On a recent trip to our nation’s capital, we had lunch with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ credit union liaison Felicity Skudin Guerin to discuss the progress of Credit Unions for Kids. Guerin’s great ideas weren’t limited to philanthropy, however. She also insisted we buy a few packages of Salty Oats cookies for the trip home. We might intermittently blame Guerin for introducing us to these, the cookies of our downfall. But then again, they are so strangely reminiscent of salted Breton butter, homemade oatmeal, Cape Cod (where the cookies are now made) and the Earth itself, that one can only really be grateful for the tip. Grab your own Salty Oats cookies in three flavors: original, chocolate and chunky chocolate pecan (do it before you read the article below on BDNF, which will discourage you from ordering so many). They’re available online at kayakcookies.com. And if you’re not already hooked up with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ brand of heart-healthy, nonfattening goodness, check out the latest scoop on Credit Unions for Kids at www.cu4kidschangedrive.org. Or meet Guerin in person at THINK 11. More, DBNF, Please. Out of shape and can’t remember why? Maybe you need more BDNF. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is like an anti-aging wonder drug that promotes learning and memory and makes your brain stronger. BDNF increases with exercise, so when you work out, you also generate new brain cells in the temporal lobes (involving memory) and the prefrontal cortex (affecting planning and judgment). Call it a virtuous circle: Exercising to get fit helps you remember what’s wrong with eating three dozen Salty Oats cookies in one sitting and strategize so you can avoid making the same mistake tomorrow. Win! This is only one of many ways best-selling author Daniel G. Amen believes your brain and body work together to create fitness (or, you know, not). Learn how to lose weight, lift your mood and boost your memory in his new book, “The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off.” Don’t Assault the Batteries. Oh, just admit it: You don’t understand your Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries at all. They run your laptop, your phone, your high-end vacuum and probably your spleen, but you can’t be sure whether they’d rather be charged as continuously—or infrequently—as possible. Do they run hot or cold? What do they really want, anyway? Our friends at Ars Technica (arstechnica.com) have answers. In an article we should all print out and affix to our desktops, they suggest the following simple steps:
  • Don’t discharge it completely. This taxes the battery, so charge it up when the power dips to 20 percent (or sooner).
  • Don’t keep it fully charged, either. You’ll reduce the battery’s ability to hold a charge and power your gadgets over time. If you’re going to unplug, let the battery wear down a bit.
  • Cool it. Li-Ion batteries don’t like heat, so do what you can to keep them cool. Avoid direct sunlight; don’t leave devices in a hot car; turn your laptop off when it’s not in use.
  • Calm down. Sudden, intense battery usage causes stress, so using your smartphone to check email over several hours is less burdensome than running a graphics-intensive game for a short time. (As for the stress that game deprivation may cause you, read “Angry Birds, Happy People” below.)
No matter what you do, your Li-Ion battery will probably lose about 20 percent of its capacity per year, which—let’s face it—makes understanding its needs a wee bit less compelling. Even for batteries, life is finite—though the value of a charge when you really need one is not. Angry Birds, Happy People. Just when you thought Angry Birds was going to give you an aggravated ulcer comes new word that casual video game playing may alleviate depression. Wait, what? Researchers at the East Carolina University Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic found that subjects who played Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Bookworm reported as much as a 50 percent decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms versus a control group. The study was underwritten by video gaming company Pop Cap Games and isn’t described as conclusive. Still, for the moment here’s a tidy little excuse for leaving the dinner dishes in the sink so you can play just a few minutes of Black Ops.