The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tick tock, tick tock tock, tick...

I play solitaire on the computer. A lot. I play, usually, three different games: Freecell, Rainbow Fan (a variation of LaBelle Lucie using two decks), and Number Ten (a variation on Forty Thieves). The latter two are from a shareware solitaire suite called Pretty Good Solitaire and the first is the version that comes from Microsoft.

While playing one of the games today, I noticed something that I do. I get into a rhythm of clicks. In these games, the left click "grabs" the card while the right click auto-moves the card to a predefined area (either the "Foundation", a place in the "Tableau", or to a spot in the "Cells"). Where the card goes off a Right click is pre-programmed. Sometimes I agree with it, sometimes I don't. It all depends upon your personal strategy and my strategies may differ from the programmer's at times. But there is still a rhythm involved.

Left "click", move mouse, release, move mouse to next card choice. Left "click", move mouse, release, move mouse to next card. Tick tock tock. Tick tock tock. Auto-moves are short rhythms. Right "click", move mouse. Right "click", move mouse. Tick tock. Tick tock. The "ticks" are all mouse clicks. The "tocks" are all mouse moves, a shift of the hand. My eyes anticpate the rhythm according to my strategy with the particular game.

The game then becomes a dance of hands, eyes, and brain. The brain is in control but also tied to the rhythm. Some subconscious part of the brain sets that rhythm, I think. The one that has an insight into the strategy being used. But there is a risk involved if you get into the rhythm. You move according to the rhythm until make a move that doesn't follow the strategy. The rhythm is broken, the play "stutters", the mind stumbles and conscious thought must re-take control.

I related this, in my mind, to something called "pre-shot routines" in golf. These are things you do before hitting the ball. They have one primary purposes: let your mind "adjust" to the task at hand. I think they are rhythmic in nature. Even the start of a race uses this. "Ready... Set... go!" Properly done, there will be an equal length pause between each word. If you are the race participant, you go through certain thoughts during these pauses. The thoughts are unique to the individual. In baseball, batters go through a routine as they approach the plate and then between each pitch. In football, it is even more complex because the team goes through a routine and each player may also do so; a complex dance that is both internally and externally driven.

And then I wonder... how many other things do we do in this manner? How many things in our day, in our life, do we do as a matter of routine? Letting our subconscious minds set and follow patterns and take us wherever they will? And how can we break from them when they are harmful? Why don't we see/feel the failure in the "play", the "stumble" in the dance?

It is how I quit smoking. I looked at the habit, analyzed it, broke it down into "triggers" and "reactions", looked at the routines and the rituals involved, and I changed them or interrupted them in such a way as to make them conscious actions.

Perhaps, as my ex-wife often told me, I over-analyze things. Maybe... but it has become a habit.

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