The 10K Pushup Challenge

Sometime in mid 2014 I added 50 pushups to my morning routine. It seemed like a small and simple thing to do to supplement my gym workouts, taking just a couple minutes every day. I stuck with it for about three weeks, then forgot one morning. Once the streak was broken, I just stopped and didn’t think about it again for a while.

Last month I decided I wanted to start again. But I knew I needed to approach it differently if I wanted to make it a longer term habit. What I quickly realized is that I don’t really care whether I do 50 pushups every day, and there isn’t anything particularly special about doing 50 reps. Some days maybe I’ll want to do more, others none. My goal was really just to integrate more pushups into my life.

I figured I had probably done about 1,000 pushups over the three weeks when I stuck with it, and then maybe I did another 500 at other times throughout the year. So in the first 11 months of 2014, I probably did about 1,500 pushups. So I set a simple goal: over the next year I’m going to do at least 10,000 pushups, and I don’t care when I do them.

To track this, I put together a simple grid with 400 boxes, each box representing a set of 25 pushups. Every time I do 25 pushups, I write the date in a box. If I do 50, then I fill two boxes, and so on. And I put the grid on the refrigerator.

I’m two weeks in, and so far this has been extremely effective for me. Sometimes I do pushups when I wake up, other times when I walk by the fridge and am reminded of the 10k goal. In the two weeks I’ve averaged about 70 per day, but with a wide amount of variation – on one day I did 200, and I skipped Christmas. Here’s my progress:



If I were to do this over a year, it works out to about 27 pushups per day, but at my current rate, maybe I’ll finish the 10k more quickly. When I do, I’ll plan to just print a second grid to keep at it.

I told this to my friend Dan Siegel, who loved the idea and asked for a copy of the tracker. He immediately forwarded it on to a few of his friends (before even looking at it), then later complained that he didn’t realize it had no explanation and was just an excel spreadsheet with a grid designed to fit on one page. After telling some other friends, I got more requests for the copy of the tracker along with a bunch of commitments to do 10k pushups in 2015.

So I’ve “updated” the grid with instructions, added a name (i.e., The 10K Pushup Challenge), introduced a logo for kicks (I Googled free logos and found DesignMantic, which presented me with a sweet logo of a bear growling), and turned it into a PDF file. Here’s what it looks like now:


I don’t often make new year’s resolutions, and didn’t intend for this to be one, but the timing is right, so I figured I’d share my tracker today. And I encourage anyone reading this to join me and do 10K pushups in 2015.

You can download the tracker here. Happy new year.

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Interesting Facts About Currencies

From Vox:

Try making it full screen, Vox doesn’t have very useful embed video options to adjust the size.

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Sidecar Dogs and Doggles

I recently stumbled across a trailer for a documentary about dogs riding in motorcycle sidecars. The preview was perfectly executed: bikes and revving engines, dogs wearing goggles with their faces in the wind, americana music, and a bunch of biker stories about how much dogs enjoy riding in sidecars. After watching the first thirty seconds, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s a whole sub culture of people who absolutely love taking their dogs on bikes. I hadn’t previously considered the possibility, but I’m extremely happy to know this is a thing.


The movie is called ‘Sit Stay Ride: The Story of America’s Sidecar Dogs’. It was funded through Kickstarter earlier this year, raising almost $35K from 679 backers, and appears to have been primarily released digitally through Vimeo. What a great example of using crowd funding to facilitate creative projects. Just a few years ago a movie like this probably wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without the creators taking on significant risk, and now a small group of supporters can make this sort of thing happen.

Here’s the trailer, which I definitely recommend watching:

Immediately after watching the trailer I looked up dog goggles, as I also hadn’t considered that there’s a market for protective eye wear specially made to fit dogs. I quickly learned that it’s dominated by a company called Doggles, and they offer dozens of different colors, sizes, and styles (e.g., chrome, frameless, original). In the same way that the brand ‘Frisbee’ has become the most common word for flying plastic discs, regardless of the brand, I get the sense that dog goggles are always just referred to as doggles. Which makes sense.

I also researched the secondary market for motorcycles with sidecars. I decided that if I ever get a motorcycle (which I won’t), it will definitely be a Ural 750cc. Examples here and here.

A few days after seeing the trailer I had an open evening and decided to buy and stream the movie. I enjoyed it, but at an hour and twenty minutes, make sure you’re very excited to hear bikers talking at length about how much their dogs love riding around in sidecars before jumping in. I think it actually would have been better as a forty to fifty minute film, with the same content, but edited down a bit. Regardless, it’s filled with a bunch of interesting, quirky, small-town people who all have great stories about their lives, dogs, and sidecar bikes. And as a crowd-sourced documentary project, it’s clearly positioned to appeal to a niche group of people who think this sort of thing is awesome. And that’s great.

And yes, I realize the proportion of my posts that are about dogs has significantly increased since Laura and I got a dog.

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Dogs on the Beach

I spent the holiday in Narragansett with Laura’s family, and we took a long walk on the beach on Christmas day. The weather was perfect for this time of year – almost sixty degrees – and the light in the late afternoon was even better. I hadn’t taken my camera out since the late Summer, and it was great to spend the afternoon shooting.

Here are a few action shots I took of Bella playing with some other dogs in the water:

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-66

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-39

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-42

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-43

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-46

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-47

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-50

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-53

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-56

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-60

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-62

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-63

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-64

Samuel Kornstein: Christmas 2014 &emdash; Christmas_2014-66

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Kangaroo Punches Drone Out of the Sky

From Popular Science:


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We’ll Meet Again

Soon after the Colbert Report’s final episode on Thursday night, this lengthy interview from a few months earlier has been making its way around. If you enjoyed The Colbert Report, and are looking forward to Colbert’s late night show, I recommend giving the whole thing a listen. It’s a fascinating view into his process, and the more I hear Colbert out of character, the more intrigued I become about his new show.

Here’s the ending song from the final episode with more celebrities than you can count, including Jeff Tweedy, Bill Clinton, and Mandy Patinkin:

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2014 in Summary

From Vox, a well-made recap of 2014:

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3D Printed Dogs Legs

From TechCrunch, another example of how 3D printing is reducing barriers, making cool things happen:

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The Center of People

Via Joost Bonsen, whose Development Ventures Class in the MIT Media Lab was among the best course decisions I made in grad school, a graphic that’s trending on reddit showing the world’s population by longitude and latitude:

From the graphic alone, I would have guessed this was in northwest India, but after looking up the coordinates, it turns out the center of people is just over the border in Pakistan:


Coincidentally, as a direct result of Joost’s course, I ended up conducting some research on food waste in India right by the border, just 100 miles from the above coordinates in Pakistan. Here’s what it looks like:

Samuel Kornstein: India &emdash; Haryana Cow

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How Do People Get New Ideas?

This week we explore what creativity is and how it works.By chance I ended up coming across two pieces of content on the source of creativity today — both were very interesting and seemed worth sharing. The first is an NPR TED Radio Hour episode called ‘The Source of Creativity’ that first aired a couple weeks ago.

The second is an essay written by the science fiction writer Issac Asimov in the late 50’s called ‘On Creativity.’ It was actually written for an MIT spin-off company that had a contract with the US government to brainstorm “the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system.”

The whole piece is interesting, but here’s the start:

How do people get new ideas?

Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.

One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.

But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.

There is a great deal in common there. Both traveled to far places, observing strange species of plants and animals and the manner in which they varied from place to place. Both were keenly interested in finding an explanation for this, and both failed until each happened to read Malthus’s “Essay on Population.”

Both then saw how the notion of overpopulation and weeding out (which Malthus had applied to human beings) would fit into the doctrine of evolution by natural selection (if applied to species generally).

Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.

Undoubtedly in the first half of the 19th century, a great many naturalists had studied the manner in which species were differentiated among themselves. A great many people had read Malthus. Perhaps some both studied species and read Malthus. But what you needed was someone who studied species, read Malthus, and had the ability to make a cross-connection.

That is the crucial point that is the rare characteristic that must be found. Once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious. Thomas H. Huxley is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, “How stupid of me not to have thought of this.”

But why didn’t he think of it? The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.”

It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.

More here. I would normally credit whichever blog pointed me to this piece, but I can’t seem to find it again. Other then this essay, the only other Asimov work I’ve read is The Gods Themselves, which was strange, but thought provoking and entertaining. It was written in the 70’s, but the core message seems even more relevant today — how greed and complacency can be self-destructive to society. Asimov clearly followed his own advice on coming up with new ideas.


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