Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Memory Devices

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love National Public Radio.

One of the reasons I like NPR is that it reports on such quirky little things.

Of course, you know this is the lead-in to an NPR story.

The other day I heard an interview about a book by a UK author, Christopher Stevens, titled Thirty Days Has September. The volume's subtitle is "Cool Ways to Remember Stuff." The thin book contains all kinds of mnemonics. Before the interview was complete, I had gone online and ordered the book, which was waiting for me when I got home from work tonight.

So I'm going to share some of my favorites.

Henry VIII of England had six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr. You've probably already heard the memory device to remember them. I had:

Divorced, beheaded, died;
Divorced, beheaded, survived.
Since we're doing English history, I loved this mnemonic to remember the various houses that have ruled the country:
No Point Letting Your Trousers Slip HalfWay.
The houses, of course, are:


Note that "Half Way" is spelled "HalfWay." That's because King George V changed his family name from the German Hanover to Windsor.

I especially liked the short words to help remember the three tallest mountains in the world in order of size, the three longest rivers in order and the three largest deserts in order:

Everest 29,035 feet high
K2 28,251 feet high
Kangchenjunga 28,169 feet high

Here's the mnemonic for the mountains:

Ever Kayaked twice (2) with a Kangaroo?

And the rivers:

The Nile 4,130 miles long
The Amazon 4,000 miles long
The Yangtze 3,915 miles long

Just say NAY

And the deserts:

The Sahara 3,500,000 square miles
The Arabian 1,000,000 square miles
The Gobi 500,000 square miles

Their initials spell out SAG

I am soooo easily amused.


Stephen Parrish said...

Roy G. Biv


Every good boy does fine

Maya Reynolds said...

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (the colors of the rainbow)

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec (Canada's provinces from west to east)

And the notes on the treble clef.

Stephen: I confess. I had to look BASMOQ up [grin]


Stephen Parrish said...

Damn, you're good!

Kristi said...

Kings Playing Cards On Fat Green Stools

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally

Never Eat Shredded Wheat

For the days in a month, I learned to remember the # of days on my knuckles. Start at the pinky of one hand at January. It's a bump (high), so 31 days. Then there's the valley betwen pinky and ring finger, which is February. Valley = low = short month. Up for March, down for April, up for May, down for June, Up for July at your pointer finger. Now jump to the pointer of the oppoisite hand. Up for August, and so on. You end up at the knuckle of your ring finger for December. Takes much less time to demonstrate than to describe in words....

Maya Reynolds said...


Well, I learned it as "Kids prefer cheese over fried green spam," but I think you mean: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

Aunt Sally is a math memory device for the order of operations. I'll confess I didn't know it until I read my new book last night. BTW, the book also included your fingers and knuckles device (with an illustration even).

And "shredded wheat" is the directions of the compass in clockwise order.

Thanks for your post.

Minks said...

Memory devices can also be very useful. I survived the CPA exam using them. If you need to know what it takes to make a contract just remember COALL

Legal capacity of parties
Legal substance

Another fun one is HOMES for the great lakes.