Ritual and Habit

*This was supposed to post at six a.m.  I was so with it when I scheduled it, that I scheduled for next DECEMBER 1st.  Sigh.*

Humans are creatures of ritual.  It is perhaps a function of being social animals.  Rituals, whether they be religious or just “this is the way we do things” help bind roving bands after all.  You’re not going to run off with the band next door, even if they do get more mammoth meat per head.  You know they don’t even celebrate the solstice the way it’s supposed to, and what would you want to do with barbarians like that?  Why THEY don’t hang the mammoth fur at the cave entrance to scare away the spirits of the mammoth killed during the year.

Once, when younger son was very young and I was trying to figure out what was wrong with him (turned out nothing much.  Apparently selective mutism is not unusual in upper IQ kids, particularly boys, and some sensory issues, which apparently are not unusual for large-headed boys.)  Because his pre-school teacher was convinced he was autistic, I read a lot of books on autism.  Like most books on education, kids’ problems and such, there were so truly bizarre hints and advice.  One of them was that your child might be autistic if he/she wanted things done the same way every day.

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but up till about age six, every child I’ve known wanted things done in exactly the same way.  If they sat at a place at table, once, they must sit at the same place everyday for the rest of the time you spend in that house.  It’s just in the nature of the kid.  Having learned something, they decide that this way they learned is “the proper way.”

Of course, it’s entirely possible every child I ever saw, growing up, was autistic.  (Rolls eyes.)

I remember a feeling of shock at the most stupid things as a kid, when I went over to friends’ houses.  Like, they cut their bread slantwise, or they heated the water for tea in a kettle not a pot.

Adults aren’t much better.  Not even adults like me who theoretically hate routine so much they are unfit for the sort of repetitive honest work mostly people do.  Okay, not unfit, I can do it.  I just hate it with a purple passion, which is why I’ve always been attracted to the sort of job where everyday is at least slightly different: translating, teaching, writing.

But within the difference, there is a frame work of “same.”  I tend to wake at a certain time, exercise, have the same thing for breakfast (soft boiled egg and tea) write this blog, then deal with correspondence, then write.  If my day is thrown off because I wake up late, or because I have to get a kid out of the house exceptionally early or alternately, because husband and kids are all home all day, it will throw the whole writing thing off, too.

It is because we’re creatures of habit that things like New Years matter so much.  My mom, when she was feeling exceptionally grumpy and not like doing anything on new year’s eve, would grumble that it was just a day and it was just the number on the year that changed.

Of course that’s right.  The sun comes up the same way and goes down the same way in the new year and we, alas, are still us.

But it is because of that that this inflection point is important.  Because, you see, it gives us an excuse.

It’s very hard to change suddenly.  It’s even very hard to change rapidly.  Things tend to change very slowly, as the song goes, if they ever change at all.

I’m a big believer in inflection points, for change I’m trying to make.  So I believe in using things like my birthday, or new years to say “I will do things differently after this.” And try to stick to it.  Does it work?  With varying success.  It helps if I also do something physical to my surroundings, to make things different.

The most successful inflection points are, for instance, when I move to a new house.  Because I have no habits associated with that room, the way the light slants through that window, that sofa in that place, I can change everything and start anew.

But sometimes just turning my office around, changing the bookcases or their contents, adding a desk for self publishing is enough to make me have the will power to resist habit.

This year I haven’t had the time (or perhaps the will power?) to change the entire office.  It needs it, but when I go through I’m going to cull books out into storage or sale, and such, and well… I’m not ready for it yet.

I did however clean the room and clear all the accumulated old piles of paper.  More might happen – or not – tomorrow.

Truth is, this year, I’m not trying for any great changes.  It’s not “I’m going to stop writing x” (or, “I’m going to stop writing”.)  It’s not “I’m going to try to do y less or more.”

This year, I’d like to be able to concentrate more, but that might take an office with an actual door.  For now, I’m going to try to read blogs and news on a different computer, so I’m not tempted to stray over there during the day.  And I’m going to try to do all my publishing on alternate weekends, so I can spend the other weekend vegging.  I don’t know if I can veg, but I remember being a teen and waking up and having nothing to do all day.  I don’t know if I can recapture that (and it was never every day) but I’m willing to give it a spin.  Maybe then I’ll get sick less.  Who knows?

Happy New Year, and may all your changes be for the best.

85 responses to “Ritual and Habit

  1. The plan to take time to veg sounds really fantastic. I hope if does have the health benefits you are hoping for.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    IMO Rituals/Habits are ways of “inflicting Order” into our lives. In general, people like Order because Chaos/Change can be (and have been) Bad. I think this is part of our Human Nature. Our lives depend on Order. Even the changes we like/accept are part of Order. Winter leads into Spring, Spring leads into Summer and so forth. Animals leave an area but when the time is right, they return. If those patterns changed, life could be difficult or even lead to death of the tribe.

  3. Marty Halvorson

    ” so I can spend the other weekend vegging. I don’t know if I can veg”

    Of course you can, it’s just a matter of the will to do so. I retired 7 years ago from a high mental activity job. I thought I’d go crazy, at first, I didn’t have to do anything. Then I decided that all I lacked was the will to do so. Now I’m happily can veg out when ever I want.

  4. The number two son was _the_ worst for resisting change . . . recarpeting the house (with nearly identical neutral tannish carpet) when he was in third grade was so traumatic that he teacher approached me and asked if there was trouble at home she ought to be aware of. :: sigh:: “No, his room is all packed up so we can recarpet. Ought to be done in two more days.” Arg!

    Now he’s a globe hopping cosmopolitan and eager to find new and different things. I think you’re right, that it’s the big things, the all new things, that are easy to take in stride.

  5. A former associate from Flat State U just changed from academia to being an instructor for an insurance company. I’m thinking that perhaps that’s a sign – time to cast my net wider and look at other ways of pursuing my teaching vocation. And my first e-mail of the day was about the cover for a short story – another good omen, methinks.

    Sarah, if you think a guest post on Human Wave history might be of interest, let me know what length, format, et al. I’ll be happy to bore to death, er, talk about why the discipline of history seems to have become mired in grey goo.

    • Consider that most real sales jobs are essentially instructional in nature: communicating to a customer the benefits of the product or service you are offering. On the plus side, other things being equal, the better a teacher you are the better rewarded you will be.

      Would Human Wave history be a Human Wave approach to History or history of Human Wave? Either might be very stimulating.

      • I was thinking Human Wave approach to history.

        • A Human Wave approach to history would be great! When I was in High School, the history teacher to whom they assigned me was actually a sports coach and he managed to turn me completely off history for decades. It took historical romances several years to get me interested in the history part, rather than just the fluffy romance.

          • Weirdly one of my history teachers was ALSO a football coach — and had an overgrown brain, and made me think about everything and thereby set me on a course to read history books for pleasure.

    • I’d love that. 1 to 2 k words. Send it to Goldport, I’ll catch it on the flip side.

  6. Again, I’m an exception. In fact, it took great willpower to KEEP from moving after three years in the same house (we’d been doing that for almost 30 years at that point). The Air Force, especially the particular field I was in, had three main bases overseas, and four main bases in the United States. That has since expanded to four main bases overseas, and six in the States, but the moving is the same: you go to Stateside base X for three years, then to Overseas base Y for three years, then back to Stateside base X. Rinse and repeat. Occasionally there would be a REAL change, and you’d go to Overseas Base Q, or Stateside Base V, but the routine was usually x to y to x. Only, after I made E-6, the moves went from X to Y for three years, back to X for 18 months, then back to Y. I didn’t mind — I loved Wiesbaden, and it kind of became a second home after awhile.

    We do have a few things that remind us we’re “home” wherever that is: a handmade buffet we bought when we were in Germany the first time, a round table and chairs, and a bedroom suite we bought during our first tour in Omaha. As long as those things were there, it was home, especially for our children.

    • BTW, if someone knows of a house for sale that’s built all on one level, and not over $160,000, we’re interested. My wife and I both have bad knees, and going up and down stairs is getting a bit aggravating.

      • How far are you willing to relocate? There are lots of nice properties here that meet that criteria, and I can arrange for many hands to help on this end, but it’s a bit out of your way (500-600 miles). :)

        • Unfortunately, I’m also tied to military hospitals, Tricare, and Commissary. Otherwise, I would LOVE to move. We’re looking for something within 30 miles of Colorado Springs.

    • Same here– Every three years I ask hubby when we are going to move– He says no and I say lets do a three-day vacation to one of those old Nevada towns. It works every time ;-)

      • We used to move every five years. We’ve lived longest in this house — 10 years.

        • When the Oyster Wife and I bought this house (our first owned) it was our tenth move in seven years of marriage. We’re looking to move once more before we’re done, but we expect it will be years before we can swing the cost of those “someday” plans. No other moves before or after, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          The wife always said she wanted a place to settle down, because when she was growing up, the longest she spent in one house was 2 years. We’ve been here for 8 years, and now she going nuts. I can’t see how we can move in less than 5 years, though.

        • Plano has been our longest domicile (11 years), but in 18 months time (GLW&CDR*) we’ll be outta here and off to Europe. Britain for a year while I get my Masters, then (see above) Paris or similar. Unlike most of my dreams, this one has an outside chance of becoming reality.

          *Good Lord Willing & the Creeks Don’t Rise

        • masgramondou

          We were in France for 12ish years. We were getting tired of the place but the election of Hollande helped us expedite the exit process…

  7. Ritual and habit are expressions of patterns, of rhythm in human behaviour. Humans are hardwired to respond to patterns, finding them even where none exist [Insert ritual denunciation of Astrology / Phrenology / AGW ].

    This is why people can recall poems and songs learned long ago with much greater clarity than prose; once begun the rhythms of the words prompt the subsequent phrases.

    And it is why disrupting rituals is important to altering behaviour. If you habitually have a cigarette and cup of coffee after breakfast, when you try to quit smoking you will find it easier if you also give up that post-brekkers cuppa. It is also why reeducation programs (e.g., Basic Training) rely on imposing an entire new pattern of daily regimen on their subjects.

    • And why residential writers’ wrokshops are most effective. I still have this dream of having one with a dozen or so of my favorite up-and-comers at some cheap hotel or borrowed house. The problem is flying and all right now… when everyone is broke.

      • One of my pipe dreams is to buy a place (possibly when/if I retire – HA!) with enough land to create a writer’s retreat. Nice surroundings, collection of cabins (cheap trailers if necessary, tarted up appropriately), large open space that would work as a common area for people to bring laptops and write in company, also outdoors writing spaces.

        Ideally, I’d do it on Flinders Island so I could con… er… ask nicely if Dave Freer would mind cooking for it :-)

        • Like adding a writers’ retreat to Andre Norton’s High Hallack research center? (Hmmm, what if High Hallack were moved up into the Blue Ridge, add cabins et al, add material for regional fantastic-fiction a la Silver John . . .)

        • You know, the Oyster Wife and I have been looking at buying property like that some time in the near (5-10 year, probably) future, but we’re 1k+ miles west of you. Never considered setting it up for retreats; sounds appealing and might help make it affordable for us… Dang, I thought I was done with the hospitality industry. :-/ I might have to start exploring the market for that sort of thing in the Mountain West.

  8. I just noticed that the number of people following this weblog has grown from 703 when I joined, to 862. I think this is the year that number breaks 1000! 8^)

  9. “I’m going to cull books out into storage or sale,”

    [gets the vapors]

  10. To me, the more routine a routine becomes, the harder it is to break. Humans like comfortable things, and our routines are comfortable. The key to not letting change drive you insane is to force it every so often to keep you nimble.

    Now I’ll go back to the same recliner I’ve had for eight years. ;-)

  11. For them’s as has read _Macbeth_: Y’all know that entire play is nothing but “chaos Bad, order Good”.

    And you really, really, *REALLY* *DON’T* want to know my feelings on “autism”…. (Hint: Note the quotation marks.) :P

  12. The human brain is naturally formed to create habits: the more often you do a certain task, the more the neurons in those particular brain pathways reinforce their connections to each other. Think of it as laying down “grooves” in your brain. Some of these grooves are ones you want to keep (making a habit of your morning routine, for example, lets you go through it on autopilot while your brain is still groggy), and some of those grooves are bad habits you want to get rid of. The bad news is that when you start down that brain pathway, the “groove” is pretty deep, just like the ruts in a cart track, and you’re likely to get “stuck in a rut” yet again. The good news is that as Sarah mentioned, sometimes all it takes is changing the layout of the office, so that you’re looking at a different view, to break the habit. Or moving the computer from the bedroom to the living room. Or something. The reason for this is because some initial part of that groove in your brain isn’t getting triggered anymore. Your brain can make the strangest associations sometimes. It could have been that your brain is associating the sight of that particular painting on the wall with that one time-wasting, productivity-killing website… because every time you’re sitting at the computer thinking about logging into the website, your eyes happen to be looking in that direction. Move your desk around so you’re facing the other way, and suddenly the brain trigger no longer occurs.

    As someone pointed out, our brains look for associations constantly, even when there’s no causal factor between them. (Hence why fallacies like astrology refuse to die.) There’s no rational link between that painting and that website, and yet your brain has linked them in its neural pathways. But by experimenting with your surroundings, you can sometimes become aware of the links your brain has created and use that newfound knowledge to your advantage.

    In other words, I’m just repeating what Sarah said, that sometimes it helps to change your surroundings if you want to change your habits. I’m just trying to provide the explanation for how it works.

  13. masgramondou

    When I saw the subject line I thought we were going to talk about nuns (hi Sr. Agnes) but apparently not.

    But it does occur to me that – as you mentioned at the start – the human desire for religion is highly correlated with the desire for order in life and that a lot of humans want an orderly predictable life. If – as I suspect – the possibility of a stable secular life (job for life, retire at 65 etc.) is now dead for most people, I wonder if we’ll see an uptick in religious belief so people can get their fix of order?

    • Well, the cloistered and more disciplined Catholic teaching and mission orders are growing pretty strongly and have been for the past five or six years, so that might be a sign. Both male and females, with new houses being founded around the country. A few houses are unable to accept postulants because they do not have room for new members. I also know of one new Eastern Orthodox convent that has been established.

      • I can’t recall where I spotted the article yesterday, so I performed a [SEARCHENGINE] on “spiritual, not religious” and found this confirmation:

        Spiritual people are more likely to be mentally ill (but at least they think life has more meaning)
        Daily Mail ‎- 14 hours ago
        A study found that people professing to be spiritual, but not conventionally religious, were more likely to suffer from a host of mental challenges.

        In other news, a study of 3 million patients discovered that overweight (as opposed to obese, I guess) patients enjoyed longer lives that people with “approved” body mass indexes. Geeze, who’da thunk it?

  14. I adore order but I like change too. When I’m at a hotel for a long stay I try to make it like my home while enjoying the differences outside. Going somewhere else helps me unstuck from a depressive episode. My husband works different places at different times depending on where his co. needs him. Often when he can’t come home for the weekend, his co. will fly me out to be with him. I’ve been to San Diego several times.

  15. “Apparently selective mutism is not unusual in upper IQ kids, particularly boys, and some sensory issues, which apparently are not unusual for large-headed boys”

    Just curious about the sensory issues. I’ve got an oversized noggin, and I’m not much of a talker. Never knew there was a relationship.

    As for change. Yeah, it is easy to get stuck in certain habits and rituals. Often it can be good to have certain habits and rituals to make myself do things that I should. But, it is also important to try new things, and find better ways of doing the old things.

    • Well, I’ve got a massive head for a woman — men’s hat 7.5 — and I had a lot of the issues Marshall had — most inability to tell sounds direction or how near. If you think (though not quite accurate) “Hears everything at same level” it’s about right. Which means in school the sound of your classmate turning pages is as loud as the teacher. Fortunately through the worst years, it was just elementary and what I’d learned at home carried me through 7th grade,w hen what I’d read at home started carrying me. But there are also touch and sight issues.

      I once came across a blog that thought this syndrome was a “dodge by middle class parents to give their kids more time on tests.” If this person had seen Marshall trying to cope with a PARTY — unable to understand any words, and finally melting down from frustration — circa 12 he’d have changed his mind. Of course, I thought it was PSYCHOLOGICAL until it was diagnosed as physical. I don’t think I EVER had it as full blown as the kid — but I remember that having six words in my name was a hardship because it took me SO LONG to write and up through the end of high school I wrote slower than everyone else, which is a symptom. I still have others — that wandering away from a conversation thing is a habit from that time. Paying attention requires effort, if bored wander off…

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I once came across a blog that thought this syndrome was a “dodge by middle class parents to give their kids more time on tests.”

        Many, many people don’t believe that any number of things are real, when it comes to unusual difficulties. This person probably would NOT have changed his mind seeing your son have that meltdown, and would have probably declared that he was trying to get attention, rather than having a legitimate problem.

        • Well, there are always going to be some people gaming the system for an IEP, just like there are always some people claiming that their kids are especially smart, especially athletic, especially good singers, if there are goodies involved. Likewise, there are always some people who are sincere, delusional, and determined to get their way. Similarly, there are some people trying to get kids OUT of special programs for various reasons. Some people are bound to be wrong about their kids; others are right.

          OTOH, this is supposed to be why there are tests and observations and documentation of symptoms/abilities done before you stick kids anywhere, and why teachers and parents are supposed to keep an eye on how things are going, also.

          • But anyway… I don’t find the mutism, etc., too startling, because A Wrinkle in Time described the phenomenon. (And if I read it in a book when I was in 4th grade, it must be true!)

          • Yeah. We tried to keep the kid out of IEP as much as possible — but he did need extra time and also to sit up front (and wear his ear filter) and if the class was very noisy (art, lab) he would have issues hearing/concentrating. So it helped if he got the instructions for the project written SOMEWHERE even if it was the blackboard. (which used to be normal in my day, but eh.) Most of the time he REFUSED to use the extra time (proud b*stard.) and the “bad part” was about two years. As soon as he could get by he didn’t want us telling anyone. HONESTLY it was more important warning teachers that if he started speaking in a British accent he wasn’t joking/being a clown, he was just nervous. For reasons not easily understandable, a British accent is how he overcame his (awful at 12) speech impediment.

            OTOH his last high school required an IEP for ALL gifted students. No, they had no clue what to do, but by gum they were trying.

      • Thanks, that explains some things.

        I recently read Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” about introversion. It seems that it is also related to how we react to external stimulus. Introverts tend to react more sharply, and we can become over stimulated in situations (parties, offices, etc.) with lots going on. Extroverts tend to react less to those things, and thus need more stimulus to be happy. She did not mention head size, so I don’t know if that might be related.

        So maybe a lot of what makes us what we are might be physical in nature. Hmmm.

      • I also have a large head for a woman (larger than my hubby’s) over size 7. Haven’t checked the size in a long time. I also have problems with being in a room with tons of people. The noise is also at the same level. On the up side, I used to be able to hear what some one said when they were three rooms away and at a whisper. I am not so sensitive now.

        I still have a hard time when I am in a room with a group of people. It just sounds like noise. Since my hubby has the same problem– we skedaddle fast. I used to be easily bored too.

        • It’s that robust Celtic-German head thing. Or if you trust my old anthro professor, it’s being partially descended from Neanderthals.

          Me for the big head! Not as big as some folks, but Celtically bigger than most!

          • If we’re talking large heads, I start with the XL and then try on different hats for one roomy enough. Oddly, left ring-finger takes a size-7, so: fat head, skinny fingers.

            But remember, it ain’t the size of the head, it is the size of the thoughts.

            • Are we cousins? My knuckles swelled with pre-eclampsia (I was retaining water in the bones, yes) and never fully went back, but I used to have downright spindly fingers. Younger boy still does.

              • I also used to have spindly fingers until I was put on the meds– now I cannot wear my rings — plus I retain water now with the kidney trubs.

              • Cousins? I think we had previously concluded that we have a common ancestor — Abraham — and the only question is how recent the lines intertwined. Given my Baltic ancestry, I suspect we would have to go back to the 15th Century, and statistics have convinced me that when you go that far back everybody is related.

                Fingers have fattened up over the years, but the wedding ring was sized at a seven, and at some point after then I lost enough weight that, on flipping the car door shut, I once had the gold band bounce off the glass and back into my hastily grabbing hands.

                • Yes, my main objection to the DaVinci code is that if Jesus had left descendants EVERYONE would be descended from him by now, not “the royal line of France.” (And btw, ALL royal lines claimed descent from Jesus, which is to say, from G-d. Only a credulous American would buy that.)

                  Yeah, my ring is a seven now, but my original wedding band won’t fit my pinkie now. (I have no idea of the size before, it was hand-fitted in Portugal.)

                  • My wedding ring fits on my pinky barely– I don’t know what my size is anymore because I have problems wearing any type of jewelry now–even gold. My wedding ring was a size 6–

                    Another funny thing about fingers is that mine are very long. I have longer fingers than my hubby.

                    • also both of my pinkies have shortened tendons so they are crooked. I heard that that is a family trait on my Meservy side of the family (they were from the Jersey Isles)

                    • Um… My mom’s theory was that we’d inherited her crooked pinkies from her operation of a specialized knitting machine — no, mom is not a geneticist.

                    • I think she got it wrong. *grin My great-grandmother had crooked pinkies. It skipped a generation and I was the only one who had the crooked pinkies. The folk wisdom is that you can’t believe a person who has crooked pinkies. They are accomplished liars. I prefer to think accomplished writers instead. LOL

                    • Once more leading me to believe we’re ALL descended from the same Neolithic madman, wandering around telling himself stories…

                      But I’m HONORABLE. I don’t lie for free!

                    • *snort– have you tried to write humor? You have a raw talent in that noggin of your’n–

                    • ” My great-grandmother had crooked pinkies. It skipped a generation and I was the only one who had the crooked pinkies.”

                      There is only one generation between you and your great-grandmother? Possibly that is why wierd genetic problems keep cropping up in your family. /runs away/

                    • oops two generations–lol but my father and mother have two lines (or more lines) that are the same *snort Plus I have Dane and Norwegian royal lines– so my genetic structure is quite interesting–

                    • Just like every month in the year has 28 days in it, it has to skip ONE generation in order to skip TWO.

                      (runs away)

                    • ARG–ARG– I blame it on chemo— lol Besides I knew my great-grandmother and she was my hero– She died when I was in my early 20s. My family said that we were like two peas in a pod (okay the peas were generations apart)

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  And I thought *I* had skinny fingers when my class ring was sized at 10. Then again, I grew up with a bunch of pig farmers, so that may have had something to do with it.

        • My hat size is 9. My left hand ring size is 8.5. There I go, throwing the curve again.

      • For me it’s not all the same level, but I am almost incapable of “tuning out” sounds or moving images unless there are so many that it becomes brown noise – and even then my brain is trying to parse all those sounds. I love the idea of large gatherings, of going to cons and symposia, but I can rarely handle the crowds and noise. The Oyster Wife and I were responsible one year for coordinating a church Christmas dinner. For three or four hundred people. And I was not allowed to go hide in the kitchen the whole time. That was… quite a challenge. A gathering of five or six people for a few hours is about all I can easily handle these days. It seems to have started and gotten worse as I’ve gotten older; I don’t recall having trouble as a child or teenager. On the other hand that might be because I’ve become more free to indulge that weakness.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Thinking of large crowds, I recently discovered that I can feel blissfully alone if I am in a large crowd of people I don’t know, as long as I am not attempting to do anything in a hurry, and can take time to get anything done that I am trying to do (this happened at Wal-Mart a little before Thanksgiving. Crowded as heck, but I had gone there with no real time constraints, and I just cruised around, getting the things I needed and not needing to pay attention to anyone beyond not knocking them down).

        • I have a hearing problem — tinnitus, combined with hyperacusis. The constant ringing in my head blocks out external sounds at certain high and low frequencies to the point I don’t hear them, but over-stimulates on mid-frequency sounds. I CANNOT listen to television without getting a monstrous headache after about 20 minutes, and watching it with the sound turned off (“down” isn’t an option) isn’t very much fun. I can’t stand large crowds, and shopping is a nightmare. Even going out to dinner is a problem, unless it’s a VERY QUIET restaurant. There aren’t a lot of those I can afford… 8^)

          So, I stay home, in my little “personal cave”, and have a life online that I can’t have elsewhere.

  16. Habits are learned shortcuts. I’m not sure what the exact number is but it’s something like 90% of what we do at any time is done on autopilot. It’s faster and uses less energy. People who have lost the ability to make new memories can still build new habits (yes, this is bizarre, but it’s been observed).

    On the subconscious end, the process is all about saving energy and time, since thinking uses a lot of energy (IIRC something like 20% of our energy resources go to maintaining that smallish chunk of grayish stuff in our skull) where habits don’t. Habits run at the same speed as electrical transmission (somewhere close to light speed, slowed a bit for the chemical reactions involved) where thought processes are much slower.

    It’s there all the time. I’ve gone to pay for groceries and realized I’ve blanked on my PIN, but when the machine prompts for it, the fingers enter the magic number without reference to my brain. They know the signal, so they do it.

    On the conscious end, we’re always trying to impose some form of order on the chaos around us. We do better if we can give ourselves an illusion of control. This is one of the reasons central planning always fails. Taking away the illusion or reality of control from almost everyone guarantees they’ll do whatever they can to get that control back, not always in ways that help.

    This disconnected ramble brought to you by the Cold From Heck and Insufficient Caffeine

  17. I had the same problem as Marshall at distinguishing one sound from another, voices from background noise. One fellow student once told me “I don’t know if you’re the dumbest kid in this school or the smartest. It’s one or the other.”

    “ASSUME a virtue if you have it not.” Great advise.

  18. You could try reading while wearing moonboots. Not necessarily upside down. Just wear the boots while you read.

  19. You got the day and the year right. Just the month wrong. :-D

    • yes, but it was a heck of an error. I remember staring at it frowning and thinking “there’s something wrong there.” And I couldn’t figure out what. I’m REALLY a menace before caffeine.

  20. I think you may be right that ‘vegging’ will help your health. At the least, a little rest should help your energy levels. :)