How to Improve Brain Power Using Brain Exercise Games

It’s a proven fact that people over time will lose a certain amount of brain power for several different reasons. There are some that believe this is due to people not providing their brains with enough stimulation, others feel it has something to do with age, and yet others feel it has something to do with a problematic brain disease such as Alzheimer’s. Although some of these situations and conditions may sound a bit drastic, the fact is mental power will be lost if the brain isn’t exercised in the proper way, on a consistent basis.

* Improve Brain Power

Brain power is developed by consistently using the brain for a variety of different uses. Some may not realize, but the brain is like a muscle in the sense that when you work it over and over again, it will get stronger. To improve your brain power it will be necessary to use some specific methods in order to achieve the results you may be hoping for.

Brain power is achieved by eating right, proper hydration and exercise. The kind of exercise I am speaking of doesn’t have to do with riding a bike or going on walks – but rather using brain training and exercise games to achieve the results you are looking for. This can be done quite easily; however, it will take a little dedication on your part to get extremely good at developing your brain and obtaining maximum brain power.

* Brain Training Games

In order to avoid mental decline, it will be important to train the brain in ways that promote brain power and excellent mental health. There are a lot of companies out there providing a wide range of brain training games but the fact is many of them do not provide the benefits you might be looking for.

In order to find a source for excellent brain training games, it will be important to review the material that accompanies the game to make sure you understand it, and it doesn’t present an unattainable challenge for you right out of the box.

* Brain Exercise Games

Brain training and brain exercise will almost be considered the same, but in fact they are quite different. Sometimes you will want to train the brain on specifics which in turn will be used for something repetitious in nature. Brain exercise games will provide challenges for the brain which allows the brain to experience different situations and conditions throughout the exercise.

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to increase your brain power, the good news is that you will have the ability to do so by using either brain training games, or using brain exercising games. Either of these methods will produce excellent results and allow you to achieve total awareness, and the ability to calculate and solve problems with ease. Brain power will inevitably put you on levels never before realized which will incorporate understanding, problem solving, and an overall healthier mental condition.

Slumdog Millionaire on DVD

Fans of either British director Danny Boyle or of Bollywood movies will not be disappointed with this uplifting film. Boyle, who gave us Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary, shows his style from the very beginning, when this story of two brothers growing up as orphans in the streets of Mumbai starts with Jamal, played by newcomer Dev Petel, now almost an adult, being brutally interrogated by police about fraud on a game show. They cannot believe that a slum orphan would know enough to get the right answers without cheating. The frank and brutal style of Trainspotting is evident throughout this film in tilted camera angles, blurred street montages, quick crowd pans, fast editing, even more trains. Both cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and editor Chris Dickens won well-deserved Oscars®, as the pace and visual style of the entire film are knockouts – it only slows down a little toward the end, giving you a chance to finally catch your breath.

The film begins in the present, then in flashbacks tells the story of Jamal, his brother Salim, and their friend Latika, wonderfully played by six young actors at two age levels when growing up. The story contantly shifts back to the police interrogation, and Jamal’s story of how he knows the trivia, each answer being revealed in a flashback. Amil Kapoor is very good as the slick game show host, who is not as charming as he appears on camera. We get occasional glimpses of Latika, a girl the brothers help when all are childhood orphans, and who grows up into the gorgeous Freida Pinto, one of the most stunning actresses ever.

Even though this is a brutal story of crime and survival in the streets (rated R for violence), similar to the Brazilian film City of God, brilliantly directed by Fernando Meirelles, it is still a heartwarming and uplifting story. It shows the darker side of India: religious violence, torture, child abduction, street crime, and child slavery. Basically, all the failures you get from extreme poverty. However, in Jamal, we have a character based on hope and positive self-image, rising above his roots, who turns away from organized crime, continues to fight for survival, and search for his true love.

The film is in English; what little is in Hindi is translated with on-screen balloon subtitles coming from the character speaking, a novel way to do those. The screenplay adaptation by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup, was an excellent and won an Oscar®. However, I think the real star of the film is A.R. Rahman’s terrific music, easily one of the best, more memorable film scores in years, winning him two Oscars®. The second was for the song “Jai Ho”, shown over a mock Bollywood musical number during the film’s closing credits, with the entire cast dancing between trains. Hats off to either Boyle or assistant director Tandan for that terrific sendup, and from a dramatic movie that was hardly musical.

I rarely give out a perfect 10, but this will make the second one for 2008 films, Wall-E being the other. I’m very surprised that Indian co-director Loveleen Tandan didn’t also receive an Oscar® alongside Danny Boyle. Slumdog swept the Oscars® winning eight: picture, director, adapted screenplay, cinematography, editing, sound, music, and song.

9 Tips For the Back-to-School Mom – Organization is Everything!

Well, just about everything. If you’re a mom who’s headed back to school, you want to get serious about time management, delegating, well, everything. Here are nine tips to help you get both you and your children back to school easily, confidently and most importantly, quickly!

1. Ditch Perfectionism. The dust on top of the furniture? Protective covering. Smudge on the front door? All your best friends come to the back door anyway. Perfection isn’t everything, especially when you have a test to prepare for.

2. Delegate. Even young children–and husbands!–can pitch in. And they should, no matter what Mom’s doing. Helping gives children (and Dads) a feeling of competence and confidence which helps their self-esteem (yes, Dads, too).

3. Be Realistic. No one, not even Oprah or Martha Stewart, has it all or can do it all. Don’t believe me? Then tell me why Oprah just gave her best friend a million dollars? For all the help she gave Oprah along the way, that’s why. Celebrities have staffs who do it all for them, they don’t do it themselves–and neither can you, unless you employ a staff of 20 full-time people. Keep expectations of what you can and cannot do in any 24-hour day realistic, and both you and your family will be a lot happier.

4. Flexibility Is Queen Every Day. When you’re juggling school, work and family, you have to be flexible and be able to shift priorities quickly. Think of life as one large yoga exercise, and be ready to bend and stretch as needed, when needed.

5. Play Beat The Clock. Setting deadlines is a great way to motivate you to take care of the most important priorities. Create deadlines for your tough chores and assignments (and your children’s) and put a portion of your time aside each day to tackle the largest ones. This will keep you from getting crazed the night before your midterm when your son’s science project is due the next day.

6. Organize, Organize, Organize. Don’t just talk about it, do it. Pack lunches, lay out clothes, bathe, get book bags ready, and set out dishes and non-perishable breakfast items the night before. This will not only save you time in the mornings, but also make them far less stressful overall. Have a place for everything–make sure everyone knows where those places are, and let them go there all by themselves!

7. Know Your Prime Time. Everyone has a time of day or night when they perform some tasks better than others. For example, studying may be easier at night after everyone’s gone to bed, and mornings are your best time for household chores. Take time to learn what your prime time is for the truly important tasks you need to accomplish daily–then use it to your advantage.

8. Don’t Learn To Say No, Say It! We all know how to say “No”, we simply don’t do it often enough. Don’t let yourself be bullied or guilt-tripped into taking on projects or volunteer work that strips you of valuable time you need to spend elsewhere. You won’t be in school forever, and those volunteer organizations will still be around when you’re finished and have more time.

9. Reward Yourself. You are marvelous, Mom! Just look at everything you do every day–and on top of it all, you’re acing school and making it to your daughter’s   swim  meets and your son’s soccer  games , and on time! Have that bowl of ice cream (two scoops is fine, really), and give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it!

Copyright 2006 Karen Fusco

Driver’s Ed

Driver’s ed is one of the most important times of a teen’s life. It is their first step to becoming a young adult, it carries responsibility and creates new experiences for teens. Many states require that new drivers complete a certain number of hours in a Driver’s Education course before they can apply for a permit Driver’s License.

At the same time many of online driver’s education courses are already approved in numerous states and specialists are working hard to get approval in others. When navigating a driving education site, be assured that if this online driving academy is state approved, it will be noted as such.

Traditional driver’s ed courses can be distracting and not really efficient. With as many as 30 students per class, it is quite common. Driver education classes or driving schools are generally boring, expensive, or just inconvenient way to fulfill your driver education requirements. Whether you enroll in one of the approved online driving school or are just looking for extra help to pass your learners driving exam after, online drivers courses offer sufficient instruction taken comfortably at your own home and at your pace.

Over 20,000 California teens have taken online driver’s education course and are driving today. You are undoubtedly aware of all the implications of driving a vehicle in California. Most likely your teen will be overwhelmed with the freedoms they get while driving than the necessary safety regulations. During the behind the wheel drivers training phase the student driver is instructed in vehicle control basics and also applications of defensive driving fundamentals in real driving environment.

Role Playing Games – What Are They All About?

A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of game where players assume the roles of imaginary characters in a scenario created by the game developer and vicariously experience the adventures of these characters.

In role-playing games players often team up to generate narratives. The play progresses according to a preset scheme of rules and strategy, within which players may invent liberally. Player options shape the course and conclusion of role-playing games.

Role-playing games are usually more gung-ho and casual fun than competitive. A role-playing game unites its participants into a single team that fights as a group. A role-playing game rarely has winners or losers. This makes role-playing games uniquely different from board games, card games, sports and other types of games. Role-playing games attract because they fire the players’ imagination.

There are many different types of role-playing games. The PC-based RPG-s of today aren’t an original genre; they are derived from board-based or real-life games that have been popular with children and even grown-ups for a long, long time. One such RPG might involve guests at a dinner party acting out suspects in a murder mystery, while another might involve players sitting around a bonfire and narrating parts of a story and rolling dice. Another RPG might consist of costumed participants recreating a medieval battle with padded armor and heavy weapons.

At their nucleus, role-playing games are a form of interactive and mutual storytelling. Simple forms of role-playing exist in traditional children’s games such as “cops and robbers,” “dogs and mailmen,” “cowboys and Indians,” and “playing house” or “doctor”.

The original form of role-playing game was the fantasy war game, inspired by brave knight and witchcraft lore and using minute figures and scale terrain grids to demonstrate action in a way similar to that of strategic war games.

Role-playing games have rules known usually as game mechanics. Almost all role-playing games require the participation of a game master (GM), who narrates the game session and acts as the moderator and rules arbitrator. The rest of the participants create and play inhabitants of the game setting, known as player characters (PCs). The player characters collectively are known as a “party”.

Internet role-playing games range from graphical games such as EverQuest to simple text based games. They can also be divided into genres by the imaginary locale where they take place. Fantasy RPGs draw their inspiration from fantasy literature, such as the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. The best games in this field are Dungeons & Dragons, Exalted, Palladium Fantasy, RuneQuest, Legend of the Five Rings etc.

Science fiction RPGs are inspired by science fiction literature. The setting is generally in the future. The popular games are Rifts, Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020, Paranoia, Shadowrun and so forth.

Horror RPGs are inspired by horror literature. Horror RPGs can be divided into two groups. The first is inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, focusing on humanity’s fight against malevolent, extra-dimensional entities. The second centres around playing supernatural creatures, such as vampires, changelings, and werewolves. The top titles are Call of Cthulhu, Kult, World of Darkness Changeling: The Dreaming, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Werewolf: The Forsaken, Hunter: The Reckoning, Orpheus, and Mage: The Ascension.

Historical RPGs, as you can probably imagine, take place in the past. Settings that have been explored in role-playing games include Pendragon (based on Arthurian legends), Sengoku (about Japanese warring states), Recon (regarding the Vietnam War), Fantasy Imperium (takes place in historical Europe).

Superhero role-playing games are inspired by superhero comic books and graphic novels. The major games are Champions, DC Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, Mutants and Masterminds.

Fairly Odd Parents Cartoon Trivia

The Fairly Odd Parents, Cosmo and Wanda are given the highly important task of watching over Timmy in the fun children’s cartoon named after them. The cartoon show is the second most popular kids cartoon on Nickelodeon, coming in behind Sponge Bob Square Pants. It’s extremely popular among kids for the fun, zany adventures that Timmy gets into with his Fairly Odd Parents.

Cosmo and Wanda were assigned to make Timmy happy by granting his wishes and helping him deal with some of his adversaries such as, Norm the Genie, Vicky the Babysitter, Francis the school bully and Mr. Crocker Timmy’s teacher who also happens to be obsessed with catching a live fairy. Unfortunately the two fairly odd parents are a little bit klutzy and don’t always grant Timmy’s wishes in the way he’d like.

Cosmo is the one who tends to get things messed up for everybody and Wanda his cranky wife has to take care of fixing the problems. They always return things to normal by the end of the episode and everyone, except for Timmy’s adversaries, is happy with the outcome. It can be said that most of the time magic is used to resolve the conflicts that were often caused in the first place by magic. The two fairly odd parents will disguise themselves in front of other people as various animals and objects, because their existence is supposed to be secret.

Interestingly the cartoon wasn’t very popular it’s first year, but the second year and on it picked up a lot of fans, both kids and adults. Many kids love to have the Fairly Odd Parents as their birthday party theme, with those distinctive light pink and green colors featured by Wanda and Cosmo. The show has had a made for television movie and several hour long specials, but it was cancelled as of July 2006. Though it’s still in reruns.

Different Variations of Chess Games

Chess, while an incredibly intense game for those involved, can often bore spectators to tears. Many times, with no limits on what is happening, players can take hours trying to decide the best move to make. This is usually unfeasible for any normal game and for certain Chess tournaments, is forbidden. In this case, each player generally has a certain amount of time to make a move in every turn. However, other variations of Chess do exist which also place time limits on the length of the game. All of these new variations can be quite a challenge to players, some vastly more than others.

One of the most difficult Speed Chess games which can be played is called Bullet Chess. In this game, each side has only one minute to play their entire half of the game. At the end of one minute, if neither side has won, the entire points on the board are totaled up and the player with more points in considered to be the winner. The rankings for points are generally determined by using the standard points systems for pieces, with Pawns being worth one, Knights and Bishops worth 3, Kings are generally given a rank of 4, Rooks are worth 5 points, and the Queen is worth 9. At the end of Bullet Chess, if neither side has captured the King, this system is generally used to determine which side accomplished more.

Other forms of Speed Chess are not as intense, however. The form that is generally referred to as Blitz Chess allows players to take up to 5 minutes to play their half of the game, so while still an intensely fast game, there is a little room for some strategic planning that Bullet Chess normally does not allow. Blitz Chess is often found at many different Chess tournaments, as it is a highly-paced, intense game that still requires the playing out of strategy and tactics. Fast Blitz is a combination of Bullet and Blitz, generally giving each player 3 minutes to finish their half of play. All of these styles push players to their limits and learning to do well at these often takes time.

One very unique form of Chess that is gaining popularity is actually called Chess Boxing. This innovative hybrid sport actually takes the game of Chess and blends it with the sport of Boxing, having the players compete against each other in alternating rounds. Born in early 2003, the game was based on fictional accounts of the sport written by Enki Bilal, a French comic book writer. Iepe Rubingh, inspired by these accounts, organized a competition enacting it out.

Players for the game must both be talented boxers and Chess players, for the game moves quickly from one round to the other. This game usually begins with a 4 minute round of Chess followed by a 2 minute round of Boxing, then switching back and forth until a victory is declared. Only one minute is granted between the rounds, forcing all of the players to remain in top condition, both physically and mentally alert. While this version of Chess is rare, it can be exciting to watch and even to play for players who feel up to the challenge!

Electronic Features With Board Games

A number of board games have expanded themselves to make gaming even easier for all of its players. With handy electronic gadgets that now come with the games, players no longer need to worry about many of the smaller details which can hold them back from the game. These devices are designed to allow the maximum amount of freedom and ease when it comes to game play, putting even less pressure on the mechanics of the game and more on the strategy that goes into winning the game.

One of the most popular electronic devices that is often implemented is the use of an electronic timer. Games that provide one of these allow players to not have to worry about watching the little sand timer that games used to provide. This allows the player to focus on the task at hand rather than to watch the timer, often providing crucial seconds. Pictionary and Scattergories are both games which use timers and with an electronic device, more attention can be paid to playing the game.

Another fun electronic device that comes into play often is a buzzer. Taboo is one game that implements a buzzer, used to either signal when a player has stepped out of bounds, or when the round is over. During play with Taboo, one player from a team tries to make his or her teammates guess a certain word without saying other words on a list. One player from the other team monitors this player, to ensure that he or she does not say any of the forbidden words. If one of these words accidentally slips out, the buzzer is then heavily used.

Some classic games, however, have updated themselves to include electronic features. Monopoly now features an Electronic Banking edition, which eliminates all use of paper money, controlling the entire cash flow of the game through a little computer given with the game board. Players are given debit cards on which their entire fortune is contained and the computer keeps track of each player’s total amount. Properties and hotels are bought with the card, fines are paid, and money changes hands all with one swipe. This allows for a much quicker game and generally happier players all around.

The Game of Life is another classic game which has updated itself with exciting electronic features. A take-off from the original game, Life: Twists and Turns is an innovative take on the previous incarnation. Each player is given an electronic “Lifepod” at the beginning of the game which not only tabulates the number of “Life Points” that each player accumulates, but controls both the money of the player and even rolls the “dice” for them.

This game, like Electronic Banking Monopoly, doesn’t rely on cash to get players through the game, but provides them with debit cards which help each player control the money that comes in and out of their hands. It is quite an innovative take on the game that allows players more time with the game and less with the mechanics of making it run smoothly. With the way that innovation is redesigning the game industry, it is no surprise that these classic board games are finding new life with players.

Abel Sanchez (Unamuno)

Abel Sanchez is a novel written in the beginning of the twentieth century by Miguel de Unamuno a Spanish author of Basque origin. I read the novel after reading “Viento del Sur,” from Ian Gibson, who claimed that the theme of this novel details a very common feature of the Spanish society: the role of envy. It was a remark that explained a lot to me — after five years in Spain — so I decided to read the novel. Unamuno previously wrote Mist (Niebla) in which the protagonist wants to commit suicide at the end of the novel, an action that is “impossible,” explained to him…

Abel Sanchez — a story of passion — has a similar style as Mist, but the relatively short story encompasses a whole lifetime and is written without too many details; a plain and ordinary story. At first sight. It is about the lives of Abel Sanchez and Joaquin Monegro, explicitly referring to the Abel-and-Cain parable of the bible. Both are friend from early childhood. On the first page the conflict is presented: he (Abel) is social, for which people feel sympathy outward going, living on the street and Joaquin is the “nerd” (in modern terminology), studying hard and antipathetic. The climax of the conflict as felt only by Joaquin is when Able seduces Helena. Joaquin was never able to draw her attention, but nevertheless he is jealous when Abel starts to see her (after asking her to model for him).

Joaquin’s “strategy in life” is to revenge and to develop himself as a successful physician and incredible skilled rhetorician. But although people value his rhetoric – in a scene where he reveals the real beauty of one of Abel’s paintings – he cannot compete with his rival who is not really a rival from Abel’s viewpoint: “medicine is also an art,” and very useful, but what matter is what people (society) value most.

This is one of the issues in the work to question the real value of the artist (The artist as creator as in the previous novel Mist) versus the work of the scientist and the role of reason. Joaquin senses that he should receive the honor for his contribution but only Abel is rewarded. Which makes Joaquin (more) jealous.

Another puzzle is whether Abel intentionally abducts Helena (explicitly referring to the Greek Helena, as in Spanish the H is not used, a comment I lent from Felix de Azua who introduced the novel) or that the envy of Joaquin is rational and reasonable. This is the main topic of the story and more profound and elaborated than the element of revenge, which is not really an issue (in my opinion).

The story is full of envy as events continue; Abel’s son becomes an apprentice of Joaquin. It then seems that the odds’ change as Abel’s son values Joaquin more than his father “who is only an egoist.” But as the story continues and both become grandfather, however Abel’s Grandson doesn’t like Joaquin at all and the story as well as Joaquin’s envy reaches a climax.

Readers who appreciated Mist will like this novel too. For me it was revealing to see how implicit knowledge about Spain becomes acknowledged: I really think that Unamuno was ahead of society and understood it well. Envy does play a role in every society but more than average in Spain it does; according to Unamuno, Envy is said to be the Leprosy of Spain.

But in Spain there is a lot of critic about this viewpoint. In his foreword, Felix de Azua minimizes the potential influence of the novel in understanding Spanish society. “He was a man who didn’t leave his room in Paris,” summarizes de Azua Unamuno’s stay in France showing that he resembled Joaquin more than Abel; “the story of passion,” is biased by his own envy. It is a story in black-and-white where Abel is white and Joaquin black (Mo-“Negro”?). An (other) interesting detail explained by de Azua, I didn’t notice myself was the following. The maiden-name of Helena was Puig, indicating a Catalonian origin and showing that: “Unamuno intention was to find a name that had the same symbolic suggestion as Abel; the cold, egoistic and esthetic Helena had to be Catalan.” Rivalry in Spain remains, whether or not based on envy. Evaluate for yourself… Or just read the novel as it is without all possible interpretations. A real beauty.

Book Party Games – Celebrate the Gift of Literacy!

There are all types of party opportunities available, but as parents if we can foster learning and a love of reading with book party games, we will have accomplished allowing our children to combine fun and learning. Most every parent has wished at times that their children would read more. If you want to help your own and other children learn about the joys of reading, consider a book party and enhance that with book party games!

Charades book party game

Have props available, for a charades book party games, and print names of books and well known book characters on slips of paper. Let guests draw a slip of paper and act out charades until the book is guessed. If you see your guests are having trouble, consider having the book handy so they can take a peek! Another alternative would be to have a list of book party games possible answers, so everyone can take turns choosing an answer. That way, everyone is sure to get a chance to win. Just keep Book party games simple with questions that everyone will know like “Harry Potter is an_______.”

PrintableP book party games

Print out book party games word search puzzles and anagrams on your home computer for fun games, giving prizes to the ones who solve the puzzles first. Consider a great book party game of book and character matching! Just have posters with titles to well-known books and have cut outs of appropriately well known characters. Place the characters and the poster equal distances apart, and give each player some sticky putty. Have each child run down to match a character to a book. When all book titles have a character, the next guest in line gets another chance to correct mistakes until someone has all the characters matched to their appropriate book.