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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?

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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 . . .

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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!