Attention Span

While I was standing next to my car last week, filling up the tank, I realized that the screen embedded in the fueling station didn’t just have some pop-up ads showing but an actual video stream of a basketball game. TV.

At my gym, there is a speaker OUTSIDE that plays music as you are approaching/departing the building. Equipment like bikes and treadmills all have individual tv screens and for the weight-lifting machine there are big screens hanging from the ceiling.  There is even a TV in the locker room.  In most airports you can’t find a space that doesn’t have something blaring at you. With everyone glued to their phones these days, it seems a waste of electricity.

It made me think that we have become a society with such a limited attention span that we need 24/7 entertainment. There are several folks here at my office who use earbuds all the time – even when they are away from their desks and I often see people walking along, looking like they are talking to themselves, but of course they are on their phones.

In college I had a professor who had memorized all of Paradise Lost by John Milton.  Today he’d have it downloaded to his phone so he could access it whenever he wanted!

What the largest thing you have memorized?

50 thoughts on “Attention Span”

  1. i was at the garrison keillor old friends concert last night where garrison stood up there mark twain like and talked. he started out talking about how he saw his old english teacher at one of his shows 20 years ago and the pleasure he took in being able to still recite the sonnet from shakespeare’s sonnets was the punchline to the story , he recited then went through the evening pulling different memorized songs out to perform kate de gills ardor was with him and they had a tv screen on the floor for her to refer to so she could sing duets but garrison refused to look at it . he went by memory . very impressive, great night till my cat died at a rest stop on the way home and i getvto be tower home.
    my personal memorization skills are similar
    lots of songs i play on guitar with 5 or 6 verses to be gone through
    peoples phone numbers from1973 before auto dial , hundred of little ditty pieces i kept mentally filed away like
    all history has shown mankind will suffer evils while evils are sufferable rather than to right right himself by abolishing the means to which he has become accustomed.
    done stuff just sticks with you.
    remember fahrenheit 452 where they had each person memorize 1 book to hand down ?

    i do believe in spooks i do believe in spooks i do i do i do i do i do believe in spooks

    Liked by 1 person

      1. he did that as an intro to the show along with group singing god bless america, my country tos of thee, well she was just 17 and a few more. great ice breakers
        his story telling is wonderful
        lake wobegon lives

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Ljb
        I’ve had many cats die but none recently
        my car died yesterday .
        I have a 4 Wheel Dr. SUV that I bought for my son six or seven years ago and have been been dating and get along until he made other arrangements in his life which happened two months ago
        we bought a new Honda and I inherited the SUV which my wife has been driving since the Volkswagen that died last summer has had a great deal of difficulty in being reincarnated and sit in the garage awaiting spring and additional dollars to get it back on the road

        my wife would particularly downtrodden at least at freezing at the rest stop waiting for the tow truck and our failed Band-Aid vehicle Gyptian like too much energy goes into supporting and maintaining like necessities when finances are short
        A blog topic for another day…


  2. I know – our BP doesn’t hae TV yet, but audio ads – what, I can’t evenfill up my car without listening to advertising? And with the TV – some idiot is going to let the fuel overflow. (I know, they’re supposed to stop automatically….)

    I had Rudyard Kipling’s If memorized at one time, but I’m afraid in my case it didn’t stick… couple of verses left. And something else, will try to remember. : |

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a choice of living with the misspelled word problem vocal dictation or not coming on to the blog
    My cat dying is similar to my dating the car in the response that followed
    have a good day Baboons I’m off to Chicago to see my daughter perform at her wonderful play again this weekend

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I knew it was car not cat that died, but I was trying to be funny asking why you were riding the cat. Some typos/misspellings are just too good to ignore and worth having some fun with, IMO. We’ve had some great ones over the years.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I suppose the diagnostic criteria in the DSM would count here, especially the ones I use a lot. I was amazed at daughter and her fellow Suzuki students memorizing their pieces and knowing where to move their fingers on their instruments. I still have the alto parts memorized from sections of Handel’s Messiah.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. We were testing microphones at the theater the other day. I hate the “Testing 1, 2. Testing 1,2” thing. I always ask them to tell jokes. Not many people will do that.
    One actor recited the preamble to the constitution, which, I thought was pretty cool.
    I have bits of a monologue from the play “Ten November” (about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald) that I can still remember and I was doing that. He thought mine was pretty cool too.

    “Why do sound guys only count to two?”

    “Because on 3 you lift”

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I tend to think that I don’t have much memorized, but then I think about all of my work processes. Do A then do B, then C and all in the right order and what to do if you screw something up. I suppose that takes up a lot of my memory. I still have one Piet Hein poem memorized; for some strange reason it never leaves me. And of course my long long library card number.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I get very weary of all the screens around. In places such as gas stations, I wonder if those are present to keep bored employees happy. Rather than entertaining, though, I find them irritating, especially at the gym where the news stations are displayed in an array in front of the equipment. I. Don’t. Politics.Coverage. While. Exercising.

    Don’t get me started on that one.

    I do not memorize much anymore—mostly passwords for apps and secure computer sites. It used to phone numbers. The largest thing I ever memorized was Mozat’s Clarinet Concerto in A which I played for my sophomore recital. 35 minutes long.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Usually it’s the second button down on the right side. Some stations actually have it labeled.
        But even when not labeled, try pushing the buttons on the side. What’s the worst that could happen?? 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. As it happens I had to get gas today. Kwik Trip has the mute button labeled; Second one on the right side. So then, to test the theory, I pushed all the other buttons too. Didn’t blow up, video didn’t stop or mute, authorities weren’t called, and when I went inside, no one asked my why I was pushing all the buttons.

          You’re welcome.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. I was only obliged to memorize (and then recite) one thing, a misbegotten hyperpatriotic poem from a short story called The Man Without a Country. I’ve written before how the recitation part of that exercise caused a riot in our classroom that disrupted our middle school for days.


      1. One line of the poem was “For him no minstrel’s rapture swells.” Dean Bailey, one of the first to perform this poem in front of the rest of the class, said, “For him no ruptured minstrel swells.” The class exploded in laughter so loud teachers came running from all over the building. Dean’s version of the poem made more sense than the original, which is probably why half the kids who performed it after him used his line instead of the original. The class kept melting down in laughter . . . one of those times when you laugh until you weep and you can’t stop.

        Liked by 4 people

  9. Sea Fever by John Mansfield. Only 12 lines, but I only remember the first and last:
    “I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky…
    And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”

    And that’s about it for memorized poems, unless you count :
    Three rings for the Elven kings under the sky
    Seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone
    Nine for the Mortal men doomed to die
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
    One ring to rule them all , one ring to bind them
    One ring to bring them all and in the darkness find them
    In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

    However! I have hundreds of song lyrics at my disposal (some that I’d really rather forget). Maybe that’s the most active part of my brain.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lots of memorization as a child. As is true with most kids, I think, most of that memorization wasn’t a deliberate effort to retain information but happened spontaneously through play or song. To this day it fascinates me what I have retained of mostly arcane and useless information.

    While at the boarding school we were required to memorize religious stuff such as the ten commandments, the ten plagues of Egypt, and hymn verses. Later on memorization was meant to make it easier to remember, say, geographical place names German grammar, or body parts, and lots of that still remains with me. (Small wonder there aren’t any vacant neurons left in my brain to help retain new information.) I’m six years older than Hans, and oddly enough he wasn’t taught these things (or he has happily forgotten them!).

    When I worked in Basel I dated a Norwegian medical student for a while. Asbjørn Bustetun would regale me with the highlights from Henrik Ibsen’s narrative poem,Terje Vigen. I was already familiar with this impressive work, but Asbjørn’s recitation made such an impression that I set out to memorize it myself. Terje Viken has 43 verses, but I learned only ten of them, the highlights, but to this day there isn’t a dry eye in the room when I launch into Terje Viken in Norwegian.


    1. Lest you perceive my claim to reciting the highlights of Terje Vigen in Norwegian as a boast, I should caution you that any native Norwegian speaker would likely be crying tears of hilarity. But to my mind, my Norwegian lends a lot of drama to an already dramatic poem, so there. And the correct spelling is Terje Vigen, not Viken as I wrote above, twice.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I can’t remember numbers these days. I was recently in a tire store that keeps track of customers by phone numbers. I had just moved, so my phone number was new to me. Worse, the street address and phone number included a lot of ones and sixes, which sparked cross interference in my old brain. It was humiliating when the tire store guy asked my phone number and I absolutely couldn’t remember it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Like BiR, I have a lot of song lyrics in my head. When I was a kid I could do a complete Alice’s Restaurant, and dozens of Dylan songs, even the ones with 15 or 20 verses. But those are the things that stick, even in people who have dementia in their later years. The songs of your youth have staked out territory in your brain.

    I know a couple of poems, but they’re not very long. Here’s one:

    Liked by 1 person

  13. One web site I needed for purposes of logging in for a volunteer gig demanded that I have a password that was at least 15 characters long, and had to contain upper and lower case and at least one number and a special character. I finally settled on the password: 15Characters?!!

    After that I never forgot that password.

    Liked by 4 people

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