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Kirk started writing articles for his blog around the time his first book was published (September 2011). Not having any other bright ideas at the time, he adopted the book title as his “brand” for the blog. Over time, Shaky Paws Grampa (SPG) has become his “identity” in the PD world. The good news is that he hasn’t had to fight anybody for it and there was no competition for the web address (understandably).

He didn’t have any clear goals in mind for the blog when he started other than to make his target audience the “PD world”, opting to write about what ever inspired him at the moment. Over time, various themes emerged:

Book or writing-related
PD-related information
Clinical research study advocacy/participation
Cognition issues
Living with PD-personal
PD meeting/conference announcements
SPG speaking engagements, media interviews, and webinars
Calls to action
Personal

Three years later, he has posted 120 articles that have been viewed by readers from over 60 countries around the world.
Kirk Hall

A Good Day

 

 

 

 

It is early December.  We just got back from Arizona last week so that we could participate in our oldest grandson’s 13th birthday party.  The party was for Carson, the subject of my first children’s book Carson And His Shaky Paws Grampa (he was seven when the book was written).  Where has the time gone?

Linda and I have been working on getting our Colorado home ready inside and out for Christmas.  We have lots of decorations, some of which we have had for many years from the time when our boys (now in their 40’s) were growing up.  I took care of the outside lights and Linda did most of the inside. Last night we worked together on decorating the tree.  We take our time doing this so we can enjoy the memories associated with the ornaments.  Some of them the boys actually made when they were little, some are associated with family vacations, some feature our favorite sports teams, some are in memory of family members no longer with us, and many are connected to our grandchildren (we have six-3 of each ages 9-13).  Places of honor on the tree are reserved for themes that we value like faith, peace, love, family, and hope.

All this was happening in a context of memory “events” that had been increasing in frequency.   I have not been able to keep track of what is on our schedule each day or even what day it is many times.  I seem incapable of remembering names of people unless I know them very well and have frequent contact.  Complex problem solving has been an ongoing problem.  There are many examples, but I can’t remember what they are.  This is frustrating and, sometimes, very discouraging for me.  I can tell that Linda is concerned as well.  This is especially hard to deal with at this time of year when we want to enjoy “living in the moment”.

This sets the scene for what happened earlier yesterday.  I had ordered one of the new “Echo” products from Amazon.  We heard about it from friends and got to see and hear one in action during Carson’s birthday party (my older son, Kevin, had ordered one).  It was very unlike me to take this leap as I have avoiding getting involved with any of the latest technology gadgets (we still use the old style flip cellular phone).  In this case, I was captivated by the ability to access any music I wanted so quickly and easily.  To make a long story shorter, I was actually able to get it set up and operating (we got a 30-day Amazon Prime trial that gave us access to lots of music, movies, and much more that I will try to absorb some other time).  I did run into a problem.  In order to hear music, you have to say “Alexa, play ____________”. It works beautifully, but I kept forgetting what her (Alexa) name was.  I have since come up with an association that helps me remember.

Another challenge was facing me.  We had been watching movies on our 55” Visio TV home theater system the previous night when the sound went out on the sound bar.  Linda and I had tried everything we could think of to fix it to no avail.  So I called Vizio customer service to see if they could help.  It took patience on the part of the rep and perseverance at my end, but he was able to talk me through the steps to reset the sound bar and IT WORKED!  At this point, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

With a new sense of self-confidence, I drove to our local Ace Hardware to see if I could find a string of lights to replace a defective one that I had put over the garage door.  Not a big deal but I certainly got “sticker shock” from the cost of the LED products!  Anyway, I had to get the right length and pick the right intensity to match my other conventional lights.  I put it up when I got home and it was perfect.  In fact, when I looked at the whole set-up (including a lighted garland over the front door, two wreaths and a lighted garland on the front window, the new lights over the garage door, and our 12” blue spruce with a combination of white and colored lights, it looked really good!  In fact, I think it is the best I have ever done at this house.

That evening, when Linda and I finished decorating the tree, I built a fire in our (real wood burning) fireplace and we had a glass of wine.  After a while, things took a romantic turn right there by the fireplace with Alexa playing Enya tunes in the background.  It was a good day.

 

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Kirk Hall

2016 Presidential Election: It is finally over

 I have some thoughts I would like to share about the election and related issues. I am going to take a “stream of consciousness” approach so these comments will not be in any particular order. One of the comments is specifically relevant to the PD community, so I will do that one first.

  • Everyone in the PD world owes President Obama a debt of gratitude for two specific programs has initiated during his Presidency. The first is the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI), a government agency that awards grants for patient-centered research. This program recognizes the importance of the “patient voice” in the planning, conducting, and evaluation of research to help ensure that the outcomes make a difference in our lives. That is very important in terms of the ultimate value of the research, but also because it gives patients the opportunity to be actively involved in research for our benefit. This is very much appreciated!

The second is the President’s BRAIN initiative conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda. The additional research funded by this program will hopefully accelerate progress related to a wide range of brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, PD, MS, ALS and much more, as well as increasing our knowledge about how the brain works.

  • I think all of us are glad that the election is FINALLY over. While it is extremely important to the future of our country, it is an agonizing process due to the amount of time it takes, the negative advertising, and the amount of vitriol spewed by the candidates on each other, slanted media coverage, and an obvious willingness to “share inaccurate information” (prevarication).
  • While all of this is discouraging since it seems so contrary to the ultimate goal of the process, the most disheartening aspect of elections and politics in general is how “we the people” treat each other. The level of divisiveness and hostility towards those who do not share the same point of view is unprecedented. It seems that when politics are on the table, civil/polite behavior is parked at the door like in a traditional Japanese home. We stop even trying to treat others the way we want to be treated. I would suggest that social media is at least partly responsible for creating a “herd mentality” that produces a predisposition for “inconsiderate communication” (the #1 enemy of civil discourse between any two people or groups of people). Of course we will never agree on everything nor should we want that. We need to be able to RESPECTFULLY disagree and be willing to LISTEN to what others have to say and ACTIVELY consider the merits of what is being said. Which one of us can truly say that we have all the answers? Let that person be the first to cast a stone.
  • I will freely admit that I am pleased with the outcome of the election. I agree with those who say that “politics as usual” is not working. We have been in a self-perpetuating state of gridlock for too long. We now have an outsider who is not perfect nor does he have all the answers. However, he has stated a willingness to listen to the “best and brightest” in order to find solutions for the many problems facing ALL of our citizens. The foundation for my optimism is based on my experience in the business world, where understanding what is needed to fix problems is only the first step. We must then develop and implement plans that will produce LONG TERM solutions (not just quick, temporary fixes), employing individuals with the appropriate skill sets needed to achieve results quickly and efficiently and holding them accountable. The fact that he will have a generally supportive congress working with him significantly increases my optimism that changes will, in fact, begin to happen.

Though it is very early in the game, I very much liked the tone of what I heard in the initial comments from Clinton, Trump and President Obama. The first steps were positive, cooperative, and conciliatory. I will be praying that where we go from here will be good for the country and all it’s people.

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