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My weekend

For most of the weekend, I was pretty much a couch potato. But looking back on it, I did accomplish a few things. I managed to get my walk in on both Saturday and Sunday. I finished reading Human Action, which was quite an accomplishment (even more so than finishing noted megabooks Atlas Shrugged and From Dawn To Decadence).

I did a couple of small things around the house. I changed the light bulbs by my front door. Also, someone had put a shopping bag in a tree in my front yard and I got that out. It was pretty high up in the tree and the problem of how to get it out initially perplexed me. After a little cogitation, I got a broom and was able to use the handle to nudge it out.

I am proud of that last one, even though most people would think it is too small and simple a task for pride. It's not for me, because I am not a handy person at all. Think of  the Special Olympics of home improvement.

Growing up, I used to always hear "you're smart, but you ain't go no common sense.". Much of the time this meant  "I'm jealous that you're smarter than  me", but that doesn't mean there was no grain of truth to it.  I engage in a lot of cerebral activity...what I have to do for my job reading, blogging, obscure math problems...but aside from the first category it isn't usually  practical.  This is probably because I make too sharp a distinction between the cerebral and the mundane and practical.

Getting the shopping bag out of the tree was a case of bridging that gap, something I need to do more often. After I got the bag out of the tree,  I thought about a book I had read earlier this year called Thinking As A Science , by Henry Hazlitt. In it he complains that much of what passes for thinking is just random thoughts passing through the mind. In a chapter called "Thinking With Method", he says that thinking should be directed towards some goal, and that there should be a method for that.

He makes the point more succinctly near the end of the book when he says "thinking and problem solving are identical".  Sometimes the problem is finding the primitive roots of a given prime number, and sometimes it is how to get a shopping bag out of a tree.

I will continue to engage in the pie-in-the-sky thinking I  love, such as solving math problems and trying to determine the cause of historical events (my faves: the civil war and the current economic meltdown). Hazlitt actually encourages such thinking.  Indeed,  he says "We must arouse  a desire for thinking for it's own sake; solving problems for the mere sake of solving problems." But the mental muscles built and habits developed while solving these problems can surely be used for common practical problems, as I learned this weekend.

So thank  you Henry Hazlitt, for helping me get the shopping bag out of the tree. And thanks to my sister for getting me Thinking As A Science for Christmas. :)