Monday was a long day in the car driving non-stop from Boston to DC.  Unfortunately, it is not a very pretty drive down the northeast corridor, especially at this time of year.  The biggest and most painful stretch is on the new Jersey Turnpike.  At least they have it all EZPass activated or I really would have gone nuts!

New Jersey Turnpike

the glorious NJT

As soon as you get past Philly, and pass into Delaware, the end is near.

Delaware Memorial Bridge

the glorious DMB

I knew I would hit some rush hour somewhere along the route, but I did not expect this:

snow

beltway snow

Yes, those are snowflakes in my headlights! We’ve gotten basically no snow all season in Boston and I drive to DC in hopes of avoiding some of winter only to be met by so much snow that flights out of Dulles were cancelled. Granted it only takes an inch for this to happen down here…

I was able to listen to a bunch of RadioLab podcasts which were very interesting and did wonders for passing the monotony en route. I never am able to remember all the details, but the show they did on memory (ha ha) was fascinating. I knew that memories were malleable things and consequently not very reliable, but I was amazed to learn that apparently not only do they change over time, but the rate of change and/or degradation from the truth is directly proportional to the number of times that a particular memory is accessed. Kind of like analog tape where the more times you play your Pink Floyd cassettes, the more they wear down and sound worse.

This is totally counter-intuitive to me because you would think that the memories you access a lot have less of a chance to stagnate and be forgotten. But apparently this is incorrect because the current thinking is that each time a memory is accessed, it is actually re-created. In other words, the neurons re-form and re-make the memory, erasing the original and replacing it with the new version. So this erasing and replacing process provides an opportunity for change and there is no permanently “saved” version that we can refer back to. No online backup (yet). The most “pure”, or perhaps accurate, memories are the ones the least frequently recalled, so an amnesiac has the best memory.  Talk about counter-intuitive!

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