Friday, December 12, 2008


Once these kids I was in college with (yes, we were kids, and we finally admit it) decided to celebrate the independence of the United States (I believe William Jefferson Clinton was the president — like I said, we were quite young and didn't know about all the borrowing from China yet) by shooting bottle rockets and such in a parking lot of the apartments where we lived.

The three four-plexes were made of wooden green-encrusted shingles and flooded if one lived on the south side where the hill was. There was a creek below, and "Moss Creek" represents some of my happiest moments. I think I was 21 to 23. Without looking it up, I am not sure.

A highlight of the evening, aside from the angry non-friend resident who came out declaring we should desist because she had a bunch of fireworks in her car's trunk (I know, it still makes me laugh, makes me think of that news story in which the person blew up the house because he turned on an oven without checking — who checks? Yes, of course, I do, always — to see whether it was empty. And, yes, who stores fireworks in the oven), was when the boys took a big cardboard-backed poster of the Memorex Man, propped him on the roof and fired away.

Never mind that they were shooting at their own home.  Unfortunately, we did not have digital cameras then.

Fortunately, my paranoia did not pan out, and all was well. I don't think anyone even got burned, despite the fact that at the "end" of the night, the envelope-pushing took the form of taking random paper bags of Chinese gunpowder products, lighting them on fire on the ground and seeing which way things would shoot out at our feet.

That's how you know you have overbought.

A short while ago, I was trying to recall whether a certain dream I had happened on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) or some other time.

I did not blog it, journal it, nor inform the subject via e-mail of what my subconscious seems to be up to. The scriptwriters on Numbers tonight had one of the characters say that our psyches play things out so that we don't have to in real life. That explanation doesn't do much for me.

I don't like not to remember things.  I'm not 80 nor 60 nor even yet 40.

My memory has essentially be transfered to cyberspace. I joke to those I interview (even unofficially; you are all always on the record) that I don't remember anything that is not written down. I have grown fully into my "photographic memory" in that I can't recall anything I am not immediately reading.

We do have terribly much to manage these days.*

But still.

It troubles me that I can't recall basic personal cycles, hours of work, times of medication, amounts of experience – without a written record. Most of the records are virtual. They are tied to the calendar mapped on my computer's hard drive, they are logged in the list of the e-mails I have sent, and they are typed up into items such as this, which I do not own, which I would not have access to in most earth-zones nor which is at all private (is not immune to data-mining).

Anytime I recall anything factual, I can only see its written record in my mind's eye.

There are obvious pitfalls to storing data in such a way that requires a special (and ever-becoming-obsolete) tool for its access.  I have an IBM PS notebook computer from the 1990s full of things that are getting more and more difficult to retrieve or transfer.  Books and paper notebooks are heavy.  Books can be burned, but they can come in handy in ways a Kindle cannot.  (Fire — staying warm and cooking — is important, for example, but books can't be eliminated in one fell technological swoop the way le Grid could.)

Case in point:  A free e-mail address I used to use abruptly turned into a pay-site one day, and all the saved mails, including ones I felt were valuable and genuine reactions about 9/11 from friends and strangers, were suddenly and irretreivably gone. It was like a fire. Like dealing with a fire, I had no choice but to let it go. Gone.  In practice, that's what I'm doing with all the texts on the old laptop, too.  Its disk drive is dead; the ports have outdated pin-configs, there is, naturally, no USB, no firewire.

And as someone who drags around a MacBook all the time in public and knows anyone could steal it or that I could somehow accidentally get hit by a bus and become one with the thing, I certainly don't do a lot of backing up to the external harddrive.  But even that is somewhat useless, you know. 

I wrote on the last page of a college exam today that "someone needs to learn some dates."  It was sad not to be able to visualize what I needed.  I'm sure some was due to having had only a few hours of sleep, to studying after a full day of tedious work-tasks, to not having (providing) an additional hour – but I also know that I rarely store anything in my real brain anymore.

It's a fallow place where I'm waiting for impetus to plant anything.  I still water what's there, but I see the desert advancing and know that it's just easier for now to store grain in RAM-jars.

Ask me about "who was in that movie," "who is that artist," "what did that politician say," or even the simplest damn thing like "what's the exact wording of the First Amendment," and I will ask the Internet.  Sometimes, I will search in one of the several hundred books in the other room, but usually, yes, I'm at a loss in public without something like an iPhone.  (I do not have any G3 machines.)  I used to know things.  I used to have time to learn things.

I know some of you out there will have your own semi-informed theories about my brain.  Yes, whatever, go ahead.  I still say that there's too much to keep track of.  After all, I do have over 100 draft e-mails awaiting completion or sitting there saying, "hey, I'm an action-item, act on me," 500 in the inbox, 1,000s of articles, press releases, and images to keep simultaneously at the forefront.  And that's just the employment-related part.  There are three other e-mail addresses (at least), 30,000 other ideas I'm looking for the time to use.  And school.

1 comment:

hearmysong said...

my brain hurts just pondering that last fact.

i guess that's why we all journal on paper, off-line, so that we have a non-electronic record of things. it will be up to us to burn/lose it. we won't be at the mercy of cyberspace.