Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coffree: A Life Saver

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the beneficial effects of coffee "Coffee: Just What the Doctor Ordered", April 28, 2012.. Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine, May 17, 2012,  published an article about a study that showed that coffee drinkers (particularly those who consumed three or more cups a day) had a 10% less chance of dying from heart problems, stroke, diabetes and other causes The study was  conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the AARP. The researchers followed some 400,000 men and women over a 12 year period. .The study involved those who drank coffee with and without caffeine, so it does not appear that caffeine is the operative ingredient that may be beneficial.

So, have another cup of java and drink up!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Country Roads

John Denver sang about the "country roads" of West Virginia.  Those country roads lead to some wonderful vacation spots.

Almost everyone has heard of the Greenbrier resort. Located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, eighty miles from the Roanoke Regional Airport, for over 200 years, it has been a playground for presidents(26 of them have stayed or visited there) and princes, as well as those who want to pamper themselves a little .It is a AAA Five Diamond award winning luxury resort and spa.  With three championship golf courses, this year it is the host to the Greenbrier Classic, July 2-8.  Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are expected to play in this PGA event.. Slamming Sammy Snead himself was the golf pro there for many years.The rooms are brightly decorated, the food is superb and the atmosphere is just outstanding.With a movie theater, two pools and, since 2010, a casino, it offers excitement every day and night.

 But this post is not just about the Greenbier.  Plenty of information is available on the Greenbrier See .Moreover, not everyone can afford the Greenbrier.  No, this post is also about two other West Virginia places you might want to consider visiting this summer. Moreover, not everyone can afford the Greenbrier.

First, is Oglebay Park, in Wheeling, West Virginia. Once the summer estate of Earl Oglebay, at his death, he willed all 1700 acres to the City of Wheeling. It is still owned and maintained by the city of Wheeling,and is located at the top of a mountain just off of Interstate 70.  As you climb the mountain, you will pass on the left a sign stating that the property was once owned by Lawrence Washington, the brother of George Washington. Once you have zigzagged up the mountain, you will see a large yellow building.  This is the Oglebay.mansion and it is available for tours of the antique filled rooms. For more information, phone 304-243-4090 or visit the website at

Once you pass the mansion, you will see a sign, reading "Wilson Lodge," Turn there and it will take you down to the lodge which is the center of activity. As the name suggests, it is just that, a "lodge." Nothing too fancy but very much directed at families and conventioners or those on a business retreat.  Just off the lobby is a fine gift shop with branded merchandise and bottles of wine. Cottages are also available.

In addition to a skiing area just down the road and its own zoo, Oglebay is blessed with two magnificent golf courses, one designed by Arnold Palmer, and the other by Robert Trent Jones Sr. If you are a golfer, you will enjoy both. The Palmer is the flatter of the two courses and if, like me, you do not favor playing off the side of a mountain, try it first.

Each Christmas season, Oglebay puts on a Festival of Lights, which draws families from the surrounding states. Also, in April, Oglebay hosts an antique show with dealers from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Florida. Each of these events is well worth the trip.

The next post will be about another West Virginia attraction, Tamarack.  Make sure you come back to read it.

Click on the sidebar for more information about the Greenbrier.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Beneficial Effects of Meditation

The many beneficial effects of meditation continue to be recognized.  In an earlier post, " Every Breath You Take," I discussed a number of different forms of meditation or mindfulness. In today's edition of The New York Times,an article entitled "In Sitting Still, A Bench Press For the Brain," the Times reports on a number of studies which tend to show that meditation has a number of beneficial effects on the brain. These are believed to include increased gray and white matter which can improve cognitive performance in older adults.  What is fascinating is that the longer meditation is practiced, the greater the benefits appear to be. This is in addition to the physical benefits such as lower blood pressure as shown in such studies as the "Relaxation Response.."

Moreover, it is never too late to start. It requires no equipment and almost no time. Just get started.

The Secret of Success

Sister Corita Kent

If you are looking for the secret of real success at your job, with your family and in life, you might want to consider the above little saying: "To Do a Common Thing Uncommonly Well, Brings Success."

The quote is from H.J. Heinz, the founder of the Heinz food company. The print is by Sister Corita Kent, a wonderful pop artist known for these type of prints.

You might be asking yourself, "what exactly does this mean?" I think it means that whatever you do, no matter how apparently small it may be, if you do it as best as you can, you will already have succeeded.

What do you think?

Monday, May 7, 2012


We just got back from a three day visit to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  Now I know you have already heard quite enough about those two locations, but I just had to share with you our experience in seeing the play "Ragtime" at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. As one of the persons sitting next to us commented at the intermission, one word suffices to describe the production, "Superb".  And he was right.

For those of you not familiar with the play, it is a musical set in the early part of the 20th century.  It chronicles the interactions of three very different families in New Rochelle, New York, the Lower East Side of New York City and Harlem.  There is the upper middle class family with the usual pretensions at the outset of the play. Next, is an immigrant family from Latvia that literally just got off the boat. Last, is a black family that is trying to make it into the middle class.  Based upon the book by E.L. Doctorow, the music  by Stephen Flaherty is haunting.  The singing, particularly that of the lead character, Coalhouse Walker (played by Thom Allison), is outstanding. The play lasts almost three hours but as my wife says, "It seems like 15 minutes."

"Ragtime"  will be playing all summer at the Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  If you love drama and music, this play is for you.

For more information about this and the other plays and for tickets, contact the Festival at or at 1-800-511-SHAW.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Every Breath You Take

Sting sang about "every breath youI take."  In my last post, I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson on clearing the mind of all the "absurdities" of yesterday in order to face the "serenity" of today. You are probably asking your self, "Just how do I go about doing that?"  The answer is really quite simple and it is something we do unconsciosly every day.  The difference is we never think to pay attention to it. The way to clear the mind is to finally pay attention and use it as an opportunity to improve not only our state of mind but also our physical well-being.  What is it?  You  have probably guessed it by now: breathing. Not just any breathing, of course.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the anti-aging guru, has a CD set called Breathing: The Master Key to Self-Healing, which describes a number of breathing techniques and leads you through them. One of the simplest is to inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven and exhale to a count of eight.Doing this three times with your tongue behind your upper front teeth is designed to reduce anxiety. I have tried it and it really does work.

Another widely popular breathing technique is mindfulness or meditation as it used to be called. Basically, it involves sitting in a chair quietly with your eyes closed and monitoring your breathing. You should not try to breath any specific way but you should just concentrate on breathing, paying attention to to exhalation and inhalation. When other thoughts come to mind, just let them float away since they are not real.  It takes a while, but you will get used to it.  Start with a minute or so and work your way up for as long as you can.  The important thing is not to get discouraged.  Keep at it.  You will be surprised how quickly your mind will clear. A good book describing several more techniques is Mark Williams' Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. It is available on Amazon for the Kindle and well worth the price.

If you really get into breathing techniques, you might want to pick up The Art of Breathing by Nancy Zi.  It describes breathing techniques for almost every occasion. Let me know if you like it.

Just remember to breathe easy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Clearing the Mind for Boomers

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurditie​s no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson