Now that it is officially spring, we forget things like below-zero wind chills, foot-deep snows, and, unfortunately, in my case, the 8 times table. I misplaced it during the winter,
Now that it is officially spring, we forget things like below-zero wind chills, foot-deep snows, and, unfortunately, in my case, the 8 times table.
I misplaced it during the winter. OK, smarty pants, what's 8x7? See what I mean? How about the square root of 225? Can you name pi to five decimal places? Well, if you're a smart eighth-grader, you could remember these important numbers.
Why do we forget what we forget? (Most of you will remember that this is a subject I like pondering.)
There's a recent study out by psychologist Anders Ericcson, who worked with an ordinary guy, who, like most of us, could recall no more than seven random digits. After working with him, the man increased his total to a Mr. Spock-spectacular 80 digits. So the moral, according to review of a new book on genius in The New York Times, is that working relentlessly to improve one's skills is the best way to become outstanding.
Mozart played a ton of piano; Tiger Woods a gazillion rounds of golf. (Wait, let's not go there.)
You get the point.
Most of us, however, have worked diligently at improving unwanted skills. For example, I can sense a molecule of chocolate better than a bomb-sniffing dog can detect C4. That's because I've worked on it since age 5, relentlessly, except for Halloween. Odd, don't you think? I guess I considered Halloween to be amateur night. No candy for me, thank you. I am already on a daily regimen of the stuff.
I also have trained diligently to procrastinate. Take my garage. Please. I should clean it monthly, but I do it only in October. The smell of fallen oak leaves keys my Pavlovian response about cleaning. My wife talks to me a lot about something she calls “spring cleaning” and asks me what I have marked for recycling and trash. Well, I guess I could get rid of some automotive tools that are not used on cars post--1970. That cracked funnel can go. I can also ditch those spark plugs for a motorcycle I no longer own.
Talk about forgetting to remember, I can't recall acquiring much of the stuff in my garage. I seem to go out every year or so and buy an oil filter wrench. I own seven different kinds now and about six duplicates. Soon, they will be obsolete because we’ll have digital oil or virtual oil.
Anyway, the season is motivating me to get the 8 tables down pat. Sometimes, I cheat, and instead of multiplying, I add a series of 8s with my fingers.
I seem to be able to remember to do that.
Peter Costa is a senior editor with GateHouse Media New England. His latest humor book, “Outrageous CostaLiving: Still laughing through life," is available at amazon.com.