It is a fact of college life that, no matter what time you get up at the beginning of the semester, you will be sleeping in later by the end. I am as prone to this as any other student. That said, I'm trying to wake up at 7:15 this semester. I have classes at 9:00 or 9:30 every day, which will keep me on schedule.
Why so early? First, I have wiggle room to sleep in if I need to and still feel refreshed. But secondly, and more important, I enjoy my long morning routine. I've been doing this for a long time; I was the first one up in my house (or one of the first; Dad and I got up about the same time) from middle school on. I'd get up, read in bed for five or ten minutes, feed the cat before she woke everyone else, and then feed myself and linger over breakfast, reading. I liked having the house all to myself. It was peaceful.
Now, of course, my morning tasks are slightly different. Instead of feeding the cat, I get up and stretch; rather than re-re-re-re-reading Calvin & Hobbes comics, Tamora Pierce novels, or the funniest books in the Saddle Club series, I check on some webcomics and take in the news. In trying to become a more informed individual, I have given myself rather a lot of work, and I need that hour and half of time just to absorb all the media. Currently, my ideal plan is as follows:
Every morning, while stretching or eating
- Listen to or read (depending on availability and time) main stories on the NPR homepage
- Watch or listen to Democracy Now!--ideally all of it, live (one hour, starting at eight)
- Get at least 1,000 grains of rice on Free Rice, setting it to either Flags of the World or Identify Countries on a Map. (I use these subjects because it's easier to listen to something and identify objects than listen to something and match vocabulary terms, since they're more visual than verbal, leading to less conflict in allocating attention. I'm taking Cognitive Psych this semester, can you tell?)
- Fact-check what I've just heard on Politifact
- Check poll statistics at FiveThirtyEight, a blog by an excellent statistician who predicted the 2008 electoral college results perfectly
- Listen to at least some of the Journal en Francais Facile on RF1 to remind my brain it knows French
- At least one Daily Show
- At least one Colbert Report
- At least one TED Talk
My News folder also contains links to Discover magazine, the New York Times, and In These Times, but I don't have the time to look at them much.
I added Democracy Now! only in the last few weeks, after Amy Goodman (its executive producer) came to Oberlin to give a speech. She blew me away; she seems incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable, for starters. On top of that, she's dedicated, determined, and convinced that what she's doing is necessary and useful. I hope I am as satisfied with my job and my life as she is when I'm that age--and one step toward that is knowing what's going on and what needs doing. Hence the morning news routine.
The lists above are very idealized goals, of course, and I don't usually get all the way through the routine. Normally, I listen to some NPR, catch part of Democracy Now!, play FreeRice, skim the latest news on Politifact, and read the daily FiveThirtyEight post. Fortunately, one can listen to NPR or Democracy Now! while stretching and it's perfectly possible to identify flags of the world, eat oatmeal, and listen to the news at the same time. And if I want to be watching something--Colbert and Stewart are much more fun when you can see them--I knit. It's a good way to start the day--you feel informed, useful, and rested before you even go to class.
Or you could sleep in.
For the curious: webcomics, read on the days they update
- Homestuck (updates randomly and often more than once a day)
- xkcd (MWF)
- Questionable Content, a slice-of-life strip that is rather addictive (every weekday)
- Two Lumps, about a very smart cat and a very dumb one (MWF) (although sometimes I forget to check it for a while; it can be hit or miss)
- Gunnerkrigg Court, a school story about an odd girl in a very unusual place (MWF)
- Goblins, an adventure-fantasy-gaming comic (Tuesdays and Fridays)
- I have been told I should start reading Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, too.
That looks like an awful lot, now that I write them all out, but each one only takes about thirty seconds, so this isn't too frivolous--probably takes less time than reading all the comics in newspaper.
Other good comics, but ones that I check only rarely:
- Order of the Stick, an adventure-fantasy-gaming comic starring stick figures, which I don't read often because I enjoy it most in long chunks of story.
- Dresden Codak, a reservoir of really stunning art, which I don't read often because said art is physically painted on giant canvases and so updates maybe three times a year.
- Lackadaisy, the tale of a struggling speakeasy during Prohibition, also beautifully drawn, with well-researched, mostly-period-appropriate art (except that the characters are all anthropomorphic animals). Read only rarely because it, like Dresden Codak, takes months to update.