That spot

My dad would come home from work everyday and put his wallet keys and other contents of his pockets in a certain spot. The same spot everyday. I do the same thing with my keys and I try to put my notebook on the same spot as well. Friday I put my notebook in a different spot and this morning I left the house without my workbook.

I always thought of what my dad does as a habit and maybe it is but it is a habit for a reason. There are two types of memory episodic and procedural. Remembering to place and retrieve keys every afternoon and morning is an example of procedural. Remembering an experience, like a family trip to the lake or swimming out to the deck at the lake and resting in the sun while your muscles recovered from the exhausting swim out and working up the energy to swim back before the sun set is episodic.

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It can be easy to forget either type of memory. Here is an amazing article outlining what happens when we forget. Essentially the article goes over at a basic level how episodic memory works. Memories are chemical changes at connection points (synapses) between neurons in the brain. Each memory is stored as thousands or millions of synapses. Chemically procedural and episodic memories are the same just different parts of the brain are involved.

Basically our memories are chemical reactions creating a story. The procedural memory is less complex than episodic and therefore easier to remember. Examples of procedural memory are driving a car, leaving keys near the door and riding a bike.

It seems the trick to remembering anything is to always be present and make connections with as many neurons as you can. Smell taste and feel every moment of everyday. That way the moment becomes a memory with many hooks in your brain and you will have a rich experience even in the mundane.

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In case you were wondering I indeed did forget my notebook this morning.

No such thing (get interested)

There is a podcast that I am a huge fan of, it is called People I mostly admire. On the podcast I think it is episode 4 the host Steven Levitt interviews Ken Jennings. Ken Jennings of course talks about his jeopardy success and also his love for trivia, games and learning. One thing that jumped out at me was when Ken Jennings said the the secret to learning and knowing so much was interest.

“Like the people you see on Jeopardy tonight don’t have photographic memories. That’s not a real thing. They’re just interested in like ten times the things you are. And so more facts stick.” — Ken Jennings

It is easy to say that people know more than me because of this photographic memory but see Ken was right. According to the Scientific American there is no evidence for a photographic memory. Sorry it is not that easy if you want to know and learn something you will need to find a way to do it, no shortcuts.

I was often asked in school what I was interested in. What do you want to major in? What will your focus be? Do you like science more than math or are you a fan of the arts? Problem for me was that I loved all of it. I love history, art, science, math, and social studies. Life was and still is for me very very interesting.

When I was young me and my sisters told my mom that we were bored and my mom told us that there was no such thing as being bored only boring people. Man I hated that. How dare she call me and my sisters bored. I hated that comment but, it made me really start to look around and find ways not to be bored and learn as much as I could about everything. As a kid I learned how and why microwaves worked, why bullets moved the way they did when fired, what makes a rocket move, what are different types of art and when they were popular. my grandmother would buy me encyclopedias (yes I am that old) and I would devour them. Here I could see pictures and words describing places I’ve never been before, science I’ve never heard of. It took me forever to understand what my mom meant when she told me and my sister that there was no such thing as being bored, then I saw this skit from Louis CK. I understand that the comedian was canceled and i in no way would support what he did to get canceled but this skit in his show really hits the nail on the head with regards to the impossibility of being bored.

The world and you yourself is truly endless and interesting. Instead of being bored be an explorer look inward outward and appreciate the vastness, beauty and ugly of everything.