Friday, April 16, 2004

Google Games

Much of my day, at home and at work, consists of sitting in front of a computer, staring at the monitor, trying to think of how to phrase or explain something. This is not a complaint, because this is exactly where I want to be. Yet, that does not make this "dark tea-time of the soul" (to outright steal the late, great Douglas Adams' title/phrase) any easier. (This way old article covers that little traipse through hell better than I ever could.)

The best book I have ever read about how the brain (probably) forms memories and thoughts, Mechanism of Mind by Edward de Bono, posits that one way to become unstuck in a dead-end thought is to introduce random stimulation, which will have the effect of picking up the needle from the groove, placing it elsewhere, and getting you past the "skip" in your head. (For those pups in the audience who have never heard a vinyl record play, sometimes the sound groove would get crud or a scratch in it, causing the needle to skip and play the same groove over and over again.) You needn't worry that your thoughts won't continue down the path you want by "moving the needle" because we typically have a direction in mind, and you're just forcing a new leaping-off point.

I've found that Google's image search is a great tool in creating this random stimulus to get yourself unstuck. You simply put in a word or phrase - a phrase is better because it creates more variables - and hit enter. Page through the images, and you'll likely see something that jars a memory, or creates a new thought, and voilà, you're off and running again. If you have trouble thinking of a phrase, just cut and paste one from whatever you're working on. For instance, cutting and pasting "whatever you're working on" got this funky result. Further, much like Mind Mapping, it provides a seemingly random stimuli or thought that's usually related to what you're thinking about. Cool, eh?

Once you've gotten your work done, I have another Google game for you to play. I call it "Bowling for Pink." I came up with it while doing the above, trying to get the mental attic door to pop open. I noticed that if you have Google's "SafeSearch" off, words and phrases that shouldn't (logically) pull up pictures of nekkid people and/or their pink parts often do. So, the object of the game is this: put in a word or phrase that shouldn't result in pinkness, and wager how many result pages you'll have to view before pink shows up. You could turn this into a drinking game for parties, too. Now, women's names and any synonym for "female" (and even the word "male") almost always result in a pretty quick pink hit, so you may want to have that as a rule for your party games. Or, modify it, see which women's names result in the quickest and highest (on the page) pink hit. If several names result in No. 1 - the first image on the first return page - then the most pink pics on the page would then win (or lose, if you're doing the drinking game thing). And there you have it! Surf and drink responsibly. Or sleep on your stomach, at least, if you don't.

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