“Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”
― James Cook

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Hydraulic Toilet Seats and the Law of Unintended Consequences

About eight months ago, I came home from work
and was greeted at the door by my lovely wife
who was clearly beaming with pride and grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

She gleefully proclaimed, “I have solved the problem! Life is good.”

She grabbed me by the hand and walked me to each of our three bathrooms
and showed me her new discovery:

Hydraulically lowering toilet seats!

My wife lives in a world of testosterone.

We have 3 boys, ages 22, 18, and 15,
and she is severely outnumbered in our household.
Don’t get me wrong, its not a democracy, all votes aren’t counted the same.
There are 4 males and 1 female in our family, but her vote counts as 5.

Everyone in our house knows it.
There is no disputing the fact.

Well, nearly every female I’ve ever been around,
whether at work, or at home has one common bone of contention with guys
—bathroom etiquette.

Their complaints always center around 2 factors specifically:

1) Pee on the floor.
2) The position of the toilet seat.

In a feeble attempt to defend the honor of the men in our house,
I’ve tried to excuse factor number 1
by explaining the physics of fluid dynamics and pressure.

I know it’s not a strong position, but it’s all I can come up with,
so I keep going back to the well.

So far in the first 25 years of my marriage,
I have never mounted a successful argument.
It always ends with her saying something like,
“Ugh! I don’t care about all that.
I just want you guys to stop peeing on the floor!!”

Tough to argue that one…..
She’s right….
We all know it.

As far as the position of the seat is concerned,
I’ve been able to make a little headway by claiming,
“Well, sometimes if you’re trying to be quiet,
that seat makes a lot of noise when it slams down on the porcelain bowl.”

It’s true.
When we have one guy in each bathroom,
it sounds like someone is taking bating practice with a metal bat.

On the day she installed the hydraulic toilet seats,
that argument was completely diffused.

And we all learned a valuable lesson about
The Law of Unintended Consequences.

One of the building blocks of many economic theories,
The Law Of Unintended Consequences states that the actions of people–especially
governments often have unanticipated or unintended effects.

In the case of the amazing hydraulic toilet seats,
the effort to solve one girl versus boy bathroom problem
actually exacerbated the other.

Here’s how.

Each space age toilet seat is designed to close with just a tap of the finger
to push it beyond a critical pivot point,
at which time the hydraulics are activated,
and the seat descends slowly and quietly to its resting place.

However, my wife also likes to make sure our bathrooms are very well decorated,
so each toilet lid has a thick,color coordinated rug-like cover
to match the décor of the room.
(One of our bathrooms even has a really cute chair in it—not sure what that’s for).

Anyway, the lid covers cause the seats, when placed in the up position,
to rest just beyond the crucial pivot point. So, as soon as you push the seat up,
you have about 2-3 seconds to take care of your business before it lowers itself
into the line of fire—which has the potential for disaster.

The solution for the males in the house requires a degree of athleticism.

Since both hands are generally occupied with garment management
and biological control, your only option is to stand on one leg and use your knee
in a Captain Morgan maneuver to hold the seat in the up position
while you finish the job.

It’s a precarious endeavor, and the slightest wobble or loss of grip
will literally leave you on your knees with Lysol and paper towels.

The seat, however, lowers slowly and quietly …
every time.

So, in trying to solve one problem, you create another….

The Law Of Unintended Consequences.

It’s the same for pitchers and pitching coaches.

I see it all the time.

A pitcher scuffles a little and immediately we look for a magical mechanical adjustment
to solve the problem.

But the kinetic chain and the need for perfect timing of
movement are relentlessly unforgiving. Often the slightest adjustment causes
unintended consequences in other parts of the delivery,
and the results can be disastrous.

In-game mechanical adjustments usually produce the most glaring unintended
consequences. In fact, trying to change your mechanics in the heat of battle
rarely makes things better, and often has just the opposite effect.

Recall from an earlier email, Bernstein’s second motor learning principle:

“Mechanical inefficiencies do not happen in a vacuum. They require two factors,
time and tension.”

Click here if you’d like to review that article:

Mechanical inefficiencies are incorrect movement patterns,
which cause you to lose command or velocity.

In my opinion, there are only 3 possible areas for making adjustments during a game
without risking severe unintended consequences:

I call them The 3 T’s

1) Tempo—
Move faster or slower during your pitching motion;
or work faster or slower between pitches.
In my experience, most guys benefit from speeding up their tempo when they’re struggling.
But rarely, it may be necessary to slow down.

2) Target—
Adjust your sites. If you’re missing high, aim low.
If you’re missing low, aim high, etc… like adjusting the sites on a rifle.

3) Tension—
Anxiety causes tension. Learn to recognize tension in the muscles of your body,
which are indicators of stress. Develop and practice tactics for managing tension
when game performance begins to unravel. Use those tactics in the heat of the moment
to get yourself tension free and back on track.

Dr. Tom Hanson at Playbigbaseball.com
is one of the best in the business at teaching players to manage performance anxiety.

Beyond the three T’s, I would caution anyone against making in-game adjustments.

Tempo, Target, and Tension….that’s it.
Otherwise you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to


At The ARMory, we get it.

We make adjustments subtly yet effectively.

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