Monday, September 16

It is Monday morning in Hamilton, ON.  Cloudy skies and the temp is in the high 50s.  40% chance of showers.  Over the last two days Vivian and I

played 12 games of scrabble and split 6 & 6. We took turns winning and losing.  The game frequently came down to whoever had the best tiles at the end of the game.  I played the most ‘new’ words and I played the most phoneys.  Vivian doesn’t play phoneys and becomes annoyed with herself if and when she doesn’t challenge my phoney off of the board.  My plays that bothered her the most were the phoney ‘LARE’ and the new word ‘NEWB’.

My sister Karen undergoes a surgery this afternoon at about 2PM in Cleveland.  Join me in sending her best wishes for a speedy recovery,

Next I headed down the road from Dundas to Hamilton where I dropped in on my old friend Barry Spinner.  We spent a long morning updating each other on where our lives have led us.  Turns out that Barry has chosen things other than scrabble in the last decade.  As we recalled the past Barry pointed out that his son refers to those events as being part of the ‘last century’.  Now that will make one feel ancient.  And while time has gone onward . . . towns like Stratford and Dundas appear as though TIME has stood still.

Stratford, Onatario Tournament
I had an enjoyable day at the Stratford, ON. Tournament.  Do you know how comfortable it is to wear those old shoes that are broken in just right the way they fit your feet? That’s how warm and welcoming it was for me walking into a room filled with scrabble players about to play a competition.  There was Glen and Merran Dunlop from Brantford, Mad Palazzo from Richmond Hill, Trevor Sealy and Syd Lashley from Oshawa.  There were 46 players in all divided into five divisions.  I was one of eight players in division #2, and I won five of eight games but finished in 4th Place.  I suffered two significant losses in games numbers six and eight to Matt Schlegel which put my cumulative score far down.  If I had won the last game I would have finished in 2nd Place.  But it was not to be.  I did not see a blank or an ’S’ and I sat there and watched Matt demolish me.  I was generally pleased with my overall play.  I had 14 bingos during the first seven games.

I hear the temperatures in southern California continues to swelter.  In Dundas it was cool tonight (in the 50s), and the daytime was sunny with 60s & 70s.  I am not looking forward to some R & R over the coming week with my friends Vivian and Barry.  I’ll also have alone time to continue my work on scrabble learning tools.
My Backwards Dictionary was well received wherever I showed it off.  One went to a home in Oshawa, and another one will remain here in Dundas.

I’m playing in a 1-Day NASPA tournament today in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.  Results to follow.  I have no idea who might be playing in the tournament.  There could be several old friends who I haven’t seen in a long, long time.  The anticipation is mounting.
People flock to Stratford, Ontario throughout the summer and autumn for the annual “Stratford Theater Festival.” And well they should, for this world-famous theater festival has starred the likes of Maggie Smith and the current season’s Martha Henry. The Stratford Festival is unparalleled when it comes to artistic vision. Even so, there are so many more things to do in Stratford Ontario, Canada than just the festival!  This is my first trip to Stratford and what will I do?  Play in a scrabble tournament?  Nothing wrong with that!
I have a great sense of direction.  Once I’ve been somewhere, I can usually get there again without the aid of a map or a GPS.  My wife loves her GPS and strongly suggested that I obtain a GARMIN and bring it along on this trip.  I hate many things about the new technologies and dislike having to learn how to use new things, like a GARMIN.  I will concede that when it works correctly I appreciate the help it provides.  Friday morning when leaving Huntington Woods, MI. I set the GARMIN to Stratford, Ontario, and pressed Go.  But I was already sure that I knew where it would take me.  When I crossed the BLUEWATER BRIDGE from Port Huron, MI. (USA) to Sarnia, ON. (CANADA), GARMIN turned itself off.
(an aside)  Three days ago when I tried to call a Canadian cell phone from my cell phone from Brecksville, OH I received a message on the screen on my phone saying that my Calling Plan does not include making calls to places outside the USA.  I called MetroPCS and changed my plan so I would not be without my phone service while I travel through Canada.
So when GARMIN went to sleep this morning while I was driving, I assumed that I had another ‘wrong plan.’  WRONG!  I drove on from Sarnia to London.  I pulled off the 401 where there were both a Tim Horton’s Coffee Shoppe and a COSTCO.  I did Tim Hortons first where I had a coffee and half a dozen glazed doughnut holes; I also caught up on my emails.  Next, I went into the COSTCO and asked if they sold GARMIN.  A friendly, helpful salesman came to my aid, and we discovered that my GPS only required a plug-in charge.  He also set the GARMIN to take me to from there to Stratford.
I shook hands and said my thanks and drove back to ramp to the highway.  The ramp went to the right.  Garmin told me to go to the left.  Figuring I knew better I reentered the 401 traveling eastbound in spite of Garmin’s direction.  Ten miles later GARMIN was still insisting that I turn around and go back. . . So I did.  GARMIN was correct.  Stratford does not sit along the 401 as I thought I remembered. I’m glad that it was not dark outside and even though it was drizzling I wasn’t driving in a winter blizzard.  I’m so happy there was no one else in the car saying, “See, smartie pants, you should have followed GARMIN’s instructions all along.”  Now, who would do something like that?

Are you ‘supersstitious’?  I’ve relied on my personal radar to pick up on some of the superstitions of scrabble players and I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. You’ve undoubtedly heard about the roll that ‘black cats’ play in superstition lore.  Well, some scrabble players believe if you can play both ‘BLACK’ and ‘CAT’ in the same game, your opponent is sure to lose.
  2. Never set up your game under a ladder; it’s bad luck for the owner of same.
  3. If you draw 5 or more vowels for your rack on any 3 consecutive turns on your next draw you should always pick tiles with your other hand.
  4. If you don’t draw a blank in 2 consecutive games, before the third game you need to walk around your chair counter clockwise 7 times.
  5. Always sit higher than your opponent at the table.  Use cushions if necessary.
  6. Place a current, sanctioned dictionary, under the cushion you sit upon.  The contents may filter their way into your conciousness.
  7. When leaving the room walk backwards from your chair until out of the room.  This supports forward thinking.
  8. Wear two different shoes (one black, one brown =or= one lace up, one loafer).
  9. Never stare at the place on the board where you intend to place your next word.  It’s the same as a tell.
  10. Never overdraw!  It’s a sign of weakness and insecurity.  You’ll lose for sure.
    Don’t Worry;  Be Happy!                                                                          Drove from Cleveland to Detroit today (about 3 hours).  Ate another Coney; there seems to be more Coney places in and around Detroit as there are Starbucks. Sheesh!
    Visited several old haunts.  I walked into Francis Scott Key Elementary School and talked with a hall monitor.  I explained that I was a 5th Grade teacher there in 1964.  She ask who was my principal and I remembered it was Ed Cervanic.  The teacher now teaching there with the longest tenure is only 35 years . . . so I was long gone.  My old classroom still houses a 5th Grade Class.  Then I drove by the house we built on Labelle when I worked at Key. (Those windows to the right of the sign was my classroom.)
    Thursday evening I enjoyed a dinner out with Barbara and Ted Gittleman, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  They reside in Huntington Woods, MI just a block away from The Detroit Zoo.

Some of you may remember not too many years ago I had a pretty cool web site which I began publishing in the late 1990s.  That site was created on a Apple product called iWeb.  I mastered that program and was able to serve as my own webmaster for years.  I wrote the articles, did the layouts, found and created the media and the world was good.  Then in the mid 2000 – 2010 period Apple stopped supporting iWeb but my host, GoDaddy, continued hosting my site and I had a clean copy of the program and life continued to roll on without a hitch.  Then along comes 2017 and GoDaddy informed me that they would no longer host the iWeb format.  What was up, was up, but I was no longer able to update the site.  I was at a LOSS.  I was told that there were other formats that I could use for my site and they were relatively simple to master.  I tried. and I tried. and I tried.  But the Gary who learned iWeb in the ’90s was unable to figure out HOW TO use the other platforms.  All I wanted was for someone to step up and teach me how to create my own site with WORD PRESS or any other current platform.
At some point in August I clicked on my sister Karen’s web page.  I was impressed.  I immediately called her to ask who was her web master and soon learned that she was creating her own material using Word Press.  WOW!   I inquired if she’d help me do the same and she never hesitated before saying. “YES”.  Karen even did one better.  She offered to create my site for me and and then coach me on how to be the web master when I passed through Cleveland on my 77 Sunset Trip.  The gurus at Word Press and GoDaddy were willing to help me also . . . but to the tune of $2,000.
I arrived in Cleveland last Friday 9/6 and I will leave today, 9/12. Karen has not only trained me well and created podcasts with me but she stands ready to help me long-distance should I ever ‘get stuck‘.
This blog and this web site gives me the opportunity to network with you to share ideas about scrabble and about life.  I feel thankful for Karen and her giving spirit. Should you or someone you know need help with a web site or a pod cast contact Karen. Her email is:

Where were you on THE 9/11?
I bet that you know exactly where you were and what you were doing on that fateful day.  I remember.
I was at home getting dressed to go to a job interview.  My TV was on to a news channel and it was intrrupted showing the first plane crashing into the Twin Towers.  Like you, I was shocked and appalled.  Then I was glued to the TV and the commentary and the confussion.  My shirt was not yet tucked into my pants and my tie was not yet tied.  I felt confused.  Should I still go to the interview?  I sat down stunned.  After what seemed like hours, I pulled myself somewhat together and went to the interview.  Everybody, everywhere already new what had happened and were as mortified as I was.  That’s all people were talking about for days.  The news kept playing reruns of the crashes on the tube.  The images were engrained into our heads.  I can close my eyes and still see it today.
If you are like me and a whole lot of others, there are many scenes that are embedded into our memories too,
Where were you when JFK was assinated?
Where were you when Jack Ruby was shot?
Where were you when LBJ was sworn into office?
Where were you when MLK was killed?
Where were you on the first lunar landing?
Where were you when someone you love passed away?
NEXT:  What are the 8 anagrams of ‘NASTIER’?
If you can remember all of those other things, you can learn and remember this kind of information too.  If you need a significant emotional event in order to cement it into your memory you could read the list while a dentist is pulling your tooth or when you bang your thumb with a hammer.  Really, no kidding, you and your memory are capable of great things.  Work on it a little every day.
This blog is going south.  Tomorrow I will share some of my memories that have resurfaced for me on this 77 Sunset Trip.
P.S.  I took 4th Place at the Independence, OH club tournament.

Happy Birthdsay to my son Marty who I visited last week in Las Vegas.  47 years young today.  I’m going to do my best to win the scrabble tournament tonight in Independence, OH. and dedicate it to you.
Every day presents an opportunity to celebrate and we each have the option to decide upon the focus and the event.  Scrabble players may come to play with the new knowledge of words and skills acquired during their study regimens.
What do you mean you don’t study?   You could study just a little.
Studying is not manditory for players.  BUT, if you want to become an even better player and a greater challenge to your opponents you’ll want to bring something new to the game for your advantage.  Learn 10 new words between attending club sessions.  Learn 5 hooks and be ready to pounce when the opportunity arises.  Review a STEM and when you have A-E-E-I-N-S-T on your rack, don’t play ‘STAIN’, think ‘ETESIAN’.  Celebrate yourself.
7 Things To Do Before Competing at a Club  or Tournament.

  1. Come to the event rested and free from stress
  2. Dress comfortably (consider the room temperature)
  3. Have proper tracking sheets, good equipment and extra pens and pencils
  4. Look confident; Be confident
  5. Stay focused
  6. Know the Rules; Play by the rules; Hold your opponent to the rules
  7. Have Fun.

The currant Rules for playing club and tournament scrabble are available at:

Yes I Can!

Accomplishments in most cases are highly dependant on ATTITUDE.  I can pretty much guarantee you that if you believe you CAN’T do something, you will rarely, if ever, be able to Just Do It.

A newbie who loves to play scrabble searched the web and learned that I have a club that is relatively close by to her home.  She called me to learn the details of When and Where.  Her voice conveyed to me that she was excited to have found a group of others who enjoy and meet to play her favorite game.  The day of the next club meeting arrived and she was the first one there, carrying her scrabble set in its original box. I greeted her warmly and suggested we sitdown at a table where I’d demonstrate how we play scrabble at club.  She assured me that she knew how to play but sat with me, as if to humor me.  I showed her the basics of how we determine who plays first, how we draw our tiles, I pointed out the OWL (Official Word List), I provided her free score sheets and demonstrated the proper way to count one’s score for a play and how to record it on a score sheet.  I pointed out that beginning club players are not expected to know all the rules and that we would be gentle with her.  Lastly I gave her a copy of our ‘CHEAT SHEET’ which contains words from our dictionary which she may not already know and I told her that she may use this sheet during play during the first 4 weeks she attends our club.

The newbie looked at the sheet, became very silent while studying the words and turned to me saying, “These are not real words.  What language is this?”  I pointed out that the scrabble dictionary has more than 175,000 words and shared that the average man or woman knows only about 5% of the words in any dictionary.  She looked less certain now as to whether she still wanted to play here.  FACT: 9 out of 10 newbies will tell me, “I Can’t learn all these words”.

But, I know that everyone and almost anyone can become successful at the game of scrabble or other endeavors if their Attitude is: Yes I Can.  I’ve known players where English is their second language and they’ve become good scrabble players.  I know a dyslexic man who is rated high in the ranks.  I’ve worked with blind scrabble players.  One man, who was a quadraplegic, played while lying on a table, holding a pencil between his teeth and pointing to the tiles and the squares on the board where he wanted those tiles to be placed by his assistant.  Do you think that he believed ‘Yes I Can’?  You betcha.

Some people will expand their word power faster than others.
Some people will understand the logic of the game at a deeper level.
Some people will WIN, gain confidence, and soar up in the ranks quickly.
Some people will Lose their games on their first try and never return.
Some people will chart their own progress and find satisfaction in learning.
Some people will discover a community of others who love their favorite game.
Some people will devote a given amount of time each day to learning new words.
Some people will get hooked on the game and play scrabble 7 days a week.
Some people will go on scrabble cruises and play ‘OCEANIC’ while asea.
Some people will host scrabble parties for their new found friends.
Some people may even travel the USA and Canada on a 77 Sunset Trip.
I bet YOU CAN too!

I had pretty much forgotten that word and in doing so became lazy and mesmerized into living a routine life-agenda.  Now don’t get me wrong, routines are not inherently bad . . . but allowing yourself to get lost in any routine and robbing yourself of all the possibilities awaiting you can be sad.  In my opinion anyone, everyone, can discover serendipity because it exists all around all of us.   We simply have to choose to engage.

In the 1980s, after a contentious divorce and being stripped of my professional identity I serendipitously made my way to The Church of Today and the ministry of Jack Boland.  Now, I was Jewish and grew up in a family where even the thought of walking into a church was unthinkable.  The reason for attending the first time was to attend a concert given by a Jewish singer whose son had been one of my students at the Moss School which I had founded and served as Headmaster.

Can you see the connections, entwining, and networking that brought me there.  Once there I learned about a Speakers Series at the Church on Wednesday afternoons, where I attended and met the like of Les Brown, Mark Victor Hanson, and heard about The Self-Esteem Institute and Bill McGrane.  It wasn’t long before I traveled to Cincinnati, OH where I trained and became certified to lead the “Adventures In Attitudes” workshop, providing personal growth opportunities to myself and others.  Serendipity.

Look back over the last 20 – 30 years I have no regrets for the way I’ve lived and plugged into the lives of others.  Yet when I saw ’77’ coming and being my now reality I felt sad that I had not done even more.  And that’s why 77 Sunset Trip is underway and why I’m sitting here writing this piece in Brecksville, OH.  This trip, for me, is like poking at a sleeping bear.  There is danger and opportunity in every direction.  There has been joy; there has been sadness.  There has been learning; there has been teaching.  There has been disappointment and there have been cherished surprises.  And I’m not even at the half-way point yet.

What have you been putting off doing?  What is it that you still have to offer?  What will it take to get you out of your routine and make a difference again in your own life and in the lives of others.  If you want to talk about your ideas call me now: (949) 510-1673.  May Serendipity bite you on your tush.

Just finish a fast breakfast with Karen and Rich at the JOE MAXX Coffee Company in Brecksville, OH.  The skies are grey and cloudy and there is drizzle in the air.  I just love it.  This is the location where Karen and I will Podcast from next Tuesday.
Last night before going to bed, Karen and I shared info about how she has created my web site ( and how she and I and our brother Joel’s sites are now interwoven.  The purpose is to save some cash and to lock them from having any virus from infiltrating them.  Go Karen!  Who’d have thunk?
I’ll spend some time today watching the Michigan vs Army football game and possibly playing a game of scrabble with Alex.

At breakfast, I picked Rich and Karen’s brains about what to expect if I go on a road less traveled next week and head to Coopertown, NY and the Baseball Hall of Fame.  They’ve been there many times and had a lot to say.  I learned that it is way south of the road I’ll be on, but it may be well worth the diversion.

Karen & Rich’s home is salted with many, many items that used to be a part of my mom and dad’s home.  Each picture and trinket conjures up memories.  Karen has delved into family history that I never knew about.  For instance, she shared a story about our paternal grandfather Abraham Moss and one of his brothers, Joe Moss, who once tried out to play baseball for a farm team in the Detroit Tiger’s Association.  They did it on the hush, hush because their mother thought that baseball players were all BUMS.  I never knew.

An Ode To The Road
The road is long.  It winds and turns.  Two lanes here while eight lanes or wider there.  Stretches go straight for miles then snake to get around hills and valleys.  Roads rise and dip, cars and trucks grind across miles from their start to finish, over mountains across rivers, and through vast forest regions.  Obstructions and needed road repairs demand detours, then signs direct us to alternate courses for safe passage.  Roads can take us almost anywhere, connecting to one another in the most basic ways.  A man from Laguna Woods, CA. can begin on the US5 and with patience and enough time (13 Days, 6 Hours and 22 Minutes) can find himself on US80 in Cleveland, OH.  The road offers countless choices at intersections and exits.  It’s always inquiring of us: do you want to get off here? Do you want to stop there? Do you want to continue to go to the next city or town or campground?  Driving the road is not for the faint-hearted or indecisive.  Each driver must always stay alert and be engaged in making choices.  How fast, how slow, which lane, when to pass, when to lag behind.  As for me, two-lane roads are the most dangerous, causing my hands and brow to sweat.  There comes a  time on every 2-Lane road when you want to pass the poky Sunday Driver just ahead of you.  To do so you’ll have to drive around him, pulling into the oncoming lane of speeding traffic when passing Sunday Joe.
Step One: Look around him and down the road to assess any oncoming vehicles.
Step Two: decide to commit.
Step Three: goose the accelerator and pass Sunday Joe.
Step Four: reenter the proper lane safely, WHEW!
Able to live and drive another mile.

End of week #2
This week was mostly about family and blasts from my past.  That was amplified even more for me last night while attending Carol R’s club i Northville where I reminisced with old friends about old times and older friends.  Carol asked me if I’d be interested in seeing her dalmatian book.  It didn’t register with me because Carol is a ‘cat lady’ of sorts (providing a home to more than a dozen cats).  Carol scurried to get her book which was a gift to her from a group of her scrabble minions on the occasion of running her 101st tournament (101 Dalmatians).  The book was a treasuretrove of photos from the past 25 years, filled with a Who’s  Who of players from Michigan and environs.  Too many of the friends in the pictures has\ve since died but each photo unearthed countless memories of good times in bygone years.  There was Rosetta Brooks and Frank Lee and Florence Laatz and Cheryl (Stellllla) Cadieux and dozens more.  I remember so many players by the words which they taught me.
One that stands out most was laid on me by Stu Goldman when he played ‘STRIGIL’.  Not knowing it I challenged it . . . . and lost.  It’s a dental instrument.  We spoke names of players we’ve lost touch with and wondered together just where they might be today: Bob Schoeman and Danny Shay.  When I talked about going on to Saratoga Springs the name of Annette Tedesco came up.  I mentioned that I hoped to see her.  Carol shared that Annette had passed a couple of months ago.  At age 77 it’s never a complete shock for me to learn that my contemporaries have passed.  At times I wonder just how many scrabble turns I might have left.  But then again, Renee Peters is nearing 100 years young and Virginia Miller still plays every Monday in Laguna Woods Village at the age of 101.
Sue and I had a Friday lunch with her son Wylie just off the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, MI.  After lunch I said my goodbyes to Sue and Joe and drove US24 to US10 to MI37 to US75 to US80/90 East.  My next stop?    Northfield, OH., a suburb of Cleveland, home of the Hale’s:
Karen (my sister), Richard, and Alex (my nephew).  I’ll be staying here until Wed.
Next Tuesday evening I’ll play a club tournament in Independence, OH.  It’s an Open Tournament so if you want to play too, just show up a few minutes before 6 PM at Angie’s Pizza.  It’s a sanctioned  NASPA event so all players must belong to NASPA.

Club #458
I enjoyed my dinner last night with Sue and granddaughter Haley at Steve’s Deli in Birmingham followed by a leisurely evening with Sue and Joe just hanging out.
Now, I am looking forward to playing scrabble tonight at Club #458 with Carol Ravichandran in Northville, MI.  I’ve picked five words off my favorite words list, and I’ll try to play them tonight:  ABAYA;  SPADIX;  RUKH;  RUFIYAA; and SMARADG.

Today I spent a fair amount of time working on more HOOKS Puzzles.  HOOKS are oh so helpful to know when playing scrabble.  Frequently you can surprise your opponent with a hook they don’t know and earn a challenge which you will eventually WIN.  Consider hooking an ‘A’ to the front of ‘COLD’ creating ‘ACOLD’;  consider hooking an ’S’ to the front of ‘HERO’ making ‘SHERO,’ or one of my newer favorites is putting a ‘B’ on the front of ‘HAJI’ creating ‘BHAJI.’  Did you know these hooks?  If you are interested in learning these and want to acquire more consider going to the LINK on this web site entitled LEARNING TOOLS and check out a sample hooks puzzle like the one on display.

Stayed at Sue’s most of today watching movies on Cable, just visiting, and working on some scrabble puzzles.  Sue went with me to the scrabble club this evening at Carol Ravichandran’s in Northville.  We stopped for dinner at a Leo’s on Telegraph where I enjoyed another Greek Salad, ala Michigan variety.  Love those beets, garbanzo beans, and feta cheese.

What a pleasant surprise at Carol’s!  There was Carol her partner Steve Knapp, old friends Jim Weidel, David Ross, and famous old friend behind the beard, Chuck Armstrong.  I went 2/2 for the evening and won their category jackpot by playing a natural bingo with the letters B & N.  My word was ‘UNBASED’ for 70 points and paid $28.  Also, one of the players snapped up one of my BACKWARDS books!

Moving on! 
Last night there was a significant storm (Thunder and Lightning and all that good stuff).  I loved it.  I said my good-byes to Stacy and Amanda last night and to Dan, this morning as the door hit me in my rear-end on the way out the door  The ride from Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor toward the northwest suburbs of Detroit was much busier than I remember.  The trees that line the highways are still green . . . soon to be turning to yellows and reds.

Next stop was Machpelah Cemetery where I visited the graves of my mom and dad, my cousin Stu and my firstborn, Laurie Pamela.  Then I went to visit Adrienne’s Sister Barbara and her husband Ted in Huntington Woods where I met their newest eight-month-old grandchild.

Finally, I got to my daughter Sue and Joe’s home at about noon in Pontiac.  The plan for today is going to a movie.  We’re going to see ‘Peanutbutter Falcon’ with granddaughter, Haley Sutton and then out to dinner.  AIN’T LIFE GRAND?   

Nostalgic Day in Ypsilanti
Today was a chill-out, catch up day.  Both Amanda and Stacy had their first days at school today, and Dan worked on projects around the house.  I didn’t roll out of bed until 9:30 AM, freshened up and was out of the house by 10 AM.  I have a keen eye to identify Starbucks and remembered seeing one a few blocks from the Schwartz’s home.  And right next door to Starbucks was a Hair Clips, so  I did two things in one stop.  My shaggy look has given way to something cleaner. Then I enjoyed my Vanilla Latte with a morning bun while reading my email.

Next I worked my way over to a Barnes & Noble Book Store where I worked on a page or two of my HOOKS puzzle book.  Every time I do one of my scrabble projects I learn and relearn so many words.  Hopefully I’ll remember and play some of them in upcoming tournaments I play in Independence, OH and Stratford, ON.

Remember that fall I took on August 23, the day before I embarked on this journey?  Well, I received four stitches in my crown and its time to have them removed.  Almost right across the street from the bookstore was an Urgent Care.  In less than an hour and only a $5 co-pay the doc removed all four stitches.

I couldn’t help myself when I spotted a Leo’s Coney Island; it called to me; it even remembered my name.  There is nowhere outside of Michigan where one can find the kind of Coney Island Hot Dog and Greek Salad (with beets, chickpeas, and feta cheese) like they serve in the Detroit vicinity.  I gobbled them down.

I perused Meijer’s Friendly Acres (one of my favorite stores) for about an hour.  I bought some music tapes for the next legs of my travels, a shirt, and some odds and ends for Amanda to use at school.  Both Amanda and Stacy reported having pleasant days at school.

Another local food that I adore is Michigan Chinese Food.  I’ve been told that the Chinese recipes in Michigan come from a different province in China than the Chinese formulas in California.  What makes the difference is of no matter to me; I prefer the Michigan variety.  So tonight I popped for order in Chinese (I’m salivating as I write this and wait for the delivery).  My favorite is Egg-Foo-Yang with brown gravy and white rice.  YUM!

Tomorrow morning I head on East of here about 30 miles or so to visit my daughter Sue & husband Joe.

Ypsilanti, Michigan
Got up at 8:30 AM, I enjoyed a simple breakfast at a Fairfield Inn and got back on the road in Bowling Green, OH heading North on the I75 (my old familiar highway) to US 23 toward Ann Arbor.  I sallied into Ypsilanti at 11:15 AM to find Stacy, Dan, and Amanda.  I hadn’t seen these guys for nearly two years.  Wow, has Amanda blossomed!
It’s a busy time for them.  Amanda goes back to school tomorrow as does Stacy.  Stacy is an Art Teacher in the Ypsilanti Public Schools.  We talked about her anticipation of the coming school year and just listening it sent scary chills down my spine.  The school is so fortunate to have her.  Stacy’s school sounds like so many inner-city schools where Art Teachers and all teachers have the tough job of dealing with trying to teach children who are barely functioning and dealing with many family and behavioral issues.  I would never have had the patience.

Amanda is a cute, amazing 13 year and very bright . . . So much like Dan, her brilliant father.  After an hour of schmoozing, we went out for a bite at Taco Bell (Amanda’s favorite).

While looking around for a scrabble connection, I checked the NASPA club directory and found my old friend Carol Ravichandran listed.  I called Carol and learned that she runs a club out of her home in Northville, MI on Thursday evenings.  As of now, I plan on being there. When I lived in Michigan (1942 – 1995), during the last eight years, I initiated several scrabble clubs and tournaments.  When I flew the coop I turned over my organization to Carol who built upon it and has kept things going all these years.

I’ve been trying to register for the One Day Scrabble Tournament on September 14th in Stratford, Ontario, Canada and couldn’t connect on my phone.  Today I learned that my METRO PCS Plan does not allow me to call into Canada.  So I called using Dan’s phone, promptly connected, and enrolled and secured a hotel room in Stratford for the night before the tournament.

Being back around where I grew up and lived for so many years has made me very nostalgic.  All kinds of longings going on inside and not sure why.  My thoughts have been flooded with images and faces of friends from by-gone days.  Several images are of friends no long alive: Frank Lee, Cheryl Cadieux; Christine Larkin and so many others who may still be here or not.  I plan to be here, in Ypsilanti, through Wednesday morning.  I sadly mentioned to Stacy that I have no idea when I’ll see them next.  However, she offered up that the Schwartz clan has rented a house on the ocean in San Diego for their family, winter 2019 getaway.  I guess I know where I’ll be in December.  How convenient!

Here to There
Today, for me was all about getting from there to here.  There, was St. Louis, MO. and Here is Bowling Green, OH.   While preparing to go on this trip I consulted a good friend (and scrabble player) Nancy Douglas who drives cross-country twice each year (between Wisconsin and Riverside, CA.)  Nancy advised me to take along some books on tape to pass the hours of driving.  I’ve never been fond of books on tape, but I did bring one along.  It has been a godsend.  It makes the time seem to pass so much faster.

I also daydream a lot about ideas for scrabble teaching aids.  When I stop along the way, I try to remember those ideas and jot them down.  I’ve saved a few good ones.

It seems to me that the speed limits are faster than the last time I drove cross-country.  Many areas permit drivers to go 70mph & 75mph.  Even in road-work areas, drivers are allowed to go 60mph. The roads are filled with countless 18 wheelers and longer.  My small Toyota handles beautifully and has enough power to scoot-on-by.

I’ve received many phone calls from friends and minions while traveling.  On the one hand, it keeps me from ever being lonely.  Twenty years ago one didn’t have the same access.  And yet, there are still many places that are dead spots and more frustrating than that are the places where the weak signal drops the call mid-sentence.

Meanwhile, back home there are some developments taking place to ensure the continuation of the Super-Scrabble Club launched and run for the last ten years by our dear friend Maliha Mahmood who passed away so suddenly.  I have been invited to be involved in this endeavor.  I am creating a questionnaire to solicit information from past regular players in search of consensus on how to proceed.  It will never be the same without the energy and direction of Maliha, but we hope to honor her memory, continuing a part of her legacy.

End of week one results

  1. Played a twenty game marathon vs. Gerry Greenside.  Won five / Lost fifteen.
  2. Traveled 1100 miles.  Saw the Great Salt Lake, Dinosaur National Monument, and had brunch in Steamboat Springs, CO (Where there was not one Steamboat to be seen.)
  3. Had a nice visit with my son, Martin.
  4. Had my car repaired in Colorado for $4. (not a typo!)
  5. Had a lesson from the Geek Squad in Denver on how to use my Garmin.
  6. Didn’t overeat while driving and enjoying country music and country preachers on the radio.
  7. Reacquainted myself with that talkative little voice in my head that hasn’t been quiet more than five miles along this journey.
  8. Shared my Backwards Dictionary at all four clubs and received favorable reviews from many players.  Selling eight to date.Pretty good, everything considered.  (Oh yeah: 50+ bingos)

Before retiring last night, I eyed the roadmap and figured that tomorrow night at this time I’ll be resting somewhere near Kansas City (the birthplace of Dr. David Poder aka to some people as 2000 in 2000).

BIG and Beautiful
Damn is this country BIG and Beautiful. I spent most of yesterday driving East on State Route 40 through Utah and Colorado. Spent last night in Craig, CO, something I’ve always hoped to do. (One more item off my bucket list.) Along the way, I stopped at the Dinosaur National Monument. (Notice the pictures). I got a room in time to watch the college football game: Utah vs. BYU. I found everyone in Utah all abuzz as you can imagine. In case you missed it, Utah won the 9th straight year in a row.

I’m feeling my age or older. The last time I drove cross-country was in the early 2000s when I helped a friend, Christine Larkin, move from Rochester Hills, MI to Tuscon, AZ. Now, even carrying my luggage up the stairs to a second-floor room is a chore and leaves me breathless.

My car had a mishap somewhere yesterday. Someone, somewhere backed up into my front bumper left it ajar. I’ll have to fix that before getting back on the road.

During some downtime last evening I scanned some files on my old computer. I brought both computers on this trip. I found some neat stuff. If you know me, then you know the teacher that has always lived within never stops creating learning tools. One that I found last night is especially useful for newer players and those of us who need a review of words heavy with vowels. Get it free from me by just asking; it’s in PDF format.

Salt Lake City
8/28/19 Update
The players in Salt Lake City must be wondering why this guy (me) is traveling cross country and playing at all the scrabble clubs. I played like a dummy and the tiles were of no help to me. What does a blank look like anyway? It was nice visiting with several players I’ve seen and played against in tournaments. I had a chance to show everybody my Backwards Dictionary. So far I’ve sold a total of eight. I also sold a clock in Las Vegas. I’m not getting rich yet, but I’ve covered some of the cost of ’77 Sunset Trip’.

Not so Far
I spent last night in Mesquite, NV. On the road now to Salt Lake City where I will play at their club this afternoon at 3 PM. Yesterday at Las Vegas Tuesday Cub I had a 557 with five bingos. That felt soooooooo goooood. I’m trying to upload the photo of the board. I’ll keel some more when I can show it to you.

I found the ride from Mesquite to Salt Lake City to be outstanding.  It was mostly desert and farmland . . . but if you haven’t experienced the Virgin River Gorge put it on your bucket list (and do it as a passenger in the vehicle, not as the driver.) It was breath-taking!  Coming from the environs of Detroit, I love the food and ambiance of the Cracker Barrel Restaurants.  The first and only one came to southern CA recently, but it is inconveniently located in Victorville.  About 50 miles before getting to Salt Lake City I found one at Springville, UT,  where I am now enjoying a late morning breakfast.  It is just as I remembered.

Now it’s 1 PM exactly, and I’m 2 hours early.  I arrived at the location for the Salt Lake City scrabble club at a Pizza restaurant.  It’s next door to a Barnes & Noble, so here I sit in the cafe with internet, a bathroom, all the reading material one could want, and a Starbucks Cafeteria to boot.  People told me it would take longer to get here from Vegas.  I do have a lead foot when driving, but the legal speed limit was 75 & 80 mph.  I was impressed by the amount of building taking place on both sides of the freeway for the final 25 miles.  Maybe they are expecting all the immigrants from Central America to replant themselves.  There sure is are endless open spaces for miles and miles.

Salt Lake City -more
I had five bingos in this game and used only 5 minutes + 45 seconds on my clock.  The turn before I played ‘GIANTISM’ I had tried to play ‘MISGAINS’ from the M going downward.  That was challenged off.

  1. evilest
  2. filtered
  3. giantism
  4. outwit
  5. yearlong

Salt Lake City
I spent last night in Mesquite, NV. On the road now to Salt Lake City where I will play at their club this afternoon at 3 PM.  Yesterday at Las Vegas Tuesday Cub I had a 557 with five bingos. That felt soooooooo goooood. I’m trying to upload the photo of the board. I’ll share some more when I am able to show it to you.

Leaving Vegas
On Monday morning I finally broke my scrabble losing streak against Gerry. We played a 7 game session, and I won 4 of 7. I finally saw a blank or two and had some decent combinations. Final total after 20 games is Gerry 15: Me 5. Some of my highlights include playing the following bingos: REACTION;TRIPLED; AIRIEST; ENATIONS; REDLINES; SOCAGE; PROPANE; TRIAGES; FRECKLES; INFESTS; SHORTIAS;; WADMALS; ORATIONS; FRACTURE: SERINGA; VOLTAGE; DETAILED; MORBIDER; INVITES; PIEHOLE; SHINIER; STARTING; OUTSWORN; and REOPENS.

The lesson that I learned in losing those games to Gerry is that a ‘good defense’ can be more important than just focusing on ‘offense.’ Gerry plays excellent defense and rarely leaves the opponent a good place to score. He also had a significant edge in drawing the blanks. Out of a possible of 40 blanks, he pulled 30. Oh well, some days are diamonds, others are stones.

I’ve had several people (strangers) give me advice about the next leg of my trip when they saw me hovering over a map. The two leading suggestions are to stop over at either Mesquite or Cedar City Nevada, just before the Utah border.

The Sunday Club
The Sunday Club in Las Vegas meets in the cafeteria of a residential facility for people in need of long term medical care.  We blended right in.  People begin arriving at 11 AM and are free to come and go as their schedules require of them.  By noon we had six players and most stayed through 4 PM; a few lingered through 6 PM.  Rotations take care of themselves. There isn’t a formal director. When you finish your game, you look for someone free whom you haven’t yet played.  At times when the number of players was odd . . . Someone volunteered to play a double and once or twice three people played at a single board.  Everyone was very civil about it all. I played as many as eight games between 11 AM – 4 PM, including one double.  I lost 2 two Gerry who has become my nemesis and won the other 6.  Being in the cafeteria we were all welcome to enjoy the menu of the day at hospital prices.  I had a full Sunday lunch for under $6.

When the group dwindled to 3 players at 4 PM I left, allowing the last two to be even.  (I was chomping at the bit to get myself to a Casino where I have a Blackjack addiction.  I’m happy to report that me luck at Blackjack was much better my record against Gerry.  I worked the Sam’s Town Casino for about $150 in about two and a half hours at the tables.  And I enjoyed another 6 PM ice-cream from a 31Flavors in the food court.

I firmed up my plans to meet-up with my son Marty tomorrow at one of our favorite eateries, ‘Blueberry Hill’ on Sandhill Street.  In the AM Gerry goes to the gym at 7 AM and I’ll be ready for yet another match from 9 AM-Noon.  Maybe the tiles will turn.  My play against him has been an embarrassment.  But, the good news is Gerry is pleased as punch, and I now have an open invitation to come back as often as I desire.  Gerry has lived here most of his adult life and knows how to work the town as far as freebies go.  Monday evening we’ll use his pull to gain entry to a show starring a comic.

On the Road
First Stop
My first stop on 77 Sunset Trip was with my good scrabble friend’s at Jamie Covell’s club in Escondido, Ca.  They meet every 2nd an 4th Saturdays of the month from 11 AM – 2:30 PM.  I think I’ve been playing with them for more than ten years now.  They are also involved with a yearly tournament-like/fundraiser for The Literacy Project at their local library.  These folks are about having fun with scrabble, and all of them will give you a challenging game if you come by during their session.

always putting myself at risk when playing with them.  I believe I have the highest rating in the group, and they are all out to beat me every time.  Today was a real challenge for me because in two of the games I was only able to win on the final play.  My first game was against Lara, and by the 4th turn I had bingoed with ‘DERIVATE.’  But then the tiles turned, Lara charged back. But I had the better tiles at the end and won with 403 to 379.  Game #2 was against director, Jamie.  After four turns each Jamie led 90 to 86.  When I played GANOV she called hold but didn’t challenge.  I thought that it was one of the several variations of GONEF.  Later when I put an ’S’ on it and tried to play my only bingo, she challenged the entire play, and that opportunity for me vanished.  I never did bingo in that game but managed to win 357 to 328.  Game number 3 was against Dave.  You know those players who whine through the game about their bad luck and their awful tiles?  That’s Dave; meanwhile he played three bingos during the match to my one.  However, I played ‘HOAXERS’ on the triple line for 106 points which helped me pull out the win 413 to 402.  The fourth and final game was against Linda.  We both struggle to get good combinations.  She exchanged tiles three times, and I exchanged twice.  Neither of us played a bingo; I tried to draw her challenge when I played ‘IHRAM.’  She didn’t bite.  I won 351 to 229.

After the club, I hopped in my car and headed North on US15 as planned.  I stopped for lunch in the quaint little town of Lake Elsinore then drove farther North to Baker where I had my ice cream before driving the last hour to Vegas.  As tired as I was Gerry was ready to play and play he did.  We played four games in all, and he torched me game after game.  I was getting unplayable bingos, and he played great defense.  Even in game #4 when I opened “KELOIDS’ for 82 points and later played ‘PERCHERS’ on a triple line, he managed to get the “q,” ‘Z,’ and ‘X’ on hot spots for big scores. There’s always tomorrow.  He’s taking me to a Sunday club, so I’ll get to play some locals.  Pics to follow.

Being in Vegas where it stays hot outside after the sun goes down makes me appreciate the paradise where I live in Laguna Woods.  Thank goodness that Gerry has good air conditioning.  I’m right on schedule and will be here thru Tuesday afternoon.

Believing Is Empowering
You really CAN DO anything.    Just watch me soar.  I’m on the road again.  I’ve done this kind of thing before.  It always begins with an idea. Do you remember those Mighty Mouse cartoons when he sometimes had to make a decision, and a miniature angel appears next to one ear, and the devil appears next to the other ear?  They whisper conflicting advice and try to influence Mighty Mouse’s choice of what to do.  That’s what it was like for me when I got this idea.  There are pluses and minuses to make a dramatic change in your life routine for several weeks.  In this case, the unanimous choice for me was to DO IT.

Today I leave Laguna Woods at 9 AM and enjoy the first leg of my adventure at Janie Covell’s club in Escondido, CA.  It’s a lovely drive at 9 AM.  (Don’t drive this leg of  US5 late in the day on Saturdays. Later in the day it is usually bumper-to-bumper from Orange County to San Diego.) At 9 AM, however,  it’s sunny with mild temps in the ’70s, with the Pacific Coast over your left shoulder; until you arrive at Oceanside veering left and East.

I plan on notating my scrabble results and introduce you to the other players I meet and challenge.  After their club session I will head North on the 5 Fwy to Las Vegas (about 300 mi.).  I like to make a pit stop either in Victorville or Baker for an ice-cream break.  I expect to pull into Gerry Greenside’s driveway before 9 PM and I expect Gerry will want to play some serious scrabble before he allows me to head to bed.  That’s the price of hospitality.  I believe that this is going to be a fun and exciting journey.  Keep following 77 Sunset Trip!

Losing is a choice
And then he asked, “Does that mean I can always WIN?”

Yes, that’s what that means.  It all depends on what ‘WIN’ and ‘LOSE’ mean.  If you keep your wits about you and avoid getting sucked into the idea that losing the game is tragic and disheartening, then you may be able to see and understand that losing can be an opportunity to grow and learn.  Then if you grow and learn, I’d call that a win.  When I thought there were no more bingo lines open on the scrabble board and my opponent played the word ‘SERIATE’ by hooking the ’S’ to the top of ‘HERO’ making ‘SHERO,’ I chuckled to myself, and I acknowledged my defeat.  There’s always another word to know and learn.  Even after 30 years of playing this game and studying until my eye are red I seem to still learn words at most every club session.

Learning ‘HOOKS’ and ‘EXTENSIONS’ are one of my favorite pastimes.  It doesn’t take a loooooong word to stump your opponent.  What if I added an ‘F’ to the end of ‘HOW’ to make ‘‘HOWF’?  How about a ‘B’ to the front of ‘HAJI,’ creating ‘BHAJI.”

I love hooking my opponent’s word right after he plays it.  My opponent played ‘LEARN’ knowing all the esses and blanks had already been used.  My very next turn was on‘INERTIA’ hooking the ’T’ onto the end of ‘LEARN’ making ‘LEARNT.’  As you may know, I have published small workbooks dedicated to ‘HOOKS’ and ‘EXTENSIONS’ and more.  Some for as little at $8 – $10 plus shipping.  Check out the web site and click on Learning Tools or send me an email.  Learn a word or two every day create an advantage in your column.  Losing is a choice.

8/23/19 -EXTRA
When the clock struck 5:00 P.M., yesterday, 8/22/19, I made a beeline to punch out at work and head home. I was now officially on vacation. I just had some last-minute packing up and to Maliha’s memorial tomorrow. But then in my parking lot I misstepped over a rope, lost my balance, fell backward slamming my head onto the pavement. I could feel the blood gushing and had enough presence of mind to reach for my phone and call Adrienne to come out with a towel to rescue me. Then off to the emergency room. Now 5 hours and four stitches later I am way behind schedule, but it will have to wait till tomorrow. I’m heading to bed. No worries it was just my head.

Winning Is A Process
He’s a winner; She’s a winner
We hear it a lot.  We identify with the glory of a winner and it puts a smile on our faces.  Hundreds of fans surround the 18th hole on any given Sunday afternoon when the last twosome approaches the final green and one of the golfers doffs his hat to the crowd and the crowd cheers wildly for this winner on that given Sunday.  We scream feverishly as the winning horse turns the final curve and pulls away from the pack in the last furloughs toward the finish line.  One fighter hangs on the other exhaustedly so not to stumble and fall to the mat and drips with sweat and blood while the would be victor pummels him with heavy punches to finish off this opponent.  The crowd goes wild and condones the meeting out of pain.
And while these victories are occurring in these moments they all began days ago, weeks ago, months ago, and years ago when that winner in the now began training way-back then. Very few win on their first attempt.  Most set out on a path that builds in a lot of spaced-repetition, called practice.  After deciding along with the guidance of his music teacher, the student select the clarinet that he will play.  He is only 7 years old and upon the threshhold  of years of lessons and recitals, countless combos and bands and orchestral dates.
And if and when some years later he is awarded a grammy  . . . he’ll smile humbly and reflect on the long road he’s to this place.
He knows there is so much more to winning . . . it is a PROCESS.

Scrabble players know they have a process too:

  1. Memorize the 2’s
  2. Learn a boat-load of high vowel dumps
  3. Develop a study habit and learn the High-Probability 7’ and 8’s
  4. Get a handle on front and back hooks
  5. Then maybe you can compete and finish among the Top 10. 

Remember that the luck factor is nearly 30% and never take that old lady opponent for granted or she’ll mop up the floor with you.  Can you spell Sticktoitiveness?

You don’t know what you’ve got till she’s gone.
Well, that’s not completely true. We all knew what we had in the friend we called Maliha. Maliha was the kindest, loving, most genuine friend I’ve ever had. She has been a regular part of my life for the last 20 years. And I most likely would never have come to meet her if it wasn’t for Scrabble. It was around 1997 while I was living in a 32 foot RV at Newport Dunes. Once a month on the 1st Sunday I ran a scrabble tournament in their game room and every Wednesday I ran a scrabble club at BORDERS BOOKSELLERS at South Coast Plaza. I advertised with small ads in local papers and flyers on bulletin boards. One day I received a call from a man named Arshad Mahmood. He told me that his wife enjoyed the game of scrabble and he was looking for a suitable place for her to play. You see, Arshad is a Muslim man and wanted to be certain that my club was a safe and appropriate place for his wife to attend. My club and I passed the white-glove test and Maliha began attending. Maliha was originally from the Philippines and it was there that the nuns in her school used scrabble as a learning tool to teach her and others English. When one plays scrabble and English is their 2nd language it will be extra challenging.

Maliha’s tenacity was amazing. Long after most others would have given up, Maliha pushed forward with Arshad’s full support and encouragement. Maliha was my perfect student. She allowed the losses at the club to roll off her back and focused on the little things she learned during each game. Maliha’s example was an inspiration to me and many other players in our circle. Her abilities at scrabble enabled her to rise in the ranks. She went on to play in scrabble competitions including regionals, nationals, and even on the world stage. More than simply playing, Maliha developed a deep love of words, especially the longest words. She compiled many scrabble wordbooks; some were recognized and sanctioned by world scrabble associations. When Maliha discovered the game of Super Scrabble she stepped up to become one of only a few certified directors in the entire US. She attracted players from near and far and they beat a path to play at her home and other venues on a monthly basis. Maliha’s generosity was immeasurable.

Live every day as if it was your last. Be kind, considerate, and generous.

MEMORY is a Muscle
8/20/19 (My Birthday)
When you don’t use your muscles, they atrophy.  And that would be an awful waste. Playing a severe form of scrabble is like taking vitamins to keep your memory alive and well.  Today I turned 77 years young and yet I feel much more youthful than my age.  I attribute that to staying plugged into life, keeping up with the newest trends, and keeping myself relevant by offing something back to the community daily.  I live in an extensive senior community of more than 20,000 people.  Sadly, too many of them are coasting through the rest of their lives watching the tube and playing bingo.  When I meet some of these folks and invite them to join up with the scrabble club I frequently hear the reply, “I can’t spell;  I can’t remember, or simply I can’t.”  I’m here to tell you that ‘I CAN’T’ is a crippling excuse.  I can point to other seniors at my scrabble club who are pushing 100 years young and every week I witness their ‘I CAN’T’ performances.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  And that’s how you deal with the issues of memory too.  Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.  Break the job down into bite-size pieces.  Don’t put it off until tomorrow because if you do I guarantee that tomorrow will never come.  Then use tried and tested techniques to achieve your goal.  YES YOU CAN.
If scrabble genuinely isn’t your thing then choose that other thing that you love so much.  Don’t be left alone drooling on the sideline.  Get yourself back into the game.


Sometimes ‘LUCK’ is something that happens to bring good fortune to random individuals.  But sitting around waiting to win the power ball jackpot or the publishers clearing house prize is fool hearty.  Newbie scrabble players tend to be the most upbeat when it comes to learning the secrets of scrabble mavens.  But as much knowledge as they soak up, the truth is there are many, many skills needed and words to learn to achieve the rank of MAVEN.  Those who have been around a while will know that “ The More You Know . . . The Luckier You’ll Become.  And that’s the truth.

My online scrabble class, ‘Scrabble 101’, touches all facets of the game.  My students ask me, “Where should I focus my time to become a better player in the shortest amount of time?”  That’s almost impossible to answer.  People learn differently.  The best learning program is one that introduces you to all the parts of the game.  Then you have to adopt a learning strategy which includes spaced repetition learning, reviewing, and self-testing on this mountain of information.  Remember, there are more than 175,000 words that can be played. I usually have my students begin by mastering the 2’s and next I teach them the value of the Top 100 Stems.  But there are miles and miles one must travel before one nears Mavenhood.

Scrabble 101 is a 21 Day, Intensive class.  Students must agree to devote a minimum of 1 hour each day to work at the challenges I put to them.  The 21 Lessons are just the beginning.  Long after the 21 Lessons are over serious student will review each lesson over and over again at a pace of their own. Each time a lesson is reviewed it is done at a deeper level.  I’ve been playing scrabble for more than 40 years, and I still learn words and strategies.

Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz: 
1Y a rookery of Albatross; 
2E a congregation of Alligators; 
3Z a shrewdness of Apes; 
4A a flange of Baboons; 
5J a cute of Badgers
6Q a cauldron of Bats; 
7R a sleuth of Bears; 
8L a colony of Beavers;
9P a suite of Bloodhounds;
10S a sounder of Boars; 
11U an obstinacy of Buffalo; 
12H a caravan of Camels
13V a chowder of cats; 
14K a mob of Cattle; 
15W a coalition of Cheetas; 
16X a rake of Colts
17O a parcel of Deer; 
18T a pack of Dogs; 
19B a pod of Dolphins; 
20C a pace of Donkeys
21G a parade of Elephants; 
22D a gang of Elk; 
23M a business of Ferrets; 
24N a skulk of Fox
25F a tower of Giraffes; 
26I  an implausibility of Gnus

Packing My Car

I’m loading up my car for my 77 Sunset Trip, and I’m hoping to sell some of my creations along the way.  I’ll be schlepping my Backwards Dictionary, copies of my ANAGRAMS books, and both STRANGE BEGINNINGS and STRANGE ENDINGS.  I’m bringing along a printer and the binding machine to enable myself to assemble books of score sheets for eager buyers.  I’ll be carrying some sets of Whiz Cards and will be prepared to make up more per requests.  I hope to be asked to deliver my scrabble talk, ‘The Secrets of Scrabble Champions.’

I can conduct a mean house party for up to a dozen friends.  You share your house and friends; I provide the rest.  It’s great fun, and it sometimes leads to the creation of a continuing scrabble club after I’m gone.

I meet a lot of people who’d love to play competitive scrabble but they tell me that they don’t want to study to build their word knowledge.  May I suggest that you use other means to learn more words.  Here’s a puzzle I created about animals and their names when they are in groups.  Something as simple and as fun as this is one way to grow your vocabulary.  (See the answers tomorrow.)

Feeling  Lucky
I’m feeling like a very lucky guy. When one of my teeth broke off a few weeks ago it wasn’t painful and my daily routine didn’t permit me to drop everything and get to my dentist, I just kept putting it off until yesterday. I thought it was a broken implant that the doc would repair it and I would only be out of some time at his expense. WRONG. It was a crown on a tooth that had had a root canal some time ago and finally gave up the ghost. IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING. Sitting there in the dentist’s chair (knowing that I’m about to leave town) I had to make a decision. Do I just extract it and have another hole in my head -or- do I part with my hard-earned cash to fix the sucker? Of course, as the dentist prodded the broken tooth he also looked around and identified other areas that needed attention. He could repair the damage now. I had to address the problem.

I needed two implants and he uses a new technology that is virtually painless. Can you spell $7,200? The best part was the nitrous oxide (both good scrabble words; the anagram of NITROUS is TURIONS). The after-care pain pills are great too. I slept through the night like a baby. But I’ll basically have to put all my food through a blender for the next several days.

What did the cavepeople do? What does a poor person do? What am I going to do? Luckily I have Care Credit that pays the dentist and I get six months without interest charges. So on the way home when I stopped at CVS to pick up the pain medication I purchased a ticket for tonight’s Power Ball drawing. What will tomorrow bring?

I learned the Cub Scout Motto about 70 years ago and can you believe that I still remember it?

“BE PREPARED.’  So here I am with only eight days until my journey begins and I’m gathering all the necessities I can imagine I’ll require.  Even though I have a Garmin, I’d like a good old fashion map.  So I took a ride to AAA (I used to be a member there).  They no longer provide that service, and they only service current members in good standing.  So I went to plan #B.  I drove to Barnes & Noble and purchased a map for $5.31.  Then wouldn’t you believe it a tooth broke off in my mouth?  I am lucky to have gotten an appointment for a repair at my dentist this afternoon.  Last week I had my local print shop create five copies of my backward dictionary to bring with me.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I sold all of them on the first day off the press.  Luckily for me, the printer can create ten more copies before I hit the road.

Then there’s my website saga.  In the late 1990s, I began my website.  I’m an Apple guy, so I used a program called iWeb.  I made entries nearly every day, including word lists and highlighting scrabble events and personalities.  Then at some point in the mid-2000s, Apple abandoned supporting iWeb.  But I had a clean copy, and I was most proficient as my webmaster so I continued onward.  Now, along comes 2017 and GoDaddy who hosts my site decides that they will no longer host iWeb.  Can’t you spell   ‘unF…ing believable’?  My site was more than 500 pages long.  Big breath!  Deep Breath!  I can handle this.  I’ll recreate my website in one of those other formats that claim to be easy:  Square Space,  Wix,  Word Press.  So I tried.  I did not find anything to be easy.  But I have a lot of friends who know about web sites.  I put out the word.  Sure, computers companies would set things up for me for $1,000+.  But this doesn’t generate that kind of money.  None of my friends could help me.  So . . . My website has been sitting there for more than a year without a single update.  Until last week.

Happened to notice my sister’s website and made a call asking for a little help.  BING!  BANG!  BOOM!  My web site is up and running, and soon, I will be trained to make the updates on my own.  BE PREPARED.  Things seldom work out just the way you hope and expect.  Be flexible.  Look at things differently, from another perspective.  Keep on moving forward, unless you’re using my Backward Dictionary.

Someone saw me while I was lost in a project at a cafe table in Barnes & Noble book store. They watched me over my shoulder as I was busily typing a word list on my MacBook. Finally, he spoke up and asked me what the list was. I told him a little about my obsession with scrabble and tried to explain that I was creating a BACKWARD LIST of all the words in the OWL. He asked me how long it would take me to complete the task. I told him that is was an all-year project. He snickered. He said to me that any competent programmer could do the same thing in a few hours or a few days. I agreed that he was probably right . . . But I was interacting with every single word as I SEE IT… AS I SPEAK IT . . .AS I LOCATED WHERE IT FITS IN THE REVERSED ALPHABETICAL SERIES . . . AND AS I TYPE EACH WORD. My hope is to learn 10% – 15% of the wordS that I currently do not know. The guy muttered, “You’re Crazy. Get a life.” He walked away and I resumed typing and exposing myself to words. Today while I listed the words that end with the two letters Y – K in that order . . . I learned that there is only one such word in the OWL. It is ‘BOSHLYK’.

If you want to reserve your copy of my list (to be completed on or before March 1, 2020) send your $10 deposit payable to JFTSOI c/o 3367 Punta Alta #3B, Laguna Woods, CA 92637.

All of a sudden

All of a sudden, I’m feeling salmon-like. I feel the need to spawn. As you may have heard, I’m planning to drive (not swim) upstream from Laguna Woods, CA to Detroit, MI. I’m leaving on August 24. I’ll be making stops in Escondido, CA., Las Vegas, NV. Salt Lake City, UT and many points east by northeast. I’m open to invitations from folks like YOU to stop along the way to provide scrabble presentations, classes, or just for you, for a personal challenge.

My Backwards Dictionary is hot-off-the-press, and I’m eager to show it off.  Provide me an opportunity to demonstrate how it can assist you in your quest for more word power and word knowledge.

I will be Blogging all the way, so join me virtually on the road. My blogs will appear here at

77 Sunset Trip

To promote and initiate competitive scrabble across the USA, the money collected will be used to create Scrabble Classes & Scrabble Exhibitions.

I am Gary Moss, aka Letterman. I am an educator with both MS & MA in Education. For 30 plus years, I have been playing competitive Scrabble. Also, I have directed sanctioned Scrabble Clubs since 1990 and have produced and directed more than 250 sanctioned Scrabble Tournaments through the years.

My plan is to drive from my from home in Laguna Woods, CA going North and East, stopping at more than a dozen cities from August 24 thru October 12. I will be traveling as far east as Saratoga Springs, NY, and back again. I’m available to present to schools, community centers, service organizations, and individuals who want to learn about this fantastic word game. Additionally, I will challenge people to Beat The Champ (that’s me). I will share the ‘Secrets of Scrabble Champions’ and provide tips on how to organize your local club, planting the seeds. I will be the Johnny Appleseed with scrabble as my ministry.m As I blog along the way follow my ventures and join in, Words are Power!

I plan to drive from my from home in Laguna Woods, CA going North and East, stopping at more than a dozen cities from August 24 thru October 12. I will be traveling as far east as Saratoga Springs, NY, and back again. I want to present to schools, community centers, service organizations, and individuals who want to learn about this fantastic word game. Additionally, I will challenge people to Beat The Champ (that’s me). I will share the ‘Secrets of Scrabble Champions’ and provide tips on how to organize your local club, planting the seeds. I will be the Johnny Appleseed with scrabble as my ministry
As I blog along the way follow my ventures and join in, Words are Power!