Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Doug is one of the best Laser Masters sailors in the world.

/Pam is married to Doug.

(I don't think her name is really /Pam. I think it's Pam. But /Pam is how she signs her blog comments so I am respecting her choice to call herself /Pam.)

Doug and /Pam together write the Best Laser Sailing Blog on the Planet, Improper Course.

/Pam wrote an interesting post the other day about Doug's brain. The post was titled Are Real Laser Sailors Dumber than Dirt?


(I don't think /Pam really thinks that real Laser sailors are dumber than dirt. At least not most of us. I think /Pam chose a deliberately provocative title to make more people read her post.)

/Pam was so worried about Doug's brain that she got it tested by a real brain doctor. As we all know, real brain doctors are NOT dumber than dirt.

The real brain doctor concluded that Doug was not dumber than dirt but that he has quite an unusual brain that reacts in a different way to challenges than the brains of the rest of us, some of whom are dumber than dirt.

Apparently Doug believes that Laser sailing made his brain the way it is.

Hmmm. Maybe all of us real Laser sailors have unusual brains too?

Someone in the comments to Are Real Laser Sailors Dumber than Dirt? made a reference to the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is not a name you see every day on Laser sailing blogs. It made me feel dumber than dirt that I didn't know who he was. Was he the coach for that Croatian Laser sailor dude or that Laser sailor gal from Lithuania perhaps?

So I looked up Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on The Google.

Apparently he is a psychologist and according to The Wikipedia (which is never wrong)...
He is noted for both his work in the study of happiness and creativity and also for his notoriously difficult name, in terms of pronunciation for non-native speakers of the Hungarian language, but is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic.
Ah. Flow. Sailors know all about flow.

I discovered that, in one of his books, Professor Csikszentmihalyi used this diagram to summarize the mental states of people with different levels of skill responding to different levels of challenge.

I looked at this chart and studied it for a while and thought about it for a longer while and realized that it explained everything I have written about Laser sailing on this blog over the last 7 years.

Sometimes one picture is worth 2390 posts.

I think I'll take a nap now.


PeconicPuffin said...

"it explained everything I have written about Laser sailing on this blog over the last 7 years."

Yup...yer done. Except it doesn't cover goldfish, duct tape, cuts and bruises, vang tension.

Tillerman said...

I think those posts were probably written while I was in the Boredom and Relaxation sectors of the chart.

O Docker said...

I looked at this chart and studied it for a while and thought about it for a longer while and realized that the color on my monitor needed adjusting.

ckh said...

Naps rock. I just woke up from one.

/Pam said...

So ... if I'm of moderate skill level facing a moderate challenge, I'm going to experience the entire rainbow of emotions. Now there's a challenge for Doug.

JP said...

That's a great picture, though it doesn't help with the big question of how to become skill level = high. I guess that comes from lots of practice (35 days sailing and counting) and bacon (juicy not crisp)

If you're somewhere in the middle are you a worrier in control who's anxious in a relaxed way, bored with arousal and flowing with apathy?

Tillerman said...

/Pam and JP - I think that it is possible for one individual to be in any of those sectors at times. I would describe myself as of moderate skill level but it all depends on the conditions. In heavy air my skills are low so I'm often in the Anxiety and Worry zones. In medium air I'm often in Control.
I don't think I'm ever in the Flow sector very much but on some rare days it happens.

Anonymous said...

If this diagram was covered in my algebra class, I must have missed it...


Tillerman said...

There wasn't a great deal of "Arousal" in my algebra classes either.

But I must admit I got a little excited when I discovered that e to the power of i times pi equals -1.

Jake DiMare said...


Oliver Mason said...

So feeling bored during an easy race means you have a medium skill level? It does certainly seem plausible!

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