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Day: January 12, 2015

“The Teenage Brain” by Frances E. Jensen, M.D. with Amy Ellis Nutt

The Teenage Brain by Frances E. Jensen

The Teenage Brain” by Frances E. Jensen, M.D. with Amy Ellis Nutt

c.2014, Harper
$27.99 / $32.99 Canada
384 pages



A stranger has moved into your house.

You’re not sure what to do about it. He raids your fridge, takes command of your television, hogs the bathroom, and leaves a mess everywhere. Sometimes, she cries for no apparent reason and other times, she erects a wall of silence.

Thing is, you knew this stranger once… then (s)he became a teenager. But read “The Teenage Brain” by Frances E. Jensen, M.D. with Amy Ellis Nutt, and you’ll welcome this familiar newcomer.

“What were you thinking?”

If you’re the parent of a teen, those four words probably exit your lips at least once a day. Teenagers are widely known for their impulsivity, mood swings, and irrationality – but why is that so?

Blame it on what’s between their ears, says Dr. Frances Jensen.

Teenagers surely look like adults. Their physical bodies can do everything adult bodies can do, but their brains are in a particular state of flux with vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses that are unique to this period of life. Teens are a “work in progress,” and what happens in their lives during this time really does matter.

Take, for instance, the fabled teen hormone issue. The truth is that teen hormone levels aren’t much different than that of their slightly older counterparts; the contrast is in how teen brains react to those hormones. Furthermore, connections aren’t finished establishing in teenage noggins, so certain brain-parts may have trouble communicating and thought processes could be differently-based – which explains reckless behavior, emotionality, and difficulty with concentration. Stress (and what high schooler isn’t stressed?) only exacerbates the situation.

The good news is that teenage brains are suited for learning, if the right amount of sleep at the right time is included in the plan. Parents should be vigilant about addictive substances (including electronics), since they have a unique effect on teen brains. Also, despite that gender equality is a hot topic, boys and girls really do differ in their domes.

To help smooth this child-to-adult transition, be proactive in your teen’s life. Don’t be afraid to embarrass him with your vigilance. Be tolerant of her mistakes and choose your battles wisely. Remember: this, too, shall pass.

Does this largely sound like common sense parenting?

Yes, I thought so, too, but “The Teenage Brain” does hold some surprises.

Authors Frances E. Jensen, M.D. and Amy Ellis Nutt offer the usual information that veteran parents probably already know or sense, but I was glad to see that they also touch upon subjects that many parenting books miss. Chapters on various kinds of substance abuse, eating disorders, mental health, electronic media, and sports concussions mix nicely with gentle advice that always bears repeating; add in results from scientific research and you’ve got a readable guide that you’ll appreciate if you’ve got a twelve-to-twenty-four-year-old around.

Astute readers may have a number of questions left unanswered but most, I think, will find this book to be very helpful. For every parent, guardian, or teacher, “The Teenage Brain” proves that your adolescent isn’t so strange after all.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

“The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors” by Henry Petrowski with photographs by Catherine Petrowski


The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors” by Henry Petrowski with photographs by Catherine Petrowski

c.2014, W.W.Norton
$27.95 / $32.95 Canada
297 pages



Remodeling never ends.

That’s a fact when you’re a homeowner. There’s always something to do, something to upgrade, some way to make a house your own. New flooring, paint, move the fixtures, add another room, and, well, you know where this is going.

But where did it begin?  Who created the place you call home?  Author Henry Petroski decided to find out, and in “The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors,” he embarks on a hunt inside his summer residence…

Henry Petroski and his wife, Catherine, had spent many a happy summer in Maine, far from their house in North Carolina. So when they decided to buy a vacation home-away-from-home, New England was where they started looking.

Petroski said they agreed that they “would happily look at any nice small… house on a nice quiet street in a nice quiet town available for a nice affordable price.”

And that nicely described the property just off Spinney Mill Road near Arrowsic.

Sitting next to the Kennebec River, the compound included a garage and a guest house. The main house had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a large living room and a huge fireplace. The view from its windows was incredible – but it had its quirks.

Ever a curious man, Petroski “became determined to uncover… elements of the original” house and to “glimpse the intent of its maker…”  Who, for instance, created handmade doors that graced the house? Why were so many boards fastened with four nails, when two would do?

He couldn’t ask the home’s builder. Bob Phinney had been dead for years.

Still, the clues were there: Petroski found cleverly engineered windows, craftily hidden nails, and walls that defied drafts. He marveled at the massive stone fireplace, and the work it took to make it. He wondered why the home’s roof was flat, in an area where heavy snow was common. He became delighted by the personality that Phinney left behind in the home.

Says Petroski, “A Mainer might say he made a wicked good house…”

Let me start by saying that I liked “The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors.”  But…

But there’s a lot of detail inside author Henry Petroski’s house and inside this book and that could be confusing for anybody who’s not a carpenter by trade or hobby. Petroski’s sleuthing is a pleasure and his glee becomes ours, too, but his use of terms without explanation seemed to assume a lot; namely, that we’d always know what he’s talking about. Yes, that’s informative – but maybe too much so.

What kept me around here was watching Petroski make friends with the long-dead Phinney and his methods. Yes, Phinney used building-overkill, but I enjoyed Petroski’s joy in finding examples of it and the respect that those findings led to.

Decorators and breezy homeowners may like this book, but I really think builders, remodelers, and fixer-upper-owners will get so much more out of it. If a house, for you, is more than just a home, then find “The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors” and make it your own.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Boozing burglar busted


Of the Keizertimes

A naked burglar who went boozing, used a shower and hot tub was captured after breaking into a second Keizer home last weekend.

The surprising part? Some of the details aren’t unique to this particular case.

Guillermo Brambila Lopez of Woodburn, 24, was arrested in the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 4 after being found breaking into a house on the 600 block of Lakefair Place North.

Sgt. Jeff Goodman with the Keizer Police Department said police received a call shortly before 5 a.m. on Sunday of suspicious activity, as the caller advised she was housesitting and was awakened by noises in the laundry room area.

“The caller stated that when she walked over toward the laundry room door, it suddenly slammed shut,” Goodman said.

The housesitter stated no one else was to be inside the residence and armed herself with a knife, calling her husband while waiting for police.

“Keizer Police responded to the home and during a search they located a naked man hiding inside,” Goodman said.

Goodman said the man, later identified as Lopez, complied with an officer’s commands. It was determined Lopez gained entry through a back window, which led into the laundry room area. He pulled the outside screen off the window and forced the window open.

After Lopez was taken into custody, Goodman said officers later discovered another house on the block also had its screen windows removed, with multiple windows found open. Officers determined no one was at the home when Lopez burglarized it.

“During a search inside the home, officers located (Lopez’s) clothing,” Goodman said. “Officers also determined that after (Lopez) had broken into this residence, he drank the homeowner’s alcohol, used their hot tub and then took a shower in the master bathroom.”

Lopez was charged with two counts of burglary and one count of criminal mischief, with a bail of $82,500.

Jeff Kuhns, deputy chief with the KPD, said officers have become somewhat used to dealing with people with a lack of clothing lately.

“Sadly, encountering individuals in various states of dress is all too common in our profession, both suspects and victims alike,” Kuhns said. “In just the last couple of months there are at least three incidents that I’m aware of, including this one, that involved naked individuals. One was a naked subject found in an apartment complex parking lot who was suffering from a mental problem. The other was a naked female who fled from a residence in the Meadows when there was a disturbance.”

Since Lopez had no clothing, officers put a yellow disposable emergency blanket around him so a picture could be taken.

“We have no idea why the suspect made his way to this Statts Lake neighborhood, but we located his vehicle parked in a neighboring driveway later on Sunday morning when a resident called us to investigate,” Kuhns said. “So far there is no known association between the suspect and victim residences or information as to why he chose Keizer.”

A burglar taking a shower in a home he just burglarized also isn’t new in Keizer. In July 2013, Francis V. Lucero was arrested when homeowners returned home and found Lucero taking a shower after breaking into their residence on Appleblossom Avenue. In that case, Lucero was arrested after a brief struggle with responding officers.

Adios! Old councilors ride into the sunset

Former City Councilor Jim Taylor chats with another veteran of the council chambers, and a city founder, Jerry McGee. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Former City Councilor Jim Taylor chats with another veteran of the council chambers, and a city founder, Jerry McGee. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Three familiar faces may have joined the Keizer City Council on Monday, but that means three left.

Mayor Lore Christopher vacated her seat after 14 years, while Jim Taylor left his council seat after 12 years and Joe Egli left after four years. Cathy Clark was sworn in as mayor and was joined by new councilors Amy Ripp, Roland Herrera and returning councilor Brandon Smith (see related story, page 1).

Christopher, Taylor and Egli are also being honored at a special celebration event Jan. 17 at Keizer Community Center, but each had some words to share in a mostly full council chambers.

Each will have their name put on a tree in Keizer, while Christopher and Taylor will also have their name on a plaque, to be placed on a bench.

Christopher offered her remarks after Clark took over as mayor. As such, the former mayor sat at the table typically designated for public comment.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this seat,” Christopher said. “It feels right. It feels good. We’ve done a great job. When I look back on my years on city council I feel nothing but pride for what we accomplished. I don’t need my name on anything. When I drive around, I say, ‘That’s mine.’ And it’s yours. It’s everyone’s. You don’t do it alone. The only way it works is when everyone works together.”

Christopher noted she has gotten to know the staff at cities around the area and feels Keizer is fortunate.

“Our staff is so much better,” she said. “(City manager) Chris Eppley is revered around the region. He has integrity, he has ethics, he has honesty. Early in my term there was a rocky road. I was concerned how it would affect my kids. Chris told me, ‘Do the right thing. If at anytime your kid is hassled for what you did, tell me.’”

Christopher also had high praise for longtime city recorder Tracy Davis.

“She is the city’s MVP,” Christopher told the new councilors. “If you treat her bad, I’ll hunt you down. This woman is the backbone to the support of the city council.”

Christopher praised city attorney Shannon Johnson as being “terrific” because he is conservative and said she loved Nate Brown, director of Community Development, “most of all” due to how he brings everyone “back to earth” after expressing wild ideas. She also praised police chief John Teague but noted, “I don’t want to see you on the street when I leave here.”

Christopher is looking forward to Keizer’s future.

“People ask me, ‘Are you sad to be leaving?’ I’m joyous to be leaving,” she said. “I’m confident of the new mayor and council. Cathy Clark will serve us well. I have no regrets, just love and thankfulness to the citizens of Keizer. Council, I have your back.”

Clark praised her predecessor.

“Lore has given so much of her life to the city,” Clark said. “She was a mom who wanted a swing in a park. Lore, you have left a mark on the city that will last for years.”

Egli recalled the first vote he was a part of.

“I was the only new guy that year,” Egli said. “It was tough to come in as the new kid. My first vote was 6-1. I was on a fence and we were voting on a fence. David McKane said vote your conscious and vote how you feel. I was on the losing side of a few 6-1 votes. This thing with urban renewal, we had to vote like 15 times. I had to vote no every single time to prove a point. Sometimes proving a point is not all it is cracked up to be.”

Egli also thanked Keizer citizens, John Rizzo, his wife, son and daughter.

“To my fellow councilors, the time and energy you put in is wonderful,” Egli said.

Taylor spoke slightly more than he did last month, but not by much.

“I just agree with everything Joe said,” Taylor said. “Thank you for the privilege. In the 12 years I’ve been here I haven’t lost any more hair. I did get a new wife (Darlene) more than 11 years ago. The most important hing we do on city council is we make change possible. People hate change. We manage change for the city. We give our time and time is the most important we have in life.”

Taylor drew some chuckles when he ended by quoting “great philosopher” Tony Romo, the Dallas quarterback who led the Cowboys to a comeback National Football League playoff win the day before.

“I’m a better version of myself,” Taylor said.