Kym Peckham’s brain isn’t what he’d like it to be, especially its capacity to remember.
I have 100 billion brain cells. My question is: “What do they do with their time?” They certainly aren’t remembering where I left my car keys.
Generally, our memory is as reliable as a two-year-old flower girl. I think I know why: memory is not the brain’s real job. Memorising is strictly a volunteer effort for brain cells. Their real employment probably centres on avoiding blame.
Say you back the car into the garage door. Immediately all the brain cells swing into action to find a way to blame your shoes, the car or the Bush administration.
Whenever a memory function is required, the brain is forced to round up volunteer neurons. It may call a neuron, asking if it would please remember the password for your eBay account. The neuron explains that it would like to say yes, it really would, but right now it’s avoiding blame for a kitchen fire.
So the brain says, “That’s fine. Have a good night.” It then proceeds to call the next neuron. This neuron would also like to help, but claims its been on disability since experiencing a big slice of cheesecake.
After polling all 100 billion of its cells, the brain finds just enough volunteers to remember that your password is the name of a grandchild, but not enough to remember which grandchild.
Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your memory:
- Stop shampooing your hair. According to an NBC news reporter, an ingredient in shampoo called DEA might soak into your head and inhibit the growth of memory cells. This makes perfect sense to me. I’ve been shampooing every day for years, and I’m to the point now where I make my wife and child wear name tags.
- Use mnemonic devices. These are named in honour of Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of spelling bees. One mnemonic device is “Righty, tighty; lefty, loosey,” which helps me keep things straight when conversing about politics. Another example is the “image-name” device, which is helpful when you meet new people.
Let’s say you are introduced to Mrs Swartugick at a social function. While you enclose her hand in a firm handshake, you create a mental image to help you remember the name. For example, you picture a giant lollipop, shaped like Norman Rockwell’s left ear. This gives you Sweet and ART. Now for the next part of the name—TUG.
Well, that’s easy because right now the woman is tugging her hand out of your firm handshake. “Wait,” you say. “Where are you going? There’s no need to be frightened. I’m just working on an image for ‘ICK.’”
- Do something embarrassing. Vicki tells the story about going out to eat with the executive staff at her new job. A few minutes after everyone had been seated in the Mexican restaurant, the waiter appeared with chips and dips. This is nice, thought Vicki. Free chips before the meal. She took a handful and politely passed the dish around the table. She thought she was making a good impression until her boss leaned over and whispered, “Do you realise that’s my entree you’re offering everyone?“
Shame is the best way to wear something into your memory. No matter how often Vicki shampoos, she’ll never forget this.
I think shame is also a reason many saints never quitr forget their sins. On the other hand, the wicked, like various media identities, have always been known as those who have no shame. So they’re prone to forget. Why does God let them off so easily?
The doctrine of the judgement helps make sense of this. The judgement is God’s menmory device for those who’ve gone through life passing blae instead of admitting shame. And for those who’ve remembered and reprented of their sins all along, it is the time whenGod say “Sins? They seem to have slipped my mind.”
And, as for quitting shampooing, I’ll stop when I finish the 99-cent bottle I’m using at present. After all, what’s that old saying?
Waste not…something, something….