John Brock: Thoughts on colder weather, faulty memory and proper spelling

  • Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It seems to me that the latest cool spell we've experienced is a little unseasonable for this time of year. I sorta feel sorry for those folks who have ventured down from the frozen tundra “up there” to enjoy the sunny, warm Southland. Their numbers will grow as the winter progresses.

It must be a powerful disappointment for those fellow Americans who are latitudinally handicapped and who have sought warmer climes down South.

Some won't admit to reality, however, and on the coldest day you will see at least a few Northern visitors wearing shorts and flip-flops — even if their upper torso is covered with sweaters and a heavy jacket. Hey! That's part of the fun in winter vacationing in the sunny Southland. You can't just call home and say, “It's cold as blue blazes down here!” One must keep up appearances in order not to seem foolish for spending good money traveling to near freezing weather. So, you just tell the folks back home, “I wore shorts to play golf this afternoon” — followed by a mental: Brrrrrrrrr,

On the other hand we have to recognize that compared to snow, ice and single-digit-degree temps of the North, our coldest climate still seems quite toasty.


As you grow older, memory seems to slip. I have certainly found that to be the case and I have resorted to all sorts of gimmicks to help me remember something from yesterday or for that matter — an hour ago. I can remember who sat behind me in the first grade and I can even remember the names of hundreds and perhaps thousands of people and events that happened years ago. But I cannot always remember what I had for lunch yesterday or the names of the folks I met last night. It's devastating.

I have always had an exceptional memory. I can remember the most obscure details of conversations held years ago but my short-term memory is shot. I understand that I am not alone.

I have taken to writing notes about upcoming obligations and appointments. But then I can't remember what I did with the notes.

One trick I learned at the dawn of the cell phone era was if I found myself away from home when something came up that I did not want to forget — I called home on my cell phone. I speak to my answering machine and when I get home a message is waiting reminding me of the important facts. The only problem with this system is when I then write down the message — I lose my note.

For Christmas and at my suggestion one of my sons gave me a tiny digital recorder. This little instrument, no larger than some folk's thumb, fits easily in my shirt pocket and can record hours of dictation. I thought this would be the ticket to aiding my fading memory. But, alas, whenever I need the blasted thing, I discover that I have forgotten to take it with me!

There are many methods available to help one remember things. The best known one is the “association” trick. For instance if you really want to remember someone's name, just associate it with another word. To remember the name of someone you have just met, say a John Byrd. Just think of a bathroom commode with a giant bird perched on top. Sheer genius! Right? .

It worked pretty well until even this method caused me much embarrassment. Upon meeting Mrs. Womack, I associated her name with “stomach” and the very next time I saw the dear lady, I called her, “Mrs. Belly.”

Then there was another occasion that occurred before I stopped the practice altogether. I had just met Mrs. Booker and made the proper association. Imagine my embarrassment when upon the next time of encountering Mrs. Booker, I called her “Mrs. Hooker”.

So much for associations. But what do you do?

Spelling lesson

A nice lady Emailed me to relate the very first spelling lesson articulated by her three-year-old daughter.

The young lass announced to her mother that she could spell, “Myrtle Beach”. The condescendingly but patient mom replied. “Good! How do you spell, Myrtle Beach?” Whereupon, the child dutifully undertook the laborious task as she said slowly: “WPDE-TV — Myrtle Beach”.

Who could argue because she had heard from birth this “spelling” every half-hour on the half-hour from the local television station.

And how does one spell, “Charleston?” Right. “WCSC-TV.”

John Brock is retired and lives in Georgetown County and can be reached by mail at this newspaper or by Email: brock@johnbrock.com.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

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