Monday, October 02, 2006

the continuing adventures of Highly Autocorrelated Man

Recently I described myself to someone as "highly locally autocorrelated." By this, I meant that I--well, first, in putting it this way, I meant that I'm a dork. Beyond this, though, in saying that I'm "highly autocorrelated" I mean that there is often an unusually high correlation between my preferences in one moment and my preferences the next moment. Most people, they really enjoy something for lunch, and maybe they will start having it two or three times a week. Me, I really enjoy something for lunch, and, if left to my cravings, I'll have it for the next thirty consecutive meals.

In saying this a "local" phenomenon, I'm just saying that specific attachments are episodic rather than lifelong. I am a creature of serial ephemeral obsessions.

Nowhere is this more plain than with music. I often work with my door closed. I say this is because I like to listen to music while I work, and I prefer to use the speakers rather than headphones given how peripatetic I am. Sometimes, I will also confess that I also don't want people to overhear what music I am listening to and judge my undiscerning tastes. What I don't admit is that it's not so much that I'm afraid people will judge me ill for the particular songs I listen to, but that people will judge me a complete freakazoid for the way I listen to particular songs over and over again.

I went to an M. Ward concert two weeks ago. I liked this song "Magic Trick" that he did during his encore.* So the next day I downloaded it on iTunes at the office. Here, look at the Play Count:

Yes, I have listened to this song 131 times in the last 14 days. That alone has to propel me into some DSM diagnostic bonus round.

BTW, although I am not going to embarrass myself further by revealing particular counts of times played, a summary of iTunes lists over various machines would suggest that the song to enter my life in the past year that I have listened to the most times is "Dirty Jeans" by Magic Dirt--great for the obsessive because the song is basically the same ditty three times--and the song that I have listened to the most since starting on iTunes is "La Familia" by Mirah. Meanwhile, the most embarrassing song with which I've had at least a modest period of obsessive listening:

(Alas, this is the Play Count on my new office computer and does not represent the actual total number of times I have listened to this song.)

* "She's got one magic trick / Just one and that's it." If you want to know what the trick is, you can buy the song for a dollar at iTunes. I suppose if you don't want to spend the dollar and are the sort who would listen to it in good faith that you would buy more of M. Ward's music if you liked it, you can e-mail me. However: I will not send you the Chipmunks song even if you beg.


Anonymous said...

Has your office mate departed for quieter realms and left you all alone?

jeremy said...

I use headphones when my officemate is here.

Lucy said...

now I have Dirty Jeans stuck in my head (a surprisingly frequent occurence given how relatively few times I've actually listened to it). I tried to find the awesome sitar-ish Indonesian instrument arrangement of it online for you, but sadly failed.

eszter said...

I do this as well, which is part of the reason I have no use for a gadget that stores thousands of tracks. I'm fine with a dozen or two at any one time.

For now, I tend to listen to music on Yahoo! LaunchCast Plus and since they won't play the same song twice in a row I get some diversity. However, as soon as I sign up for Yahoo! Music Unlimited (any day now since an interesting offer expires in three days) I'm going to have no reason not to play the same song over and over and over again. Yikes. Lucky for those around me, you can't hear the music much outside my office.

Anonymous said...

... poor office mate .....

Gwen said...

I do this with food a lot. I'm currently obsessed with the Ensalda Bajio at Bajio. I would be happy to eat it for lunch and dinner every day for the forseeable future. I can't imagine getting sick of it.

And I don't remember the last time I put any album in my car besides "Decoration Day" by the Drive-By Truckers. I don't really bother to take any other CDs along, because I know I'll just listen to that one over and over.

You make me feel better about myself sometimes, Jeremy. I feel there is some sort of Weird Absent-Minded Professors organization we need to start.

Anonymous said...

"That alone has to propel me into some DSM diagnostic bonus round" LOL

Anonymous said...

Left to my own devices, I am totally autocorrelated with food. Last year I ate oatmeal for breakfast for something like 5 months straight. Now I'm on a diet where they tell me exactly what to eat when (e.g. eat 4 stalks of celery for snack), and suddenly I don't have the same thing more than once in a week. But because I live alone, I end up with all kinds of rotting leftovers. They give you a recipe that serves 4, but they only tell you to eat it once.

So, I think you could characterize my current weekly eating habits as having overdispersion problems, where the probability of eating any one thing in any one week decreases the probability that I will eat it again in that same week, leading to non-independence.