“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “concentration.” Use it any way you see fit. Have fun!”
I don’t know how you SoCS – yes, it’s a verb, too – but I more or less let the voices in my head step out of their cubicles and go hang out at the water cooler. When I’m concentrating, on the other hand, I keep those guys in their cubes and I give them something to do like add up a long list of numbers. That specific task wouldn’t work, though, because the voices know all the other stuff in my head so they know the formula for doing that.
Do you remember the story of Gauss? Karl Gauss was a German mathematician, but, as the story goes, when he was a little kid, his teacher wanted to take a nap. He gave the class an assignment to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. Young Karl was done in a few seconds. He realized that 1 + 100 = 101 and so does 2 + 99 and so does 3 + 98, and so on and so forth. Mathematically speaking, that means that there are 50 pairs of numbers which sum to 101 so the total must be 5,050. You can also write it as a summation formula:
I know I’m going to get some complaints about that. Math on a Saturday. Those of you who are complaining need to thank my editor. If I wasn’t handing this off to her, I would explain what that means. Some of you know, some of you knew and some of you don’t know, don’t care or don’t want to remember. It’s OK, it’s not the kind of thing that comes in particularly handy, unless you want to bust out of your cube and wake your teacher early.
Anyway, the formula’s not important. The other problem I have with “concentration” is that I sometimes have a problem with concentration. Sometimes, my mind wanders. It’s like, in addition to voices, I have explorers or researchers in my head. It’s always been that way. I used to get notes on my report card: “Dan daydreams.” It’s like Lewis and Clark were running around my Pittsburgh-based brain, trying to find Oregon. I used that example because they, Lewis and Clark, actually started in Pittsburgh.
The other thing that started in Pittsburgh was the Whiskey Rebellion. I just discovered that. I probably knew, or should have known before. Maybe I was daydreaming when they covered that. I mentioned it to my brother and, it turns out, a big battle was fought not too far from where we lived. The Battle of Bower Hill. We lived ½ mile off Bower Hill Road. My brother also pointed out that “workers of the 1820’s drank an average of 14 gallons of whisky a year.” Actually, he pointed that out first and that led to the Whiskey Rebellion lesson.
Somehow, these explorers don’t interfere with my “normal operation” but they do cause some problems.
For example, as early as Tuesday, I decided that I would get gas on Friday. I like to get gas at the Mobile station near where I work because they actually honor the “Use your Mobile SpeedPass and get 6¢ off the price of a gallon of gas” offer. Most Mobile stations around here don’t give you the discount. The pump reads your SpeedPass and does a little virtual snicker and charges you full price. So, all week long, I kept telling myself to stop at the Mobile station on Friday morning.
Two things were wrong with that plan. Thing one, I gave my daughter a ride to pick up her car at the dealer’s service department. I hadn’t factored those extra miles into my plan. Still, it would have worked fine, if not for thing two – I forgot to stop. I took the exit that takes me by the station, but I didn’t stop. The explorers in my brain were working on something else and they let the driving robots take over.
Is it just me, or when you see or hear “Thing One and Thing Two,” does your head automatically go to “The Cat In the Hat?”
On my way home from work, armed with the prompt “concentration” but not the ability to do so, the gas gauge in my car dinged… “Dammit – I forgot to get gas.” It was OK, because I was right across the street from the gas station, which I thought was some kind of magical coincidence. Actually, it was probably because I gave my daughter that ride – she’s always looking out for me.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, concentration. Yeah, I don’t do that well.