Braindamage – Broken memory and remembering things.

Frequently I get asked how I remember things with my broken short term memory. The short answer is , I make a list. In this little article I’m getting into the subject of lists and how to go about them. Not making too much or too few lists and what not.

This is purely my way of getting by with memory disfunction and a lot of the stuff is applicable for people with fully functioning brains as well. Because everyone’s mental energy drops during the day. And in the end only sleep can recharge the brain.

It’s also nog a ‘one size fits all’ solution. There are lot’s of variations within the field of memory and how to memorize stuff. This is just a representation of how I do it. And I hope some of you will get some inspiration for managing ones own memory deficiency. We all have it. We all forget stuff.

I thrive with stability, a good nights sleep, a steady day planning. And my day to day is where my first list comes around the corner. My weekly planning. It’s a weekly representation of what I’m doing that week. The must do’s and how much time a have for other stuff which I can use to plan things. Or not.

I am working with a fairly simply point system. During my recovery period I have experimented with how much an activity costs energy wise. For my daily load balance I derived the number 28 from these experiments. So in order to be able to get on the next day and be my cheery self I don’t want to go over that number.

So I have a maximum points in cognitive energy which is set to 28. My Energon (Transformers reference !) so to speak. I can use these point during my day and must not go over them. For example, reading an easy book for half an hour , minus 1 point, A hard one minus 2. Outdoor appointment 3 points down.

I can also collect points by resting, well not totally, like mediation for 15 minutes 0,5 points added, running for an hour 1 point added. All adding and subtracting towards the 28 total points available.

So that’s the rundown of the first list. It’s not an exact science by the way, it’s my guideline for the week. There are weeks which will be better, or weeks that are worse. But staying near to the 28 points will mean the majority of my weeks should be stable.

But there are more lists, a list for when I set foot outside my door. Which contains of stuff I need to bring. Phone, keys, wallet, headset and so on. That list has been replaced by a ready to go bag which contains most of these items. Basically a list in a different form. Always ready for its purpose.

There is a list for whatever pops in my mind. So stuff that comes to mind and I want to remember. It’s basically the collection of my short term memory.

Within my daily planning there is stuff to do. Which will get on a to do list. I really hate that list as it is the never-ending list of lists. It gives you the feeling that you are never finished. Which you are not. But this can be contained.

I have a small to do list which only contains 3 items , which have the most priority at that time. Ones I completed these 3 I trash the list. Which means I have finished something.

Breaks , my and everyones best friend. It’s impossible for me and the rest of us to be fully cognitively active at a high leven all day long. Yes even for the superstars among us. Cognitive energy declines during the day. And recharging only really occurs when sleeping. Processing the experiences of the day takes place during our sleep. And we have to process it all in order to recharge.

Taking breaks have the function of recharging in between. So in my planning they are there all during the dat. These have 0 in value, so they don’t do anything against the decrease of my cognitive energy. Only meditation and exercise will do that.

The one thing you must remember is not to start the to do list and knowing you cannot finish it. It leaves an open ended task at the end of the day which will haunt the mind during the rest of the day. So quitting earlier sometimes is not a problem.

If you are doing a high cognitive energy task, plan it strict. Make sure there are no distractions. Mail off, phone out of reach, take a break before starting , stop when the planned time is up.

Someone which has trained for doing high cognitive energy tasks has about 4 hours of real energy during the day to do these effectively. So going over that time hardly does the job any good, grinding it out for 8 hours might be fun for the hashtag ‘#alwaysbusy’ but really does not do you any favors. The elimination of distractions does.

The day planning and to do lists are what you can do at the maximum of one day. And very important, leave room for unexpected stuff, You can’t plan a day from dusk till dawn with pre planned activity’s , meetings take longer, so then also do breaks. You must not skip breaks. The day needs to breath , have room to grow or shrink. Otherwise you will loose steam and energy and that all takes away from doing stuff properly , and your day will be run by the unexpected.

Practical lists, or more notes are the final variety in my list repertoire. I write a daily entry in my journal which has all the stuff I did, my mental and physical state and whatever thoughts need writing down.

Besides the journal , I write when I read books. For some just a quick scribble to remember some things so I don’t need te re-read pages and get on reading. And notes when reading books I need for future reference. The things I want to remember I take notes and later I will work these notes out till full blown notes which takes a larger picture into account. I have a lot of summary’s of books I read. Very handy if I want to revisit some of the knowledge.

I used to memorize a lot and could revisit a lot out of the top of my head, nowadays that is very hard, and writing helps me with this proces.

Finally, write the lists and notes on paper, with a pen, or pencil. Not in digital formats. Not in an app, not in words excel or whatever just write it down.
Ok maybe just a format for the weekly planning, but fill it out by hand.

Writing as an activity, etches the writings in the brain. And amazingly enough also in my damaged brain. So buy notebooks in all shapes and sizes and start writing.

This is the first epistle about life with brain damage and the practical side of things all people can benefit from. Nobody has endless amounts of (cognitive) energy. But with some simple methods you can improve some aspects.

Sunday reading – Moneyland

I have done some book reviews in the past and I am back with another one. Combining 2 of my favorite things economics and investigative journalism. In this excellent book by Oliver Bullough , Moneyland , the shady world of the ‘off-shore’ industry is the subject, it has created a whole new paralel world where extremely rich people can hide money, assets and change citizenship while they are at it.

It has been fueled by the collapse of the former colonies, and communism. What started with the increasing desire not too pay taxes has grown into a monster where oligarchs , dictators alongside global company’s hide their profits from country’s.

It’s painfully clear that the growing inequality , outdated concepts like nation states and their laws are outpaced by instant global money transfers, a willing and able army of lawyers, accountants and other experts ready too advise some very shady people hide everything.

It’s like trying too outrun a formula 1 car. It’s time for a global overall in the way we think and act on these sorts of fraud. Because it maybe not fraud if you look at the letter of the law , but’s it’s sailing true giant omissions in the different laws in different country’s at the least. And fraud and criminality at it’s worse.

All written in a sharp and understandable way, it’s a pageturner and one I highly recommend if you want too have some insight in how money moves around the globe.

Option trade diary #2 – ASR

ASR this time, an insurance company from the Netherlands, one that hasn’t been on a lot of radars. Most people look towards bigger firms like NN, or Munich Re in Germany. To name just 2. For me ASR has been interesting for some time now. People always need insurance and as an insurance company ASR is doing a nice job. It’s been up in recent years due to good results and product development. Also the margins are pretty good. So is the dividend.

Recently the stock has been under pressure due too interest rate concerns and general turmoil. Which means people buy up bonds and this impact insurers , amongst others. As the market always has a bit of a knee jerk reaction, I think this stock will be recovering , and if not I am happy owning a few. So I sold a put option
for December 2019 strike price 34 euro’s. For which I received 165 euro’s.

It’s now a matter of time, either I will have too buy at 34, roll the option for another time in the future or receive the premium. Either way I will be content. Especially with the last possibility. Let’s wait and see.

July 2017 – Dividend

August 2017 again, so it’s time for the monthly dividend rundown. Dividend slightly behind compared to last year. Mainly because of exchange rates, the dollar is pretty cheap at the moment which reflects in the 17% degrease in dividend amount. This is because I have to convert the dollars back to euros. Maybe I should check the possibility of hedging against these risks. Now the list 🙂 Until next time !

Overview :

28-07-17 Dow Chemical Company EUR 3,93
27-07-17 Walt Disney Company EUR 0,60
26-07-17 Cisco Systems EUR 6,94
25-07-17 General Electric Company EUR 4,51
14-07-17 W.P. Carey Inc USD EUR 8,55
06-07-17 Unibail-Rodamco EUR 5,10
05-07-17 Vanguard FTSE All-World UCITS ETF EUR 1,43
03-07-17 Coca-Cola Company EUR 4,74

Totaal EUR 35,80

Running again

After a couple of months of knee problems and general fatigue I did a little run this past Tuesday, just to see if my knee would hold up. It did. It was a bit sore the day after but not in ways it was before. I could walk normally without any pain and put pressure on my knee. So now I can slowly pick up running again. And start building some strength in my knee with some nice and boring exercises.

It felt good to out running again and I realized how much I missed it and how big the impact is on my mind. Just that slow 30 minutes running made me feel so much better. Strange how this works.
I am now working on a nice little training schedule, 3 times a week for now and some core training. Already found a few inspiring running books to read while I am working on my fitness.
It’s nice to know I can stick to a plan again.

Modern Football , finally some good news ?

Modern football, a term that’s almost old school again. It’s against a lot of things. Modern stadiums , modern stadium catering, seating , ticket prices, idiotic hired stewards eh hosts and hostesses. And a lot of other things, let’s not forget the bans , mandatory away travelling arrangements. The lot basically. It used to be better, so much better. Standing in the wind, rain , and cold. Drinks and food sold out or robbed out at half time. Waiting at the tickets office for hours on end hoping to get a ticket to European matches. You get the picture although I might have overstated some of the above. Everybody has their own more or less romanticized view on days past.

Today it was announced the 4 most important football nations in Europe will have 4 places each for the Champions League. You know the competition for the champions of the different European leagues. Didn’t know we had 4 in each. I know, I know it’s been a silly name for a number of years now.

The smaller country’s will lose more once again. This has been an ongoing process. In the Netherlands every club in the 90’s envisioned European titles in their ambitions, building new expensive stadiums. Building mountains of debt and subsequently getting in a lot of distress. But sports as a business is a reality, has been for some time and everyone was looking to the US for examples of how to run a sports business. Club managers attended seminars , conferences and got their heads filled with silly ideas, supporters are customers, hospitality packages and all seater stadiums. Some Football clubs even went on the stock market. Forgetting one thing, the supporters.

Supporting a team in Europe means something vastly different then in the US. In the big 3 sports anyway. In the US people can move teams around the country, from Oakland to LA and back again as was the case with the Raiders. In my view there is a bit of a culture behind it. For me there was.

In any case , money took over in Europe. League tickets are expensive and the former working class Saturday/Sunday adventures became unobtainable for a lot of people. Well Saturday turned into Monday , Tuesday and other every day of the week basically. But people have to work. You can’t be expected to travel half way across the country on a Monday for a 7PM kick off. Most of us not anyway.

One important aspect of being a supporter of a club is the social element. Most people who end up going to the fixtures where either taken by their parents, other family or just decided to go with friends. All at a young age. For a small amount of money you could go enjoy the atmosphere , the build up, watch a game and share the stories for years and years to come. Friendships for life are forged and now matter what you will always follow that club. More or less with the same people season in and out. Whether it be a local team or one of the bigger clubs. For what ? the Football, no off course not it’s the social side of things. Meeting up , seeing old friends , reminiscing on old stories. Sharing experiences and beer.

The big leagues are getting too expensive for young people to really get attached to a club. Watching it on TV will not let you make any new friends, experience the days out (far more fun most of the time than the actual match.) and feel the energy of those once in a lifetime victories in the dying seconds of a cup final. Bringing your kids is too expensive, and they will not choose a club , but a player so you end buying another team’s shirt every season because your kids favourite player just moved. For another record braking sum of money. And this is very wrong.

But ….

In the smaller competitions and countries ousted of the champions league due to the new rules, I see a lot of room for improvements. At first it will be a lot less. Some fans will lose their European away games. Which I must admit are legendary. Less money from TV, sponsors and everything else. As a club you will probably have to sell all of the talent every season , and that maybe a bit of an annoyance.

Less money from all those distractions will hopefully achieve the following, and I know I will stretch it a bit here. Quality games will not be readily available any more. After a few seasons most of the tourists will stay away, thus leaving the clubs with the few die-hards who are willing to sacrifice all of their money for a season ticket. Eventually prices will have to come down, in other words getting people to go to the stadium on a very regular basis will be the main source of income. The rotten dialogue between most club boards and their supporters will have to be restored. Supporters will once again have a say in clubs , idiotic Monday night games will be a thing of the past. Everyone will play on a Saturday (sorry personal preference , in my case Sunday’s 14:30 would be the real old school way) and thus have time for a night out afterwards.

Competitions will be far more exciting because most teams will be equally good (or bad). Parents will bring their kids again, they will make friends and after a few years will start going with their friends and make new friends, all friends for life. And so on , The balance of old is restored and new stories will be told for years to come.

Portfolio news – July 2016 additions

This month I have added some to an existing position again, first off Ahold Delhaize, which has finalized the merger in July and had an reverse split, there are now less stock available and I got extra dividend. Also less shares. In order to balance this out again I added to this position. I remain very positive about this stock.

I also added to the vanguard dividend appreciation ETF, It’s an product that is composed out of stocks that generate dividends, I do this when I have small amounts of cash left and it’s a low cost way of getting invested and be diversified at the same time. It’s ideal for everyone who doesn’t view finance and investing as a hobby. Because it’s low cost and maintenance free you really don’t have to pay attention and just add on a regular basis. Research shows it’s one of the best if not the best way to be invested, just buy an ETF that follows the index or is based on generating income.

Since I enjoy this as a hobby I tend to buy stocks rather than just ETF’s or other things like mutual funds and index funds. But if you are not, index and income ETF’s are a very good way of investing without having to do all the research into individual securities. And over time the ETF’s probably do better than my hand-picked selection. For me it’s also about the fun of doing the research. Time will tell.

The last addition to the portfolio is Bayer, which is a German company that is active in Healthcare and Agriculture , life science as it is described. It has a history of excellent growth and dividend keeps on going up, it has a good cash flow and isn’t high in debt. It’s maybe a bit on the expensive side at the moment, but I thinks that is generally the case in today’s markets.
Since this is a portfolio for the long term I am not to concerned about the price, and this stock is near it’s year lows so it’s not way too high.

So that’s it for this month, now on to the research for the next additions.

June 2016 – Dividend

A new month new dividends. It is starting to get a bit more every time. Last few months have been good, it’s not that I can retire but it is slowly but surely growing.
So these are the figures from June.

Dividends without the tax:

1-jun Dividend (UNILEVER DR) EUR 3,20
9-jun Dividend (MICROSOFT CORPORATION) EUR 3,27
10-jun Dividend (EMERSON ELECTRIC COMPA) EUR 4,32
16-jun Dividend (ICAHN ENTERPRISES L.P.) EUR 1,36
27-jun Dividend (RDSA dvd reinvestment plan) EUR 41,72
27-jun Dividend (VANGUARD DIV APPRECIAT) EUR 1,22

Total EUR 55.09

Running and recovery

Since my encephalitis I have been suffering from concentration problems, analytical and problem solving issues, among other things. My recovery has gone fairly steadily upwards in the beginning but now is stalling a bit. One thing that is helping me a lot is exercising. Especially running. It helps me regaining my energy and makes me feel very happy. As my Paris marathon got cancelled I have now selected a new Marathon as a nice goal to work towards. It’s not going to be an attempt on my PR, the aim is to get across the finish line in one piece.

My recovery experts told me I have to select a goal to work towards and that there should be no pressure. So this is what I selected. I will keep a log of my training activity and share my thoughts on how it’s affecting me in general and towards the recovery.