Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 2400

“Life goin' nowhere. Somebody help me.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Life goin' nowhere. Somebody help me, yeah.
I'm stayin' alive.”

  -  Bee Gees

2400th Day: photo by Cliff Hutson
2400th Day: photo by Cliff Hutson

Healthy Aging

Various studies have sown that “healthy aging is associated with a decline in sensory, motor and specific cognitive functions. However, such declines depend on various factors, such as genetics and lifestyle. In particular, physical activity and training not only improve physical and motor but also cognitive functions, and reduce risk for cognitive decline and dementia in later life.”

This past Monday marked a milestone of 2400 days since I made a commitment to regular exercise. The photo is of the display of the Wii Fit application on my Nintendo, so I think the data is close enough for our purposes.

To be sure, I have not worked out on every one of those days. But, I did something on most of them; missing occasionally due to illness. One streak was broken when I was out of town last year. I like to believe that my activity has helped improve my mood, well being, and energy level.

High Score?; photo by Cliff Hutson
High Score?; photo by Cliff Hutson

On the Other Hand

One of my activities is playing tennis on Wii Sports. Three years ago I reached the skill level of 2399. Some say that this is the highest score possible.  I am very proud of this as it was done playing left handed,  and, like Inigo Montoya, "I am not left handed."

This morning marked my 1785th day of playing a variety of video games with my "other" hand. There are those whom argue that this is a bad thing, but I found it to be an intriguing challenge. And, there are others citing its benefits.

I can’t prove that this exercise has improved communication between my left and right brain hemispheres which might benefit creative and abstract thinking, but I don’t think that it been detrimental to my wellbeing. Neither do I consider myself to be ambidextrous and would never consider eating not writing with my left hand unless forced to do so.

Architecto - Model 01: photo by Cliff Hutson
Architecto - Model 01: photo by Cliff Hutson

Cognitive Skills

The concept of some type of neural or cognitive pool of resources that protects against age-related cognitive decline has been an important idea in both the cognitive and neural aging literature.

Spatial thinking is a collection of cognitive skills. The skills consist of declarative and perceptual forms of knowledge and some cognitive operations that can be used to transform, combine, or otherwise operate on this knowledge. The key to spatial thinking is a constructive amalgam of three elements: concepts of space, tools of representation, and processes of reasoning. -  “Learning to Think Spatially,” by NationalResearch Council.

Wikipedia tell us that “Older adults tend to perform worse on measures of spatial visualization ability than younger adults, and this effect seems to occur even among people who use spatial visualization frequently on the job, such as architects . . .” So, in order to maintain my visual perceptual abilities, principally the ability to understand spatial relationships, I decided to play with blocks.

I have amassed several sets. The most challenging of these is Architecto which provides a series of increasingly difficult plans and asks the player to build the structures. Another, which is simpler in nature, but intrigued into studying more about architecture is Blockitecture Series 1: Brutalism. Designed by James Paulius for Areaware. They seemed to have renamed it "Habit", but it is still a set of architectural building blocks than can be used to create a variety of structures.

If building projects stimulate creativity, and sharpen crucial skills in children the activity might help me maintain mine.

Blockitecture Project: photo by Cliff Hutson
Blockitecture Project: photo by Cliff Hutson


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

June 2017 Reading

The books I finished reading in June 2017

June 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
June 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

“Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop”  -  Sandor Nagyszalanczy

I first read this book about fifteen years ago. It was clear then that I did not have the time, space, nor money to set up a woodworking shop along the lines of its recommendations. Now, having more of each, I decided to reread it only to realize I no longer have the inclination.

“Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology”  -  Rudi Volti

This is an informative and enjoyable book. I appreciated it even more because I have worked with Rudi for a number of years.

“Murder at the Opera: A Capital Crimes Novel”  -  Margaret Truman

A fairly good mystery, but I will probably not rush out and look for others in the series.

“How to Be Black”  -  Baratunde Thurston

Part autobiography, part satire, and a look at a world of which most Americans have no clue, I highly recommend this book. (By the way, it seems that I have been doing it correctly.)

“The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need” (April 26, 2016)  -  Andrew Tobias

I read the first edition of this book in the late 1970s. And, to use a cliche, it changed my life. I recently gave a copy of this latest edition to each of my grandchildren, sight unseen, knowing that the core principles would still be valid. Then, I decided to get one for myself to read what the updates had to say, and perhaps learn some new tricks. It is still the best guide for anyone seeking advice on spending, saving, and investing.