19 Apr 2017

19th April 2017 Memory of a goldfish.


Wednesday 19th 35F, 2C, huge banks of cloud but not quite overcast thanks to blue sky in between. Hardly any wind but distinctly cooler today. It was threatened to have gone down to -5C in the night but there's no sign of frost on the grass.

I was just reading an article on the Beeb's news website about the collapse of Western Civilization. All the pointers suggest it is imminent or all but happened already. As expected, I can claim no part in the collapse. I haven't encouraged any of them to mess things up by using the car like a headless chicken. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the norm these days.

I don't need a new bike computer to remind me of the massive savings of cycling compared to everyday car use. I just wish my negative contribution to climate change was much better rewarded. I still have to pay full road taxes despite my miserly mileage. Insurance is still expensive despite the massively reduced risk of an accident through not being behind the wheel to fetch every whim which floats across the vacuum between my ears. Even my [newly] advanced great age should offer some statistical savings but doesn't. The now ancient car becomes ever more expensive to remain roadworthy. With no other option to improve matters except giving it up completely.

Small electric cars are priced right out of the Danish mass market. All due to the punitive taxes of a right wing government. Which was naively elected ONLY to stop open immigration and [hopefully] not to break anything else. That's the problem with electoral naivety born of social desperation. You always get the whole bløødy package! Strutting arrogance, warts and all.

Early showers and overcast gave way to brightness as I plodded around the 3 mile, rural block. A strangely triangular arrangement of two quiet lanes with a hypotenuse of main road. One can see right across the triangle from various viewpoints but all potential shortcuts are blocked by large fields. The breeze was chilly at first but soon tolerated bare hands.

Not much to report except the increased obscuration of familiar, threadbare, winter views by gushing, spring foliage. The birds plied back and forth as is their wont. Gulls decorated the vast swathes of still-bare earth. Each shining white blob enjoying a large radius of private space. Water glinted in distant spray tracks as the bright clouds caught the recent puddles. Perspective mocked my clumsy attempts to reach home before I became too warm. I was forced to remove my fleece cap as the sun climbed free of concealing clouds. To brighten forested humps and innocent and detached, rural dormitories.

I was allowed out for a mid afternoon ride to slightly more distant shops.  It did not start well. I could not remember, for the life of me, how to get the new Sigma computer working. I changed the magnet on the front wheel three time before returning indoors to consult YouTube for expert advice. One of Sigma's 18 instructional videos offered the clue that the computer would self start once under way. Grrr! I'd tried that with knobs on!

More asymmetric wildlife.

Eventually the "doze" screen disappeared, but still required a strict sequence of button prodding before it would actually show MPH and Trip distance. All hope of zeroing the previous trip distance was immediately abandoned. Even as I rode along it still wouldn't register MPH or anything else more interesting than two, big, fat zeroes. Much button prodding later and two rather iffy stops in traffic on the main road and it finally burst into digital life. It had actually begun to add hundredths of a mile to my previous trip distance and I was now officially, actually moving according to the speed readings.Though I'd already lost a quarter of a mile to acute, recalcitrant somnolence.

To say I have a functioning memory is a downright insult to all goldfish. Everything I do remember is as if through a dense fog. The harder I try to grasp a thought, the further it recedes. Which means I have to constantly reinvent life as I go along. Stop sniggering at the back!

I can no more remember the simplest mathematical rules than I can recite poetry, remember the lyrics of a popular song or tell jokes. I know only one rude joke which I learned in junior school. School, for me, was a ridiculously extended exercise in doodling in my scrap book and trying to discover the diameter of a wheel which travels at the speed of light by longhand multiplication. Which, I ought to add, was further exacerbated by my complete inability to "carry" digits. This was deep into pre-calculator days so the task should not be underestimated.

Learning languages involved my tackling the verbs of an alien tongue previously unknown to mankind. I had problems enough with English punctuation! For some reason I can remember only one date of historical significance. 1066 seemed to stick amongst my Teflon coated, non-stick memory cells. I can also remember 1953 for the first climb of Everest by a [heavily tanned] white man.

Despite wishing to become a legendary guitarist I could remember only three chords and only the middle notes on my beloved recorder. What happens above and below C on the musical stave is as opaque to me as Quantum Mechanics is to a squirrel. To say I am not good with names is to state the blindingly obvious. Try not remembering the names of close family on waking! Kings and queens of England? Forget it. Remember chemical symbols and reactions? They might as well have been written backwards in Mandarin. Though I'm not dyslexic as far as I can tell.

I'll admit it, I am a bit of hoarder. For years I would search every box or book I owned to find an object or specific subject matter. The exercise of constantly searching refreshed my memory of my belongings going right back to my teenage years. My countless hobbies and interests mean I forget more than I will ever really know on a daily basis.

I have always been fascinated by almost everything of a "scientific" nature. Ask me to remember the names of atomic particles and you might as well ask a hedgehog. When I was younger I read every book in the library on particle physics, cryogenics, astronomy, geology, high altitude research, deep see bathyscapes and spheres, mathematics, absolute zero, physics, chemistry, steam locomotive design, you name it. I was regular at the reference library as I tried to cram the sum of all human knowledge onto the head of a very slippery pin.

A love of classical music forced a further wedge between myself and others at school. But ask me to remember the name of a piece of music or its composer on hearing it again and again? Not on your life!

I was always interested in mechanics and optics and several hundred other peculiar interests over time. My wife refers to me as the "The Butterfly." I once sat down to list everything which had interested me by the age of thirty and seemed to be able conjure hundreds of them out of thin air. So I obviously have a badly broken, selective memory over which I have zero control, nor any choice in the matter.

With greater age it is short term memory which causes the most problems. Without a written shopping list I would return home with almost nothing. My wife rings me to add one item to the list and I will have completely forgotten it within seconds.

Remembering the first letter of bread or milk or carrots really does not help. There are other, equally apt, options which I dare not take home. I once brought home corned beef when tinned salmon was requested. Being, by far, the cleverest person on the planet is not a valid excuse at such difficult moments! A trained monkey would be better at shopping than I am without my list. At least it would know what it liked. Though, interestingly, bananas have become a staple of our diet.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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