May 2008

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Anil Ravindran

Spontaneity, in my opinion, is a function of two things - (one) the time lag between the thought and the action; and (two)how big a deal the action really is. For eg, let's assume you said: "Hey, I'm gonna take a leak" (even if you didn't REALLY have to go), and consequently took a leak in, say, 30 secs. This satisfies rule 1, but NOT rule 2. Consequently, it isn't spontaneoous. Importantly, it isn't 'pure hotness'. On the other hand, if you were to wake up one morning and decide that you would be skipping office and would instead go on a road trip within two hours, you'd be satisfying Rules 1 and 2. Hotness generally follows.


ps: Scott, you obviously skipped the chapter on 'subtlety in advertising books written by self'

pps: I did get the humour (yes, I spell it with a 'u') in the last 4 lines, though


The few times I've been truly spontaneous has been in angry outbursts... Last Straw scenarios. Truly "leap before you look" people would win a Darwin Award at some point...

I think for most, spontaneity refers to a sane plan made on quick notice. I woke up on a Saturday in L.A. with nothing to do and on a whim, drove by myself to Vegas, lost $200 and drove back, based on a spur of the moment decision that day.

It was spontaneous, but not dangerously crazy. I had the day off, had a dependable car, had $200 to lose. Not really crazy, but it surprised ME.


oh yes that's do hot. you are irressitible????

Joe the Engineer

What about waxing the carrot? For me it's about a 98% spontaneous decision. When is the last time you marked the calender and said, "Next Tuesday, right after Jeopardy,
I'm gonna pull out a batch!".


There's three general to being spontaneous. The first is to plan something out in advance, occasionally in detail, without ever laying out a specific time to perform this action. Then, at some point in the future, a situation will come up where you can activate this "contingency planning" for an occasion that's suitable. This is the, "Let's go do this; it's something I always wanted to try" type of spontaneity. I tend to watch for restaurants, activities, etc that I could string together into a romantic evening, and as such, I have 5 or 6 "contingency dates" for when I'd like to make my girlfriend feel especially loved. After all, no matter how good a restaurant is, it gets boring if you eat there every night; I'm sure you don't eat at Stacey's daily.

The second is either buying a good or service on sight, without considering its impact at all. IN fact, if you were to go window shopping I believe you'd be able to practice your spontaneity. I acknowledge that you're an economist aand rational, but I contend that the investment in learning how to be spontaneous would allow you to make fun of irrational people more. A very spontaneous thing would be if you suddenly took up an intricate and demanding hobby, in less than a day.

The third, is to be slightly irrational. This isn't quite the same as me suggesting you actually attempt to walk to cuba. It's more like I suggest you go out and buy a bushel of apples and make fake shrunken heads from them, for no reason at all. I mean, perhaps they could currently be used as halloween decorations... But, again, performing an activity which gains you nothing but a unique homemade object with a minimal analysis of the decision to make such an object is, in fact, spontaneous.

As a final comment, learning to be more spontaneous will also generally educate you about low-tech things in general, which has a dual benefit of allowing you to repair your own possessions more effectively and --- roommate's currently cheering for red sox world series win, GO SOX, YANKEES SUCK --- preve4nt any contractors you hire in the futur e from being able to take advantage of you as effectively.

Anyways. Let's hope you become slightly more spontaneous in your personal life, as I'm sure it'll provide you several new methods for tormenting Dilbert.


Hmmmm, this is random and spontaneous, I know, but.... I read an article on about a '65 UFO crash in PA .... looked it up on and then went to the skeptics page external link .... I found a zippy comic and said to myself "what the heck is up with that stupid comic anyway!?" .... went to and found out that none of them do make sense after all .... finally, I found out that you at one time did a mock of Zippy entitled "Pippy the Pinhead"

Anyway, where can I find these "Pippy the Pinhead" strips, Scott?


If we are all meat robots anyway then we cannot be spontaneous?

Buy yourself one of those electronic guessing games and leave it all to quantum mechanics - its the only way.


an easy way to avoid being expected to be spontaneous in the future is to come up with an activity that you know your wife will hate -- totally on a whim (and be sincere about it).

Camping is usually a slam-dunk in this arena for most women.

Sameer Shisodia

Minor tiff ?


The absence of free will negates the ability to spontaneous.

'nuff said.

Don't worry...enjoy being rich.


Spontaneity can be something decided an hour before, if that something is usually a planned well-ahead thing. But it can the spur-of-the-moment thing, like you're walking down the street with your loved one and see a bookstore and spontaneously decide to buy her a book. Say, a humor book by some dude who inexplicably makes a living with a comic strip . . .


You weren't planning to plug your book... yeah, right.

Writing this post was the only thing spontaneous.

Lise (Giulietta)

Your post - this one - sounds artificial ie: unnecessary.


My mother taught me how to be spontaneous, and she is the most spontaneous person that I know. It is less about things being unplanned, and more about following through on ideas that come into your head.

Instead of wishing that you can do an idea, lead the idea to its logical conclusion in your head, and determine if you can do it. Right now.

It is disconcerting for non-spontaneous people to deal with the idea that they can do most of what they dream up. People say they wish they could do this or that, and I start asking direct questions on what the next actionable item is that would lead them to do the ideas that they have, and it scares them. I don't know why. It is more silly to me that people don't do what they are capable of, and would rather daydream about it.

Loren Bell

An absolutely worthless observation! But I shall surely use it when the notion of spontaneous action comes negatively my way!

For some reason, your blog makes me want to say things in a very convoluted way... I guess I'm trying to fit in.



one might suspect somebody walked to Cuba..
i miss the new amazon links to click habitually..
the link above doesn't count i clicked it till boredom
omm omm omm Paris Hilton..
you'll update a serious SUNDAY post

ancient roons

maybe death row people get proposals because of inheritance


if you want to be spontaneous adjust the scope of what you measure. you will see it's impossible to not be spontaneous. too often spontaneity is assumed to mean reckless or without thought. actually we're always being spontaneous. only sometimes are our spontaneous thoughts met without resistance from within. when resistance is encountered, we let the two,3,4,40 different thoughts work it out before taking action. ..or not.

it's like plinko. only some people have more pins that the chip must work through to get to the bottom.


We know we have to make plans. The price of not making plans and not being false makes easy to be spontaneus.
It´s a personal decision with great external pressure.
It´s a way y of life! What is your balance so as to enjoy this way of life?


Many people prefer to plan ahead whenever possible. If one does something without much planning ahead, that's a good example of spontaneity. It's decision making with limited analysis. It's coming up with an idea and then executing on it with only minimal consideration of the consequences. It's Fire, Aim, Ready. It's amazing when it works out. It's dangerous when it doesn't.


Did this post get phenomenally small reaction are or you just slacking on allowing comments in?

G. H. Diel

'Loud' Away, 'Quiet' Away

When I was in college some forty years ago I had an instructor who told us about a group of people, I want to say 'aboriginal tribe', but that is most probably a misnomer due to the fading effects of memory. Be that as it may, it was a characteristic of this group's language to refer to 'distance' in terms of sound level.

Thus, if you were some distance 'away' you would be 'quiet' away--your sound level quieter. If you were close in proximity, you would be considered to be 'loud' away--your voice and sounds would be louder.

Counterintutive as it may seem to us, I have always remembered the illustration as a technique to 'think creatively'.
G H Diel / R Henry Nigl


Not being spontaneous is something someone says to you when you dont want to do whatever thing they have planned to do. they arent being spontaneous either but its a useful verbal club

Sir Mike Tallon, PhD

Mr. Adams, today's (Sunday) cartoon was the funniest ever!


Did you spontaneously jump in front of something big and moving yesterday?

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