Thoughts For Fodder

I was thinking about the way that I think about things (which is apparently something only humans can do, but I don’t even know how you’d measure that in other animals / plants anyway), and maybe it’s because I have a programming background, but I think it’s a lot like computer processes.

I have my main CPU, which does all the processing, but there are various threads of thought going on at once. For instance, I will wake up and think about food. I always eat the same thing for breakfast every day, so this isn’t really a difficult thought, but this usually leads me to think about food in general, and in particular, what I would like to try making next (currently pretzels or baguettes, though I am considering hot cross buns as Easter is coming up).

Even though food is the dominant thought at the moment, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other processes hanging around in the background, awaiting CPU time. I sort of alluded to it in yesterday’s post, but one thing that I tend to do is put something away for later processing. Usually it’s because I don’t have time to deal with it at the moment, as I might be at work, or in the middle of something else, but sometimes it is also because I’m just not capable of processing it at the moment, like GD leaving. I know it’s not entirely healthy, but it’s how I operate.

Thoughts are usually vying for CPU time, and some thoughts take priority over others. However, sometimes a thought will be contextually important, and jump up in priority. We actually learned about this in psych class, though I can’t remember the name of what it is. The example given was say you had to post a letter. You tell yourself in the morning that you have to post the letter. Then you go on to do your other morning rituals – shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, find your phone, car keys, etc, then head to work.

Boss comes in, says there’s an urgent request from the stakeholder to look at a report, as he thinks one of the numbers might be a bit off, so you pull up the report, try and remember what you were smoking when you wrote it. Realise that one of the co-efficients has a rounding error, so you fix that up, submit the new report for review, and go back to your regular tasks.

Finally, it’s lunch time, and you’ve been thinking about that new Korean place that’s a few blocks away. You round up the regular lunch crew and head over.

On the way, you see a post box. F@#$, you completely forgot to mail that letter.

That’s pretty similar to my idea of background processing. You put the letter mailing process in the queue, but it gets superseded by other thoughts, until the trigger of seeing the mailbox causes the letter mailing process to gain priority again, but unfortunately, it’s too late, as the letter is sitting at home waiting to be mailed.

Pharmacist was telling me about various ways to train your memory. I think I already do one of the things, which is why some people think I appear more intelligent than I actually am, but in reality, I just tend to be really good at finding patterns of association.

For instance, I met a friend’s girlfriend (now wife) named Kelly. In order to remember her name, I thought about jelly. Which makes me think about jellyfish. Which reminds me that she’s a vet.

This, in combination with my tendency to process a lot of other thoughts in the background, ends up making me look really creepy in certain situations. I will often bring up something that someone mentioned months ago, because that particular process finally got some CPU time. Then I get accused of being a stalker. I can’t remember who pointed it out to me, but I’ve worked on toning it down a bit – gotta hide the crazy.

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