Defragmenting the Brain

bathtub with jets

The hot water ran out with only six inches of the tub filled. Oh well, I thought. That’s good enough to sit in. A button marked “JETS” caught my eye. The implacable hand of curiosity pushed it, and Whoosh – 8 strategically placed geysers drenched the bathroom. My laptop sat immersed in a puddle of water.

Like a first responder shaking the shoulders of a head trauma victim, I punched the power button. Are you alive?? Speak to me!! The LED power lights came on, but the screen was blank. Then the lights went off. Flatline. I had just destroyed my single connection to the outside world.

I was in Tahoe for the week, where I was working remotely. After I came to terms with the fact that I am an idiot, I realized that I had just been forced to take a break. My phone had no reception, it was too cold and rainy to play outside, and so the only things I had left to entertain myself after dark were a pen and some small pieces of paper.

I actually got a lot done over the next few days. I defragmented my brain. Over the course of everyday work and life, I’m always piling in more data to memory while fragments get lost or corrupted. A human brain isn’t terribly different from a computer hard disk. The information needs to be periodically reorganized so that it can be accessed more efficiently in the future. And the defragmentation process can only occur when the computer is completely idle.

For the first time in a long while, I shut down all I/O activity and idled for long enough to finally defrag my brain. What does it mean to defragment my brain? I identified the thoughts that were floating around and arranged them into coherent ideas (I think 3D Systems will continue to grow at a good clip — I want to create a P2P network for printing auto parts). I confronted and categorized freestanding anxieties and stuffed them into appropriate cubbyholes. My brain even dumped out an event log, see —

Event logs were meant to be indecipherable.
Event logs were meant to be indecipherable.

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