Anyone seen my short-term memory?

What has happened to my brain?? !””Ich fregt dich! which is  as an emphatic a way to ask (in Yiddish, which thank god hasn’t yet dripped out of my ears at night like draining the oil from a hot tired engine.)
Seriously now, I’ve opened the water valve for ‘Line 3’ irrigation four(4) times in the last 6 months… and then instead of closing it after ten minutes. I left it blissfully bleeding on for usually an entire night. Water is expensive here, and I’m paying from the pocket for my mental ‘deficit’. Kinda like “If you think education is expensive… try ignorance!”
And so of course, vowing never to forget again, I do my best to mentally record the fact that I’ve turned it on. Ha, fat chance! I *have* no mental recording function. Today I had to check four times, about every five minutes, to be really certain that I had in fact shut the damn thing off.
Reminds me on a dementia-ated Grandma who, after finally getting into your car for a lift to, say, the bank, insists on returning yet again to her house to be sure she hasn’t left the gas on. I may be a grandpa myself, but when I look in the mirror (if I remember where it hangs) I sure don’t see a guy one would expect to be suffering from what I now need to stop denying: I have next to no short-term memory.
Ok, look at the cup ‘half full’; I just now (today? last year?) found on the net the songs from my very first ’45’: James Dean singing ‘Big Bad John’ b/w “No, I won’t go hunting with you Jake, but I’ll go chasing wimmin’ Even before I gave it a listen I ‘rehearsed’ in my mind all the lyrics, chord-changes, key-modulations, and was then delighted to hear that my ‘long-term’ hard-drive seems to be OK. In there, somewhere, is equally preserved the intro themes for 1956 radio news “From around the world and across the sea, Lowell Thomas and the news, brought to you by Delco ‘dry-charge’ batteries.” Ha, I’m thinking if I got my hands on a cheap Philco ‘cow-farmer-budget’ radio from the ’50s and set it up to play every time I turn the water line on, that’d solve my problem.
Searching for a proximate cause of the malady, um.. you don’t think mebbe two metric tons of every drug ever discovered, used (as directed?) for 50 years might have some part in it?? Oddly, I discount this facile explanation. I am, if anything, more lucid than I’ve ever been, these days, and that’s a tough act to follow, considering what I’ve minded and master-minded so far.
Still, it’s a let-down to have to gradually distrust my once-automatic ‘mind-like-a-steel-trap’. I’m actually afraid to pilot an aircraft anymore; so sure am I that I’d forget to lower the gear before landing. (Oops, an in-joke and sore subject) But at least my dear Father waited until almost 90 to realize and admit to what I admit to here at 67 already.
I’m not sure how to even tag this post: ‘Terry Pratchett’? ‘Where’s my hat? Duh, on yer head!’, or perhaps just ‘technical solutions for automatic crop irrigation’. I do have a full-function controller; it’d fix the issue, ‘no problem’ as Nixon said. And yet, as he added presciently ‘ But it would be wrong!’ Mixed metaphor, but I somehow insist on fixing myself at the source rather than inventing work-arounds.
Ok, enough already. I need to go check my water-valves.
Help from readers will be deeply appreciated/ JS


11 thoughts on “Anyone seen my short-term memory?

  1. somewittyhandle

    Me, I go for the work-arounds every time. Alarms; routines; knots in metaphorical handkerchiefs.
    My short term memory seems to function very much like yours, but I am much more liberal with my excuses. If I may a choice one, which you may use as needed:

    In its sagacity, my brain makes a distinction between a) information which is of persistent value, and I will still want to know tomorrow, and b) ephemeral minutiae, which are useful only once. Example of a) would be “Uagadugu is the capital of Burkina Faso.” This will likely still be true next year, and so will be as valuable a piece of info then as it is now. It gets filed under ‘keep’. Example of b) would be “My train to Watford leaves at 11:26”. At 11:27, this information will depreciate to zero, and will never be needed again. I therefore don’t bother to curt it a key for the safety deposit box. I just write 11:26 on a piece of paper, and look at the piece of paper at 5 minute intervals between 8:00 and 11:25.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Duncan, I sure do appreciate your informed contribution to what is a more serious question than I’d imagined while tossing off the post. Although there are obvious work-arounds, still something disturbs me about embracing prosthetic device instead of insisting on re-hab-ing my natural legs, so to speak. I do jot down (for posterity?) my every daily move at roughly 15 minute intervals, filling a hefty volume every six months. “Why?” ask ‘normals’, who suggest that I may be an obsessive. No, that ‘black hole’ of having no data, mental or scriptural about what I did just the previous day is just too awful an experience to chance encountering. I will not go gently into that hazy limbo, where trees fall in my forest by I can’t document or recall having even been there to note their sound.
      Obviously, rank-ordering info by lasting importance, or not, is something our brains do automatically through evolutionary pressures. And as you describe, we often over-ride the default program for cultural priorities. All in all, it is an interesting process to observe, subjectively. (I wrote a humorous? piece about this but forgot to post it a few weeks back: the devolution of the dust-pan from ‘Where is it? to “What is it?. But now to find it: probably in Burkina-Faso somewhere./JS

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Yes, those are the ‘go-to solutions; tech for sure, and ‘enhanced-lucidity’: also works, but still I obstinately try to wrest every bit of un-aided natural recall out of my aging brain. For example, every serious conversation I have is later ‘reconstructed’, phrase by phrase, as an exercise in memory. Hell, I don’t even remember what my memory used to feel like before I began needing to ‘refresh’ it like dynamic RAM. (Ha, I feel lately like the old joke about ‘Write-Only-Memory’)
      Thanks for stopping by, guy.

      1. happierheathen

        Heh. I should have clarified my definitions. In my book, a shovel is technology and not all drugs are psychoactive. Further, ethanol is a drug but cannabis in its natural form is not. So… we probably agree more closely than you at first surmised. eh?

        My vote, though of no value, goes to the high zoot controller widget. Or, better, a Linux-based wirelessly networked system incorporating soil monitor probes, at least one really good weather station, zone irrigation, weather forecasts grabbed from the internet, and enough custom software to make it all run like magic. But the Chinese plastic box is fine, too. 😀

  2. promisesunshine

    I had a brief conversation with a stranger in a hallway yesterday. About 10 minutes later, she walked into a room in which she and I were the only occupants. It was a good 30 minutes, and after she restarted the previous conversation, before I realized she was the person I’d talked to in the hallway.
    I scare myself a little sometimes.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      OMG, that is sooo familiar. Look up face-recognition deficit; I forget the queer name for it, but it causes me no small amount of embarrassment. In my case it started suddenly, after a fall from a ladder which damaged my brain. Ha, I’ve learned to especially value folks who always wear the same color shirt; at least I know who they are!
      Anyway, I’ve no doubt you’ll develop ‘tricks’ to pin names to faces. Hmm.. it used to be so easy and automatic, right?

      1. promisesunshine

        reminds me also of the time i saw someone out in public. the person seemed THRILLED to see me. i had no idea who it was. not even the vaguest familiarity with this person.
        but, i’m a good smiler. (I was told this today at school) so perhaps the person had no clue that i had no clue.

        1. solberg73 Post author

          Something I didn’t add in the previous response: and re: smiling-but-why. I ‘m almost 100% certain by now that whether we liked or hated someone (to cite extremes) is stored in an entirely separate location in the brain from the prosaic details of that person. So often I meet a ‘total stranger’ but feel compelled to either hug him/her … or conversely to avoid contact or prepare for a fight. This is, as you may guess, an odd feeling. And is most often followed by, (after the tricks and song-and-dance of realizing who the hell the guy is), then remembering precisely *why* I should have felt as I did.
          Hmm. it’s kinda like gazing at a bare limbic-system neural-firing without the obscuring overlay of the left-brain. I love to think of it as ‘draining a lake and seeing all the newly-exposed ship-wrecks. Or the Sun’s corona during a total eclipse.
          Guess we function lots of the time on ‘info’ we don’t even know we are picking up, or storing.
          Great to chat here, and keep smiling/ JS

  3. eleanorio

    There is nothing to be done about failing short term memory except the obvious: set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes after you’ve turned on the irrigation. When it rings, you’ll not remember why you set it, then hear the water sprinklers doing their thing and rush out to turn them off. A departed friend of mine used to call this having CRAFT syndrome: Can’t Remember a Fucking Thing.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      I thought about you a lot on this issue, El, and your dear mother, bless her memory. (Oof, what an ironic expression: My paternal grandfather Jacob had blessedly no working memory since the first day I met him in 1952. Always asked the same question: “How many horses you got working?” long after we went over to them-there new-fangled tractors for plowing. His excuse was a stroke. Hmm, sometimes I wish I had an excuse.
      I do often forgive myself for almost assuming that folks will know my name and I haven’t seeming bothered myself to reciprocatie learn theirs. This fault is, I’m very sure, a legacy of being on stage 7 nights a week for decades. Of course they know my name, duh, it’s on the marquis. But seriously, here in Israel my name is a bit less ‘droppable’ and I ought to grow up and act normal. I’ll get right on that.
      Thanks as usual for your thoughts♥


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