Saturday, October 10, 2009

It appears ....

that "common" courtesy isn't any more common than common sense these days.

One of our local Scrabble players, an elderly lady who walks with a cane, returned to her home by taxi at 4:30 in the morning after taking her husband to the hospital. The house, the walk and the street were all dark. She asked the driver to stay until she was in the house. She did not ask him to get out of his cab and accompany her to the door, just remain in the street for the few minutes it took for her to get safely inside.

He couldn't be bothered, he drove off and left her in the dark. Fortunately, she made it into the house without any problems.

I do wonder how he would react if someone treated one of his elderly relatives that way.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Zyzzyva defines it as "to be overwhelmed by an emotion."

I would suggest it means being overwhelmed by the tile gods.

Yeah, Dayton was like that. My opponents were laying down bingos like PLOTZED and ANOREXIA, and I was looking at racks like AIEUUUV and AAIIUUY.

Oh, I had some good games, and made some nice finds. Managed to play 31 straight games over 300 in spite of some astonishingly bad racks, and snatch a tie out of the jaws of defeat.

But I'm still wondering why the tiles gods decided to deliver one of those streaks of clunky tiles at Nationals?

Ah well, the company was good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Flowers for Deadpan Alley

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Sending lots of virtual hugs your way, lady friend.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gone South :(


The "Larson original" Smackdown trophy resides for the time being in Charleston, West Virginia. The WPA team will be highly motivated to bring it back where it belongs next year, (after all, it was born here.)

Particular congratulations are in order to Martha, who made a clean sweep of the entire WPA team, gained eighty rating points, and lost her only game to a fellow WVA player in the King of the Hill round.

It certainly looked like everyone had fun, though the team results for WPA were somewhat painful. I had a good day, finished in the money, picked up a couple of rating points, and got to deliver a thorough spanking to two of my favorite WVA opponents.

On to Dayton ....
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Friday, July 3, 2009

And sometimes you hit paydirt

A new player showed up at the club Wednesday night, as they do from time to time.

I gave her the cheat sheet and the tips for beginners, explained the perks she would get as a new player, and set her up with a game.

It happened that I played her in the second round, and what a treat that turned out to be. She was using the cheat sheet, wasn't making any of the obvious beginner's mistakes, and kept saying she was having a grand time.

Looks like she's a keeper, it's so nice when one shows up.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Growing pains

Found this half grown robin on the patio this afternoon. It's not quite ready to fly yet, but it hops, scrambles, and glides pretty well. The distraught parents are hanging about making more of a fuss than junior.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Critical mass?

Last year we had a tournament for 48 players. Nobody (except the Scrabble community) noticed.

Then the economy went into a tailspin.

This year we had a tourney for 61 players at a larger venue. Now folks are calling us to bid on hosting the 2010 event.

Looks like leverage to me. Heh

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Surviving the "Revival"

It was some party. Things ran pretty much without a hitch.

Everyone who registered showed up to play. The "cookie brigade" came through like gangbusters, the cookies were a hit, and the extras went to club on Wednesday night (where they disappeared).

I don't know about anyone else, but I loved having a masseuse on site. Got the first game running and treated myself to a massage while the players was busy and I was not. It was nowhere near long enough, but still a nice reward after the long push to get the tourney up and running.

Lots of nice feedback this week while I was doing the wrap up chores. Even managed to get caught up on my sadly neglected cardbox.

WPA vs. WVA coming up soon, but most of the details are already handled and my co director there is a pro. Since the group is small, we should both get to play as well as direct.

And then, on to Dayton ....

Friday, May 15, 2009

"High Noon"

is the name of this variety of tree peony that is growing in my back yard. It is a delight to the eye, and it smells good too. A couple of unpromising looking twigs when I planted it several years ago in December, this spring it had sixteen blossoms and is finally large enough to fill the space I planned for it. Now I can put ferns and hosta under it, and the nice little plant community I originally envisioned will be real at last.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Spin, crash, and burn

Third year in Charleston, WV, where I began my tourney career. Good to see the "old familiars" and meet some new folks. Took as many opportunities as I could find to talk up the approaching Pittsburgh event.

Saturday: 7-1 and leading the division after eight games. Played pretty well with adequate (but not stellar) racks. Probably donated the last game to my opponent out of fatigue. Felt like I'd been digging ditches all day when the games were over.

Sunday: 0-4 to finish out of the money. No awful losses, just a combination of cranky racks, foggy (sleep deprived) brain, and the kind of drawing that hands you the Q, the last S, and the last blank as your last draw from the bag with nowhere on the board to do much with them.

Back to studying and practice, but I'll be wearing my director's hat for the next event and sharing other folks highs and lows vicariously.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going for three in a row

Won my division at last weekend's Richfield, OH tourney on spread.

Won the small (unrated) tourney run by one of our club regulars yesterday on games.

Unfortunately, while I was in the library yesterday winning games, some yoyo was out in the parking lot putting a major ding in my car. It will probably cost more than both weekend's winnings to repair it ....

Looks like I'll have to do well and pick up some more money at the Charleston, WV event this coming weekend.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Running amok with the camera

Got rained on and bug bit, but I had beautiful weather to shoot at the ocean, and two overcast days to shoot at the swamp.

Wood Storks conversing

A Willet in the surf

Cypress knee

Cottonmouth sun bathing

Releasing a newly banded warbler

and .... (drum roll please) green air (yesssssss!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Visitors at the park

The nice weather yesterday sent me off to the park with my camera. Where I found a flock of Canada Geese on a rest stop during their northern migration.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One antidote to Interstates

My son and I will soon be driving to Florida to visit my mother, a trip we make several times a year. It's an 800+ mile drive that we do in two days, and most of it is on interstate highways at 65 or 70 miles an hour. Since Eli doesn't drive, he's in charge of keeping the driver alert. And although he's pretty good at that, the road still gets old.

However, there are compensations. This time of year we will be driving into spring as we go south. When we come down out of the Blue Ridge into North Carolina everything will be green and blooming. And by the time we return to Pennsylvania, spring will have arrived here as well.

And then there is the chance to stop at Francis Beidler Forest (^) in South Carolina, (both coming and going if I can manage.) It's such a relief to go from 70 miles an hour to a walking pace in a place where the air smells good, the sounds are soothing, and no one is in a hurry. On our return trip I have scheduled a five hour window to go to the swamp early in the morning with my camera and take pictures of whatever presents itself to intrigue my eye. Several of the staff will be mist netting and banding Prothonotary Warblers, there might be otters, and if I'm very lucky I'll come home with a picture of "green air."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Awful .... and not

Elyria's Purple and Green

Lost all the rating points earned in the last six months, and at least two games from inattention or just plain stupidity.

But ....

Had the chance to visit with friends I only see at tourneys, learned some new words, and got away with a couple of pretty outrageous (and unintentional) phonies.

Ah well, the tiles will turn, I will learn not to shoot myself in the foot quite so often, and it will always be a pleasure to see my favorite Scrabble junkies again no matter how the games turn out.

And one more saving grace, it has knocked me out of the top division at the Richfield, OH tourney where I would have played a large selection of the "run me down like a truck" folks. Now in a division that is friendlier territory.

Monday, March 9, 2009


In bed with some bug ....

Made it almost all the way throught the winter without getting sick, and now I'm down with something miserable. Pfui.

So I curl up with the cats and read the old dependables, the ones that stay when others go back to Half Price Books. Anna Quindlen (essays and fiction), David McCullough, Wendell Berry (poetry), and Terry Tempest Williams to name a few. Some paperbacks so old the pages are falling out, but back on the shelf they go when I'm done for the pleasure I know they will bring the next time I open them up.

Comfort food for the mind.

Currently reading: "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

C is for "Continuing the Meme"

My blogging (and Scrabble) friend Deadpan Alley had an interesting post on her blog the other day that ended with an invitation to her readers to continue the meme. I took her up on the invitation and asked for a letter. Which brings us to:

10 Things I Like That Begin With "C"

1. Cats. Most animals, really, though I'm not a fan of cockroaches. I have seven felines in the household (down from a high of nine), and they keep life interesting with their various personalities. I don't own a television, but with the cats I don't need one. Continuous entertainment, no reruns.

2. Compound words. The top three "words I want to play in a Scrabble game sometime" are all compound words. "Bespoke" and "tantivy" are bingoes on their own, but being able to play "mocking" in front of "bird" would make my day no matter what the outcome of the game.

3. Curry. Though I don't like food that makes me sweat, a little bit of curry improves all sorts of dishes. Curry mayo for artichokes, tuna salad with curry, egg salad with curry, curried fruit. Yum.

4. Cardinals. The kind that fly, not some sports team. Seeing that gorgeous shade of red against a background of snow in January or February always makes me believe there is life after winter.

5. Charley Harper. An artist who had a unique and (mostly) humorous view of the world, and once you have seen his work you will always recognize it. The limited edition Harper serigraphs I have are a constant delight. And I'm currently in the midst of a conversation with Scrabble Crush about the design of a custom "Harper" Scrabble board to delight my eyes some more.

6. Chrysler products with cruise control. My first car was a Plymouth, my second car was a Plymouth, and my last seven cars have all been some form of Chrysler product (and all seven of those have had cruise control.) I really really hope Chrysler stays in business. Having bought my last six cars from the same guy, I don't want to break in another car salesman at this stage of my life.

7. Competition. When my son was younger, we played pick up sports every Wednesday night at the "open gym" held by the local rehab center. Basketball, whiffle ball, volleyball, floor hockey, and (my favorite) murderball. The best part was that those large-hearted athletes let me sit in a wheelchair for a few hours and play right along with them. "Flat out and guts on the floor" was the order of the evening and a wonderful method of stress reduction. These days I spend my Wednesday evenings playing Scrabble. Though it is certainly less physical, it satisfies my competition jones quite nicely.

8. Classical music. Bach organ toccatas and fugues, Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas, Van Cliburn playing Rachmaninoff, Yo-Yo Ma playing almost anything, "Perpetual Motion" by Bela Fleck .... bring it on. I enjoy most kinds of music, though heavy metal and the majority of country western leave me pretty cold.

9. Comic relief. Chuckle, chortle, giggle, snort, guffaw, laugh till you cry, or ROFLMAO, I always enjoy a good laugh. It lightens my spirit and (I'm quite sure) lowers my blood pressure.

10. Car Talk. See #9 above. These guys are not doing their job if I don't laugh out loud at least once on Saturday morning. I will never forget them talking about someone in LA driving an SUV with a "rhino pack." I must admit, however, that my second favorite piece of car terminology, "giggle truck," came not from the car guys, but from my sister.

And one for the road ....

11. Courtesy. It's so easy, takes so little time, and provides lots of "graphite" to keep the social wheels turning. Nobody loses. Enough said.

You are Cordially invited to Carry On "Continuing The Meme."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Local club tourney

Seeded 8th (of 8) in my division, I finished third with 4-2, -84, and will get a nice bump in my rating.

Highs and lows for the day included:

1.) a loss where I managed to keep the score within 25 points even though my opponent drew 9 of the power tiles.

2.) a stomping by the #3 seed. (One of those " he beat me by more than I scored" games. Though not my lowest ever tourney score, it was certainly the largest spread for a lost game.)

3.) two wins from a guy I had never beaten at the club.

4.) a strong win over the #2 seed.

5.) seeing one of our newer club players (who had an extremely rocky start in tournament Scrabble) finish second in her division.

All in all, a good day, (except for the stomping). Next stop, Elyria, OH in two weeks.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First sign of spring?

No, not a robin.

This morning out on the patio I saw a House Sparrow (a year round resident of the area that Charley Harper refers to as a "winged weed") with nesting material in its beak. No signs of avian copulation yet, but this one is obviously getting prepared.

Can the robins be far behind?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Asleep at the wheel

In a game at the South Hills club yesterday, my opponent played "SUGARED", announced his score and hit the clock.

I wrote it down, added the score, and started tracking .... without checking the word he had used for his "s" hook until it was much too late to do anything about it except congratulate him on a sneaky play.

Even I know that "DEFTS" is bogus when I see it. I simply didn't look far enough to see it in time.

Pay! Attention!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

e ... i ... e ... i ... aarrghh!

Studying the five vowel eights. Working through them about fifty at a time, which gets me through the list in a week with a day off to recover. Fifty a day is about my limit right now, then my eyes roll back in my head and my brain (I suspect) looks like this. ^

It certainly feels all thorny and snarled when I'm done for the day.

Haven't put them in Zyzzyva's cardbox yet, since I'm not interested in having a truckload of them show up in the cardbox quiz at one time. (Can we spell "thorny and snarled" boys and girls?) I do wonder though, why words like OEDEMATA stick and yet I have trouble spotting the ones that are S hooks on five vowel sevens.
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

He's just resting ....

This is Fast Eddie. Think of him as a feline version of the Fonz.

When he sleeps in the cat bed, there is always a foot or tail hanging out over the edge. This position is extreme even for him, but he was sleeping like that until I pulled out the camera.

Ever the ham, he opened his eyes before I took the picture.

And maintaining his cool, went back to sleep when I was done.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It was a cold and snowy night

.... but the roads were clear so I loaded the equipment into the car and drove out to Borders to run the Wednesday meeting of the Scrabble club. The weather being what it was, I expected a fairly low turnout. (Though there are some hard core Scrabblers here, three folks who missed the cancellation notice several weeks ago showed up to play in weather much worse than last night's.)

The first person I saw was a club player who has been working out of town and hadn't played here in over a year. Then a husband and wife who haven't been to the club in months showed up.

Then a couple of our die hard regulars ....

Then a new player ....

Then some more of the regulars!

There was actually one guy who showed up around 9 PM and played one game. (That is a serious Scrabble jones.)

At that point we were scrambling for available tables and snagging chairs wherever they could be found, and I was wondering if I had enough results slips to go around. (The computer with Zyzzyva ended up on a chair, all the tables were in use for games.)

Attendance for the night: 17 players. The highest since we started playing at Borders, and close to a club high.

And, of course, Brendan was back to his winning ways and ran me down like a truck again. Peh.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And sometimes you just get lucky ....

The anhinga is a diving bird that will perch after it has been underwater and spread its wings to dry in the sun. You would think it was posing since it held that position for quite a while. In spite of the fading light, I got several shots. This one is a keeper.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Three rules of books

My rule of books:
If you get it out of the library, you don't have to pay for it. (Though I will confess to running amok at Half Price Books from time to time.)

Eli's rule of books: (my son)
If you get it from a book store, you don't have to take it back.

Frouma's rule of books: (local scrabble player)
If you buy it at the library book sale, it's inexpensive and you get to keep it.

Currently reading: Lois McMaster Bujold

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wish I played scrabble like that more often

The Steeler Nation is out in the streets tonight, waving the Terrible Towels (and assorted items of clothing.) Like Tomlin said, "Steeler football is sixty minutes."

The celebration will probably last most of the night. The main street in my urban neighborhood is closed to vehicular traffic and packed with humanity. I would not much like to be a police horse in the middle of a Steeler riot.

Scrabble is twenty five minutes, all twenty five minutes, every game.

Super Bowl Sunday

The whole town is putting on their black and gold gear, setting out the munchies in front of the TV, and getting ready for the big game. Or preparing to head for the nearest bar with a big screen.

Except me.

Don't get me wrong, I'd like the Steelers to win, but listening to the game on the radio here at home and getting some other things done at the same time is my idea of multi-tasking.