Laziness as the Key to Innovation

Getting relaxed

Wiling away our lives in the sun

I believe that one of the most terrible things that we can do to each other is not to understand what we each need. I, for example, have always tended towards that habit of leaving things not done, then trying to fix things at the last minute. That is bad, in many people’s books, criminal in others, rather like my tendency to spend a friday night in a bar drinking beer rather than doing something constructive. I am irretrievably lazy.

But is laziness, or ‘delayed response’ as I languidly prefer to call it, necessarily bad? Has all that swilling turned me into an underperformer at the trough of life? Does society even need the socially pungent at its table, forever forgetting to keep its trotters in its lap, on top of its napkin, or sliding its cutlery to the twenty past four position at the appropriate moment?

As a shy lad I was usually last to hand in my homework, possibly last to even do it, although sensible enough to regularly create situations where I must confront my social problem so that I do not finally shrivel away in a house or apartment alone, dieing and being eaten by rats. In much the same way I joined the Mountaineering Club while at university in order to confront my fear of heights. Or my shyness of heights, as I also like to describe it. Shyness means that if there is a situation where I have to go see someone, I will delay doing so until I can no longer avoid it or the need for it disappears. So we could say that my apparent laziness is really a response to my shyness, hence my use of ‘delayed response’.

My wife, bless her, is much different, she is a planner-actioner, she gets things done, and will even change channels on the TV 15 minutes prior to the start of a program that she wishes to see so in order not to miss it (so I miss the last 5 minutes of my program and get to see 10 minutes of advertising on her chosen channel instead of mine). She is wonderful, but not so innovative.

Consider the situation: we each need to write a 500 word assessment. She will write hers ahead of time, based on what is known, having plenty of time to plan and check references, go to the library, search the internet and pump her acquaintances for the low down on this type of test. I, on the trotter, will wait until the last moment, well past any opportunity to gather suitable materials, forcing myself to be inventive and draw on any resource that is to trotter – but my brain will have to light up like a Christmas tree (or whatever) and burn some essential energy very rapidly.

Do you see the difference? If we are the kind of person who is rarely late, then on those occasions we are then we will quite possibly produce something that is visibly hacked together, or is lacking somewhere. If, on the other hand, we spend our life stepping from one crisis to another, we should start to get skilled at producing something worthwhile from apparently very little. A minimalistic, hermetic response that optimizes what we possess.

If we took a course in doing the long jump, then would this make us athletes? If we took a course in beer tasting, would this make us a suitable candidate for a job at professional brewery? Sadly, no, our body and mind take time and effort to become expert, including the ability to understand what is successful behaviour and what is not.

Conversely, if we do put long term effort into something, then we should reap some changes. OK, not always profitable changes, such as what we might achieve slumped every night in front of the television, but does this mean that if we design an education system to suit a certain kind of mind then we might be missing the creation of benefits that could accrue from training minds in other ways? Whatever, I wish I had considered all this decades ago.

Imagine you are down at your favorite haunt, and some idiot manages to set light to the table next to you, and assuming that you have not been trained for just this kind of incident, what would you do? Too late, decision time is over, if you stopped to think, by now I would be already at the bar asking, hopefully, for a refill.

I wonder if we might make a comparison with the different forms of muscle fibre, and I found this excellent summary on Athlepedia:

Muscle fiber types can be broken down into two main types: slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibers and fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers. Type II fibers can subsequently be broken down into two types: type IIA, which is referred to as “fast twitch oxidative glycolytic”, and type IIX, which is referred to as “fast twitch glycolytic”.  Type I fibers are characterized by low force/power/speed production and high endurance, Type IIX fibers are characterized by high force/power/speed production and low endurance, while Type IIA fall in between the two.

Fast twitch and slow twitch brains, one type functioning optimally in sprint environments and the other in marathons? In which case my wife has the marathon sort – having had only the one job and gaining all the necessary qualifications, while I have the sprint type – having had many jobs and a series of more minor qualifications from a broader range of subjects.

In summary, if you see someone lazing in the sun with a beer in their hand, they may still be doing constructive, training their mind to relax and recuperate before the next time it needs to be engaged under pressure. Or they could be getting plain-old drunk. Who knows.

Wild Wagon Ride

Lublin 14 Wild Horse Ride smallWhen I came to live in Poland in the mid-1990s, there were still a significant number of farms relying on horses for wagon and ploughing duties. Today few remain, and since horse riding is quite a minority activity in comparison to other European countries, the actual number of horses has declined. However, the village museum in Lublin has a small stock of working horses, and on one visit I was lucky enough to view a re-enactment of an uprising event. I have no idea whether the equipment used was accurate to the period, but it was a fun event nonetheless.

Have you ever seen those pictures of racing cars with the car in perfect focus and the background nicely blurred. well, that is the effect I wished to achieve. You can see that the horses have hard, sharp edges, which is easy enough although time consuming to achieve, but you can get the blurred background by using a larger and then a smaller brush, using the larger to first define the color patches, then the smaller brush to blur the edges and get rid of any actual lines.

You can get prints of this on canvas at: http://shop.photo4me.com/picture.aspx?id=369253&f=canvas

Polish Cottage Interior

Polish Cottage Interior. My abstract view of an inside view of what it used to be like living in a cottage, and commentary on the future for such buildings.

Polish Cottage Interior

Grandmother's cottage interior, in Poland

Dom Babcie

When one drives around the rural areas of Poland it is still common to see old wooden cottages, although there number is decreasing as they are replaced by homes made of cheaper materials, such as concrete blocks. The two issues of most significance are that wooden cottages are expensive to maintain, and most are still owned by people who, in some form or other, have work related to agriculture. In a way it is sad to say, but the future of cottages is often highly dependent on being bought by people with urban work, who can afford to pay the costs of living in rural housing. This drives up the costs of buying homes in the countryside and in villages, making agricultural work more difficult to achieve as a profession.

Since wooden cottages of the types found in Poland can be readily dismantled, it is not uncommon for them to be sold as a kit, ready for you to reassemble on your own land. Sadly, though, many are just allowed to decay until the only solution is demolition, although some are being clad in thermal blocks to continue their life emulating a more modern home.

To purchase a print of this image: http://shop.photo4me.com/picture.aspx?id=365885

Down in the Market on a Saturday Morning

A market stall, shoppers and stallholder, with the stall loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables.

A small local farmers’ market in Lublin, Poland

This is one of my favorite places in Lublin, where we often go to buy our fresh fruit and vegetables. We used to go more often, but first Ania’s job moved away from the area, then we found a new flat less convenient for shopping there – and yet it still retains its charm for us.

These days we have to drive their, so we normally pop in if we happen top be driving past. Most of the people who shop there tend to be older rather than younger, and more likely to walk there from their apartments nearby. The stallholder used to be mainly farmers, but there has been a shift more to market people buying goods from farms, or farmers mixing homegrown and bought produce.

There are also some other shops there. When I first started going in the mid-1990s these were a standard mix of planned Socialist era shops, such as the plastics goods shop, the metal goods shop, fish shop and the like. Since then some of these have died (like the plastic goods shop) due to the other shops diversifying into their areas.

The original idea for the market when it was created in the late 1960s was to be a small mall of shops with broad ways between them and a small market stall area. Instead, the passages have become choked with stalls selling produce on either side, the shops role is secondary, and the proper stall area has become an area for cheap handbags and clothes.

In the small gaps and corners between the stalls you still see some very old ladies who bring in something like a small bag of peas, some eggs, or a plucked chicken to sell to eke out their pension.

On a rainy day there may be few stalls, on a warm sunny day you might struggle to get through the crowds. We love it!

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