Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Than Just a Trip to the Beach

I just finished reading A Trip to The Beach by Melinda Blanchard, who is a wonderful storyteller. She describes how she and her husband fell in love with the island of Anguilla, opened a restaurant there, and lived through Hurricane Luis, which destroyed much of Anguilla. After finishing the book, I was curious about the Blanchards, their restaurant, and whether Hurricane Luis really hit after the restaurant’s first year. After doing an internet search, I was delighted to see a picture of the restaurant that looked very much like the picture in my mind. I enjoyed reading about some of the employees that I had read about in the book. I confirmed that while Blanchard took some liberties in the book with details, the dates of the opening of Blanchard’s restaurant and of Hurricane Luis were accurate.

The book provided me with more than just an enjoyable escape. It also provided me with an opportunity to learn and, I’ve now discovered, to keep my brain young.

An article from Reuters on the Internet described an interesting study.

“Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles studied people doing Web searches while their brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging scans.’What we saw was people who had Internet experience used more of their brain during the search,’ Dr. Gary Small, a UCLA expert on aging, said in a telephone interview. This suggests that just searching on the Internet may train the brain -- that it may keep it active and healthy," said Small, whose research appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.”

Perhaps a book isn't just something to read. Perhaps it is an invitation to explore something new.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Watching the Stock Market Plummet

Habits fascinate me. I have not had any coffee since a long lecture from a dental hygienist about the stains between my teeth over a week ago. I don’t miss the coffee much. Yet another habit I find difficult to deal with. I find myself glued to Yahoo, watching the Stock Market plummet. While I don’t own any investments, I know watching the carnage can’t be good for me. I have plenty of memories of my parents and other relatives talking about the hardships of the Depression. Intellectually I know that the news stirs up feelings of helpless, hopelessness and all sorts of other negative emotions. Yet I still find excuses for going on the Internet and watching the numbers plummet. Is negative news more addictive than caffeine? I’m starting to wonder.