Thursday, April 24, 2014
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GUEST COLUMN • Mark Magnan | A piece of my mind

The human mind is an amazing thing. There are studies of the mind, jokes about our mind, and even figures of speech, like, “I have half a mind to do this”; “A piece of my mind”; “If I put my mind to it”; “Do you mind?” OK, maybe not that last one. Many times we compare the mind to computers. But in the long run computers don’t really stand a chance against the human brain. Oh yes, computer technology can do many wonderful things and do them fast, but without the original programming from a person, a computer is just a box that sits there makes noise. Somewhere a human brain thought out “something” that was put into a program and that is what makes the computer work. We also have the capacity for emotions and other thoughts.


We pour a lot of time and effort into creating something in our minds, school work, other studies, reading educational writings, and even games meant to exercise your brain. There is an entire group of doctors that specialize in the workings of the mind. I think they are often at a loss for reasons of behavior that we see in people. At times I wonder what they have learned in all of these studies. I saw a recent program on TV that showed how people will make decisions based on certain circumstances. It was all about tricking the brain into doing something that was incorrect. Some of these things amaze me, I am quite curious about my mind. But I do have some questions that I want answers for regarding my mind, well memory specifically.
For example, there is a specific minor issue that I see on a regular basis at home. I know it will take an inexpensive item (Item A) from a hardware type store. Yet each time I head to one of these stores with something else on my mind, I completely forget about “Item A”. Sometimes I just go to these stores for a few random things and end up purchasing some other “impulse” items, but “Item A” is wiped from my memory. When I get home I will go to that spot in my house and realize that once again I have totally forgotten about “Item A”.
I can make a short mental list of things that I need from the grocery store and remember those, and even pick up a few things that were not on my list, that I will need. That shows some forward thinking on my part. But other day to day things escape me. Yet I can remember things that happened years ago; Trying to talk to the head cheerleader in school and having only gibberish flow off the end of my tongue; The time I was walking onto a stage and tripped on the steps and fell in front of an auditorium full of people. And a few other examples. I am sure that no one in the world remembers these, except me, one person out of billions and my brain chooses to have a special spot for these embarrassing moments.
Often times I will be out away from my office, I will be reminded of a situation or memory that I think would be the makings of a story for this column. I tell myself that this is such a great idea that I can’t possibly forget it. Then later on as the deadline approaches I sit staring at this computer screen trying to come up with some idea that I can write about. I will admit that many of these ideas do come back to me in time, but it is usually in the middle of the night, again when I don’t have anything to write on or record my thoughts. Perhaps I need a smart phone that will allow me to somehow save these brilliant ideas for later. I could probably start a list of small repair items that I will need on one of my many trips to the store.
I am sure that people will attribute these memory issues to age. But I disagree, I am still sharp and can remember things, important and not, just like I could when I was young, in some ways I am better at it now. So the next time I get up during a football game and head to the kitchen for something and get sidetracked by the Cowboy Cheerleaders and forget what I was after. I will make a mental note to write to my congressman to allot funds for memory research, that is if I can recall that the following Monday morning.