Some things I must work very hard to remember. I create mnemonic devices, like the one I devised to recall the difference between continuous and continual. Continuous never stops (that is, it is uninterrupted). Continual never lasts (that is, it recurs repeatedly, but with interruption). Sometimes the mnemonic devices are complicated and silly. When I was in college, my roommate and I came up with the phrase, “You can eat pickles in religious centers, but you can’t drink champagne in school.” I believe this was created to help us remember the court cases McCollum v. Board of Education and Zorach v. Clauson. It worked well enough that I have at least vague memories of these cases. Now, if only I could come up with a way to remember how to spell mnemonic. For some reason, I always want to put a u in it.
Then there are things that I have managed to memorize without any effort.
- Phone numbers I have never dialed
Oh, the power of jingles! I haven’t lived in Champaign-Urbana for more than 12 years, but I can tell you that the number for the Mass Transit District is 384-8188, having heard the jingle for it countless times. Back in the days when I lived there, one did not need to dial the area code. I do wonder if they had to change their jingle since that became a requirement.
Should I ever need new carpet, I only need to decide between Empire and Luna since I know the numbers for both.
- The number of one of my credit cards
Okay, so this one is actually useful, but I never actually tried to memorize it. One day when I was shopping online, I realized that I had keyed in the number so many times that I no longer needed to grab my wallet and look at the card.
- Large blocks of dialogue from John Hughes movies
I know I’m not alone in this. It’s not that I condone fascism, or any ism for that matter…
- Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
If you’ve read or seen The Outsiders, you’ve seen/heard this poem. It’s a perfectly nice poem, but I never actually intended to memorize it. Of course, C. Thomas Howell, who played the young Ponyboy Curtis went on to play the ultra-creepy shudder-inducing Reaper on Criminal Minds. So much for staying gold.