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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just a Bite 12-29-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

This coffee tastes like mud!
Well, it was ground this morning.
~ Unknown bad punster

Resources to bite into

1. Coffee and tea

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly focuses on coffee and tea trivia in honor of the soon to arrive Hot Tea and Gourmet Coffee month. We suspect there is much you don’t know about these beverages. For example, here’s a bit about tea:
• Did you know that loose tea leaves should never be stored in the refrigerator because they pick up food odors like baking soda does?

• Did you know that pouring tea over a lemon slice in the bottom of your cup will prevent scum forming on the top of the tea?

• Did you know that milk negates the impact of tea’s natural antioxidants? Try green tea, which has higher levels of antioxidants, and is more flavorful, thus less in need of milk for flavor.

2. Coffee trivia

People have been adding flavorings to coffee for a thousand years. Here are some local preferences:
• Italians drink their espresso with sugar
• Germans and Swiss with equal parts of hot chocolate
• Mexicans with cinnamon
• Moroccans drink their coffee with peppercorns
• Ethiopians with a pinch of salt
• Coffee drinkers in the Middle East usually add cardamom and spices
• Whipped cream is the favored by Austrians
• Egyptians like pure, strong coffee without extras. It tends to be sweetened only at weddings.
Others add spirits – whiskey or Kahlua, for example – especially to welcome a New Year!

3. End your year with charity

You have only a few more days to make charitable contributions that will count on this year’s income tax, but I hope you will keep charity in mind throughout the coming year as well. One of the journalists I admire for his dedication to making a difference is Nicholas Kristof, who devoted a recent New York Times column to listing some of the lesser known charities whose work he can vouch for. Check out the column at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/opinion/24kristof.html?_r=1&th&emc=th. Here are a few he listed:
• Acumen Fund, http://www.acumenfund.org/
• Afghan Institute of Learning, www.creatinghope.org
• BRAC, http://www.brac.net/, a Bangladeshi antipoverty organization
• Sustainable Health Ventures, http://www.sheinnovates.com/
• The Worldwide Fistula Fund, http://www.wfmic.org/ and the Fistula Foundation, http://www.fistulafoundation.org/fistulafoundation.org/

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also suggests that as an alternative to making New Year’s resolutions, you consider single words you want to concentrate on for the year. You may choose one word or different words for various areas of your life, such as:
• A word for your relationships with family and friends
• Your volunteer or paid work
• What you hope to accomplish
• How you will care for yourself physically and/or mentally
Some words are always on the list – like love, compassion, laughter. But other words or phrases take on a particular meaning in certain years: balance, travel, focus, success, triumphing over adversity, for example.

What’s your word for 2010?

To receive the advantage of seeing all these ideas in an expanded version, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to
www.wisernow.com now.
It’s a great anytime gift for everyone who needs a legal form of positive mind stimulation!

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Nothing is better than the unintended humor of reality.
~ Steve Allen (born December 26, 1921)

Resources to bite into

1. Creating intentional joy

As noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, Jytte Lokvig, a fellow member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH), recently wrote a blog about her fondest Christmas. In her native Copenhagen, celebrations had been elaborate, but when she and her family first immigrated to the United States, they were very poor, and old customs were unaffordable. Determined to celebrate anyway, they wrapped each present in newspaper, trimmed with bows and fringes cut from old magazines, and when it was time to open them, they took turns and exclaimed with joy as the contents were revealed. What were these pleasurable gifts? Necessities opened with an attitude of gratitude: “With each reveal, we would thank each other profusely with appropriate comments like: ‘Oh, what I always wanted’ (toothpaste) – ‘How did you know?’ (deodorant) – ‘Perfect size!’ (toilet tissue) – ‘Love the color!’ (dishwashing liquid). Not only had we saved ourselves from a lot of the stress, but we had the best laughs in years.” Whatever gifts you receive this holiday, consider accepting them with the same bright spirit. (To sign up for Jytte’s blog, write to her at lokvig@yahoo.com.)

2. Making the mundane merry

While I’m mentioning ideas from fellow AATHers, here’s one from Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, M.P.H., whose website (where you can also sign up for her blog) is www.accidentalcomic.com: “There is a company online that gives awards for making mundane things more fun. Their theory is that people are much more willing to do something that is good for them (like taking the stairs) if that thing is made enjoyable. Check out some of their giggle-inducing videos at: www.thefuntheory.com.”

3. Easily amused

Nearly out of space, so here’s one last quickie: You have a little time left to “Elf Yourself” http://www.elfyourself.com/. (Insert your own picture, and SHARE it!)

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly takes advantage of this week before Christmas to fit in one more holiday quiz – this one on matching punny punch lines with an often absurd question. For example:

1. What do snakes sing in December? ___
2. How do fish celebrate Christmas? ___
3. How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas? ___
4. What do English sheep say to each other at Christmas? ___
5. How do cats greet each other at Christmas? ___

Can you match the answers?
a. Fleece Navidad!
b. Have a Furry Merry Christmas and a Happy Mew Year!
c. Season’s Bleatings! or Merry Christmas to Ewe!
d. Sssssss-ilver Bells
e. They hang reefs on the door

A variation on this theme would be to think of how other animals or characters might celebrate December holidays or greet one another. What ideas do you have for:

• Penguins
• Bears
• Chickens
• Dracula
• Mary Poppins
• Anyone else?

Idea inspired by the website http://www.brownielocks.com/ChristmasJokes.html
Answers are 1. d 2. e 3. a 4. c 5. b

To get the advantage of seeing all these ideas in an expanded version, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to www.wisernow.com now.
It’s a great holiday gift for anyone who needs a legal form of positive mind stimulation!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Educate a boy and you educate an individual.
Educate a girl and you educate a community.
~ African saying

Resources to bite into

1. The amazing Greg Mortenson

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly celebrates the work of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greg Mortenson who has long been building schools for girls and boys in the remotest areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where educating girls is still a radical idea. He wrote about these adventures in Three Cups of Tea several years ago, and the continuation of his story has just been published as Stones into Schools. He began the quest as a result of the kindness of the villagers of Korphe who nursed him back to health after a mountaineering accident following his attempt to climb K2, the world’s second highest mountain. Finding the children had no school and were hungry to learn, he promised to build them one, and one school just led to another. Here is holiday inspiration that will warm your heart. Read more at http://www.ikat.org/ or http://www.stonesintoschools.com/.
• To order Three Cups of Tea, click here.
• To order Three Cups of Tea (Young Reader’s edition), click here.
• To order Stones into Schools, click here.

2. Holiday Nuts

The current discussion pages of Brain Aerobics Weekly features a trivia quiz on nuts – the kind that come in a tin, not the kind that you may be related to and obligated to invite to a holiday dinner. It was inspired by an article in one of my favorite magazines, Mental_Floss, (November/December 2009 issue) but much of the information for the quiz came from “nutty facts” at www.fishernuts.com. For example, did you know that walnuts are the oldest known tree food eaten by man, originating in ancient Persia about 7000 B.C.? Or that Brazil nuts come in pods that can weigh up to 5 pounds and are found in trees that grow to 200 feet? (Look out below!)

3. December 15 is the 70th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind”

You are undoubtedly familiar with the movie’s most famous line that begins, “Frankly, my dear . . .” but frankly, my dears, I prefer this line of Rhett Butler’s: “You should be kissed and often and by somebody who knows how.” Learn more at http://ngeorgia.com/ang/Atlanta_Premiere_of_Gone_With_The_Wind.

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also uses the imagination section to suggest topics for holiday reminiscences. If you ask someone to describe the holiday generally, many of us will answer in generalities. Asking specific questions is more likely to result in memories that were long buried. For example, the trivia quiz on holiday nuts brought to mind both my grandmother’s filbert nuts – served only in December, and my beloved nutty Aunt Ruth. Here are examples of what you might ask about a Christmas tree:
• What was it made of? (If real, did you cut your own, or shop together for one? Who went along? Who had the final say?)
• Where was it placed?
• How was it decorated? Did you make some or all of your own decorations? (Children in elementary school frequently do, and some are saved for decades.)
• What kind of lights did it have? Who put the lights up? Was this a frustrating experience in your household?
• Did any ornaments have special significance?
• What went on the top of the tree?
• Was decorating done by parents as a surprise to children or done by the whole family?

To get the advantage of seeing all these ideas in an expanded version, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.


To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to
http://www.wisernow.com/ now.
It’s a great holiday gift for anyone who needs a legal form of positive mind stimulation!


Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just a Bite 12-08-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

There is a bit of insanity in dancing
that does everybody a great deal of good.
~ Edwin Denby

Resources to bite into

1. Is Dancing in our Genes?

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly, celebrates New Zealand and Maori culture on the excuse that December 13th marks the first sighting (in 1642) by Europeans of the beautiful islands. In recent years, the Maori dance of intimidation called the haka, which involves stomping, chanting, chest beating and sticking one’s tongue out, has been taken up by New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, and a few American football teams. But the Maoris – like all cultures throughout history – have a variety of traditional dances, so scientists have begun to study whether dancing is in our genes. Read more at http://www.livescience.com/health/060310_born_dance.html and http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/02/22/1576009.htm).

2. Is Giving in our Genes?

The current discussion pages of Brain Aerobics Weekly also asks whether giving is in our genes, based on an article written by Nicholas Wade for The New York Times titled, “We May Be Born With an Urge to Help” (December 1, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01human.html?_r=1&th&emc=th). However, the main focus of the BAW pages is a book by Cami Walker called 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. (To order, click here.) Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis three years ago in her early 30s, Ms. Walker at first railed against her fate until coming across a note she had made (and ignored) from a woman who provided her with periodic counsel. The note said to give something away for 29 days. When she began taking the advice – in small ways such as making a supportive call to another woman with MS, not in physical gifts – she found she began looking forward to each day, and both her attitude and her health improved. The idea is not new – when we focus on helping others instead of our own troubles, we almost always feel better – but the 29-day cycle and the conscious recording of what one has done, that is, basking in the good feelings generated by one’s good deed, offer a new twist.


3. December 12 Is Poinsettia Day

Poinsettias were called "Cuetlaxochitl” by the Aztecs, who used the “star flower” as a dye and the sap to reduce fevers. Mexicans celebrate the date in honor of the Virgin Mary and call it La Flor de la Nochebuena or Flower of the Holy Night. Americans chose the date because it was the day the man who gave the flower its current name Joel Roberts Poinsett, died. He was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s. But the day is meant to honor Paul Ecke Jr., who is considered the father of the poinsettia industry. Poinsettias are now the best selling potted plants in the U.S. and Canada.

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features a matching quiz of holiday quotations that provides an interesting pastime or a way to choose partners in a group. Give all participants half a quotation and see if they can find their other half. Here are some of the samples we used:
• Nothing's as mean as giving a little child . . . something useful for Christmas. ~ Kim Hubbard
• A holiday shopper’s complaint is . . . one of long-standing. ~ Anon
• Santa is very jolly because . . . he knows where all the bad girls live. ~ Dennis Miller
• Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and . . . his present remembered." ~ Phyllis Diller
• Santa Claus has the right idea. . . . Visit people once a year. ~ Victor Borge
• The best Yuletide decoration is . . . being wreathed in smiles. ~ Anon
• A goose never . . . voted for an early Christmas. ~ Irish Saying

To get the advantage of seeing all these ideas in an expanded version, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.


To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to www.wisernow.com now.
It’s a great holiday gift for anyone who needs a legal form of positive mind stimulation!

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Just a Bite 12-01-09



Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end.
~ Winston Churchill (born November 30, 1874)

Resources to bite into

1. Sir Winston Churchill – Politician and Painter

Most people know Sir Winston Churchill as a consummate politician who was especially effective as Prime Minister of Great Britain through the dark days of World War II. But he had many ups and downs during his long political career, and at one of his early low points in 1915, he took up painting at the urging of his sister-in-law. It became his chief passion after politics and family and the perfect form of escape from his cares. As noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, at left is one of my personal favorites, the only painting he made of his wife, Clementine. To order Sir Winston Churchill: His Life and His Paintings by David Coombs, click here.

2. Gordon Parks, Renaissance Man

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features four other people who happen to have been born on November 30. Gordon Parks, born in 1912, was an artist with a camera. He chose this medium because he discovered as a young man that “the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs.” He was a groundbreaking black man who balanced diverse worlds throughout his life. He worked for many years as a photographer for Vogue, Glamour and Life magazine. But he was as likely to photograph slums as celebrities and won awards for his depiction of both. He was also a writer, poet, film director, screenwriter, musician and composer who garnered respect as all of those. Learn more about the artist and the man through his work. Here is a sampling:
• To order The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks, click here.
• To order A Hungry Heart: A Memoir, click here.
• To order Bare Witness: Photographs by Gordon Parks, click here.

3. Worth Quoting
One reason to choose the five people featured in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly is that among them they have produced hundreds of quotable lines, both amusing and profound. Here are just a few favorites on the profound side:
• Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~ Mark Twain
• Poor nations are hungry and rich nations are proud; and pride and hunger will ever be at variance. ~ Jonathan Swift
• All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. ~ Winston Churchill

Talk about these: Do you agree? Who needs to hear these messages?

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

Two of the people featured in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly are famous for their travelogues: Jonathan Swift (born Nov. 30, 1667) for Gulliver’s Travels, and Mark Twain (born Nov. 30, 1835) for Innocents Abroad (and others). They inspired a creative thinking page on lessons learned from travel.

Think about what travel has taught you about the following ideas that could also be applied to life, and give examples from your own travels:
• Always be open to new experiences.
• Keep your sense of humor.
• Keep things simple and avoid unnecessary complexity.
• Set your goals/destination, but adapt and change as needed.
• Sometimes leaping into an experience beats hesitation.
• Choose a good guide.
• Never forget the pleasures of home.

To get the advantage of seeing all these ideas in an expanded version, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to http://www.wisernow.com/ now.
It’s a great holiday gift for anyone who needs a legal form of positive mind stimulation!

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just a Bite 11-24-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.
~ Norman Rockwell

Resources to bite into

1. Grateful for Norman Rockwell

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features Norman Rockwell for three reasons.
1) Because of two of his iconic paintings, he is closely associated with Thanksgiving.
2) In honor of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Norman Rockwell Museum, there may be a traveling exhibition of his work near you. (You can check at http://www.nrm.org/.)
3) A new book by Ron Schick called Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera has just been published. (To order, click here.)
The book is especially fascinating to me because it shows the meticulousness with which Mr. Rockwell tackled each painting. From the 1930s on, he frequently took many pictures of props and people in costumes before putting brush to canvas, specifically choosing ordinary folks as models – his neighbors and family among them. The comparisons between photos and paintings are remarkable.

Norman Rockwell is also a role model for aging well. He never stopped being excited about his work, and he attributed that to his longevity.

2. A word game for Thanksgiving

How many words can you make from “Thanksgiving”? For a word with only the vowels “a” and “i” the possibilities are surprising. In the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, we have provided more than 100 answers. One way to help yourself see more possibilities is to put the word in a circle with one of each of the 12 letters substituting for a number on a clock face. The circle helps you to pull out combinations that aren’t as obvious when the letters are in a row. The technique is also evident in “The Clock Game” based on the same principle available from the National Council on Aging under “Publications.”
(https://www.ncoa.org/content.cfm?sectionID=30#l2).


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3. Keep your sense of humor through the holidays

One idea I will talk more about during December is the importance of keeping your sense of humor through the holidays. The current Brain Aerobics Weekly points out the importance of a “cosmic perspective sense of humor.” (We know the world is crazy, but we love living on the planet anyway.) It also suggests a few ways to keep smiling by doing something silly – or imagining yourself doing it, which provides the same lift to your spirits without the accompanying embarrassment. For example:
• Skip everywhere you go.
• When your money comes out of the ATM slot, shout, “I won! I won!”
• Every time someone asks you to do something, say, “Would you like fries with that?”

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

My inspiration for the Norman Rockwell focus this week came from the November issue of Vanity Fair magazine, which also featured Martha Stewart as the respondent to its monthly Proust Questionnaire. Excerpts from it are also part of the current Brain Aerobics Weekly. According to the magazine, the Proust Questionnaire originated as a parlor game popularized (but not devised) by French author Marcel Proust more than a century ago. He believed that the 35 questions revealed an individual’s true nature. Since 2005, Vanity Fair has been putting these questions to a variety of well-known people and publishing excerpts in the monthly magazine. Here are five of the questions. How would you answer?
• What is your idea of perfect happiness?
• Which talent would you most like to have?
• What is your favorite occupation?
• What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
• What is your motto?

To learn more, check out http://www.vanityfair.com/archives/features/proust or to get the advantage of summarized information, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.


To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to http://www.wisernow.com/ now!
It’s a great “I am thankful for you” gift.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just a Bite 10-17-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
~ Kurt Vonnegut (born Nov. 11, 1922)

Resources to bite into

1.Maintain Your Sense of Wonder

The upcoming holidays means it’s time to check on your attitude. Some people view this season with anxiety and others with distaste for its commercialization. Some of us want to be sensitive to friends of multiple faiths. For all these reasons, I especially like the following quote by the late author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. whose birthday was last week:

I don’t know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion.
I belong to an unholy disorder.
We call ourselves “Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.”


Mr. Vonnegut also said he wanted his epitaph to be, “The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.” To order A Man without a Country, from which these quotes are taken, click here.

2. Game for the Holidays

Next week is Fun with Games Week. Here’s one worth considering: Dizios, from MindWare. As you can see from the illustration, this is a game of visual delight. It’s a variation of dominoes in which the object is to match the colors on your tile to the tile (or preferably tiles) next to it. There is strategy involved for those who play to win, but I especially like that because it involves no letters or numbers, virtually anyone of any age or ability can play. It’s great for all those multi-generational holiday gatherings, and it can also be played like Solitaire where one person makes his own designs.

Order Dizios from Amazon by clicking here. Order a MindWare catalog at http://www.mindwareonline.com/ or call 800-999-0398.

We’ve just revamped our website. Check it out!

3. Sniglets
Also featured in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly is a singlet matching quiz. Sniglets are words that don’t exist, but should. For example, “exaspirin” is any bottle of pain reliever with an impossible-to-remove foil top or cotton wad. An alternative is to come up with your own names for words that don’t exist. What would you call:
• The light switch with no discernible purpose that seems to exist in every house?
• The maze that bank customers and airline passengers must walk through while waiting in line?
• The leftover liquid in the bottom of spray bottles where the tube doesn’t reach?

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

Have you heard of the icebreaker Human Bingo where everyone fills in their bingo card by having people initial the square that describes them (Can touch their toes, was born in New Jersey, is one of 5 children, etc.)? The current Brain Aerobics Weekly has an exercise that’s adaptable to Human Trivial Pursuit. Gather up a list of inventions and events from various decades and give one item to each participant. See if the participants can arrange themselves into the appropriate decade. For example, does the person with an “Astroturf” sign fit the 1960s, 70s or 80s? Here are a few suggestions:

• 1960s – Astronauts land on the moon, Valium and permanent press fabrics were invented, “Bewitched,” “Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Andy Griffith” were among the most popular TV shows, and the Beatles rose to fame
• 1970s – Brought us post-it notes, snowboards and the first Walkman, “The Brady Bunch,” “Bob Newhart,” and “Charlie’s Angels,” and the end of the Vietnam war
• 1980s – Gave us “Oprah,” “The Cosby Show,” and “The Golden Girls,” the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court (Sandra Day O’Conner), Doppler radar and Prozac
• 1990s – Brought “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Friends,” and “Seinfeld,” Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa, Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo, and the World Wide Web

You can find many more ideas by looking up “timelines” followed by a subject (inventions, history, popular TV, etc.)

To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to http://www.wisernow.com/ now!
It’s a great “I am thankful for you” gift.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just a Bite 11-10-09



Quote to ponder under the apple tree

If I'd had it my way, I'd have been a professional athlete, a sailor, a beachcomber, or some other form of hobo, a painter, a gardener, a novelist, a banjo-player, a traveler, anything but a rich man.”
~ William Steig (born Nov. 14, 1907)

Resources to bite into

1. The Enigmatic William Steig

Isn’t that a strange quote coming from a man who went to work as a cartoonist for the New Yorker when his parents lost everything in the Great Depression? Furthermore, William Steig would seem to have had an enjoyable 70-year career (He lived to be 95) as the creator of over 1600 cartoons and some of the most beloved children’s books, including the Disney blockbuster “Shrek” (although, admittedly, his Shrek was far darker.) The current UBrain Aerobics WeeklyU focuses on his lighter side, specifically the books, CDB and CDC which require readers to decipher sentences like these: “I 1-R F U K-R 2 F T.” Of course, in his book they are helped along by cheerful drawings, like the one in this case that shows a woman with a pot and cups presenting herself to her seated guest. To order William Steig’s CDC, click here. To order his CDB, click here. And how would you define “a hobo career”?

2. November Is Pomegranate Month

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also has a brief quiz on pomegranates, that unusual, healthy, hard-to-eat fruit that throughout history has been revered as a symbol of fertility, rebirth, unity, everlasting life and righteousness. What do YOU know about pomegranates? Are these questions true or false?
1. The pomegranate's name comes from the Latin 'pomum granatus,' which means “tart fruit.” True ____ False ____
2. Because of the similarity in appearance, the hand grenade owes its name to the pomegranate. True ____ False ____

(Answers: “I wonder if you care for tea.” False; it means “seeded apple,” and true. On the next page, “Raven.”)

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3. Friday the 13th – Good or Bad?


Do you realize that any month beginning on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th? November is the third month this year to have one (February and March did, too.) Among various people, Fridays have been associated with bad luck since time began. According to one source I read, “It is traditionally believed that Eve tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday.” Who was keeping track then?!? Add the 13th to Friday and you can dig up loads of gruesome reasons to spend the day safely under the covers, but the optimist in me thinks it’s time someone started tracking all the good things that have happened on those dates. To begin with, it’s the start of the weekend! The current Brain Aerobics Weekly challenges readers to pick out good luck signs in its trivia quiz. For example:

1. Only one of the following is not a sign of good luck. Which is it?

a. A cricket or frog in the house___
b. A raven on a fencepost ___
c. Dolphins around a ship ___
d. A ladybug landing on you ___
e. Meeting 3 sheep ___
f. A black cat walking toward you ___
g. A horseshoe in the house ___

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

While we’re focusing on optimism and good luck, here’s another challenge from the current Brain Aerobics Weekly: We’ve all heard the negative version: “You know it’s going to be a bad day when the ‘60 Minutes’ crew shows up on your doorstep.” But what are the signs for you that it’s going to be a good day? Many people have a particular object that they believe brings them good luck, such as a favorite baseball cap. In my case, when I see a turtle sunning or swimming in one of the ponds near my home, I consider it a sign that my mother (who loved turtles) is wishing me well. When I looked up this topic on the web, I was surprised to see people appreciating small things – good service at a local store, getting to sleep in a little longer, being served real maple syrup on one’s pancakes at no extra charge. Looking for the good each morning can help your day go better, so think about it. What are 10 things that follow the line for you?

You know it’s going to be a good day when . . .

To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to www.wisernow.com now!
It’s a great “I am thankful for you” gift.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just a Bite 11-02-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Good judgment comes from experience,
and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
~ Will Rogers (born Nov. 4, 1879)

Resources to bite into

1. The Uncommon Sense of Will Rogers

Will Rogers was known for pointing out that “Common sense ain’t all that common,” so his November 4th birthday is celebrated as Common Sense Day to honor a man who embodied it. Few people are as quotable as the affable cowboy who said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Will Rogers gained his fame by his amazing adeptness with a lariat, including the ability to throw three lassos at once: One rope caught the running horse's neck, the other would loop around the rider, and the third swooped up under the horse to loop all four legs. But he retained his fame by being a man of gentle good humor, who truly did live his life as he advised, "so that you wouldn't be afraid to sell the family parrot to the town gossip."

2. Celebrate Family Stories Month

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a reminiscence exercise that celebrates Family Stories Month. Its inspiration is the book, Reader’s Digest Life in These United States, which is a compilation of stories from the magazine’s column of the same name. (To order, click here.) Here is a quick condensed example:

While remodeling my cousin Audrey’s bathroom, the contractor asked her where on the wall to position the hand-held shower attachment. Unsure, Audrey stepped into the tub. At that moment the phone rang. Audrey dashed to the phone, and said, “Can I call you back? I’m in the shower with the contractor!”

Now tell your own story about a family member who misspoke and has not yet lived it down.

We’ve just revamped our website. Check it out!



3. Twisting your tongue concentrates the brain

As noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly November 7th is the date of the International Tongue-Twister Contest in Burlington, Wisconsin. All contestants will get a gift for giving it a go, and prizes include a portion of a peck of pickled peppers. If you can’t make it, you can still focus your brain by practicing saying these deceptively simple phrases three times in rapid succession:
• Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks
• Tie twine to three tree twigs
• Green glass globes glow greenly
• Supposed to be pistachio

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

Another challenge in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly celebrates Cliché Day (November 3rd) and asks readers to think of more creative endings than what you would automatically use to fill in the blanks below. Give it a try!

1. As clear as _______________________

2. As cold as ________________________

3. As common as _____________________

4. As fresh as ________________________

5. As pure as _________________________

6. As slow as __________________________

7. As welcome as _______________________

8. As white as ___________________________


To order Brain Aerobics Weekly,
go to
http://www.wisernow.com/ now!
It’s a great “I am thankful for you” gift.


Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.

We’ve just revamped the website. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just a Bite 10-27-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet.
The future is still so much bigger than the past.
~ Tim Berners-Lee

Resources to bite into

1. Free Flowing Information

Most people seem to mark the beginning of the Internet as 40 years ago this fall, with the exact date depending on the various players involved. Dr. Len Kleinrock, a UCLA professor since 1963, was one of those players, all of whom were aiming to create a free exchange of information. “Allow that open access, and a thousand flowers bloom,” he said. http://www.buffalonews.com/145/story/780084.html#

This year is also the 20th anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web. (To keep the two terms straight, think of the Internet as Europe and the Web as France.) British physicist Sir Tim Berners-Lee is widely credited with inventing the World Wide Web. He has been a lifelong crusader for keeping the Web free to all, and purposely chose not to financially benefit from the invention. (Imagine that, Google.) He sees the Web as a means of communication, of helping human beings to connect and understand one another better. Pretty refreshing. You can learn much more about his work at http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/.

2. Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also celebrates this unusual group – talent combined with a delightful sense of humor. You can see for yourself by checking out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3gp7B8WC4Q (and be patient – They really start playing about 90 seconds in.) Also check out their website at www.ukuleleorchestra.com and listen to more clips at http://www.ukuleleorchestra.com/main/ListClips.aspx?SessionKey.

3. Which Is? Quiz for Witches and Other Goblins This Week


The trivia quiz in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly features excerpts from three of my favorite resources:
• Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Puzzle Book #2. To order, click here.
• Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Puzzle Book #3. To order, click here.
• Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Puzzle Book #4. To order, click here.
For example, do you know which is faster, the average sneeze or the average cough?
How about which pets watch more TV, cats or dogs? (Answers below)

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

This week Brain Aerobics Weekly uses its creative thinking pages to have readers choose among opposing proverbs, and evaluate why they prefer one over the other – and in what circumstances the opposite might be true!

Here are a few examples:
1. ___ Look before you leap.
___ He who hesitates is lost.

2. ___ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
___ Once bitten, twice shy.

3. ___ You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
___ It’s never too late to learn.

4. ___ Where there’s a will there’s a way.
___ Time and tide wait for no man.

5. ___ Out of sight, out of mind.
___ Absence makes the heart grow fonder.


Answers to Which is quiz samples: cough and cats.


To order Brain Aerobics Weekly, go to www.wisernow.com now!
It’s a great “I am thankful for you” gift.

Using these resources effectively:

We suggest you create a file on your computer for Just a Bite where you save each week’s digest so that you can access these websites any time.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just a Bite 10-20-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples,
don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious.
~Bill Meyer

Resources to bite into

1. Positive Attitude Month

As you well know, a positive attitude is good for body and soul; you can find a lot of inspiration at http://www.quotegarden.com/attitude.html. The current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly asks readers to come up with their own metaphors for the idea. Bill Meyer combined crab apples with Golden Delicious in his. Albert Camus compared winter with summer, and Voltaire wrote: “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” What’s your metaphor for the importance of a positive attitude?

2. Popcorn Poppin’ Month

It’s also a month to celebrate popcorn, and Brain Aerobics Weekly features a trivia quiz on the topic along with a mouthwatering list of unusual popcorn flavors found at http://www.popcornuniverse.com/popcornonline.htm.

In doing research for the week, I had thought of showing popcorn popping when four cell phones were placed together (YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgjx4JROjR4) but thought better of promoting the hoax (explained at http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/2008/06/10/cell-phone-popcorn.htm) because most of us are worried enough about what cell phones may be doing to our brains over the long term. And popcorn should be simply enjoyed!

3. Cake Wrecks

An article in the New York Times inspired me to celebrate Bake and Decorate Month in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly by highlighting the website/blog and new book by Jen Yates called Cake Wrecks. To order the book, click here. To explore her funny sense of humor go to http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/. And to see an example of a website that makes her laugh, go to http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

This week Brain Aerobics Weekly uses its imagination pages to talk about Photographer Appreciation Month by asking you to tap into your photographic memory and imagine your life summarized in just 15 – 25 pictures.

Here are five categories to think about:
• Family and friends
• Career, hobbies and special interests
• The political and social history you have lived through
• The places you have loved living or visiting
• Whatever else is missing: What else would you want people to know about yourself?

1) What are the 3 – 5 pictures in each that might sum up your life in each?
2) Why did you choose these particular ones?
3) In what categories do you need more than 5 pictures?


To order Brain Aerobics Weekly, go to http://www.wisernow.com/ now!


Using these resources effectively:

We suggest you create a file on your computer for Just a Bite where you save each week’s digest so that you can access these websites any time.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just A Bite 10-13-09



Quote to ponder under the apple tree

In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.
~ Oscar Wilde (born October 16, 1854)

Resources to bite into

1. Character Counts Week, October 18 - 24

This special week starts before our next issue, so consider now how you might celebrate. In spite of the temptation we all have to discount those who disagree with us (as Oscar Wilde noted above), one mark of good character is the willingness to listen to others. Advice columnist Dear Abby (Abigail Van Buren) said:
The best index to a person's character is
(a) how he treats people who can't do him any good, and
(b) how he treats people who can't fight back.

2. Hollywood Squares

The current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly features numerous examples of banter between Peter Marshall, the host for 15 years of “Hollywood Squares” (which premiered on October 17, 1966) and the celebrity panelists. The most outrageous of them was Paul Lynde who twice won a daytime Emmy for his quick retorts. Many of them are too risqué for this family-friendly blog, but here are two:

Peter Marshall: If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Peter Marshall: Paul, according to the classic movie “Frankenstein,” Dr. Frankenstein was supposed to do something important the day the monster killed him. What?
Paul Lynde: I think a tonsillectomy.

Check out many more at http://www.classicsquares.com/.

3. Gobblet

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also highlights the games Gobblet and Gobblet Junior which are more complex versions of Tic-Tac-Toe (the game on which “Hollywood Squares” was based). While easy to learn and adaptable to various ages and abilities, they also require strategic thinking. The original Gobblet is attractive enough for a coffee table display, and that gives it the added advantage of instant, spontaneous intellectual stimulation. To order Gobblet, click here. To order Gobblet Junior, click here.

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly uses its imagination pages to talk about “do-overs.”
October 17 is Mulligan Day. In sports, a mulligan happens when a player gets a second chance to perform a certain move or action. It seems to be particularly common in golf, when it is not unusual to allow a mulligan on the first shot by a player on the first tee. Obviously, the mulligan is meant to replace a bad first shot with a better one, but when the second shot is worse than the first, it’s called a “Finnegan.” I’m not sure why the Mulligans and Finnegans of the world have lent their names to the practice – origin stories are many and varied – but I’ve always thought do-overs were a good idea.

One of the happiest discoveries aging has brought me is that do-overs – that is, changing my mind and starting again with another choice – are possible throughout life. Careers, life partners, where to live, talents to nurture, how much to exercise, what movie to see and what route to take home are just a few examples of mulligans I have taken.

One way to help group members get to know each other and also, we hope, do some positive self reflection, is to think about all the ways you have done course corrections. Ask participants to discuss these questions:

• What are the most dramatic mulligans you have taken in life?

• What small, seemingly insignificant mulligans have you taken that have made your life easier?
(For example, the alternative to “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” is “If a thing is just barely worth doing, then just barely do it.” Not everything requires full devotion. What things do you pay less attention to than you once did?)

• What mulligans do you still need/want to take?

• Finally, to whom do you need to give a mulligan and why?

Using these resources effectively:

We suggest you create a file on your computer for Just a Bite where you save each week’s digest so that you can access these websites any time.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just A Bite 10-9-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Orange is the happiest color.
~ Frank Sinatra

Resources to bite into

1. Fall colors

The current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly is devoted to colors. The trivia quiz focuses on the fall colors of yellow, orange, red and brown. We have a tendency to think the whole world thinks like us, but even English-speaking people aren’t in agreement. Orange is the most controversial of colors, and many people would not agree with Frank Sinatra’s view of orange, although in China and Japan it is associated with happiness and love. Others see yellow as the most cheerful color, but in Egypt it is the color of mourning. In the U.S. yellow is also associated with cowardliness, but in Japan, it is symbolic of courage. No wonder cross-cultural communication can be confusing! Learn more at http://www.squidoo.com/colorexpert.

2. Car colors and personalities

The current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly also features an explanation of what your car says about your personality. Created by Leatrice Eiseman, who is the founder and director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, it suggests that if you drive a vibrant red car, you are sexy, high-energy, dynamic and like speed. A burgundy-colored car gives the same message, just toned down a notch. She says that owners of gray/silver cars are elegant, cool and love futuristic looks. It’s a nice message for the gazillion of us who own them, but the more likely thing it suggests is that we were willing to settle for the most abundant color on the lot! The fact that it hides the spills and crumbs of grandchildren also helps.

3. A colorful painter

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also highlights the work of Pierre Bonnard, who was born October 3, 1867 and widely known for his rich palette of colors. Here, for example, is a corner of a still-life of spring flowers that might pass for an aerial view of a wooded hillside in fall.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

When looking for ways to divide people into groups, start with something they have in common. If you don’t know the participants, you can make up something: Find someone who is wearing the same colored shoes or has the same number of rings or likes Chunky Monkey ice cream. However, when you are trying to create even-numbered groups, it sometimes takes manipulation.

Here’s a “colorful” idea for dividing people randomly into four groups of four. Let each person draw a piece of paper from an envelope. On each piece of paper, write a sentence with one word blank that must be filled in with a color. (See sample below.) Each person must then find all the other people with sentences in which the same color fits. You can immediately stimulate conversation by asking, “What was your sentence?”

Here are some examples taken from a word quiz in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly.

Set 1:
• Something unexpected comes from out of the __________
• Someone who is particularly loyal is true _______
• An inexpensively priced restaurant meal is called a ________ plate special
• If you are sad, you are said to be ________

Set 2:
• If you are a talented gardener, you are said to have a _______ thumb
• The place where performers relax before going on stage is called the _______ room
• When we gain approval, we are said to get the _________ light
• If you are feeling sick, you are said to be __________ around the gills

Set 3
• A _______ tie event is a classy, formal party that requires a tuxedo
• A disreputable character in a family may be called a _________ sheep
• Coffee without milk is called ______
• The highest level of achievement in martial arts is called a ________ belt

Set 4
• If you are caught _______ -handed, you are clearly guilty
• A warning of danger is a _____ flag
• Something that has no value isn’t worth a _______ cent
• Getting privileged treatment is associated with a _______ carpet

Answers: 1st set: blue; 2nd set: green; 3rd set: black; 4th set: red

Using these resources effectively:

We suggest you create a file on your computer for Just a Bite where you save each week’s digest so that you can access these websites any time.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just a Bite 9-1-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

I like a teacher who gives you something to
take home to think about besides homework.
~ Lily Tomlin (born September 1, 1939)

Resources to bite into

1. Laughin’ with Lily

It’s hard to believe that Lily Tomlin turns 70 today. Many of us were first introduced to her on the TV series “Laugh-in,” where she appeared as Ernestine the telephone operator, (“One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingies”) Edith Ann, the bratty 5-year old child in an oversize rocker, and other characters. Her career encompasses movies, television and the one-woman, multi-character Broadway show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, for which she won a Tony Award. You can find much more of her wit and wisdom at http://www.brainyquote.com/.

2. School Daze

School has already begun for most children in the U.S. so it seemed appropriate to feature some of their bloopers – reasons to keep them in school a bit longer – in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly. These come from Richard Lederer’s The Bride of Anguished English:
• Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foor clipper.
• In Venice the people travel around the canals on gorgonzolas.
• Cleopatra died when an ass bit her.
• One of the wives of Henry VIII was named Ann of Cleavage.
To order The Bride of Anguished English, click here.

3. Exercising the Whole Brain

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features a word quiz partially inspired by Marge Engelman’s Whole Brain Workouts. For example, name the common ending to the following words:
1. sav gar voy man 2. sen deb rot pir
Marge has long been a friend, and I have long been a fan of her work, which features a broad range of exercises. To order Whole Brain Workouts, call the Attainment Company at 800-327-4269 or go to www.attainmentcompany.com. (Answers: age and ate)


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

We seem to have lost the ability for reasonable discourse in this country. I am not ready to take on the volatile subject of U.S. healthcare policies, but I think it is time to practice respectful analysis of issues, so the topic I’ve chosen as children return to school is “How much freedom do children need?” Find a few people and start a discussion.

If you are more than 30 years old, chances are you were exposed to what would now be considered enormous dangers in your childhood. As noted in a recent widely disseminated email:
• We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets.
• As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts and no air bags. Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was a special treat.
• We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one died.
• We played outside all day all summer and after school all year, unreachable by cell phones and we were mostly fine. Occasionally we fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

Lenore Skenazy found herself at the center of a media storm a year ago when she allowed her well-briefed, well-supplied 9-year old son to ride a subway home alone. As a result, she wrote a book: Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Kids the Freedom We Enjoyed without Going Nuts with Worry, and created both a website and a blog (http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/). So what do you think?
• How much freedom and independence did you have?
• Why are children today given less?
• What’s the right balance between safety and confidence-building experience?

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.
-- Host a workshop, purchase materials or click on the blue print to sign up for Brain Aerobics Weekly. and Wiser Now Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Tips.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just a Bite 8-18-2009

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

The score never interested me, only the game.
~ Mae West (born August 17, 1893)

Resources to bite into

1.An early liberated woman

Mae West was considered outrageous for her independence, outspokenness, and frank sensuality for most of her 87 years. She was also a well-loved comedian, playwright and actress so famous for her double entendres that she once said she could order a cup of coffee and people would look for a hidden meaning. On the other hand, she gave her fans plenty of reason to expect her dialogue to be risqué. Consider these quotes:
•To err is human, but it feels divine.
•I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
•When women go wrong, men go right after them.
•I've been in more laps than a napkin.
You can find many more quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com/

2. Defining pairs

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a word quiz adapted from Schott’s Original Miscellany. Do you know the meaning of common phases like a) kith and kin, b) dregs and dross, and c) jetsam and flotsam? (Answers: a) friends and family, b) solid particles at the bottom of some liquids and refuse, and c) items thrown off ships and floating wreckage.) Learn much, much more by ordering Ben Schott’s book. Just click here.

3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features a quote from my newly favorite novel, The Elegance of a Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. In poetic language, she describes the beauty of the ancient Asian tea ceremony and compares it to the still lovely current ritual of pausing in one’s day for the jewel-like moment of sipping and pondering. She writes, “With each swallow, time is sublimed.” How is time sublimed for you? To order this “thought-full” book, click here.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

Another highly quotable celebrity is Ogden Nash, born August 21, 1902 and famous throughout the 20th century for his light and often pithy verses. (e.g., “Parsley is gharsley,” and “If called by a panther, don’t anther.”)

Since August 21 is Poet’s Day, this week is an ideal time to try matching his wit. Mr. Nash said that he thought in rhyme from the age of six, but he was never hampered by the fact that words were spelled differently or that they didn’t exist at all. (Shakespeare made up hundreds of words; what’s stopping the rest of us?) Here are three words which Ogden Nash found ways to rhyme. What can YOU do with them?

Jellyfish

Caribou

Galoshes


Ogden Nash’s rhymes:
•You can have my jellyfish/ I’m not sellyfish.
•I will tame me a caribou/ And bedeck it in marabou.
•Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes/ Today I am a swashbuckler; would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?

To order The Best of Ogden Nash, click here.

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.
-- Host a workshop, purchase materials or click on the blue print to sign up for Brain Aerobics Weekly. and Wiser Now Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Tips.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just a Bite 8-11-09

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Life itself is the proper binge.
~ Julia Child (born August 15, 1912)

Resources to bite into

1. Julia’s Joy

Julia Child was born 97 years ago this week. Just released is a new movie based on her life, as described in her memoir, My Life in France, and on the experiences of Julie Powell who wrote a blog and then a book about preparing all 524 recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year.

At a time when Americans are eating more and cooking less, and when Time Magazine has just published an article noting losing/maintaining weight has more to do with what you eat than how much you exercise (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1914857,00.html?xid=newsletter-daily), why not order the book and start having fun with Julia?
• To order Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, click here.
• To order her memoir, My Life in France, click here.

2. Create en plein air

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly celebrates a Date to Create (any date will do) by encouraging people to get outdoors and truly notice their surroundings. Take a sketch book and without judging yourself, draw what catches your eye – a tree, a lawn chair, a sleeping cat, anything. Then pretend you are Claude Monet and return a few hours later to see if your object has changed with the light.

3. Do you speak English or American?

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features a quiz comparing American and British words for various items. For example, British pants are American underwear (men) and American pants are trousers to the British. An American vest is a waistcoat to Britons and a British vest is an American undershirt. An American boob tube is television; the British version is a tank top. Confused yet?


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The television premiere of “Candid Camera” was August 10, 1948, so this is a good week to think up candid camera stunts as a group exercise. According to creator Allen Funt’s son Peter, who took over the show after his father’s death in 1999, his father taught him three primary responsibilities:
• Don’t make others look bad. If you wouldn’t want to be caught in a situation depicted, chances are others would be humiliated, too.
• Don’t abuse authority. In power mismatch situations (teacher/student or boss/ employee, for example), people will do almost anything, but it’s a cheap trick to put them in that position.
• Care about people. Be interested in what makes humans tick, in what makes us smile.

Keeping those principles in mind, divide into teams of about four people each and try to come up with two or three candid camera stunts that would be fun to pull off. Some may actually be possible. Others might require a big budget and elaborate props but can still be fun to imagine. (You can also do this as an individual exercise, but two or more heads are likely to come up with more ideas as you play off each other’s thoughts.) Here are some samples of old ideas to start your creative juices flowing:
• A talking mailbox
• A car which split in two as it passed a traffic policeman
• Speed bumps in a super market aisle
• Couples “getting married” by vending machine in Las Vegas
• A waitress tasting customers’ food
• A saleswoman visiting the homes of people on the “Do not call” list


Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.
-- Host a workshop, purchase materials or click on the blue print to sign up for Brain Aerobics Weekly. and Wiser Now Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Tips.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just a Bite July 28th, 2009

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Cherish all your happy moments: they make a fine cushion for old age. ~ Booth Tarkington (born July 29, 1869)

Resources to bite into

1. Midwestern values *

Newton Booth Tarkington was an American novelist best known for his two Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) and Alice Adams (1922). He isn’t read much anymore, so it seems worth highlighting his still valid goal. Although born in Indiana, he lived for many years in the east where people tended to think themselves superior to people living elsewhere. “ . . . I tried to make my novel answer all this nonsense. A thing the novel tried to say was that in the matter of human character, the people of such an out-of-the-way midland village were as estimable as any others anywhere. . . . [That] was my emotional tribute to the land of my birth.” Now we think more globally, but don’t we still need to fight the tendency to doubt the character of those who aren’t quite like us?

2. Confusing English *

The word quiz in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly features heteronyms, words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently, such as “wound” (meaning injury) and “wound” (meaning what you did to start the clock). Although you might think these are fairly rare, in reality they are hundreds of common English words with alternate pronunciations, and “alternate” is one of them. It’s part of what makes English confusing for non-native speakers – and, of course, the British, Australians and other English-speaking countries have their own pronunciations. The quiz mentioned above uses only words beginning with “C”. Try putting the following words in sentences using their differing pronunciations and meanings:
buffet dove excuse incense moderate object perfect rebel
For more ideas, go to: http://jonv.flystrip.com/heteronym/heteronym.htm

3. A thought provoking question from If . . . (Questions for the Game of Life) *

If you could dine alone with anyone from any person in history, who would you choose and why? To order If . . . by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell, HUclick hereUH.

* These items are easily adapted when working with people with Alzheimer’s disease.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor *

The trivia quiz in the current UBrain Aerobics WeeklyU asks you to determine which of three prices was what an item cost in 1950. This variation on The Price Is Right can make a good party game, contest or team-building exercise. You can also vary it by:
• changing the decade (1940s, 1970s, etc.),
• looking up the cost of just a few different items in different decades or
• turning it into a reminiscence exercise by perusing a book like Everyday Fashions of the Fifties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs (To order, click here.) A variation of this book is also available for most of the decades of the 1900s.
Here are a few prices that didn’t make it into this week’s Brain Aerobics Weekly quiz:

1. A child’s 8-piece Roy Rogers cowboy outfit (complete with toy gun and lariat) a. $4.88___ b. $6.49 ___ c. $7.88 ___

2. A gallon of exterior house paint
a. $1.29 ___ b. 2.29 ___ c. $3.29 ___

3. A pound of lamb chops
a. 35 cents ___ b. 49 cents ___ c. 65 cents ___

4. A pound of sliced bacon
a. 35 cents ___ b. 49 cents ___ c. 65 cents ___

5. 5 pounds of onions
a. 15 cents ___ b. 25 cents ___ c. 39 cents ____

Source: http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1950s.html
Answers: 1. a; 2. c; 3. b; 4. a; 5. a

Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website become the apple of your eye.
-- Host a workshop, purchase materials or click on the blue print to sign up for Brain Aerobics Weekly and Wiser Now Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Tips.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just a Bite July 21st, 2009

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.
~ Les Brown (motivational speaker)

Resources to bite into

1. Moonstruck *

This week is the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon (July 20, 1969) so the current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a trivia quiz about moon facts and flights to the moon. Here are two more tidbits:
• Flying once around the moon is the equivalent of a round trip from New York to London. (Earth is about four times the size of the moon.)
• When walking on the moon, astronaut Alan Sheppard hit a golf ball that went 2,400 feet, nearly one-half a mile – definitely a record Tiger Woods is not likely to beat working within Earth’s gravity.

2. Swimming, swimming, when days are hot, when days are cold . . .*

Under the theme of swimming, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly links several events. This week marks the opening of the first U.S. public swimming school in Boston. Two weeks ago was Nude Recreation Week, and while we suspect few of our readers celebrated it in a public fashion, one early adopter was the sixth U.S. President, John Quincy Adams (who was born July 11, 1767). He reportedly arose before dawn each morning – 4:15 a.m. in the summer – for a nude swim in the Potomac, including during the years of his presidency, when the river was a relatively short walk from the White House. Once a tramp stole his clothes (left on the river bank) and once a female reporter supposedly sat on them so that he couldn’t leave the river until he granted her an interview. How’s that for using your noggin’?
(Source: http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/poets/adams_jquincy.php)

3. Today is Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day *

Put your regrets in the trash – where they belong. Then make a list of your strengths and best qualities and pat yourself on the back.


* These items are easily adapted when working with people with Alzheimer’s disease.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor *

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a quiz in honor of Tell an Old Joke Day (July 24) in which you are asked to match punch lines to bar joke set-ups (some of the oldest jokes around). This is also a great party game, ice-breaker and way to choose new partners in a training activity. Here are some samples from this week’s quiz:

Walking into the bar – Match the right punch line

a. "A beer please, and one for the road."
b. Next thing you know, the sheriff arrives and arrests him for rustling.
c. “Sorry, we don't serve food in here."
d. "Well, it was my first day with my hook."
e. "You can come in here, but you better not start anything!"
f. "You'll be driving later."

1. A cheeseburger walks into a bar, and the bartender says: ___

2. A pair of battery jumper cables walk into a bar. The bartender says: ___

3. A golf club walks into a bar and asks the barman for a pint of beer. The barman refuses to serve him. "Why not?" asks the golf club. The bartender says: ___

4. A guy walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: ___

5. A pirate with a wooden leg, a hook and an eye patch enters a bar. In conversation, the bartender soon learns the man lost his leg to a shark and his hand in a sword fight. He asks about his eye patch and the pirate says, "A seagull dropping fell into my eye." The bartender is incredulous: “You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?" The pirate says: ___

6. A cowboy walks into a bar for a drink. His hat is made of brown wrapping paper. And so are his shirt, vest, chaps, pants, boots and spurs. ___


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