Karen Pirie

A while ago, I saw a terrific crime series on BritBox called Karen Pirie. The heroine, Pirie, is a Scottish detective trying to solve a complex crime despite the obstructive behavior of her superiors. The lead actress, Lauren Lyle, portrays a “refreshingly normal and charmingly unfashionable character” and is excellent. I am hoping for another season.

New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam is a medical drama that is currently playing on Netflix. Set in New York City, the show occurs in a fictional public New York hospital modeled after Bellevue. Originally on network TV, the series recently came to the streaming device.

Mental health providers may like the show because it portrays the problems inherent in delivering competent care within bureaucratic obstacles, staff issues, and underfunding. The show is unafraid to tackle complex, thorny problems permeating our society. These include gender, drug abuse, family violence, and racism.

Though the series chronicles serious issues, it does so with compassion, considerable humor, and fascinating characters. The lead actor in the show is Max Goodwin, the medical director. The actor who plays him is highly skilled and does a beautiful job being irreverent, intelligent, caring, and determined.

In some ways, the show is psychologically sophisticated. However, ironically the man who plays the psychologist has an inferior script with which to work. Many of his interventions don’t make sense and are unrealistic.

Though new Amsterdam has shortcomings, I have found it entertaining, moving, and engaging. The show could rightly be criticized for providing too many feel-good outcomes, and some scenes are unrealistic. For example, the patients wander freely around the hospital, including the ER. Some staff relationships are convoluted and hard to imagine in a hospital.

Try the show and see what you think.

Crossword Puzzles

They say crossword puzzles are food for the aging brain. Is that true? A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that people with mild memory problems who did web-based crossword puzzles showed improvement in cognition and experienced less brain shrinkage, compared to those who played web-based cognitive games. For commentary on this study see an article from Harvard Health Publishing entitled Have You Done Your Crossword Puzzle Today?

Whether crossword puzzles improve cognition or not, they are fun and engaging. I started doing them a few years ago, beginning with easy puzzles. Gradually I worked on puzzles that were harder as I learned the ins and outs of the puzzles. 

The creators of crosswords have certain tricks one has to learn to do them. They like words that have double meanings depending on the context. One has to think beyond the obvious. It also helps to be up on pop culture as questions often focus on film and music stars.

Many daily puzzles like those from the Washington Post become more challenging through the week. I only want to spend so much time on crosswords, so I stay away from ones like the Sunday New York Times.

Some fun puzzles found on the internet are:

The Washington Post
The Atlantic
USA Today


I have talked with some friends who have thought about taking up golf in retirement. If you enjoy being outdoors, hitting a ball around without much concern about how competent you become, then do it. See an instructor, get some tips on clubs, take a few lessons and go for it! Whether one takes up the sport or not depends greatly on who you are.

On the other hand, if you want to be a good player who is competitive with peers, give the decision some thought. Unless you are a gifted athlete, you can count on hours of practice and instruction at times without too much progress. Taking on the game takes a considerable time and financial commitment. It is an exciting game that can be very satisfying, but it is daunting.

Be a Seal!

Are you looking for an adventure? Good swimmers, listen up! Drive to the Marine Room in La Jolla Shores. There is public beach access on the east side of the restaurant. Swim to La Jolla Cove. You can stop there and walk back or make a return swim. The current and swim fins help to make the swim relatively easy. Wear a wetsuit for warmth and buoyancy. 


View from Marine Room at La Jolla Shores to La Jolla Cove.


Borgen, a political drama about Denmark is on Netflix. Everything about it is top drawer. It is on my top three list of streaming series!

I have been re-watching the Danish series Borgen. The story centers around a woman who tries to juggle being a wife and mother with her job as Prime Minister. Sidse Babett Knudsen, the acclaimed Danish actress, plays the prime minister, Birgitte Nyborg, and she is superb. The rest of the cast delivers excellent performances, though it is Knudsen who sets the tone of the series. Borgen gives viewers insight into a political system different than our own though the process of politics which drives the system is universal. The series is realistic and gritty and hard to stop watching.