I used to work a monotonous factory job, 7pm-7am. It was easy, but it was long, and the machines were so loud, we couldn’t socialise. I learned how to keep my brain busy while my hands were working.
One thing I would do was challenge my memory. I would write all the lyrics to songs I knew. I would recite poetry. I would make a list of every US president. It’s worth noting that this was the early years of Wikipedia, but well before the iPhone, so it didn’t even matter. If I couldn’t remember something, there was no way to look it up. I had to wait out my shift before I could satisfy my curiosity.
With all the publicity about the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I wondered if I could name all the Canadian Prime Ministers. We’re a hundred years younger than the US, and we don’t have term limits, so the list is much shorter than presidents. I wondered if I could name more US presidents than Canadian PMs. That would be embarrassing.
So I made two lists in my notebook. I looked up the numbers, so I knew what to aim for. I missed 9 from both lists, which is a weird coincidence. Of course, by the percentages, I lost my challenge. I named 80% of US presidents, but only 61% of Canadian PMs. The most embarrassing Canadian PM I forgot is John Diefenbaker, which is a name you’d think I’d remember. The most embarrassing US president I forgot is James Madison, who is a main character in HAMILTON. (Sorry, Oak.)