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Earworms Update: Foreign Language Musical Brain Trainer

July 27, 2009 by · Comments Off on Earworms Update: Foreign Language Musical Brain Trainer 


Listening to Earworms

Months before my trip to France, I began listening to a CD known as earworms : a musical brain trainer. My goal: to become familiar with basic words and common phrases.

I readily admit I struggle with foreign language; found French torturous in high school and college. My brain just doesn't want to think in another tongue.

But, I gave earworms a try. I played the oral lessons, really more like rhythmic tunes, in my office. I honestly didn't study or concentrate on the CD's. However, I listened to volumes 1 and 2 many times.

Guess what?

When I got to France, I actually comprehended some conversation. Menus could be deciphered with a reasonable amount of certainty. I confidently ordered a coffee or a bottle of wine since those were the first things I mastered. My grasp of basic phrases seemed automatic, almost magical.

One morning a waiter spoke to me, just rattling along and when he finished, I casually replied with my room number– in French. My daughter looked at me stunned. How did you understand all that, she wondered?

And..frankly, I did too. Must have been those earworms!


I sincerely recommend earworms.


Earworms CD


Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the First Moon Landing

July 14, 2009 by · Comments Off on Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the First Moon Landing 

40th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing

40th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing

July 20, 2009 will mark the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon. My home state of Florida has several air and space attractions which educate as well as entertain visitors.

During NASA’s early years astronauts trained at Cape Canaveral, Florida perhaps remembered as Mission Control Center. Later, training facilities moved to Houston, Texas, but the Cape still boasts the official launch site and the Kennedy Space Center.

The Kennedy Center deserves a full-day visit featuring the Shuttle Launch Experience. If you dare, board the ride that simulates the sights, sounds and the sensation of launching into space. While at the complex visit NASA’s spaceport facilities, see towering rockets and IMAX space films. Several times a day you have the opportunity to meet and talk, often a question-and-answer session, with an astronaut.

Astronaut and the American Flag on the Moon

Astronaut and the American Flag on the Moon

On Thursday, July 16. Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11; Charlie Duke, Apollo 16; Al Worden, Apollo 15; Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14; and Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7, will celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch at Kennedy Space Visitor Complex, and mark the opening of a new exhibit at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the Apollo Treasures Gallery. The new gallery showcases treasures from the Apollo moon missions. For more information go to Apollo-40th Anniversary.


Shuttle Blasts- Off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida

With some pre-planning and good weather, you might be lucky enough to watch a shuttle launch; information and dates are available at

In Titusville, six miles west of the space center, you’ll find Kennedy Space Camp (for kids and adults) and the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. This locale houses memorabilia and tells the stories of the American space pioneers.

Visit Central Florida to taste Moon Soup at Chalet Suzanne Inn and Restaurant. Lunar Module pilot Jim Irwin grew particularly fond of the Inn’s romaine soup and chose it for his space menu. NASA freeze-dried the creamy green broth and carried it aboard Apollo missions. They make and sell Moon Soup at their own cannery on the property.

In nearby Polk City discover Fantasy of Flight, 30 minutes from Orlando. This interactive museum offers a chance to soar into the wild blue yonder by donning a helmet, goggles, and white scarf and slipping into an open cockpit bi-plane. A pilot takes you for a ride reminiscent of The Red Barron. Be sure to inquire about hot-air balloon rides, too.

Family Fun at Fantasy of Flight, Central Florida

Family Fun at Fantasy of Flight, Central Florida

Fantasy of Flight houses over 40 rare vintage aircraft which are often flown in weekend aerial demonstrations. Visitors can immerse themselves into a multi-sensory sight and sound journey through WWI trenches and a WWII pre-bomb mission brief. Veterans love this place.

Florida’s Space Coast, as the Cape Canaveral area is called, sits just 45 minutes east from Orlando. There are miles of pristine beaches and the largest sea turtle nesting area in the country.

Other events commemorating the lunar landing anniversary are being held at: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC., the NASA Space Center Houston; the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio; the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.


One small step for man...

The JFK library offers a fabulous re-creation in real time on the Web at The site goes live at 8:02 a.m.on July 16th, 90 minutes before the anniversary launch of Apollo 11. Visitors can see animated re-creations of key events and browse video clips and hear radio transmissions between the astronauts and NASA flight controllers.

And if you want to plan a lunar dinner party please visit Mimi’s food blog for ideas.


St Marys, Georgia: Small Town with Big Connections

July 5, 2009 by · Comments Off on St Marys, Georgia: Small Town with Big Connections 

Cumberland Lady

Cumberland Lady

Everyone's wired these days: my husband works from his laptop, my daughter texts from her cell phone–while listening to her i-pod, I use Facebook to stay current with my friends and my 89-year-old mother sends e-mail. Goodness! Sometimes we need to disconnect.

Nearby Cumberland Island is the place to escape, but you can't get there from here. No, you've got to go to St. Marys, because St Marys is the hub, the little town with big connections.

The National Park Service runs a ferry from the wharf of St Marys to Cumberland Island. The barrier island, whose domain name ought to be www.wilderness beach, lets you become the browser on her shores. Search for wild horses, shells, loggerhead turtles and historic mansions. On Cumberland, bikes are the high-speed mode of transportation.

You must obtain a permit to camp overnight, or else you'll have to return home. Some prefer to stay at the only hotel, the elegant Greyfield Inn. The lodge requires a two-night stay and provides guests with a private water taxi.

St Marys is just 20 minutes north of the Jacksonville airport making it easy to reach the quaint seaside village. I felt like I'd stepped back to pre-computer days when the pace was slower and somehow more personal.

Marianne's Cafe


In St Marys colorful cottages line tree-shaded streets, yards are nicely kept, and people ride around in golf carts, for heaven sakes. Meander her sidewalks and you'll find Market on the Square- the general store, the Riverside Cafe which serves breakfast all-day, a cigar company, bait shop, bookstore, gift shops and a saloon.

Pirate Welcome at Goodbread's B&B

Pirate Welcome at Goodbread

Of course the most relaxing way to spend the day on Cumberland
is to plan a full weekend retreat. Spend a night in one of many St Marys B & B's, such as the Goodbread House, a Victorian style inn. Mardja, the proprietor, serves a scrumptious breakfast in time to catch the 9 AM ferry. But if you must, Goodbread's offers free WiFi!

Another connection to and from St Marys links with Fernandina. The new Cumberland Sound Ferry transports people while they listen to an ecosystem narrative and cross into beautiful Georgia low-country. Sometimes passengers get lucky and spot a submarine from Kings Bay Naval Base.

Save a day this summer and drive to St Mary, then access Cumberland Island. It is definitely the place to shut-down.

St. Marys Harbor

St. Marys Harbor

This article appeared in the July 2009 edition of The Mandarin Newsline.

If You Go: St. Marys Welcome Center and Visitor Information Cumberland Island National Park

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