Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Actual Mnemonics I Use In My Daily Life

I am a great believer in using mnemonics as an aid to memory in my everyday life. Every time I do the following activities, I mentally recite the accompanying mnemonic as it is written here more or less verbatim.

1. While driving a car, in order to remember which pedal is the brake and which is the gas:
"So, you know how when you use your turn signal, up is right, like up, towards God and heaven, and the right hand of God, and left is down, away from God? So you'd think that with the gas and the brake, the brake would be on the right, and the gas would be on the left, since the brake is better than the gas. But it's the opposite of that, because driving is hard."

2. While entering my credit card into an online form, in order to remember whether a certain digit is a 6 or a 7:
"You know how you always want a number to be a 7 when it isn't? Except this is the one time you actually want it to be a 6, but then it's a 7. Life is like that, I guess."

3. While washing my hair, in order to remember which decorative container holds the shampoo and which the conditioner:
"Pink is for shampoo and orange is for conditioner, which just seems right, and this time it is right, because sometimes things really do work out."

4. While doing dishes or washing my hands at the kitchen sink, in order to remember which decorative container holds the hand soap and which the dish soap:
"This is really sexist and I feel bad about thinking this, but the orange one is for hand soap and the pink one is for dish soap, which, if you were really sexist, you could say is because everyone uses hand soap, but only women wash dishes. Not that I'm saying that, obviously, that's really stupid and sexist and it's not even a funny joke. But still, that's how to remember it. I'm not a bad person, though. As long as I'm just thinking this and not saying it aloud, I'm fine. Can people hear me thinking this?"

Bonus mnemonic*: In order to remember that nuper means "recently" in Latin, I think to myself, "Recently I bought a new pair of cat mittens."

*I don't use this one every day as I don't have occasion to read or recall Latin every day.