Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cognitive Reserve

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.

Husband and I just returned from several days in Seattle, where we attended 18 hours of continuing education courses sponsored by the National Academy of Neuropsychology. I like to call it Brains ‘r Us. Neuropsychologists are extremely well-trained psychologists who specialize in research, evaluation, and treatment of brain disorders such as stroke, learning disabilities,  dementia, traumatic brain injury, etc. They typically don’t treat mental illness. Husband and I are Clinical Psychologists. We treat, test, and evaluate people with mental illness, as well as some with learning disabilities, TBI, and other brain disorders, but not to the extent that a neuropsychologist would. Our nearest neuropsychologist is 100 miles away, and many people in our catchment areas are too poor, or frail, or have too complicated of lives to drive to Bismarck or Fargo for many hours of neuropsychological testing.  I received some really good neuropsychology training when I was at my clinical internship at a VA hospital, and I feel comfortable testing and evaluating fairly straightforward cases of brain dysfunction. I always refer to the big dogs if I get out of my range of expertise.

I learned this week of a pretty nifty construct called Cognitive Reserve. What this means is that people with more education (High School or higher), who have lots of social engagement (friends, social connections, blog participation), who exercise (even if it is only stretching), and who have intellectual stimulation, are less likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease than those who don’t have or do the above. There is something about education, exercise, and social engagement that results in a thicker cerebral cortex, and also seems to inoculate a person from dementia. Even if such a person develops Alzheimer’s Disease, those with more Cognitive Reserve function longer independently than a person with less Cognitive Reserve, even when having more amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain.

Well, isn’t that good news?!

I think blog participation is a  great way of maintaining and increasing our Cognitive Reserve. Writing blog posts gets you  extra credit, I think.

Think of some creative ways you could increase or maintain your Cognitive Reserve .

Rumble, Grumble, Mumble, Tumble, Jumble, Swumble, Crumble

Today’s post comes from Clyde of Mankato

A thunderstorm comes through rumbling and grumbling, trailing a fug of humidity.

Thunderstorms come through rumbling and grumbling. One after another. Humidity blankets us. The weather pattern of August, 2016. Except for that one loud clap, hitting the tall trees outside our apartment no doubt, which knocked a picture off a wall, we like thunderstorms, although enough is now enough. Rain falling off the roof outside our windows makes white noise for sleeping. Humidity we hate. We wilt.

My son and his then wife moved an adopted street dog from San Diego, land of very few thunderstorms, to Seattle, land of, well, need I explain? Oh, how that dog went wild over thunder! Rain confused him. He is safely back in San Diego. Our son loves the Seattle weather and his wife fell in love with it as well. Not the poor dog.


Three years ago the weather pattern day after day was brilliant sunsets. Often with lightening in them. Not one good sunset this year, that I have noticed.

Assuming you have the wherewithal to live in two places, what two places in what part of the year would you choose for the weather?

Elite Hotel

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

I think one of the most fun things about traveling is finding interesting hotels and lodging to stay in. We had really good luck with our lodging for our recent Europe trip. All the places were unique and had interesting and unexpected features. I mentioned the Merrion Hotel in Dublin in a previous post about Bruce Springsteen. Here is some information about some other hotels we stayed at.


In Bremen we stayed at the Design Hotel Uberfluss. I love the name. (It was hard to find a place in Bremen the week we were there due to an international conference on the medical management of open wounds. Just what I would want to learn about!) The Uberfluss is situated along the Weser River in central Bremen near the old city. It is ultramodern and decorated in white and black with funky looking light fixtures. The rooms have enormous windows that open like French Doors if you turn the handle one way, and tilt open from the top if you turn the handle the other way. During construction they discovered a section of the original town wall of Bremen, circa 1300, and preserved it in the basement. Artifacts like medieval shoes and jewelry, also excavated by the wall, are on display in the lobby. I found that fascinating.

We were in another, similar hotel called the Varsity, in Cambridge, England. It was located on the River Cam, and we could see people in punts with poles on the river. It was very peaceful.

Glasgow brought us to a lovely restored Georgian town house called the Glasgow 15 Bed and Breakfast.  It was beautiful and more like a hotel than a B and B. The breakfasts were huge. Two doors down was a plaque on a house where Sir Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery and the namesake of Listerine, lived and did research. Glasgow was full of memorials to scientists. Kelvin, he of the Kelvin Scale of temperature, has many statues and things named for him.


In Scotland’s western highlands we stayed in a very old hotel 6 miles out in the country near Oban. It was called the Knipoch Argyle. In 1592 a Campbell, then the Thane of Cawdor, was brutally murdered in the dining room. We had a great meal there.


The Wiechmann Hotel in Amsterdam was probably the quirkiest place we stayed. It is in a narrow, three-story,  19th century building on the Prinsengracht Canal a couple of blocks from the Anne Frank house. Our room was on the top floor. There were 46 narrow and winding steps to our room, and no elevator. Those stairs were killers, and once I got downstairs I didn’t want to go back upstairs. There was a large German Shepherd who slept near the front desk. On the wall behind the front desk was a gold record, a gift to the owner from Emmylou Harris. It is the gold record she received for her second album, Elite Hotel. I guess she stayed at the Wiechmann and really liked it. Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols also stayed there too,  but I can’t think what they would have brought the owner except mayhem.

What is the most memorable hotel you’ve stayed in?  



Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr.Babooner,

I’m a World Leader who has worked pretty hard to get to where I am – an elite figure who is leading part of the world – thus my title.

But when I say that I “worked pretty hard,” that might mean I cheated a bit and took advantage of some good fortune that was none of my doing. I may also have stepped on a few people and connived a little, financially speaking. Nothing too out of the ordinary for a human primarily interested in his own survival.

We’re all familiar with the standard weaknesses of our species.

Anyway, I have reason to believe a good number of my misdeeds have been documented in the so-called “Panama Papers” that are being combed over and slowly released by an international team of journalists who apparently take no small amount of delight in humiliating people like myself.

There is a remarkably vast trove of documents associated with this, the largest leak in the history of tattling. It is so big and it affects so many people, I’m hopeful that my crimes may not seem so bad when compared to the sins of people even more powerful and more famous than me.  For that reason alone, I’m inclined to wait it out even though my wife says we should sell everything and leave the country immediately.

Dr. Babooner, millions of the unwashed masses are already saying I’m crooked. I love my wife but I don’t want to validate that suspicion by cutting and running, even though it kills me to just sit around right now pretending that nothing is wrong.

What should I do?

El Presidente

I told El that he (she?) has nothing to worry about if the slow release of these Panama Papers drags on through the summer. Come September, it’s likely that the soap opera story of the November American election will Trump all other news and his (her) crimes will be completely forgotten in light of much greater and more showy offenses.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Pillow Fight

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

Whenever our children come home to visit at the same time, I have to scramble to make certain that there are enough bed pillows to keep everyone happy.  We have a saying in our family “A well made bed is a work of art”, and that means a minimum of two goose down pillows for each head. Son once had six pillows on his bed, and daughter would have that many if I would purchase more for her. I notice that bed pillows start disappearing from our bed when the children visit, until husband and I are left with one apiece. Then we steal them back. I have been known to take my pillows with me on the road because you can never find a good pillow in most hotels.

This pillow obsession is my maternal grandmother’s fault. Omie prided herself on giving each grandchild two, made-to-order, goose down pillows upon the occasion of their marriage. She had a goose connection in a neighbor woman (a Mrs. Flanagan, I think) and made the pillows herself. She asked each recipient their preferences for pillow thickness and whether they were side, back, or stomach sleepers. My mom had many Omie pillows, and I grew up expecting my pillows to be soft and wonderful . My husband and children expect the same.

We also have down comforters on each bed, and daughter asked for a down mattress pad for her birthday this year. She insisted that we give her best friend a down comforter as a high school graduation gift.  Friend says it is like sleeping under a cloud.

I don’t go in for decorative pillows, just fat and soft standard size bed pillows with plain white pillowcases. A good night’s sleep is important, and I think that good bedding is a sensible investment.  I would rather have good bedding than fancy cars or boats or jewelry or any of the other things people buy to spoil themselves. It is just a good thing no one here is allergic to feathers.

Describe the perfect pillow.


Prell & Ralston

Today’s post is from Verily Sherrilee

I’m not much of a shopper and I’m pretty sure if there is a shopping gene, then mine is either deficient or non-existent. My favorite places to shop are either strip malls (park in front of store, go in store, buy item, leave store, drive away) or a place like Target, where you can park once and purchase an umbrella, a tank top, vegetarian sausages and aspirin all in the same place. I’m also “frugal” and a lower price point almost always appeals to me.

So I think it’s interesting that there are a few products that I am loyal to, going out of my way to find them or spending more to have them (or both).


I grew up in St. Louis where Ralston Purina products proliferate. As a child Ralston Hot Cereal, which is a whole wheat cereal, was a cold weather staple at my house. My mother served it with butter and brown sugar, which is how I still like it.  When I moved to the Twin Cities you could still find Ralston in the cereal aisle, but eventually it faded out of the market.  For several years my mother would buy it at her local grocery store and ship it to me. When her grocery stopped carrying it, I called Ralston and they sent me to a couple of online sources, which is where I still buy it today, even though it’s more expensive than picking up something at the store. It’s not significantly different from a few other whole wheat hot cereals, but there’s just something about it that makes it special to me.

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The other product I stubbornly cling to is Prell Shampoo. I can still remember the old Prell commercials with the pearl sinking slowly through the green shampoo. Prell smells great to me and even though I know in my brain that more suds don’t actually make my hair cleaner, I LOVE the suds. Not too many places carry Prell anymore so I find myself making a separate trip to Walgreens to buy my shampoo.

I’m guessing that some of my loyalty to these brands is the positive memories that they invoke from my childhood. Or we could go with the simpler “I just like what I like”.

What product are you loyal to, no matter what?

Free-Range Kaleidoscope

Today’s post comes from Clyde.

ThomasMy last guest blog was rather drab, don’t you think? Those photos of foggy Lake Superior were nearly monochromatic.

Beer Guy

However, we did have our moments of color tucked in here and there in our ten days of family celebration and travel. Sometimes, delightfully, in unexpected places.  For instance there was Thomas, when we did not even know he was in town.  And our local ballpark beer guy, who leads the crowd in his own cheer. Yes, the ball park is so small that it has only one beer guy.


And many more.

What is your color palette?