From Where I Sit – GameBoy or Real Life?

As a baby boomer who happens to count my brain as one of my finer assets, I was intrigued by a recent new product announcement. It seems Nintendo has developed a new program called Brain Age to be played on their dual screen GameBoy. Journal Technology writer Steve Makris describes it as “a program for training and strengthening your brain using voice command and stylus writing with exercises and puzzles” (April 15, 2006). While not directed solely at seniors or the cognitively impaired, it appears to be getting good reviews from those groups.

But maybe this is all premature for me. At the tender age of 52, I’m juggling a lot of mental balls. Case in point, five short months ago, I began the process of setting up my first e-commerce website. Considering I was not particularly web-savvy, this could’ve gone either way. I’m pleased to report that my first web site has been published (Caution: shameless plug alert) at

To say that it’s been a steep learning curve is to seriously downplay the man-hours I’ve invested trying to get web proficient. I’ve spent more time on the Internet in the last few months than I did in my entire life prior to this venture. So much so that I’ve needed physiotherapy for repetitive stress injuries in both of my arms. I’ve also invested lotsa moola to buy expertise and coaching services, which is shortening this learning process and greatly improving my odds of success. The failure rate among Internet businesses is in the over 90 percent range. I cannot afford to be one of them.

Finding a suitable product from a wholesaler willing to drop ship was my biggest challenge. I am convinced the only reason this US supplier gave me the time of day was a very compelling email I wrote outlining my background in retail business and my realistic, level-headed plan for a web business. One of biggest disappointments is the fact that while I could probably sell to Canadians, by the time we add GST, shipping, brokerage and duty all in American dollars, the cost becomes prohibitive for all but the most affluent. I never dreamt I’d be talking to customs people or looking into NAFTA (North American Free-Trade Agreement) regulations. I never dreamt I’d be flirting with a second language – HTML (HyperText Markup Language). I didn’t know I’d be tinkering away in the back of my store adding products, writing text, and calling the hotline for help. If I knew then what I know now:..

The big challenge now is ensuring a decent, search engine ranking through keyword optimization. The ultimate goal is to convert clicks into sales. When I look back at how far I’ve come with this venture I’m truly proud and amazed. But just when I’m basking in the glow of these new-found skills, I discover there’s so much more to learn. My brain couldn’t atrophy if it tried.

And of course that’s not all I’m doing. I’ll save the rest for a future instalment of FWIS. GameBoy or real life? Either way, we need to keep learning, from where I sit.

Makris, S. (2006, April 15). Seniors test-drive Nintendo brain demon: Mental workout for people with cognitive disorders includes puzzles and exercises. Edmonton Journal. Retrieved from