Why Routines Set Us Up to Live in the Zone

I’m blogging so I don’t go on my phone and play chess. The robots in Westworld run loops every day, and I do too. Their loops are programmed by someone else, my loops are programmed (I hope) by me.

Sometimes I take a step back and look at my loops. The day is made up of a handful of them. Routines. There are bigger routines for the week, and the season, and the year. I live with them. We all do.

I don’t think I’ve actively created my loops. I think they’ve just come into existence naturally. They seem to form mostly utilitarian functions. I don’t think loops are good or bad for the most part, they’re just helpful so we can get shit done without having to spend lots of brain energy making decisions.

So maybe loops are a product of our brains going into a “decision-economy” mode, and allowing for some surplus mental power.

 

Surplus mental power, mmmmmmmmm.

The problem is I rarely spend my surplus mental power on anything useful. I sit the fuck down and play games on my phone is what I do. Like a lazy cunt. But sometimes when I do something NEW that I’ve never done before, that’s when shit is amazing. That’s when that extra brain energy gets SPENT instead of getting sucked out of my eyeballs by my phone screen.

Spending brain power on new things feels good. As we get older, we need to put more effort into seeking out and doing new shit. Kids don’t need to worry about this yet. Everything is new. I showed Isla a paper-thin sheet of ice today melting under a slow trickle of water from the tap and it blew her mind. The way the ice melted with a bit of water running over it blew my mind too, because I was looking at it with Isla and really paying attention. I’d never tried melting ice with water to make it look cool. It had all these holes like swiss cheese, and was spiky like antlers, and so thin it felt like it was barely there. It was amazing for a few seconds where the ice was in that insanely delicate stage, I’d turned off the water and the warmth of the air was still causing it to melt and change rapidly.

Another way I found “new” was cooking some dinners I’d never done before. Just following recipes that had awesome ratings online. You know how people talk about being in the “zone”? I was in the fucking zone, baby.

How you can tell you’re in the zone:

  1. You lose track of time.
  2. You are consumed with what you’re doing.
  3. You aren’t thinking about the past or the future. You’re PRESENT.
  4. You have that feeling that you’re in the fucking ZONE, bitches.

So I guess the moral of this blog post is to let your loops be loops, don’t get too worried about life being Groundhog Day. Just be the version of Bill Murray who gets in the zone and does a bunch of new things and learns how to play piano. Don’t be the version of Bill Murray who turns into an asshole and shits all over everyone because he’s fucking miserable. The difference between the two Bills is zonal positioning – one is fucking in, the other is fucking out.

 

 

 

 

How Brain Phones Might End Violence Forever

I think humanity is on course for world peace, either via a biotechnological mass-evolution or by slower means. Here’s how technology could accidentally force an end to violence:

It starts with emoticons ??????. Emoticons enrich our ability to communicate remotely by imbuing text with emotion. These “emoji” already exist and have become indispensable in our text messages, Facebook posts, tweets and emails. Our phones incorporate emoji sets as a part of the keyboard. We even draw them in hand written notes to one another. Humans use emoticons where possible because it’s just better to be able to add some emotion to the message.

As technology changes, it’s reasonable to expect emoji to come along for the ride. I would expect a hands-free version of calling and texting to replace smartphones. Something we maybe wear as an earpiece or get wired directly into our brains: a brain phone. Then we’d just have to say or think messages to each other. I don’t think it would be a huge leap to be able to add emotional context to the messages either.

And here comes the crazy shit:

If these devices are connected to our brains, they could probably manipulate our neurotransmitters in order to trigger whatever emotional response we want to add to our message.

Here’s the new emoticon set for the brain phone (click to enlarge):

neurotransmitters
source: compoundchem.com

Okay, so now we’ve got brain phones allowing us to send and receive emotions. Cool. Bob just messaged us that he’d won his hockey pool! We’d get a little cocktail of adrenaline mixed with dopamine (I’m just guessing at the mix) to simulate Bob’s excitement and make our brains feel it too.

You’re getting the idea by now. Technology might eventually give us the ability to simulate shared emotions.

Syncing up our feelings would be really useful in a variety of situations where the group should be cohesively feeling the same thing. For example, a movie theatre might want everyone in the audience to feel a surge of endorphins during a sex scene and a dose of serotonin for the part where the boy finds his lost dog. Schools and universities might want to lower adrenaline levels in their students during exams (to lower stress), and increase acetylcholine and glutamate (which are involved in thought, learning, memory, and attention).

So the jump would happen, as with any evolutionary step, if there was to be a mutation or accident or problem with our brain phones.

Say we could no longer control the sending or receiving of these emotions, but instead went into some kind of “live mode” where our devices could relay emotion directly without our consent. We’d be in a position where any suffering we caused we’d have to feel, and any pleasure we gave we also received. Kind of a “forced instant karma”, thanks to the brain phone. I would expect violence to stop entirely, to be replaced probably by lots of borderline-inappropriate massage parlours.

This little sci-fi walkabout might be far-fetched in terms of exactly how world peace comes about, but regardless of the means I think humanity is ultimately bound for a peaceful destination. It might just take a little longer than in the brain phone story.

Here’s the slow, realistic look at how world peace is already in progress:

Information is proliferating like a motherfucker. 100 years ago, people were lucky to have read 50 books in a lifetime (source). Now, not only do we easily dominate that number of books in our lives, but we also suck up podcasts, Netflix serieses, movies, blogs, YouTube videos, and a bonanza of social media content.

This is causing us to get way the fuck smarter. According to reason.com, American IQ in year 1900 averaged 67 points. By today’s standards, that’s borderline mentally retarded. We are all geniuses compared to the people who came before us, and our grand-children will look like rocket-geniuses compared to us.

Our ancestors, apart from being retarded, where also extremely violent. Including all deaths due to both world wars and all wars since, we are still much more peaceful overall than our ancestors were. Here’s a smart guy with graphs to prove it:

So we might not need brain phones to trigger absolute peace among humans. We seem to be getting there all on our own, thanks in large part to our growing minds.

Why Men Should Leave The Seat Up

Men should leave the toilet seat up

At home the toilet seat stays down. Things can’t fall in, and Lia doesn’t like to touch the seat. Makes her feel gross.

But shared public washrooms got me thinking.

I want to be as courteous as possible for the next person, so sometimes when I’m feeling all do-goody I get a wad of TP and sop up all the piss covering the seat, lift the seat, piss in the bowl, and return the seat to the down position. It might seem like this is absolutely the kindest possible thing to do for women everywhere, but it isn’t and I’ll tell you why. The “Clean Seat Down” policy benefits the next person if she happens to be a woman, or a guy that needs to shit, but there’s third person who fucks everything up. If the next person’s a man needing to pee, there’s a good chance he’s not going to lift the perfectly clean seat. He’s going to enter the scenario with the best intentions possible, telling himself he has perfect aim and fully planning to leave the seat spotless. But alas, nobody’s aim is perfect all the time. Even a dude with really good aim is going to get a few tiny, piss-mist (or piss-missed) splatters on the seat which, unto itself doesn’t seem like a flagrant breach of public dual-sex bathroom etiquette. Piss mist is easy on the conscience. Lots of guys leave piss mist without a second thought. “Hey,” he thinks, “at least I’m not that asshole that pisses all over the seat.” He zips up and walks away feeling pretty good about himself. But really, he IS the asshole that fucked everything up.

Here’s how: The piss-mister puts the next pisser in a pickle. If the next pisser is a lady, she’s got to wipe up those little piss speckles, or hover. If the next pisser is a guy, he’s going to spy those few speckles of missed piss and go, “Hey! This seat’s all ready been peed on! I’m not lifting this seat and touching that gross piss.” So he pees, probably pretty carelessly, and from there things just get horrible. Guy after guy visit the stall with decreasing give a fuck about where their streams end up.

I’ve been there. If I show up and the seat’s a write off, I’m not at all careful about aiming. The damage is done. Total mob-mentality and diffusion of responsibility. I’m guilty. But I want to change. That’s why I’ve given this so much thought.

And all that thinking about public toilet seats lead to this epiphany: It’s better to leave the seat up.

I just checked with Lia and she said if she finds the seat up, she uses her foot to lower it. This is way better than Lia having to wipe up piss, or hover over a pissy seat.

And, if the seat’s clean when I show up, I don’t even have to touch it. I can lift it with my foot pretty easily.

Now that I’ve written this post I’ll probably also use a handful of toilet paper to wipe the pissed-on-seat before lifting it and leaving it. Just to be able to feel like a hero to all of womanity.

Did this post bring public bathroom horror stories to mind? Leave them in the comments!