Problem-Solving The Drain With Metacognition

I unblocked the drain! That’s one of the issues fixed. I said I’d fixed it before but only temporarily it turned out. Running the new washing machine seemed to have blocked it up completely.

When at the supermarket looking for more vinegar I came across ‘drain cleaner’. See this is how my brain works. I don’t think:

  • Drain blocked
  • Here’s a list of all the relevant things I’ve learned through life about blocked drains:
    • Drain cleaner exists
    • Use a plunger
    • Etc

Instead I think:

  • New problem
  • Let’s research this
  • Read some articles and gather tips
  • Implement the first one and see if it helps.
    • Go to shop to get the materials I need
    • Attempt the fix
    • Persist until I’ve exhausted this option
    • Move onto next idea

All the while my brain is making great use of previous skills and knowledge I’ve learned through similar tasks as they occur to me, and I’m applying them rigorously, whilst missing the seemingly-obvious which would’ve steered me in the right direction from the beginning, if only I could’ve recalled it on-demand. Hence me trying the non-obvious idea of soda crystals and vinegar first. It’s a valid idea but not the one I would’ve chosen first when presented with a full list of what I myself knew beforehand. I’ve learned procedures for problem-solving rather than how to remember unstructured information.

And this becomes very confusing to other people when they see you doing this, because they think it must be due to lack of knowledge. But the second someone reminds me of ‘drain cleaner’ my whole strategy would immediately switch. Which also takes them aback because they can’t quite believe you’ve really ‘learned’ and ‘understood’ it so fast, seeing as they thought you didn’t know about drain cleaner before. So firstly you get treated like an idiot and secondly as if you’re disingenuous πŸ˜†. It’s quite funny and has happened to me many times in many contexts.

My brain does not store information in lists of random things, lol. It stores things more like a relational database where things are connected by logical relationships and grouped by common attributes. It’s not the most efficient but gives huge advantages in other ways.

Of course drain cleaner and plungers are extremely familiar to me as individual concepts. If you’d asked me to list ‘common kitchen cupboard chemicals’ I probably would’ve come up with drain cleaner quite quickly, because that’s one query of one table 😜.


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