Like Flash Cards for Your Brain

Tonight, we set the clocks back one hour to end Daylight Savings Time for one more year.

To remember this, I use the old gem, "Spring Forward, Fall Back". This is known as a mnemonic device. Or basically, a memory aid.

Over the years, I've learned many - like, the Great Lakes can be remembered using the word HOMES - Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. And before Pluto got delisted from Planethood, The phrase "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" was the way to remember the planets in order of distance from the Sun.

I had phrases for remembering the notes on the treble clef, a song that listed the 50 states in alphabetical order, and that poem that tells you whether a month has 30 or 31 days.

Even in French Class, we had Mrs. RD Vandertramp - who helped you remember which verbs used ĂȘtre instead of aller in the past tense. I'd have to guess what some of the letters stood for today, but it would be a good start.

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. I couldn't work a quadratic equation to save my life, but at least I remember the order of operations.

When you think about it, it's kind of amazing how much data we have stored in our gray matter. I remember songs from Elementary School - both words and tunes. I could probably still ring up a pretty basic order of produce from Harry's - we had Product Look Up Codes (PLUs) for all the fruits and veggies. Bananas were 57. Eggplant was 976, Woodear Mushrooms were 666. My employee number at Harry's was 1092.

There was a point in my life that I could have told you what I wore on the first day of school from 5th grade on. I've dumped that data for other info. My SSN, pin numbers, passwords, which keys fit what locks. Where I left my cell phone. Did I pay the cell bill?

I've more or less made a point of not memorizing phone numbers -that's what my cell is for, but a few are still lodged in there. I recently pulled out of thin air the number of a neighbor of my parents' (whose daughter was my classmate) for Dad. So, apparently, my hard drive is doing pretty well. One number I wouldn't mind deleting from memory is our local Domino's Pizza - that doesn't speak well of my abilities to provide nutritious nourishment for our family unit.

One major fail in my memory abilities is the Homing Pigeon skill - Matt has this - he can drive somewhere once and it's locked in. How many times have I come home from the airport? A dozen? And yet, on my last trip from Denver, I had a critical data failure - I got home, but I took the scenic route.

Still, you're never too old to add data. On that same trip to Denver, I was able to sensibly determine what side of the street our destination would be on, and how many blocks we'd have to walk to get there. This, using navigational skills given to me by Matt. He was so proud.

I'm still working on left and right - the mnemonic device of making an L with your left thumb and index finger works pretty well. Maybe by the time I'm 35, I'll be ready.