Aging Well in the Gorge October 21st 2020

You may remember this Emo Philips quote that I’ve shared before. “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” 

The brain is an incredible organ controlling most of the activities of the body, processing, integrating, and coordinating the information it receives from the sense organs, and making decisions as to the instructions sent to the rest of the body.

But one of the non-essential but entertaining things it can do is to unscramble the scrambled words in a sentence. For example, see if you can read what appears to be a non-sensical passage that has circulated on social media since 2003.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. 

This ability to comprehend text despite spelling errors and misplaced letters in the words even has a name: Typoglycemia, (How they came up with a name that uses “typo” and the condition of having low blood sugar, beats me.)

But it is not true that only “the first and last letters need to be in the right place”. As in most everything, it’s more complicated than that. One of the factors explaining why we can ‘magically’ read the passage is because that organ between our ears reads words as whole units, not letter-by-letter. And more importantly, our brains are wired to find meaning by looking at contextual cues and using the predictability of the passage.

So as a little diversion, here is a test to see how well you can handle typoglycemia. And since context and predictability are so important, I’ll make this exercise easier by using the familiar five steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 found on the North Central Public Health District website (

1. Calen oyur hdnas otefn wiht ospa and hto wtaer or hdan sezniatir rttah cinoatns at least %60 loocahl

2. hWsa yruo surcfaes and pslecas of hghi trfiafc otefn uchs as oodr kosnb hitw osap and atewr

3. Advoi coesl ocnatct, stay hmoe as mchu as ssobpile and geiv sacpe to oehtrs wneh minvog aornud drungi eneassitl irtps

4. veCro oucsgh and nzeeses

5. Syta at home and aerw a aafksemc, and clla yruo mcdeial ovprdrei if yuo are sick

Another joke from Earline Wasser’s collection which some of you may be able to relate to.

My wife said that my granddaughter has me wrapped around her little finger. I said, “That’s not true. I said ‘no’ to her just yesterday.” “What did she ask you?” She asked me if there was anything I wouldn’t give her.” 

The game that is played on a felt mat with small plastic colored discs where you flipped discs into a pot is Tiddlywinks. I received correct answers from Jeanne Pesicka, Chuck
Rice, Lois Dunsmore, Jean Harmon, Dick Lafever, Pat Kelly, Jim Tindall, Kim Birge, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Jerry Phillips, and Portia Masterson this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Jeanne Pesicka.

If you were living during the 60s, which I imagine most of you were, you will remember the scandalous affair between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who at that time was married to Eddie Fisher who had notoriously left Debbie Reynolds to marry Taylor. (It gets complicated!) For this week’s “Remember When” question, during the filming of what movie did the affair begin? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of the so-called Taylor-Burton diamond (or the actual diamond if you have it) that Richard Burton gave Taylor in 1969 and was valued at over a million dollars.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to keep the spring in my step. Until we meet again, as Carole King sang in 1971, “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face”.

“I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.”  Linda Ellerbee


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