Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Used to Know that!

It appears as if my brain has reached capacity. It has adopted the new "Zen" rule of organization - "One in - One out". Where once my brain was a hive of fractal-like activity, my brain's new mantra is minimalism. I was not consulted.

Whenever a new nugget of information enters, an old one is automatically jettisoned into some "trash" file from which there is no retrieval. Unfortunately, I don't get to choose which items to jettison.

This automatic editing is a dreadful nuisance, especially when something that has been jettisoned is later needed. There are few things as frustrating as being aware that you used to know something, and now you don't.

Words, I find myself searching for words. Now this is a damned nuisance when you're a writer and have been for 50 years. I once had an editor estimate my vocabulary at 50,000 of the suckers - he was in a fit of pique because he had to constantly edit my submissions to that 7th grade reading level newspapers and magazines sought to maintain.

But despite my editor's irritation, whatever I wanted to say, whatever nuance I wished to convey, I had a word, (sometimes half a dozen words) at my disposal to serve the purpose. Now there are times I feel as if I'm writing texts for beginning readers. "Look Jane! See Spot! See Spot run! Run Spot run! Run to Dick!" (I blame Dick and Jane to my over-fondness for the exclamation point to this very day!)

I'm reading papers on Complex Adaptive Systems, very exciting, but when I go to try to explain the workings of the immune system to a patient who is genuinely confused about the differences between inherited and autoimmune conditions I find I have to look up the immune system. I knew that information by heart a few years back, now I scratch my head and have to read about T-cell activation three times before my light bulb fires.

I don't know if this is age, too much going on up there to pack neatly into one small round head or my fondness for cholesterol-laden poutine, but for now I'm following the lead of a poster called "pinkfreud" on a forum I ran across and calling it "hardening of the smarteries."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So long Sherman, Hello Boris!

Sherman "the tank" being the four wheel drive, super-cab, long box with canopy, needs-a-ladder-to-get-into, F-150 pickup I've been driving for the past five years.

I can't say we've ever had a more reliable vehicle. We bought it, put on a new windshield and installed new brakes, did a tune-up and changed all the fluids, and other than buying new tires and regular oil changes we've not had to spend a penny on it since. It's not going down the driveway because it won't run, it's going down the driveway because I just can't drive it anymore. I end up with pulled muscles and a three or four day migraine every time I have to climb in and out of it and wrestle/drive it to the store. Time for a change.

Since I don't have the energy or the car smarts to search for a replacement, Ian the familial car guru assumed the responsibility for shopping for a new car for me. Back in the day when he was a car salesman he sold Volvos and Mercedes and was pretty sure from the beginning that he wanted to find one or the other for us. Bless him.

After a month or so of looking, enter the new boy on the block, a stocky but meticulously-groomed German gentleman surnamed Mercedes-Benz who is a dream to drive.

The pickup requires a football field to turn around in, the Benz turns around in its own footprint, with no effort whatsoever. Even Ian said after driving the Benz driving the pickup was like driving a horse-drawn wagon. Yeah, I've wrestled those horse for years. My arms are three inches longer than they were when we bought it. But no pulled muscles or migraines after a trip to the WalMart in the Benz. Such a relief!

The Benz' first owner was "Boris", the Russian Ambassador to Japan, so he's spent most of his life in Japan. Boris the Ambassador then came to Canada, bringing the Benz with him. Now, after a lifetime of chauffeurs and very light diplomatic service (only about 7000 km annually), Boris the Benz is what you might call semi-retired, as we don't drive much. He'll get lots of time to sit in his parking stall and think about whatever retired diplomat's cars think about.

Thank you Ian and welcome to the family Boris!