Actually, this is really just a half post-script. I have a feeling it won't make for anything long, but usually, the stronger I get that feeling, the more wrong I am - and the longer my posts get. Oh well.
Anyways, I just realized something about myself. I was working on putting together a mathematical model for balancing the rewards issued to the player when they complete missions in the game, based on a few input factors. I solved the problem the way I normally do: sat down, scribbled out some core observations and goals for the system, and then proceeded to stare vacantly into my lap for about 30 minutes. At one point I nearly fell asleep.
Then, after a while, I sort of popped "awake" and just spilled out a fully-formed, completely solved model, including ways to handle all the input factors (I even concluded that one of the proposed factors would have no beneficial effect and could be rolled into another factor). I wrote a 15KB email, entirely off the top of my head, in a single sitting. Didn't pause to think through anything, stop and reword anything, or whatever - it was basically fully formed in my brain already.
I probably would never have noticed that at all, except that I then proceeded to take a quick visit to the Lounge, and came across a thread on meditation. I read through the description of one of the meditative techniques, and realized that it pretty much identically matches what I do when I think about hard problems. That got me into Navel-Gazing Turbo Gear.
Looking back, I've been solving problems that way for as long as I can remember. I don't consciously sit there and think out-loud thoughts about whatever I'm working on - I sort of zone out, and after a while I just know the answer. Most of the time I can't even really express what I did to get the answer - which got me into a hell of a lot of hot water when I took Algebra in high school, let me tell you.
In fact, even then, I didn't really see what was going on; I just solved the problem, and never really was clear on why everyone seemed so obsessed with how I'd solved it. I knew I wasn't cheating, so it wasn't that - right? Bugged the heck out of me for quite a while, too; eventually I learned to suppress it, thanks to the carrot/stick of partial credit.
But left to my own devices, that's just how I do things. I think maybe that's why everyone at my Old Day Job had trouble realizing I was working on stuff - I probably look like I'm high or something.
That, of course, raises an interesting question: am I just insane for doing that, or is that how everyone works on hard problems? Is this some kind of weird psychological quirk that only appears among INTJ type people, or do I just do it more "strongly" than most people?
Inquiring hypochondriacs want to know [wink]