Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why didn't I think of that?

I need some help with this one.  Some understanding really.  There is a phenomenon that occurs in some people's brains that prompts them to repeat what they hear.  I understand certain applications of this phenomenon.  Generally the intentional uses of this as a tool.  When someone introduces themselves to you, you may repeat their name back to them like so:

Person A:  "I'm Jim".
Person B:  "Nice to meet you, Jim".

This is useful technique when trying to remember someone's name later.  There are those who say it files the name in the brain in a more retrievable place.  Unfortunately my brain seems to be a very disorganized packrat, and looses information despite its filing process.  But this is another matter, and I do believe that this works for many people.

There is the application of repeating information to confirm that you heard the person right, or that the information they communicated was really what they meant to say.  This is often used to better personal relationships, and is probably taken straight from the psychiatrist's office:

Patient:  "My neighbor's dog used to scare me when I was young".
Doctor:  "So you were afraid of your neighbor's dog"?
Patient:  "Well, maybe not so much afraid as just bothered by".
Doctor:  "What was your relationship with your mother"?

OK, maybe I just added that last line for the Freudians out there, but you get how this application could be deemed useful.

Then, there is always the legitimate situation that the person on the other end of the conversation didn't actually hear the speaker:

Rowdy ballgame attendee 1:  "The hotdog vendor is coming through"!
Rowdy ballgame attendee 2:  "Oh!  The hotdog guy is coming"!

That happens.  

But there are a few applications that seem unconscious and bothersome.  Two specifically that I can think of at the moment.  I would like to understand them better because, frankly, they annoy me to no end.  

The first and less annoying version of this seems to be a lack of conversation ammo.  My aunt is a master of this application.  On a blistery windy day, we might tumble in the door shivering and exclaim, "It's COLD out there"!  To which she would respond, "Oh, is it cold"?  Uh... yeah.  I think that's what I said.  It's cold out there.  This variation can be applied to anything.  It is the oral equivalent to sentences that contain redundancies like, "introducing myself for the first time" (which I almost did earlier in this post, but AHA! I caught myself.),  or something like "the motor died and wouldn't start".  Any minimalist surely understands my angst here.

The second and painfully annoying version of the repeat talker is the one who repeats a statement, particularly after a lengthy conversation has just occurred surrounding such statement, as if it were their own thought.  This makes me absolutely, certifiably, rip-roaring crazy.  It happens in my world with alarming frequency too.  

Does this happen to other people?  Does it happen to you?  Do you do such a thing?  I will have to speechlessly wiggle my finger at you in frustration if you do, but I would eventually calm down and be extremely grateful to you if you could give even the smallest bit of insight as to what is rolling around in your thoughts that might drive you to say such things.

For those of you blissfully clueless to this upsetting phenomenon, allow me to trouble you with an example that just happened to me recently:
I work in a friendly office.  One that doesn't frown on the occasional doorway chat.  Lucky me.  My boss comes out of his office to discuss how he feels good about having started an important letter even though  he hasn't gotten very far.  I casually congratulated him saying that "starting is the hardest part".  To which he responded so characteristically with "well,.. yeah".  (imagine him using the same tone of voice you would use to say "well, duh").  From there we proceeded to have a 5 minute conversation about how even if we don't know where we're going with a project, if we just start it, no matter how small a start it is, the direction of the project unfolds in the mind and it's easier to finish it.  We enjoyed our like-mindedness on this topic until he departed.

Now my coworker, who is in the very next cube to me, definitely does not have a hearing problem.  She also was not excluded from this conversation despite her silence during the actual discourse between me and my boss.  After my boss left the area, for some mysterious reason, she chose to say to me, "well, I think starting is the hardest part".  

I have no response to this.  The nicest thing I can muster out of my vocal chords at this point is "mmm".  You see, in my head I'm saying, "Really?!  Why that's a fascinating and original observation!  How insightful of you!  Why didn't I think of that"?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What He Said

I know, I'm delinquent.  I have no pictures to show for it, as I am apparently a technilogical dunce.  The good thing about a lack of education, though, is that it can be corrected.  It takes time, but it can be done.  Stay tuned on that front.

In the mean time, I ran across this interesting post at a blog called Happiness In This World.  He's a physician... although apparently a Buddhist physician.  (Does that mean he chants people to health, or that he happens to like to chant - oh and he gets people healthy too.  Hmmm.)  In any case, he has one of the most thought out discussions on the topic of health care reform that truly is non-partisan.  It's a lengthy post and he openly admits there's plenty more that could be and should be discussed, but it really does just speak to the problem.  Brilliant.  He can chant me to health any time.

Favorite quote from his post:  "Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that if he had an hour to save the world he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes solving it."