Connecting Dots

I’m a big fan of NPR (National Public Radio). While I’m running errands I listen to NPR in the car, and I always feel a bit smarter and better informed afterwards. I’m probably a genius by now, but that’s a conservative guess.

Yesterday I listened to a TED Talk program on NPR about how people are losing their ability to listen. We’re so consumed with our electronics and so bombarded by constant information that we’ve begun to tune out real conversation. The speaker, Julian Treasure, offered five exercises to help improve listening skills. I’ve shared it in case you’re curious.

I also listened to a segment about bears on the RadioLab program, the most fascinating of which was a piece on the phenomenon of polar bear/grizzly bear hybrids. A hunter in Alaska related his tale of tracking a polar bear who uncharacteristically, for his species, was breaking into cabins. The hunter shot the bear, but he knew it wasn’t a standard, run-of-the-mill polar bear. Its coloring was odd and its fur patterning didn’t fit a standard polar bear.

The bear was studied by geneticists and confirmed to be a hybrid of two different bear species. Not only that. It was a second generation offspring–one of its parents had also been a hybrid. So unlike other animal kingdom hybrids, the offspring are capable of reproducing.

Further testing on other hybrid bears indicated that all of the hybrids are descended from just one female polar bear who had produced three litters with two different male grizzlies. This is mind-blowing. The researchers pondered on why this particular female had been attracted to male grizzlies.

I’d like to offer my theory. I think those male grizzlies were just better listeners.

And that’s how you connect the dots.

Again, if you’re interested in the bear episodes here’s the link to the program. The one about the hybrids is the last on the link.

Peace, people.

What Would You Remember?

This morning while Studly played for the final day in his club’s golf tournament I decided to take myself to brunch at the Canopy Road Cafe on Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee. It’s a bit of a drive from Doright Manor to this cafe, so I had plenty of time to listen to an entire episode of NPR’s RadioLab on Sirius/XM.

The segment that gave me pause was one about a music conductor who suffered an illness that resulted in him having the worst case of amnesia ever recorded. He literally could not remember what happened from one minute to the next. He attempted to keep a journal at the urging of his nurses, but the entries went something like It’s 8:02 and I am fully awake. This was followed by, It is now 8:03, and I’m truly awake. Then, It is 8:04 and I am awake!This pattern continued until something else occurred in his routine.

Since I was driving I didn’t write down his name, but I do remember that of his wife, Claudia. I remember because she was one of only two touchstones in his life. He might not always remember her name, but he lit up when he saw her and he wanted only to be near her, to kiss her, and to enjoy her hugs.

He also remembered how to read music and could sing lyrics to familiar songs. Claudia brought his choir members to the facility in which he lived, and her husband was able to conduct their performance as if nothing had ever changed.

All I could think of as I ate my omelet this morning was what would I remember if inflicted with a similar fate. Would it be Studly Doright’s face? Those of my children? Would it be my favorite books or movies? What would survive an almost complete memory loss?

There’s no way of knowing, of course, and I hope I never have to deal with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or any other memory stealing event. Still, maybe I need to begin reinforcing pleasant memories. Note to self: Give Studly a big hug and kiss when he returns from golf today.

What do you think you’d remember? Are there things you wouldn’t mind not being able to recall? That’s dangerous territory.

Peace, people.