Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Cruelty of Lost Memory


My Grandma and Grandpa Pogue's farm in Indiana. I can tell from the silo that this photo was likely taken in the early 1980s. I think the farm was sold out of the family sometime after 1984. It was a playground for me, albeit a somewhat dangerous one. I remember sliding down one of the roofs of the buildings, lol.

I remember many things from childhood, some good, some bad, but some of my fondest memories come from visiting my grandparents' houses. Grandparents usually spoil their grandchildren. Grandma and Grandpa's house was a place of good food, candy, and gifts, and relatively free of responsibilities and chores. I have plenty of happy memories from my childhood homes, but I also remember being disciplined and having to do homework and wash dishes. Grandma and Grandpa's house was more fun. I have particularly fond memories from my Grandma and Grandpa Pogue's farm.

I spent quite a bit of time on the farm over a couple of years after my parents divorced. It had open fields, cows, pigs, dogs, and woods. There was a perennial creek along one side. The property around the house exemplified American self-reliance. There were enormous stacks of firewood, apple trees, pear trees, a gigantic vegetable garden with a strawberry patch on one end, rhubarb, a gooseberry bush, a grape arbor, and probably other food plants I've forgotten about. My grandmother's shelves were stocked with rows of canned foods for winter and they had a deep freeze in the mud room full of butchered beef and pork that my grandpa had raised himself. I remember many good things about my days on the farm.

Me on my Uncle Dick's combine harvester around 1982, not certain of the year. He was harvesting on Grandpa's farm because Grandpa's harvester had broken down. This is one of my good memories that continues to fade.

The problem is that the human brain can't store all of the details of memory. It is designed by nature/God/evolution to only store relevant, practical info. We retain important things long term, including some happy memories, but mostly lessons, skills, and recent things. The brain is specifically designed to forget things that are not useful, because they would take up too much room. In order to remember them, we would have to walk around with heads the size of a house. Unfortunately those memories sacrificed include happy days spent playing, or a particular morning baking cinnamon rolls in my grandma's kitchen.

From a biological standpoint, I understand the necessity of purging details from memory. It keeps us moving forward and adapted to react in the moment. I assure you, there are many things I would like to forget, but we also possess the ability to reminisce about the good times, and it's frustrating to not remember everything. Nature deprives us of our memories.

It's cruel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Two Planks of Death and Deep Winter


Back to the bottom of the ski resort on skis. (I usually snowboard)

I've had a lot of trouble getting motivated to go to the ski resort this year, despite the fact that I invested in a season pass. Yesterday, second week of the new year was my second time this season, and first on skis (i.e. two planks of death). I rightly decided to go back to the kiddie slope and ride the conveyer belt rather than the ski lift, even though I rode the lift last year on skis. My first run down I was stiff, awkward, and could barely control myself. My legs were shaking from effort by the end of the short hill. I have this problem that I tend to fight myself when I'm learning something new and I was way too tense. Fortunately I worked this out within a couple of rides and was making tight s-turns by the end of the day.

Then I was short of breath and shaky after walking back to my car. I'm not able to exert myself at altitude this year without struggling to breath. I've got to get back into shape!

The main barrier to fitness is seasonal depression. I hate this time of year, despite the winter sports. The days are short and cold. At least we are past the solstice and the days grow longer.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Airline Follies

Frozen Northern Arizona from a United regional jet.

Delays, a canceled flight, a diverted flight, and an unplanned hotel stay characterized my recent trip to visit family in Tennessee. The cancelation was the result of a lack of a pilot. I assume this is a consequence of coronavirus, or at least a consequence of employee testing at United Airlines. The diversion seems less excusable. Granted, there was a winter storm upon Flagstaff at the time, but it was above freezing and other flights were operating from the airport. We ended up in Prescott, which I didn't even realize had commercial service. It does, but the airport is even smaller than Flagstaff. I rented a car and drove back to Flagstaff. The surface never froze. That's the second time I've ended up driving from one airport to another. The previous time I'd missed the connection at Phoenix.

I'd also experienced a delay on my outbound flight when the airline was already running a few minutes behind, and they wasted time until an approaching storm arrived, and by rules had to de-ice the plane, even though it was only a few flurries and any idiot could see the wings were not iced. I got to my connection in Denver in plenty of time, but of course that is the flight that was canceled. What followed was an unplanned night in a hotel near the Denver airport. And I lost a day that was meant to be spent with family. You think of an airline for flying but it kind of seems like United has an affinity for not flying.