Recording, as Dick sees it

In 1981 Niilo and I were visiting. As he sat on my couch he noticed a paperback on history of close to 400 pages in length. It had taken me six hours of dedicated reading from start to finish the book. Niilo picked up the book and began reading it. He was literally seeing whole pages in one glance. It took him 35 minutes to read and finish the book.
I then asked him questons about the book. He understood the book far better than I did so I asked him how he did it. Niilo said he had taught himself to read as a young boy after his mother used to read the comics
to him from newspapers of his day. Eventually Niilo was able to teach his
mind to see and read whole pages rather than individual words.
Niilo also described his ability to record complete conversations in his mind of up to three hours. He could repeat these conversations verbatim for several days, then would in effect erase the conversations in his mind to allow for other conversations to be recorded.
In the mid 80s I was visiting Niilo while he was serving as an elected
representative in Juneau. I caught up with him as he entered a budget hearing and decided to stay. Shortly after the hearings began I looked over at Niilo and his eyes were closed as if he were sleeping. Forty minutes into the hearing a question arose, someone asked Niilo if he knew the answer and without opening his eyes Niilo went on to give a detailed history of the problem then outlined several possible solutions.
Following the meeting I asked Niilo why he kept his eyes closed during the hearing when he obviously wasn’t asleep. Niilo said by closing his eyes he was able to more fully concentrate on what was being said. In his own way he was recording the hearing.
I have always so enjoyed watching this amazing mind work. dick farris

2008/06/20 at 3:35 PM

5 replies on “Recording, as Dick sees it”

  1. That is so cool! I too have the “whole page at a glance” thing and a somewhat photographic memory (very useful in my work as a proofreader; my clients think I have superpowers), though I can’t read nearly as fast as Sanni or Niilo. Now I know where it comes from! Thanks for the useful genes grandpa!

  2. Me again.

    All this talk about Niilo in the old days makes me realize that I have almost no pictures of Niilo, and even fewer from when he was young.

    I find it very difficult to find the time to post new pictures of Callie to her website, and I know you guys are very busy, but maybe you could convince one of Niilo’s techie grandsons to scan some of the old photos of him and post them?

    Hope you are all well!

  3. The only grandson with a scanner isn’t one of the techies (though certainly capable of such a project). I think his scanner is still in the box from 3 years ago. More likely it would be Yours Truly that would do it in my copious spare time. (:-)

    Out of context, I read you have the whole page at a glance and I was thinking it was the entire blog page at a glance. Reminded me of Data from Star Trek Next Generation reading at lightspeed.

    – Gary

  4. When I staffed Niilo for committee work in the Alaska Legislature, I many times had the experience of seeing him rouse himself from an apparent nap at the table to ask a completely on-point question, or deliver an insightful remark. I was frequently asked by astonished legislators afterward how he did it. Never did have a good answer.

    Still, Niilo always gave me heartburn whenever his head nodded forward during those long Finance Committee meetings held immediately after lunch. I shouldn’t have worried. Even if he had been asleep, he still knew more than almost anyone else in the room.

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