Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Postcards Part 3

While out at the beach over a recent weekend, I picked up two postcards.  One is for Lyn.  The other is for Mom.  They arrived on the same day last week.  Lyn was excited to see a postcard.  That quickly changed when she realized the second card was not for her.  She really didn't say much but her expression conveyed displeasure 

The card I sent Mom had a picture of two naked toddlers on the beach with their backs to the camera.  One child was seated and one was standing.  The standing child's rear was covered by two strategically placed sand dollars.  The card said something about finally having found a nude beach.  Mom read the card to her and then had to explain what it meant.  Lyn was not happy.  She turned on her heel, as much as se can these days, and stomped off to her room.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Postcards Part 2

Lyn received another postcard last week.  This one was from a former neighbor who visited with Mom and Lyn on a very regular basis.  Lyn liked this neighbor.

When the card arrived, Lyn insisted it was from me.  The sender had printed everything to try to make it easier for Lyn to read.  Mom showed Lyn the name and asked if it was from me and Lyn insisted repeatedly that it was.  Mom tried comparing the writing and the names on this card with a post card Lyn had previously received from me.  Again, Lyn insisted they were both from me.  She was unable to read the words or recognize the differences in names, spellings or handwriting styles.

Mom explained it was from the neighbor who had moved away.  "Oh, yeah."  Lyn responded.  However, from the blank look in her eyes, Mom could tell that Lyn had no idea to who Mom referred.  Mom referenced the little dog the neighbor owned and got an "I know" but could again tell she had no idea and was covering.  Mom pointed out the house they used to live in and said it was nice for the neighbor to send Lyn a post card.

Lyn was surprised!  "She did?!"

Friday, July 31, 2015

Postcards Part 1

When I went to New Orleans in April for my annual corporate conference, Mom asked me to send Lyn some postcards.  I was able to find some while between sessions and started mailing them to her about halfway through my stay.  Lyn was excited to receive the mail because it was addressed to her and she liked the pictures.  When I travelled to Chicago in June, another postcard was found and mailed to her.  I've done it twice more now in connection with the trips I've taken with my family.  Each time, she is delighted to get them in the mail.  I actually have two more sitting on my dining table so I can spread out the cards she gets.

Lyn has also started receiving post cards from a friend we've made through our participation in Memory People and from a former neighbor.  She is keeping her postcards and loves to pull them out to look at the pictures again and again.

She doesn't know what to do with her face all of the time when we try to take her picture, but I assure you that she's happy looking at her cards.

Mom commented on how many she's collecting and how Mom only gets bills and junk mail.  Lyn, ever humble, quipped back "Well, I'm just more popular than you."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

In His Own Words

I've mentioned Rick Phelps before.  He's the author of _While I Still Can_ and the founder of an online support group for individuals who have memory issues and the people who care for them.  The video below is him giving us a bit of insight into Alzheimer's.  Rick has early on-set Alzheimer's and the video was recorded in 2012.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Calling 911

Mom writes:

She wanted me to "be happy to fix dinner."  So I pushed my luck and began to fix meatloaf.  Hmmmm, no argument.  

She came into the kitchen to throw something away and I could see how tired she is.  I asked if she was folding up.  "Yes, I'm ready to drop right here."  I hugged her and said to go ahead then I'd have to call 911 and the paramedics would come, pick her up and check her out.  She began to laugh so hard that Nikka came in to see what was happening.  I asked if that's what she wanted me to do, call 911?

The laughter began again and I kept asking her to answer me.  She couldn't.  I waited till she quit laughing and then said I needed an answer.

"Sure they can come and check me out anytime."

I sent her to go get her bath while dinner cooked.  I told her they should check me out.  "No, you're too old."


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Academic Dispute

Two academic institutions in California have gone to court over a research grant worth $55,000,000.  This case is of note for two reasons.  First, universities have traditionally had an unspoken agreement that research funds follow the principal investigator if that individual leaves university A for university B.  In this case, university A objected strongly citing that grants are made to institutions; not principal investigators no matter how key a role that person plays.  This is particularly true of grants made by the National Institutes of Health as in this case.  Second, the funds in question are involved in the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study.

The case is an interesting one and is going to have an impact on many research projects going forward when the principal investigator is being courted away from the institution employing them at the time the grant is awarded.  Depending upon the situation, a scientist may be willing to abandon the funds and the project which helped them secure the new job offer in the first place.  Additionally, it may make it more difficult for institutions to hire their way into established research projects.

What will this do to the science?  In this case, university B has to return all funding, equipment and data.  University A has to confirm that everything has been returned intact.  The problem?  The people best equipped to do this may no longer be associated with the project, having just been poached away.

Hopefully, it is not that dire and staff remain who can continue the work.  However, the work has been interrupted, the staff shaken up and political impacts remain.  It will be interesting to see what will happen with the study and if this case detrimentally impacts it.

I welcome any feedback from our friends in academia who can comment on this situation.

Additional Information:

Grant Dispute Throws an Unwritten Rule of Academic Poaching Out the Window - The Chronicle of Higher Education
UC San Diego wins legal battle in dispute with USC over Alzheimer's project - Los Angeles Times

Monday, July 27, 2015

Skyping While Driving

My family and I had an opportunity to visit the beach for the weekend.  It had easily been a dozen years since our last seaside foray.  We were to be gone for the whole weekend and while we expected to leave the beach early Sunday, traffic on the East Coast, particularly on I-95 can be challenging at best.  I couldn't guarantee that we'd be home in time to Skype at a reasonable hour.

Knowing that our drive home would be a bit long and potentially prevent me from being able to Skype with Mom and Lyn, I had to figure out an easy option which wouldn't confuse anyone while still allowing us to communicate face-to-face.  Fortunately for us all, Skype already solved the problem for us.  I simply added the Skype app to my phone, logged in and we were Skype enabled while mobile.  Mom had to do nothing different than she normally did.

When they were back from church, she called my cell to see if "now" was a good time.  I assured her that I was doing nothing more than sitting there crocheting at 70 miles an hour.  We switched over to Skype and started our conversation.

Lyn immediately started to chastise me for speaking on the phone while driving.  Through the wonder of technology, I was able to turn the camera to face my husband, allowing Lyn to see that he was driving and I was just holding the phone.  Her tone immediately changed as she sang out a hello to him.  He was driving and she could see he had both hands on the wheel.  We were free to speak and her objections were cleared.

Keeping Lyn's regularly scheduled conversations happening seems to be increasingly important.  She counts down the days to that face-to-face even though we may speak a couple of times via phone during the week.  Her temperament is more and more testy and going a week without a conversation really strains her as we found out while my family and I took a week off earlier this month.  In that case, we had gone to Canada and had very limited cell data allowances.

After seeing the strain the missed week put on her and Mom, I felt it important to keep that appointment this week despite the drive.  Fortunately, I rarely travel internationally and, had I thought about it more at the time, I could have worked around that through access to the hotel's wifi.  So, going forward, unless we're in the middle of the woods with zero reception (a highly unlikely event for me personally), we should be able to keep our regularly scheduled Skype conversation.

Technology can be a beautiful thing.