Otus Variation #5: Lotus berthelotii

A beautiful ground cover with silver foliage, and scarlet pea-like flowers native to the canary islands and to cape Verde. I have tried to grow in the Adelaide Hills but our summers seem too hot and harsh for it to really thrive here.

Matt on Not-WordPress, mostly photos

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Life Starts at 77 for Pop-Star.

Pop-Star with one of Australia's most influential women.

Pop-Star with one of Australia’s most influential women.

Moya Dodd shows one of the secrets to her amazing rise to fame. She shows her appreciation to Pop-Star.

The children of today, growing up in our midst, are a never ending source of amazement to me, their ability to learn, their skills, and almost unlimited potential for achievement.


Moya Dodd is Australia’s first representative on FIFA’s executive committee. Source: News Limited

 MOYA Dodd demurs at the suggestion she’s the most powerful Australian in world football.

“I don’t think of myself as powerful,” she says, before clarifying. “I don’t think of it as power, I think of it as responsibility.”

However Dodd defines it, her CV suggests she has is a fair dollop of both. She is the first Australian on the executive committee of FIFA – the most powerful decision-making body in world football –as well as the first female board member of both the Asian Football Confederation and Football Federation Australia. This comes after a decorated playing career that saw Dodd rise to become vice-captain of the national team and named in the Matildas Australian Team of the Decade for the 1990s.

It a fair effort for a “half Chinese kid growing up in the western suburbs’’ of Adelaide in the 1970s.

In an effort to define her influence, Dodd tells the story of her visit last year to the Iranian capital, Tehran, to speak at a football conference. The Iranian theocracy is not well-disposed to women when it comes to sporting matters. Indeed, Iranian women are banned from attending stadiums to watch matches.

After Dodd tweeted she was heading to Iran to speak, she says she was inundated with requests that she should advocate on behalf of Iranian women who wanted to go to the football.

“I was getting Facebooked and tweeted and emailed by people that I didn’t know,” she says. “People from inside Iran, people from outside Iran, pointing out this state of affairs and asking me to do something about it.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was also heading to Iran. For those outside football circles it can be hard to appreciate the pull Blatter has around the world. In essence, he is treated as a head of state wherever he goes. The sporting equivalent of the Pope.

So before the conference started, Dodd pigeonholed Blatter and asked him to raise it with the Iranian government as a priority.

“He nodded and I wasn’t sure if that meant he would or he wouldn’t, but he certainly took on board the thoughts – and sure enough he did,” she says.

And when he did announce that he had asked the Iranian government to reconsider the ban it made headlines worldwide.

“To have the president of FIFA raise an issue with the president of Iran about women’s rights in football was something I was really pleased to be part of. To me that was part of what these positions on FIFA can yield.’’

Staving off Alzheimer’s disease.

It may be too much to expect that major degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases can be prevented just by mental exercises. However there can be no excuse for ignoring  the problem, and not doing all we can to research the benefits of brain exercises.
Please read this article carefully, and think about what you can do to stay alert and “with it” as you age.

Brain exercise vital: Use it or lose it, visiting expert Dr Michael Merzenich warns Australians

Updated Fri 28 Feb 2014, 2:34pm AEDT

A neuroscientist is warning people need regular brain exercise to help ward off health risks such as senility as they age.

Australians generally are living longer, healthier lives than ever before but visiting American neuroscientist Michael Merzenich warns work is needed to maintain functioning into old age.

Dr Merzenich, emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of California, says the burden of rising demands on the health system could become economically and socially unsupportable.

“By the time you reach your 85th birthday about half of us will need continuous care, [so] have to think about maintaining our abilities and capacities,” he said.

I think it is possible to keep most people in good stead from brain health to the point where their brain span can equal their life span

Dr Michael Merzenich

On a visit to South Australia, Dr Merzenich warned medical advances of the past century had dramatically increased the average life span but had largely ignored brain function.

His research has found people who frequently exercise both physically and mentally can maintain healthy functions deep into retirement.

“We are in the middle of a grand experiment,” he said of the ageing population.

“I think it is possible to keep most people in good stead from brain health to the point where their brain span can equal their life span.”

Dr Merzenich has pointed to his Australian friend Rex Lipman, now in his 90s and still working.

To keep physically fit, Mr Lipman plays tennis but twice per day he also takes time to exercise his brain, doing online puzzles and problem-solving.

“It exercises the neurons of the brain, making them move,” Dr Merzenich said.

“Loss of cognitive response is caused by neurons that are no longer healthy and growing and instead of being plastic and soft like when we were young, they get hard and stiff and we don’t hear as well, see as well or taste as well.”

Dr Merzenich says Mr Lipman is “an Australian treasure” and has applauded his friend’s zeal for preaching the value of regular brain exercise.

In recent days in Adelaide, the pair have been taking their message to high school students, staff and students of the University of Adelaide and a gathering the science hub, RiAus, the Royal Institution of Australia.