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1.1 The Observations

A. Initial Observation: Waiting & Creativity Don't Conflict

Observational Overview

Before any theory can be formed observations need to be made. The observations can be from day to day life. The observations can also be made from experiments. Einstein made observations from Michelson and Morley's experiment, which helped him form his special theory of relativity. Their experiment was not meant to support or disprove Einstein's theory, but he observed the results and made his hypothesis and theory based partially on their results. In the same way the hypotheses and theories that we are proposing have nothing to do with the thrust of the following experiment, but the results of the experiment pointed the way. Now onto the experiment.

The Fuzzy Experiment

Briefly I took a human being, myself. I observed myself. "The unexamined life is not worth living." I generated some fuzzy data from my self-observations over many years. (See Fuzzy Data Notebook for the supporting theory.) This data consisted of daily readings of hours spent on different activities. The daily readings were averaged over a month and then correlated across each activity. (See The Experiment Notebook for a more complete explanation.) The results were very surprising, to say the least. This notebook deals with only one implication of the data, the spiral nature of time.


Before proceeding, a brief note on notation: whenever I refer to a set of data that is related to an activity, I will use a capital letter to begin the word. For example, Sleep refers to the data that has been accumulated under the word Sleep, while sleep refers to the act of semi-unconscious rest that each of us participate in every day. On a more general level, capitalized words will tend to signify terms that are defined mathematically or that have a distinct value or meaning.


One of the main reasons that I began accumulating data in the first place in the late 1970s was to find out about how different activities affected each other. Specifically I was interested in the interaction between waiting tables and my creative output. The creative side was a conglomerate of activities, including Writing, Science, & Art. I was interested in whether the effect of waiting tables upon my creative side was positive, negative, or non-existent. Secretly I expected that the effect was negative.

Definition: Effect

I defined effect as the correlation between two sets of data over an identical time. A negative effect would be a negative correlation. A positive effect would be a positive correlation. No effect would result from no correlation. A special non-linear relation would yield a Zero Correlation!?! (More about the theoretical underpinnings of this unusual concept in the Zero Correlation Notebook.)


So my first hypothesis was that Waiting tables, the data associated with restaurant work, would be inversely proportional to Creative Time, the data associated with my creation time. My hypothesis was that the more time I spent waiting tables, the less time I would spend creating and vice versa. Like every artist I assumed that my day job was getting in the way of my creative side.

The Results or Contrary to Expectations

I was surprised to find that, contrary to expectations, Waiting was very lightly correlated with my Creative side. My Creative side was defined as the activities made up of Writing, Computing, Music & Art. Surprise of surprises, Waiting had a small positive correlation with Computing, Music and Art, and a zero correlation with Writing. So my initial hypothesis, that Waiting & Creative time were negatively correlated, had to be abandoned. See graph below.

Activity Correlation Graph: Waiting * The Rest, 1989-1992

The graph is based upon the correlation of monthly averages across 19 activities from 1989->1992. This graph shows how 18 of the activities were correlated with Waiting tables. It is easy to see that the Creative Activities interact little, if at all, with Waiting. However some other interactions are quite strong, which led to my second observation.

B. Observation 2: Waiting Competes with Night Activities

Double take: Waiting competes with evening activities

While my initial hypothesis had to be rejected, I observed something very interesting. I noticed that Waiting seemed to be strongly but negatively correlated with activities that occurred in the evening, i.e. Kids, Talking, Viewing & Sleep. Waiting is also an evening activity. Below is a diagram, which roughly charts the time period of the day when each activity was engaged in.

Daily Time Allocation Graph

The graph below shows the approximate times during the day that each activity is participated in.

Notice how the activities, which interact most strongly with Waiting, are the ones in its same daily time zone. Notice also how the Creative activities exist in a different time zone and they interact insignificantly with Waiting.

Making Connections: Day competes with Day, Night with Night

Waiting seems to have a strong negative correlation with other activities in its same time zone, i.e. evening, while it has virtually no correlation with the other activities in a different time zone, i.e. creative daytime activities. Waiting seems to be primarily competing with activities in its same time slot. There seems to be little interaction between the daytime activities and waiting tables, a nighttime activity. What happens during the day seems to have very little effect upon what happens at night, at least for the category of Waiting tables.

C. The January Observation: Waiting Assists Creativity

Jewelry competes with Waiting on an Annual level

Finally Jewelry time, the major interacter with Waiting, -30%, consists primarily of jewelry books. Jewelry books are usually done in January when waiting tables slows down substantially. Let's look at January as a good test case of what happens when Waiting hours are reduced substantially.

A Short Study of Activity Changes in January 1991->1994

Between 1991 & 1994 I averaged 1.43 hours per day less work in January than the Waiting Average of the preceding month. Where did this approximately 1 1/2 hours per day go? As suspected it did not go to the Creative time complex. Instead of increasing Creative time, Creative side actually went down 0.35 Hours. The complex of evening activities, Talking, Sleep, Viewing, & Kid Time logged an increase of 0.67 hours over this same period. The big gainer, however, was my other Activities in the Work Complex {See Bundled Trees Notebook}, i.e., Jewelry, Books & Home, which increased by 1.23 Hours per day. The Physical Time was virtually unaffected at 0.05 Hours increase. Contradictorily adding 45 hours of time to my month of January by reducing Waiting time actually decreased the number of hours of Creative time by 10 hours. Other types of Work activities and Evening activities filled in the added hours and more, taking up 1.90 hours per day, almost 60 hours extra for the month. Working less, in this case, did not add more time to the creative day, but actually subtracted from it. Working less in the evening instead added extra evening hours and other types of work hours.

Two Faulty Hypotheses

Before I had begun this study I would have hypothesized that with the reduction of Waiting hours, Creative time would soar. But under the implications of the prior results I would have hypothesized that when Waiting hours shrunk that Nighttime activities would rise and Creative activities would remain the same. Both hypotheses missed the mark.

A Personified Hypothesis: Waiting, the Policeman

A description that would more accurately reflect January's data follows. Waiting maintains a balance of activities so that creativity can flourish. He acts like a policeman keeping the other activities in check. When he leaves, the other rowdy evening activities expand beyond the scope of the area that Waiting abandoned and dominate Creativity pushing her back, making her shrink. Creativity doesn't flourish in the absence of Waiting and instead is abused by other runaway activities. But enough of this mythology, let us try to understand some mechanisms.

Beginning Time-Ecology

Emerging from these observations is the idea of Time Ecology. Just as each creature competes for its ecological space and time niche, so does each activity seem to compete for its own unique time niche. The concept of Time Ecology helps to explain the observations we have just made. It explains why Waiting and Creative time don't compete, different time ecologies. It also partially explains the January phenomenon, unrestrained activities expanding beyond their borders. To understand Time Ecology, however, let us look at its opposite. Let us look at the misconceptions that created the faulty hypothesis. But first let us look at the perception of time from a historical perspective.


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