May 2008

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I've actually done this and it can work for me for short durations. I can't sustain it. Like a small breath of fresh air on a sweltering day, however, sometimes a short duration is all I need to get moving in the right frame of mind again. I like Terry Pratchet's (English fantasy author) version of 1st thoughts, 2nd thoughts and 3rd thoughts. He uses them in many of his books, but they're best explained in "Wee Free Men". It's fiction, but I identify with that particular description of the human mind.


Research shows that simple carbs alone lead to sluggishness.
From the book of Haas, R. “Eat Smart, Think Smart” follows that sequencing of proteins and carbs is important. Eat chicken first and then the rest. If you eat carbs first, the tryptophan will dominate and reach the brain first and make you relaxed.

Andrew The Great, Formerly Known as Andrew the Great and Humble

You should really take a few minutes to look over Myers-Briggs Type Indicators. The "Curious Robot" is something that my friends and I have discussed in relation to the N versus the S (Intuitive VS Sensory). Interestingly, we always called it "The N and the Robot." A big part of the reason that only Ns have this ability is that Ns can seperate themselves from their body - the essence of who "you" are is completely different than, for instance, what your hair color is, or how many bones you've broken. Seriously, take a few hours to look into it. Especially helpful is David Keirsey's "Please Understand Me II," but if you don't have time for that, there are plenty of resources available online as well.


I do a very similar thing...rather, I try "step back" from frustrating situations and see how much entertainment value I can get from it instead of getting frustrated...similar concept.


I tried this one time. Boy did the cops beat the crap out of the guy too. They tazered him and pepper sprayed him. My senses were just tingling and tingling. All in all, it was a fascinating show.

Linda Leisz

Control is an illusion anyway. As anybody in any kind of 12 step recovery knows, we are all powerless over everything EXCEPT our own behavior and reactions. Once you stop trying to control and/or manipulate everything and everybody around you, your life becomes much more peaceful. Moist robot, free will, whatever. . . we are all powerless and everything is going to play out however it's supposed to with or without us stressing out about it. Might as well enjoy the ride!!!

Can't Sit Down

I tried the maneuver today. There was a mugging taking place as I walked to work in midtown. The mugger was holding a gun on two people. Everyone else (aside from the two victims) ran away without incident since the mugger was occupied. I stood there and watched the whole thing unfold from this incredible vantage point. The mugger turned and saw me. He said "What the $%^& you lookin at?" and shot my A** up.
Thanks for the advice.


A while ago I was thinking about a mindset equally enjoyable.

I happen to be a thinking Christian that believes in free will and God's power to still control in my mind it comes out something like this (please forgive me for using many of your words - I like your eloquence): When things are not going your way, sit back and change your frame of mind to one of curiosity. Imagine you have free will, but God is infinitely smart enough to take care of you anyway. Everything you have done and will do is known. So there’s no reason to stress over your lack of ability in certain situations because you have Someone ultimately in control for you. What you do have is the capacity to watch the show, and marvel as it unfolds. You have front row seats, right behind your own eyeballs, and the theater is surround-sense. You can actually FEEL the action! Even if things get better or bomb down around you, no worries - God's got a reason and He's in control.

Faith either way (moist robot or God) is an amazing thing...

Glenn Graham

I have on occasion acted like I was Spock from Star Trek. No emotion on logic would dictate my actions. It helped in lots of situations but NOT WITH GIRLS!!!


There are two types of lack of control situation. One is perceived and another is real.
I remember reading about some experiments on rats when they were dropped in a barrel filled with water. So here we have real lack of control. They could not escape and were doomed to die. Imagine yourself as that rat swimming hour after hour, as experimenters watching you and waiting when you get drowned. It took usually four hours for untrained rats to go down. I think if you assume the attitude to “sit back and change your frame of mind to one of curiosity?” you will go down even faster. BTW trained rats could swim around 60 hours.
Now about perceived lack of control. Here is another experiment. Three groups of students were doing some mental tasks. One group in quiet condition, two others in noisy conditions. One group was told that they don’t have any control to remove the noise. Another group was told that they could close the door if the noise was intolerable. And this group performed as well as the one in quiet condition though they worked in noisy condition. So here we have a situation of perceived lack of control. Would the attitude you propose work here? If you have a task to finish it wouldn’t work. If you have noting to do then it will.
From what I read the better way is to learn “optimistic explanatory style” and you will be able to swim for 60 hours instead of just 4 before you go down.

ben tzu

what is this "wrong" thing that you are referencing?


It was exactly what I did when the result came in that the crooks and liars won the election. With a murky smile, I sat back and said to myself "what happens next?".
Some people in the next cubicles celebrated with lots of happy laughs, and asked me why I don't look upset. I said just wait and see.
And this week I sent them Scott's article "So you think you have a policy". I told them they are idiots.


This helps me come to terms with "decisions" after the fact: "Hey, sure I made a bad call, but put into the position I was, it really was inevitable".

However, when I'm trying to get things done or fix something, I simply need to feel as though I'm in complete control. It just works better for me.

I agree about carbs and protein. I'm continuously trying to get carbs out of my diet (except fruit and fiber, because I'm pretty sure they have enough health benefits to justify it). After eating a lot of protein, I feel like I can go lift a hibernating bear over my head. After too much carbohydrate, I feel like I am the hibernating bear.



Neurologists have known for decades that there is no "observer" watching a "surround-sense" film of what is coming in through your eyes and other sense organs. There is no homunculus inside your brain -- no "central processing unit" where your consciousness resides.

I've tried to explain this to you in the past, and you're frankly too lazy to check out the links I've provided.

You can pretend you don't believe in free will, but all your words and actions show otherwise.


I don't know about other people, but for me Curiosity is a HUGE motivator.

Staying awake in lectures (in school), Studying books, trying to find answers -- all are made immediately interesting if I can only keep a question in my head -- "What happens next?" is a good one.

the wonderer

How can I choose to do the robot maneuver?

Declan Chellar

I agree with you, Mr. Adams.

I've never understood the popularity of that inane show Big Brother, nor the popularity of the fake "reality" presented in soap operas. I find my own life far more fascinating.

Diana W

The most common cause for me to feel a lack of control is traffic, and I don't need a great sense of curiousity to know what comes next - more traffic.

But when it comes to other things in life, I started taking a "roll with the punches" attitude many years ago. When I left for college, my parents were going though a divorce and weren't very pleasant to be around. None of my high school friends went on to college, and we quickly lost touch. I started in the winter term, whereas most freshman started in the fall, so they'd already formed friendships. I quickly felt adrift, like I didn't have a real friend in the world. I started seeing a college psychologist, and told her I felt disconnected and abandoned and depressed. After 2 sessions, she called to say she was leaving town and I'd have to find a new psychologist. Luckily, rather than becoming suicidal, I got the irony of the whole situation and figured God was having a pretty funny joke at my expense. I just went "fine, let's see what else you have in store for me" and gradually pulled out of the depression.


You and your hypnosis.

Damn your good.

Moist Robot ending communication... now what?


Although under a different guise, this is exactly the techique I have been using to survive dealing with my electrical engineering doctoral committee at GWU. In my case, I am simply storing up these people's absurd behavior and comments for the BLOG that I will be writing about the place after I escape.


That's an interesting concept and I'll certain give a go to see if it works for me.

Actually, for many years I've been using something very similar. I think I came up with it myself, but there is every chance I had read it somewhere and sub-consciously adopted the idea as my own.

Either way it works for me. It goes something like this…

Whenever I have an important decision to make, and I’m sure what the best course of action is I toss a coin and go with what ever it decides for me. My first recollection of using this method was deciding which University to go to. I narrowed it down to two and the coin did the rest.

I think the reason it works for me is because it takes away responsibility from for the consequences that result. I’ve never looked back and wondered what would be had I chosen the other option.


The Dilbert Blog: A Practical Guide for Becoming a Stoic?


Kind of reminds me of the "Serenity Prayer" -- almost the same kind of mindset. Works for me. Good advice.


Scotty, you seem like smart guy who's an active tennis player. How is it you don't know that carbs are a main source of energy? I play squash and I live on carbs...I'm not fat (as low-carb diet advocates would predict) and I'm not constantly tired (as you would predict).


Not a bad idea IF some things that are beyond your control are so predictable (work, home, doesn't matter) that there isn't anything to be curious about.

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