I saw Thoughtless Acts a while back and it immediately reminded me of an idea Drew and I came up with years ago. It came to the attention of people who frequented my basement office that if one became engaged in conversation, he or she would inevitably stand on top of some octagonal free weights I had lying around:
Perching oneself on these long enough would lead to fidgeting. The participant would roll them over and gradually get more aggressive by lifting and rotating the weights in various directions. This was almost entirely absent-minded, but I know I was always at least semi-conscious of crushing my foot while performing such acts.
The idea Drew and I had consisted of duplicating this structure, with flat ends rather than pudgy octagons and a thick, soft rubber coating. Different shapes (hollow triangles, cylinders, etc.) would provide for a variety of fidgeting. Owners would leave such items lying around the house for visitors to enjoy.
Essay originally published on Hungry, Horny, Sleepy, Curious. (2007).