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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just a Bite 6/22/10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

There are two ways of spreading light:
To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
~ Edith Wharton

Resources to bite into

1. Reflected light

The current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly focuses on light in its many incarnations, but the above quote is especially appropriate related to the story told by Robert Fulghum in his 1988 book It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It, about Alexander Papaderos, founder of an institute for peace on the isle of Crete. When Mr. Papaderos was a child during the Nazi occupation, he found a fragment of a broken mirror from a German motorcycle. He scratched it on stone until he eventually had a circular mirror about the size of a quarter, and then he began to experiment with it. He said that he “became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine – in deep holes and dark closets.” As he grew up, he saw the mirror as a metaphor for his purpose in life. “I am not the light or the source of light. But light – truth, understanding, knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.” He said that he was “a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know.” He could not change the world, but he “could change some things in some people,” by reflecting light into the dark places of this world and “into the black places in the hearts of men.”

What dark corners and hearts can you bring light to?

To order, It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It by Robert Fulghum, click here.

2. Light through a parasol

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also highlights the paintings of American artist Frederick Carl Frieseke, who was one of the leaders of the Giverny Luminists. In the early 1900s, he and his wife lived for 14 years on property adjoining Claude Monet’s in the French village of Giverny. Pictured here is a detail from one of several paintings of women with parasols he made with the sun dappling through.


3. Dogs in the spotlight

Every June, as noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is held in Petaluma, California, as part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, a tradition that is now more than 20 years old and trademarked. One breed that has won in the past is a Chinese Crested dog, which is a largely hairless animal with spotted skin and odd tufts of hair around its head and ankles. It is interesting to note that the winner is not judged purely on ugliness – which would require only photos – but on which dog has a winning personality that makes its ugliness irrelevant. Is there a lesson here?

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features a word game using words that have to do with light – from starlight to taking a second job and moonlighting. The original exercise asks readers to fill in the blanks and gives clues within each sentence about the missing word. Here is a more difficult variation:

There are at least 10 kinds of electrical lights beyond the common light bulb. They are found on our streets, cars, homes, and theatres (and probably other places). How many can you name?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!

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Answers: cars: headlights, brake lights, taillights cities: street lights, neon lights, traffic lights, search lights homes: porch lights, night lights, flash lights, flood lights
theatres: footlights, spotlights
Can you think of more?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Just a Bite 6/15/10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

A kiss that speaks volumes is seldom a first edition.
~Clare Whiting


Resources to bite into

1. Kissing is good for your health

In honor of the month that was long been the most popular for weddings, the current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly features a discussion of kissing based on an old New York Times article by Joshua Foer (Feb. 14, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/14/opinion/14foer.html) and the website http://people.howstuffworks.com/kissing2.htm. When you are kissed by someone you care about, the following hormones and neurotransmitters rush through your body:
• Oxytocin, which helps people develop feelings of attachment, devotion and affection for one another
• Dopamine, which plays a role in the brain's processing of pleasure and pain
• Serotonin, which affects a person's mood and feelings
• Adrenaline, which increases heart rate and dilates your blood vessels to provide your body with more oxygen

Plus, according to Mr. Foer, “A study conducted during the 1980's found that men who kiss their wives before leaving for work live longer, get into fewer car accidents, and have a higher income than married men who don't.” We assume the same is true for anyone who kisses anyone with affection, so get out there and pucker up!

2. Kissing quotes


Here are a few kissing quotes. Which do you agree with?

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. ~Albert Einstein

Kissing is a means of getting two people so close together that they can't see anything wrong with each other. ~Rene Yasenek

In trying to get our own way, we should remember that kisses are sweeter than whine. ~Author Unknown

People who throw kisses are mighty hopelessly lazy. ~Bob Hope


3. Wedding trivia

The trivia quiz in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly highlights the origins of marriage traditions. Here are two you may not have known:
• “Wedding toast” got its name from the custom of placing a square of bread in the bottom of two drinking glasses for the newlyweds. The bride and groom drank as fast as they could, and whoever was first to get to the toast would rule the household.
• Until about 1500 years ago, the ring finger was the index finger. Later the third finger became associated with “vein of love that led directly to the heart.” (Check out the lines on your own palm!)

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features an exercise in writing your own goodwill. June probably first became a popular month to marry because it was associated with the Roman goddess Juno, who was seen as the protector of married life. May, on the other hand was associated with bad luck: “Marry in May, and you’ll rue the day.” Such rhymes and aphorisms are all well and good when they favor your choice, but why put a silly curse on life events? Here’s a challenge:

Take the beginning of each line below and finish it with a fortunate ending:

Marry when the year is new . . .
When February birds do mate . . .
If you wed when March winds blow . . .
Marry in April when you can . . .
Marry in the month of May . . .
Marry when June roses grow . . .
Those who in July do wed . . .
Whoever wed in August be . . .
Marry in September's shine . . .
If in October you do marry . . .
If you wed in bleak November . . .
When December snows fall fast . . .

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!

Let us become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just a Bite 6-1-10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

The Earth laughs in flowers.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Resources to bite into

1. Celebrate Perennial Garden Month

I am a great garden appreciator, but a pathetic gardener, so Perennial Garden Month – which means you don’t have to till the soil and plant the seeds each year – holds high appeal for me. What I hadn’t thought about, but which is highlighted in the current UBrain Aerobics WeeklyU, is the fact that almost all our fruits and nuts and many of our herbs and spices are perennials. What a bounty we have in apple, plum, peach, and cherry trees for delicious fruits, and almond, pecan, and walnut trees to keep us all a little nutty. As for the vines, many thanks for the wine. And flowers? Their diversity is divine.

2. Get outside!

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly notes that June is Great Outdoors Month and that there is nothing as easy and effective for lifting moods and improving one’s sense of well being as a simple walk outdoors. It is good for our physical health:
• Brief sunlight contributes to calcium’s conversion into strong bones and the body’s use of vitamin D. It also boosts our immune system.
And it’s good for our mental health:
• It reduces depression and decreases stress.
And it’s good for communities, because people who enjoy the outdoors tend to better stewards of those spaces. Think about all the things you enjoy outdoors, all the places you enjoy doing them, and get yourself outside!

3. Odd solutions

Although I am writing this a week before you’ll see it, the BP oil leak is very much on my mind and it is likely to be an even bigger disaster as time goes on. The evening news noted that over 20,000 suggestions for what to do have been submitted from scientists, engineers and ordinary citizens. Surely among them are workable ideas. Human ingenuity is amazing. The current Brain Aerobics Weekly highlights other outside-the-box ideas that are having impact, such as rats trained to detect buried land mines where war has ended and peanut butter as an ideal food for malnourished African children.
Another idea – putting low methane microbes from kangaroo stomachs into high methane cow stomachs – provides amusement. In a time of crisis, keeping our sense of humor can be an essential weapon.

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

To keep us focused on oil, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly has a word quiz related to coming up with words that contain the letters O-I-L. One part has the letters out of order. Here’s a sampling:

1. Singers on this TV show compete to become the next American _______.

2. For the big dance at school, a group of us rented a __________ to take us there.

3. Could the lamb ever lie down with the __________ , and not get eaten?

4. He wanted a steak but couldn’t decide between __________ and __________.

5. To save money on paper, the newspaper went from standard size to __________ format.

6. Next to the barn were two huge __________ for storing the grain.

Here’s hoping “Oil won’t be seeing you in every lovely summer's day.”

Answers: 1. idol 2. limo 3. lion 4. sirloin and tenderloin 5. tabloid 6. silos

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quote to ponder under the apple tree
More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.
~ Old Spanish Proverb

Resources to bite into
1. It’s Wildflower Week
The current Brain Aerobics Weekly celebrates wild growing things,
noting that 80 percent of all medicinal drugs originate from wild plants.
Most, however, remain unstudied. Consider the pink Madagascar
periwinkle, (shown here) from which vincristine is derived.
Vincristine has increased the survival rate of children with leukemia
from 20 percent to 80 percent. What else remains to be
discovered? The beauty of flowers is more than skin deep. (Learn more at
http://www.nps.gov/plants/cw/variety.htm.)

2. Today is International Respect for Chickens Day
The slogan is "Give a Cluck! Stick Up For Chickens!" May 4th is
International Respect for Chickens Day in a month of activities
sponsored by United Poultry Concerns (UPC). The organization
promotes a vegan diet and compassionate treatment of chickens.
I am unlikely to become a vegan soon, but I certainly support the
humane treatment of poultry and all things edible. And I like their
sense of humor. They have put 100 king-size posters on
Washington, D.C. Metro buses with their slogan. Learn more at http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/20064/campaigners-to-honourrespect- for-chickens-day

3. Celebrate gnomes, too
The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also celebrates garden gnomes which are, sad to say, not fully appreciated by all, but dearly loved by many. Here is a sample paragraph from the discussion page:
The small town of Strasburg in southern Illinois, adopted garden gnomes as its mascot two years ago, and since then they have been arriving in increasing numbers. They even have their own newspaper with the motto, “Gnome News is Good News.” As this is a census year in the U.S., the town council did not want the gnomes to feel neglected and conducted a gnome census, with volunteers going door to door among the town’s 600
residents to ask for the number of bearded figures per household, plus their sex, age and place of origin. Source: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/207003-Gnome-Census-Illinoistown- plans-first-garden-gnome-count

Tips/ideas/insights to savor
A few people have been known to have the same phobia toward gnomes that some people have toward clowns, but the current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a trivia quiz on movie monsters
that are more universally feared. Here is a sampling:
1. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes ___
2. The Blob ___
3. The Mummy ___
4. The Fly ___
5. Wolfman ___
a. The 1941 version of this classic starred Lon Chaney Jr. in the tragic tale of an ordinary man who unwillingly turns into a feared animal when the moon is full.
b. An eccentric scientist experimenting with teleportation accidentally turns
himself into an oversized insect in a love story gone horribly wrong.
c. In the original 1932 version, Boris Karloff starred as an Egyptian creature returning to
life to stalk the reincarnation of his lost love.
d. This spoof of monster movies featured vegetables that revolted against humanity.
e. A meteorite crashes to earth, leaving a crater in the ground and a gelatinous substance. An
old farmer picks it up with a stick to get a closer look and is eaten; with each victim devoured the substance grows larger. . .

Answers: 1. d 2. e 3. c 4. b 5. a

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.
Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!
Let us become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just a Bite 4/20/10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
~ Marshall McLuhan

Resources to bite into

1. Earth Day turns 40 and the Earth still turns

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly opens with a “Talking Trash” trivia quiz because, unfortunately, 40 years after U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the first Earth Day, environmental issues are still with us.

One easy thing you can do: use canvas bags for shopping. Canvas is slowly catching on, but here are two big reasons to switch – or at the very least recycle your plastic bags, because about 97% are not:
• An estimated million sea creatures are killed each year when they ingest plastic bags – sometimes whole, because turtles, for example, mistake them for jelly fish.
• As plastic bags decompose, tiny toxic bits seep into soils, lakes, rivers, and the oceans and the plastic debris itself acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals. They are therefore deadly in small bits, too.
Learn more at http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html

2. Rhyming with Earth

What word that rhymes with earth:

1. is an Australian city?
2. means a beginning?
3. has to do with value?
4. means a lack of?
5. is related to joy and laughter?
6. is a measurement?


Bonus: How many letters of the alphabet rhyme with tree? Answers on next page.

3. Life is improving

Although we have much left to do to honor our planet, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly takes note of one way life has improved. Shakespeare’s birth is also celebrated this week (April 23, 1564) and according to Bill Bryson in his book, Shakespeare, The World as Stage, we are lucky that he even survived to write his plays. In 1564, two-thirds of infants died of the plague or other causes. The populace also faced constant danger from tuberculosis, measles, rickets, scurvy, smallpox and dozens of other diseases and fevers. Thank goodness for his good health!

Answers to rhyming with earth:
1. mirth; 2. Perth; 3. worth; 4. dearth; 5. birth; 6. girth

Bonus: 9 (b c d e g p t v z)

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a word quiz taken from Shakespeare’s plays. As you may know, he was the inventor of more than a thousand new words and phrases. In the sampling of groups of four below, can you pick out the modern expression from among the others which are his creation?

1. a. ___Heavens to Betsy b. ___For goodness’ sake
c. ___ It was Greek to me d. ___ What the dickens

2. a. ___ In a pickle b. ___ Milk of human kindness
c. ___ Dangle a carrot d. ___ Salad days

3. a. ___ A dish fit for the gods b. ___ The world’s my oyster
c. ___ Eaten me out of house and home d. ___ Easy as pie

4. a. ___ Bleeding heart b. ___ Heart of gold
c. ___ In my heart of hearts d. ___ Sick at heart


Answers: 1. a; 2. c; 3. d; 4. a

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!

Let us become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just a Bite 4/13/10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.
~ Duke Ellington (born April 29, 1899)


Resources to bite into

1. It’s Jazz Appreciation Month

As noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, five of the most famous jazz and blues performers of all time have April birthdays. Besides Duke Ellington, the others are:
• Billie Holiday, April 7, 1915
• Bessie Smith, April 15, 1894
• Lionel Hampton, April 20, 1908
• Ella Fitzgerald, April 25, 1917
Each had amazing talent, and you can hear samples of their performances by going to http://www.rhapsody.com and typing in their names. Here’s another of my favorite quotes from Ella Fitzgerald: “I stole everything I ever heard, but mostly I stole from the horns.”

2. The Earth is always moving


This week marks the anniversary of the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which left about 75% of the city’s population (over 250,000 people) homeless. In a year that has already seen numerous devastating earthquakes, it’s interesting to note that the year 1906 was also fraught with them. In addition to the 7.8 magnitude San Francisco one were these:
• Ecuador/Colombia at 8.8 magnitude, January 31
• Taiwan at 7.1 magnitude, March 16
• Chile at 8.2 magnitude, August 16
• Aleutian Islands and the West Pacific at 8.2 magnitude, August 17
According to a recent article in the New York Times by Roger Musson, that’s not really so unusual: “On average, we record an earthquake with a magnitude over 6 every three days or so, and over 7 at least once a month.” Does that surprise you? It does me!
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/opinion/11musson.html?th&emc=th

3. April showers and creating bigger raindrops

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly notes advice from award-winning speaker Darren LaCroix. He wrote recently of taking a backstage movie studio tour and learning that when it rains in Hollywood movies, filmmakers actually make raindrops four times bigger. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to see them, and why the actors were getting wet would make less sense. Mr. LaCroix uses that technique to exaggerate the stories in his speeches so they are more likely to make people laugh, and suggests we look for ways to enhance the raindrops in other aspects of our lives. April 16th is Stress Awareness Day and April 14th is Moment of Laughter Day. Why not decrease your vision of the stress raindrops in your life and increase the size of your guffaws this week?

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also takes note of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962. Ms. Carson was a well-known natural history writer at the time, and when her book documented the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds, she was taken seriously. (“Silent spring” refers to the disappearance of birdsongs.) The book is credited with launching the environmental movement and the banning of DDT. As we approach Earth Day, it’s a good book to check out. (To order, click here.)

On the other hand, silence can be a good and too rare commodity in our lives. Think about the people you are with and/or the places you go to enjoy silence.

• What silences soothe you?
• With whom can you sit in companionable silence?
• How do you use silence – pauses – to enhance music, poetry or the telling of jokes?
• Who or what have you commemorated with “a moment of silence”?

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!

Let us become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just a Bite March 30th, 2010

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Don’t let a man put anything over on you except an umbrella.
~ Mae West

Resources to bite into

1. Umbrella Month is ending; April showers are beginning!

As noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, the Latin root for umbrella is “umbra” which means shade or shadow. Umbrellas have been fashionable for at least 4000 years, but they were originally intended only as protection from the sun in hot Mediterranean countries. The Chinese were the first to put a waterproof coating on them for rain protection, but that use didn’t catch on for another millennium or two in the western world.

2. It’s Cherry Blossom Festival time

If you are lucky enough to live in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Vancouver, Tokyo, or anywhere else where cherry blossoms bloom, you are entering one of the most beautiful times of the year. Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival began on March 27 and will run through April 11. In Japan, where the blossoming of the sakura trees is as much a part of the daily news as fall color reports are in New England, some cities have already passed their prime viewing, which happened a little early this year.

But its transience is exactly what makes the cherry blossom season worth treasuring. Gathering under the blossoms, a practice called hanami, is the reason for picnics, parties and visits to temples and shrines. Cherry blossoms are both a sign of the hope of spring – for good fortune and love – and a sign of mortality, because their loveliness is short lived. The Japanese phrase for this is mono no aware (each vowel is pronounced) which is sometimes translated as “the ahhh-ness of things.” For a moment, we are deeply aware of great beauty, and feel a bittersweet sadness that it will not last. Treasure the ahhh-ness in your life!

3. An artist who immortalized the moments
The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a painting by Vincent Van Gogh who was born on this date in 1853. Like many artists in his time period, he was deeply influenced by Japanese art. The painting pictured below, called “Almond Blossom,” was created in celebration of the birth of his nephew and namesake, born on January 31, 1890.

One would think he had been to a cherry blossom festival!

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

Moving ahead to April and Physical Wellness Month, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a body part quiz inspired by Paul Dickson’s book, A Connoisseur’s Collection of Old and New, Weird and Wonderful, Useful and Outlandish Words. (To order, click here.) I would suspect you didn’t even know these body parts existed. Here’s a sampling:

1. Olecranon ___
2. Opisthenar ___
3. Oscitancy ___
4. Sciapodous ___
5. Tragus ___

a. the act of yawning
b. the back of your hand
c. the fleshy bump on your ear between the face and the ear cavity
d. the ‘funny” bone – the projecting bone of the elbow
e. having very large feet

For extra credit, try naming 10 common body parts with only three letters.

Answers to this quiz: 1. d; 2. b; 3.a; 4. e; 5. c

As for the extra credit, you’ll need to think harder or subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly!

To receive the advantage of seeing more than 4 times as many ideas and exercises each week, subscribe to Brain Aerobics Weekly today.

Order Brain Aerobics Weekly at
http://www.wisernow.com/.
Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!


Let us become the apple of your eye.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Just a Bite 3-16-10


Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Hope is a very unruly emotion.
~ Gloria Steinem (born March 25, 1935)


Resources to bite into

1. C’mon get happy; it’s spring!

As noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, this is Spring Fever Week (fittingly the week spring begins) and Act Happy Week. Many of us have no problem acting happy when spring begins; some of us get downright goofy. But when one more snowstorm or bout of cold weather arrives, our hopes are thrown for a loop. Dale Anderson, M.D., says that we can become happy by acting happy. Just as smiling when you’re feeling low can lift your mood, acting as if you’re happy when you’re not can bring your body around to feeling happier. Dr. Anderson notes on his website (http://www.acthappy.com) that “Happiness is an infectious state that can have a beneficial impact on health,” making it an idea worth “germ”-inating. There’s never been a better time to exercise your funny bone than now. There never is.

2. Overcoming awkward moments


March 16th is Awkward Moments Day, a reminder to make light of your faux pas. After lunching at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel one day in the 1920s, the American humorist Robert Benchley and his companions walked through the lobby and out the front door. Still engaged in conversation with his friends, Mr. Benchley offhandedly said to the uniformed man standing by the front door, "My good man, would you please get me a taxi?" The man immediately took offense and replied indignantly, "I'm not a doorman. I happen to be a rear admiral in the United States Navy." Benchley instantly quipped: "All right then, get me a battleship." Have you ever had a clever comeback line to cover up an awkward moment? Share your story.

3. Imagining your loved ones as food

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly has an imaginative exercise based on a quote found in author Mardy Grothe’s book I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like. (To order, click here. His website, http://www.drmardy.com/, is also the source of the Robert Benchley story above.) The quote that inspired the exercise was Katherine Hepburn comparing herself with Spencer Tracy:
He was a baked potato – solid . . .
I was a fancy dessert – mocha chip ice cream.

Imagine yourself – and your family, friends and other celebrities as food. What kind would they be?


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

We couldn’t let the week go by without noting St. Patrick’s Day. The current Brain Aerobics Weekly celebrates with a word game inspired by the song from “Finian’s Rainbow” called “Something Sort of Grandish.” The lyrics by E.Y. Harburg include real and made up words ending in “ish”. For example:

My heart feels so sugar candish . . .
Why should I vanquish,
Relinquish, resish,
When I simply relish this swellish condish?

There are, in fact, hundreds of real words that end in “ish.” How many can you think of in the following categories? (Sample answers are given below)
• People of particular nationalities, such as Irish
• Colors, such as greenish
• Ages, such as thirtyish
• Human sizes and shapes, such as smallish and tallish
• Human character, such as impish
• Humans’ animalistic tendencies, such as coltish

A few answers:
• Nationalities: British, Danish, Moorish, Polish . . .
• Colors: blackish, bluish, grayish, purplish, reddish . . .
• Ages: oldish, youngish, fortyish, fiftyish . . .
• Human sizes/shapes: biggish, blimpish, frumpish, lumpish, plumpish, thinnish . . .
• Human character: babyish, boyish, brutish, childish, clownish, coquettish, devilish, girlish, knavish, nerdish, pixyish, scampish, tomboyish, vixenish, wimpish . . .
• Humans’ animalistic tendencies: mulish, hawkish, dovish, kittenish, piggish, sheepish, shrewish, sluggish, toadyish . . .

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

Order Brain Aerobics Weekly at
www.wisernow.com.
Each week brings amazing and amusing mind stimulation!

Let us become the apple of your eye.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

The important thing is not to stop questioning. . .
Never lose a holy curiosity.
~ Albert Einstein (born March 14, 1879)


Resources to bite into

1. Celebrating Einstein

Albert Einstein’s birthday is Sunday, and as noted in the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, his is one of my favorite birthdays to celebrate, first, because while he was an undisputed genius, he was also endearingly absent-minded. He was notoriously forgetful, and incapable it seems of remembering birthdays and phone numbers, including his own (which he explained away, because he had no reason to call himself). He was a terrible speller, and although he loved playing the violin, he didn’t play it well. When he found that his big toe invariably made a hole in his socks, he stopped wearing socks, and he generally preferred the rumpled look, as the pictures of his wild white hair attest. The second reason Albert Einstein has long intrigued me is that he was wonderfully quotable and thought provoking. Here is an example: We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

2. Celebrating Pi Day


It is an odd quirk of fate that mathematical genius Albert Einstein was born on March 14th also written as 3.14, or the first three numbers of pi, which stands for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. While Pi Day may not be your favorite holiday, it has been honored since 1988 by people who care about numbers or pie – pizza pie or the fruit variety. You can also celebrate with pineapple and pine nuts and drink pina coladas.

3. Your “second brain”

The discussion topic of the current Brain Aerobics Weekly, was inspired by an article in Scientific American that gives new meaning to “I knew it in my gut.” The article by Adam Hadhazy is titled “Think Twice: How the Gut's ‘Second Brain’ Influences Mood and Well-Being.” It highlights recent research that suggests the mass of neural tissue known as our “enteric nervous system,” (informally “our gut”) functions in many ways as a “second brain.” Scientists are discovering new ways the millions of neurons and neurotransmitters communicate with the brain in our head, affect our immune system, our sense of well-being and contribute to or prevent diseases. Learn more by subscribing to the 10 pages of fascinating food for your brain that could be arriving weekly in your email box as Brain Aerobics Weekly, or, in this particular case, by going to http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also highlights Celebrate Your Name Week in multiple ways. One is a word quiz which illustrates the funny results that could come from marriages between people dead or alive, real or fictional, male or female, if spouses took their mates’ names. For example:
If Lola Falana married Birch Bayh, Paul Anka and Ted Knight successively, her name would be Lola Bayh Anka Knight. Cute, no?

What would be the result if these people wed? (Besides disaster)

1. If Dolly Parton married Salvador Dali, she'd be _____________

2. If Julia Roberts had left Lyle Lovett for Bobby Orr and then married Mike Leavitt, she’d be ____________

3. If Sondra Locke married Elliott Ness, then divorced him to marry Herman Munster, she'd become ____________

4. If Bea Arthur married Sting, she'd be ___________

Find more in the book What’s in a Name? Reflections of an Irrepressible Name Collector by Paul Dickson (To order, click here) and at http://www.funny.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Funny.woa/wa/funny?fn=C540M&Funny_Jokes=Celebrity_Name_Teases

1. Dolly Dali, 2. Julia Lovett Orr Leavitt, 3. Sondra Locke Ness Munster and 4. Bea Sting


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

. . .There's not a hell of a lot I can do about being short.
You just gotta run with it.
~ Michael J. Fox


Resources to bite into

1. Celebrating all things short

In honor of the end of the shortest month of the year, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly focuses on all things short. Thomas T. Samaras and his colleagues at Reventropy Associates (See http://www.shortsupport.org/Research/samaras.html) have spent 30 years finding advantages in short people, including faster reaction times, greater ability to accelerate body movements, stronger muscles in proportion to body weight, greater endurance and the ability to rotate the body faster. They are also less likely to break bones in falling. You may have noticed that in both summer and winter Olympics, short gymnasts, divers, skiers, figure skaters, soccer players, and long distance runners, often have the tallest spot on the podium. (Pictured: snowboarder Shaun White, a relatively tall 5’8”)

2. Short naps

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also notes these benefits from taking short naps (excerpted from http://ririanproject.com/2007/09/05/10-benefits-of-power-napping-and-how-to-do-it/):
1. Lower stress levels
2. Increased alertness, productivity and creativity
3. Improved memory, learning and cognitive functioning
4. Good for the heart, hormonal maintenance and cell repair
5. Get motivated to exercise
6. Protect yourself from sleepiness (especially if you must be up late at night)
Dr. Sara Mednick wrote Take a Nap! Change Your Life. (To order, click here.)

3. A short thought: Open that bottle

The last Saturday in February (This year the 27th) is always “Open That Bottle Night,” a time to stop postponing indulgence. Non-drinkers can make it a “Have that Hot Fudge Sundae Night” or whatever other extravagance they choose. We save too much for non-existent special occasions instead of making special occasions out of ordinary events. My mother tried to teach me this wisdom, which is my advice to you: Don’t postpone joy.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also highlights the recommendations of celebrities from the regular Time Magazine feature “Short Lists.” Remember the game in which you were asked if you could take just one book to a deserted island, what would it be? (Smart alecks always answered, The Art of Shipbuilding.) The Time feature asks people to name a broader list of favorites: Not only books, but movies, artists, musicians, websites, and a few celebrities include pastimes (Jerry Seinfeld: walks through Central Park) and foods (Nora Ephron: frozen custard at the Shake Shack). Here are a few samples:
• Book: Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Confessions of a Map Dealer by Paul Micou, plus his seven other books are “eight of the funniest novels I’ve ever read” she says.
• Musicians: Randy Jackson: “Here are two artists you need to be aware of: The Rev. Smokie Norful, a brilliantly talented gospel artist and the Paper Tongues, a terrific new rock band.”
• Movie: Marcia Gay Harden: “Frozen River – . . .fell in love with the beyond-powerful performances . . .”
• Artist: Jennifer Beals: “I swooned in the presence of Alexandra Hedison’s photographs of landscapes and trees in the Pacific Northwest.”
• Website: Lily Tomlin: “Check out the Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch at http://www.awmok.com/, and don’t miss the Kitsch o’ the Day.”

If you’re unfamiliar with any of their choices, expand your mind by looking them up. Then make your own list:

If you were stuck somewhere with limited entertainment, which single thing in each of those categories would bring you laughs, comfort, intellectual stimulation and/or serenity? Share your list with others!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just a Bite 2/9/10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Seven days without chocolate makes one weak.
~ Author unknown (but wise)

Resources to bite into

1. Celebrating Chocolate

In honor of the week before Valentine’s Day, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly features loads of trivia on my favorite part of the holiday: chocolate! Did you know, for example, that dark chocolate (containing at least 30, but preferably 70% or more cocoa) is considered good for your health (in moderation) because:
• It’s rich in anti-oxidants and flavanoids that are good for your heart.
• Its fat content is stearic acid, which doesn’t affect cholesterol.
• It contains phenyl ethylamine (PEA), a substance that is reputed to stimulate the same pleasant reaction in the body as falling in love.

2. Unusual Chocolate Gifts

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also notes that nearly anything these days can be purchased in chocolate. Among the foods you probably don’t want to try are chocolate onions, sushi, squid and beef jerky, but perhaps you are open to chocolate beer, wine and pasta? You can also get chocolate bandages – boxed and shaped like the real thing. They won’t help the scrape, but they might heal hurt feelings. If that’s not enough, check out chocolate dresses (yes, they are made of real chocolate), wigs, and bath products. Pictured: Visitors at a local spa enjoy a chocolate bath on Feb. 14, 2008 in Hakone, Kanagawa, Japan.

3. Chocolate Museums

York Daily News listed its view of the Top 10 Chocolate Museums last October.
(http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2009/10/16/2009-10-16_mmmm__top_10_chocolate_museums.html) Each offers special delights. At the Cologne (Germany) museum, also known as the Imhoff-Stollwerck Museum, for example, is a chocolate fountain where museum staff dip waffles into the hot liquid for salivating guests. The Pannys museum in Canada has a chocolate rendition of Michelangelo’s statue of David and an entire chocolate town. Barcelona’s Museu de la Xocolata is also famous for its wide-ranging chocolate sculptures from cartoon characters to religious figures. Especially appropriate at this time of year, Canada’s chocolate museum in the town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick pays tribute to the Ganong Brothers, candy makers who introduced the world to the heart-shaped chocolate box.


Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also highlights the books of Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser:
• Not Quite What I Was Planning, Revised and Expanded Deluxe Edition: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. To order, click here.
• It All Changed in an Instant. To order, click here.
Both feature the six-word “novels” of famous and obscure contributors. AARP liked the idea so much that Larry Smith now edits a regular column for their magazine. He provides a topic and asks readers to submit entries. The authors of the entries chosen for publication receive a free T-shirt with their “novel” printed on it. To enter, go to: www.aarpmagazine.org/6wordmemoirs.

The September/October 2009 issue topic was “Less is L’Amour,” which is perfect for this Valentine’s issue. Following are some samples:

• Secret to life: marry an Italian. (Nora Ephron)

• Romance blossomed then. Love blooms now. (Alana Owen, Haslet, TX)

• He loved, lied, and was left. (Mark Moroney, Lake Highland Girls Classic League, Dallas, Texas. Mark wants us to know that this was "not based on personal experience!")

• Good housekeeper. I got the house. (Nancy McPeak, 64, Xenia, Ohio)

Now write yours!
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires,
and a touch that never hurts.
~ Charles Dickens (born February 7, 1812)

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

Resources to bite into

1. Groundhog Day in Puxsutawney Is Today!

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features an acknowledgement of Groundhog Day in Puxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which has been celebrated there since the late 1880s. However, the tradition of using an animal to predict the coming of spring goes back at least to the ancient Romans who used a hedgehog. Pennsylvanians, lacking that cuddly creature among its native fauna, have substituted a larger rodent. The idea is that if the groundhog named Pete or Phil (whichever is alive in any given year) sees his shadow, he will go back in his burrow, and we will have another six weeks of winter. Therefore, those longing for spring should always hope for an overcast February 2nd. Puxsutawney, for those who are interested, derives its name from a Delaware Indian word for “sand flies.” There’s a punch line there somewhere.

2. Winter Olympics

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also anticipates the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver February 12 – 28. One event that I didn’t realize had Olympic status is called “skeleton,” and is essentially old-fashioned sledding – lying on your stomach and flying head first down the hill. Named for the sled, not for the sledders, it has been in and out of favor over the years, but is currently in. Other events such as figure skating, speed skating, ski jumping, and ice hockey have been popular since the first winter games in 1924. You can learn more at http://www.vancouver2010.com/.

3. Remembering David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists

In all the recent late night TV programming controversies, it’s nice to remember that David Letterman remains his unique self. “Late Night with David Letterman” – the first version of his show – premiered February 1, 1982. It was more than another three years before he aired his first Top Ten List, which was apparently written in retaliation for the People Magazine top ten lists that Mr. Letterman found stupid and annoying, but his own lists eventually became a regular feature of his show. The first list was titled “The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas.” Here are the 10 items:


10) Heats
9) Rice
8) Moss
7) Ties
6) Needs
5) Lens
4) Ice
3) Nurse
2) Leaks
1) Meats


Source: http://thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/first.html

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also features a trivia quiz on “Which came first?” Because it’s winter and for those of you living in colder climes, you may be growing weary of drab days, we focused on recreational amenities. Here are a few samples:

1. The first a) ___ Monopoly game or b) ___ the first Slinky?

2. The first a) ___crossword puzzle or b) ___ the first jigsaw puzzle?

3. The first a) ___hamburger served or b) ___the first pizzeria?

4. The first a) ___ drive-in movie theatre or b) ___the first in-flight movie?

5. The first a) ___miniature golf course or b) ___the first roller rink?

To make up your own lists, check out the website listed above.

Answers: 1. a; 2. b; 3. b; 4. b; 5. They opened about the same time.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just a Bite 1-26-10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

. . . in spite of everything, I still believe
that people are really good at heart.”
~ Anne Frank (from her diary)

Resources to bite into

1.The Example of Miep

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a tribute to Miep Gies who died earlier this month at the age of 100. She was one of six people who helped the Frank family and several other Jews hide in a warehouse annex for two years during World War II, and she was the specific person who saved Anne Frank’s diary and returned it to her father, Otto Frank. He was the only member of his family to survive the concentration camps after their hiding place was discovered. Because of Miep, millions of people have read Anne’s story and learned of the bravery shown by those who helped her. Miep always resisted the title of hero, because she was afraid it would keep people from offering help to those in need. She was just a housewife and a secretary, she said, not someone who was super human. It’s a wise message, but she was my hero, nonetheless.

2. India is 60
Today is the 60th anniversary of India Republic Day, marking the adoption of the Constitution of India and its official transition of India from a British Dominion to the Republic of India. The current Brain Aerobics Weekly uses the occasion for a trivia quiz on the vast and beautiful country. Here’s just a brief tidbit on why most of us associate it with fabulous hues: The national fruit of India is the colorful mango, and the national bird is the peacock. Marigold flowers, symbolizing good fortune and happiness, are used as decoration for Hindu marriages. Red is the traditional color for brides and is often combined with yellow for rebirth.

3. January 29 Is Freethinker’s Day: Let Your Imagination Wander

• Where do forest rangers go to get away from it all?
• Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
• If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
• What was the best thing before sliced bread?

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a word quiz on cooking metaphors. Most of us use metaphors – comparing one thing to another that on the surface seems unrelated – virtually without thinking. Here’s a variation of the BAW quiz.

Can you use all of the following words in sentences?

Can you cook up a story that uses each phrase as an ingredient?

Appetite
Back burner
Bad taste
Boil
Burned
Dish
Digest
Food for thought
Half-baked ideas
Hungry for
Meaty
Pickle
Raw
Recipe
Roast
Serve
Simmer
Sink your teeth into
Smells fishy
Stew
Stir the pot
Swallow
Warmed-over


The current Brain Aerobics Weekly used at least 10 more. Can you think of others?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just a Bite 1-19-10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
~ Benjamin Franklin (born January 17, 1706)

Resources to bite into

1. Beer Facts

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a trivia quiz on beer in honor of the 75th anniversary (January 24, 1935) of the first canned beer. There are an amazing number of websites devoted to “beer trivia.” Did you know, for example, that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock because of a beer shortage? They had planned to sail further south to a warm climate, but according to the Mayflower log, ". . . we could not now take time for further search (to land our ship), our victuals being much spent, especially our beer."


2. Cooking with Five Tastes and Textures

January is Creativity Month and one creative art is cooking. Therefore, I was intrigued by Roger Cohen’s recent editorial in the New York Times (Jan. 5, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/opinion/05iht-edcohen.html?th&emc=thytimes.com/2010/01/05/opinion/05iht-edcohen.html?th&emc=th) called “Pancakes, Prosperity, Peace” on the restaurant cooking done by Trinh Diem Vy, in Hoi An, Vietnam. Ms. Vy’s family pancake is “a savory rice-flour creation turned a warm yellow by turmeric and stuffed with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, star fruit, mixed herbs, [and] green banana.” As Mr. Cohen wrote: “For Ms. Vy, there are five essential elements of taste — sweet, sour, hot, bitter and salty. But they demand the five elements of texture: crispy, crunchy, chewy, soft and silky.

Do you know any dishes that combine these 10 elements? Do you agree with her philosophy that food is a great way to bring people together?

3. A 2010 Blessing

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also notes this (condensed) universal blessing sent by Deb Hart (www.debrajoyhart.com and debrajoyhart@gmail.com): May your day begin with an "ah" to remind you of your first breath, your last breath and every laugh in


between. . . May your afternoons be blessed with “ee” sounds: Glee, Whee, See & Be. . . In your meditations and contemplations may you discover the "aha" moments in your
"haha" moments. . . And when you lay your head down at night, may you go to sleep with grace and gratitude.

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly features a word quiz which asks readers to identify the definitions of slang from the 1950s and 60s. Here’s an example of words that express emotions:

Can you match the word to its definition?


1. Bugged ___
2. Bummed ___
3. Copacetic ___
4. Dig ___
5. Fracture ___
6. Frosted or hacked ___
7. Hanging loose ___
8. In fat city ___
9. Real gone or stoked ___
10. Wiped out ___
a. amuse
b. angry, ticked off
c. bothered, irritated
d. depressed, disappointed
e. everything’s all right
f. happy
g. in love
h. relaxed
i. understand
j. very tired


Answers:
1. c; 2. d; 3. e; 4. i; 5. a; 6. b; 7. h; 8. f; 9. g; 10. j


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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just a Bite 1-12-10

Quote to ponder under the apple tree

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire
for the mind as well as the body.
~ Benjamin Franklin (born January 17, 1706)

Resources to bite into

1. Celebrating New Heights

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly takes note of last week’s opening of Burj Dubai, the new tallest building in the world, by focusing on the range of tall buildings throughout human history beginning with the pyramids and moving on to the cathedrals of Europe. Those early edifices maxed out at about 500 feet and it wasn’t until several millennia later – in 1889, with the completion of the Eiffel Tower at almost 1000 feet (300m) – that humans mastered the technology to reach ever higher. For the next 120 years, the title of tallest building changed hands many times, but it seems likely that the 2717 foot (828 m) Burj is likely to hold the record for many years. – Interesting that the title has returned to a Middle Eastern desert.

2. Decorating with Art Deco

The coming weekend will bring a delightful Art Deco Festival to Miami, a city famous for its examples of the style, but many people may not realize that it gained its name and fame from the “Exposition Internationale des Arts D√©coratifs et Industriels Modernes” held in Paris in 1925 and that it encompasses furnishings and many decorative arts, such as jewelry, as well as architecture.

3. The Egyptian Influence

The current Brain Aerobics Weekly also takes note of the fact that Paris has had a long love affair with things Egyptian as evidenced by the 75-foot obelisk transported from the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt to the Place de la Concorde in the 1830s and I.M Pei’s pyramid addition to the Louvre in the late 20th century. In 1922, the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered by the archaeologist Howard Carter. It generated enormous excitement, and ancient Egyptian designs became a major influence on the Art Deco style. All art is connected!

Tips/ideas/insights to savor

Continuing the architectural theme, the current Brain Aerobics Weekly asks readers to think about a place they have lived that was most comforting both physically and emotionally and to describe what made it so. By itself, this can make for an interesting sharing exercise on how we have been shaped by our environment. For example:
• Does your most comfortable place reflect the values of your family or is your “style” entirely different?
• Is what is comfortable also stimulating to your senses and to your mind?

But a variation on this is to contemplate unusual homes in unusual places.
• If you could live anywhere for a year with work, money and family not being factors, where would you choose and why?
• If you had a chance to live for a time in an unusual house, would you take it? Why or why not?



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