Shakin’ off the Earworm

ear worm

In the past decade, the field of neuroscience has produced amazing scientific breakthroughs. Researchers have learned how to control micro RNA, help individuals achieve impulse control, and change behavior with non-invasive brain stimulation. Recently, two MIT scientists successfully implanted a memory that NEVER HAPPENED into a mouse’s brain. But despite all these incredible advances, I’m curious why researchers ignore a condition that plagues 90% of the population at least once a week.

I am speaking, of course, of the earworm.

For my entire life, I have suffered from a recurring case of this auditory MRSA. From the moment The Beatles urged me to Twist and Shout, I have been afflicted with this disorder. So my question for neuroscientists, if you are able to put Visions of That Which Never Happened into a tiny rodent’s noggin, why, oh why, can you not find a way to remove Meghan Trainor from mine?

Because I’m All About That Bass. [Read more…]

The Piano Man

Older Boy announced he wanted to go to Europe with the language class during spring break, a plan that I fully support. But there was only one major question: how to pay for this little adventure.
I love travel. I believe in travel. I wish someone would pay me to travel. But I also know that if you don’t work for something, you don’t have the same level of appreciation for it. So we decided that Older Boy had to earn half the money to take the trip.
When trying to figure out what to do for fundraising, I asked a friend who’d been through the drill years ago for some advice. “What are his talents?” she asked. “He’s pretty good at the piano,” I told her. “So have him play,” she said. So we did.
While he did the requisite lawn mowing, pet sitting and flower watering this summer, the bulk of his fundraising time was spent twice a week on Main Street. Armed with my electronic keyboard, a homemade sign and a donation jar, he played everything from Maple Leaf Rag to Misty. And he rocked.
Not only did he make some cash, he ended up with some great stories too. Like the day he met the French tourists, young cute women, who stood and watched him, put money in his jar and before leaving, kissed his cheek. Or the jazz society patrons stopped at a red light who jumped out of the car with a fist full of ones for him. Or the day he found a fifty dollar bill in the jar. People wished him luck, took his picture and video taped him.
He also ended up with some fans. One afternoon at a burger joint a young guy came up to him and said, “You’re the kid that plays piano on Main Street – you’re awesome, dude.” Another day, I was sitting on the park bench across the street when two young men were going into the bookstore. “Did you hear that kid playing the piano across the street?” one guy said to his friend. “Yeah, he really rocks,” was the reply.
I think he learned a lot – about people and about himself. And in the process, he earned almost $1200 this summer. No small feat for a kid. And I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of his efforts.
But he’ll take to Europe more than the cash that he earned himself. He’ll take with him the knowledge of the effort it takes to earn a buck. And if you know how much work it takes to earn it, you are certainly more careful about how you spend it.
I think it’s pretty cool that he wants to continue playing on Saturdays in the fall. And I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s going to make half his money as we agreed.
I also know that if I ever need a quick buck, I’m going to dust off my piano skills and hit the street. But I’ll never make as much as he did. I’m just not as cute. Or as talented.


Back to the Real World


For some, thinking about Europe this month brings to mind the Tour de France. But for me this month in Europe represented the Tour de Biergartens.Because I was going to Germany and Austria.
Now admittedly, I was even more nervous flying this time since the Air France Airbus vanished midflight in June. I knew this flight would involve white knuckles, hyperventilation and most assuredly the use of prescription pharmaceuticals. Of course, I never contemplated cancelling the trip, even I am logical enough to realize the stupidity of that thought. But I did contemplate horse tranquillizers.
But on my arrival in Munich, I knew I’d found the land of my people. A place where beer for breakfast is not entirely out of the question. A place where you can find a biergarten on almost every corner. And I did my very best to hit every one in Munich and Salzburg not to mention all points in between. Not to pat myself on the back but I must say, job well done.
But now sadly it is back home to the real world, real life and real big loads of laundry. For now anyway. But I will return to the land of my grandfathers to refill my giant beer mug and sit in the shade of the chestnut trees. I am smitten. And how can you not love a country that sells beer, right alongside the Snickers, in the vending machine at the airport hotel?



4 months post-surgery

Four months post-surgery and I am back on the bike – in France! After meeting our friends in Paris, we walked miles all over the city doing the usual tourist stuff. We are staying in an apartment in Montmarte – I feel like we are having a real neighborhood experience buying fresh bread, cheese and wine each day. We then travelled by TGV down to Annecy where we are now cycling the Piste around the lake. These folks take their cycling seriously here. This is my first time back on the bike since surgery in February and I am one slow poke in comparison (probably because I am nervous about falling off or doing something really stupid). But the scenery is breathtaking and the path is paved so it is a good introduciton back to the saddle. I could never have done this trip without having surgery.

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