At the Water Cooler

socs-badge-2015When I read that the SoCS prompt was going to be concentration, I thought “that’s somewhat incompatible with SoCSing” – yes, it’s a thing. It’s pronounced essoseeessing.

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:

My editor would not let me explain.
My editor would not let me explain.

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?”

Cat-hatOn 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.

57 thoughts on “At the Water Cooler

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  1. “The driving robots.” Autonomous vehicles have actually been around for a long time, haven’t they? heh! Loved this post even more than most! Thanks for the tour of your brain. I like it in there. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marian. I am glad you enjoyed this. I really enjoy this style of writing, but I honestly wasn’t planing to write this. I was going to write about the old TV game show Concentration, and how we used to play a version at our church picnics. Go figure.

      As for driving, on several occasions, I have gotten to the wrong destination, having driven by all the obvious signs and indicators. Part of my mind wanders but part keeps the car on the road.


      1. The robots took over this morning on the way to the farmers’ market. The road is curvy with no turn-offs between our house and the road past the market, but the robots drove part of the way and, when I took back the wheel, I was like, “Am I still in Harrison County?” I think I was abducted by aliens and given a tour of the universe and put back at the same time they took me. Longest 15-minute drive EVER!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post made me giggle as caught the sentences from where you deviated haha! Awesome…I too have concentration issues but they last as long as my course books are there in front of me lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes that was magical about the gas station. Back in my young-minimum-wage-job car-that-barely-ran days, I once ran out of gas — 10 feet away from the gas pump! I spotted 2 big bruisers and asked for help. They refused, though either could have pushed the car that far with just 1 hand. Finally another guy reluctantly agreed. When he saw the minuscule distance he said, “Oh why didn’t you say it was that close!” Of course I already had. I guess nobody else really does run out of gas 10 feet from the pump… Glad you made it safely there, Dan. Happy Saturday hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m just so glad you didn’t stay on the math. I don’t like math, and I sure don’t like it with Epsilon and ens in it, and especially not on a Saturday. I have no idea what you were on about there.
    Anyway, I forget to get gas quite often. It’s a real issue for me in summer, since I keep thinking “I’ll stop when it’s cooler.” HAHA. Fortunately, The Mister keeps tabs on the cost of fuel and regularly fills it for me. Then the next day, he proudly announces how he saved us X cents per gallon :)
    Yes, two things is always and forever a Cat in the Hat reference! :)
    Good SoCSing today!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry, what were you saying? I kind of zoned out when you started talking about math and equations.

    Hey look! Bunny!

    Nevermind, I think it was a squirrel. Anyways, I would comment on the rest of your post, but I’m in the middle of cooking and yelling at Ziva for trying to escape the apartment and watching NCIS repeats. I can’t concentrate with so much going on.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh, I loved this post–especially on a Saturday. My mind just wandered through this post…and then I reread it. Just for fun. Good one, Dan. Yes, just like your mind, mine is a terrible thing….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never thought of that type of concentration. How very strange of me. I thought of limeade and orange juice and my mom would make them and then my brother would come along and mix the two and she’d be a bit pissy about it but I loved it. I guess that is concentrate, but it is what I thought of. I had NO time to paint the dang glass — and should not even be reading right now!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the best thing about not concentrating, Kate. You get to do things you shouldn’t be doing. Thanks for letting me steal you away from the important stuff :)


    1. Thanks John. I’m not sure what we were talking about. I’m never sure where those voices are going to take the story, but sometimes I have to let them go. Otherwise, they get powerful cranky.


  8. I, for one, am impressed with the 5,050 story. My brain was not made for mathematics. I see it as magic. 50-50. Pure magic!

    But it’s the fact that the nozzle should not be removed if the fire starts that will be instilled in my brain from now on. I don’t believe many people know it and would instinctively do just this.

    When I started the car today and headed to a city an hour away, the first thing it happened was the red gas light blinking. When I put in the diesel, the damn hose started spilling even before I hit the hole. I spilled quite a lot of it down my hand and the side of the car. There was no water, it was a little self-serving gas station. I had a bad feeling for a while but then it went away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. I’m always happy when someone learns something here :) I heard the math story when I was very young and it left a lasting impression on me I always look for different ways to solve problems.

      I really get upset when I spill gasoline on me. I don’t know about diesel, but the smell of regular gas sticks around a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember Gauss in Math and Physics classes. I can still construct Gaussian Distribution.
    But I didn’t know that story. Anyway, thanks for that equation. I miss seeing equations like that. Ever since I graduated, I don’t see so many of them. (Unless I decide to pass some free time with mathematics books.) I used to think that I’d always be working with them, but no. Work is almost 90% different from the stuff in class.
    Is there a movie where a woman with some kids talks about Thing One and Thing Two? A comedy? It rang in my head when used those phrases. I may have seen it on mNet once without paying much attention.
    And speaking of concentration, I used to scare people in the library. I used to be too serious, I think. Nobody ever said I scared them but the seat next to mine was always vacant. Even if the other ones had up to 3 people. It made me feel weird.
    Anyway, thanks Dan. And do have a fruitful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Peter! I’m glad a couple of people liked the math bit. The Cat In the Hat has been made into an animated and not-so-animated TV show. I’ve only seen the animated version but it’s pretty cool. We read the book a gazillion times.

      Somehow, I’m not surprised about the library thing. I would guess that you can be prety intense.


  10. I used to be able to do maths (we add an s here because it’s mathematicS). It says so on my degree. But somewhere in the last mumble mumble years, it got pushed out of its cubicle. It’s possibly in the mail room.
    I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve apologised to the kids for going the wrong way because my brain clicked into autopilot. One trip, I had to do a u-turn three times. Where was I going again?
    And the Aussie pronunciation of SoCSing is “socksing”.
    Fun read, as always, Dan. :D

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I almost wrote it as Maths – someone finally explained the ‘S’ to me a few weeks ago. ‘Socksing’ works, I’m not too particular.

      In our house, U-turns are just a part of driving.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Go Maths!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My mind wanders all the time too, and I’m always amazed when I find myself parking the car in the driveway and have no idea where I tuned out and the Driving Robots kicked in! Only I don’t call them Driving Robots I call it my Auto Pilot. :)

    Yes, can’t see or hear Thing One and Thing Two without thinking of The Cat in the Hat! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank goodness your Auto Pilot is behaving better than at hd Tesla one that’s been in the news. It’s always weird to get somewhere and wonder how it happened.

      My mind always goes to Cat in the Hat, even on meeting when people say “thing one” – poof, gone. Then I’m on meeting-auto-pilot.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re having s good weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No kidding! I hope Tesla can get that worked out.
        I like driving so I’m not sure I’d want a self driving car all the time.
        I still drive a 5 speed manual transmission vehicle. Not everyday anymore, but once a month or so I give Va-Va a spin to keep those driving skills sharp.

        A car that parallel parks for me I would want on board all the time. I passed that part of the driving training and test, but will avoid doing it if at all possible. :)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Still driving a standard? I’m impressed. I haven’t had a standard around since 2009, but I think I could still manage.

          I’m not interested in a self-driving car. I’m sure they’re coming, but I’ll hold off as long as I can. I can still parallel park, but if I can avoid it, I do.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Skipping to Thing One and Thing Two, I will always think of my two kids when they were 4 and 2 1/2 in their twin beds if I got a late phone call, Carrie and Jamie would run to each other’s beds and jump then, run back again across their bedroom like jumping beans. Thank goodness, Felicia came along one year later and her daddy stopped this misbehavior with a stern look and a threat of, “No night lights for naughty children!”
    My daughter was a day dreamer and her first grade teacher was old and had them doing 5 to 6 dittos every a.m. If you didn’t get them all turned in by lunch, you had to stay in for recess! From September until November, she never said a word, when Felicia’s dad and my older 2 kids’ stepdad went to parent-teacher conferences and saw the four-inch thick folder. Then heard she had never gone outside since the first week of school, he grabbed it and headed towards the principal’s office. :) Carrie is an artist and very good in math but hates when her boys bring home dittos! Lol!


    1. Do many teachers fail to understand that some kids are different. We learn differently, but we learn. I know, the whole point was to get us on same path, but seriously, take away recess? That’s not teaching.

      My daughter loved Cat in the Hat. We read it so many times, she knew it by heart. She probably still does :)

      Have a wonderful Sunday, Robin. Maybe a game of “Up up up with the fish”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, up the tip of his cane, I think I remember! All 3 of mine loved the Cat in the Hat!
        My grandkids love Hop on Pop and Horton Hears a Who. They aren’t crazy about Cat (from the Hat book). Did Jim Carry play him in a film that scared them? hmm. Heading off to sleep and may get back to why they don’t love the Cat. . .

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Love the Cat in the Hat and the two Things, but not trying to do lots of typing on my iPad keyboard. In the center compartment in my Sienna, I have a notebook for, well, taking notes. One page says simply, “GAS.” When I need gas, I often take that out and put it on top of the compartment as an aid to concentration. That usually works. Then there’s going into the basement or upstairs to do…what? Been there, forgotten that.

    janet, chiming in from France


  14. Thing One, Thing Two, Driving Robots, a gas station that honors its discounts, a story of a teacher who wanted to nap, comments from your report card – I love this post. Let it be known that I concentrated on reading it from beginning to end. Well, I sidestepped to think of the time I ran out of gas, the other time I put the ice cream in the cupboard…
    Another good read, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. If you knew how long I actually stopped to think about this math puzzle … well, it’s just sad really.
    I love numbers. I really do. They are a thing of beauty.
    … but they’re rather cliquish and don’t talk to me much. They might be beautiful, but their manners are terrible.

    Concentration? I think that might be one of my super powers. Problem is I’m often concentrating on the wrong things. That still counts. Right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about the math(s) Joanne. I figure, as long as you’re concentrating on something, you’re fine. Numbers are a thing of beauty, but they can be rude. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Not only could I relate with the thoughts rushing into my mind and taking over consciousness, but this was entertaining. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This was masterfully written with all your flair and style Dan……
    And laughed as your concentration waned at the end and I actually assume parts of my Brain are highlighted from all the juicy thinking – with that equitation and the Napping teacher – bah!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. OK, you made me laugh and spew a bit of iced tea more than once. Thanks, Dan. It mainly dribbled down my chin rather than splattering my computer screen, so things worked out. I think I found this piece so funny because you detailed my husband’s brain as well as your own. Is it a man thing? The highlight for me was the way you described the voices in your head under control in their cubicles and then demonstrated in the rest of the piece how un-cubicled they are. Hilarious post, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Janet. Maybe it is a guy thing. Let’s go with that. That’s better that many other explanations.

      The fun part of these posts is trying to get back on some kind of track. I never got where I was going at the outset. Then again, those voices were cooped up all week.

      Liked by 1 person

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