Three Things … Because There Are Always Three (Now Where Was I?)

I almost forgot to write this month’s blog.

I share this not in the spirit of full disclosure, or as a sort of “dog ate my blog” excuse, but because I’ve noticed recently that I have become increasingly more forgetful. And, it’s troubling.

Now, before anyone who knows me well points out that my memory has always been slightly suspect, let me go on record as saying that yes, I know. I’ve always been … absent-minded. Important things, unless they’re written down, tend to get lost whereas obscure details of little to no import, are lodged in my brain and pop up at random times. For example, did you know that:

1.) The average pulse for elephants is 27 beats per minute.

2.) The definition of the word “insegrevious” is that it can mean anything you want it to mean.

3.) Barton County, Kansas, is the only Kansas county named after a woman (Clara Barton of Civil War fame).

Interesting factoids to be sure, but not super helpful in any regard aside from a Trivial Pursuit cage fight – and realistically, how often does that happen? (I, myself, have only been in three TPCFs in my lifetime.)

I share these as examples of what I CAN remember while acknowledging that a great deal of the really important stuff is a little, well, shall we say … vague. For instance, I have one friend whose Texas hometown I consistently get wrong. She is incredibly kind and it has become a running joke in which I always suggest she’s from some obscure town like Hereford (yes, it’s a place), but fact of the matter is, for most of our early conversations, I was convinced she was from Houston. Which she’s not – at least, I don’t think, anyway.

But I digress.

Over the last few years, I have become more and more forgetful. Is it age? Is it a failing of my mental faculties? I’m not sure – which is why I have taken it upon myself to do some research. And what do you know, I found three (yes, three!) possible explanations that I believe are applicable to my situation:

1.) A genetic predisposition: Though I was never diagnosed with ADD (or any of the other acronyms that at this moment seem to have slipped my mind), I’ve always been distracted by shiny things and have had a hard time concentrating on just one thing. It’s something with which my mother and sister both struggle as well. It’s likely that my maternal grandmother did, too. We all seem to think differently so, maybe that’s just how I’m wired. (As an aside (distraction) I’ve been binge-watching the sixth season of The Good Wife while at the gym and actually stopped working out to re-watch portions of the episode “Shiny Objects” and the thought process of my favorite character, Elsbeth Tascioni. It was a shock to see my brain on television – or at least a reflection of how my brain works. And it was heartening. ) I’m not sure it’s relevant, but you might want to check the scene out on YouTube.

2.) Technology: Numerous studies have been done that suggest that our constant use of our electronic devices and the incessant distraction of social media have changed the organization and chemistry of our brains. It’s a common topic on NRP’s Science Friday. This is just one example: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/18/237100760/logging-in-to-the-brains-social-network. The argument has been made as well that all the technology that allows us to store information (telephone numbers, metric conversions, missile launch codes), has made it unnecessary for us to remember all of these things. Add to this the ability to “Google” any random fact whenever you have an internet connection and … well, you see where I’m going with this. If we don’t need to remember, we don’t.

3.) Fallible Design: Human brains have design flaws that make them … well … unreliable. Check out this episode of Radio Lab: http://www.radiolab.org/story/91569-memory-and-forgetting/ that examines what memory is, how it works, and why it’s fallible. According to studies noted in the story, what happens when we recall a memory is that we’re not recalling the event itself, but a memory of our last recollection of it. It’s kind of like the game “Gossip” in which, as the story is passed from person to person, it becomes distorted. And, these flaws become more pronounced as we age. Look at all the “brain games” that are designed to help us keep our mental faculties sharp. Just recently, Patricia Marx released her book, Let’s Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties, in which she documents her journey to keep her brain healthy and sharp. I won’t tell you her conclusions but it’s an interesting read.

And all of this brings me to the original point of this blog, that being that my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. And I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad. Along with not remembering the good, I also have hazy memories of the bad. I’m quick to forgive because I’ve forgotten. And I think that’s all right. What I CAN tell you though, that even though I might not be able to remember a hometown or where I put my car keys, I am always available as a Trivial Pursuit partner — cage fight or otherwise. Just remember you’ll probably have to remind me to show up.

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12 thoughts on “Three Things … Because There Are Always Three (Now Where Was I?)

  1. Whoops! According to Wikipedia, Sandra, all these U.S. counties are named after women:

    *****Locals and settlers*****

    Ada County, Idaho: Ada is named for Ada Riggs, the first pioneer child born in the area and the daughter of Boise, Idaho cofounder H.C. Riggs.[1]
    Dare County, North Carolina: Dare is named for Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World who disappeared with the Lost Colony.[2]
    East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana: East Feliciana is allegedly named for Felicite de Gálvez, the wife of Bernardo de Gálvez, a Spanish governor of the Louisiana Territory.[3]
    Florence County, South Carolina: Florence is named for Florence Harllee, a daughter of W. W. Harllee, a president of the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad.[4]
    Grainger County, Tennessee: Grainger is named for Mary Grainger Blount, the wife of William Blount, the only governor of the Southwest Territory (modern Tennessee).[5]
    Hart County, Georgia: Hart is named for Nancy Hart, a woman sharpshooter and patriot in the American Revolutionary War.[6]
    Josephine County, Oregon: Josephine is named for Virginia “Josephine” Rollins, the first European-American woman to settle in southern Oregon.
    Marshall County, Oklahoma: Marshall is named for the mother of George A. Henshaw, a delegate to the state constitutional convention, Marshall having been her maiden name.[7]
    Merrick County, Nebraska: Merrick is named after Elvira Merrick, wife of Henry W. DePuy, a territorial legislator.[8]
    Montour County, Pennsylvania: Montour is named for Madame Montour, a French-Indian woman who was involved in Native American affairs.
    Wake County, North Carolina: Wake is named for Margaret Wake, a London heiress and the wife of William Tryon, a colonial governor of North Carolina.[9]
    West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana: West Feliciana is allegedly named for Felicite de Gálvez, the wife of Bernardo de Gálvez, a Spanish governor of the Louisiana Territory.

    *****Native Americans*****

    Angelina County, Texas: Angelina is named for Angelina, a Hasinai Native American woman who assisted early Spanish missionaries and was named Angelina by them.[10]
    Marinette County, Wisconsin: Marinette is named for Marinette, a 19th-century trader who was the daughter of a French-Canadian trapper and a Menominee woman.[citation needed]
    Montour County, Pennsylvania: Montour is named for Madame Montour, a French-Indian woman who was involved in Native American affairs.
    Pocahontas County, West Virginia: Pocahontas is named for Pocahontas, the famous Native American who played a leading role in the history of the first permanent English settlements in North America.
    Pocahontas County, Iowa: Pocahontas is named for Pocahontas, the famous Native American who played a leading role in the history of the first permanent English settlements in North America.
    Tama County, Iowa: Tama is named for any of several Native American chiefs or chief’s wives, over which there is dispute.
    Tippah County, Mississippi: Tippah is named for Tippah, wife of Pontotoc, an important Chickasaw leader.[citation needed]
    Winona County, Minnesota: Winona is named after Winona, a Dakota woman of distinction who was a cousin of the last of three chiefs named Wabasha.[citation needed]

    *****Famous women*****

    Barton County, Kansas: Barton is named for Clara Barton, the pioneering American nurse who organized the American Red Cross.[11]
    Bremer County, Iowa: Bremer is named for Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish novelist.[12]

    *****Titled noblewomen and queens*****

    Amelia County, Virginia: Amelia is named for Princess Amelia of Great Britain, daughter of George II.
    Anne Arundel County, Maryland: Anne Arundel is named for Anne Arundell, the wife of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore and daughter of Thomas Arundell, 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour.
    Augusta County, Virginia: Augusta is named for Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales and mother of George III of Great Britain.
    Caroline County, Maryland: Caroline is named for Lady Caroline Eden, the daughter of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, sister of Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore, and wife of Robert Eden, the last colonial governor of Maryland.
    Caroline County, Virginia: Caroline is named for Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II of Great Britain.
    Charlotte County, Virginia: Charlotte is named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III of Great Britain.
    Dutchess County, New York: Dutchess is named for Mary of Modena, the Duchess of York and wife of the future King James II of England.
    Isabella County, Michigan: Isabella is named for Queen Isabella I of Castile, who patronized Christopher Columbus.
    King and Queen County, Virginia: King and Queen is named for King William III of England and Queen Mary II of England.
    Louisa County, Virginia: Louisa is named for Princess Louise, daughter of George II of Great Britain.
    Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: Mecklenburg is named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III of Great Britain.
    Mecklenburg County, Virginia: Mecklenburg is named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III of Great Britain.
    Queen Anne’s County, Maryland: Queen Anne’s is named for Anne, Queen of Great Britain.
    Queens County, New York: Queens is named for Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England and the wife of Charles II of England.

    *****Saints*****

    St. Helena Parish, Louisiana: St. Helena is named for Saint Helena of Constantinople, the mother of Constantine the Great.
    St. Lucie County, Florida: St. Lucie was named for the Spanish-era Ais town of Santa Lucea, presumed to have been named by the Spanish for Saint Lucie of Syracuse.
    Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri: Ste. Genevieve is named after Sainte Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.
    Santa Barbara County, California: Santa Barbara is named for Saint Barbara, patroness of fire.
    Santa Clara County, California: Santa Clara is named for Mission Santa Clara, which was in turn named for Saint Clara de Asís.

    *****Aspects of the Virgin Mary*****

    Assumption Parish, Louisiana: Assumption is named for the Assumption of Mary into heaven.
    Dolores County, Colorado: Dolores is named for the Dolores River, originally Rio de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, or, in English, River of our Lady of Sorrows.
    Guadalupe County, New Mexico: Guadalupe is named for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas.
    Los Angeles County, California: Los Angeles is named for the fact that Gaspar de Portolà’s explorers reached what was then the Native American village of Yangna on August 2, 1769, the feast day of Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúncula (English: Our Lady, Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula).
    St. Mary Parish, Louisiana: St. Mary is named for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
    St. Mary’s County, Maryland: St. Mary’s is named for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

    *****Fictional*****

    Attala County, Mississippi: Attala is named for Attala or Atala, a fictional Native American heroine from a story by François-René de Chateaubriand.
    Evangeline Parish, Louisiana: Evangeline is named after the heroine of the poem “Evangeline” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

    *****Counties indirectly named for women*****

    Doña Ana County, New Mexico: Doña Ana is named for its first county seat of Doña Ana, New Mexico, which in turn was named for Doña Ana Robledo, a 17th-century woman known for her charitable giving.
    Fluvanna County, Virginia: Fluvanna is named for an archaic term for the James River, fluv anna or River of Anne.
    Haines Borough, Alaska: Haines Borough is named after Haines, Alaska, which is named in turn for Mrs. F. E. Haines, the community leader who raised funds for a religious mission to the local Chilkat Native American tribe.
    Judith Basin County, Montana: Judith Basin is named for the Judith River, which in turn is named for Julia Hancock, the sweetheart and future wife of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who discovered the river; the misspelling is because Clark mistook her name to be Judith.
    Santa Rosa County, Florida: Santa Rosa is named for Santa Rosa Island, which in turn is named for Santa Rosa de Viterbo (Saint Rose of Viterbo), a Catholic saint who lived in the thirteenth century.

    *****Counties possibly named for women*****

    Culpeper County, Virginia: Culpeper is named for one of three members of the Colepeper family, of which two were women: Thomas Colepeper, 2nd Baron Colepeper of Thoresway, a colonial governor of Virginia; his first wife Margaretta van Hesse, called Margaret, Lady Colepeper; or their daughter, Thomas’s heir and only surviving issue, Catherine Colepeper.
    Elmore County, Idaho: Elmore is named for the Ida Elmore mines, which may have been named for a woman named Ida Elmore.
    Ida County, Iowa: Ida is named for possibly Ida Smith, the first European-American child born in the county.
    Louisa County, Iowa: Louisa is named for either Louisa Massey of Dubuque, Iowa, who, according to legend, killed the murderer of her brother; or Louisa County, Virginia.
    Maries County, Missouri: Maries is named for the Maries River, which may be named after one or more Maries.
    St. Clair County, Michigan: St. Clair is named for either Arthur St. Clair, the first governor of the Northwest Territory; or Saint Clare of Assisi, on whose feast day Lake St. Clair was discovered.
    Tama County, Iowa: Tama is named for any of several Native American chiefs or chief’s wives, over which there is dispute.

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  2. Parts of your post was like an insight into my life and thinking. Among my friends I am the useless information person but to ask me what happened a year ago on a certain occasion I will go blank. Doctors have been consulted.. Scary..yes..I am only 45 and I can only think of what will happen to me as time goes by. I tell my partner if I am not home when I should come look for me chances are I have forgotten to come home and I am sitting in a gas station somewhere telling someone how to fix a carburetor or how to make the best fried chicken. I know I probably shouldn’t make light of this but I can hear the words of my momma..”Laugh or Cry”..I plan to laugh all I can!!

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  3. I know just what you mean and I take this rather seriously. I’ve grown anxious (a little) over the time I spend on social media wondering how it might be influencing my outlook on the world, people, experiences. It is one reason I am limiting myself nowadays and remembering how I used to live before FB. I noticed I have grown more forgetful too and I like it not. I don’t think it is age related for me but maybe I don’t want to admit I am getting older. Just trying to remember all the passwords, pin codes and user names has become almost unmanageable. I don’t think it runs in my family but the we live now, if that is changing the way our brains work, then I want to slow down the process if I can. For example, if I interact a lot with someone on FB, then maybe I want to talk to them on the phone instead of private chatting and I noticed that does change the dynamic of the relationship. That in itself was an interesting observation. Good stuff as always Sandra, much food for thought. See you soon in New Orleans!

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      1. Yes I am. I would like to at least try and be objective in analyzing the influence social media has had on me almost without realizing it at first.

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