I used to have a watch that told me the time. I now have a watch that tells me my heart rate, how many miles I’ve run, how many laps I’ve swum, how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve expended, how many hours I’m sleeping — or not sleeping — and whether I should be doing some laundry.

This is part of a worrisome trend. Devices never used to be multi-taskers. A scissors cut, it didn’t play music. A stapler stapled, it didn’t send messages. A refrigerator cooled things, it didn’t give you directions.

Devices used to be simple single-taskers. And consequently you didn’t need 97-page online manuals to figure out how to use the scissors, unless, of course, you’re a lefty, like me, and it’s a right-handed scissors.  You didn’t need a series of diagrams to decipher where in the refrigerator to put the vegetables and where to put the fruits, unless you were confused about the status of the tomato, which is truly a fruit parading around as a non-conforming vegetable.

Whatever device they are explaining, the 97-page online manuals all have something in common: they are, of course, incomprehensible. Take the one for my new watch, for instance.

When you use the watch, the manual begins, you start from the clock screen, which is the screen with numbers that tell you what time it is. The larger number is the hour, while the smaller number is the minutes, unless you are in reverse mode, which means you are wearing the watch on the wrong wrist.

The very small number, in the right corner just above the call letters for your nearest FM radio station, is the number for the seconds.

The hour number, you will notice, is shown slightly dimmed and the minutes are shown brighter while the seconds are show in Sanskrit, so you can see the precise time more clearly and not think this is the middle of the night in New Delhi and you should be sleeping. The clock screen also shows the date and the month, so you don’t think you are sleeping in December, when it gets dark early.

You can use the buttons alongside the clock screen to go to other screens on your watch. To open the tracking screen, press down, which opens the settings menu, then press right, which opens the activities menu, then press left, which opens the luncheon menu. If you would just prefer to have a salad, press up.

While wearing the watch, remember that the GPS receiver should always face upwards. To find which direction is upwards, press down. Wait until the compass icon is visible, then stop looking down at your watch because you’re about to get dizzy and may develop a headache.

Whatever option you choose, remember that your watch will remember what you highlighted. Which is more than we can say for you.

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Welcome to campus, new college students! And please put down your phones and stop snapchatting for just a moment and try to pay attention.

In this Move-In Guide, we have all the answers to all your questions as you begin this important new chapter in your lives and begin to worry about how you will ever pay off your student loans. So let’s take a look at some of those questions you might have.

Why is my dorm room on the other side of the interstate from the main campus, seven stories up on the top floor, at the end of the last corridor and 2.3 miles away from the suite bathroom?

Congratulations on winning the dorm lottery! And by the way, considering everything, we don’t recommend your scheduling any 8 a.m. classes.

            Can I change my assigned roommate?

Yes, if it turns out your assigned roommate really spends all day watching reruns of The Bachelorette and buffing his AK-47, you can request a new roommate by filling out the “I want to change my roommate Form RQ47.” Be aware, though, you may end up replacing the roommate who always called you “Dude” with a roommate who now always calls you “Bro.”

What do I need for my dorm room?

You should first bring sheets that will fit an irregularly shaped bed that is actually four feet longer than it is wide and is perfect for your new roommate, Gumby. Also, do not forget to bring a shower tote bucket, where you can carefully place all your toiletries and cover them with soap scum.

To make the dorm room feel more like home, consider decorating it in ratty old T-shirts left on the floor and multi-colored sticky notes stuck to the T-shirts.

Are there items I shouldn’t bring to my dorm room?

Yes. No halogen lamps, candles, incense or squirrels.

Where can I do my laundry?

Laundry? You’re a college student — who does laundry?

How do I pick a meal plan?

We offer multiple kinds of meal plans, including the 42-pizzas-a-week plan, as well as meal plans that are non-gluten or, for the more adventurous, all-gluten. You also can choose from vegan, vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegetarian and pollovegetarian. If you have to ask what a pollovegetarian is, you’re not one.

Can I bring a bike to campus?

Of course you can. We encourage all students to use alternative transportation methods to get around campus because there are only seven parking spots on campus. Three of those belong to a professor emeritus. Note that when you are on your bike going down a hill at 35 miles an hour you should probably stop trying to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones on your iPad, particularly if a professor emeritus is in the crosswalk.

And remember, you can register your bike for free, so when it gets stolen next week during your first class, you’ll have a receipt that you will always have to remember it by.

OK, when can I move in?

Your move-in time is determined by the dorm you’ve been assigned, the first letter of your last name and your astrological sign. If you’re Taurus, you’re in big trouble.

Vacation season isn’t over yet. You still have time to pack for a trip. Remember, packing is an art, a skill, a challenge. The challenge, of course, is to arrive at your destination with underwear.

To meet that challenge, here are a number of packing tips developed by experienced travelers who have never been stuck in the middle seat between two crying 1-year-olds.

First, choose your suitcase carefully. (We assume here that you’d rather not check your bag since that would mean an increased possibility of it ending up in Beijing when you are going to Grand Rapids.)

Understand that the bigger your suitcase, the likelier you can’t get someone else to lift it for you into the overhead bins. Also, if it’s too large, you will feel required to fill up all the extra hidden pockets, thus bringing scuba diving equipment with you to the mountains.

The choice between hard-sided or soft-sided, wheelie or non-wheelie, is, of course, a deeply personal one, dependent on your religious background and whether you believe hard-sided, non-wheelie is truly the work of the devil.

Once you have chosen a suitcase, remember the goal is to fill every inch of available space. That means putting socks inside shoes, then putting toothpaste inside the socks. Jam that rain jacket into the sleeve of those pajamas. Fold your flip-flops and stuff them into your dental floss dispenser.

Limit what you pack. First, take everything out of the closet that you are considering taking with you and lay the items on the bed. If you can’t see the bed, you need to pare down a little. If you can’t see the floor, you need to re-schedule the trip.

Put heavy, bulky items in first, at the bottom of the suitcase. If you only have heavy, bulky items, you can ignore this tip, but why are you traveling with cannonballs?

Try rolling your items. This will maximize space and minimize wrinkles but can be difficult to do with the handmade Guatemalan pottery flower vase you are bringing as a birthday gift for Aunt Sophie.

If rolling doesn’t work, try the bundling technique. Carefully wrap each article of clothing around a central core, with underwear and T-shirts at the center, and large tailored items like blazers and dresses as the outer layer. While this technique is utterly useless, unraveling the bundle does make a fun getting-to-know-you game if you meet anybody interesting at the hotel.

You also could use packing cubes. These are smaller bags that you put inside larger bags that you put inside enormous bags that you try to fit into your suitcase, just as soon as you have taken out several of the cannonballs.

Then there’s my method: Take anything you want. Jam it all into the suitcase until it screams for mercy. Don’t worry about wrinkles because where you’re going, no one knows you. Sit on the bag until you can close it. Pull the zipper tight until you can lock it or it breaks.

Hope that the airline loses your bag.

If you want to lose weight, there’s always the option of eating less. Of course, that may be too complicated a solution for many of us who want to see quick results, like losing eight pounds before going out for dinner tonight with friends we haven’t seen since high school.

Instead, you could always follow one of these popular dieting plans:

The Atkins Diet. Named after the renowned guitarist Chet Atkins, this diet requires you to try to eat while you are also trying to remember the chord progression of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Nutritionally speaking, this is like trying to tap your head, pat your tummy and solve a quadratic equation at the same time. You will become so frustrated trying to do it all you will give up food completely during this diet but still never be able to solve a quadratic equation.

The Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet. Whenever you sit down at the table, you divide your food into those with a minimal amount of fat, like celery stalks and facial tissues, which you put on the left. High-carb foods, like your Subaru’s carburetor, you put on the right. You stare at both piles, then you pull up pictures of Twinkies on your smartphone and begin to salivate, thus losing water-weight gain.

The High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet. This is exactly like what the Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet feels like when it is staring in the mirror.

The South Beach Diet. Spend all the time you would normally devote to eating on walking south on the beach and scorching your toes on burning hot sand. This will keep your mind off Twinkies, unless you happen to step on a discarded Twinkie wrapper. For dietary variety, step on some jagged sea shells, which will take your mind off your scorched toes.

The Mediterranean Diet. On this diet, you are allowed to only eat highly seasoned water that has been imported directly from the Mediterranean and put in an expensive bottle that you might be able to dangle from your belt loop. The premium version of the diet includes an all-expenses-paid trip to Greece and a stay at an AirBnB where the hosts are impossibly thin and extra virgin.

The Paleo Diet. The idea behind this diet is that if you could hunt and gather it, you can eat it. That means yes to meats, fruits and veggies, but no to Devil Dogs, caramel popcorn and Good ‘n’ Plenty, unless you have a license to hunt Good ‘n’ Plenty during the fall breeding season.

Remember, no cereal grains, legumes, dairy and potatoes on this diet, which makes it difficult. But while research isn’t conclusive, one small study has found that after three weeks on this diet subjects had dropped an average of five pounds, mainly by tearing their hair out.

The Good ‘n’ Plenty Diet. For breakfast, eat the white ones first, then the pink ones. Then for lunch, work in the opposite direction, balancing your intake. For dinner, gobble them both up at the same time.  You may not lose weight, but you’ll make your dentist happy.

 

Hello, my name is Neil and I’ll be your server this evening unless you want Bruce because he actually knows how to pronounce quinoa.

Although you’re still just trying to sit down and haven’t decided yet if you’re sitting boy-girl, boy-girl or some other more exotic configuration, would you like something to drink to begin the meal? Our drink menu includes a number of artisanal cocktails that combine ingredients you’ve never heard of in ways you can’t imagine. They also cost prices you won’t believe.

We have a number of specials on our menu tonight and I will now recite them all to you so quickly that you will undoubtedly ask me to repeat them at least two or three times. Then you probably will still forget most of them as soon as I move away and begin ignoring your frantic waving. Please don’t stop me in the middle of the recitation of my list because then I’ll have to go back to the beginning and start again, and who wants that?

Our soup special is a gingered cream of traditional rice balls with sashes of nori — and, no, we don’t know what that means either — with a dollop of shiitake mushroom extract. Traditionally, we use two iis in shiitake but our mushroom chef is considering using three iiis tonight to add some extra umami.

By the way, our umami is locally sourced and humanely harvested.

Tonight’s salad has been grown by local farmers who have never used chemically enhanced hand sanitizers. It includes baby bok choy, several adult boks who are chaperoning, heirloom tomatoes grown from organic looms, and caramelized caramels that have been taken out of their boxes and left to naturally dry and shrivel in the sun.

The special entree tonight is free-range pork belly, which is a boneless cut of fatty meat which five years ago you wouldn’t have touched with a 10-foot pole but now you can’t touch without a couple of $20 bills. The pork belly is fennel-glazed, whipped to a froth, frothed to a whip, steamed, braised, sautéed and roasted for weeks on end over at Pig Sty Farm just down the road. The farmers will bring it directly to your table, as soon as they change out of their overalls.

The road they will take, by the way, is cage-free. The pork belly then was charred by two firemen who have, without GMOs, contained three wildfires in remote places in the state of Utah. Their credentials are available.

The pork belly is served over a pilaf of farro, a grain that no one had heard of three months ago, and accompanied by a relish made from peach compote and day-caught sea bass intestines that have been mixed with salted peanuts that we harvested only after the seventh inning.

For dessert, our pastry chef has concocted a special panna cotta sorbet tiramisu dulce de leche because we’ve run out of English words on the menu.

Would you like to see the regular menu now or are you ready to order? Or would you like a moment to make reservations elsewhere?

I can understand all the trouble the Republicans in Washington had coming up with a new healthcare bill.

Health insurance is so complicated many of us look forward to the day we can get Medicare, the government health insurance plan for those so old, like me, they can’t figure out how to change the greeting on their voice mail. That’s because being able to enroll in Medicare is one of the major benefits of getting older, right after being eligible for the Early Bird Special.

But enrolling in Medicare, which has many moving parts, isn’t that easy.

Medicare Part A, which is free, is essentially hospital insurance, which means you are insuring the hospital you won’t go there very often. But if you do appear too frequently, you get to buy one operation and get the second one 50 percent off.

Medicare Part B costs money, with your premium set each year by a group of secretive garden gnomes who know the year you were born and if the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars. If you enroll in the plan outside that time, you pay a higher premium and are forced to listen to remixed a capella versions of The Carpenters’ greatest hits.

Medicare Part B covers certain doctors’ services, but generally not the ones you will need. It also covers some outpatient care, mostly when you are an in-patient, and a few medical supplies, but not the Band-Aids you called for when you cut your finger slicing a bagel.

Then there’s Medicare Plan C, which is almost never called Medicare Plan C because that would be too easy. Offered by private insurers, these plans are designed to make up the difference between what Medicare pays and what the federal budget deficit is. They provide Part A and Part B benefits, and a free toaster.

Also, usually, they offer Medicare Part D benefits, which is actually prescription drug coverage because it would have been too simple to call it Medicare Plan Rx benefits.

Many different insurance companies offer these plans. Each company says its plan is better than all the other plans. Each company says it will cover more, will cover better, will cover 20 percent of this, 100 percent of that (after the first 35 percent) and 60 percent of the second 25 percent, minus the 18-percent co-pay.

If you’re still with us, then there’s a Medicare Supplement Plan, which is different from an Advantage Plan because it does not include Plan D prescription coverage and doesn’t make you pay co-pays after you meet your deductible, on a date set up by e-Harmony.

Your premium for an advantage plan or a supplement plan will depend on where you live, how old you are, whether you can remember the Lucky Strike cigarette jingle and if you have any previous conditions, such as breathing.

If you get a supplement plan, you then will have to get a separate Part D prescription plan, but there may be none left because you have taken so much time figuring out all the parts of the first part.

 

Watching Wonder Woman deflect artillery with her wrist bracelets, encircle all of Belgium with her magic lasso (fortunately, it’s a small country) and end World War I while never seeming out of breath got me, ahem, wondering.

It also got me jealous. I do not have magic artillery-deflecting bracelets. It’s hard to find them in the men’s department. I do not have an impermeable shield that’s probably machine washable or a special sword that can be either formal or business casual. Furthermore, I think I may have misplaced my magic lasso — it could be in the garage somewhere, maybe buried under the bag of cat litter we keep around as a cheap replacement for snow melt.

That is, I don’t have any superpowers and, to be frank, I would like some. Wouldn’t you? Which superpowers would you like? After somewhat careful consideration, these are the ones I figured out I would enjoy:

Flying. If I could fly on my own, I wouldn’t go through security control, not even TSA Pre-check. I’d refuse to put all my liquids in little baggies. And I definitely wouldn’t be flying economy or even premium economy. Also, I would most likely make sure I’d be in boarding priority Group 1, not 5.

Spamcontrol.  When my email spam filter doesn’t work and allows in messages that look like real emails but are, instead, solicitations from Nigerian princes or credit card companies, I gallantly refuse to forward any requests to share this offer with all my friends.

Decluttering muscle. As the need arises, and space diminishes, I am able to rid myself of tattered old T-shirts, supermarket bags and plastic ponchos from a 2007 visit to Florida’s Gator Land that have taken over the downstairs closet.

Technovision. With just the force of sheer concentration, this immediately enables me to understand how to transform a PDF file into a Word document. It also lets me upload to the cloud, although I would need the superpower premium version to discover where the cloud is.

Cocktail party command. I’ve just been introduced to someone I’ve never seen before at an intimate gathering. My new acquaintance wants to talk to me of his conspiracy theories about the connection between Russian meddling in the election and Beyonce’s twins. The person who introduced us has conveniently vanished. This superpower enables me to interrupt the tales of conspiracy and say I need to head over to the bar and get another drink and then to hide under the bar for the rest of the night.

Shapeshifting. This is, I realize, a very commonly desired superpower because just about everyone occasionally wants to change the shape of the body and look like someone else. This would be so much easier than abdominal crunches or bilateral arm curls. As someone who is severely flat-footed, I would really like to have arches.

Superspeed. Actually, this is not a superpower I want or really need. I am always early and get to the movies even before the first of the endless previews. But, not naming names here, if I could get this for my wife, when we’re getting ready to go out ….

 

It’s summertime, it’s vacation time. But before you can actually take a vacation and luxuriate in the fact that you’re on vacation and don’t have to plan taking a vacation, there are several things you need to do.

  • Put a vacation stop on your mail.

We are assuming here that posting to Instagram is not your only method of communication and that you still use the U.S. Postal Service on occasion. By putting on a vacation stop, when you return home your mailbox won’t be filled with 17 credit card solicitations, 14 mountain foreclosure sale advertisements, seven clothing catalogues, three cards telling you you’ve won a free trip to Cancun (if you will just call this number) and many coupons for Arby’s.

  • Tell your credit card companies that you are going on vacation and will be out of town and to keep an eye out for odd transactions from odd places.

This way, when the credit card company gets a transaction for thousands of dollars of jewelry bought in La Paz, Bolivia, you will realize you should have gone to La Paz where there are good buys on jewelry

  • Decide where you want to go.

For instance, I like the mountains. My wife likes the beach. So of course, we’ll be going to Poughkeepsie, which has neither, but is a great spelling bee word.

  • Decide how you’re going to get there.

Yes, you could fly. First, you’ll have to make your reservations before the price goes up.

Oops — the price just went up. But if you are willing to travel from a different airport on a different day to a different place and don’t mind that you’ll be sharing a seat with crying triplets, it’s a deal.

However, you also could spend three and a half hours in the airport before your delayed flight is canceled. Fortunately, the airline says they can get you there on Wednesday if you don’t mind standing during the flight, probably between seats 14A and B. And they definitely will ultimately get your bag to you, probably no later than Friday.

Instead, you could drive. This would allow you to take as much stuff as you want, and not pay for your first bag or take off your shoes in the security line when you are wearing very old socks.

But there could be traffic. There could be drivers in the left lane who are going 10 miles below the speed limit even though you are screaming at them to go faster. There could be drivers in the right lane that have had their turn signal on since Indiana. The only place on the road to stop for a bite will be Arby’s, and you left all the coupons at home.

  • Decide what you want to do when you get to your vacation spot.

Some people like to just relax on their vacations while others like to explore and discover. Still others like to argue with the airline about where their suitcases are.

Your flight is on time.

This includes the extra 47 minutes we’ve added to your 52-minute flight time so if we only arrive 26 minutes late we can say we were early.

We do not include in this estimation the 32 minutes it will take to move the plane to the gate, the nine minutes to open the gate door, the six minutes to wrench your carry-on out of the overhead bin, the two minutes to apologize to the woman you just hit with the carry-on as it was falling down and the five minutes to actually get off the plane without having to say “b’bye” to all members of the crew.

This also does not include the 48-minute walk from the gate (last one on the left) to the exit and the one-hour wait for a taxi.

Please continue to monitor your flight status to see if we’re going to stick with this absurd claim of being on time even though we have no idea if the flight that’s coming in, which will eventually become your flight going out, has even taken off from wherever or been built by Boeing.

Your flight has been delayed.

We’re telling you this now because we know you’ve already left the house and are heading to the airport and it really isn’t worth turning around at this point. Right now, we’re saying your flight’s delayed 15 minutes. But c’mon, even we don’t believe that.

In 15 minutes, we will say that your flight is delayed 25 minutes. At 25 minutes, we will say your flight is delayed 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, we will say 45 minutes. Then at 45 minutes, we will say that your flight is getting ready to leave from someplace else, where there has been a volcanic eruption, and you might as well go get some food or try to take a nap or finish your beach read.

At one hour and 30 minutes, we will say your flight never existed and you are at the wrong airport.

Your flight has been canceled.

This is because of anticipated bad weather. Or maybe it’s because of potential mechanical issues. It could be that the air traffic controllers need to go out to lunch. Or perhaps because it’s Tuesday. As we say in the airline business, whatever.

The next available flight to your destination is Thursday. At 5 a.m. Via Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. We recommend that you book immediately, since this is high season in Bishkek.

If you wish to cancel your trip as a result of a flight cancellation or significant delay (17 hours or more in the terminal or at least three crying babies sitting immediately next to you), you are entitled to a refund for the unused portion of your ticket. However, you will have to pay the difference between the cost of your ticket and Warren Buffett’s after-tax income.

If you wish to reschedule your flight, your rescheduled travel must occur after Wednesday and before we merge with another airline. Additional fees may apply if the stockholders reject the takeover bid and we have to sweeten the pot.

Also, your rescheduled travel must be completed before the end of the year or our introduction of a new level of economy fare, to be called “Stockyard.” Additional fees may apply if you try to sit down.

If you want to know how much the additional fees will be, additional fees may apply.

How do you stay married for a long time? It’s not easy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one of every two marriages ends in divorce. (The other one ends in Ohio.)

As someone who has been married forever — in fact, my wife and I recently celebrated what we think is our 332nd anniversary, and it’s really hard to get an appropriate card for that — we know a thing or two about marriage. As a public service, here are our marital secrets:

Secret No. 1: Have no secrets.

Admit that you were the one to finish the last chocolate chip cookie. Share the fact that for the last 17 years you have been an undercover North Korean spy. Tell your spouse that you really didn’t like La La Land no matter what you said immediately after.

Secret No. 2: Lower your expectations.

It’s important to remember that marriage isn’t always perfect. Sometimes there will be bumps along the road and the coffee will spill in your lap because someone forgot to put the cover on the travel mug correctly although I’m not naming names here. So when there are bumps, remember they are almost always your spouse’s fault.

Secret No. 3: Happily-ever-after doesn’t mean life together will be a fairy tale.

Instead of a fairy tale, sometimes married life will be a collection of short stories about people who have much more money than you do. Sometimes, it will be a limerick, usually one ending in a naughty word. Other times, it can be a crossword puzzle clue, like the three-letter ancient name for the city of Tokyo. Occasionally, married life will seem like a 19th-century Russian novel where everyone is named Goncharov or Carolnikov and you can’t tell what chapter you were in.

Secret No. 4: Don’t hold a grudge.

Unless, of course, someone asks you to do the dishes. Then you can say, sorry, I can’t, I’m holding a grudge from the last time you asked me and so my hands are full.

Secret No. 5: Never go to bed angry.

This may mean you have to avoid sleeping for several weeks. Drink a lot of coffee and pop some energy shots. If you get really tired, read a good Russian novel with characters named Goncharov or Carolnikov or watch what’s on Turner Classic Movies at 3 or 4 a.m. That’s when they have the really good ones that no one else sees because everyone else is sleeping.

Secret No. 6: Communication is important.

At breakfast, while sitting directly across the table from each other, be sure to send your partner a text. Check to make sure you’re both skimming similar Twitter feeds. Snapchat with him or her while in bed. Post to each other’s Instagram while you’re driving together to pick up the kids.

Secret No. 7: Show respect to your partner by paying attention.

Excuse me, what was that secret? Could you repeat that? Could you repeat the others, too?