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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter

Above is a stock photograph that I borrowed from the great search engine known as Google.  You will see that you have three things that are usually present at most breakfast tables.  You got some butter, a pitcher of milk, and a rather unusual looking loaf of bread.

It almost seems a given that a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter would be discussed in great detail in this blog.  It is after all, the title of this blog entry for today.

But what could I possibly talk about in regards to those three things.  Yes, they are things that you can eat.  At my current job in a supermarket, I sell two of these things in my department on any given day.  But to make it an entire blog entry for something that seems so insignificant to life, or even pop culture (of which this blog is three-quarters of the content) seems like an odd choice.

Or, is it?

Just think about this for a second.  A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.

A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.

A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.

Somehow, I'm getting a Sesame Street flashback.  A flashback to a particular segment that used to air during Sesame Street in the days that I was a youngster.

A segment that starred a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter!  I don't know when it originally aired, but I would think that it was an early 1970s production, and here it is in full.

I'm sure that many of you my age or older can remember this segment vividly, and before Elmo's World set up shop on Sesame Street and took over half the show, segments like this one popped up quite often. 

And the reason I posted this one in particular is a segway into the REAL point of this thread, which is all about the power of having a great memory.

The little girl in the video remembered her mother's grocery list by saying it over and over again, and although she had a brief memory lapse when it came to remembering the last item, she managed to get everything on her list.  It's a good thing that she didn't end up running into someone else on the street or else she might have been jumbled up a bit.  Instead of a stick of butter, she may have ended up bringing home a stick of glue, or a stick of baking chocolate, or a stick of dynamite.

Well, okay, not a stick of dynamite.  It is Sesame Street.

The point is that there are lots of tricks that people can use to improve their memories.  I used quite a few of them when it came down to studying for tests.  Acronyms were a huge help.  There was a question on a geography exam where we had to name all five of the great lakes in North America, but I had trouble remembering all five.  Until I realized that if you took the first letter of each of the five lakes and used them to form a word, it made remembering them easier.  In this case, the word was HOMES (for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).

Mnemonic devices were another popular tool to use for study aids.  One episode of the Facts of Life made use of one when the girls were studying for a final.  Natalie couldn't remember the periodic element code for Gold, so Tootie helped Natalie remember it by thinking of Gold as the phrase 'EY, YOU!' (Au).  It worked!

My memory is one of those mystical things that I have a hard time explaining myself.  In fact, if my memory serves me, I actually wrote an essay about this subject a few years back, so rather than attempt to explain it and babble on and on, I'll just repost that essay here.  It was written on November 14, 2007, and although it was four years ago, it still applies today.

Strolling Down Memory Lane, Thinking About My Own Memory

French class was always a fun time for me. The vast majority of classmates I attended French class with hated the subject. I get the distinct feeling that everytime my teacher would wheel in her little black cart with the green Dimoitou puppet, some kids groaned. I loved it though, and I would often get good grades in the subject.

I remember one year, we were doing a unit study on foods. We had to learn what several of the French words were for fruits and vegetables at the time. Some of them were really easy. Orange was orange. Banana was banane. Easy-peasy, right?

Not all of them were all that easy though. When it came down to the french word for pineapple, most of the class was stumped. When the teacher asked us what the French word for pineapple was, nobody knew.

But, I knew. I knew it very well. I shot up my hand and proudly declared that it was "un ananas"!

And, the teacher was impressed. Very impressed.

She flashed other fruits to me, and I named them all. Cherry=cerise. Grape=raisin. Pomme=apple. Pomme de Terre=Potato.

We then had to do a colouring page afterwards, and at this time, another teacher had come into the classroom. I don't think I was supposed to hear the conversation that the two teachers were having, but I distinctly remember hearing my French teacher talking about how I had a really good photographic memory.

I wondered to myself...what did that mean? I didn't understand the concept of that statement. I certainly didn't take Polaroid pictures with my mind.

As I grew older, though, I began to understand what she meant.

Part of the reason why I knew what the French word for pineapple was? TVOntario.

I remember watching TVO non-stop, and one of the programs was some silly little French show where the star was a talking pineapple. I didn't understand what the heck the people were saying, as my mother tongue was English, but the pineapple's name stuck out in my mind.

The pineapple was named "Ananas".

It seems silly, right? How watching a show that I had no hope of understanding as a five year old helped me enrich my vocabulary in another language. But, maybe my teacher had a point. If I hadn't have watched the show, would I have remembered the term? Probably not.

I was also a huge fan of Kool-Aid as a kid, and remember helping my mom mix it up many times. I would often read the label of the package while I poured the water into the pitcher, just to see how many cups of water I had to pour in. Keep in mind that I'm Canadian, so all our packaging was written in both English and French. That's probably how I learned the French words of the other fruits.

Apparently, the French language wasn't the only thing I remembered from way back when.

Does anyone remember those Laurentian pencil crayons? The 24 packs of coloured pencils with each one individually numbered. Well, if you told me a number, I could tell you the corresponding colour. #1, for instance was Deep Yellow.  #22 was Sky Magenta.  My favourite colour was #5, Orchid Purple.  I even got to memorize the 60-pack variety, and got to love using colours like #25, #37, and #39 (True Blue, Grape-Violet, and Ocean Blue).

People have told me that I have a diabolical memory, and I think that my long-term memory is really good.

My short-term memory is not the best. In fact, I'd say that it completely sucks.

Try as I might, I always seem to misplace the remote-control, my wallet, my one day, I misplaced all three.

I would try to take a course in improving my short-term memory...but I keep forgetting.

What's the point of this little note? Well, in my last note, I talked about my biggest weaknesses, and I figure that I should lighten the mood by talking about my strengths.

A good memory just happens to be one of my strengths.

I'm sure that I will come up with more strengths...if I remember to do so.

And, maybe...just maybe, I'll be as savvy as the girl who went to the store and bought a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.

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