Metatalktail Hour: Mnemonics December 15, 2018 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, miles per flower asks: "Tell us your favorite mnemonics, rhymes, & acronyms for gathering untidy information or remembering multistep processes. Ones you learned in school that've stuck with you, bits of internet shorthand, or (especially!) idiosyncratic ones from your neighborhood, family, field, or day-to-day needs."

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter, so tell us everything that's up with you! And HMU with ideas for future metatalktails!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:55 PM (230 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

My favorite is one I learned on Metafilter for understanding Celsius:

30 is hot.
20 is nice.
10 is cold.
Zero is ice.
posted by 4ster at 5:58 PM on December 15, 2018 [24 favorites]


King
Henry
Drinks
Light Green Milk
Dumb
Cows
Make
posted by Fizz at 6:06 PM on December 15, 2018


Oh my god there are so many of these in medicine it’s ridiculous. Off the top, because I use them every day:

Some lovers try positions that they cant’t handle — the bones of the wrist in order: scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate.

Reiter’s Syndrome — can’t see, can’t pee, can’t climb a tree (uveitis, urethritis, arthritis).

SLUDGE — cholinergic poisening — salivation, lacrimation, urination, diarrhea, GI upset, emesis.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus — wet, wacky, wobbly — urinary incontinence, dementia, gait instability.

There’s literally thousands of them.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:10 PM on December 15, 2018 [28 favorites]


The teachers in my public school system were...quirky. My 8th grade science teacher used to run around saying ROY G BIV all the time. For no good reason.

(My geometry teacher, who was also my homeroom teacher all through high school, had lots of odd sayings, and was way more lovable than the guy above. My favourite was when someone would answer a question correctly and he'd yell, "Two tickets to next week's production and a box of Maaahhs baaaahhs". Yes, Massachusetts, thank you.)
posted by wellred at 6:13 PM on December 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


The planets My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (and Pluto IS a f*cking planet)


Pelgags (8 deadly sins pride eny lust greed anger gluttony sloth)

HOMES (great lakes)
posted by chasles at 6:14 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


i only remember the archaic creepy sexist one for the cranial nerves which the reader may google at their own leisure
posted by poffin boffin at 6:14 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh and also ROY G BIV (order of visible colors of light and the rainbow)
posted by chasles at 6:15 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


When I was fifteen and got my driver's permit, I remembered the positions of the blinker by saying to myself, "right: raise, left: lower." Every now and then, if I'm tired or sidetracked while driving, that will still pop into my head today.

I've also always really liked HOMES (Heron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) as a method for easily remembering the Great Lakes in the US.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 6:19 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


O o o to touch and feel...and the I forget the rest because it’s the fucking cranial nerves, how could you forget those?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:21 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh! right-y tight-y, left-y loose-y is probably my most-used one.
posted by wellred at 6:21 PM on December 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


I mutter "Never Eat Cake, Eat Sardine Sandwiches And Remain Young" almost every time I attempt to write "necessary" or "unnecessary."
posted by lazuli at 6:21 PM on December 15, 2018 [29 favorites]


Lefty loosey
Righty tighty

I have a terrible sense of direction which extends in all areas large and small, so this has proven helpful many times. Thanks, Scrubs!
posted by billiebee at 6:21 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


The preposition song - to the tune of Yankee Doodle:

With, on, for, after,
at, by, in
against, instead of, near, between,
through, over, up, below, beyond,
prepositions are really fun.

among, around, before, beside,
across, beneath, without, behind,

....
I can't remember the rest.

And the adverb song:

Am, is, are, and was, were, be,
could, would, should, and can, will, shall,


My 7th grade teacher was way into musical mnemonics.

Now that I need to remember these I can’t find them in my brain. But when I’m in a job interview they run through my head in their entirety.
posted by bendy at 6:22 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, the lines on musical notation. And the spaces in between are FACE.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


- the right-hand rule
- maternal vs. paternal - ma vs. pa
- sativa vs. indica - from the roots of the words you'd think that sativa would sate or relax you but it's the exact opposite
posted by bendy at 6:26 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


(to the tune of "Yankee Doodle")

Man Ray, Duchamp, Ernst, Carrington, Magritte, Dali and Kahlo;
And in the case of Guernica we add Pablo Picasso.

There ya go, eight Surrealist artists.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:26 PM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Celsius is approximately "double it and add 30" for the range we need for weather.
posted by bendy at 6:27 PM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Treble clef, notes on the lines: Every Green Banana Draws Flies
Treble clef, notes on the spaces: FACE

Bass clef, notes on the lines: Grizzly Bears Don't Fly Airplanes
Bass clef, notes on the spaces: All Cars Eat Gas

Order of sharps: Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Bologna
Order of flats: Boring Ed Always Drove Good Clean Fords
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:27 PM on December 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


TIM WOOD for the 7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Overprocessing, Defects.
posted by Fig at 6:31 PM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


To riff on Greg_Ace...

Every Good Boy Does Fine
Every Girl Bakes Delicious Fudge
Every Good Bird Does Fly
Every Girl Buys Designer Furs

I didn't realize how sexist these mnemonics were!
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:31 PM on December 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


Tom. Or. Row.
tomorrow

Chicken in the car,
car won't go,
that's how you spell
Chi. Ca. Go.
posted by bendy at 6:32 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


To Zanzibar By Motorcar - the branches of the facial nerve (temporal, zygomatic, buccal, mandibular, cervical)
posted by ChuraChura at 6:32 PM on December 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


Every Girl Bakes Delicious Fudge

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
posted by bendy at 6:32 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


In 7th grade I wrote a song to remember the Roman Emperors and their major achievements in order, to the tune of We Didn't Start the Fire, although most of the middle verses are garbled in my head after this many years. But in graduate school I was still NAILING IT in New Testament class when the professor got in a complete rage because whoever he was calling on didn't know his Roman Emperors, nor did the next two people, and he starts shouting, "No, NOT Augustus! Who was AFTER Augustus? Why don't any of you know the Roman Emperors?" and I raised my hand timidly and said "Tiberius?"
"Next?"
"Caligula?"
"Then?"
"Claudius, then Nero."
"Then?"
"... hang on, I have to run through a refrain ... The Four Emperors. Titus. Domitian."
"What was Domitian famous for?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know; it's not in my song."
"WHAT. SONG."
"I'm definitely not singing the song."
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:37 PM on December 15, 2018 [67 favorites]


A rat in the house may eat the ice cream ... is how to spell arithmetic
posted by jazon at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I remember being taught to do long division in elementary school with a jazzy singsong of “Add, mul-ti-ply, subtract and bring down!” We had to get up and do a wiggly dance, dropping to the floor at the last words. It didn’t help me, but not much did.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:40 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also, I still regularly consult “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November.”

Ubi pus, ibi evacua is no longer infallible medical advice, nor should it be part of a healthy skin-care regimen, but nonetheless I picked it up and I remember it.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:46 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


OMG, Eyebrows, I also wrote a song about the Roman Emperors!! To the tune of "Git Along Little Dogies"...

Augustus decided to get himself an empire, in the year 14 AD.
The first guys to rule the new Roman Empire were the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
Whoopi-ti-ai-o, first came Tiberius. He became the emperor at age 56!
Whoopi-ti-ai-o, then came Caligula. Crazy old Little Boots Germanicus.
Then there came Claudius, he limped and he drooled, he looked quite sullen, oh he's about to cry.*
Then there came Nero, he liked golden houses. His unpopularity caused him to die.
Whoopi-ti-ai-o, the year of the four emperors! Otho, Vitellius and Galba were there!
Whoopi-ti-ai-o, along came Vespasian. A kindly old gentleman who didn't have much hair.*

* I was an Art History major so some of the descriptions are to aid me in identifying their statues.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:48 PM on December 15, 2018 [19 favorites]


In 6th grade English about ten thousand years ago, we were all assigned to invent our own mnemonics for Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adverb, Adjective, Preposition, Interjection, Conjunction. Mine was "Nice Pets Varnished At A Place In California", which I only remember because it was so much worse than Cindy A.'s "Napoleon Practiced Very Admirable Army Procedures In Combat".
posted by moonmilk at 6:51 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


... I ended up doing linguistics in grad school but Cindy is still the winner.
posted by moonmilk at 6:52 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Favorite treble clef mnemonic: Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, which is also the title of a Moody Blues album and a Tom Stoppard play.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:55 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I learned these in college:
Spiky spruce, friendly fir

Sedges have edges and rushes are round.
My mother taught me "A pint's a pound the world around."

When my kids were little, I made up a song about the months off the top of my head as I sang it and it stuck with all of us. I bet my kids could still sing it.
January, February, March
In April we go through the arch.

May, June, July
In August we learn to fly.

September, October, November
The next one I can't remember
Oh yeah, I got it - December!
posted by Redstart at 6:58 PM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also, I still regularly consult “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November.”

My grandmother taught me to use the knuckles on my fisted hand to figure out which months had how many days, kind of like this graphic but we just started going backwards on the same hand for the August-December portion.

In non-mnemonic news, I decided that if I'm going to spend all day at home due to some combination of exhaustion, stress, and probably creeping-in depression, I should at least make things cozy, and I have candles and good music and pretty lights on my Christmas tree and I bought a three-setting LED bulb for my living-room lamp that has the PRETTIEST LIGHT on the low setting -- it's like warm glowing candlelight -- and I pushed myself to at least tidy up today if I were going to stay in, and I did, and I love my warm candle- and Christmas tree-lit cottage right now.
posted by lazuli at 6:59 PM on December 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


(sung to "Pop! Goes the Weasel!)

The quadratic formula's negative "b"
plus or minus the square root
of "b"-squared minus four "a" "c"
ALL over two "a"!
posted by tzikeh at 7:01 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also

King Philip Caught Our Family Getting Stoned for the taxonomic rank: kindgom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.
posted by tzikeh at 7:02 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


In India growing up we learned ROY G BIV backwards as VIBGYOR. We said it like that too, as one word. I remember being totally confused the first time I saw a rainbow in the US and people started talking about this Roy guy.
posted by peacheater at 7:03 PM on December 15, 2018 [22 favorites]


A couple theology ones -- if you want to remember the five mother churches of Christendom (the "Pentarchy," which were allegedly founded by apostles), it's CARJA (or JACAR if you prefer) -- Constantinople, Antioch, Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria. This sometimes comes up in trivia contests.

Calvinist theology is TULIP (which is also good b/c a lot of them are Dutch!) -- Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Preservation of the saints. That'll get you a solid 75% on a quiz about Calvinism even if you learned nothing else.

Most of the Bible books are easy to remember & keep in order, but the 12 minor prophets are a bitch, so "Hilarious Jokes About Orange Jam Might Not Help Zookeepers Hauling Zebra Milk." -- Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi.

I had a classmate with a way better one that used the first two letters of each book which makes it way easier to recall the names -- Hopeful Jonquils Among Oblates something Might something something -- but it wasn't nearly as sentence-y and didn't involve orange jam and zebras so I don't remember it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:10 PM on December 15, 2018 [20 favorites]


In German class, we sang the prepositions taking Dative case to the Blue Danube Waltz:

aus auBer bei mit!
nach seit!
von zu!

which left us gleefully calling out gegenueber! to round out the list. we were a nerdy bunch.
posted by missmary6 at 7:24 PM on December 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


I once got 5 bonus points on a bio lab assignment because my mnemonic to remember the stages of mitosis was a) the best and b) I included a little cartoon.

Impractical Pandas May Adopt Twins (interphase, prophase, anaphase, metaphase, telophase)
posted by coppermoss at 7:29 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Little kid having a meltdown? (Or you?) HALT! Maybe they/you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired!
posted by Mouse Army at 7:30 PM on December 15, 2018 [18 favorites]


Not a mnemonic, but it is a memory aid, so I think it kind of qualifies. Here's an old one from my grandmother. No need to memorize a rhyme in order to tell whether a month has 31 days or not. Just use your finger and touch each of your knuckles and the spaces between them. Start on your first knuckle for January (31 days), then the space between to the next knuckle is February (not 31 days), then the next knuckle is March (31 days), the next space is April (not 31 days), and so on. Start over on the same hand with your first knuckle to continue with August till December.
posted by gudrun at 7:33 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Not long after I moved to San Francisco I got tired of not knowing which streets were where so I started making up little mnemonic stories:
I was Poking Larks in the park and playing Hide and seek and someone asked me what was my Leaving worth. I went to meet my friend Jones the Tailor who was on his way to the Mason lodge ... (Polk Larkin Hyde Leavenworth Jones Taylor Mason)

When I got to California I went through Sacramento where I saw Clay statues of Washington and Jackson. I looked out over the Pacific singing "Give my regards to Broadway." I went down into a Valley that was very Green where I met the great Union leader Filbert, who'd been to Greenwich and even Lombard. We hung out eating Chestnuts in San Francisco by the Bay. (California Sacramento Clay Washington Jackson Pacific Broadway Vallejo Green Union Filbert Greenwich Lombard Chestnut Francisco Bay)
Pretty dumb (but with mnemonics, often, the dumber the better), and often came in handy to remind myself how many blocks to wherever when giving tourists directions.
posted by kristi at 7:38 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


King Philip Caught Our Family Getting Stoned for the taxonomic rank: kindgom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Heh, we used "King Philip Came Over For Good Sport."
posted by lazuli at 7:40 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


King Philip Comes Over For Good Spachetti (Kingdon, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus).

On HOMES to remember the great lakes: I learned that in elementary school and then on the test remembered it as HOUSE and drove myself crazy trying to figure out what great lake started with U.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:42 PM on December 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Eyebrows - I love your story and the song ... but - did none of your classmates see I, Claudius? I mean, I know pretty much nothing about the Roman Emperors (hey, I'm PLANNING to learn, it's on my list!), but even I know Tiberius came after Augustus.

Also, I know she wasn't an Emperor, but seriously, shouldn't Livia be in there somewhere? I mean, c'mon, Sian Phillips.
posted by kristi at 7:44 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


For the 7 layers of the OSI network model:

Please Do Not Trust Sales People's Advice

(Physical Datalink Network Transport Session Presentation Application)
posted by some loser at 7:45 PM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also, an old one my Dad taught me, back when Pluto was a planet:

Man Very Early Made Jars Stand Up Nearly Perpendicular

(Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto)
posted by some loser at 7:47 PM on December 15, 2018


I have a pretty good memory palace set up for geologic events -particularly useful for dates - with a whole "garden" wing set up for fossil species and related information that is actually my grandparents' old house and the hay field/creek nearby.

I have a few words I always mispronounce, so I have little sayings to get 'em right. Like to pronounce the appropriate one of the two different basses, I always have to mutter to myself, "Basses have asses." Also plaid rhymes with bad, meme rhymes with gene ♪ because of fucking richard DAW-kins ♪, etc.

The order of the periods within the Paleozoic: Camels Often Sit Down Carefully, Professor

It doesn't really count as a mnemonic, but I use song a whole lot, does that count? To this day I still sing the order of the stages/ages within the Lower/Early Cretaceous to the beginning of Mickey Mouse's Mousercise Dance Medly (Good Morning Geologists! Early Cretaceous!. . . do-do do do do! C'mon everybody let's Berriasian! Leave the corals behind till you're in the Valanginian. . . ." It doesn't quite work but it does enough. The Upper/Later K gets the song treatment too, but for some reason I did that to the opening strains of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade (Beecham 1957 version), which is just me singing out the stages (CENO-MAN-IAN (bump bump) etc) to the music. Yeah, just generally sing a lot. There's numerous songs I also use to remember the order or connections of geologic events by singing. I put together the history of the North American west to Chopin's "Funeral March" sonata for example, and the sequence of rocks on England's Jurassic Coast to Uptown Funk.

I use Modest Mouse albums to help to remember the different rock formations of the Paleozoic & the Jurassic, Triassic, and Cretaceous in the North American west. I use these songs to remember the general formations: Dramamine on the western slope of the Rockies/Utah, The Cold Part to remember Wyoming/Montana, and Long Distance Drunk for Colorado/NM/Great Plains. Then I use various songs of each album to remember important specific details of that area, like Alone Down There to remember various seas/rocks of the Jurassic; A Different City to remember what different rocks there are at the end of the Cretaceous; and Tiny Cities Made of Ashes to remember all the different names and sizes and ages of every single goddamn black shale in the west.

Some of those are kind of like parodies, some are just a string of words to trigger word association, and some. . . just by singing or humming it I can kind of see a map unfolding in my mind that kind of transforms with the passing of geologic time and little . . . . flashes . . . of important events and their dates or their meaning will rise up as I listen to or think of the song. Or a rock column.

*groan* I cannot mention, hear, or remember any South American country without singing the South American Countries & Capitals "song"

*robot voice* Caracas Venezuela
Bogota Colombia
Quito Ecuador
. . . .
BRAZILIA BRAZIL
BRAZILIA BRAZIL
BRAZILIA BRAZIL
posted by barchan at 7:48 PM on December 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


Who else learned 50 Nifty United States in school?
posted by wellred at 7:50 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also, the one I learned from a travel trivia cassette tape we listened to as a family on a road trip: It's a military acronym not a mnemonic but I loved it so much I got it tattooed on me: SNAFU (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up)

Which is.. well a good description of me in general.
posted by some loser at 7:51 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I love hearing all these! I have a few embedded in my brain that are now more decorative than useful--for instance, PMBALAWAP (pronounced "poom-BAH-la-wahp") from Ezra Pound's dictum that "poetry must be at least as well written as prose"--and lots from books that make me smile but that I don't actually use: TANJ (there ain't no justice) or LOMBARD (lots of money but a real dickhead).

Also: I grew up on a numbered street grid and whenever I've spent time in places where streets are named after historical people or trees or other annoying non-integers--most places, it turns out--I get turned around and tetchy until I make a silly mnemonic to find my way around. (I have a lousy sense of direction, probably from growing up on a numbered grid.) One I lean on a lot is for the names of the streets crossing Smith & Court in Carroll Gardens / Boerum Hill in Brooklyn. Heading north on Smith from Carroll:

Careful pokers use a stick.
Dig-Dug, Butterball, Warwick!
Burglars drink poisonous arsenic.

(Carroll, President, Union, Sackett; the tricky stretch of doubles Degraw-Douglas, Butler-Baltic, Warren-Wyckoff; Bergen, Dean, Pacific, Atlantic.)

Otherwise I look at a street sign and I have no way of knowing if, say, Warren is higher or lower than Douglas.

King Philip...
Ha, our King Philip came over from Germany Saturday, and we were very pleased with our 7th-grade selves when we made him come Stoned instead.
posted by miles per flower at 7:58 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Someone on the internet charmed me by stating the order of operations mnemonic to be Please Excuse My Dope-Ass Swag.

Speaking of dope, "Don't be a dope and touch the hairy rope" if you want to avoid poison ivy.
posted by capricorn at 8:05 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


miles per flower - I live on the other side of the Gowanus and it helps me to remember that the Berkeley Union's President is Carroll Montgomery Garfield. I can't keep track of the streets between Berkeley and Bergen, though, especially with some of them changing their names around 5th Av, so I'm going to try to learn your system!
posted by moonmilk at 8:15 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


My stepkids came up with Rabbis Want Bowling Alleys Completely Closed to remember the NYC avenues between Riverside Drive and Central Park West (Riverside, West End, Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus, CPW)
posted by Mchelly at 8:21 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


meme rhymes with gene ♪ because of fucking richard DAW-kins ♪

So mnemonics don't really work on me, I think as a function of my autism- I either remember things or I don't and all the mnemonics in the world wont help me, but I LOVE THIS and hopefully it will wedge itself properly in my brain.

It's pretty quiet on the garden front, the rain brought some surprises which was... unsurprising. Also I finally ripped out the dead lettuces and planted some seeds before even more rain is set to show up. I now have to return to my final paper, due in a week and my last bit of work for my academic career. I'm freaking out. WHEEEEEEEE.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:21 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest

This just showed up in my email today as a reminder for how we used to navigate downtown Seattle back in the day:

At some point or another, every Seattleite hears this phrase: Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. But what the heck does that mean? Well, it’s a mnemonic device, the kind of thing someone makes up to remember something. In this case, it’s the sequence of east-west streets that make up the city’s downtown core, from Pioneer Square to Belltown. The first letter of each word represents two streets, going from south to north: Jefferson and James, Cherry and Columbia, Marion and Madison, Spring and Seneca, University and Union, Pike and Pine. The era of mobile phones and digital mapping have made the device less important, but many Seattleites still carry it around in their heads, a remnant from a very different time. In this episode, Mossback explores the mystery about this phrase and attempts to divine its elusive origin.
posted by QuakerMel at 8:34 PM on December 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


Leaves of three let it be.
posted by bendy at 8:50 PM on December 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


I used to have a bunch of these that I made up for my kids when I was teaching; mostly forgotten now, except when I encounter the relevant phrase. You can keep "meet" and "meat" straight because the a in meat has a little tail, like the cows and pigs providing the relevant substance. Also, pronouns are small and timid and need both hands held when crossing the street, which is why we must say "pick him up" and not "pick up him."
posted by huimangm at 8:52 PM on December 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh, and we learned Madame Prunester in french class to remember which past tenses are conjugated with etre. I'm not even going to try to remember all the verbs.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:53 PM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Also: I grew up on a numbered street grid and whenever I've spent time in places where streets are named after historical people or trees or other annoying non-integers"

Let me briefly blow your mind -- pick almost any midwestern city with a grid, and the downtown will have a series of streets named Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy (sometimes an alley), Jackson, etc. IN ORDER. (In Chicago, legend has it that Tyler St. got changed to Congress after the Civil War b/c Tyler threw in with the Confederacy.)

Similarly, in most Midwestern cities, tree streets will be all a group; streets named after states (but only the states that existed with the city was platted!) will be a group; and there'll be five streets named after the Great Lakes. You may not know where Indiana St. is, but if you're by Pennsylvania St., you're probably only a few blocks away.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:30 PM on December 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


Speaking of streets on a grid:

DASH

((West to East: Damen Ashland Sheffield Halsted)

Recently, I was talking to a friend who can never remember where Ohio street is in relation to Erie. It's because the streets are not HOMES because Michigan runs parallel to the others. They're SHEOO.
posted by crush at 9:41 PM on December 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


⛸️ R
⛸️ L
posted by clavdivs at 9:57 PM on December 15, 2018


Also, I know she wasn't an Emperor, but seriously, shouldn't Livia be in there somewhere? I mean, c'mon, Sian Phillips.
posted by kristi at 10:44 PM

Oh but she was. She was an empress and goddess.
made sure that.
posted by clavdivs at 10:03 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


We had King Phil Came Over From Germany Stoned. Of course, I was a sheltered kid and thus very confused why everyone was so amused about people throwing rocks at Phil. (Similarly confused when people snickered at the mention of refrigerated boxcars).

{red, left, port} are all shorter than {green, right, starboard}

I could never keep the Thirty Days Hath Whatever rhyme right, so I was very grateful when someone showed me the knuckle trick for figuring the length of months.
posted by ckape at 10:10 PM on December 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


"{red, left, port} are all shorter than {green, right, starboard}"

I remember that Chris Kratt is the green one because "Chris" and "Green" both have five letters. SOMETIMES OUR MNEMONICS ARE PAINFULLY DORKY.

Otherwise I'm like Zach Varmitech and calling them "green guy" and "blue boy" and my kids get mad at me about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:15 PM on December 15, 2018


Does the NATO alphabet count? Because I use that one all the time at work (although mostly the first four: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta Yards) but I learned it years ago because it's just really handy to know - you feel far more confident if you can just spout off D as in Delta, O as in Oscar, G as in Golf, rather than fumbling around going D for uh... depression? O as in (DON'T SAY ORGASM DON'T SAY ORGASM)...octopus? G as in er...Google?

Alfa/Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu
posted by elsietheeel at 10:19 PM on December 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


US maritime navigation:

Even Red Nuns have Odd Green Cans.

Red, Right, Return
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:26 PM on December 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


The streets in San Francisco’s Sunset district are in alphabetical order: Hugo, Irving, Judah, Kirkham, Lawton, Moraga, Noriega, Ortega, Pacheco, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, Taraval, Ulloa, Vicente, Wawona.

I don’t know if this is true anymore, but the fast one way streets with timed lights to get north-south in SF were Franklin and Gough. Franklin went toward the fog (north) and Gough went toward the Giants (Candlestick Park, south). I think the east-west equivalents were Oak and Fell. Oak goes toward Oakland (east) and Fell goes toward the fog (west). I may be wrong it’s been a long time and streets have changed a lot there.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:32 PM on December 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Port has four letters, just like “left”. StaRboard is Right.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:34 PM on December 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


"Five to-ma-tos" for 5,280, the number of feet in a mile.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:02 PM on December 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


Way back in the Middle Ages of computing, people would occasionally ask us IT folks what the PCMCIA in PCMCIA card stood for.
The answer, of course, was People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms.

So now, a couple of decades later, when it comes up in conversation (which doesn't happen as often as you might think) it often is the first thing to jump into my head rather than the correct, but not as funny, Personal Computer Memory Card Interface Association.
posted by madajb at 11:04 PM on December 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge is a Mudhoney album.

Which brings us to Metatalk Tail time, because I spent the whole day moving to my new home a couple blocks away from my old home in Seattle. Slightly bigger and newer home that we’d had our eye on for a while and when it went on the market we couldn’t pass it up. We are now a few houses away from Mudhoney’s bass player whom my wife knows because his day job is working as a nurse at the hospital she is at. He hasn’t brought over a pie yet to welcome us to the neighborhood but the other neighbors are really nice and I’m confident I’ll get to jam with him and he’ll be impressed by my amazing delta blues chops. We’ll talk about quitting our day jobs and going on tour but in the end we’ll decide we are old and being parents and husbands is the most rock and roll thing we can handle.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:59 PM on December 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


Two spelling mnemonics from my childhood (I had loads as am dyslexic): George eats old grey rats and paints houses yellow (geography) and Betty eats carrots and uncle sells eggs (because).

Recent one, that I have mentioned before, but having recently done my first aider training for Girl guides: Dr ABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation/Compressions)

The house is definitely more unpacked than it would be if my parents weren’t coming down for Christmas, so that is probably a good thing! We still have more cardboard than the fortnightly recycling collection can handle, so there may be a festive trip to the tip in the future but that depends if it is open at any point where we will have access to a car and a driver, so fingers crossed!
posted by halcyonday at 1:46 AM on December 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Order of sharps: Father Christmas Gets Dressed And Eats Breakfast.
posted by Coaticass at 2:17 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Saskatchewan = "Sam and Sally kiss at the church hall every Wednesday at Nine"

"I prefer milk and tea" for cell division
posted by Violet Hour at 2:32 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Two geeky ones, one even seasonal:

Pie
I wish I could determine pi
"Eureka" cried the great inventor
Christmas pudding, Christmas pie
Is the problem's very centre

(The lengths of the words encode the digits of pi to far beyond any practical precision. The length of the title encodes a reasonable approximation for pi).

Electron orbitals in the atom:
some people don't fart

My anti-favourite anti-mnemonic: I know I should be using the right-hand rule or the left-hand law when dealing with vector fields and magnetism. Both are equally memorable!
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:00 AM on December 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


I remember just learning the colour spectrum and encountering ROY G BIV on American tv shows later, so I just asked my husband how he learned it. He...doesn’t know it.
posted by carbide at 3:12 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


“Divorced beheaded died, divorced beheaded survived” for the fates of the six wives of Henry VIII was always pretty catchy.
posted by castlebravo at 3:23 AM on December 16, 2018 [12 favorites]


Not a mnemonic, but a street grid story: One Christmas years ago (pre-googlemap ubiquity), I was visiting family in Bakersfield and a few of us went to In-N-Out to bring back burgers for everyone and got utterly, irrevocably lost on our way back. It was in a part of town with new mcmansion-type developments that looked quite similar to each other, much of it with roads laid out but the houses not even built yet, empty muddy fields with little twisty suburban clusters of roads grouped kind of by theme--South Pacific island names, Irish city names, river names, etc., etc. If you look at a map (which I've done since), it looks like it was filled in by a kid with a new box of markers trying to use every single color in one drawing--obviously not designed to help travelers find their way and a nightmare for someone not used to driving around in the dark with no landmarks or discernible pattern. After more than an hour of driving around in a car filled with the smell of french fries we were trying not to eat, we approached a bigger turning that looked familiar and that I thought was the entrance to the development we wanted, but when we got closer the street sign read: DELUSION DRIVE. It really felt like we'd fallen off the map and into Error. There was an Illusion Way and a Mirage Drive and we drove slower, suddenly sure we'd driven from Bakersfield into some terrible allegory. (Or an excellent horror movie, but you don't want to be the kids in the car trying to get back to the party in that movie.) I still get shudders thinking about it. Turned me off of french fries for a while.

"Five to-ma-tos" for 5,280, the number of feet in a mile.
Mind: blown. I can't believe I've gotten this far, by any unit of measure, without running across this!
posted by miles per flower at 3:42 AM on December 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


I’m impressed by all the treble clef mnemonics. I learned Every Good Boy Does Fine At College, which was helpful in reading the notes both on and above the staff.
posted by cheapskatebay at 3:43 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't think I'd be able to remember the mnemonics...

And I don't think a metamnemonic would help.
posted by Grangousier at 3:52 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


For remembering how to take the derivative of a ratio: "Low d-High minus High d-Low, over the denominator squared we go."

Lagrange's equations of motion became more memorable after I heard them set to Pink Floyd ["we don't need no education..."] at a Physical Revue many many years ago: "Dee dee-tee dee-ell de-ex-dot / is equal to de-ell de-ex .... All in all it's just a/ nother trick for the qual."
posted by Westringia F. at 3:52 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Desserts are Sweet and Sugary
Deserts are just full of Sand

Identifying pine trees: count the needles per cluster. If it’s 3, it’s a pitch pine, because you pitch 3 strikes for an out. If it’s 5 it’s a white pine, because there are 5 letters in ‘white’... and you already ruled out ‘pitch.’

A! U found some gold!
Ah, G, it’s only silver.
posted by daisyace at 4:02 AM on December 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure there are any mnemonics that I actually use. I do tend to remember adjacent facts--Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are in alphabetical order, north to south. Yemen and Oman are not in alphabetical order west to east.

Let me briefly blow your mind -- pick almost any midwestern city with a grid, and the downtown will have a series of streets named Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy (sometimes an alley), Jackson, etc. IN ORDER. (In Chicago, legend has it that Tyler St. got changed to Congress after the Civil War b/c Tyler threw in with the Confederacy.)

In Northeast Minneapolis, they continue all the way to McKinley, i.e. through all those nineteenth century presidents with dubious imperialist policies everyone forgets about. Of course, someone also thought it made sense to lay out Minneapolis on a six part grid. But, at least, unlike New York, they wedged their grid system into what already existed, so the street numbers are meaningful. (There's no 21st or 23rd Street in Minneapolis because they needed Franklin to be 20 and Lake to be 30 and there wasn't room.)
posted by hoyland at 4:10 AM on December 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Sometimes the mnemonic device overpowers the actual memory, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster running amok.

I took a high school JROTC leadership development course where we learned the fourteen traits of a leader. I believe that one of them was [good] judgement but I can’t remember any of the others.

But I do still remember the menmonic delivered by the leering dimwit SGT who was teaching us: JUDE DICKBITE JR. *sigh*
posted by wenestvedt at 4:21 AM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


‘May I have a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics’ for the digits of pi, which is pointless because who ever needs to know pi to 14 decimal places? But I guess it worked as a mnemonic, because I can still remember it maybe 30 years later.

Never Eat Shredded Wheat for the points of a compass.

Stalactites hang down like tights on a washing line. And stalagmites are the other ones.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 4:41 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Stalactites are on the ceiling, stalagmites are on the ground.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:05 AM on December 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


"She wears a diamond" for the vowels in the Latin present subjunctive. A new teacher at my women's college laughed when he heard this-- at his boys' school, it was "We beat all liars." That was so fucking indicative of the cultures we'd grown up in.
posted by BibiRose at 5:42 AM on December 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


Stalactites hang down like tights on a washing line. And stalagmites are the other ones.

Stalactites have to hang on tite. Stalagmites mite eventually reach the ceiling. I think I picked that up from an Enid Blyton book.

One we made up at school for the EM spectrum:

Randy
Indian
Virgins
Use
X-rated
Garters
posted by biffa at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


When I was in high school I learned that poetry in iambic pentameter such as the sonnet can be sung to the tune of Finlandia (whose meter is 10.10.10.10.10.10). Also, it is generally easier to memorize a song than it is to memorize straight text. And that is how I can still remember this sonnet, 32 years on:
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
that she might think me some untutored youth
unlearned in the worlds false subtleties

Thus vainly thinking that she think me young
although she knows my days are past the best
simply, I credit her false-speaking tongue.
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed!

But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
Oh, love's best habit is in seeming trust
and age in love loves not to have years told

Therefore I lie with her, and she with me
And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

(this only works if you are the type of HS student who knows the tune to Finlandia)
posted by drlith at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


A couple foreign language ones I use often:

I have no trouble with distinguishing sur from sous, so this song mostly helps me remember dessus and dessous. Why must you make two opposite words sound almost exactly similar!!!??!? (shakes fist at the sky) Let’s not even talk about à droit and tout droit.

And in addition to the German pronouns that take the dative case, there’s also the Swingpräpositionen, which sometimes take dative and sometimes take accusative. Mostly I do it for the hand movements. I can’t find a video, but it goes (to the tune of Where Is Thumbkin)

🎶An auf über (an auf über)
Hinter unter vor (hinter unter vor)
In neben zwischen (in neben zwischen)
Noch einmal! (noch einmal!)🎶
posted by Liesl at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I heard it as "Stalactites stick tight to the ceiling. Stalagmites might make it up there some day." when my family visited Cave of the Mounds in WI, oh, about 25 years ago. Thanks for hanging on to that one, brain cells.

Fire safety mnemonics!
PASS for using a fire extinguisher: Pull (the pin) Aim (at the base of the fire) Squeeze (the handle (**note: it can be really difficult if your hand strength is bad, so put it on the ground and lean into it to get it started. The top part going down is what makes it go.)) Sweep (from side to side)

How to remember the fire classifications, to make sure your fire extinguisher is going to work:
Class A: Ash (normal combustibles, like wood, paper, etc)
Class B: Boiling (flammable liquids)
Class C: Charge (electrical fires)

Most of the portable extinguishers will cover those 3, but just to finish it out...
Class D: (it's flammable metals, I got nothing for this one but it's rare so it's all good)
Class K: Kitchen (oil fires, normally the foam systems you see the nozzles for over restaurant grills)
posted by Fig at 6:09 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


My cranial nerve one is "On old Olympus' towering tops, a Finn and German viewed some hops". But my favorite medical one is the carpal bones one above from Slarty Blartfast.

My stoner one is - I SAT and smoked and now I want to do things (sativa) and "indica" sounds like 'in da couch" which is where I get stuck not doing much.
posted by danabanana at 6:11 AM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


From third year engineering Machine Design (1987 or 88, and its still stuck)

May I Fuck You Elizabeth Rani

When a machine component is subjected to a load (Static or dynamic load), it will experience the bending along its length due to the stress induced in it. This stress is known as Bending stress.
posted by infini at 6:18 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


For language, it was French irregular verbs

DRAPERS VAN MMT 13

And this goes back to Form 1 in 1977
posted by infini at 6:20 AM on December 16, 2018


Similarly, in most Midwestern cities, tree streets will be all a group; streets named after states (but only the states that existed with the city was platted!) will be a group; and there'll be five streets named after the Great Lakes. You may not know where Indiana St. is, but if you're by Pennsylvania St., you're probably only a few blocks away.

I wish my quasi-midwestern city had any pattern to street naming. The next street to our Pennsylvania Avenue is California and North Lincoln Ave is seven miles away from Lincoln Ave. Also North Ave runs parallel to Western Ave.
posted by octothorpe at 6:20 AM on December 16, 2018


Oh, and we learned Madame Prunester in french class to remember which past tenses are conjugated with etre. I'm not even going to try to remember all the verbs.

I used to sing them to Glory, Glory Hallelujah, e.g.,

Aller, arriver descendre
Sortir, partir, venir, passer
etc.
posted by carmicha at 6:49 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I end up having lots of these for Japanese kanji. Like gate mouth is a problem on Mondays for 問 . Which is made up of 門 (gate) and 口 (mouth) and pronounced Mon some of the time. They get way wierder but that one came to mind first for some unknown reason. Lots of them are more stored in my head visually instead of having true sayings, but when reading things get convoluted as I tease out what the character means and how it may be pronounced.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:58 AM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have seven friends, they tell me all I know,
their names are who and what and where and when and how and why and Joe

(don't forget your byline)
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:06 AM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


"She wears a diamond" for the vowels in the Latin present subjunctive.

I think we had this as well, but I have no idea what it stands for. Also, there are two guys in this train talking about remembering how to conjugate verbs.
posted by hoyland at 7:08 AM on December 16, 2018


I learned the four strokes of a four-stroke internal combustion engine when I was about 8.
Suck - Intake
Squeeze - Compression
Bang - Combustion
Blow - Exhaust
posted by angiep at 7:21 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


The north-south streets in Boston's Back Bay are named alphabetically - Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester and Hereford.
posted by peacheater at 7:54 AM on December 16, 2018


I grew up on a numbered street grid

Oooh I get to play! In Gainesville FL, the mnemonics for which roadways go which way are APRL and STD. Avenues, places, roads, and lanes go east-west, while streets, terraces, and drives go north-south. Boulevards go slantways.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:15 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


My math teacher taught us a song to remember the half-angle formula; it’s just sort of a singsong tune that goes, “sine cosine cosine sine, cosine cosine sine sine.” I no longer have any idea what the half angle formula is for, but I can sing it!
posted by holborne at 8:19 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I remember just learning the colour spectrum and encountering ROY G BIV on American tv shows later, so I just asked my husband how he learned it. He...doesn’t know it.

I had a book as a kid with lots of these, along with random limericks and poems and who knows what else. I still have this limerick firmly stuck in my memory, though I don't know why:
A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the flea, "Let us fly!"
Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
posted by lazuli at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Does the NATO alphabet count?

People's refusal to learn this makes me irrationally angry, especially in our modern day of cellphones with loooow bitrate voice connections. People, the NATO alphabet is specifically designed and tested to be easily pronounceable by people speaking many languages and with many accents, and to have letters easily distinguished from each other even in suboptimal conditions and even when spoken by somebody speaking another language or with an accent that is strongly foreign to you.

Also I have one of those surnames where I have to correct the readback to the corrections I asked for from the first readback. Whiskey tango foxtrot, y'all.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


It's a military acronym not a mnemonic but I loved it so much I got it tattooed on me: SNAFU (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up)

It wouldn't fit with our larger naming scheme of the namey-part of dog's names all starting with the same letter as we work our way through the alphabet, but we've thought it would be amusing to have a litter named for military acronyms -- Snafu, Fubar, Bohica, Tarfu, etc. Not sure that AKC would actually allow it tho.

It'll all be worth it when we hit the fifth litter and present Elise, Europa, Elan, Esprit, etc etc, to the world.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:39 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


All these puppies are yours, except Europa.

...Send her to me!
posted by moonmilk at 8:53 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I still use “low-D-high minus high-D-low, square the bottom and off you go” to compute the derivative of a quotient, even when I’m in front of my calculus class trying to teach them derivatives.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


In German class, we sang the prepositions taking Dative case to the Blue Danube Waltz:
The Accusative ones were sung to the melody of London Bridge: "durch, fur, gegen, ohne, um"
posted by Daily Alice at 9:24 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


It’s not like I ever actually learned the nations of the world, but if I needed to, this would be a good (albeit out of date) way.
posted by greermahoney at 9:44 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


King Philip Caught Our Family Getting Stoned for the taxonomic rank: kindgom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Growing up, the one I always heard was: King Philip Came Over For Good Sex.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:52 AM on December 16, 2018


"Two tickets to next week's production and a box of Maaahhs baaaahhs"

My early-career analogue to this, upon my saying or doing something particularly clever, was my then–managing editor (and still dear friend) saying, "Take a twenty out of petty cash and go home." This was funny because journalists barely get paid enough to live on, so of course there was no petty cash, haha. Now I say it in a remote work context and it's still funny, because there is no box of petty cash, there is no office, etc., and in many cases we're already home.

Re: stalactites and stalagmites, it's all in how they're spelled: the one has a C for ceiling, and the other has a G for ground.

Otherwise, to the tune of "Ode to Joy," from a friend in a summer research program in high school:

Apoptosis, apoptosis, apoptosis—when cells die
If your cell has apoptosis, then your cell is gonna die
Apoptosis, not mitosis, programmed cell death—implosion
BCL-2, cytochrome C, that spells fun for you and me
posted by limeonaire at 9:55 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


My town has a group of presidential streets, but for whatever reason they start with Grant and proceed through Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Harrison as you head toward the center of town, before giving up on the pattern. Those presidents were more or less contemporaneous with the town's early decades after founding, but those streets wouldn't have been laid down until some time later so I'm not certain how that all happened.
posted by traveler_ at 10:07 AM on December 16, 2018


A less sexist G clef mnemonic: Elvis’s Guitar Broke Down Friday. For F clef, Good Burritos Don’t Fall Apart.
posted by eirias at 10:25 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Re: stalactites and stalagmites

When the mites go up, the tights come down.

I was just thinking about my early spelling adventures last night, and remembered a frustrating time in about the 2nd or 3rd grade when I was having trouble spelling "friend" as "freind." Somehow, and maybe everybody does this, I'll always say inside my head when typing or writing it, "fry-end." I have rarely misspelled a word since.
posted by rhizome at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Chipmunks on the window sill
You forgot to take your pills


Green sky at night
The Mayans were right!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:33 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Two that I've never forgotten even after thirty years:

An anecdote to help you spell "separate": A man named Sep and his wife were on their honeymoon. As they were about to go to bed in the hotel room, his wife saw a rodent scurrying in the corner. She shouted "Sep! A rat! Eeeeee!" I have never been able to type "separate' without pronouncing that in my head since - it's been super handy. Although I often will find myself typing "desparate" and that doesn't work.

The Great Lakes from west to east: Sergeant Major Hates Eating Onions.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 10:43 AM on December 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.

My wife taught me a bunch of mnemonics she learned in Sunday school for Hebrew words.

—Do we have the sleeping bags?
—Check.
—Camp stove?
—Check.
—Tent?
Oh hell.

I found these terribly amusing, so I started writing my own surreal ones.

There's kahol in the sky where it's supposed to be blue.
etc.
posted by aws17576 at 10:48 AM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


(To be fair, some of the originals were just as surreal as anything I could come up with. There's a fork in Ma's leg!)
posted by aws17576 at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just recalled my high school French teacher's mnemonic for the order of adjectives: BAGS - Beauty, Age, Goodness, Size.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:45 AM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I came up with "A Kitten Sees The Nearby House; Mice Yell, 'Run! Walk Not!'" for remembering the order of consonants in Japanese.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 11:55 AM on December 16, 2018


Re: stalactites and stalagmites, it's all in how they're spelled: the one has a C for ceiling, and the other has a G for ground.

Unfortunately, there is always a strong possibility of me accidentally spelling them stalagtites and stalacmites.
posted by ckape at 12:12 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.

You know, it only just occurred to me that my emergency checklist, which I say to myself in order before I leave the house, is almost in this format.

Glasses, wallet, keys, rings, phone.

I do also cross myself sometimes, which might seem incongruous if you think about me as someone who's somewhat Jewish and definitely not Christian, but might make more sense if you think of me as a rather pagan agnostic who's superstitious and spiritual and syncretic.

Anyway, I talked about the emergency checklist in one of the mindfulness sessions I run at work and asked people to make their own checklists. We also talked about HALT, did a concentric circles exercise (visualize your place as a person, as a person within a company, as a person within a friends group, within a family, within a city, within society, etc., and then share what that means for you), discussed safety checklists in the context of Atul Gawande's Checklist Manifesto and Japanese railway shisa kanko ("pointing and calling"), etc.

This isn't a mnemonic, but it's something I got from a mindful breathing session that I've shared in these sessions, too. There are these three kinds of laziness in Buddhism, and it's useful sometimes for me, as a procrastinator, to distinguish between them.

Laziness of avoidance and sloth: “I don’t wanna”
Laziness of unworthiness and negative self-talk: “I can’t do it”
Laziness of the busy mind: “I’m too busy”
posted by limeonaire at 12:13 PM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Plateaus and mesas are both raised platforms of land, so which is which? Plateaus, like the letter p, are taller than they are wide. Mesas, like the letter m, are wider than they are tall.
posted by epj at 12:14 PM on December 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


I do not have any clever devices. I do recall a bit of doggerel from a Scholastic book of poetry from grade school:

Spring is here, spring is here
The bird is on the wing!
Oh my, my how absurd
I thought the wing was on the bird.

I have something I think some of you will enjoy, a thread of amusing, vintage headlines from the New York Times (which require neither Twitter nor the New York Times). My fave: Spinsters Seeking Blood.

(Hey Slarty, did you go to UCSF? It that how you memorised those particular streets of San Francisco? I used to live pretty close, between Lincoln and Irving in the inner Sunset, pre-tech-boom days.)

In other non-news, it has been snowing here in Stockholm and my old, youth snow/rain boots (fuzzy on the inside, vinyl on the outside) were cracked this morning after a mere 10 or so years and I was forced to buy a replacement pair. Luckily for me, a sports store at the local mall is closing down so I was about to get some decent boots for half off but I had plans for that money. So I am annoyed that I must put off my planned purchase (which was not urgent in any way) and super grateful that I could afford to buy the boots I needed.

It used to be a lot easier and more automatic to feel sorry for myself. Kind of glad I lost that talent. :-)
posted by Bella Donna at 12:54 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


The rainbow mnemonic I learned is "Richard of York gave battle in vain".
posted by Fuchsoid at 12:58 PM on December 16, 2018


I've never heard the plateau/mesa thing before. Buttes are smaller than mesas, and plateaus are huge...
posted by elsietheeel at 12:59 PM on December 16, 2018


Bella Donna, I would think that “Degeneracy of Cats” would be a favorite for the whole site.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


My math teacher taught us a song to remember the half-angle formula; it’s just sort of a singsong tune that goes, “sine cosine cosine sine, cosine cosine sine sine.”

I regret to inform you that these are the sum formulas for sine and cosine. The half-angle formulas have square roots in them.
posted by rhizome at 1:05 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


a frustrating time in about the 2nd or 3rd grade when I was having trouble spelling "friend" as "freind."

My first grade teacher taught us “I’ll be your friend till the end.” I memorized the phrase but didn’t understand the mnemonic; I clearly remember thinking “friend till the end” while writing down “freind” yet again on my spelling test.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:22 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I regret to inform you that these are the sum formulas for sine and cosine. The half-angle formulas have square roots in them.

Goddammit.

Oh what the hell, I’m going to keep singing it anyway.
posted by holborne at 1:23 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Can we do a thread on our default typos? teh, wierd, gaurdian, taht
posted by infini at 1:37 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I remember a lot of jumbled things that nobody asked me to remember, but for some reason I can't reuse the neurons. For example, I could tell you that middle school lunch period was 12:06 to 12:36, and that elementary school ended at 2:45 but grades six and up ended at 3:18.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


DIE FÄLLE! (Is declension pattern the right translation?)

masculine: der, des , dem, den | feminin: die, der, der, die | neuter: das, des, dem, das | plural: die, der, den die

I only had German class for a year and our teacher was an elderly war obsessed wacko, who somehow managed to drive around in insanely expensive Audi’s. We never were taught properly, but his lessons were very popular because he had one crazy war story after another.
His tests however, were savage. But this was the workaround: if you failed, you had to recite this list of articles in front of class and you were in the clear. If more than 5 failed, the whole class had to do it once and all was forgotten. And immediately after that: tips for the best way to set up a deal to trade a bag of potatoes for a gun, when the city is occupied by Nazis.
posted by ouke at 2:10 PM on December 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


For guidance on whether berries are edible or poisonous:
White and yellow, kill a fellow.
Purple and blue, good for you.
Red... could be good, could be dead
.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:14 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Too bad about pokeweed, then...
posted by limeonaire at 2:19 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


>>The half-angle formulas have square roots in them.

>Goddammit.

Oh what the hell, I’m going to keep singing it anyway.


The square roots are encoded in the tones!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Order of sharps: Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Bologna
Order of flats: Boring Ed Always Drove Good Clean Fords


this brings up something I wish I had noticed a long time ago, but which I learned in my 40s sometime, from a book:

You can identify what key a key signature with sharps is by going a half step up from the last sharp in the key signature. For flat key signatures, the last flat written is a fifth below (or a fourth above if you'd rather) the tonic of the key.
posted by thelonius at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Or, in the alternative, you can look at the second to last flat to tell the key signature. So two flats = B-sharp; three flats = E-sharp; etc.
posted by holborne at 2:41 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


The only really great mnemonic that I know is remembering the differences between stalactites and stalagmites is that it's like having ants in your pants. The 'mites go up, and the 'tites go down!
posted by ninazer0 at 2:48 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


You can identify what key a key signature with [sharps/flats] is...

Yeah, those are handy. I learned them so long ago that they're second nature to me now and I forget about it being a "trick".
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:08 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


WWHWWWH - Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half. Major
WHWWHWW - Minor
posted by bz at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2018


I still mumble "Robin Hood yelled to his men" every time I spell "rhythm."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:24 PM on December 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I don’t know if this is true anymore, but the fast one way streets with timed lights

"Pine to the Pacific, Bush to the Bay"

SOH CAH TOA
sine = opposite/hypotenuse
cosine = adjacent/hypotenuse
tangent = opposite/adjacent

FOIL - first, outer, inner, last
(x^2 + 2)(y - 5) = x^2y + 5x^2 + 2y -10
posted by bendy at 3:32 PM on December 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


So as a method of self soothing when doing times tables in my 11 to 14 year old head wasn't enough, I would quietly chant the verb helpers:

"am is are was were
do did have has had
shall will may can might
could would should must does
be been being."

I may have just needed a hug.
posted by Lynsey at 4:03 PM on December 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


My SO still thinks I'm a genius for knowing that 'there's some port left in the bottle'. I haven't needed to think about port and starboard for years, but in the the intervening time there was a period where I had to think about the colours of them, and when in a bottle, port is red.

(No, I don't update the mnemonic, because saying it's 'red port' sounds daft...)
posted by pompomtom at 4:18 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would quietly chant the verb helpers:

I think it was 7th grade when our teacher held a contest for who could recite the verbs of being fastest, this being the First Era of the Rubik's Cube. I can still do it pretty fast!

"be am are was were have has had do does did will would shall should can could may might must being and been."
posted by rhizome at 5:00 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would quietly chant the verb helpers

Lynsey, that's very close to the song I was trying to remember!

I think ours ended with:

Being been and must may might,
Helping verbs are oh so right.
posted by bendy at 5:03 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


One day our biology teacher just came into the class and announced "I pee manly around trash cans." No context. She just said it a few times, while we looked around confused. Then she explained that it was a mnemonic for the cell cycle. Then she taught us a cheer with some illustrative hand gestures.

I haven't thought about the mitosis or the cell cycle for years, but I still remember it and (broadly) what all of the steps mean.
posted by Garm at 5:07 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am full up with gen chem mnemonics from high school.
An Ox and a Red Cat (anodes go with oxidation, reduction happens at the cathode. ) Relatedly, Leo says Ger. (Loss of electrons is oxidation, gain of electrons is reduction).

A cheer to remember common oxidation states:
HAgLiNaCu (Pronounced: HAG-Lin-ack-oo, 1+)
HAgLiNaCu
CuBaCaFePbZnMg (COO bah cah feh PIB zin mug, 2+)
AlFeSbCr. AlFeSbCr. (Alfa sib-eh-cur, the +3s)
SiC SiC SiC! (Sick sick sick, the +4s)

Ate is Icky, Ite is Gross
per-ate is hydro-icky
(The last bit is clumsy, but is about naming conventions for acids. Sulfate - sulfuric, sulfite - sulfurous, etc. )
posted by janell at 5:49 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I never seriously undertook the study of many subject areas that require mnemonics but I have been an erstwhile student of Chinese lo these many decades and shit gets weird when learning characters.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:09 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Is am are was were be being been

Thanks Mrs Bynum
posted by sacrifix at 6:10 PM on December 16, 2018


I learned them so long ago that they're second nature to me now and I forget about it being a "trick".

No doubt this is old hat to musically learned Mefites, but I worked this out myself once and was proud of it, so here it is:

The rules of thumb for sharps and flats are a consequence of the way that keys are arranged in the circle of fifths. Starting with C, if we move up a fifth to the next key, G, but use the same notes, we get the G Mixolydian mode, with a flatted seventh. So we must put a sharp on F to make a G major scale. And so on with the next key, D, and around the cycle: the new sharp must always fall on the seventh degree of the new scale.

Now for flat keys, we move the other direction, going up a fourth (or, down a fifth). Again, if we play the C major scale starting with F, the new tonic, we get the F Lydian mode, with a raised 4th. So, to get an F major scale, we must flat that note, B. And again with the next key, Bb: it needs its fourth degree flatted to be a major scale, not a Lydian scale.

There is a pleasing symmetry in that, with sharp keys, the note we raise, the seventh, was previously the fourth of the preceding key; while in flat keys, the flatted note, the fourth, was previously the seventh.
posted by thelonius at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thanks Mrs Bynum

Oh this reminds me of my teacher, too! His name was Mr. Kyle, and I was the one who relayed the information from my older brother that his nickname was "Gomer," which still makes me chuckle. Gomer Kyle. He didn't like it.

I haven't needed to think about port and starboard for years

There are all the wine and "left and port have the same number of letters," but I still remember it by the fact that "right" is a longer word than "left," like "starboard" and "port." I have a few of those simplifications, but of course I can't remember them on demand.
posted by rhizome at 6:59 PM on December 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


My preferred cranial nerve acronym is On Occasion Oliver Tries To Anally Finger Various Guys, Vaginas Are History.

I will also never forget the acronym for the series of train stations leading up to my college: Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies. This is a women’s college know for its strong-willed and often not heterosexual/baby having grads, but the terrible acronym persists.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:05 PM on December 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


Ardmore, Haverford, Bry — hey! Well, I never heard that one, which was just as well.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:36 PM on December 16, 2018


I've got one for scientific prefixes (exa-, peta-, tera-, giga-, etc.): Every Parent Tries Growing More Kids Helped Dramatically (by) Dancing Cats Making Ugly Noises Purposely For Atmosphere. Ugly is a bit of a cheat cause it's for micro-, but mu basically looks like a u so it works.
posted by Go Banana at 7:49 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I remember the difference between STATIONERY and STATIONARY because the lines in the capital E look like stacked sheets of paper that you write on.
posted by southern_sky at 7:56 PM on December 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


I remember because the stationery you write letters on has an "er" like "letter."
posted by Redstart at 8:14 PM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


My music teacher in grade school used Elephants Got Big Dirty Feet, which while arguably ungrammatical, at least wasn't sexist.

King Philip Caught Our Family Getting Stoned for the taxonomic rank: kindgom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Growing up, the one I always heard was: King Philip Came Over For Good Sex.


My older sister taught me the definitely-not-school-approved mnemonic she and her friends came up with for the taxonomic hierarchy,
"Kangaroos, pregnant, can only fuck guys sometimes", which, well, I don't know what to make of it now, but I sure remembered it.

I set George Carlin's "Armpits, Asshole, Crotch and Teeth" to some familiar tune I can't identify, for my amusement and to I'm sure the horror of others.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 8:42 PM on December 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was taught "Kings play chess on fine-grained sand." Positively appropriate for all ages! No fucking!
posted by rhizome at 8:54 PM on December 16, 2018


It's not a mnemonic, rhyme or acronym, but oddly the one helpful saying I remember and use fairly frequently is "Nothing comes before something" for alphabetization. My dad, a former teacher, did a stint as a school librarian for a while and I think he must have taught me that. It comes in handy!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:01 PM on December 16, 2018


Redstart, there's an extra bit...

Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,
Grasses have joints
when the cops aren't around

--

"its easy, infinity is a box with no sides" - in Robin Cody's Voyage of a Summer Sun. Again a bit outside the terms of this post but I find it strangely helpful understanding really hard things.
posted by unearthed at 1:29 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have mnemonics for my entire family's birthdays:
  • My spouse's (27th) is eight days after mine (19th), so it's Eight Days a Week.
  • Our sons' birthdays are Fibonacci days: 1-12-03 and 11-23-05.
  • Our elder daughter's birthday is exactly six months after Valentine's Day.
  • Our younger daughter's birthday would have been a month after my spouse's, but she literally spent two days trying to go into labor, so it's the 29th.
I honestly have to go through each of these every single time I have to remember a birthday. I once did the "six months after Valentine's Day" thing in my head when someone asked me "Is this her actual birthday?" at her birthday party.
posted by Etrigan at 2:02 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


The order of the planets - in German:

Mein Vater erklärt mir jeden Sonntag unsere neun Planeten
posted by nostrada at 3:14 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


There is, of course, a wikipedia list
posted by nostrada at 3:18 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I like to make up mnemonics when I want to memorize things. These are often things nobody else cares about, so my head is full of weird but indelible factoids. For instance....

Here are the Algonquian Indian tribes of the far North-east
in order from north to south
to the tune of the nursery rhyme "This Old Man":
It's a Micmac, Maliseet,
PassamaquodDY...
Etchemin and Ab'naki!
I also have the entire Geological Epoch Timeline arranged to the tune of Gary Numan's industrial hit "Cars," but I won't sing it for you unless someone can back me up on a Polymoog synthesizer.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:47 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I just remembered these: the principal is your pal; the secretary can keep a secret.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on December 17, 2018


Aircraft stuff:

"Port red wine" - red navigation light goes on the left (port) wing. Helpful to know at night when all you can see are red, green, and white lights - you can figure out which way the plane is traveling and if you're likely to hit them.

Documentation required on board: AR(R)OW
-Airworthiness Certificate
-Registration
-Radio Operators License (no longer required in the US, but still required in Canada)
-Operators Handbook/Owners Manual
-Weight and Balance

Pre-landing checklist: GUMPFS
-Gas (proper tank selected, boost pump on as required)
-Undercarriage (gear down and locked, green indicator lights)
-Mixture full rich
-Prop set to takeoff pitch
-Flaps as required
-Switches (landing lights, etc.) and Seatbelts

In-flight engine failure - remember your ABCs:
-Airspeed (best glide rate)
-Best field (find somewhere to land and aim towards it)
-Checklist (above 1,000 ft, start running the engine restart procedures)

There are quite a few others, but those are the only ones I can actually recite off the top of my head.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:05 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


For setting a table, fork and left both have four letters. Knife, spoon, glass and right all have five.
posted by JannaK at 6:29 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


These are fascinating and fun but they all make it harder for me to remember things, kind of like Homo neanderthalensis above.

I don't really get it. If I don't know something how is remembering a second thing then linking that to the unknown going to help? Why not just remember the actual thing? I know Roy G Biv from hearing it often enough but it's easier to just think about the colors. There are lots of things on this list I don't know and probably won't ever remember but the mnemonics aren't going to do it.

My HS chemistry teacher taught us the chemical symbols that come from Latin with weird tricks. I'll never forget him dramatically acting out a very long street scene with multiple characters, stops at a movie and store, notes about the weather, and on and on. 10 minutes into the story the guy gets mugged and yells after the mugger "A! U! Give me back my gold watch!!"

Also, Pb is lead because it's my initials and I'm heavy and fairly toxic to be around for extended periods.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:40 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


Everyone's brain works differently. I remember song lyrics from 1983, but don't remember how to figure out a standard deviation from grad school in 2012 (please don't remind me; if I ever need to know again I will look it up). Some people remember familiar words best, some people remember weird phrases best, some people just want the regular information.

Learning styles (visual, auditory, etc.) have been mostly debunked as to how well we actually learn, but I favour paying attention to them anyway, because I figure I like making a person comfortable when they're trying to learn. Similar thing!
posted by wellred at 6:54 AM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


Michael Crichton's memoir Travels mentions him making up and remembering mnemonics at Harvard Medical School, including the parody? one "TE, TE, ON, OM" (Two Eyes, Two Ears, One Nose, One Mouth).
posted by brainwane at 7:23 AM on December 17, 2018


I use bread and drink hands very often to remember which glass is mine, especially in formal settings.

(touch index finger to thumb on both hands and extend your other fingers - left hand makes a b for bread plate on your left side, right hand makes a d for drink on your right side)
posted by randomnity at 8:13 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't have much use for it now, but I remember BAGS from middle school French. Beauty, age, goodness and size. Adjectives in those categories get placed before the nouns they modify. Other types of adjectives (color, for example) get placed after the nouns they modify. Don't à me, but I think that holds up.
posted by emelenjr at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Don't à me

Gagnant!
posted by wellred at 8:26 AM on December 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


Mnemonics: helping my sister to revise for A Level Eng Lit, we made up the mnemonic LAME SPARROW to help her to remember things to look for when doing unseen crits. Only one I'm sure I remember is the W was Wilfrid-rhymes - half-rhymes as used by Owen.

Other stuff: I helped Cats Protection trap my feral cat, Captain Floof Chalmers, today. They could only get him into the trap because he trusts me slightly more than a complete stranger. The plan was to TNR him back to me. But he had FIV and they put him down. I am sad and guilty. I did not get up today planning to betray and kill him. (sorry for hyperbole) He was a good cat with massive muttonchop whiskers.
posted by paduasoy at 8:45 AM on December 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


I've never understood the "right-y tight-y, left-y loose-y" thing.

You're talking about a circle. Both turns involve the same amount of material moving both right and left from any possible viewpoint. It only makes sense if you also include, "assuming you've positioned the rotating surface vertically and are looking only at the upper surface from the front." Which, as far as I can tell, is exactly as hard as remembering that most screws tighten clockwise.

But then, I've also never understood physics faculty who demonstrate the "right hand rule" using straight, pointed fingers instead of a curved open hand. You've just reduced the problem to remembering which finger is supposed to come first. That's harder than just remembering the orientation itself. With a curved hand there's an obvious pointing (and, Poynting) direction that anybody would recognize.

In summary, I object to all popular chiral mnemonics.

I'm ashamed to admit that I still use the crude rape-joke resistor color code mnemonic scheme when encountering unfamiliar parts. I never say it out loud, and I teach students a much less awful version, but I do have to look up the less awful version every time, 'cause it's the shitty one that I remember from my youth.
posted by eotvos at 8:56 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’d been wracking my brain for the mnemonic we learnt to remember French être verbs, MR VANS TRAMPED!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2018


You're talking about a circle. Both turns involve the same amount of material moving both right and left from any possible viewpoint. It only makes sense if you also include, "assuming you've positioned the rotating surface vertically and are looking only at the upper surface from the front." Which, as far as I can tell, is exactly as hard as remembering that most screws tighten clockwise.

It's your hand that's the referent, not the circle.
posted by holborne at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


MR VANS TRAMPED

That reminds me, my French teacher used the "House of Etre", which described a story (using only être verbs) of a person who (roughly, I've forgotten the details) gets up and leaves the house.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:22 AM on December 17, 2018

It's your hand that's the referent, not the circle.
Ah. So, it's a "fingers point in the direction of the turn" thing? Nobody ever explained that part. Thanks!
posted by eotvos at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


paduasoy, I'm so sorry. Hugs.
posted by lazuli at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I no longer remember it, but in freshman year biology I was partnered with my two besties for lab work. There was a frog-dissection computer game that our teacher assigned us (in lieu of dissecting actual frogs) - he walked us through the program once, telling us that we would be doing it again in a few days as a quiz. My friends and I made notes on everything the first time around, and then wrote this utterly ridiculous poem as a mnemonic to remind us in what order we had to remove which organ. We covertly whispered it amongst ourselves as we were dissecting the fake frog, and then saw that the quiz involved putting the frog together again, so we recited the poem backwards. We were rewarded with a little 8-bit graphic of the frog jumping up and doing a Michigan-J-Frog style tap dance and I think we were the only perfect score in class.

I couldn't tell you anything about that actual poem any more, it was just random word salad nonsense involving shared references. I think there was a line about one of our brothers roller-skating at some point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2018


Slope intercept form of a line: y=mx+b
"Your momma's ex-boyfriend"
posted by notsnot at 10:08 AM on December 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


My family moved to Indiana from the Chicago suburbs when I was 9 (much to my dismay; it's reported that I said, "Who's even ever HEARD of Indiana??" when they gave me the news). We moved to a small town north of Indianapolis, which at the time didn't really have transplants. Pretty much everyone who lived there was born there. Except for me. One day in school (I was in fourth grade) about 3 weeks after we had moved, we were learning the proper way to address letters. I had NO IDEA how to spell my new town's name. I raised my hand and said as much, and the teacher said, "CLASS? How do we spell our town?"

And the ENTIRE CLASS broke out in the Mickey Mouse song, the part where they're spelling M-I-C-K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E:

N-O-B-L-E-S, V-I-L-L-E. Apparently they all learned it in Kindergarten.

I still sing it in my head when I'm addressing cards to my best friend's parents, who still live there.
posted by cooker girl at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


SMOG for what to do when changing lanes while driving:
Signal
Mirror check
Over the shoulder check
Go
posted by SLC Mom at 10:43 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


56 yo pt BIBA, SOBAR 10/10 CP, GCS 15/15, PEARL 2+. dx antSTEMI hx COPD T2DM PE AF IHD echo shows RWMA and EF of 35% w/ AS and MR, ECG shows STE in v1-v4. HB 76. PPCI to LAD x2 DES. R) rad approach, nv obs NAD. For G&h and 1u RBCS, stat D5W, DAPT, ace, BB, statin. IVL in L)acf. For F/u in op clinic 4/56 post d/c.
posted by supercrayon at 10:53 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Two mnemonics I will know forever that have never been in the slightest way relevant to my life:

For telling the difference between coral snakes and milk snakes (neither of which have ever been native to anywhere I've ever lived):
"Red and yellow, kill a fellow
Red and black, venom lack".

Descending ranks of nobility:
Do Men Ever Visit Boston (Duke Marquis Earl Viscount Baron)
posted by darchildre at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh Be A Fine Girl/Guy, Kiss Me is an uhm easier way of remembering your stellar spectral classification in decreasing order, O - B- A - F - G (like the Sun!) - K - M.

Completely useless in day to day life, stuck in my brain since my astronomy major days in college.
posted by lydhre at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


George Ettle's old grandfather rode a pony home yesterday. -to spell geography was probably the first one I learned. My goodness, but eating hot nachos causes pain. - for Central America
Please come over for games and snacks - Phylum, class, order, family, genus, species - there are more adult versions =)
posted by soelo at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


King Philip Came Over From Germany Seeking Ivory....where "I"means individual, I guess. But when has Germany ever had ivory?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:26 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm No Wimp!

(Because I know that the states which border the Great Lakes are Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.)
posted by box at 2:18 PM on December 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


A dromedary camel has one hump, like a sideways D. A Bactrian camel has two humps, like a sideways B.

And, while I have not retained a lot of information about conjugating French verbs, I may never forget DR and MRS VANDERTRAMP.
posted by box at 2:46 PM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


When a joke made me a joker,
Van had to poke the fiery poker,
But laughing Jack gave his girl
A candy heart candy marked R T

US presidents in order, up to Taft
( Candy heart candy is for Cleveland-Harrison-Cleveland)
And it only goes as far as Taft because he was president when my grandfather, who taught it to me, was in school
posted by librosegretti at 6:12 PM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


p(r) = nCr * p^r * q^(n-r)

Pronounced purr = nuh-curr-purr-ke-nurr

So catchy I remember the equation from the combinatorial /permutations unit we did in precalc 25 years ago but not what to do with it....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:40 PM on December 17, 2018


Order of sharps: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.

Now reverse it and you have the order of flats: Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 6:45 PM on December 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm ashamed to admit that I still use the crude rape-joke resistor color code mnemonic scheme when encountering unfamiliar parts. I never say it out loud, and I teach students a much less awful version, but I do have to look up the less awful version every time, 'cause it's the shitty one that I remember from my youth.

I would love to learn a non-rapey mnemonic for resistor colour codes.

(Not that I know a rapey one, but still...)
posted by pompomtom at 9:10 PM on December 17, 2018


In the wildly popular trade of language textbook writing, and English materials writing in particular, most publishers have a set of taboo subjects called PARSNIPS.

No:

Politics
Alcohol
Religion
Sex
Narcotics
“Isms” (eg communism, atheism…)
Pork

Thus, we have completely denatured, boring as all hell textbooks where all you can talk about is the weather, shopping, and maybe exotic zoo animals and stupid human tricks. The "no pork" rule has been interpreted by some editors to also bar hamburgers, because ham. Lowest common denominator mediocrity.

In high school for trivia challenge I learned the Seven Deadly Sins as "Pale Gas":
Pride, anger, lust, envy, greed, avarice, (and everyone's favorite) sloth.
posted by Gotanda at 9:28 PM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sung to the tune of "Good King Wenceslas"
(History Major here...)

Willy, Willy, Harry, Steve,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry 3;
Edwards 1,2,3, Dick 2,
Harrys 4, 5, 6 then who?
Edwards 4, 5, Dick the bad,
Harrys twain (7 and 8) and Ed the Lad;
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again.

William, Mary, Anna Gloria,
Georges four, Will and Victoria
Edward 7th next, and then
George the 5th in 1910;
Ned the 8th soon abdicated
Then George 6th was coronated;
Now we have Elizabeth
Who will reign until her death.
posted by ramix at 11:23 PM on December 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


I remembered the positions of the blinker by saying to myself, "right: raise, left: lower."

and

"right-y tight-y, left-y loose-y" .... It only makes sense if you also include, "assuming you've positioned the rotating surface vertically and are looking only at the upper surface from the front." Which, as far as I can tell, is exactly as hard as remembering that most screws tighten clockwise.

For both of these, I think of it in relationship to a steering wheel when driving. If I'm turning right, my left hand is going up, and thus that's the way it would flip the nearby blinker stem (if I were the kind of monster who signals a turn only after starting it), and given how the wheel is turning, clockwise easily associates with righty (and therefore tighty). Turning left, hand by the blinker is going down, and the wheel is turning the other way, so counterclockwise = lefty (and therefore loosey).
posted by solotoro at 7:47 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Pelgags (8 deadly sins pride eny lust greed anger gluttony sloth)

In high school for trivia challenge I learned the Seven Deadly Sins as "Pale Gas":
Pride, anger, lust, envy, greed, avarice, (and everyone's favorite) sloth.


It's pretty useless these days, but saligia is one of the oldest known mnemonics, dating from at least the 13th century.
sed et vij sunt pricipalia vita, s[cilicet] Superbia, Accidia, Luxuria, Ira, Gula, Invidia, Avaricia. Unde ver[sus] Dat septem vitia dictio saligia.
posted by zamboni at 9:04 AM on December 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


In high school for trivia challenge I learned the Seven Deadly Sins as "Pale Gas":
Pride, anger, lust, envy, greed, avarice, (and everyone's favorite) sloth


But that repeats one of them twice and leaves out gluttony, no?

I learned it as Pewsagl: Pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust.
posted by holborne at 11:16 AM on December 18, 2018


In high school for trivia challenge I learned the Seven Deadly Sins as "Pale Gas":
Pride, anger, lust, envy, greed, avarice, (and everyone's favorite) sloth

But that repeats one of them twice and leaves out gluttony, no?


"Gluttony" is often stated as "greed" to expand it from merely eating a lot, and "avarice" is often considered to include miserliness and a more... planned? sort of collection, as opposed to the opportunistic grabbiness of "greed".

Envy is wanting; greed is taking; avarice is keeping.
posted by Etrigan at 11:26 AM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I always assumed "gluttony" had to do with overindulgence, as distinct from "avarice" (or "greed") which had more to do with money and worldly goods.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2018


There's a little Port Left in the glass (so port is on the left).
The 'a' in Yawl is because the mast is aft of the cabin (vs Ketch, where both are forward)
For the 9's multiplication - a bit complicated, but my grandpa taught me:
Nx9=(n-1)+(number added to n-1)=9
so:
9x2=8(9-1)1(number added to 8 to get nine) or 81
9x6= 5(9-1)4(number added to 5 to get 9) or 54

It's complicated, and you have to be able to add/subtract quickly, but it always works.
posted by dbmcd at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ones you learned in school that've stuck with you

I used to be a math teacher, and when I was teaching the order of operations my first year, before I even got to say "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" one of my sixth-graders shared the far-superior "Please Excuse My Dumb Ass Students". I laughed in my head, told him not to repeat that, and then remembered it forever, haha
posted by 23skidoo at 3:10 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


For the 9's multiplication - a bit complicated, but my grandpa taught me:
Nx9=(n-1)+(number added to n-1)=9
so:
9x2=8(9-1)1(number added to 8 to get nine) or 81
9x6= 5(9-1)4(number added to 5 to get 9) or 54

It's complicated, and you have to be able to add/subtract quickly, but it always works.


Related: For the 9's multiplication tables (up to 10), stick out all ten of your fingers next to each other in front of you. To find n x 9, count (starting from the leftmost stuck-out finger, the left pinky) and when you get to the nth finger, fold that finger down. The number of fingers to the left of the folded-down-finger tells you the tens digit of the answer, and the number of fingers to the right of the folded-down-finger tells you the ones digit of the answer.

9 x 6: Fold down your sixth finger (your right thumb). Fingers the left of the folded-down-finger: 5. Fingers to the right of the folded-down-finger: 4. 9 x 6 = 54
posted by 23skidoo at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


The "thirty days hath whatever" one was my nemesis when I was a little kid, I held a grudge for nearly twenty years until someone told me about the knuckle version. "Add up the days in these months" was the only question I'd get wrong on our maths worksheets, and they'd sing that stupid thing at me and I'd just think "YOU CAN PUT NEARLY HALF THE MONTHS IN THERE, 'EMBER' IS AN UTTERLY USELESS RHYME". I tend to make up my own mnemonics because obviously the culture at large can't be trusted.

Dessert is something sweet, the desert is just sand, and your just deserts are what you deserve.
It's necessary to have a collar and two socks, but it must be some occasion if you're wearing two collars and one sock.
May I have a fresh container of coffee? = 3.1415926
I only remember how to spell beautiful because of Bruce Almighty.
Make two okay signs to remember which sides the (b)read plate and (d)rink go on.
I use "spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch" to remember to take my glasses, keys (dangly bits), wallet and phone with me.
posted by lucidium at 4:15 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


i still don't know that song of the months. born too late to learn it in school, parents too apathetic to sing it more than once per decade.
posted by rhizome at 9:40 PM on December 18, 2018


For the 9's multiplication - a bit complicated, but my grandpa taught me:
Nx9=(n-1)+(number added to n-1)=9
so:
9x2=8(9-1)1(number added to 8 to get nine) or 81
9x6= 5(9-1)4(number added to 5 to get 9) or 54


My automatic method is "one less than the non-9 term, plus whatever number adds up to 9. 7 times 9 is 7-1=6, then +3. But not "7-1=6 then 9-6," I don't reuse the first digit.
posted by rhizome at 9:44 PM on December 18, 2018


I've never understood the "right-y tight-y, left-y loose-y" thing.

Use the right-hand rule instead. Wrap (or imagine wrapping) your right hand around the screw. Point your thumb in the direction you want it to go. You'll want to turn the screw in the direction that your fingers point.
posted by bendy at 11:19 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


soelo, the version I've heard is "George Earl's oldest girl rode a pig home yesterday", which I think packs a pretty good metric and visual punch.
posted by tangerine at 1:42 AM on December 19, 2018


Some friends and I invented one in AP English to remember the 9 muses and their domains. That was 30+ years ago and I still remember it today:

"Cheese chewed every evening may prevent tartar until twenty"
Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Urania, Thalia

"Eventually, however, long-lived teeth house disease and caries"
Epic poetry, history, love poetry, lyric poetry, tragedy, hymns, dance, astronomy, comedy
posted by BlueDuke at 7:34 AM on December 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


So, I got that goin' for me, which is nice.
posted by BlueDuke at 7:35 AM on December 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Urania, Thalia

Two of our cats are Clio and Calliope. We thought about getting seven more to round out the muses but municipal regulations wouldn't allow that.
posted by octothorpe at 8:43 AM on December 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Well sure, if you let The Man hold you down.
posted by rhizome at 8:46 AM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, I have returned from my first car trip with the elder boy, who got his permit last week. I am posting this, therefore we lived.
posted by Etrigan at 12:00 PM on December 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Bendy's complete preposition song to the tune of Yankee Doodle (drilled into my head by the teachers at Our Lady of Perpetual Help circa 1983):

With on for after at by in,
against about of near between,
through over up off down out to,
beyond among around into.

Still within without upon,
from above across along,
toward before behind below,
beneath beside during under!
posted by Reverend John at 7:29 PM on December 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also going along with bendy's classic trig function definition mnemonic, my fave:

She Offered Him
Candy And Honey
To Offset Acid
posted by Reverend John at 7:37 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, goody! A chance to discuss why Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally is evil.

Students who learn this in elementary school take it literally - they assume you always add before subtracting, or multiply before dividing. But this is wrong! The actual rule is more subtle. You do a multiplicative operation (multiplication and division) before you do an additive operation (addition and subtraction). If you just have addition and subtraction or just multiplication and division you go IN ORDER FROM LEFT TO RIGHT.

So, 3 - 4 + 5 is 4, not - 6. And, 4 /2*3 is 6, not 2/3.

End of lecture.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


At some point - I really do not remember when or why - it occurred to me that I could remember that a tablespoon is bigger than a teaspoon by recalling that a table is bigger than tea. (Well, a cup of tea. Obviously not all the tea in the world.) Anytime I've mentioned this to someone they've looked at me funny, but hey, it works for me. Don't knock it 'till you try it.
posted by breakin' the law at 2:57 PM on December 20, 2018


So, 3 - 4 + 5 is 4, not - 6. And, 4 /2*3 is 6, not 2/3.

First of all, we used BEDMAS, here (Brackets, exponents, division, multiplation, addition subtration) and it was explained to us that it was essentially B, E, D/M, A/S (which makes sense because division and multiplicationare essentially the same thing ( (e.g. 10/5 = 10*(1/5) ) and addition and subtraction are basically the same thing (5-3 = 5+(-3).

I was also taught it doesn't matter what order you do additions and subtractions in (in a string of additions and subtractions), because it works out the same either way. Now in your example you're getting different answers because you're doing it wrong. See, they taught us to think of 3-4 as 3+(-4). So the correct way to do your addition/subtraction in the wrong order would be -4+5=1 and 3+1=4.

See, you don't have to do the addition/subtraction left to right so long as you understand how the numbers work!
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:39 PM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


It is Midwinter, or the Winter Solstice, or Yule, or whatever you want to call it. And the time of a full moon and a meteor shower, so there's a lot going on outside and above. Though it's not the time of the earliest sunset; that was over a week ago, and sunset tonight will be around two minutes later than that because of science and stuff.

And so I'm awake, even before my local Tesco opens, to go to the first of three events. The first, during what looks like it will be a rather soggy dawn, will involve a few local pagans and at least one flask of tea which I'm making while I type this. Because even pagans need hot tea. The second, later in the day and out of the rain, will involve my local vicar who is on her usual packed run of events and tricky logistics at this time of the year (and is sometimes spotted in the pub round the corner nursing a large drink to regain fortitude). The final corner of this day's trilogy will involve a few druids in the (hopefully not too damp) woods a short bus ride from here, after which time I'll spend the evening in front of the fire, drying out.

This Sunday, the same Druids as this evening hold a more open and public Winter Solstice event on a hilltop five miles away, which makes for a bit of a strenuous walk there and back. And we'll be wearing more layers than at the Summer Solstice. But, from attending the event in previous years, it's worth it just for the mead, the fire, the ritual sacrifice of the outsider in the wickerman (only kidding)(maybe) and the almost-straight-out-of-the-oven vegan bread alone. Last year a picture ended up in the Telegraph, and the year before the Huff Post, so we're wondering which media we'll be popping up in this year. Hoping the local council will also again fly the Druid flag, if only to annoy the nationalists.

Today also marks six weeks until Saint Brigid's Day (overlapping more or less with Imbolc). By then, sunsets will be noticeably later (hurrah). I have a heck of a lot to get through between now and then, so am looking forward to a day of doing outdoor things, and then going rather quiet for that six weeks while trying to tackle the to-do list from The Other Place. Though before then there will be Christmas with the traditional foods and stopping to listen to HRH for a few minutes, then Boxing Day with its annual and very local traditions. This year I'm attending an ancient fighty 'match' between two villages, played and fought on the fields between them, and involving a ball deliberately hard enough to break bones, quantities of beer and whisky, and probably several ambulances. And various very local rural and (to other folk) strange events and participations and celebrations and sacrifices of uncertain origin. The madness is rooted deep in our soil.

The exact point of the Winter Solstice is at 22:23 UK time today, Friday the 21st of December. Whatever you are doing, or not doing, as the days start to grow longer (northern hemisphere) or contract (southern hemisphere) I wish all MeFites a peaceful, calm, and fulfilling and warming time ahead.
posted by Wordshore at 10:29 PM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


My mother taught me "A pint's a pound the world around."

I've always been puzzled by this one, because it absolutely isn't. A US pint (of water) is a pound, roughly. An imperial pint is significantly more. A pint is a pound, sure, but why add the unnecessary and utterly fallacious" the world around" to it?
posted by Dysk at 6:01 AM on December 23


A US pint (of water) is a pound, roughly. An imperial pint is significantly more. A pint is a pound, sure, but why add the unnecessary and utterly fallacious" the world around" to it?

If the saying is older than 200 years, it was accurate when coined.
posted by Etrigan at 6:24 AM on December 23


I dunno, the phrase "In 1824, the various different gallons in use" suggests that it wasn't consistent before that either...
posted by Dysk at 6:27 AM on December 23


(Also because there were several different pounds in use at the time)
posted by Dysk at 6:30 AM on December 23


For the Dewey Decimal System:
General Phil Runs Slowly, Limps Slowly, To A Little Hospital.
(General Works, Philosophy, Religion, Social Science, Language, Science, True Science, Art, Literature, History)
posted by TheCoug at 3:32 PM on December 23 [3 favorites]


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