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Remembering Mama – August 14, 2017

Muriel Foster Ross: 1929 - 2012Five years today you’ve been gone, and yet it seems as if it was both yesterday and an eternity ago that God finally gave you rest in your grave, Mama.

I’m glad you’re not suffering anymore. That’s what matters most and what I appreciate most about losing you in this life.

Although there were very precious moments we shared in your last few years, I know the toll of dementias and cardiac problems made those years very hard for you, and I’m glad that’s over for you.

But I miss you, Mama. Continue reading

Wedding Anniversary – Daddy and Mama (June 9, 1956)

Fields of Gold: A Love Story - Ned and Muriel Ross Wedding AnniversaryDaddy and Mama were married at Unaka Baptist Church in Johnson City, TN on June 9, 1956 by Howard T. Rich. It was a small wedding, with close family and like-family attending.

Harry Aiken, my mama’s cousin closest to her in age, gave her away in marriage to my daddy. Lois Aiken, Harry’s wife, made the wedding cake.

Jennings Berry, my daddy’s lifetime best friend, served as Daddy’s best man.

Aunt Velva, who wrote the wedding invitation, was my Mama’s mother’s sister.  Continue reading

The Little Things – Mother’s Day 2017

Mama and DaddyIt’s the little things that I think and dream about now that Mama is gone. Some of them are real and some, those in my dreamworld, are reconfigured to how I wished or hoped they had turned out.

As time passes between my parents’ deaths, I find more and more Daddy and Mama are together, the two of them and sometimes with my sisters and and sometimes just with me, but we all seem to be younger, when our lives were more together than they are now and we shared the little things that glued us together.
Continue reading

Genetic Predisposition to Developing Dementia May Be Detected Earlier With A Simple Visual Test

image of brainThe results of a recent research project at the University of Louisville showed that a simple visual test could be an early predictor of later dementia risk in people with the genes associated with inherited predisposition to developing dementia. Continue reading

Book Review of “The Glass Cage” by Nicholas Carr

The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing UsThe Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us by Nicholas Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As with The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr has brought the role of technology in our lives into focus with another aspect that I doubt many of us really understand in its pervasiveness in our everyday lives and what it is costing us, not just in obvious ways, but in ways that are fundamental to being human and be uniquely skilled to productively and expertly interact in and with the world of opportunity and possibilities we’ve been given.

The subtitle of this book is “Automation and Us,” and how automation has infiltrated every aspect of our lives and what we’re losing in the process is Carr’s subject in this book.

Automation, of and by itself, is not bad. It is the things we’ve automated and our relationship to automation (serving it instead of letting it serve us) that turns what could be a good thing into something that is destined to destroy us – our unique human abilities, skills, and talents – unless we take control and do something different.

One of the points that Carr makes in this book is that we have offloaded critical thinking skills, technical acumen, analysis, and creativity to technology. By doing this, we gradually lose the ability to operate successfully manually (without the technology) and use judgement, intuition, experience, and knowledge to navigate our lives and our professions.

Carr looks at the impact of automatic in the airline industry (specifically looking at how autopilot has degraded the skills of pilots to successfully deal with emergencies and crises when flying), in business (stock market, accounting, business decisions, human resources, hiring, etc., which have all been relegated to software to handle, with no human factors involved, resulting in the global financials messes we now deal with and with a loss of talent because there’s no human contact or intervention to recognize the talent), in medicine (with the advent of electronic medical records in most medical facilities, software is now making the decisions that doctors used to make and because the software adds procedures and tests, the costs, which were supposed to go lower, have actually increased exponentially) and in manufacturing.

He also looks at us and how we’ve turned over our brains to automation. We depend on social media to decide who and what we like (or don’t) and who we’re friends with (and who we’re not – anyone who chooses to limit this exposure disappears and becomes invisible because they simply don’t exist outside the virtual world) and we have chosen willing to live in this virtual world more than we actually interact with the real word.

We’ve given control of our lives to our electronic devices: to do lists, calendars, phone numbers, etc. We let our software do things we should be doing ourselves: spell-checking, grammar-checking, basic math functions, etc. We have fallen for the myth that automation gives us more power, when instead it erodes our power and our humanness.

As we don’t use our brains, we lose our brains, leading to the brain itself atrophying and dying. This sadly, is a lifestyle factor that will lead to dementia, unless we make the choice to stop it and reverse it. We already are more impacted than we realize.

But it is not too late for us to put our lives and our brains back on manual and let automation serve us in ways that don’t jeopardize the health of this wonderful brain we’ve been blessed with.

People are much more extreme in their polarization of love and hate (nothing in between) in an automated world. It often seems that empathy, compassion, care, concern and love – all unique human abilities – is absent in the presence of a world that is automated. We lose our ability to relate to each other in any kind of real way and, as a result, we lose our humanness, and we become programmed to polarized points of view that we simply pick up and accept by what and who we choose to listen to, follow, and expouse in the landscape of technology (cable, streaming, internet, etc.).

We are losing our life blood – our hearts, our souls, and our minds, because we serve the god of automation that lacks emotional richness, deep understanding, and caring concern. I hope we reverse this trend, but I also am realistic enough to realize that we probably won’t and it will probably get much worse before it gets better.

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Grief in a 24/7 Connected World

Tears of GriefGrief is complex and complicated and no two people grieve the same way.

However, the more we’ve become connected in a 24/7 way through technology, the more we’ve become a shiny-happy-people (I am a huge R.E.M. fan, but this song annoyed me beyond words the first time I heard it and continues to do so now) society that focuses on the inane, on fluff, and on the ridiculous and real, palpable, tangible grief rains on that parade of lollipops, unicorns and butterflies.

As a result, it (and the grievers) are prime targets for some of the most judgmental, critical, harsh, and mean things that people can say and do to other people.

Grieving privately and alone is the best option in a 24/7-connected world

Better to grieve alone, in private, keeping the deepest secrets and pain in our souls to ourselves than to have the grief compounded by ignorance, attacks, and accusations.

Profiles in Dementia: Rita Hayworth (1918 – 1987)

Rita Hayworth Alzheimer's Disease Alcohol-Related DementiaRita Hayworth was an American actress whose career peaked in the 1940’s as Columbia Pictures’ most lucrative female lead, with a career that included 61 movies over a 37-year span.

One of Hayworth’s most acclaimed performances was in 1946’s Gilda, starring opposite leading man Glenn Ford. Hayworth also starred in two movies with Fred Astaire, who said she was his favorite dancing partner on screen.

However, fame and fortune could not stave off Hayworth’s personal demons, one of which was alcoholism.

By the late 1950’s, Hayworth’s chronic abuse of alcohol had ravaged the beauty of her younger years and had aged her considerably, making her no longer as attractive to Columbia as a leading lady even though she wasn’t 40 years old yet.

Alcoholism also created havoc in Hayworth’s personal life – she married and divorced five times (to men who in their own rights were not good choices).

By the 1970’s, when Hayworth was in her mid-50’s, the ravages of years of alcohol abuse began to also affect her brain. From 1972 until her death 1987, Hayworth’s cognitive impairment, memory loss, and repetitive outrageous behavior were what kept her name in the news headlines.

Rita Hayworth as an older womanHayworth died in February 1987 at the age of 68. Although she was the first public face of Alzheimer’s Disease (then a relatively-unheard-of form of dementia), there is absolutely no doubt that Hayworth also had alcohol-related dementia (also in 1987, mixed dementias and the many types of dementia were relatively unheard of as well), which probably hastened both her neurological decline and her death.