own or find collaborators (actually, short-term and long-term collaborators will probably turn up on their own and offer you help and suggestions pretty soon).
4. Please take careful note of The Five Pillars. But also have lots of fun and enjoy spreading knowledge about your chosen topic or if you're more ambitious, you could aim for Wikipedia Featured article front page glory!
posted by Bwithh at 7:03 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

Does he have cable television? Comcast (Xfinity) has an exercise channel that I just found last week. Lots of different options.
posted by raisingsand at 7:17 PM on May 6, 2011

Or transcribe those memories of his for the rest of your famly.
posted by raisingsand at 7:18 PM on May 6, 2011

Skills: learn to knit or crochet.

Exercise: get a travel hula hoop and learn to hoop.
posted by mogget at 7:19 PM on May 6, 2011

You could sign up for DailyLit, which can give you page-sized portions of books and stories. This can give you something to look forward to each day.
posted by dragonplayer at 7:50 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Project Gutenberg. You can download books as text and read them offline.
posted by galadriel at 8:24 PM on May 6, 2011

Further to galadriel's suggestion, help out on Project Gutenberg by becoming a proofreader.
posted by alonsoquijano at 10:07 PM on May 6, 2011

To expand on alonsouijano's suggestion, I spent quite a bit of time proofreading at PGDP when I had dialup, by opening half a dozen pages in different tabs, disconnecting to proof them (so that the phone line was available for calls) then reconnecting to post. This tends to work better with pages that require a lot of effort, instead of the ones you can breeze through with only a mistake or two per page, but it depends what you're interested in (I spent quite a lot of time with ancient Greek geography and a Scottish geologist who liked quoting lots of French and insulting everyone else in his field, but nothingl ike that seems to be available at the moment).
posted by Lebannen at 2:14 AM on May 7, 2011

Does Nowheresville have a library? Check out (if possible) all the books they have on a particular subject of study, supplementing with Amazon purchases.
posted by sarajane at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2011

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