Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wherein my brain asplodes

As I'm traveling internationally this month, I had to figure out how I was going to contact my family. We decided our cheapest option would be for me to find a land line I can use in Switzerland, make a 30-second phone call to my husband to give him the number, and have him call me back on his mobile. To do this, we had to enable international calling on his device.

Generally, I hate taking care of this kind of thing - the minutiae necessary for living an adult life. This includes resolving unfair fines, renewing driver's licenses, getting new tags for the car, and setting up doctor's appointments. I usually end up going through some terrible automated phone system that either doesn't have my option listed or dead ends at an irrelevant recording. OR I hit the wrong key (well, spot on my touch screen, which is a whole other source of frustration) and I have to start all over again. Which is why I'm so happy to see the Live Chat option becoming more popular! I'm at my computer anyway, and I don't have to listen to anyone's voice, be it automated or in person! Win.

So I Live Chatted it up with the Sprint lady, who was very nice, but the first thing she said was "Please provide your PIN number or Security question." This is a reasonable request; I'm glad she doesn't want Joe Blow being able to edit my phone plan. However... off the top of my head, I can think of a few other username/password/PIN/security question combos I'm also supposed to keep up with:
electric, gas, bank, ATM card, phone, tollway tag, student loan account, e-mail, university e-mail, university online system, computer network, lab server, BLOG, Amazon, ebay, Skype, anywhere I've ever bought anything online ever, anywhere I've ever ordered pizza online, Etsy, Facebook, Netflix, Steam... 

Does anyone remember all of these? How am I supposed to remember all of these? And you're not supposed to use any words found in the dictionary, names of people related to you, words spelled backwards, repeated characters, or words with letters replaced by symbols? And it should be 8-10 characters long, including letters, numbers, and at least one symbol? And THEY ALL HAVE TO BE UNIQUE? You're kidding me.

I often find myself wondering if the memory is a finite storage space, and if so, what got kicked out so I can remember my Papa John's password. And what didn't make the cut in the first place, in favor of remembering all the words to the Punky Brewster theme song (Maybe the worrrld is blind...). We know that we lose skills that we had in infancy, that babies can, for instance, tell monkey faces apart better and learn languages faster than we can as adults. And we know that our brains are certainly changing in response to the shifting demands of our world compared to our world thirty (or five) years ago. The remarkable plasticity of our brain is undeniable - but what about memory? Does HOW I remember change, since I have to remember ridiculous strings of numbers and symbols for all my accounts instead of how to drive to my aunt's house now that I have GPS? Does how MUCH I can remember limit WHAT I remember?

Can I please forget every line to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids so that I can remember the Krebs cycle?

We will never forget.

1 comment:

  1. *sigh* That image of Rick Moranis just pushed something outta my brain. Probably something "useful" like the relative permeabilities of monovalent cations in sodium channels. *rolls eyes*

    I hate all those stupid passwords we live with. I read about a useful system to generate them, but then when sites force you to change I'm lost again.