Posted by: trevormeers | September 18, 2011

My Brain Needs A Dumpster

The tipping point came last week when I found out I needed to memorize the formula for computing a company’s Net Operating Profit After Tax. And let me tell you, it’s a bugger. Full of tax shields and net incomes. As I sat down to start recording it to my mental hard drive, I practically saw a warning message pop up on the inside of my eyeballs. “Insufficient space available. Please delete files before proceeding.”

If this guy worried that his brain might fill up, who am I to risk overflowing my own melon with too many facts?

Finally, the day had come. My brain had become the equivalent of an ’03 Taurus waiting in the driveway for a family vacation. No matter how much I grunted and shoved things around with my knees and shoulders, I couldn’t cram a single new fact into my cranium.

Plenty of people will tell you the human brain doesn’t work that way. And to be honest, I don’t have the extra mental capacity to waste on researching that point. So I’m sticking with what I learned from Sherlock Holmes, who, even if fictional, seems smart enough to be a good source on most things related to the intellect. In the 1887 novel a Study in Scarlet, Holmes declared, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.” And, as those of us who haven’t discarded this fact know, 1887 represented the height of insight into how human memory works.

So I declare my brain full, and I have big shipments of new knowledge scheduled to arrive daily in the next few months, so some old inventory has to go. It’s been tough deciding what to put out on the curb, but here’s what I’ve decided to eliminate:

Halftime score of the 1988 Kansas-Oklahoma NCAA championship game – I jumped into this game at the half after getting home from a revival meeting at church. 50 to 50. I hadn’t missed the best part. Good memories, but expendable.

This dude had game, whether I remember the score or not.

How to tie a sheepshank knot – Let’s face it; I never really figured this one out anyway. So why keep clinging to half a skill?

Lyrics to “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” – The tune officially known as “The Christmas Song” has been called the most played Christmas song in history. So even if I throw the lyrics out of the mental attic, I can always pick them up again via the grocery store’s PA system in December.

The U.S. Army’s D-Day password/response phrases of “Flash!” and “Thunder!” – This is undoubtedly a cool thing to know, but I’ve been waiting in vain for years to be on a campout with another person who gets the joke when I whisper “Flash!” outside the outhouse. It’s outta’ there.

I'm pretty sure I left my Grand Am somewhere in the bottom-left corner of this parking lot, but now I officially no longer know.

Where I parked my rental car at Disney World in 1998 – You’re probably wondering why this one has lasted on the shelf this long. But if you’ve been to Disney World, you know that searing the position of your rental car into your brain is a primary survival skill and hard-won information you don’t lightly throw out. I’m also throwing out the fact that I left a Florida road map on the dashboard of my red Pontiac Grand Am so that I could tell my rental apart from the 200 other red Pontiac Grand Ams.

Logarithms – This one was barely hanging on anyway, since I don’t think I could even still tell you what a logarithm is. Time to go ahead and sweep out the remnants.

Emilio Estevez – Tough call here, because I love both Young Guns movies. But Emilio’s track record is otherwise pretty spotty (Freejack? Really?). So I’ll just start calling him “Billy the Kid” when I watch Young Guns, the way old people call Andy Griffith “Matlock.”

The name of the street I lived on as a kid – No. Wait. If I toss that, I won’t be able to answer half the questions websites throw at me when I need to recover my forgotten password.

The fact that Hammurabi was the first leader to codify Sumerian laws – I have no intention of trying out for Jeopardy! anytime soon, and I can’t see any other practical use for this tidbit.

What was it this guy used to go around saying?

The Hamburgler’s “Robble! Robble! Robble” catchphrase – The Hamburglar was phased out of all marketing campaigns about 20 years ago. But I admit, his catchphrase was a dumb thing for me to mumble on the playground even during the Hamburglar’s heyday when I was in third grade.

Well, that’s progress. It ought to get me through another week or so of learning. But there’s still not a lot of headroom up there. Take that as a warning, Vanilla Ice’s real name.



  1. We parked in row “26 Pluto” @ Disney World; so, I’ve got you covered on that one. Now if only I could get those Brady Bunch song & dance routines out of my brain…

  2. Some other ideas for removal/deletion:
    1. Lyrics to “Fall Guy” theme song, after all he is the unknown stunt man that made Eastwood look so fine.
    2. How many times you picked a fight with Gerald Gullickson (too many to count anyway)
    3. Just which G.I. Joe toys are yours, because that way I get them all

    Welcome to Academia.

  3. I can let the “Fall Guy” song go, but I’m hanging onto “we can rebuild him; we have the technology” from that other Lee Majors vehicle, “The $6 Million Man.” Comes in too handy in meetings now and then.

    As for G.I. Joe, I’m actively MISremembering who owned what so that I can get my hands back on that HISS tank Mom & Dad bought for, uh, me back in the day.

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