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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Humidity, headache, driving, boredom, life [Oct. 21st, 2003|08:13 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
It's almost never humid in the northwest.
I almost never get headaches.

The last two days it's been humid, and I've had headaches. Related? Not enough data. Prior to the past two days, it was humid once 4 or 5 months ago, and that's the last time I remember. But I don't recall having a headache that day.

I was driving home from work tonight and realized at some point I'd forgotten most the drive. I started to wonder why the brain handles driving (which is pretty complicated) without even thinking.

So then I started thinking about driving off the road into people's yards and swerving at the last moment before hitting their houses/fences/etc. I realized I had absolutely no idea if I could and what it'd feel like to drive on grass. Would I slide? How well would I accelerate? The idea was really exciting. Driving fast is also exciting.

I generalized: what is exciting? What keeps the brain awake?

New. Fast.

Events which the brain doesn't know how to handle (physics of driving on grass), where you have to both make a calculated decision (perhaps wet grass is equivalent to driving on ice, I'll use that as my model!) and observe the actual results (nope, grass is a little more sticky). Observations during/after actions... brain must be awake to coordinate/sync the processes?

Decision (to go fast) or situation (friend driving fast) causes lots of events (trees, kids, cars flying by) so there's a lot of input to process. No time to let brain idle. The penalty for ignoring an event (kid in the street) is more important, since the time between events and thus before the required action is so low. Must think quick. But driving slow, the brain can fall asleep and only check for kids in your path irreguarly, at a subconscious rate, since the time between the necessary required actions is so low.

Doing the same thing all the time, and doing it at a regular pace, lets the mind make its habitual decisions without having to observe the results at a rate that causes things to be interesting ("brain to be awake").

And it applies directly to life. Perhaps my boredom of late is due to doing the same thing over and over and not taking risks. I need to keep learning new things and be more daring.

I hate this humidity.

[User Picture]From: ghewgill
2003-10-21 08:36 pm (UTC)
Learn to fly. I've recently started flying gliders and it's exciting to learn to control a totally new kind of vehicle. Collisions are obviously less of a concern, but your brain can't relax because you can't stop without landing.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2003-10-21 08:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I get that idea in my head every once in a while. And I live a couple miles from a small airport... I'm sure there are lessons or something. I really should.
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[User Picture]From: edm
2003-10-22 12:53 am (UTC)
Gliding/Flying is a whole lot of fun, and quite a technical thing to do (more degrees of freedom, more things to think about including where you'll find lift if you're gliding). Gliding is probably best done in areas where you'll get decent gliding conditions (ie, good lift) fairly often; if not a small fixed-wing plane might be more interesting.

As sherm says both gliding and flying are Expensive Hobbies (tm). Perhaps not quite up there with owning a yacht, but definitely more than golf or similar hobbies people make out are expensive. A friend of mine is into gliding and has a Very Big Debt (tm) due to some of the people in his glider purchase pool backing out at the last minute.

As for the more general topic, new is definitely less boring than same-old-same-old. Fast is really just new-quicker, so the brain gets less time to spend going same-old-same-old.

It doesn't surprise me you're driving well known routes and not remembering anything about it a few minutes later. It doesn't necessarily mean you're not paying attention at the time; just that it's routine, and nothing memorable happened. (It could also mean that you're not paying attention of course :-) But you can check that on the fly by asking yourself what's going on right now.) I've even had that (not been able to remember more than "I rode home" about a 20 minute trip even 5 minutes later, despite the fact that riding a motorbike is more intensely involved than driving a car.

It sounds to me like it'd help if you were able to give some of your "routine stuff" to someone else and make some time to do new stuff at least some of the week. I know I've structured my whole career around being able to choose to do new stuff when I feel the need (self employed; I pick jobs partly for being able to do something new in them) for pretty much that reason.

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From: evan
2003-10-22 11:44 am (UTC)

cheap, fun, exciting, and the sort of thing you'd be good at (i wish i could walk on my hands)
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2003-10-21 09:04 pm (UTC)
Hmmm I've long wanted a hang-glider or paraglider-

Hang gliding is (to me) like the best part of skydiving- just floating around.
Paragliding is slower-paced but has the advantage of your gear fitting in a 30lb backpack (versus roof rack + 30minute buildup/teardown for a hang glider)

And Brad- driving someplace then forgetting the drive is all too familiar- ADD/HD ever been suggested to you?
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2003-10-21 11:13 pm (UTC)
No hahah, I've never even seen *myself* use emaca- vim(m) baby!
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[User Picture]From: serenity173
2003-10-21 09:23 pm (UTC)
different keeps my brain awake. You make the same drive everyday..did you get there faster or slower today. Why? exactly how many miles per gallon does your vehicle get? Can you drive differently to change that?

I like to challenge my brain to do more at the same time. Just how many tasks can be running at the same time before a crash?
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[User Picture]From: taral
2003-10-21 09:31 pm (UTC)
I think you'll find that fast can get boring too. It's all about New. Just New.
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From: xoxosimon
2003-10-21 10:19 pm (UTC)
Decision (to go fast) or situation (friend driving fast) causes lots of events (trees, kids, cars flying by)...

i swear i first thought that said "trees, cars, kids flying by". which could happen if you drove too fast, i suppose.
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