Memory problems

I can get my home computer back today – if I want to. I found out yesterday that it’s not the video that’s the problem, it’s the RAM. Now I have to decide whether to replace the RAM or the whole computer. (What’s annoying is that the RAM is fairly new, purchased late last year as an upgrade to a desktop purchased in 2005, that doesn’t do well running programs written in 2011.)

No computer is expected to last all that long, of course. We have an even older desktop in our younger son’s room. It does fine for playing games that are older than he is (mostly purchased in the mid-to-late-90’s for his older brother), but we don’t even try to connect it to our home network, let alone the internet. If you want to use the kind of programs being written today, you need the kind of computer being built today.

This post isn’t about computer technology, though. Technology is something you buy, and when it wears out or become obsolete you replace it. If you want more memory and a faster “brain” (the CPU, or central processing unit), you just have to pay for it. But I’m more interested in the brainpower inside my skull. And that can’t be upgraded or replaced.

My husband would not be at all surprised to learn that memory starts to slip as early as age 45. He tells me that I never used to forget things, when we were younger, but now it seems to happen often. If he asks me to buy something the next time I’m at the store, it will often be not the next time or even the time after that but at least the third trip before I remember – and even then only after he reminds me a couple times.

Of course, if he would ask for something when I have pen and paper handy to write it down, that would help. I’m great at remembering things while I’m walking the dog, or taking a shower, but by the time I have a chance to write them down I have no idea what I wanted to write down – if I even remember there was something to write down. And half the time when I write it down, I forget to take the list with me. (But writing still helps; I generally can remember half the list without having it with me.)

I still have a better memory for certain things than a lot of people. I can almost always remember where I parked my car in the morning at work, just by taking note of, and then commiting to memory, how many cars down the row it is and across from which dock door. (Yesterday it was the eleventh car down, across from truck bay 27. The day before it was the sixth car in the row across from door 30.) And I surprise co-workers by remembering the number of a purchase order I processed recently, or some other bit of trivial information that just happened to stick in my head.

I surprise myself sometimes with the answers I manage to come up with in crossword puzzles. I’m sure I’ve never read Huxley’s “Eyeless in Gaza” (I don’t even know which Huxley that was), and I have no idea who Ezio Pinza is (was?). But somehow the name Ezio just seemed to go with Pinza, and the Z brought to mind Gaza for the word crossing it. Likewise, I had no idea that a snoop could be called a quidnunc, but once I had the letters _ _ IDN _ NC, somehow that word popped into my head. (Admittedly, there are not a lot of words that end in NC.)

I started doing crosswords regularly about ten years ago, specifically because I had read that they were good for staving off mental decline. Between being good with words to begin with, and having learned a number of words that show up frequently in crosswords (I was amused recently to see the clue “Crossword goose” for the word nene, more often defined as Hawaiian goose), I often beat the stated time for a “Sharp” crossword puzzler. Occasionally I even beat the “Ace” time, though only a couple times without having to look up one or two letters to finish the puzzle. (No amount of time will help me figure out that a settlement in Greenland is Etah, when one of the cross-words is the name of Peter Gunn’s girlfriend – whoever he is.)

Doing crosswords doesn’t seem to help me remember what I wanted to buy that I forgot to write down, though. Or that I need to make sure Jon’s tan pants get washed. (They’re the only ones he can wear when working at Walmart.) Or that I need to be working on my speech for Toastmasters next week. (I hate practicing speeches – it’s almost as easy to forget as making a phone call to someone I don’t know.)

But one thing I do remember is that I have to take my car in this morning to get new tires. (Unlike a new computer, these are not optional.) So Al gets his turn now on the working computer.



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