Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Brain Fitness: Building Memory Muscle

A standard telephone keypad.Image via WikipediaOne of the exercises focuses on remembering sounds in order. I gave up on phone numbers a long time ago. My excuse -- too many things to remember, I have to leave room for other, more important things. But, truth be told, it's really inconvenient not to remember numbers, and other things, in order.

So, anyway, I'm doing relatively poorly on this exercise. A few steps forward, a step backwards. Today I started out at four sounds, had to drop back to three, back up to four. Four little sounds that challenge my short term memory to its limits!

But, I find I'm not discouraged. I'm challenged to improve. Pleased to know that research shows I can improve. I don't have to write myself off as old.

And, yesterday, I remembered my cell phone number for the first time! I wasn't even trying. I guess I am building my memory muscle.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Supporting Fatherhood in the Hudson Valley

Reading togetherOn Friday I met with a group of folks about starting a Fatherhood Alliance in the Hudson Valley. I'll keep you up-to-date about our discussions as we proceed. We welcome your thoughts and participation.

Some of the goals we discussed include:
  • Changing the language and expanding the meaning of the words used in the fatherhood movement, eg. child support means more than money; 'deadbeat' dads are usually 'deadbroke' dads who need job training and opportunities.
  • Strengthening the understanding and skills HV nonprofits need to engage and support fathers in their efforts to be responsible for their children.
  • Identifying and collaborating to fill the gaps in services that help fathers become more responsible.

Here's some information about some of the people involved and links to more about them.
  • Donna Linder and her staff members Ed , Ray, and Sherrie (apologies - I don't have everyone's last name) at ChildFind of America. Through their phone-based ParentHelp program, funded through the HHS Fatherhood money, they deal with the issues of separated parenting every day. I wrote the ParentHelp grant for them and know, firsthand the quality of the work they do.
  • Kenneth Braswell has been focused on fatherhood issues for a long time. You may know him from Fathers, Inc. which he started in 2003. He's the Director of the NY State Fatherhood Initiative for the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance where he works within the Center for Child Well-Being to involve non-custodial parents in the economic and social well-being of their children.
  • Alicia Marie Crowe, Attorney/Author of Real Dads Stand Up! What Every Single Father Should Know About Child Support Rights and Custody. It's a guide to help Dads stay connected to their children despite the failed relationship with the other parent.
More to come. I don't have everyone's information yet. But that's a start.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Am I making progress?

Is Your Hotel's Coffee Cup Clean?Image by The Rocketeer via FlickrDoe, Poe, Cut, Cup, Pup!

I never knew these sounds could be so difficult!

I just finished Brain Fitness lesson six. These exercises are simple in structure but challenging in practice. And, it's clear that what's challenging for me isn't going to be the same as what's challenging for you.

I'm amazed by the relearning process. It happens pretty quickly. I was having a terrible time discriminating between two sounds. I went to the practice button and listened to the sounds over and over for about a minute and suddenly I could hear the difference so distinctly that, for a minute, I thought they must have changed it!

Brain plasticity in action. As they say, it's not your hearing that's the problem. It's processing the sounds. And, you can relearn that. Wow!
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Monday, January 05, 2009

Brain Fitness Is Installed and Ready to Go

Radiograph of my head -  Do you find my brain?Image by alles-schlumpf via FlickrWell, my guess was right. Posit Science was closed Friday and didn't change their message. Nasty me, I couldn't resist chiding David about their lack of customer focus when he followed up on my Friday message this noontime.

Anyway, David was very gracious and sorted out the problem quickly and confidently. It was one of those Windows software protection options several layers deep. Glenn had changed it from the default. Once it was changed back we were in business.

So, tomorrow is day one. I've decided to make it the first thing in my day -- before the phone starts ringing and I feel the pressure to respond.

I'll keep you posted.
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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Brain Fitness or Crossword Puzzles?

{{de|:de:Phrenologie}}Image via WikipediaNot too long ago an assisted living client included Brain Fitness in a grant I was writing for them. I'd never heard of Brain Fitness so I did a bit of research and was impressed -- the research supports the brain's plasticity and the testimonials are impressive.

The benefits have been rolling around in the back of my mind since then. It costs a hefty sum for the two-person versions of both the visual and auditory products -- almost $900 before the Holiday discount and the rebates upon completion -- but I decided I'd invest, a Christmas present for Glenn and me.

Several of our friends are interested in how it goes so I decided to write about our experience here.

Here's our first installment.

Installation Nightmare
The package arrived New Year's Eve but we weren't ready to get started until Friday. We ordered both the Brain Fitness and Insight products for two figuring we'd work on different products and compare notes.

The installation directions seemed straight forward. We're both computer savvy, and Glenn hovers on the border of geekiness, so we expected no problems.

Closed all running programs. Addressed the firewall. Installed. Nothing. Neither program installed correctly. Uninstall. Reboot. Reinstall. Nothing.

Two different machines, two different programs. Nothing.

Checked the website. Little troubleshooting help, none that addressed our problems.

Called the support line - open Monday thru Friday.
The message -- "Support is helping other customers. Leave a message or hold on."
After holding for 15 minutes, I was switched automatically to the message system.
Then, no one called me back.

Here's my guess: It was yesterday, the Friday after New Years, and no one was there -- but they didn't change their message. A company run by academics who haven't made the switch to a customer focus. They run the company for their own convenience. Take the long weekend off. After all, school is closed. Don't even bother to change the phone message or put a notice on the website. Grrrrrr.

So, we've had a rocky start. No way to resolve the issues until Monday.

  • What if we were 80 year-olds, counting on a family member who works 9-5 to install for us? (We work from home at our computers; we'll be here Monday.)
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