Friday, July 27, 2007

Borderline OCD (self-diagnosed), Part 2

Another frightening look inside my head.

This past Saturday, I wrote about the various perils of filling my car with gasoline.

Today, a different kind of problem that I didn't realize I had until a year or so ago.

It has no name, and can only be described by examples.

Example 1:

I'm one of those people who wash my hands about 30 times a day. (and that's way down from when I worked in the restaurant business, believe you me)

It's a good thing that skin replenishes and replaces itself.

So at work, in the bathrooms, we have those towel dispensers that you crank a handle up and down and with every down stroke it pushes out more of the rough, brown paper towels.

Assuming that there's some towel left in there, and I've just washed my hands and face (yet another compultion, I wash my face almost every time I wash my hands), I push the handle 11 times.

Not 9. Not 10. Not 12.


Because, while any of the above given numbers is a sufficient amount to dispense enough towel to dry both face and hands, 11 is the only prime number of the bunch.

Some people are all into even numbers. Most needing that approximate amount of towel dispensed might a.) choose 10, because it's a nice, even number, or b.) not count at all and just dispense towel until it "feels" right.

Many times I count things, I have no idea why, but in the case of the towels in the restrooms at work, I finally decided on 11 becasue prime numbers are cool. (I also usually count other things like the number of steps to and from my cubicle to where I park at work. It's usually between 150 and 160 steps; a few more when my back/leg are hurting and I take smaller steps.)

But at times, I can really be thrown off my game there.

When they first put a new one of those massive rolls of brown paper towels into the dispensing machine, they're so heavy that each ratcheting of the handle only produces a miniscule amount, and my carefully considered and arrived at prime number of 11 ratchets only gives me enough towel to dry maybe one hand.

In those cases I'm thrown into that pathetic, desperate class of hand/face washer who doesn't really care how many times he pumps the towel dispensing handle and just sit there and crank away like a mad man until what looks like enough towel to dry both hands and face is out and then I just dry off and leave. It's both exhausting and mentally frustrating.

I don't particularly like it when that happens, but I don't lose sleep over it either. A short attention span can be our friend at times like that.

Example 2:

Photoshop Elements slider numbers.

I have neither the guts to plunk down $600 for a legal copy of Photoshop CS3, nor the darkness of heart to search out and buy a cheaper but illegal copy of it.

Therefore I bought Photoshop Elements 4.0, and although it is a surprisingly powerful program, I've finally developed my skills to the point where I would like to have and use some of the real Photoshop's features.

But, I digress.

When I use Photoshop Elements and am adjusting say, brightness or contrast of a photograph, I'll watch the screen and the image I'm working with there and adjust the brightness or contrast slider until the photo looks as I envisioned it looking.

When I have it where I like the brightness and contrast, I'll then look at the numbers above the sliders.

Both contrast and brightness are at a default value of zero. So if I add contrast or brightness I might end up with a +5 or +10, or conversely, lowering contrast or brightness might result in -5 or -10. See?

So when I look at the number that came up in my slider work, remember I was watching the picture, not the slider or it's number, and see, say, -6 or +6, I'll move it to five. +11 or -11 is moved to +-10. (This even weirds ME out, because despite my preference of 11 ratchets worth of brown paper towels at work, I will move 11 to 10 on Photoshop Elements.)

What if I end up smack dab in the middle, like with a contrast of +8. For some strange reason I'll move it to a +7.

I tend to prefer odd numbers over even numbers.

I have absolutely no idea why I do this.

So part of my process of working with images in Photoshop Elements is to first adjust the slider controls to visually give me the look I want in the image, and then, without fail, I'll look at the resulting slider's number value and feel compelled to move it to a multiple of five, and if in the middle, I'll prefer the odd number over the even ones. 3 is better than 4 to me for reasons even I cannot fathom.

I know. I'm a freak. I'm all over the map with this stuff.

You probably all hate me now.


This Eclectic Life said...

You are not a freak! I'm so with you on this (and I'm not a freak...just "different" LOL). I count the number of weeds I pull in the yard (I can't stop until I have pulled sets of 100). I count when I walk, I count when I put away things in the house. Now, I don't obsess about prime numbers or odd or even numbers. But, I count it all. Wonder why that is, and if it more prevalent than we think it is?

Sindi1968 said...

Maybe we are all freaks. LOL I have been diagnosed with OCD and was totally amazed to find out there were others LIKE me. As a child I was the last one to go to school and I would spend most of the day riding my bike up and down the side walk counting how many seconds it took me. I did this over and over and over HA. I sometimes wonder WHERE was my mom? My husband is a hand and face washer.I call it playing in the water. Hey if this is all we had to worry about. Hope all have a nice day.

Qtpies7 said...

I used to count as I walked by things, all walks had to either have a 3 or 5 step combo. Walking by the bookshelf, had to be 3 steps to match the 3 sets of rods holding it together, but sometimes things like that would be 5, 3 for the poles and 2 for in between. Then I'd find something else to walk past and make it 3 or 5, too.

I don't have time for that anymore with 7 kids. Running to save lives made it impossible for my brain to do that.
But I still prefer 3's and 5's of everything. I think the 5 came from my birthday being on the 5th, but not sure where the 3 came from.
And most assuredly, none of it has anything to do with math, prime numbers, algebraic thingamajigs, square roots, or adding or subracting! I'm not a freak!

katherine. said...

I count stairs and sometimes steps. Eleven is a very good number...but twenty-two is better. smile.

photowannabe said...

I've noticed when I slice something like a potatoe or a cucumber I am counting the slices. Why? I haven't a clue...I don't gain anything by counting except confusing myself.
An interesting look inside your brain.

Bubba said...

No, I don't think you're a freak either. Just remember, you're unique...just like the rest of us.

Thanks for stopping by my home on the web...God bless!


Travis said...

Nothing freakish to see here. Not when you consider that I take a bite and chew on the left side of my mouth, then take a bite and chew on the right side - and alternate until I'm finished with whatever I'm eating.

Oh - I also try to finish the last bite/chew on the right side.

We're all freakish in some way.

Julie said...

My mother must be somewhat OCD because she counts the daylilies as she removes the dead ones! Her high for this year has been over 500!!! Can you imagine that?

Yeah, I count when I'm running up and down the steps. Like the number just might change? SHeeesh!!

Angela Marie said...

I am smiling as I read this... I have tendency to do this too, and my daughter is also. Is it hereditary?

Know that you are not alone!

Scribbit said...

Oh I don't know, everyone loves the freaks anyway--much more than the normals.

The Rock Chick said...

It's ok, I count things, too, sometimes. I don't have a specific hand towel favorite number, but before I put the dishes in the dishwasher, I wipe each plate with a sponge three times. No idea why.

If I'm alone and like say, walking from a parking space to the mall, I will also count my steps. Again, no idea why, it just pops in my head.

I don't have any Photoshop slider worries, though. If I like what it looks like, I leave it there, wherever it is!

If you like Elements, you would love Photoshop, although there is a large learning curve. You should treat yourself. Just put a dollar a day somewhere til you have the money! You wont even miss it!

Also, you can get a student version of the software at for MUCH less (like half) than the regular version and it's the same thing. All they wanted to see was my daughter's ID card from school, but they have many ways you can qualify!


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M. O. M. C. S. D. said...

I'm with you! I'm in that bunch of people who prefers even numbers, but some processes, usually the ones in which I do "forth and back" movements (like mixing my coffee) a have to do three times, or multiple to three. Therapy helped me remember a story my Dad (who's definitely OCD, he just refuses to see a doctor or get any kind of treatment) told me when I was little. He explained how ATMs count money to give the correct amount with minimum error; it counts the bills one time on the way to dispense them, one time in the way back to the box, then another time to finally dispense them if in all three times it finds the same amount. If in one of the ways it finds a different total from the others, it counts again three times, to finally correct the amount and dispense the bills. It's silly, but it still fascinates me, I twist a spoon three times to the right, three times to the left then three times to the right again to finally drink my coffee.

But I agree with Sindi1968, if it's all we have to worry about, lucky us, huh?

Check my blog, I started writing about it too, it feels really good. Some texts are in Portuguese, some in English, I'll write a few more in English.

Take care!