Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random things

One of our spousal goals for 2011 is to host a monthly Game Night. We decided on this after a conversation about friendship and community. We have a broad circle of friends but most of them are busy with family commitments involving either teens or aging parents (sometimes both) and we have to book them well in advance if we want to get together. We hope a regular gathering will make it possible for people to plan ahead and be able to join us. If nobody can come for an evening, Ken and I will still play a couple of rounds of Farkle.

We've had many engaging Game Nights with friends over the years. One of the best games is Taboo. We've laughed more with that game than any other. If you've never played Taboo: there are sets of cards with a word at the top, a word that one player must help his teammate guess by providing clues. A list of words that you can't use (taboo!) is found beneath the primary word. The goal is to get through as many cards as you can in three minutes. The team receives one point for every word that is correctly guessed. If the clue-giver says any of the forbidden words, the team loses the point for that card.

Every time we play Taboo, we're reminded of a particular game night. We were at George and Martha's home. It was Husbands vs Wives. Martha was the clue-giver and it was up to me to guess the words. We had successfully made it through several cards when Martha looked at the next one and said, "You and I don't have one of these but George has one and Ken has one." She paused and looked meaningfully at me. Exclamation points went off in my head. Um. . .

Our husbands, trying to stifle their laughter, nearly exploded. I looked at Martha in disbelief. This was a family game. Surely Taboo wouldn't include that word but I couldn't think what else it might possibly be. My brain was stuck. Precious seconds ticked by. Martha finally passed on the card and moved on to the next one. When the three minutes were up, everybody really wanted to know what on earth That Word was. The word was job. This happened sixteen years ago. She still hasn't lived it down.

I want to mention some of my latest favorites from the Web before signing off. The first one is a video on youtube that Alden showed me. It's footage of a three-legged bear and her cub. The video is an astonishing example of creative adaptation. I also think it is gently humorous. We don't often see bears walking upright, especially out in the wilderness.

The next is footage of a competition that takes place in Spain every two years. The goal is to build a "human castle" as high as possible, then get everyone back down without collapsing. I would love to know how this event came to be.

I've always been drawn to museums. We try to visit at least one wherever we travel. I've been visiting an online museum lately, A History of the World, a collection of artifacts sponsored by the British Museum and the BBC. Actually, "collection of artifacts" is a pretty sorry description. This museum is fascinating and huge, with items from 2 million years B.C. to the present. Choose the time period that interests you, then browse away, clicking on an artifact for more information and a closer look. I'm drawn to Medieval history so I've spend a lot of time exploring the years 800-1600.

And finally...Candid Camera. I watched this program with my grandparents, way back when, and totally loved it. I recently discovered The Power of Conformity on and found myself smiling at both the film and the memory of sitting on the sofa with Grandpa Ben.

Overheard on Twitter: NEW OFFICE UPDATE: We have noticed that our 2nd-floor window is directly above the dumpster. Gravity is our new garbageman.

Next time: unfortunate library odors. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

So this is the new year

2011! I've heard a few lively discussions on the proper pronunciation, two-thousand-eleven vs. twenty-eleven. Supporters have been pretty evenly divided between both camps. I've thrown my hat in with the twenty-eleven crowd. In all of the Mayan-Calendar-End-Of-The-World buzz, twenty-twelve was the way most people pronounced that year and I think we should be consistent. Admittedly, twenty-twelve has a nice alliterative ring that twenty-eleven doesn't have, but still. I'm sticking with twenty-eleven. Also, twenty-eleven reminds me of Bilbo's birthday party (I am eleventy-one today!)

At our house, Christmas dinner usually includes a memory-fest of personal and family events. It isn't a stated tradition, it just happens. A large part of this year's conversation centered on funny things that have happened over the years. One of Alden's favorite memories was being able to finally startle me. He had made it a goal, when he was ten years old, to be able to sneak up and surprise me. It was a tough goal because I was a difficult Mom to startle. He was convinced that I had super-hearing and eyes in the back of my head.

After many unsuccessful startle attempts, Alden planned what he thought was a perfect prank. He gathered the necessary supplies. Finally, the perfect day arrived. He and Amy had just come home from school. I was in the back of the house. Alden placed himself just out of sight in the kitchen and blew up a large balloon, holding it at the neck to prevent the air from escaping.

He waited.

I came down the hall and was just about to turn into the kitchen when the balloon, loudly exhaling, sailed past my face and hit the wall, falling limply to the carpet. I yelped. For a split second (as he tells it) it looked like I was going to be angry, but then we both exploded into laughter. Success! He treasures that memory and so do I.

Many more family memories were shared that evening. It was a good way to end 2010, laughing together over Christmas dinner.

Overheard on Twitter: Boggle for iPad is fun but I feel mocked by its list of words I didn't find. "Oh, you didn't get eide, eider, fid OR fidge."

Next time: Diverse Amusements. Stay tuned.