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Brain Aerobics Weekly

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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.”

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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.

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go to http://www.wisernow.com/ now!
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Let the ever-ripening Wiser Now website
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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.

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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.

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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!