Jay Kindschi was interviewed last summer by CBS 58’s Julie Parise for a story on “digital amnesia.”

 November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Jay Kindschi reflects on the importance of stretching our minds to try to maintain cognitive awareness as we age.

By Jay Kindschi, D.C., MATC instructor of life sciences

Humanity has always been fascinated by the inner-workings of the brain.  Although many theories have been proposed in the last century, historically few can explain the brain’s incredible adaptability.

Today, modern neuroscience is revealing the intricate process by which the brain can rewire itself: neuroplasticity. The term describes a nerve cell’s ability to change its physical arrangement, forming or breaking connections with other nerve cells. When we learn something for the first time, new and fragile connections are formed between neurons within the brain. When signals flow through these circuits, pictures, memories or words form in our minds.  At the heart of every new thought, there is a unique neural circuit, bringing that thought to life.

Forming Connections

If we think about this new thing frequently enough, the circuits grow stronger and more numerous, thereby increasing the power and clarity of the thought. However, if we never have reason to use these circuits again, the neurons will release their connections and the thought will be lost.

Our emerging view of neuroplasticity shows that the brain is constantly adapting to new stimulation:  new faces, ideas, vocabulary, movements, flavors, music and physical spaces. It is the formation of new cellular connections that allows us to grasp new ideas, and the reflection on these ideas that literally wires them into our conscious mind. Occasionally, an experience is so powerful that it leads to a significant and long-lasting change in our neural circuitry. For better or worse, we come away with a whole new way of seeing the world.

Children’s Brains Are Plastic

The brain of a two-year-old is incredibly plastic, forming innumerable connections each day. At this age, a child immersed in a foreign language will learn to pronounce as flawlessly as a native speaker. However, a child introduced to the language just a few years later may struggle with the accent. Naturally, as an adult mastery of a foreign language is more difficult.

Although some regions of the brain may become less plastic over time, in many ways the brain remains structurally and functionally changeable throughout life.  Life-long learning seems to be the key to brain health and longevity. Older people who stay healthy, engaged, curious, physically and socially active are likely to maintain cognitive performance throughout life.

Brain Developments During Sleep

Neuroplasticity also is at work during sleep. The brain combs through piles of data from the previous day, deciding what is worth remembering and what is not.  Connections deemed unnecessary are pruned, but important ones are reinforced and stimulated.  It may be this nocturnal circuit testing which gives rise to our dreams.  It may be why even our strangest dreams often have one foot in reality.

Our experiences shape the connections we form, but it is our cultivation of these circuits (through reflection, rumination and rehearsal) that determines what will stay with us. Our daily choices, thoughts, mood, habits and social environment shape the neural connections upon which we depend. Our brains will change, we just decide how.



By Kevin Pulz, program coordinator, MATC television/video production and eProduction associate degree programs

Like them or not, political advertisements have been for decades and will continue to be the staple of presidential campaigns to reach potential voters.  While recent court rulings have, perhaps unintentionally, muddied the waters as to who is actually funding these ads, the form, method and goals of political advertising remain the same regardless:  Make my candidate look more palatable than the “other guy” in less than 30-60 seconds in a memorable fashion.

Negative or “comparative” advertising is very often designed to not necessarily get you to vote for whomever is ultimately supported by the message originator, but rather to persuade you to vote against the opposing candidate. This is no better represented than in the current presidential election, where staunch supporters in both the Clinton and Trump camps paint this as an election of the lesser of two evils. With polls that reveal historically low favorability numbers for both major candidates, one can certainly expect the negative onslaught to ramp up as the election draws nearer in order to convince the significant number of undecided voters.

Presidential TV Campaign Advertising Began in 1952

Presidential TV campaign advertising, as we know it know at least, is a relatively new phenomenon. Dwight Eisenhower was the first presidential candidate to appear in a TV campaign, a 1952 spot in which he “answers America.” This is a bit out of focus, but worth the watch:

These 20-second spots insisted that Washington was more or less a train wreck, and “Ike” was the guy that could clean it all up – a theme that’s been echoed now for nearly 65 years. There were also the fun, catchy-tuned cartoon spots as well that are far more memorable!

Roughly $2.25 million was spent on television advertising for the 1952 election, which translates to about $20 million in 2016 dollars – a significant sum for a fledgling TV industry.

Jump in Spending for 2016 Presidential Election

In comparison, Advertising Age magazine estimates that TV/radio/cable/satellite ad bookings between Sept. 16, 2016 and Election Day have already reached nearly $300 million – that’s in bookings alone!

Experts have postulated that this number may balloon, with the Republican presidential candidate not needing to expend his cash to date due to “free” advertising courtesy of network and cable news, allowing for a late October deluges of anti-Clinton ads. Some value this media coverage exposure of Donald Trump as saving approximately $43 billion as of late March 2016.  It is expected that spending on advertising for the 2016 presidential campaign will fall somewhere between $8-10 billion by the time the tickertape is cleaned up and you are returned to your regularly scheduled programs.

According to, Hillary Clinton ran 105,376 ads for the U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump’s 33,050, as of May 2016. There were 17,702 anti-Trump ads during the same time period. Here’s a full listing of the number of ads purchased on behalf of all the candidates for president:


Upswing in Political Advertising on Digital Devices

While we’ve become quick to reach the TV mute button, something media consumers may yet have to figure out is how to silence the campaign noise that is increasingly being funneled directly to our personal digital devices.

Predictably, the 2012 election set the record for campaign ad spending at nearly $6 billion. However, the amount spent on digital or online ads was measured as a relatively paltry $78-159 million, depending on the source and definition of “digital ads.” It is estimated that $1 billion will be spent on political advertisements for digital delivery during this campaign cycle.


(OOH refers to “out of home advertising – advertising designed to reach audiences when they are out of their homes, such as billboards, transit, street furniture, etc.)

For more information, see:

So prepare yourselves for the deluge of political advertising that is buffering right now on your phones, popping up on your favorite websites, and lining up to fill the time between your favorite broadcast and cable programs. While research still is inconclusive to whether political ads even work, candidates, PACs (political action campaigns) and third parties will ensure that they flood your life with paid political messages in the off chance that perhaps, just perhaps, you ARE that last standing undecided voter, ready to share, ready to click and ready to change the direction of this country once and for all.


By the way, if you love stepping back in time and viewing old political ads, this site has great resources for teachers and students interested in political commercials, as well as fun old school videos for the casual campaign commercial aficionado: 

LBJ’s ‘Daisy’ Ad from 1964 is particularly intriguing. It aired only once, but may have had the most impact from an advertising standpoint, as it is widely considered one of the first “attack” ads produced.

Jack Kaestner

By Jack Kaestner, MATC culinary arts instructor 

The phrase “farm to table” has become popular in recent years to describe restaurant or home cooks creating menus based on food obtained from local farms or farmers markets. Now another phrase is gaining traction – “garbage to garden.”

Many organizations, including local, state, national and international governments, are beginning to focus on food waste. As much as 35 percent of the food grown is never eaten. Some edible food is going to waste because people say, “It looks weird or has a blemish.” Businesses and organizations regularly dispose of a great deal of prepared foods left over from events.

Recent new initiatives are helping divert tons of waste to local food pantries. Major league sports teams have been leaders in the field of diverting edible food to the needy.

The other component to food waste is inedible – vegetable peelings, fruit rinds, coffee grounds and bones from meats. Between 30-35 percent of our solid waste is food waste. With landfill space at a premium and restrictions on dumping garbage in the oceans, there is a new interest in reducing overall solid waste. Governments across the world are passing laws to eliminate and/or reduce food waste.


Compost Source Corner Compost Trio

(left to right) Recent culinary arts graduates Tinnetta Garner, Delaney Trezise and Josh Faye worked on the composting project during the Spring 2016 semester. 


Culinary Arts Partners with Building Services

In January 2016, funded by a Faculty Innovation Grant and with assistance from Ginny Routhe, MATC’s sustainability manager, MATC’s Culinary Arts and Building Services departments implemented a food-composting program in the culinary labs, 6th Street Café, Cuisine Restaurant and the cafeteria prep kitchen on the Downtown Milwaukee Campus. We partnered with “Compost Crusader” and “The Farm,” which haul away and compost the college’s food waste, along with paper towels and other compostables.

After trial and error, we are now able to divert about 1,500 pounds of food waste per week during the academic year. We are able to compost onion skins; egg shells; vegetable trimmings; chicken, beef and fish bones; waxed food boxes; paper products; and table scraps.

Students and staff in Cuisine Restaurant are composting almost 80 percent of their waste. This is a learning experience for students and instructors alike. This fundamental change in handling our food waste will help MATC in its sustainability efforts. It also helps our students because our industry is looking for professionals who are knowledgeable about composting.

Compost Source Corner Horticulture Student and Instructor

MATC landscape horticulture instructor Laurie Weiss (left) works with a student on the new raised garden beds at the Mequon Campus.

Composting Source Corner raised bed

Finished compost from the MATC food waste was used to fertilize garden beds for use by a class studying organic vegetable and herb production at the Mequon Campus this summer.


Compost Nourishes MATC Landscape Horticulture Gardens

For every 20,000 pounds of food waste MATC sends to be composted, the college receives one yard of finished compost. Compost can be donated to local community gardens to help feed others. In June, the Culinary Arts department partnered with MATC’s Landscape Horticulture program. Compost was delivered to the greenhouses at the Mequon Campus and used in the new raised garden beds by a class studying organic vegetable and herb production held this summer.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to start composting. If you can’t start your own program, consider encouraging your local municipality or homeowners association to start a community composting program. Several industrial composters in the Milwaukee area handle organic waste from local business and groups.

Here are resources about composting:

Milwaukee – Recycling Organics

Major League Sport Teams and C

Eartheasy – Composting

Athens-Clarke Georgia – Composting

Commercial Composting for Large Scale

Home Composting Cornell University

Major League Sport Teams and Composting

For more information about MATC’s culinary arts associate degree program, visit:

For additional information on MATC’s culinary management program, see:

For more on MATC’s landscape horticulture associate degree, visit:


Camille Source Corner cropped 2016

By Camille Nicolai, MATC director, admissions and financial aid

Two changes in financial aid procedures are expected to streamline and expedite the process used to apply for and use financial aid.

Estimated Financial Aid Awards Ease Book Store Backups

The first is a change in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s financial aid procedures. As the result of a study to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of MATC Student Services operations, the Office of Financial Aid is now providing estimated financial aid awards, which allow students to purchase text books using a financial aid book deferment.

In the past, students randomly selected by the federal government for financial aid verification did not receive financial aid award notices until verification was complete. This caused delays in the college Book Stores because employees needed to contact the financial aid staff and enter textbook fund information manually. With the estimated award process, once a student submits all required verification documents and meets all financial aid application requirements, the student will receive an estimated award based on information listed on his/her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

The Financial Aid Office also is now expediting the notification process by emailing financial aid verification requests instead of notifying students via U.S. mail.

Federal Changes to FAFSA Allow Students to Apply for Aid Earlier and Expedite Awards  

FAFSA is the application students must complete to apply for federal student aid, which can be used to attend an eligible college, trade school or university. Federal student aid includes federal Pell Grants, federal student loans and work-study opportunities. In addition to determining eligibility for federal student aid, many states, private organizations, colleges and trade schools rely on information from the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for other sources of aid.

Last fall, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that two major changes to the FAFSA would take effect for the 2017–18 school year (July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018).

  • The FAFSA will be available earlier. (Students can apply as soon as October 1, 2016, for aid to be used during the 2017-2018 academic year. Previously, students would have to wait until January 1 of the upcoming academic year.)\
  • The FAFSA will collect income information from the tax year two years prior to the application instead of requiring students to wait for tax forms for the prior year. (Referred to as “prior prior year,” this means that students can use 2015 tax information for 2017-18 financial aid.) In the past, applicants often had to wait till April to gather tax information to apply for financial aid. Now they can file as early as Oct. 1 for the next academic year, using information from the tax year two years earlier.

Note: Applicants for 2016-17 financial aid still need to use the prior year tax information until the policy officially changes on October 1, 2016.

What Does Prior-Prior Year (PPY) Mean?

The change allows students to report tax information from a prior-prior tax year (PPY) using tax information from two years ago.

These changes are designed to allow students and their families to fill out the FAFSA form earlier so they can received financial aid packages before making decisions about attending college.

The following chart compares the current FAFSA, which operates with prior year (PY) data compared to changes beginning October 1, 2016 to prior prior year (PPY):

Prior Year (PY) (Current Policy till October 1, 2016)       Prior-Prior Year (PPY)
• Only allows taxes from previous year • Allows taxes from two years ago
• File FAFSA, must make corrections to data once taxes are filed • Taxes already filed, data is correct from previous year
• Poorly aligned with college application calendar • Better aligned with college application calendar
• Difficult to meet priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of financial aid • Removes conflicts with priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of financial aid
• Financial aid information available nearing college decision deadline dates • Financial aid information available further in advance of college decision deadlines
• Close timing causes stressful and less-informed college and financial aid decisions • Allows for more at-ease, informed college and financial aid decisions

Have questions? For more information, visit MATC’s Office of Financial Aid at or call (414) 297-8875.


Anne Sheridan 2016

By Anne Sheridan, MATC coordinator, employee wellness and risk management

Heat illness can happen to anyone at any time, indoors or outdoors. When the body cannot dispose of excess heat, it stores it. When the heat is stored, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. Factors affecting a body’s core temperature are:

  • Air temperature
  • Humidity level
  • Air speed
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Fitness
  • Medical condition
  • Acclimatization to heat

The body reacts to high external temperature by circulating blood to the skin. Skin temperature rises and heat flows out through the skin. However, if muscles are being used for labor, less blood flow is available to the skin to reduce the heat. Sweating reduces the internal body temperature, but only if the humidity level is low enough to permit evaporation and if fluids and salts lost are replaced.

Types of Heat Illness

Heat rash is sometimes called “prickly heat.” It can occur in hot and humid environments where sweat is not able to be removed from the skin. The rash usually disappears when the person returns to a cool environment.

Fainting can be a problem for people who are not acclimated to heat. If you feel dizzy or faint, sit or lie down in a cool place. Slowly drink water, clear juice or a sports beverage.  It usually takes four to seven days of regular heat or cold exposure to become acclimated to the climate.

Heat cramps happen when performing physical activity in a hot environment. They occur most commonly in the arms and legs. Muscle cramping also can happen after the person has stopped working or exercising. Whenever you are physically active in a warm environment, you need to drink water every 15-20 minutes. Drinking an electrolyte replacement (such as Gatorade) can help.

Heat exhaustion places extreme stress on the body, especially the circulatory system. Possible symptoms include:

  • Flushed face and neck
  • Clammy skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Headache, dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting

People suffering from heat exhaustion should not be left alone. Get them to a cool place to rest; remove excess clothing and rehydrate them with water or an electrolyte drink.

. The person will die if untreated. The survival rate is only 50 percent.

Heat stroke is the most serious stage of heat illness. The person will die if untreated. The survival rate is only 50 percent.

Symptoms are:

  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Red, hot and dry skin
  • Very little sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizures
  • High body temperature (105 or higher)

Call 911 immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, get the person to a cool area, apply cool water to clothes and reapply as necessary.

Mary Walgren

By Mary Walgren, MATC interior design instructor

As the weather gets warmer, our thoughts (and our lives) move outdoors. A recent trend in home design creates beautiful outdoor living spaces showcasing upholstered furniture, fireplaces, exterior kitchens and even oversized televisions!  But, how realistic is this concept for those of us living in the “frozen tundra?”

We can all embrace the dream of sipping a mojito, lounging on a crisp, white-cushioned sofa, binging on Netflix, all while surrounded by softly billowing sheer drapes protecting us from that summer sunshine. Unfortunately, in a typical Wisconsin summer, that mojito glass would be dripping, leaving water marks on the sofa. And let’s face it, that white cushion would be slightly grey from construction dust, and may even sport a few black walnut stains. Those billowing drapes would be tightly wrapped around the posts of the pergola from the high winds that triggered a recent tornado watch. And, the outdoor Netflix binge would be quickly replaced by the summer sport of swatting mosquitos!

But truly, all is not lost. Creating an outdoor oasis that can withstand a Wisconsin summer is as simple as the ABC’s.

A.  Location, location, location!

Select a spot in your yard that takes advantage of natural shade and wind barriers.  Placing outdoor entertainment space against an existing building wall gives protection from the wind while providing structure to mount an exterior, waterproof television. (Yes, they do exist!)  Natural shade, when combined with a pergola structure, will protect outdoor furniture from the heat and UV rays that can fade, dry and crack fabrics, plastics and woods.

B.  Be materialistic (in a good way)!

Exterior materials need to withstand the elements.  Is it sturdy enough to stay in place on a windy day? Can it handle rain and humid conditions, as well as sunshine? Teaks and treated lumber work well, but new resins have a similar look without as much maintenance. Indoor /outdoor fabrics are specifically designed to resist fading and have water impermeable qualities.

C.  Mix it up!

Select heavier quality pieces for your primary furnishings – the exterior dining table and the sofas. Dining chairs, occasional tables and chairs should be lighter weight so they can be easily moved around the space. Use an indoor/outdoor rug to define the space, while creating a cozy retreat on the hard concrete of your patio.  Don’t be afraid of color! Keep larger, more expensive furniture pieces in darker neutrals – it will hide dirt and have staying power as your decor changes over time.  Bring in bright, fun summer colors through accessories. Throw pillows, accent tables and flower pots can add an inexpensive splash of color throughout the space.

Finally, use what you’ve got! The Wisconsin landscape provides you with lush green grasses, fabulous perennials and colorful annuals to create a perfect backdrop to your summer oasis. And if you add an outdoor fireplace or fire pit and a few throw blankets, you can extend that outdoor season well into the fall months.

Delisa White

Delisa White

By Delisa White, MATC landscape horticulture instructor 

Do you enjoy a sweet apple, crunchy almonds or a juicy tomato? If so, you owe a debt of gratitude to the hardworking insects who pollinated the flower from which your produce developed. Pollinating insects are crucial to our food supply. Most of us who read the news are aware that our pollinators are in peril.

One insect, the non-native European honeybee – the backbone of commercial food crop pollinators – has experienced a devastating decline in numbers in the past decade. Students in MATC’s “Plant Healthcare” class have read many scientific reports on the plight of the European honeybee. They have learned about the many pressures and conditions that, when combined, have caused a dramatic decline in the honeybee population. Some of these include extreme winter conditions, summer droughts, poorly managed commercial hives, lack of dietary diversity and a specific type of mite.

Another critical factor impacting the health of honeybees and native pollinators such as bumblebees, flies, wasps, butterflies and moths, is our society’s love of – and overuse of – chemical pesticides. One specific class of insecticide, called neonicotinoids, has been associated with the deaths of honeybees and bumblebees, and is now being removed from some insecticide products.

In mid-April, Ortho, a major producer of garden-care products, announced that it will begin to transition away from using chemicals that may be linked to the death of pollinating insects in its pesticides.

This is a step in the right direction. But as MATC’s students have learned, there are many other pesticides that have negative environmental and human health consequences, and specifically impact bees. Recent studies have found that pesticides such as herbicides (weed killers) and fungicides (used to control plant disease) have a direct impact on the health of bees and other insects, although they are not specifically targeted by the pesticide application.

Throughout all of their coursework, MATC landscape horticulture students learn that they must take a broad sustainable approach to stewarding our environment in order to preserve not only the European honeybees and native pollinators, but also our food supply and our own health and well-being.  By following some environmentally friendly recommendations, we can help create a better world for pollinators and for ourselves.

  1. Don’t strive for perfection! Learn to be okay with some weeds, a bit of plant disease, and many insects that find their way into your yard and garden.
  1. Appreciate those creepy crawlies! Only three percent of all insect species are “pests.” That’s right! For every 100 different kinds of bugs you see, only about three of them might cause damage.
  1. Put down the spray bottle! Or at least make better chemical choices. When controlling a garden pest becomes necessary, choose organic or less toxic methods.  If choosing a chemical, look for OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute)-approved garden chemicals.
  1. Go native and be diverse! Plant a wide diversity of flowering plants, minimizing lawn grass area. Include many native flowering plants in your gardens and landscapes. A variety of native plants will not only give honeybees diversity in their diets, but also will attract native bumblebees and other native insects that were pollinating plants long before their European honeybee cousins arrived with the early settlers.

Each of us needs to become more conscientious of our own personal impact on the environment and do all we can to help bring back the numbers of pollinating insects. Our diets and our planet depend on it!

For more information about bees and other native insects, check out the Xerces Society at: .