Brain Ruts: Phantom Pets, Facebook Anger & Geographical Literacy

Not the glasses

Not the glasses

I’ve been opening the wrong cupboard for 15 years now.

After the first two weeks in our house, it became obvious that having the glasses right above the dishwasher made more sense.  (You can stack plates, so moving them all at once to the cupboard four feet behind us was more “logical” — to quote my Spock-fan son.)

But it doesn’t matter.  When I’m thirsty, I swing open the wrong door, swear under my breath, and trudge across our eight foot kitchen floor and get a glass from the correct place.  15 years.

Not the plates

Not the plates

I was recently going through a three-day training of a new software platform at work.  Part of the drill was for us to respond with insightful comments on our experience.  My comment one day was, “It’s taking me a little while for my geographical literacy to figure out where on the screen they moved everything.”  That started an avalanche of responses from other people older than 30 chiming in with complete agreement. 

Maybe that’s why my grandparents never moved the furniture.  We all get hardwired into our ways and to quote my great-uncle on his 92nd birthday, “Our diving boards aren’t getting any longer.”



The cries of anguish toward Facebook (on Facebook) when they reveal a new layout, timeline, etc. is predictable.  But folks keep on plugging away and Facebook knows, as does any dog trainer or drill sergeant, that if you keep on drilling sooner or later it’s going to make sense.


Science Daily reported six years ago that the top prospects for surgeons coming out of med school are also, not coincidentally, excellent gamers.  They notice lots of things at once quick visual take, whether they’re aliens or misplaced livers.

Dude, formerly our cat, now resident specter.

Dude, formerly our cat, now resident specter.

More eerie than a missing water glass, in a Sixth Sense kind of way, are the phantom pets that I see out of the corner of my eye for the first year or so after they leave us.  We lost our cat, Dude, in January but I still swear I catch him lurking in his usual spots.  I still brace myself for the charging dog at my mom’s place–and Murphy’s been gone for nearly ten years. I guess it takes our eyeballs and reflexes even longer to adapt to change.

So it’s a good thing that I didn’t become a surgeon…or a software designer…ghost hunter…or a house cleaner, for that matter.

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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 10 years since then. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion.

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