Searching for Non-Toxic Stimulation

by Noah Gift

The subject of "Non-Toxic Stimulation" has been on my brain for a bit now. I remember the subject being brought up a few years ago by my mentor, who passed away a couple of years ago. The best way to describe our relationship was to say that is was very similar to tuesday's with morrie. One night Dr. Bogen described a friend of his that was in constant search for Non-Toxic Stimulation.

The definition for it is quite simple. Non-Toxic Stimulation is something that excites you but doesn't kill or harm you. Toxic stimulation is quite easy to define as well. It is something that excites you but could kill you literally or figuratively. Examples of toxic stimulation could be smoking crack, driving a motorcycle down the freeway at 160 mph on your back tire, running with the Bulls in Spain, rock climbing without a rope, or
fighting dogs. These are all optional activities that might leave you or others dead, maimed or in jail.

There are equally exciting Non-Toxic forms of stimulation, but they for the most part involve your brain. One form could be taking a class at Big Nerd Ranch and starting a Web 2.0 company. It could be finally teaching yourself higher math because it scares you and make you feel inadequate, but you know you can do it anyway.

The Non-Toxic form of stimulation I am engaging in currently is to teach myself Ruby as a way to practice test driven development. It is too hard to do test driven development in Python as I don't want to slow down, but in Ruby, which is very similar to Python, I am not tempted to crank out some code as I can't. It makes it much easier to practice doing TDD with Ruby and then apply that knowledge to Python.


Josh Peters
2007-08-24 11:02:40
Sex is always a good non-toxic stimulant (provided a safe partner). Of course you may be more interested in something that gets the juices flowing, not sapping our precious bodily fluids.

Test-driven development is still something that I can't fully get behind; I can't help but grow code up as it's written. Text editing is vital to my ideal development cycle and I can't translate that very easily into unit tests.

The odd thing is that I can write web services in a contract-first style since I first learned to do so, but coding the implementation is a different matter.

2007-08-24 11:46:38
Dr. Stranglove is a great movie. I wrote an automated software distribution system for OS X that completed restored machine off of the network. All someone had to do was reboot and hold down the 'N' key..this was a few years ago. I used Slim Picken's riding the bomb as the background for the network operating system that did all the work. So appreciate the sick sense of humor.

What is cool is that this article now covers: SEX, DRUGS, VIOLENCE(Dropping an A-Bomb), and Calculus. I suppose it could be "Non-Toxic" stimulation :)

On the TDD topic, I am on the fence. I like to experiment though, so I will Ruby as my experiment language to implement it in.

Alaa Salman
2007-08-28 13:20:58
My non-toxic simulation is my work. I am a freelancer and i am also trying to launch a startup with a bunch of products.

I find the constant challenges as very stimulating. Although it is non-toxic in nature, and probably won't kill me. It can and does make me sick with the constant stress and the late night coding sessions.

2007-09-04 15:06:27
I look for non-toxic stimulation that involves people -- history, learning languages, working in collaborative arts (like theater and music). I have long since decided that one really can't die of embarrassment (although it has felt that way on occasion) so I figure those activities qualify as non-toxic.
2008-05-16 19:03:02
The whole non-toxic stimulation aside, that is somewhat profound the thought of using Ruby to force your hand into TDD. When I make myself use TDD, I'm glad I did. It is always so much nicer to watch it come together and then to have the satisfaction of knowing that I have a system in place to cover refactoring and breakage. The issue is, however, that I most often refuse to slow down as I am so proficient in Python. And not that Ruby doesn't lend itself to being proficient, it (I assume) is just new (or newer) to you (and me too).