31 January 2010

Some of you will appreciate and understand that as one “matures” it seems that occasionally one’s memory can become a little bit less reliable than it once was. How many of us have entered a room and then paused, trying to recollect what mission had led us to that particular room at that particular time? How many of you, like me, find yourselves halfway up the stairs, completely unable to remember whether you were going up the stairs or down? Me? I regularly forget my name, the name of my wife and children as well as the name of our favourite canine companion.

There is the story of the elderly couple which had been experiencing declining memories, so they decided to take a power memory class where one is taught to remember things by association. A few days after the class, the old man was outside talking with his neighbour about how much the class helped him.

“What was the name of the instructor?” asked the neighbour.

“Oh, ummmm, let’s see,” the old man pondered. “You know that flower, you know, the one that smells really nice but has those prickly thorns, what’s that flower’s name?”

“A rose?” asked the neighbour.

“Yes, that’s it,” replied the old man. He then turned toward his house and shouted, “Hey, Rose, what’s the name of the instructor we took the memory class from?”

All that is a prelude to explain the acquisition of my latest toy – a digital voice recorder.

Now, these devices are not new nor particularly exciting and I used to have one that used mini-tapes which I found very helpful. When I am driving around I frequently have my most dynamic and incisive thoughts and ideas; since I can’t write them down I dictate them into the recorder and play them back when I get home or work (if I remember). The old recorder was becoming increasingly unreliable and so, after spotting a special offer just after Christmas, I recently became the proud owner of a new, compact and, so far, utterly reliable digital voice recorder which now serves the same purpose.

Allow me to share with you a complete and unexpurgated transcript of the very first message I recorded on the new device:

“Right. What did I just say I needed to do? I can’t remember! God damn it! It was something to do with the Learning Platform. It will come to me – wait for it! Bye.”

(I’m just glad I didn’t use the “F” word). Want to hear it for yourself?

Now, how bad is that? I purchase a device to assist me in remembering those random but useful thoughts and ideas which come to me from time to time. However, in the time between a thought flitting across my consciousness and my picking up the digital voice recorder and pressing Record, that original thought has vanished into the ether. So now what I seem to have is a device which records my frustration at not being able to remember what I just needed to remember. Just what I need.

More snow on Friday evening but fortunately, just a smattering. Interestingly, it had started snowing on Friday evening, just as Ms Playchute was about to deliver dinner to her parents at the other end of the village. It was quite wet snow (large flakes) and clearly was not going to amount to much of anything. In the time between arriving at her parents’ house, delivering the dinner and returning to the car, however, the temperature suddenly plunged below freezing so that the once wet snow was now fused to her windscreen. Apparently, it required an industrial jack hammer to clear a space sufficiently large to see through for the journey home.

The sudden drop in temperature reminded me of a similar incident when I was at Yale in New Haven. It was late afternoon during one of the winter months, probably February, and it was raining very slightly, a misty rain which was essentially just one step beyond thick fog. All of a sudden the temperature dropped to well below freezing and all the moisture (all over the ground, the sidewalk, the street, the parked cars, the trees, etc.) froze instantly creating a slippery sheath of ice everywhere. Within the space of about three seconds half a dozen cars slid off the road, a couple of old ladies did the splits and it took about forty-five minutes to crawl a couple of blocks home. Fascinating.

Much love to you all,