Blog

Becky Novacek

Monday
11/18/19
Offense? Or Defense?
Offense means scoring as many points as you can. Defense means closing the board and preventing your opponent from using the valuable hot spots and bingo lines.
The problem with playing defense is that when you close down the board for your opponent, you are also making your own next turn more difficult. When the board is closed, the advantage goes to the player who knows the greatest number of words and hooks.
When your opponent is a stronger player, it is dangerous to play an open game, but you will also have more places to play.The more YOU know, the luckier you’ll become.

And now, what do you do?

Learn more. Fill your arsenal with the knowledge of more words, more hooks, more anagrams. Sharpen your tracking skills. Develop your tactile skills and pick the blanks and S’s when you are drawing tiles from the tile bag.
If you want a partner to help bolster your game, allow me, and Just For The Spell Of It to provide you with the study tools to boost your standing in the ranks. Call me today (949) 510-1673 to begin your regimen.


Sunday
11/17/19
ANTICIPATION
This suggestion may not sit well with newbies. But it’s one of the essential factors that lead to winning at scrabble and life in general. Some of it only comes after having gone around the block a time or more.
ANTICIPATION.When I coach and teach, I build this idea into my presentation:
“When you are making your play on this turn . . .Always think about the possibilities for your next turn.”

Huh? It means to THINK AHEAD, have a plan, consider how your play will open certain ‘hot spots,’ and allow for specific hooks.
Remember that in every game with two players, each person is playing both offense and defense. It is usually impossible to avoid opening every hot spot and bingo lane. If you develop the skill called ‘tracking,’ you will know which tiles are still unseen at any point in the game. Tracking allows you to avoid creating places for your opponent to place their highest-scoring tiles (J, Q, X, Z); on the premium squares.

ANTICIPATION is a valuable tool in all of life.

  • We have routine check-ups with our physicians
  • We seek out advice when making significant purchases to protect our savings and assets
  • We purchase insurance to safeguard our future
  • We learn to drive our vehicles defensively for safety amidst the crazies on the roads.

The more you know, the better you become at anticipation.
The more life experiences you have, the better you become at anticipating.

  • Learn more
  • Be aware
  • Live more

Experience the NOW and expect what might be coming NEXT.


Saturday
11/16/19
And That’s the Truth
When, if ever, is it OK to NOT tell the truth? When you’re playing poker, and you’re bluffing? When you’re playing, scrabble, and you’re playing a phony? When you just didn’t feel like doing your homework one night, and you tell your teacher that the dog ate it? When the cashier mistakenly gives you too much change, and you casually walk out of the store pocketing an extra $20? When you’re the president, and you see everything you say and do as a presidential privilege?

Growing up, I remember hearing the stories about George Washington and the Cherry Tree. I recall stories about ‘Honest Abe’ Lincoln. Even Pinocchio suffered consequences when he told a lie.
Remember Bernard Lawrence Madoff, an American former market maker, investment adviser, and financier who is currently serving a federal prison sentence for offenses related to a massive Ponzi scheme.?
Remember Frank William Abagnale Jr. (born April 27, 1948), an American security consultant known for his background as a former con man, check forger, and impostor while he was between the ages of 15 and 21.

COOKIES! YUM, I LIKE MOMMAS COOKIES

I remember a time when I was 23.
It was a typical Saturday afternoon in April of 1966, and I was hanging out at home while my wife was out for lunch with her girlfriends. I had been on a Weight Watcher Diet for more than a week and had already lost between 5 – 7 pounds. As much as I was feeling good about my accomplishment, I was feeling ravenous. To make matters very frustrating, my mother had sent us a large box filled with her special chocolate-chip cookies. These cookies were talking cookies, and they knew my name. As I tried my hardest to ignore them and focus on the baseball game on the TV, the cookies called to me by name: Gary, Gary, Gary. The little devil on my shoulder whispered into my ear, “Go ahead and eat just one. No one will ever know. You deserve one right now.” I walked over to the box of cookies, opened it, looked in on them, closed the box, and walked away to the sofa where I sat down and continued watching the game. Not more than 5 minutes later, I picked myself up, walked straight back to that box of cookies with an open napkin in one hand, and with the other hand, I scooped up 3 cookies, shoving one whole cookie directly into my mouth.
Just then, I heard the front door open and knew it had to be my wife returning from her lunch date. I sprung toward the steps to the basement and descended the stairs 3 at a time, ran into the laundry room, and slammed the door. I shoved the other 2 cookies into my mouth and devoured them to hide the evidence. I heard my wife walking to the top of the stairway, and she shouted down to me, “What are you doing down there?” I could hardly speak. My mouth was still stuffed with cookies. I somehow shouted back to her, “I’m doing laundry.”

And then there’s The Donald.


Friday
11/15/19
We’re All SUPER HEROES!
We’re all made out of the right stuff. When we’re slaking, the key ingredient that is missing is the ‘motivation.’ What motivates you? A candle about 18 inches high? Is it a spendable paycheck that will pay for your next vacation? A feeling that you get when you know you’re being a good provider for your family? Or, completing your college degree and opening the door to your future?
Once you know your motivating factor and surrender to it, life sings. What used to feel like chores become play-like. Obstacles all but vanish.
You say that you understand the motivation concept yet, you haven’t identified the magic bullet that will personally empower you. How can you find your motivator? 

Begin very pragmatically by making lists. List things you like;

  • activities that make you smile
  • places you enjoy;
  • people who you enjoy spending time with
  • foods you like to eat;
  • colors that you find soothing and others that make you feel productive
  • the music you wish to listen to when you are productive and happy
  • anything that comes to mind

Look for an intersection of things on your lists that are pleasing and grab your interest.
Ex: I like making word lists about apparel that I can then share with Gretchen during a ride to the Escondido scrabble club on a sunny Saturday morning, sharing Starbucks coffee and Bruegger’s Bagels on the road.
Make it happen. Along the way, discover that you like making word lists for yourself and others. Think of ways to find the words in places you never searched before. Think of techniques and activities you can use to memorize these word lists and methods you can teach the words to others. Share the information with others. Create a 20-minute talk that you can present to community groups like Rotary and Kiwanis. Find a teacher in your community and share the information in a way that it could be used in their classroom. Develop a website of lists.
And now, you have become a Super-Hero extraordinaire.


Thursday
11/14/19
Fearfulness / Fearlessness
One technique which I frequently employ to network, to drum up interest about scrabble, is to find a public venue in which to organize a scrabble game. My experience providing such a showcase has resulted in many passersby slowing, lingering, and engaging the players with conversation and questions about scrabble.
My usual response to anyone who demonstrates an acknowledgment is to invite them to sit down and play with us. The typical come back from the passerby is to belittle their own spelling ability and to beg off from playing with some passive excuse.
Once as a student in The Dale Carnegie Class, I learned that the #1 Fear among a majority of Americans is ‘PUBLIC SPEAKING.’ While that might be correct, I believe that tied for the #1 Fear is ‘PUBLIC SPELLING.’ People don’t like to look poorly in front of others. People become very self-conscious when speaking or spelling in front of others.

Regarding spelling and playing at a scrabble club . . . The seasoned players are always focused on playing their own best game and rarely-to-never sit in judgment about their opponents’ play.
Meanwhile, newbies usually are concerned about what others might think of their abilities.
If you’re a newbie, get over your fears. All fear does is hold you back. Work at learning some of the scrabble jargon and add several new words every week. Don’t shy away from playing the new words you learn. Don’t worry about misspelling words. If you do make a mistake and get challenged, suck it up; make an effort to learn from your mistake; move on to greater things.


Wednesday
11/13/19
A Word Of Advice
What keeps scrabble players tossing and turning through the night? Words. As for me . . . I keep a scrabble dictionary, a pen, and paper on my bedside table. Many a morning, I wake to discover words and notes I’ve written to myself during the wee hours of the morning. At times, when I don’t make an effort to write things down, they recycle in my head and clog up the free-flowing dreamlike thinking like a log jam in the narrowing of a river.
For the last three nights, I’ve had a recurring dream that conjures up memories of an old scrabble nemesis in the person of Mark Milan. Mark is a master at making opening plays that he knows to have prefixes that can extend his first play on his second turn to the TWS. Genius! Whereas some of us play high scoring front extensions once in a long while, Milan makes it into a strategy that allows him to WIN more often than the average bear.
Consider thinking this way and surprise your opponents. Don’t just play any words; choose the words that you play ON PURPOSE.

Consider these words:

DAT ABASE CAL ABASH SUB ABBOT DIS ABLED
CAP ABLER DIS ABLER DIS ABLES DUR ABLES
EAT ABLES MOV ABLES NOT ABLES PAR ABLES
PAY ABLES POT ABLES RAT ABLES RET ABLES
TAX ABLES VOC ABLES GAD ABOUT LAY ABOUT
MAR ABOUT RUN ABOUT DIS ABUSE ATT ACHED

Want more of this list? Purchase it at JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com


Tuesday
11/12/19
SHOES
One of the most essential contributors to comfort in our lives is our shoes. There is no version of ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to our feet. Our species is a very mobile one, and the main tools we use to get from here to there or wherever is our feet. Wearing shoes is one way to protect our feet . . . Or not. Now, I’m not a podiatrist, and I don’t have a medical degree of any kind, but I do have common sense, which I use more often as an adult than as a kid. I remember being a kid and going mostly with mom to the shoe store. The factors that influenced the final purchase were price, style, and color, which were deemed acceptable by mom. Sure, I was fitted by the shoe guy, but mom always wanted “extra” room at my toes to ensure I wouldn’t outgrow them in a month. As long as I could walk in them were the criteria, never a focus on my preference or my comfort. Like a lot of kids, I was excited about getting something new and didn’t give any credence to the thought that I even had a say in the process. I remember that new shoes often hurt, and it was explained to me that the pain would pass as I broke them in. Some shoes seemed to take a long time to break-in. I kept my old shoes because they seemed more comfortable. I never did get the cowboy boots that I so badly wanted. Mom had some unspoken issues with cowboys, I guess. I liked saddle-shoes, which were acceptable to my mom, who also approved of penny-loafers. When I got to high school, she gave in to blue-suede shoes and even white-buck shoes. (But still no cowboy boots.) I finally got my cowboy boots years later, in my 30’s, when I went thru my cowboy phase. Even then, mom didn’t approve, yet she swears that she never forbade me from having cowboy boots as a kid. As an adult, I bought my own shoes but being an impatient shopper I never took the time to try on several things . . . Instead, I’d walk into the store, see something that looked like what I wanted, and made the purchase. I frequently found that the shoes were not very comfortable when I got them home. In my 50’s, I was diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes. My primary doctor warned me about my propensity to develop issues with my feet due to Diabetes. He sent me to a podiatrist for special shoes. During that exam, I was fitted for shoes with proper arch support inserts. The shoes themselves were standard Hush Puppies. It felt like I was walking on air. Why hadn’t anyone ever clued me in? It seems that with the proper fitting, I could have enjoyed life without foot pain and discomfort my whole life.

Here is a whole list of different kinds of footwear:
ankle boots, athletic shoes, army boots, ballet shoes, boat shoes, bowling shoes, beach shoes, boots, brogues, cleats, clogs, cowboy boots, climbing shoes, court shoes, cycling shoes, deck shoes, dress shoes, elevator shoes, espadrilles, figure skates, flip-flops, galoshes, gumboots, golf shoes, heels, high-top sneakers, high heels, hiking boots, ice skates, inline skates, jackboots, jump boots, kamiks, loafers, Mary Janes, mukluks, mules, moccasins, open-toe shoes, oxfords, penny loafers, pointe shoes, platform shoes, pumps, rain boots, roller skates, running shoes, riding boots, rollerblades, saddle shoes, shoes, skates, slides, slippers, swim fins, sandals, skate shoes, ski boots, sling-backs, sneakers, stiletto heels, steel-toe boots, tap shoes, toe shoes, tennis shoes, track shoes, valenki, waders, Wellington boots, work boots, wedge shoes, wingtip shoes, zoris.

Monday
11/11/19
VETERANS DAY
Did you know that today, Monday, 11/11/19, is the 100th anniversary of the 1st Veterans Day (first known as ‘Armistice Day’) at the end of WWI? A few years later, Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.
None of the veterans in the 20s or 30s played scrabble because it was not invented until the late 30s. Then it wasn’t prominently marketed until the late 40s. But did you know that Ike and Mamie Eisenhower enjoyed playing the game?

I have frequently thought that Albert Einstein would have been great at the game. But I have read somewhere that Einstein actually disliked the game of scrabble.


A few facts about this holiday.

  • Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe. It’s a day honoring all veterans – so no apostrophe needed.
  • Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day is to remember those who gave their lives for our country.
  • WWI was a multinational effort, so our allies also celebrated November 11th. In Canada and Australia, they call November 11 Remembrance Day.

Sunday, 11/10/19
Stretching Your Knowledge
What do you know for certain? What do you think, you know? Is playing a word you might remember cheating if it is phony?
If you are a player who studies words to learn words that are new to you, then you know that you’re lucky if you can absorb 10%, 15%, or maybe 20% of the words you put on flashcards and onto lists. Cementing those words into memory occurs for me after I’ve played those words once or twice.

Players who frequently study may be most familiar with word structures. We may learn words that begin with ‘NON’ -or- ‘SUB’ -or- ‘MIS’ and other prefixes. A little knowledge is often a dangerous thing. Today I had this rack: B-I-J-N-O-S-U when I saw it I played: ‘SUBJOIN.’ My opponent did not challenge (It was legal). On a subsequent play, I thought ‘adjoint,’ ‘joint,’ so I played ‘COTS,’ hooking the’ T’ to ‘SUBJOIN’ making ‘SUBJOINT.’ My opponent did not challenge me (subjoint is not acceptable). However, not being challenged, the play was good. After the game ended my opponent complained about me playing a phony.,
That’s why the CHALLENGE exists. All players should be both offense and defense. If your opponent plays a phony, it is your responsibility to challenge before they replenish the tiles in their rack. If you are unsure if you want to challenge or not, you can call “HOLD’ out loud immediately, and your clock runs until you decide to challenge or not.

My rule is always to play a BINGO when the opportunity exists. I rarely play a word that I know is unacceptable, but there are many, many words that I’m unsure of. Are any of these words good? 

OUTLIKE? OUTSAID? NONEGOS? NARGOILS?        EULOGIAE? SOMEWHEN? OOGONIA? UNMEW? VULN?


Saturday
11/9/19
Thinking Big
I was lucky to have a wonderful mother who thought BIG for everyone else but seldom for herself. She was the epitome of giving. She baked cookies and cakes for friends and family and the friends of her children. She sewed clothes and hems and aprons and dolls for charities and hospitals. She volunteered her time to her synagogue and women’s groups and charities. She awoke at 6 AM on the coldest, snowiest winter mornings to drive me around delivering The Morning Free Press so I wouldn’t freeze in the elements.
But, She didn’t ‘think big’ when taking care of herself. She always charged a mere pittance for her work when sewing for customers. I don’t know her motivation for charging others so little when she did professional work. Customers lined up to use mom’s services; they liked her work and her prices.
What makes the difference between running a home Day Care and being the president of KinderCare? Why do some people work their life away at the local Pizza Shop while others reign over Dominos or Little Caesar or Pizza Hut?
Thinking Big plays a significant role. Can you and I be ‘Big Thinkers’? Yes, & No.

The truth is, YES WE CAN. The NO is because most of us don’t believe that we are capable -or- we become afraid of what we see as an enormous challenge.
Our mindset is how we have learned to think of ourselves and our abilities, the role models we watched while growing up, the lessons that were taught, or witnessed in our formative years. All these and other factors feed into the YES & NO response.
In 1968 when I was a naive young man with nothing left in life to lose, I dare to THINK BIG. With only an idea and a $50 bank account, I dared to dream about the possibility of a private school, and without hesitation I did everything that was needed, plowing through obstacles while others told me it couldn’t be done, and in the end, creating a school out of a dream. The dream ultimately served thousands of children, employed countless teachers and caregivers, and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who’ da thunk it?

While promoting scrabble, I often meet people who listen to my presentation attentively yet when I tell them that there are more than 100 2-Letter-Words that are key to attaching one word to another, they would throw their hands up to the air and say, “I CAN’T LEARN THAT MANY WORDS.”
And if that’s was their attitude, I automatically knew that they Can’t or Wouldn’t. But couldn’t, was not valid. It’s just their belief that they had, which stopped them from moving forward.
When was the last time you stopped yourself from doing something because you became afraid that it was bigger than you? Next time when that happens PAUSE, know that it’s your choice and that YOU CAN if you want to, then proceed.

You can even learn all the 5-Vowel-8-Letter-Words in a month when you believe You Can.


11/8/19
AMBIVALENCE
Do you often find yourself in the position of being unable or incapable of making a decision? Have you experienced being stuck?
What do you do to loosen that grip on you that all but paralyzes you from moving?

When playing scrabble™ if you don’t make a choice quickly, the time on your clock will evaporate, and you’ll be in jeopardy of losing because you’ll face a time penalty. In life, we don’t always equate ambivalence in terms of time, but it is just as real. Have you ever felt that your life was in limbo because you’ve been putting off making some decision, so for the moment, you are just treading water?
I don’t know where you are in your life right now, but for me, at age 77, it’s the time of life when friends and relations are coming to their ends. Ambivalence about all things has a magnified cost because who knows how many scrabble turns, we have left to play.
I’m so thankful that I took my ’77 Sunset Trip’ and didn’t linger for months or years, weighing the pros and cons of doing it. And since I’ve returned home, two more scrabble buddies have passed. I finally asked for a raise at one of my part-time jobs, where I have been willing to settle for less for the last few years. Today I dealt with a computer issue at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store instead of burying my head in the sand, putting it off till another day.
And the truth is I dislike AMBIVALENCE and the anxiety that builds within me. Those two little devils that sit on my shoulders and try to dissuade me, one is saying “YES” and the other shouting “NO.” Usually, any decision is better than not making a choice.


Thursday
11/7/19
The Good Ole Days
Ain’t technology wonderful?
Well, that all depends on what your definition of wonderful is.

I am one of the original users of MAC (Apple) computers. Would you believe that in 1976, when I was the owner/headmaster of The Moss School in West Bloomfield, Michigan, I had a computer lab for the students (grades 1 – 8). There were no ready-made programs to purchase. I had a teacher who taught BASIC to the kids. Over the years, as Apple grew, they did magical things and users all became very smart. By the ’90s, the systems which Apple devised trained people like me to write music, make movies, create power-point presentations, and appear as would-be-geniuses. All of the Apple Stores had employees designated as CREATIVES, who were super-teachers. When people like me walked into an Apple Store and asked a question, they could break it down so the average layman could understand how to solve the problem. Then when the iPhone became so popular and profitable, Apple changed its modus operandi. While they continued to offer group sessions on scheduled topics, 1:1 sessions pretty much ended. I guess the volume of special needs became so high that they funneled most inquiries to phone conversations with techies. Today one needs a master’s degree to be able to navigate their online system even to make an appointment at the Genius Bar.
How the hell does one Engage a techie to get a simple Lousy answer allowing them to Progress to a satisfying solution?
Remember the days when you could choose a ‘PASSWORD’ that was easy to remember. Then at some later date, we were instructed to make our passwords more difficult to decipher by including a ‘capital letter,’ a ‘number,’ and a ‘punctuation mark.’ Well, today, things have progressed to the point that our passwords need passwords. And we are frequently encouraged or demanded to change passwords regularly.
BEWARE SHOULD YOU FORGET YOUR PASSWORDS. That’s where I am right now. I forgot my administrative password and cannot move forward without it. It took me close to an hour at the MAC Computer Lab at Laguna Woods Village just to get a scheduled phone call with a techie who could assist me in making an appointment with a person at the GENIUS BAR. Being the impatient guy who I am, I drove to the nearest Apple Store, arriving here at 12:30 PM and reserved a walk-in appointment for 3 PM. So here I sit. Wish me luck.
THE RESULT WAS THAT ONCE I GOT TO THE GENIUS, HE FIXED MY PROBLEM IN JUST A FEW MINUTES AND SENT ME ON MY WAY. HE WAS RAD.


Wednesday
11/6/19
PURPOSE
All of us need a purpose. Working without a goal can become drudgery. Add a mission to the mix, and we’re suddenly doing something meaningful, no matter how grand or small. At times we may have a purpose but have never taken the time to think about it or define it. Having a goal to strive for is always more valuable.  It is easier to express our purpose to ourselves (sometimes to others). This defines clarity on the direction we’re heading and the steps we plan to take to get where it is we want to go. List making and prioritizing are great tools for this endeavor.
Often we have a general idea of our goal but do not know how or what to do first. Sometimes there is a lot of trial and error during the early stages. Our initial path may hit a bump in the road; other times, one can meet unexpected barriers. Some barriers can be overcome by making strategic diversions, altering our course. Other times we must retreat and develop a new path for our plan. Stalling does not mean that we should give up. Two of the most successful people in their fields, Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss, shared stories of multiple failures before having their initial successes.

I have had life experiences where PURPOSE took a front-row seat and guided me and others to unimagined success. Allow me to share two very different endeavors.

I was 27 years old, and a public school teacher earning a salary of about $5,500 / yr.in Oak Park, Michigan. My wife and I had become parents in September that year, and three months later, in December, we lost our infant daughter to SIDS. We were devastated, as you can imagine. During our mourning period, we found inspiration to create a pre-school. We had nothing more that we could lose. So this unlikely scenario of two 20ish teachers with $50 in their bank savings account rallied 10 friends and relatives to invest $50K. This teacher, having no business experience or education in the field, wrote a business plan.  The plan led to purchasing a 5-acre parcel with a building.  I was soon jumping through the hoops of banks, the local zoning board, and the state department of social services.  In a period of 9 months, I established Bloomfield Nursery School & Kindergarten. And the rest is history.
PURPOSE.
I was 43 years old and trying something different. I was working as an intern, developing skills to become a LIFE COACH. I had a script of things to do and say which would hopefully inspire my enrollees on to greatness. I obtained my clients through personal networking. It was a Monday afternoon when I received a phone call from a lady who wanted to expand her business as a corporate trainer. She definitely had a PURPOSE. She agreed to everything and anything I asked of her. We establish a regimen for her, and instead of meeting face-to-face, we conversed daily by phone for 18 minutes. Her goal was to secure a contract with one of the big 3 auto manufacturers for $100K. We began. She was an ideal student. She completed every assignment, and her confidence grew each step of the way. On Day 19, she called me in ecstasy. She had just won a contract for $250K
When you come to the table with a purpose, you are very powerful.

  • I’ve watched scrabble players master the more than 300 5-Vowel-Eights in a month and go on to finish in the money at tournaments.
  • I’ve watched David Pearl devour 200 Mnemonics and become one of the premier scrabble players in the US.
    What’s your PURPOSE?

Tuesday
11/5/19
Did you know you can use WORDS or NAMES to help you remember something new to you.
How can you use the letters from your name? (Make sure that you use words found in the newest OWL or the OSPD6.)

  • N itid bright – An adjective
  • O rlop the lowest deck of a ship – A noun
  • V agility freedom of movement – A noun
  • E levon airplane control surface -A noun
  • M ilchig derived from milk – An adjective
  • B argello a needlepoint stitch -A noun
  • E xcitant a stimulant -A noun
  • R owth an abundance -A noun


     

Monday
11/4/19
REMEMBERING CECILE BETTS
Cecile Betts was a friend of mine and a friend to Scrabble™.  I first met Cecile in the year 2000 at the Laguna Woods scrabble club. In the early 2000s, she began losing her eyesight and affiliated with the Braille Institute in Santa Ana, CA. Once there, she began teaching scrabble to a small group of people with limited vision. She brought some of those folks to play with us at Laguna Woods. Via my friendship with Cecile, I inaugurated tournaments to honor her and to raise funds for The Braille Institute. One of Cecile’s books was her biography ‘RELUCTANT PIONEER.’ (a great read) One amazing lady.

Betts, Cecile, 91, died October 10, 2009, in Laguna Niguel, CA, of lung cancer. She is survived by her son, Donald Steers of Santa Rosa; her daughter, Martee Shabsin of Laguna Niguel; granddaughters, Diana Shabsin and Nicolle Griffin; great-grandsons, James Gallipeau and Dallin Griffin; great-granddaughters, Catrina Boettner and Samara Wiedmeyer, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Cecile Betts was born November 4, 1917, in New York City, the ninth child of Harris Goldstein and Minnie Margolies Goldstein. She passed away with her daughter was at her side.

After Cecile’s mother died in a stove explosion when she was only 2, her older sisters became her surrogate mothers, and the family moved to New Jersey. Very shy as a child, she became an avid reader. She taught herself to read when very young but didn’t let her sisters know lest they stop reading her bedtime stories.

At 10, Cecile contracted rheumatic fever, decades before any antibiotic treatment existed. Chilling body wraps were used to bring her temperature down, and still, the disease took its toll. She spent more than two years in a convalescent hospital, too weak to take care of herself, but read voraciously at every opportunity. When she returned to school, she was skipped two grades and able to rejoin her age group. In 1936 she graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, N.J., in the top 10 percent of her class and then attended New Jersey College for Women for two years.

In 1942 Cecile married Vincent Steers in Miami and soon relocated to the Seattle area. Two years later would come one of the most significant changes in her life. Vince was an enthusiastic outdoors-man, and when the opportunity arose to move to Alaska, he grabbed it. Cecile soon found herself in the rugged setting of pre-statehood Alaska, with two small children, a very dramatic change from her life to that point. Gone were indoor plumbing, electricity, reliable transportation, telephone, and nearby neighbors. Instead, she learned to pump well water with a hand pump, cook on a wood-burning stove, use kerosene lanterns, and rely on messages transmitted on Mukluk Radio instead of phone service.

Divorced in 1953, she married Jack Betts in May of 1959, and together they operated King Mt. Lodge at Mile 77 of the Glenn Highway for many years. Army troops participating in winter maneuvers used the lodge as their official rest stop, and some stayed throughout the length of maneuvers for maintenance and support. The lodge was well-known for its wild game barbecues twice a year that often drew crowds over 1,000.
Her occupations included:

  • Swimming instructor at Grand Street Settlement House Camp in New York
  • Governess
  • Clerk typist for Alaska Territorial Dept. of Health
  • Keypunch operator
  • President of North Star School PTA in Spenard
  • Medical transcriber
  • Poet
  • Author
  • A community activist in Spenard’s early politics
  • Co-owner and operator of King Mt. Lodge
  • Boarding care parent to four Native boys from remote villages who attended high school in Wasilla
  • Scrabble teacher for Braille students
  • Motivational speaker

Organizations: Girl Scouts, Jr. Hadassah, National Press Club, Leisure World Writer’s Club, National Scrabble Association, Riverbend Homemakers Club in Willow, Alzheimer’s Support Group, Pulmonary Rehab Education Program, Laguna Woods Scrabble Club
Hobbies: Swimming, Skin-diving, Travel, Scrabble, Cribbage, Canasta, Crocheting, Theater, Snowmobiling, Square dancing, Crafts, Moose nugget jewelry, Seashell lamps and other gifts, Genealogy, White water rafting, Cruising, keeping in touch with family and long-time friendships – some dating back to grade school.
Adversities: Never knowing her mother, pioneering life in Alaska in 1947 with two small children and family on East Coast, triple bypass, pacemaker, a husband who had Alzheimer’s, her colon cancer, blindness, and lung cancer. Perseverance was indeed her middle name. Blindness was the most difficult to accept, mostly because she could no longer read, but she accepted it, shifted gears, and adapted.
Accomplishments Cecile was instrumental in establishing:

  • Hot lunch program in Alaska’s public schools
  • The first school bus system in Alaska
  • The first law to eliminate wild dog packs and initiate animal control
  • Training program for employees in skilled nursing sections of state-operated Pioneer Homes to specifically meet the needs of Alzheimer’s patients
  • First Road Improvement Act at Nancy Lake
  • Legislation limiting commercial development of the lakefront at Nancy Lake, preserving the pristine beauty of the area
  • Restriction on the number of bars in Anchorage by enforcing compliance with regulations
  • Scrabble classes for completely blind and visually impaired at Braille Institute

Later, after being blinded by macular degeneration, she:

  • She lived independently until she entered hospice care in June 2019
  • Volunteered at Braille Institute in Anaheim weekly
  • Played in Scrabble tournaments
  • Organized and accompanied two tours to Alaska for friends, three of whom were blind
  • Wrote and published two books: “Reluctant Pioneer” (the story of her 46 years in Alaska) and “Random Thoughts While Contemplating My Navel in a Hot Tub”
  • Published articles in the “Blind Californian,” “Wine Spectator,” and annual editions of “Reflections,” sponsored by the Saddleback College Emeritus Program, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Sunday
11/3/19

FLASH CARDS / WHIZ CARDS
Flashcards are one of the classic study tools, and for good reason – they promote studying through active recall, which is one of the practices through which our brains learn most effectively.
WHIZ CARDS are one of the classic study tools for learning many of the high scoring 7 and or 8 Letter Legal Scrabble Words, and for good reason – they promote studying high probability
STEMS.

I don’t get it! Why is it that so many devoted players who attend clubs week after week don’t make a greater effort to learn these high probability words that frequent their racks again and again?  I know that winning isn’t the only reason people play the game, but it make the game so much more fun and challenging.
It’s not like you have to learn all 175,000+ words.  Learning the Top 3 Stems will give you more than 150 bingo words for your arsenal.  I bet you could learn them in less than a month of days.

The top three stems are:  SATINE, SATIRE, and TONIES.
You don’t even have to make them yourself.
I’ll make them for you.  78 WHIZ CARDS in all on Card Stock. $25
Pay with PAYPAL to:   JFTSOI.moss@gmail.com
or send your check to:  JFTSOI
c/o Gary Moss, 3367 Punta Alta #3B, Laguna Woods, CA. 92637

Sets of the 8-Letter-Words are considerably larger, 676 cards each.
$25 for each set.  3 Sets for $65.
https://just4thespellofit.com/to-make-a-purchase/


Saturday
11/2/19

YESVEMBER
Say yes to building your personal WORD POWER.
Do you or someone you know suffer from APLASIA, or maybe it’s just the constant BRATTLE of the city that makes your CAMISE feel tight.  I met a DATTO while on vacation last summer who shared an ELEGY of a FAINEANT who kept all his money in a GOGLET.  One day he discovered that his savings had gone missing and attributed it to a HOOCHIE who had been part of an INSIPID group hanging around at a nearby park.  The loss made him feel like a JUGHEAD.  To raise his spirits he took out his KALIMBA and became LARKISH for a full thirty minutes.  His music was so loud it disturbed the MASHGEAH who was busily slaughtering chickens, with a NUNCHAKU, for the upcoming sabbath dinner.
An OXPECKER was perched on a PADAUK.  You don’t see that very often.  A QUARTET of RANCHEROS was SALVOING.  A TATOUAY lay dead in the field about 50 yards ahead.  UDON was prepared for armadillo stew.  The chef used a ULU to cut up the armadillo and a VISCACHA.  The night was falling, and it was turning cold.  The chef put on a WAMUS and added some XYLOSE to the stew.  The chef YAMMERED that the heat must be higher, then turned on his boombox playing ZOUK very loud.

Write your own story using words from the OSPD6.  Choose words that you don’t usually use in your everyday speech.  Have fun with it.
When you next play Scrabble™ try to remember and play one or more of those ‘new’ words.


Friday
11/1/19
Thirty Days Has November

November is one of four months with a length of 30 days on the Gregorian or modern calendar. In the United States and Canada, November is also known as National Beard Month or No Shave Month (also known as ” No-Shave November“) as a way to raise cancer awareness.
Noted November Birthdays

  • Jonathan Swift, author of “Gulliver’s Travels”: November 30, 1667
  • Mark Twain, American author, and humorist: November 30, 1835
  • British statesman Sir Winston Churchill: November 30, 1874
  • American artist Georgia O’Keeffe: November 15, 1887
  • Famed TV journalist Walter Cronkite: November 4, 1916
  • The first and, to date, only female Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi: November 19, 1917
  • Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Anne Sexton: November 9, 1928
  • Bruce Lee, martial artist, and film star: November 27. 1940
  • Celebrity chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay: November 8. 1966
  • Vivian Minden, Canadian American flutist, November 29, 1946
    Lauren & Lindsay Moss Zion, November 23, 1989

    Where were you when:

  • The Erie Canal was formally opened in New York on November 4, 1825.
  • The Suez Canal opened on November 17, 1869.
  • Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.
  • The United States and Panama signed the treaty that provided for the Panama Canal on November 18, 1903.
  • The US and Canada celebrated the end of WWI every year on November 11, 1918.
  • After discovering debris-covered stairs, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his crew entered the four-room Egyptian tomb of 18-year-old King Tutankhamen on November 26, 1922.
  • The first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel in the world, the Holland Tunnel, opened to traffic on November 13, 1927.
  • Commander Richard E. Byrd and crew of three became first to fly over the South Pole, November 29, 1929.
  • Parker Brothers introduced the world to the Monopoly game on November 5, 1935.
  • On November 18, 1963, Bell Telephone Company introduced to the public the push-button phone.
  • John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
  • The Reverend Jim Jones led over 900 of his followers to their death in mass suicide, the largest in history, at Jonestown, Guyana, November 19. 1978.
  • On November 22, 1990, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned after 11 years in office, the most extended term of any British Prime Minister in the 20th century.
  • The apartheid system in South Africa finally came to an end on November 1, 1995, with the first all-race government elections.

Thursday
10/31/19

Trick or Treat?
Is it too early to put out the bowl of candy at the door?   It doesn’t matter much if you live in my community.  Everyone here is 55 and older. Many of the residents will don costumes and attend Halloween parties and dances, but not a one will knock on my door.  But just in case, I bought an extra-large bag of assorted candy bars at the supermarket.  If I eat them on my own they will last me through Easter.
Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Turnin.
Turnin who?
Turnin to a vampire this Halloween!
Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Ghost.
Ghost who?
Ghost stand over there, and I’ll bring you some candy!
Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Bee.
Bee who?
Bee-ware, there’s a full moon this Halloween!
Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Cement.
Cement who?
Cement to scream when she saw Dracula, but she fainted instead!
Had enough?

Here are the words you can make from the letters in Halloween.
AE,  ALEE,  ALLEE,  ANELE,  LOANEE,  AWEE,  HAE,  HALE, HEAL,  ENHALO,  HAOLE,  WHALE,  WHEAL,  HAEN,  ALE, LEA,  LEAL,  ELAN,  LANE,  LEAN,  ALONE,  ANOLE,  ALOE, OLEA,  WALE,  WEAL,  ANE,  NAE,  AEON,  ANEW,  WANE, WEAN,  AWE,  WAE,  AH,  HA,  LAH,  HALL,  HALLO,  HOLLA, HALLOW,  HALON,  HALO,  NAH,  HWAN,  HAO,  WHOA,  HAW,
WHA,  AL,  LA,  ALL,  LLANO,  OLLA,  ALLOW,  WALL,  LOAN, LAWN,  ALOW,  AWOL,  AWL,  LAW,  AN,  NA,  AWN,  NAW, WAN,  AW,  HEEL,  WHEEL,  WHEEN,  WHEE,  EEL,  LEE,
LEONE,  NEWEL,  WEEL,  NEE,  WEEN,  EEW,  EWE,  WEE, EH,  HE,  HELL,  HELLO,  HELO,  HOLE,  WHOLE,  HEN,  HONE,  HEWN,  WHEN,  HOE,HOWE,  HEW,  EL,  ELL,  WELLENOL,  LENO,  LONE,  NOEL,  OLE,  LOWE,  EN,  NE,  EON, ONE,  ENOW,  NEW,  WEN,  OE,  OWE,  WOE,  WE,  HOWL,  HON,  NOH,  HO,  OH,  HOW,  WHO,  LOWN,  LO,  LOW,  OWL, NO,  ON,  NOW,  OWN,  WON,  OW,  WO


Wednesday
10/30/19
APPRECIATION
Where are you most appreciated?  How does it make you feel?  How do you respond to being appreciated?
For me, appreciation is the most  valuable thing I receive.  It spurs me on to want to give back and work harder.
We probably don’t always receive appreciation every time we are giving our all.  Depending on the others around us, there are some who rarely or never show appreciation.  When you were growing up did your parents or a teacher model appreciation by showing it toward you?  Maybe that’s why I so liked leadership roles in my youth.  The leader was always “doing” things and highly visible. When I was appreciated, a cycled was created; I wanted to do even more.
An appreciative boss makes the workplace a more encouraging place to be.  I’ve had both kinds of bosses.  One boss can have different styles from day to day which can be confusing and create anxiety for staff members.  In large corporate settings your boss may lean to the left, but bosses of the boss may lean right; that’s not fun.
At scrabble™ clubs, the primary way to demonstrate appreciation is by showing up regularly, by displaying common courtesy and having a nice word for one another.  I find that 97.3% of scrabble™ players are a pleasure to interact with and are inclusive toward all.  A good rule of thumb is to leave politics and religion outside the door of the scrabble room.  There is controversy enough over whether a word is acceptable or phony.

When you show up at Club #350, I guarantee that you’ll be appreciated.


Tuesday
10/29/19
Another Windy Monday
It was just another windy Monday afternoon in southern California.  There was a warning of severe winds and fire in communities 40 miles north of my home, and the TV news stations have been covering the fires for many days.  Tens of thousands of people have already been told to leave their homes, and it was reported that celebrities like LeBron James had evacuated and has experienced trouble looking for places where his family could safely go until the all-clear is sounded.  I let it be known that he was welcome at my house.  I don’t know if he got the message.  How sad for so many people.
We Americans are used to seeing people from other parts of the world dealing with tragedies and disasters.  Raging floods in India and Bangladesh, earthquakes in Mexico, flooded mines in China and Africa.  More recently, we’ve witnessed numerous tornados across the planes and the South in the US.  Hurricanes along the southern and eastern seaboards, suffering heatwaves across the country and of course the fires.
NO!  There’s no climate change.  The fact is that this planet has been around for millions of years and throughout that time all of these conditions have cycled again and again and again.  We haven’t seen nor experienced most of it.
What a lovely day it has been.  Today is Monday, so it was a scrabble™ day in Laguna Woods Village at clubhouse #5.  Just like every other Monday since 1970.  Did you know that this club was one of the first clubs in the USA?  I brought some sad news with me to club today.  I informed players that our scrabble friend, Pat Reed had passed last week.  Two others volleyed back at me with news of two others who had passed.  Also, my downstairs neighbor, as well as long-time, scrabble™ player Louisa Arnold.  My neighbor was 100+ and Louisa was in her mid-90s.
Sad news is fairly common when you live in a senior community.  There are more than 20,000 people over the age of 50 that live here.  And more than 100 people who are over 100 years young.  So maybe, all things considered, it was a good day.
Right now, I’m writing this from the waiting room in my doctor’s office.  This is a scheduled health check (I hope).  I do have blotches of red on one arm, my bp is a little high, and there has not been any improvement in my diabetes numbers.  But I’m feeling just fine.  On Wednesday I’ll have two new implants installed in my mouth, and last week I passed my every-3-month eye exam.  So I should be good to go until at least the end of January 2020.  I getting to be a really old fart.
And what’s most surprising is I can still spell pretty well.  I won 2 of 3 games today at scrabble club.  I averaged 399 and played four bingos (three of which were real words; only one phony ‘TRUANCE’).
How many scrabble turns do you think I have left in this lifetime?



Monday
10/28
PROCRASTINATION
When you procrastinate, you waste time that you could be investing in something meaningful.
I was going to begin this blog by sharing with you the three secrets that Nelson Rockefeller used to build his wealth, but we’ll get to that a little later.
And there I was, walking along the side of a busy highway with a can of gasoline just because I kept putting off stopping at a gas station because I wanted to get home in time to see the beginning of the World Series.  How did that work out for me?
It’s incredible how procrastination creeps up on us and interferes with our lives.  How many times when asked to do a chore do you respond, “I’ll do it later?”
Here’s a little secret I learned in a workshop on Time Management.  If you write a TO DO LIST and then cross off each item that you complete . You’ll become energized each time you cross an item off that you achieved.  It works.
When it comes to expanding my word power as relates to the game of Scrabble™, I have endless energy except at times when I make a more significant commitment on a project like my Backwards Dictionary.  When I began the project on March 1, 2019, I knew that it would take an enormous amount of time the way I designed it.  I had estimated that I could be working on it until well into December 2019.  It took a lot of will power and determination to plow ahead, spending several hours each day after day after day of typing and alphabetizing all those words from right to left.  But at some point the project was not a chore but a choice which became a game for me.  Some days I couldn’t wait to get home and do another 500 or even 1,000 words.
What do you procrastinate doing?  You can take the first step right now and lighten your load.  Do it to some happy music in the background with sunshine coming in through the window.  Just like the Seven Dwarfs, whistle while you work.


Sunday
10/27/19
SPOOKY HALLOWEEN WORDS
Halloween is just around the corner next Thursday, October 31st..  Here are a bunch of seasonal words WITCH you might choose to play at a club to show you’re in the SPIRIT of things:  Afraid,  Apparition,   Bat, Bloodcurdling,  Bloody,  Bones, Broomstick,  Cackle,  Cadaver,  Carved,  Casket,  Cauldron,  Cemetery,  Cobweb,  Coffin,  Corpse,  Creepy,  Decapitated,  Decomposing,  Eerie,  Fangs,  Frightening,  Ghost,  Ghoulish,  Goblin,  Gory, Grim Reaper, Gruesome,  Haunted,  Horrifying,  Howling,  Jack-O-Lantern,  Lurking,  Macabre,  Magic,  Mausoleum,  Morbid,  Mummy,  Occult, Owl,  Petrified,  Phantom,  Poltergeist,  Scary,  Scream,  Shadow,  Skeleton,  Skull,  Specter,  Spell,  Spider,  Spirit,  Superstition,  Tomb,  Trick or Treat,  Undead,  Unearthly,  Unnerving,  Vampire,  Warlock,  Werewolf,  Witch,  Wizard,  Wraith,  Zombie.
Join us and play at Scrabble™ Club #350 this week on Wednesday and play any of these words or your own Halloween Words and win an entry into our October Jackpot Drawing for each word played.  Very Spooky
Halloween Challenge:  Write a Halloween Story using all the words listed above.  You can do it.


Saturday
10/26/19
And another one bites the dust.

Yah, I know it is crude.  But that’s how I’m feeling right now.  Another good friend went and died.  Sure she had been fighting some lung ailment for a few years now.  But it looked like she was on the mend, getting better.  And then when she wasn’t looking, pneumonia crept up on her and finish her off.  My good friend and scrabble buddy, Marta (Pat) Reed died yesterday.  She was one of my cheerleaders.  She loved my learning tools and always gave me such great feedback after she used them.  I met Pat when I first came to southern California in 1995.  We played at a Tuesday afternoon scrabble club in Huntington Beach run by Helen Tieger.  A group of us would play then go out for dinner at MiMi’s Cafe on Brookhurst and then trek over to Penny Baker’s evening club at the iHop on Beach Blvd.  Helen is gone; Penny is gone,  Bob is gone, several others are gone and now Pat has joined them.  She’s in good company.  Pat’s at a bit of an advantage because the others don’t have any idea about all the newest words.
I’m even happier now that I took my recent ’77 Sunset Trip’.  It makes no sense to put things off.  None of us know how many scrabble turns we have left in this life time.
I’m glad Gretchen and Nancy are driving cross-country to Wisconsin.  They’ll play at the tournament in the Wisconsin Dells, drop Nancy off at her winter home in Wisconsin, and Gretchen will fly back way before Thanksgiving.
Donna and her husband John are boarding a Cruise in the Mediterranean and visiting half of Europe over the next several weeks.
Sue and husband Joe are preparing for a week long trip to sunny Florida.  And the Schwartz Clan has plans to spend part of the Christmas/Chanukah holiday at a beach house in San Diego.
I’m no slacker.  Tomorrow is an Escondido Day.  On the 2nd and 4th Saturdays I mosey down the US5 to Oceanside and hang a left on CA78 to the Escondido scrabble club.
Days like today make me think about my mom and Renee Peters.  My mom lived until 96 and outlived all of her contemporary friends.  I’ve been thinking about how hard that had to be, as my friends are thinning out.  Renee just turned 99 last week and is living nearby in a Senior Assisted Living Community.  I will visit her next week and I suggest that you visit some senior friend too.


Friday
10/25/19
Previously I Admitted
In a previous blog, I admitted to my frailty when I broke a rule during a scrabble game.  Earlier this week I witnessed someone else break a different rule that gave me pause to see the infraction with some empathy.  BUT . . . bottom line, rules are to be followed.
I believe in playing games by the rules.  The purpose of the regulations is to explain how to adjudicate (decide) any and all questionable circumstances during the game to provide direction in resolving conflicts.

With that said, here’s what occurred. It was player A’s turn.  Player A had the following on the rack:  E – H – N – R – S – T – U and saw the bingo ‘HUNTERS.’  Player A was excited to find a bingo and hastily played the seven tiles ‘HUNETRS’ then hit the time clock.
Player B just sat there watching.
Next, Player A reached down to the tiles and moved them to create ‘HUNTERS.’
Player B then said, “You can’t do that.”
Player A explained that since player B never said ‘CHALLENGE’ it was acceptable to correct.

What do you think?  What is the official RULE?

The RULE BOOK clearly states that a player’s turn ends when they hit the clock.  If Player A had corrected the tiles before stopping the clock it would have been OK.  Since Player A hit the clock before correction, the layout of the tiles, this was a violation of the rule.
Therefore, Player A had to pick up the tiles and lose their turn.

One of the clubs I attend does not require players to use clocks in Divisions B & C.  Frequently, when disagreements occur, players turn to me to mediate the situation.  The use of the clock is necessary to rule on many different questions.  It is often impossible to make a determination without the timer regulation in place.  Both players usually have different versions of the sequence of events.  It is crucial to play by the rules.
At a club tournament that I hosted more than ten years ago a seasoned player was playing against a novice in the final game of the competition.  The same scenario as described above occurred.  The experienced player placed the tiles down incorrectly, hit his clock, then rearranged the tiles.  The Novice didn’t know the rules and never challenged or even objected.  The seasoned player knew the rule and cheated.  By winning that game the cheater won the tournament and the Club Trophy.  As a director, witnessing a regulation being broken I can’t step in without a call from one of the players.
It’s just a game.  Right?


THURSDAY
10/24/19
PEOPLE ASK ME . . .
When I get in the mood to learn more words, the question is, where do I begin?  What should I study and learn first?
I could give the technical answer about STEMS and HOOKS.
I could elaborate on ANAGRAMS and EXTENSIONS.
However, that may put the casual player to sleep or be overwhelmed.
I’m sure you are well aware that there are countless ways to approach learning words.  Some methods are more efficient, and other techniques can be more fun.  I often consider a learning session to be valuable if I even learn ONE new word or just refresh my knowing some other word that I’ve forgotten (sorta).

I find great satisfaction at just looking at lists of words that have common letters, and that’s one reason I organized my ‘BACKWARDS DICTIONARY.’  All the words are listed, alphabetized from right to left.  That system allows you to see all the words that end with the same letters on the same page.
Did you know that there are more than 360 legal scrabble™ words (8-letters-long or shorter) that end with ‘…FUL’?    AIDFUL;   ARMSFUL;   ARTFUL;   AVENGEFUL; AWFUL;   BAGSFUL;   BOXFUL;   CHOCKFUL;   CLOSETFUL;   EYEFUL
There are more than 490 legal scrabble™ words (8-letters-long or shorter) that end with‘…ISH’?   ABOLISH;   BAKSHISH;   BALDISH;   BANISH;  BATFISH;   BOARISH;   BOGGISH;   BONEFISH;   BOOBISH;   BOOKISH
Pick any ‘ENDING’ that is of interest to you and then create words that end that way.  Words that end with ‘ISM’ -or-  ‘WORD’  -or-  ‘ICK’  -or-  ‘SIVE.’ 

Make it Fun!
https://just4thespellofit.com/to-make-a-purchase/


The Day the Music Died
10/23/19
“Bye-bye Miss American Pie.  Drove my Chevy to the levy and the levy was dry. . . The day the music died.”
I just completed a cross-country tour, including numerous stops at scrabble clubs, where I joined in friendly competitions.  One of the first things I noticed was that almost every club I played at had only 6 – 12 players;  the next observation was that most players were on the North-side of fifty.  That is far different from the scrabble world I entered in 1987.  Clubs were larger at that time, and there were many younger players in the mix.

When did the competitive club scrabble world begin to show signs of dying?
I think everything changed with the emergence of the computer and the coming of hand-held devices with the ability to unscramble racks of letters, finding the best play.
I was there in the early 1990s when ‘MONTY’ and other devices appeared on the scene.  If I remember correctly, in the very first year, the rating numbers of players soared.  These devices provided a way to study word-groups easier than with pen and paper lists.  The people who were more proficient with the mini-computers got the biggest bang for their buck.  But there was a definite trickle-down effect.  All of a sudden, everyone was growing their word power exponentially.

Most people search for an easier way to do things.  While technology was quickly growing, the scrabble world was continuing to do things the same old ways.  The people who hold the reigns, directing the scrabble league, were made up of some of the best players in the country, but sadly these people were not visionaries.  Along with the new technologies came the invention of many new word games.  Long-time scrabble™ groupies strayed and played the newer games while abandoning scrabble™ clubs.
When online scrabble™ was introduced, players were able to play the game from the comfort of their living rooms, never having to drive across town to a club to get their scrabble™ fix.  Club attendance declined.
In more recent times the online game ‘WORDS WITH FRIENDS™’ offered people a scrabble™-like experience on their phones so they can play as often as they choose, whenever they want.  Words With Friends™ doesn’t allow people to play phonies, so it eliminates ‘Challenging.’  Since your opponent isn’t sitting across the board watching you, you can even look up your next play.  Is that cheating?  I guess it doesn’t matter.  It’s an altogether different environment.  The game is not as much about memory skills as it is about manipulating the devices.
Do the scrabble™ powers have any way to put life back into the scrabble world?  I’m sure that there are things to be done.  But if they continue to drag their vowels they’ll become “consonanted.”


SELECTIVE MEMORY
10/22/19
Why do we remember the things that we remember?
While playing scrabble at the Laguna Woods Scrabble Club on Monday on my second turn I had the following on my rack
A-B-E-I-O-Blank-Blank.  There was an ‘A’ on the center square in the word ‘VANDAL.’  What would you have dome
I saw two bingos in the first few seconds.  I’m was sure that there were more, but I recognized an 8-Letter-Word starting with the ‘A’  from the center square.
The eight-letter- word that I saw was ABOI_EA_.  The other bingo hooked an ’S’ to make ‘VANDALS.’  That word was ISOBA_E.  (There were at least another 12 bingos I might have found.)
Twenty-Five+ years ago, I was riding in a car to a scrabble tournament in Cleves, Ohio, from Detroit, Michigan.  I was a passenger along with 3 Experts.  The conversation for most of the five-hour journey was about 8-letter-words that end with ‘E-A-U.’  I have played some of those words many times over the years, as I did on Monday.  I played ‘ABOITEAU.’  It takes an ’S’ or an ‘X’ as an end hook.
Later in another game, I got away with playing ‘MOLTON’; it was phony, and my opponent didn’t challenge it.
For me, the stranger the word, the more likely I will remember it.  Some of the ambiguous words in my arsenal include
SVARAJ,  SWARAJ,  GJETOST,  DHUTI,  STRONGYL,  SMARADG,  ISOGRIV,  XYLOL.

What kind of things do you remember that sometimes surprise you?


AWARENESS
Monday 10/21/19
What part does awareness play in a game-to-game experience of a seasoned scrabble™ player?  Just think about it.  It plays a significant role from the very first play throughout the entire game.
If you’re one of the players who finds a simple word on your rack and hastily plunks it down, this will most likely annoy you and initially make your kind of game much harder than it needs to be.  But I’m talking about what it takes to be part of the competitive game for world-class scrabble™ champions.

I’m sure we all can see the 61 colored spots on the board, and we all know that if and when you place a tile on any of those spots you’ll earn a premium to your score.
The goal in this game and most competitions is to win.  In scrabble™ the player with the highest score at the end of the round wins.  So, let us think about our first play.

The first play must cover the center (PINK) square and will, therefore, earn a TWS (triple word score) premium.  If your opening word is only 3 or 4 letters long and includes the center square it will not reach to any of the DLS (double letter) spots which are five spaces away,  Therefore it behooves you to try your best to find a word that is five or more letters long.  (REMEMBER!  If you use all seven of your tiles on a single turn you will earn a 50 point bonus.  So look for one of those first.)

You play first.  Your opening rack is  A-C-E-H-I-L-W.  What do you play?  Where will you place it?
There are usually many choices.  Be aware of the time on the clock.  Practice to NEVER take more than 90 seconds to find and decide on your play.  (At times you may sense that you have a bingo and take a little longer, but don’t lose a game because you took too much time thinking about a single play.)
There are 79+ legal words in that set of seven.  Some of the ones with five or more letters include:  WHALE,  WHILE; CHEAL; LEACH; ILEAC; WHEAL.  I would choose ‘WHILE’, placing the ‘W; on (D8), keeping A-C on my rack.  Do you know why?

On my next play, depending on what my opponent does, I can use my ‘A’ as a front hook to ‘WHILE,’ creating the word ‘AWHILE’ and also making a longer word including the ‘A.’

Try to not place a vowel between or next to ‘HOT SPOTS.’  Always think about which high scoring tiles (Q,  Z,  J, X)  are still unseen.  A ‘Z’  played as part of two words while being on a TLS (triple letter space) can score more than a bingo.  AWARENESS.
When you have some awful rack, and you want to trade tiles.  If it’s in the latter part of the game and you need a vowel, look at the board and estimate your chance of getting what you need.  You’ll become better at this as you gain more experience.  Don’t be trying to draw an ‘E’ when there are twelve of them already played on the board.  Know how many of each letter are in the bag when the game begins.
AWARENESS


Attempting to Get Better
IMPROVEMENT
Sunday. 10/20/19
Whether we’re attempting to become better as scrabble players or achieving some other endeavor, there are qualities that some of us possess that work negatively against ourselves.  Some words which describe task-oriented behavior with negative connotations include:

  • Anxious: worried, uneasy, or nervous.  We become
    paralyzed and unsure of ourselves.  We lose self-confidence.
  • Careless: not being careful; rushing into things.  Slow down.  Take a few deep breaths.  Make a plan for what you will do next.
  • Impatient: quickly irritated and easily provoked.  Recognize when your in this state of being.  Go for a walk or a run and shake it off before you resume.
  • Lazy: unwilling to work or show a lack of effort.  Recognize this quality in yourself.  Develop a mantra, repeat, ‘I’m better than this!’  Find a friend who you can call and ask for help.
  • Rigid: being unwilling to change one’s outlook, belief, or response.  Know that there is more than just one way to solve most issues.  Experiment with other ways to do things.
  • Scatterbrained: inattentive and forgetful.  You know when you’re in this state of being.  Stop!  Have a checklist to guide your actions with numbered steps.
  • Slapdash: performing work quickly and carelessly.  Measure twice; cut once.  Proofing our writing is asking for failure.  Use spell-check and other tools or other proofreaders.
  • Sober: serious, sensible, or solemn.  At times we need to lighten up; add some levity.  Keep your focus on having fun along the way.
  • Undisciplined: lacking in discipline.  Choose a coach. Sometimes we can’t do things without guidance and lead from another individual.
  • Volatile: changing moods very quickly

Allow me to become your coach.

Players can plan out the how’s and when’s to develop their scrabble skills on their own, or, for a quick start, you can enroll in my online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’.  (This requires a 30 Day commitment of 30 minutes a day.)  I will provide you 30 assignments related to all the scrabble skills you will want to develop.  After the 30 Days, every task may be repeated at your leisure until you master each skill.
Only $149.


949-510-1673


QUALITIES
Saturday, 10/19/19
Some qualities are beneficial to have when becoming a great scrabble player.

  • Ambitious: actively wants to succeed.  Always learn one more word or one more list.
  • Cautious: being very careful.  Know and follow the rules.  Hold your opponents accountable to the rules.
  • Conscientious: taking time to do things right.  Avoid playing phonies and never overdraw tiles.
  • Creative: the ability to develop ideas with ease or think of new things.  Learns words that will force opponents to challenge you.
  • Curious: always wanting to know things.  Learn a variety of words.  Avoid becoming bored or burnt out.
  • Logical: use clear and sound reasoning.  See the patterns in words and apply knowledge.
  • Organized: a study regiment.  Use systems that align with your preferred personal methods for studying.
  • Perfection: wanting everything to be done right and correctly.  Once you know a list, review it regularly.
  • Precision: learning to be careful while applying attention to detail.  Acquire tracking.

Allow me to become your Coach.

Players can plan out the how’s and when’s to develop their scrabble skills on their own  -or-  for a fast start, you can consider enrolling in my online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’.  (requires a 30 Day commitment of 30 minutes a day)  I  provide you with 30 assignments related to all the scrabble skills you will need to develop.  After the 30 Days, every task can be repeated at your leisure until you master each skill.  The COST of these Beneficial Qualities to become a great scrabble player $149.

Call me NOW (949) 510-1673
https://just4thespellofit.com/learning-tools-and-or-unique-gifts/

HONESTY
FRIDAY, 10/18/19
I am telling on myself:  It was the very first time I was competing in a tournament in the Expert Division.  I was a nervous wreck.  It was harder than usual for me to find any word at all and I had so much hope of playing well and making a positive impression upon my opponents.  About three plays into the game I played a 3-Letter-Word.  When I was replenishing my tiles as I pulled my hand out of the tile bag, I realized that I had mistakenly taken four tiles.  I was feeling embarrassed and knew that I had overdrawn, but I didn’t want to appear foolish to my opponent.  So I carefully put three of the four tiles on my rack and figured I would palm the unseen fourth tile until my next turn and even things out at that time.  WRONG!  My opponent, Jim Peters, recognized that I was doing something in violation of the scrabble™ rules and said, “Gary, is there something in your hand?”  I was mortified.  The embarrassment was 1,000% worse than the penalty would have been.  I apologized profusely and attempted to explain what I had done. Honesty Is The Best Policy.

“We create our circumstances through our choices. Any day you wish, you can change it all.”  ~ Jim Rohn

Honesty is a facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including accuracy of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc.
There are many rules within the game of scrabble.  If and when we break a rule we are not always dishonest; we simply may be unaware of the regulation.  Your task, if you choose to be a serious scrabble™ game player is to learn the guidelines.  Here is a link to the Official Rules:  http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/w/Official_Tournament_Rules

If you are serious I suggest that you take the directors’ test, which is, in essence, a test on the guiding principle of scrabble.
Follow the rules and hold your opponents accountable for ensuing they do as well.


What would happen if you never stopped learning?
Thursday, 10/17/19
Would your brain become so full at some point that it would explode?
Is there a point when your memory is uploaded to capacity?
Will the excess drip out of your ears?
Would you annoy others because of your smarts?
Here’s the ‘good news’ and the ‘not so good news’ we never stop learning. Like the energizer bunny we keep learning and learning and learning our whole life long.  The content of our learning is contingent upon our formulation.  

I am now 77 years young and live in a senior community where most of the 22,000 plus residents are 55 and older.  Most of the residents here are retired.  But I estimate that at least 2/3 of my neighbors are actively learning new skills and bodies of information daily.
The other 33% are pretty much couch-potatoes, basically they watch a lot of TV, sun themselves poolside, and enjoy dinners with friends.  Nothing wrong with that lifestyle.
Whether your passion is scrabble™, bridge, or learning another language, as a retired senior there is no excuse for not having enough time to pursue some hobby or interest.  I have been passionate about expanding my word power for more than 30 years, playing scrabble™.  With more than 170,000+ words on the Official Word List, I still have miles to go.  Every time I play the game I find that I learn or relearn at least a word or two.  Even the top expert players are always reviewing word lists to remain sharp.
The truth is we all learn differently; we all retain information at different rates.  But we do have the ability to continue learning our whole life.

If you believe you CAN’T, you WON’T;                    If you think you CAN, you WILL!
If upon trying to master a list of ten words you find it too difficult, try for five words.
If upon trying to master a list of five words you find that difficult go for three words.
Start with these three words RIGHT NOW!

  1. AALII      a tree
  2. GRIGRI   a bird
  3. CRWTH  an ancient stringed instrument

INTEGRITY
10/16/19
I have memories growing up with a moral compass that was reinforced by my parents, by the public schools I attended, by the religous school I participated at, and by the public examples displayed by our leaders.
Where have all the flowers gone?
One can still read about positive qualities in books.  But one can become jaded when watching so many public figures and institutions stumble and fall in full view.  From the Catholic Church to celebrities, from sports heros to our elected officials, countless people and institution have failed us by lowering the bar instead of raising it.
Here’s a view of INTEGRITY put together by Jim Rohn.  (Just saying.)

    • Keep your promises even if it takes extra effort.
    • Go back to a store and pay for something you forgot to pay for.
    • Never betray a friend’s trust even if you get in trouble.
    • Inform the cashier he gave you too much change back.
    • Do not gossip or talking badly about someone.
    • Remain true to your spouse or partner.
    • When in a serious relationship, don’t keep secrets from each other.
    • Return money that you noticed someone dropped without expecting a reward.
    • Ignore someone’s advice on how to cheat on your taxes and not get caught.
    • Do not let someone else take the blame for something you did.
    • If someone gives you confidential information, never tell anyone what you know.
    • When it is obvious to you a relationship is over, don’t drag it out but discuss it openly.

Be INTEGRITY; Live INTEGRITY; Model INTEGRITY
even if you become president.

Addendum
Although I am the younger sister to Gary, while growing up, I would go to him for guidance and advice; however, in recent years despite an eight-year age gap, we have become equals.  Jewish tradition teaches God created man and from man came woman, and throughout the years the male species was considered to be of ‘more’ importance.  However, if Eve was created from Adam’s rib so he (man) would never have to be alone in life, isn’t the female just as important as man himself?  The reason I bring this up is to demonstrate that whether I am the younger sibling or not, upon writing this blog (among other creative paths) Gary has asked me to review the words he is presenting on this 16th of October 2019.
Integrity is and should be a virtue we all strive for whether we lean towards the teachings of The Bible (both old and new testaments,) or

    1. Agam Sutras
    2. Avesta,
    3. Guru Granth Sahib
    4. Holy Quran
    5. Kitáb-i-Aqdas
    6. Kojiki
    7. Koran
    8. Talmud, and or Torah
    9. Tripitakas
    10. Veda

(Just to name a few)
Integrity is a quality for humankind, to be honest, and solidly reliable.  It is a state of mind of being whole and united, coming together, sharing a common belief.  The commonality is found in all spirituality.
(Today’s blog may not pertain to the game of Scrabble, but it relates to the way we play the game and live our lives.)


CHEATING or NOT
10/15/19
I as at a scrabble club recently where there were a few players present who were new to the club scene.  One long-time member was showing off utilizing scrabble jargon that the average newbie wouldn’t yet know (words, ie. unhorse, unmew, and ngwee).  The seasoned player inadvertently played a couple of phonies, as well.
The newbie finally couldn’t take it and blurted out loud enough so everyone could hear.  “That’s downright cheating.  You have to play real words.  You can’t make words up as you play the game.”

What should the club director have done?  
The director took the appropriate action.  He addressed the newbie by explaining the rules and procedures regarding the complaint.

  • A player has the right to play any word on his/her turn.
    If the opponent believes that the word played is phony, he/she has the right to challenge the word, before the player takes a single replacement tile from the bag.
  • If the opponent isn’t sure that he/she wants to challenge but wants time to consider challenging, he/she can say HOLD keeping the game from moving forward.  The opponent’s clock continues to run while the opponent is HOLDING.  There is no time limit for how long you can HOLD your opponent.
  • After 10 seconds ON HOLD, the player may draw replacement tile and look at them.  But MUST NOT compile them with his/her remaining tiles.
  • At some point, the opponent will either say CHALLENGE or release the HOLD.

Playing a PHONEY is not cheating.  All players are responsible for knowing which words are acceptable and which plays are unacceptable.  If a phony is played on purpose it is likened to a Poker Player bluffing.  Playing obscure words that are unfamiliar to your opponent is one way to draw a challenge and, hopefully, cause your opponent to lose a turn.
If your opponent played the following words, which would you challenge?

  • UNHAIRED
  • FLEWS
  • SFERICS
  • SENARII

HAIL STARBUCKS!
10/14/19
During my recent travels, I encountered this friendly, familiar coffee house chain in almost every city I visited.  In the larger towns, Starbucks could be found nearly every few blocks.  As a weary traveler Starbucks always contributed to making me feel at home and centered me.  I may not have been in search of a Latte or Frappuccino; sometimes, all I wanted was a clean restroom or a hookup to WiFi.  I could always count on Starbucks to be there for me wherever I wondered.
Right now, I’m writing this at a Starbucks Cafe within a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Aliso Viejo, California where I do a lot of work on my blogs and puzzles.  I always notice that I am not alone in using the hospitality served up along with their coffee and pastries.  On any given day you’ll find students being tutored, some studying, as well as friends meeting.  Business people take meetings here, and at times you will see me with my scrabble board on a table, trolling for another scrabble enthusiast(s).
I believe that due to Starbucks’ long-time practice of offering Free WiFi to its patrons’ many other establishments have followed their example by offering this perk.  It sure makes life easier for those like myself to stay in touch while in some of the most remote areas.  A big Thank You for that.
A further observation:  (1) What other establishment do you think I saw over and over again when I drove through Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario?  If you guessed Tim Horton’s, you’re right.  (2) What kind of restaurant is on street-after-street in southern Michigan?  Coney Islands.


A Calm Sunny Sunday
10/13/19
This morning when I looked out the window through the door wall in the living room, I saw a calm sunny day.  A large bird, a type of hawk, was making lazy circles in the sky above the empty fields behind the homes across the street.  I thought to myself that the bird is most likely searching for its morning meal, and right then, my stomach gurgled and reminded me that I hadn’t had anything to eat yet since I awoke.
I bet I’m not the only person looking out a window right now.  I’m sure it is a common occurrence.

I had a flashback to maybe 1949.  My Baubee (grandmother) sat by the window in front of her apartment a great deal of time.  Every time my mom brought me to visit her, as we drove up Elmhurst, I would see her through the window, sitting and watching the action outside.  There was no TV at that time her window provided the entertainment.  There were kids playing stickball on the street; there were delivery trucks bringing goods to neighbors; sometimes she’d toss me a nickel and would tell me to get myself an ice-cream from Zukin’s drug store on the corner.
I guess I’m fortunate!
Today some people don’t have front windows because they were burnt out in last week’s fires.  I can’t imagine having your life’s worth of possessions and memories go up in flames is beyond depressing.  
Today some other people don’t have a front window because a president permitted the Turkish government to bomb them without reprisals.
Today a growing number of people don’t have a front window because they are and have been homeless.
The remedy is slow in coming.  
I sure am lucky.
What’s happening outside your window?


A Leap Of Faith (Columbus & Me)
10/12/19
It was 1492.  The royal family of Spain was greedily rubbing their hands together in the hope and anticipation of the potential riches that Columbus and his crew might find and bring back to enrich their Kingdom.  The naysayers laughed and expected the explorers to plunge off the end of the Earth.  Columbus expected to survive and discover a new route to China.  And the rest is history.
It was 1987.  I read an ad in the Southfield Eccentric Newspaper (in a singles column) that offered up an opportunity to meet word lovers at a Scrabble event at The Presidential Inn in Allen Park, MI, on a Saturday morning at 10 AM.
I was single again and didn’t enjoy the usual singles scenes at Bars and Dances.  I hoped to attend and meet someone to cast a spell upon.
The editor of the newspaper had screwed up.  The event was not a singles event at all. Instead, the event was a competition for scrabble players to determine which players would ultimately go to the National Scrabble Tournament as representatives from the State of Michigan.
My first reaction was being pissed off that I had made this long trip across the city on a precious Saturday for nothing.  But as long as I had come all this way I walked around the room looking at the boards where players were busily throwing down words.  As I read the words on the board I wondered what language they were using.  I saw words like NGWEE, SMARAGD, and SVARAJ.  I asked one of the players on the sidelines about those strange words.  I was assured that all words played were on the Official Word List.  I was shocked that there were so many words played that I did not know.
The atmosphere was warm and friendly.  Before long, I felt like I was among friends.  Before leaving, I had been invited by several players to attend their weekly club meeting on Tuesdays in Livonia, Michigan, less than 10 miles away from my home.
I am a teacher.  I enjoy the competition.  It didn’t take much to get me hooked on the competitive scrabble scene.  The Tuesday Club in Livonia included many expert level players, and I liken myself to a sponge, soaking up every unfamiliar word that they played against me.  They referred to me as ‘fresh meat.’  I didn’t mind because I understood I was the newbie and had to grow into being a formidable opponent.  And so, for week after week I came and played and lost and learned and lost and learned.  At some point I finally won a game and then I was hooked for good.
It is now nearing the end of 2019, some 32 years later.  I haven’t fallen off the end of the Earth.  And still, every time I play a game of scrabble, I always learn a thing or two.  For some time now I have been viewed by newbies as one of the Experts.  I do everything in my power to encourage newbies to wade their way through the losses that are simply a part of the learning process.  Sadly only a small percentage of potential players are able and willing to handle the loss that happens on the way to success.
But, such is life.


INSANITY
10/11/19
Isn’t one definition of ‘INSANITY’: continually doing the same action expecting a different result?  So here we are again in ‘HIGH FIRE SEASON,’ at the mercy of the ‘SANTA ANA WINDS,’ with a lot of fuzzy thinking going on.  People who have just been burnt out of their homes saying, “We will rebuild right here!”  I guess we could also throw in a few of “It’s G-d’s Will.”
Then there all of those who protect the gun lovers and the gun hoarders by saying and thinking that ‘Guns don’t kill, people, do.’  So what?  Let’s do something to end the massacres.  Make the consequences damn scary.   We could create PUBLIC SHREDDING (being lowered into a people-shredder toes first).
And what about our excuse for a president and all his cronies?  Can’t we do anything faster to rid ourselves of him before we are engaged in another world conflict?

We (humans) are so F- – Kingly Stupid.

Move to some safer place!
Gun owners, shoot yourselves.
JAIL HIM NOW!  JAIL HIM YESTERDAY!
Or not??????


REFLECTIONS
10/10/19
Everything’s different; everything is the same.  The streets within gates 9 & 10 that lead to my home have been resurfaced.  The price of gas cost about a dollar a gallon more since I last filled my car at Costco in Laguna Niguel.  At my hangout at Barnes & Noble in Aliso Viejo they’ve redecorated the cafe.  I’ve learned how to sleep on my back which solves the hurt in my right shoulder. Many of the TV programs have changed with the new fall lineups.  There is a different image looking back at me from every mirror in my house.  I’m just as forgetful when walking out the door without my keys, my wallet, and my cash.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing scrabble at the many clubs I visited on my travels.  Seeing old friends and making new friends was great fun.  I had hoped to show off my scrabble expertise, but I was very mediocre in my performances.  I played about 96 games in all and won 53.  I played 108 bingos, had only one play of more than 100 points, and my average score was 387.
For one who never stops to smell the roses I did stop at The Dinosaur Monument in Utah, The River Walk in Niagra Falls, Ontario, drove down the backroads in Amish Country in upstate New York, attended a Blues Open Mike Night in Saratoga Springs, NY, and looked into the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
I found the people across the country to be kind, helpful, and genuine.  The mechanic who repaired the front end of my car in Colorado and then charged me only $4 was terrific.  Having my Toyota kissed by an 18 Wheeler at the tunnel from Cincinnati into Kentucky and not leaving even a scratch on my car was unbelievable.  Getting four new Dunlop tires in Buffalo made the rest of my trip even more comfortable.  Of the 46 different beds I slept upon, 44 were comfortable.  Every motel room was acceptable except a fleabag in Gallop, NM.  If I had driven one more exit beyond where I stopped I could have avoided that.  The restrooms along the way were clean.
I am blessed with a beautiful family with whom I visited, daughters Stacy & Sue, son-in-laws Dan & Joe, grandchildren Amanda, Haley, & Wylie.  My sister Karen who created my new web site and trained me on using it while in Ohio.  Karen’s husband, Rich, and son Alex, were welcoming too.  My brother Joel introduced me to the vocals of Carole Sloan and to Uncommon Grounds where we played scrabble and waited for passers-by to stop and engage with us.  Joel’s wife, Terri-Lynn, who shared her incredible photographic art.  My family has talent.
The most challenging part of the trip for me was driving all those miles, especially the few times when my drive time was after dark.  The endless stream of trucks surrounding me on the highways, speeding commerce along at 70+mph.  In all I drove more than 6,000 miles.  Kudos to my 2008 Toyota, Yaris; it served me well.
Another difficulty was trying to hold back and not respond to the beckoning of donut shops and casinos.  I think I did very well, considering.
So, now I’m back at home, and I have the luxury of a couple more days before heading back to work.  I will attempt to institute some of the ideas that I formulated during my trip.  For now, those ideas are ‘Under Construction.’


Be It Ever So Humble
10/8/19
A few days ago, while driving through Muleshoe, Texas I stopped at a hardware store and walked into the paint department.  There I picked out several color swatches of shades of green.  Soon after as I was driving I came to an elevation that was a bit higher than the surrounding of the landscape.  I pulled off the road and conducted an experiment.  I identified one of the green swatches that were closest to the greens around me; then I looked at the greens in the distance, and they appeared to be greener.
I calculated a point in the distance to be about 5 miles away near a bend in the road.  I got back into my car and drove to the bend in the street and pull off again.  My expectation was that the greens where I was now standing would indeed be greener than the greens at my initial stop.  They weren’t significantly greener; they were about the same.  Hence, “the grass is always greener on the other side” is most likely about misperception and wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking and projection can be the result of unrest, boredom, and unfulfillment.  For some of these reasons and others I embarked on my 77 Sunset Trip.  I have no regrets.  It was something that I had to do to move forward in my life.  I was able to reaffirm the goodness and helpfulness of people.  I was able to enjoy kindness and helpfulness from friends, family, and total strangers.  I was able to step outside myself and see pieces of the future I want to enjoy and create.  I was able to set some new goals.
I’ll be getting back home in the next few days.  My new challenge will be to move some of my thoughts from mere ideas into reality.  Wish me well.

I want to thank you and everyone who followed my adventure and gave me support and encouragement on this journey.  Your messages made a positive difference.


Become A-List Maker
10/7/19

So you want to do a fun activity that will build your personal knowledge, expand your scrabble vocabulary and contribute to making you the most exciting and eccentric person on the block.
The first time I became a scrabble ‘List Maker’ was back in 1991.  I was busily creating flashcards dedicated to the 100 Stems, studied by scrabble experts.  It was a Tuesday night, and I was in attendance at Jerome Boyd’s club in Livonia, Michigan.  One of the ladies in that club, Edna Miller looked over my WHIZ CARDS and told me that they were very nice and useful BUT what she really wanted was a list of all the entries on the Official Word List that were defined; as ‘monetary units.’  You see, Edna was also a coin collector when she was not playing scrabble.  She offered to pay me for my time, and I figured that I would learn a word or two in addition to earning $25.
How does one create that kind of a list?  I could only think of one way.  I found a large print version of the OSPD and began on page #1.  I ran my finger down each page with my focus on the definitions.  Whenever I found an entry that was a coin or a monetary unit I made a Whiz Card for that entry and then continued scanning page-by-page-by-page.  I found it to be incredibly fun, and in the process I learned words like ‘EKPWELE’;   ‘NGULTRUM’; and ‘NGWEE.’ If I remember correctly, I found more than 100.  Edna was thrilled, and it opened my eyes to yet another way to study.
I was going to suggest that you might make a list of BIRDS.  Today in 2019 we can begin by going to Google and search for a file; so I did.  Google told me that there are 9,722 kinds of birds divided into 204 families. (I bet that most of those entries are not on the OWL.)  So, if you choose to create a list of birds in the OWL, use the finger sliding-down-each-page method.
Then I found this list of Ten Admirable Human Qualities

  1. Humility
  2. The desire to Learn
  3. Integrity
  4. Responsibility
  5. Resilience
  6. Compassion for others
  7. Respect for other
  8. Big vision
  9. Inspiring Others
  10. Reinventing ourselves

Other categories to consider may include Animals, Chemical Compounds, Clothing,  and Interjections.
Pick something that interests you and have fun with it.  Make learning fun.


BE PREPARED 
10/6/19

I hear players complaining all the time about always having too many “I’s” on their rack.  Even though there are only nine “I’s” in the mix when you are plagued by them, it feels like there are more than a dozen.
So, what do you do when you have an issue with any letter?  You step up and learn another set of words that helps to solve your dilemma.  There are only 32 seven-letter words that have three ‘I’s in them.  How many do you already know?  Would it be valuable if you learned a few more?
BIRIANI,  INDICIA,  MILITIA,  INITIAL,  LIXIVIA,  INHIBIN,  INHIBIT,  BIKINIS,  BIMINIS,  SILICIC,  LIPIDIC,  IDIOTIC,  VIVIFIC,  ILLICIT,  ILLITIC,  INCIVIL,  CRIMINI,  INCIPIT,  OIDIOID,  SIMIOID,  IRIDIUM,  INSIPID,  RILIEVI,  ILEITIS,  RIPIENI,  FINIKIN,  GINGILI,  IRISING,  RIKISHI,  SHIVITI,  MINIKIN,  MINISKI
How about the words with five-to-seven letters long that have two consecutive ‘I’s?
AALII,  AALIIS,  BACCHII,  CONGII,  CONIINE,  DENARII,  GENII,  MEDII,  NAUPLII,  OBIISM,  OBIISMS,  PIING,  RADII,  SENARII,  SKIING,  SKIINGS,  SPLENII,  TAXIING,  TEIID,  TEIIDS,  TORII

I bet, with a little effort, you could master a few of the words from each group above.
Complaining is counter-productive.  It consumes our energy better used in other ways.  Try channeling that energy into finding solutions.

A few months ago, I received a phone call from a lady who lived in my community of Laguna Woods Village.  She saw my name in the local weekly about my Scrabble™ club.  She spoke enthusiastically about how much she loved the game of scrabble and had always been her family champion.  I immediately invited her to attend our club and shared the particulars about how club play differs from many family house rules.  She paused . . . “Do you use all those silly little two-Letter-Words?” she asked.  “If you do, I’m not interested in playing with you!”
I didn’t even try to convert her.  The two-Letter-Words are the key hooking words to one another.  I never asked her which of the “2”-Letter-Words she considered being acceptable and which of them she found to be silly.
If you peruse the OWL (Official Word List), you will find many words that you don’t know and many entries that you may judge as not real words at all.  (Like Fake News!)  Now, if you plan to play club or tournament Scrabble™, you’ll have to put up with that.  There is only one list of acceptable words, and that is the OWL.  The OWL is created by a committee from NASPA.  Thus, Scrabble™ is a memory game, and that’s that.



RESILIENCY
FLEXIBILITY
CREATIVITY
PATIENCE
10/5/19
The four qualities listed above will serve you well when you are on your long trip or if you’re simply at your weekly scrabble club session.  The best-made plans have ways of being altered even if you have double-checked and triple-checked your schedules.  Stuff happens.  So what you do and how you handle things will contribute to your overall happiness and set a positive example for others.
I arrived at the meeting place, feeling proud of myself for having located the spot, and I was even a bit early.  The people I was hoping to meet never showed up.  I could have allowed disappointment to evolve into anger and dwell on my disappointment.  Instead I threw my chair against the wall and kicked an elderly lady on my way out.  No, no, no!  I looked for the silver lining, which was ‘if I had dinner and left afterward, I would not have to do any nighttime driving this evening.  That was a plus for me.
I’m playing a scrabble game. I know about 60% of the words of the SATINE stem.  My rack is:  ‘A’  ‘E’  ‘F’  ‘I’  ’N’  ’S’  ’T.’  I know that I have a bingo, but I cannot remember word.
1) I could ponder over the rack for three or more minutes and still not recognize it.
2) I could play the word ‘FINE’ and earn some points.
3) I could be patient and calculate by keeping SATINE and playing off just the ‘F,’ hoping that the next letter I draw would produce a bingo.
The question that players need to ask themselves more often is do I want to win frequently.  If the answer is YES, then they have to play differently and not merely play the nice words.
It was 2001, and I was coaching my dear friend Maliha.  At this point she had already been playing for a couple of years and was knowing a lot of scrabble jargon.  I was perplexed by why she wasn’t winning more often.  At one point during our session I watched her make a play while passing on playing a much better word.
(an aside)  If you knew Maliha, then you know she didn’t care about winning or losing the game as much as enjoying the words and having fun.  I asked Maliha why she played this word instead of that word, and she answered, “It’s aesthetically pleasing.”  That was the AHA moment I was looking for.
After my friendly lecture about competitiveness vs. aesthetics, Maliha eventually played more aggressively, resulting with bingos and more wins.
You have a lot to say and do that can shape your outcomes.  Think about it.  Use all your skills.


77 Sunset Trip Going on 7!
10/4/19
This trip was supposed to be six weeks.  Today is the end of my six weeks on the road.  I won’t get back to my home until next week on Thursday.  I’m feeling the burn.  I’m running out of steam.
I find myself imagining how Lewis & Clark marched off into the wilderness for months/years.  How did our ancestors’ board ships coming to America not knowing what was ahead for them?  How will the astronauts who will go to Mars come to grips with themselves? Obviously this is not any of those but just saying.
I spent last night in a fleabag motel in Gallop, NM.  The only thing good about the experience was the price.  I am sleeping well.  The driving is much more taxing than I remember from past trips.  The various stops along the way did help in making the legs of this journey doable.
Today I’ll get to The Grand Canyon.  I hope the weather will cooperate.  I’d love to have sunshine and mid-70s when I get there.  Yesterday I drove through a lot of rain across New Mexico.
Yesterday I dealt with losing my phone.  I must have left it the night before in Muleshoe, TX.  When I got to Albuquerque, I located a T-Mobile store and replaced my phone.  Hopefully the motel will find my phone and forward it.  I have Got to be more careful.  My new number is 505  317-8170.  By losing my phone I currently do not have all my contacts (they are on my computer, and I should be able to refresh them with help from Google.)
I’m feeling a little shakey.  I haven’t played any scrabble since Wednesday evening in Lubbock.  I’ll bring out the board this morning and play one or two games of solitaire scrabble.  I’ve Got to stay sharp!


UPDATES
10/1 & 10/2/19
This evening (Tuesday) I was scheduled to play scrabble™ in Memphis.  Their club plays on Monday evenings at 5 PM at Jason’s Deli.  I was there from 4:30 – 5:45 PM all by myself,  oops, no Scrabble™ club.  Oh well, shit happens! Sunday in Nashville I played five games, and in 3 of the 5 I played like a Newbie.  It was embarrassing for me to play so poorly.  Although I have to say I played some solid players.
I had a very relaxing afternoon on Monday before going to the Memphis Club and took in a movie, ‘The Angel Has Fallen.’
Having no one to play with in Memphis I had dinner at Jason’s then headed west to Little Rock, AS to spend the night.  Tuesday afternoon I made it to Euless, TX., just south of Dallas.  I had a pleasant time with Mary Rhoades and her club (see club photo in the gallery).
When Mary’s club ended, I hopped back in my car and drove two hours toward Lubbock where I’ll play this evening (Wednesday).
I don’t remember driving through West Texas in the past.  I couldn’t get a good look at the crops that fill thousands and thousands of acres.  I’d guess that they’re soybeans.  And also there are hundreds upon hundreds of windmills on wind farms.
The speed limit most of the way was 75mph, so I made great time.  I am beginning to feel weary from all the driving.  After today I don’t have to be at my next stop in Albuquerque, NM until Saturday and it’s only a 5-hour drive.

I won all 3 of my games last night in Euless.  I regretfully played one phony that helped me win one of the games.  I played ‘UNRISKED,’ and it was not challenged.


The Rest Of The Story (Paul Harvey’s Byline, borrowed)
9/30/19
I don’t think that there is anything wrong about using the above title for this piece, but I may be wrong.  And that’s significant for what I am about to share with you.
I strongly dislike confrontation.  I try to avoid it to the extent I often turn a blind eye and look the other way, pretending it doesn’t exist.  Sometimes that approach doesn’t clear things up at all.  Feelings only simmer, and things get worse.  To those I’ve hurt, to those I’ve slighted, I’m genuinely sorry.  I hope this admission helps.
I’m one of those people that can’t sit still and be content being a follower.  I’m not very good at just being a member of a committee or being one of many students in the classroom.  I don’t see myself as pushy about stepping up and taking a leading role, but I’ve always seemed to gravitate to a leadership position.  I feel frustrated as a member of a committee trying to find consensus; I see a conclusion, and I am impatient and usually want a quick result.  Maybe that leads me to publish letters and list without thoroughly proofing the articles I produce.  I’m sure that annoys many others.  And still I’ve been consistent in my behavior.

Most of my ideas and projects are not entirely original.  When I see something that I like I often think about how I can make it better, how I can make the lesson more understandable, how I can modify it, when I see a teaching tool that can be applied to Scrabble™ skills it is rarely original and since I want to learn more Scrabble™ and words from the OWL I’ve always invested a lot of time and thought and energy into creating such media.  As a classroom teacher I witnessed the value of using flashcards in the learning process.  So when I began creating learning tools, and I wanted to learn the words that are part of the system we know as STEMS, I created WHIZ CARDS.
I did not invent the first FLASHCARDS.  I did not create the idea of STEMS.  I am not the mathematical genius who figured out that SATINE and SATIRE could help scrabble players identify and learn 100+ bingo words.  But I did create stems on flashcards and call them Whiz Cards as I promote and sell them to any scrabble player who might want to purchase them.  I never considered that act as being wrong.  I did the same with countless word lists.  I did not invent the words; I just grouped them on lists of my design and published them.

When I first began to play scrabble in the final days of the 1980s, there was a book available that I remember it was named a Backward Word List.  I used that publication until it was worn out.  I never saw any updates to it over the years, and we all know that there have been many updates to the OWL since 1990.  About a year ago I began thinking about that word list and how it helped me look at words differently.  At some point I started thinking about recreating such a list with all the updates to the current OWL.  And then in March of 2019 I began recreating that kind of a file and called it a Backwards Dictionary.  I liked the title even though it is not a dictionary at all; there are no definitions in the list.  The backward part refers to the fact that all the entries are alphabetized from right to left.
The way I created the lists was labor-intensive, even more so because of the current roadblocks built into ZYZZYVA, the word source which I used.  You see, the current owner of ZYZZYVA has manipulated the parameters of the program so that users like myself cannot print more than 200 words from any single list they desire.
Not wanting to allow that to stop me, I became obsessed with my desire for this list and developed a way to get what I needed and wanted.  Can you say LABOR INTENSIVE?  A computer programmer would laugh and call me crazy.  Here was my solution.

The first entry in my Backwards Dictionary is words that end with the letters ‘AA’.  There aren’t more than a few of those, so it was easy to capture and print lists with less than 200 entries.  I would print then, manipulate the file manually, copying and pasting all the words alphabetized from right-to-left.
Then I did the same with words ending with ‘BA,’ then ‘CA,’ then ‘DA.’  I devoted many hours every day for six months to this endeavor.  When I came to the lists that had more than 200 words like ending in ‘ED’ (more than 14,500+ words) I captured the first 200 words and then typed the remaining 14,300+ words while alphabetizing them in reverse, one by one.  Yeah, it was a fool’s errand, and I was that fool who was driven.

I shared openly with others what I was doing.  My good friend, Amnon Meyers, who is a brilliant computer programmer, had helped me with a similar project in the past and offered to help me again.  I resisted for weeks and continued to type away.  In my stubbornness I was also thinking that while doing all this typing, I might learn another  2% — 5% of the words I was interfacing with.
As I neared the end of the list Amnon suggested that there were most-likely many typos and probably some omissions.  With his concern for inaccuracy Amnon wrote a program which produced an accurate copy of the project I was creating by hand.  He presented it to me.  I was delighted.  I had already been pondering how I might proof my work and was not looking forward to that part of the project.
And it is here I hurt my good friend by being obtuse.  He deserves much more credit for the finished project than I acknowledged.  For that I am sorry.  I have produced 30 copies of the list to date.  When I reprint the dictionary I will give all credit due to Amnon Meyers for the significance of the role he played in the creation.
Here is a current email I received from Amnon:
Hi, Gary,
I would really like it if you tell how it is truthfully.
The organization of the reverse dictionary is yours.
(The idea of a reverse dictionary is very old, eg, Cygnus Cybernetics produced their version back in the day, and I’ve done it for text analysis reasons eg way back in McDonnell Douglas days.)
The creation of an error-free version is due to my programming efforts.
If you want further help from me, I require at least that much.
Thx,
Amnon
I fully agree. I am genuinely sorry for not setting the record straight earlier.
Gary Moss


NEW BEGINNINGS
9/29/19
One more time.  One more once.  I’ve heard that devout Catholics confess frequently.  Jews save up their sins and admit them during the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah thru Yom Kippur.  If our slate is wiped clean we are granted a fresh start.  Being flawless is rare to impossible for mere humans. (All you have to do is watch any NEWS channel for a few minutes).
And we all usually know that we can do much better.

Every year, near the end of December, people around the globe take to creating lists of New Year Resolutions.  Most of those items are mundane, like losing some weight or doing more exercise.  Most people default on most-to-all of their resolutions on or before January 15.
There’s no need to wait for January 1st to begin any regimen that will help and empower you.  You don’t need to be Jewish to use Rosh Hashanah as your starting point.  And for that matter you can begin your new journey any day.  Just take a single step toward whatever you wish to accomplish and then another and another… day after day after day.  YES YOU CAN!

It has been said that I’m impulsive and innovative.  My ’77 Sunset Trip’ came together in only a few weeks before I walked out the door on August 25.  But to be honest, the seeds for the idea were most likely growing weeks or months before the light went on and I experienced an ‘AHA.’ (AHA is a legal scrabble word and depending on its placement on the board can earn a fistful of points.)  We all experience conceiving endless ideas and then abandon most.  I concede that life would be very chaotic if all of us acted on every idea we had.  But the time for my plan to roam cross-country to play scrabble and renew old friendships had come.  As you can image, if you have responsibilities of any kind there are preparations to be made before you drive away.  I worked very efficiently to cover my part-time jobs and my scrabble club before I left.  I wanted to be able to come back to something.  I had a basic plan for where I’d go, but I had to allow for flexibility should they be impossible to keep.  There is always unknown detours along the road, and one has to roll with circumstances or sit down and pout.  Pouting is not productive and unchecked can lead to despair and being STUCK.  I experienced that just east of Salt Lake City and even considered quitting and turning back.  I used my past experience and vivid memories of those times when I abandoned projects and those were some of my greatest regrets.  So I paused, took a deep breath, and took another step east.  There’s always more east to go.
Looking back, I can tell you that there was a lot of value for me to confront the doubts and the fears and the aloneness.  Minutes felt like hours or days when I was in the midst of it.  Moving through those thoughts and feelings provided me new energy to continue on my path and make my adventure happen.


DI / NO / SAUR
9/28/19
That’s me, more and more every day in every way.  The chasm in the divide grows wider and wider to the point I am going to fall in and disappear.
So, my lovely wife Adrienne strongly suggested that I take a Garmin with me on this adventure.  That made sense to me since I have been taking the roads less traveled.  (Before I left Laguna Woods I made a trip over to my neighborhood AAA office to check on the availability of maps and trip-ticks.  (Their thunderous laughter was heard far away in the high reaches of the desert.)  Can you tell how much confidence I place in my friend the Garmin?

Believe it or not, modern technology is one of my weaker links.  While I’ve been a user of Mac computers since the mid-1970s and created all sorts of neat movies and websites over the years, whenever a program was updated, and I was forced to learn a new way of operating anything I resisted and screamed bloody murder.
Meanwhile, little children have learned to text and email while still in their cribs.  By the time a modern-day kid turns five he/she is ordering after school snacks from Grub-Hub on the iPhone and Podcasting personal ideas and concepts.

Back to my Garmin and me! When I left Saratoga Springs last Thursday I had a serious argument, and I was upset with “Garmin.”  I didn’t realize that I had hit the button which instructed the Garmin to avoid toll roads.  Therefore I was led along the backroads for forty some odd miles.  While I went along with Garmin’s directions I found myself yelling at that little box he/she lives in.  I kept shouting, “Where are you taking me?” to which Garmin replied, “Stay On Route!”
This morning I was in Lexington, KY, and heading to Nashville, TN.  I was confident that I knew exactly how to get there. As a courtesy only, I turned Garmin ON before I pulled away from the Days Inn.  I got on I-75 and headed south.  Garmin began chirping at me, “Exit RIGHT, then turn Left.”  I ignored the commands and kept heading south.  I even found myself making snide remarks to the box saying, “You think you’re so smart.” As I approached the next exit, Garmin repeated the order.  Do you know how small I felt to have a box admonishing me?  Finally after the third chirp I turned my car around and headed back nine miles to the Days Inn.  I thought I could trust the guy behind the desk and told him where I was heading and that I thought my Garmin was misleading me.  He just chuckled, adding to my embarrassment, then he said to me. “Garmin was right!”
Before getting back on the road, I went next door to a Shell Station to purchase a road map.  I approached a young clerk who was late teens or early 20s and asked if they sold maps.  She looked at me and asked, “WHAT?”.  I repeated my question.  “Do you sell road maps?”  She looked at me and hadn’t a clue what I wanted.  She had no idea what a road map was.  This was in Lexington, KY on 9/28/2019.  How can this be?
I made it to Nashville on time (about Noon) only because I had passed from one-time zone to the next.  Nashville is in the Central Time Zone.  No scrabble today.  I caught up with an old friend from Michigan who now resides here in Nashville.  I received a tour of Vanderbilt College. Tomorrow I’ll be playing scrabble with the Nashville Scrabble Club.


Stop The World; I Want To Get Off
9/27/19
Have things always been this way?  Expanding, Getting Bigger, Going Faster, and Ever Changing?

At times I’m so exhausted and it seems that there is no option but to go along with the program.  Our grandparents probably felt the same way when the automobil, the telephone, and the electric lightbulb came on the scene. They too had to adapt.  I can imagine them scratching their heads and wondering about the younger generation during the 1920s when the Charleston became the rage and women dressed as flappers.  Then how about my parents and their friends reacting to Rock And Roll?  They were less than happy.  I find myself displeased with Rap; that’s not any different.
The world of scrabble has had its own metamorphosis.  It began as a simple game in a box that parents played with their children to help with their spelling and word recognition.  And then because of the promotions of some genius business man, James Brunot, it caught the imagination of millions and grew into a major game known round the world.
The competitive game players of the world used scrabble as their vehicle to showcase their personal prowess and have lived through ch-ch-ch-changes too.  Around 1970, scrabble clubs formed under the banner of the (NSA) National Scrabble Association through the sponsorship of the owners of the game.  The NSA reached its membership peak in the 1990s when more than 25,000 players across North America identified themselves by purchasing memberships to the NSA.  Clubs and tournaments assembled across America and around the world.  In the mid 2000s when organizational changes occurred with the licensing passing to NASPA, a chasm occurred among the members and the total numbers  drastically diminished.  It should be noted that there are other reasons for the decline in affiliation.  It can be blamed on the way game players altered their behaviors due to the growth and availability of computers, iPhones, and the internet.  Increased numbers of people began playing games online in the comfort of their homes, and less attended clubs, venturing out to meeting places.  The introduction of online games like Words With Friends permitted a relaxed, impersonal way for competitors to face-off with friends and strangers to fulfill their needs.
Thus, the number of clubs diminished.  The number of club and tournament players lessened as well.  The best of the best continue to meet and butt heads, but the next generation of club players who usually begin as newbies, died off or never tested the waters because it became very, very difficult for them to show up and compete with the sharks.  Even good players from homes and the neighborhood face a mighty challenge to win against any intermediate club players.  Learning how to WIN at competitive scrabble is simply learning the scrabble jargon.

Anyone and everyone who wants to join the scrabble community will find that they are welcomed with open arms.  It takes a thick skinned, persistent player to allow the blows and losses to glance off during the process of gaining one’s scrabble legs. 


 

Driving
9/26/17
Spent the majority of today driving from Saratoga Springs to Cleveland.  I had an interesting begining to the trip.  I was hoping to see some of the early change of colors in all the trees and shrubry that covers this region.  Well, I did.  No bright reds and browns yet, but there were faded yellows and the sumac was dark red.
The next surprise was provided to me by my Garmin.  If you have ever set the parameters for one of those to take you from one place to another like I did, there is a question that asks, do you want to avoid all toll roads?  Tolls don’t especially bother me and I’m usually in an unnecessary hurry to get to wherever THERE is.  But I must have asked for the ‘toll free’ route.  It  took me right through Amish Country down highways and byways parallel to the New York Freeway where the speed limits were much slower and I shared the road with many wagons and carriages pulled by horses driven by men and women in Amish outfits.  I eventually hooked up with the thruway in Little Falls, NY.
In the morning hours I drove through some heavy rain, which I enjoyed and the sun came out before noon as I drove by Buffalo.  It was especially windy as I cut across Pennsylvania near Erie and I was way aheaad of scedule when I neared Cleveland only to get stuck in a traffic jam behind a disabled 18-wheeler.  I sat there for almost an hour.
I’m safe and sound at Karen’s house.  I will be here a day or two and work through some issues about my website and then I’ll head South to Nashville for some music and a Sunday Scrabble Club meeting.


MEETING THE PUBLIC,
ENGAGING THEM TO PLAY SCRABBLE
9/25/19

I’m privy to the fact (according to Hasbro) that there is a Scrabble™ game in one in every ten homes across America.  With that said, it appears to me that most of the folks who own those games are kitchen-table scrabble players and unwilling to play outside of their family gatherings.
Years ago, when first taking and then teaching the Dale Carnegie Course, we were told that the one thing that people were most afraid of was ‘public speaking.’  I think THEY got it wrong.  I believe that the greatest fear shared among people today is ‘PUBLIC SPELLING.’
Even after a person stops and looks at me with my Scrabble™  board, they often tell me that they love the game, and they brag that they are their family’s champion.  After all that, when I invite them to sit down and play with me, 99 out of 100 people will shy away and tell me that they’re not a very good speller.

  • No one wants to look bad.
  • No one wants to lose.
  • No one wants to embarrass themselves by misspelling a word in public.
  • No one wants to let phony words go by unchallenged.

Consider this

    • Would you accept an invitation to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods?
    • Would get out on a tennis court and volley with Venus Williams?
    • Would you be willing to sing a duet with Lady Gaga?

Most people become shy and introverted when opportunities fall into their laps.  Now I’m not a Joe Edley or a Mark Landsberg or a David Gibson.  My claim to scrabble fame is that at one time, I earned my way up to the bottom of the Expert Pile.  I won the Club Championship in the late 1990s at The Killer Club in LA. I beat Rita Norr in the final game.  I’ve directed more than 250 sanctioned Scrabble™ tournaments.  And I’ve written and produced countless Scrabble™  learning tools over the last 30 years. https://just4thespellofit.com/learning-tools-and-or-unique-gifts/

(Getty Images)

I love the game so much that I spend my time and my own money being an ambassador for the game.  And still, it’s not easy being green.  But that doesn’t stop me.  Frequently you can find me camped out at a table in coffee houses, bookstores, and other public venues that permit me to sit passively with my board and tiles inviting passers-by to play a game.  The faithful might say it’s my calling, and I’m on a Scrabble™  Mission.
All I ask is if you see me sitting with my Scrabble™  gear, stop for a time, engage with me and give me your best shot.


A Day At Uncommon Grounds
9/24/19
On a rainy Wednesday morning
Starting out to play with words
Finding crowds of coffee drinkers
Looking at me like I’m absurd.
I find joy in every vowel
Lacing letters into words
Searching for illusive bingos
There’s a bingo here;  I’m sure.
On a cold and windy Wednesday
As the masses rush along
Sitting hearth-side in a diner
Finding words is like a song.
Composing unfamiliar operas
With nouns and adverbs too
Melding letters all together
Creating words when I am through.
On a hot and humid Wednesday
One woman stopped to look then smiled
I love that game she proudly told me
It made a month of days worthwhile.
Sit and play with me, I asked her
She shyly slid into a chair
We sparred for hours with verbs and pronouns
Like children playing without a care.
And then as night fell on that Wednesday
Rush hour home and off to bed
The days’ words I learned stayed with me
Wrapped all cozy in my head.

The Wandering Scrabble™ Player
TUESDAY,  9/24/19
On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.

I sat down this afternoon and made up the schedule for the rest of my trip, and I’ll share it with you here in the hope that you will share it with folks you may know who’d like to (Scrabble™ ) play me along the way.  Most of these projected dates and stops are at Scrabble™ clubs with the exception of ONE.  I plan to be in Marfa, Texas on Thursday, October 3 where I know no one at all.  My brother Joel tells me it is an artist colony and there must be artist types who like Scrabble™.  If you can connect me to someone, please do so.

I’ll depart from Saratoga Springs, New York on Thursday morning, September 26 and arrive in Cleveland, Ohio around dinner time.  I will be with my sister Karen and her family in Cleveland until mid-day Friday, September 27, when I’ll drive south to Nashville, TN.

  1. In Nashville, I’m visiting an old friend from Michigan, Marie Falquet and will play at her Sunday Scrabble Club, September 29.
  2. Next, I will play in Memphis, TN at their club on Monday, September 30 at 5 PM.
  3. From Memphis, Tuesday, October 1, I will head to Euless, TX.
  4. Next Stop is the club in Lubbock, TX on Wednesday,  October 2.
  5. Then Marfa, TX on Thursday, October 3 – Does anyone have a connection there?
  6. Look for me in Albuquerque, NM on Saturday, October 5
  7. Followed by Tuscon, AZ on Sunday, October 6
  8. Tuesday, October 8, Las Vegas will be my last stop before returning home.
  9. (If all goes according to plan.) I will be HOME at  3367 Punta Alta #3B, Laguna Woods, CA on Thursday, October 10.

DOING WHAT YOU LIKE
9/23/19
Having myself a time.  Doing the things I love.
Are you doing the things that you love?
I’m traveling cross-country and visiting the people who have been and are wonderful parts of my life.  At times seeing their other sides, their creative genius parts that aren’t always so obvious over a scrabble board.  Right here in Saratoga Springs I’ve been able to rub shoulders with the photgraphic genius of T.L Pellegri and enjoy a preview of the pieces that she will be displaying in her upcoming show.  And then the next morning here I am in my brother Joel’s recording studio watching him mix his newest album with the swan song performance of (the white Ella) 82 year old, Carol Sloane.  What a treat.
This morning Joel and I went and set up my scrabble board at UNCOMMON GROUNDS, a coffee house in the center of Saratoga Springs.  I placed a sign on our table that said ‘SCRABBLE CHALLENGE.’  During the two hours we sat their only one person stopped to express her interest, but she was grabbing a coffee on her way to somewhere.  I gave her a 2 Letter Word List with my contact number and invited her to come back to play.  I’ve done this same sort of thing hundreds of times in malls, at book stores, in coffee shops, and parks.  I see myself as an ambassador for the game and try not to be too discouraged when few to no-one shows up.  At times I’ll pull out my tile bag and play a game of solitaire scrabble.  We’ll fish here again tomorrow for some willing opponents.  Meanwhile, Joel and I got caught up on a lot of chit-chat about the extended family and compared notes about our health (we haven’t spent any time together in about two years).


WELLNESS
9/22/19
It’s never too late; it’s never too early.
I have been on the road alone for four weeks as of yesterday without a single health issue.  My health was the biggest concern of my family and friends as I hopped into my car and sped away on this adventure.
Some of you know about my BIG TRIP and the day before my departure.  It happened in the parking area in front of my home when I tripped and fell backward, hitting my head on the blacktop, requiring a visit to the emergency room and getting four stitches in my head.  I had an MRI, and an EKG and the doctors said I was OK.  (OK is a new, legal two-letter-word).
Some of you know that I am one of millions who have Type2 Diabetes.

Yesterday after four uneventful weeks, I experienced a double-header.  First I think I screwed up taking my oral meds in the morning and probably doubled my doses.  Oooops!  Why oh why and HOW did I do that?  When they started working I experienced the beginning of a sugar-low.  That kind of thing has happened before, so I didn’t panic and fall apart.  I knew how to handle the situation.  I ingested some sugary stuff and sat down and waited for changes to work themselves out.  At first when the profuse sweating began I considered not attending Jerry’s scrabble party.  But as always, after 30 minutes, all was well in Niagra City.  Chalk one up to being prepared.
Next, after a lovely day of scrabble, food, and meeting new friends, as I packed up things to move on, I fell.  Nothing severe; no stitches required.  But it indicates that a followup visit is necessary to the doctor upon my return home.
I imagine that we’re all a bit reluctant to declare ourselves to require help, evaluation, or anything.  None of us want to have a doctor tell us that we can’t do this or we shouldn’t do that.  After being in charge of our own lives and making our own choices, which of us is willingly going to give up that autonomy?
But, unless we’re ready to click the switch to OFF and forgo all those anticipated turns at the scrabble board, we need to take the actions indicated by the circumstance.
I’m writing about this today to put this out in the open.  I promise myself to be attentive to my meds and to think twice before taking the stairs when I am carrying things.  In the latest fall I got away with a scraped knee and a scraped elbow.
The first thing that came to mind as I lie on the ground was an image of my dearly departed father who was getting out of bed, slipping into his slippers awkwardly, and falling as a result.  The fall led to a broken hip at the age of 88.  The fractured hip led to complications and finally to his demise.
Let us agree to be more careful and diligent regarding our personal safety.  Let’s pledge to follow up on health issues instead of ignoring possible warning signs.  Let us stay well for ourselves and one another.  Playing solitaire scrabble sucks compared to playing with a real live opponent.


That Panic Feeling of Good-bye
9/21/19
That panic let-go feeling that’s part of every good-bye

That push-me, pull-you feeling when hearing your heavy sigh

That empty void inside me yearning to be filled with joy

Not knowing who’ll make me smile like when I was a boy.

That is why it’s so hard, friend

Want to cry. Missing you, girl.

Don’t know how to move on, son

Spinning like a duvish, all aswirl

That panic let-go feeling when I cross each county line

That push-me pull-you anguish as I leave each State behind

Each new sight fills the vacuum of the ones I left behind

Singing new songs with melodies dancing in my mind.

Can’t hear you – – – – my old friend

New tune is so loud  – – – here in my head.

Can’t see your smile – – – in my mind’s eye

Feeling some guilt – – – – for moving on by.

Touched base with many friends of old

They are the same just different places

Reminisce about the days we were young

Lines and grey are on our faces.

We may not come this way again

Saying good byes seems somewhat final

This generation is iPhones and podcasts

My groupies still cling to vynal.

That panic let-go feeling that this is my last chance

That push-me pull you feeling may I have one last dance?

Wishing for health everlasting & Joy filling all of our days

Knowing that we’ll meet many times, together scrabble we’ll play.



EATING THE ELEPHANT

9/20/19
Becoming A Frequent Winning Player at the Scrabble Table is a goal for just about everyone with the smallest degree of competitiveness.  So, how do those few mavins become champions within the ranks?  Learning the words on the Official Word List (170,000+) is a daunting task for starters.  And then, one has to understand the strategies of both offense and defense.  Many players starting out may well feel overwhelmed.
Think of it like ‘EATING AN ELEPHANT.’  You begin by taking a single bite.  I guarantee you, if you allow yourself to try to take on the whole job at once, you’ll choke and walk away.  Taking, on the whole, is physically and emotionally impossible.  If you’re going to eat that elephant you’ll need a large freezer and a plan.  You’ll want to cut it up into manageable pieces and know that it will take you a year or longer to consume it.  Then there’s the whole issue of digestion. (ugh!)
Your plan for cutting up the elephant is critical too.  You are bound to meet a lot of butchers who spring up out of nowhere who want to advise you.  One will tell you to cut off the trunk in one large piece while another will strongly suggest that the trunk be divided into three or more sections.  I’d advise you to take the advice of someone who has already eaten an elephant or two in their past.  Better yet, know that just because someone has eaten an elephant does not mean that he or she can explain the process to you in a meaningful, understandable presentation.

Find a teacher-type with empathy and a sense of humor. You’ll need it when the path becomes rough and rocky, and I promise it will.  Find that mentor who will challenge you but will not burn you out.
Know that you’ll be at this for the long haul; very few become an instant success.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting miraculous things from yourself that scores of others only achieved over decades.
Don’t fool yourself that you can learn simply by playing more often without devoting significant measures of time to study and review.

Pieces of the elephant will only be consumable if you use the proper recipe.  The amount of time necessary to boil or grill or sauté the beast are very important.  Without the correct seasonings, some parts will otherwise taste disgusting.
Okay, enough about elephants.  You get the picture.  The OSPD6 and the OWL2019 are parts of the elephant in this scenario.  Learning their contents page by page would be a fools’ errand.

In my online class, Scrabble 101, I would introduce you to categories and sub-categories of words to prepare you for the circumstances that will challenge you in every game.  I’ll provide you with exercises which you can use to develop necessary skills.  I’ll offer you the tools that you can use over and over again long after the month-long online class has ended.  My class or any class is not a ‘silver bullet.’  There are no silver bullets, just hard work, and persistence.

Words, Memory, Hooks, Anagrams, Sub-Anagrams, Hot Spots, Counting, Tracking, Strategy, and More Memory are components that you’ll live with and learn to love.

While the average man/woman on the street know about 5% of the words in the dictionary you’ll initially be taking aim at absorbing 15% – 20%.  You’ll learn words that you’ll never use in normal everyday conversation.  You’ll learn words like ‘NGULTRUM’ and ‘EKPWELE’ which are monetary units in countries you’ll never visit.
If this sounds interesting and exciting to you, you are right where you should be.
And then there are the friends and friendships.  I am currently four weeks into a 6 week crosscountry SCRABATICAL, visiting scrabble clubs, playing tournament, and saying hello again to old scrabble friends.  My trip and the enjoyment is priceless.  Scrabble players are warm and sincere.  They want you for the challenge you present to them, across the board.  You’ll always find yourself welcome.

To learn more about SCRABBLE 101 (the online class) contact: JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com


Legal / Naughty Words
9/20/19
When I first began participating in scrabble clubs, I was informed that only ‘legal words,’ could be played without fear of being challenged off the board.  These words are limited to those contained in the Official Word List created and certified by the NSA (National Scrabble Association) word committee.  All other words were deemed to be ‘unacceptable.’
In 1992 if you played the word ‘REDIAL,’ your play would be recalled and judged to be UNACCEPTABLE however if you made that same play today – it is now ACCEPTABLE.

You see, the word committee continually updates the Official Word List every few years.  The list now contains more than 175,000 acceptable words.  Memorizing the Official List can be challenging since words are added to the list and sometimes they are deleted from the list.  The two-letter word ‘DA’ was on the original listing, then eliminated in the early 90s, only to be added again in the 2000s.  People ask me WHY?  My answer leaves most people dissatisfied.  The word committee makes their decisions for inclusion and exclusion in an arbitrary fashion for their own reasons.  Many purists are dismayed by the addition of words like ;WHATSIS’ and ‘OUTA’.

Bottom Line.  Playing words from the Official Word List (OWL) is a function of memorization.
I am a beneficiary of the ever-changing word list.  It was sometime at the end of the 1990s while I was playing in the yearend tournament of The Killer Club, run by Alan Stern in LA.  I was far from the best player in the club, but I was at the top of my game, and the tile gods were smiling upon me, providing me with blanks and esses and great letter combinations on my rack.
The tournament consisted of eight games, played over two consecutive club meetings.  It was Swiss Paired which meant one might have to play some players more than once.  Week #1, I won all four games which guaranteed that I would have to play a solid field during the last four games.  During previous encounters I had rarely beaten Ira Cohen or Mohan, but I somehow beat both of them.  The pressure was intense.  It was almost ridiculous that I even imagined that I could come out on top of all those word wizards.
Week #2 arrived, and there I was paired with Ira again in game #5.  Don’t ask me how.  But I won.  I lost game #6 and bounced back to win game #7.  Game #8 was a KOTH (King-Of-The-Hill).  I was paired against the incredible Rita Norr (Rita was the highest-ranked female player in the USA and one of the best on the world stage too).  I was in a zone, half numb.  I kept up with Rita, and our scores seesawed back and forth, never more than 50 points separating us.  We approached the end game with Rita leading by 44 points. We each had seven tiles on our racks, and it was my turn, and there were no Blanks or Esses remaining to play.
I played ‘BROIL’  (from N10-N14) for 37 points, reducing Rita’s lead to 7.  (In my mind I was already to concede.)  Rita had a lot of vowels and played ‘INIA’ (from O 12- O 15 for 22 points).  I called HOLD.  My heartbeat started thumping so loud. I was sure that everyone in the room could hear it.  I couldn’t believe what she had done.  In playing her last play Rita had placed ‘OI.’’  I called challenge.  Rita realized what she had done.  ‘OI’ was acceptable in World Play but unacceptable in NSA competition.  She lost my challenge, and I played out, winning the tournament.  That was my most significant win ever.
What a difference a word makes.

Did you know that there are 140+ ‘NAUGHTY WORDS’ that are legal to play in clubs and tournaments that are not printed in the OSPD6 (6th Edition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary)?  Conservative church ladies petitioned Merriam Webster to block those words for fear that they would corrupt scrabble playing youth.  Simply by your request I will gladly send you the ‘Naughty Word File’.  jftsoi.moss@gmail.com


Remembering Ida
9/19/19
The Challenges Awaiting Us
She was sitting in her chair, at a table, in the senior center, playing scrabble, when I first noticed her.  I did pause, wondering to myself just how she was able to play her tiles.  I didn’t stop long enough to watch and satisfy my curiosity.  
In my part-time job at  Clubhouse VII, in a senior community, I see quite a few individuals, up in years, with special needs and frustrating disabilities.  To their credit, these people have chosen to get the most out of their lives rather than hide themselves away in their homes, away from the public eye.
On this particular Sunday, Ida was part of an evening session which ran until about 9:15 PM.  When a session ends it is normal for players to say their goodbyes and head out the doors to be greeted by caregivers or community buses for their transportation home.
My responsibility to the center, at the end of a typical evening, is to make sure all the doors are locked securely, all lights are turned off, and on this night to punch out by 10 PM.
Some players lingered in the room passed 10 PM as I stood and waited patiently, with my keyring in hand, passively urging people to leave.  The director was running behind on her schedule.  She had to put all materials away before she could go.  She didn’t finish until 10:15 PM.
As the building supervisor, I am supposed to be the last person out of the building at the end of the evening.  I waited, standing in the doorway, shifting my weight from one foot to the other.  I didn’t have any urgent need to be anywhere special, and I was being paid for my time on the job.

As I completed closing the building and I walked out of the main door, witnessing Ida in her motorized chair, parked at the curb as if waiting to be picked up.  Her ride was nowhere in sight.  The club director was standing beside her asking about her means of transportation.  The director came to me and said that the lady’s bus might not arrive until as late as 11 PM. 
Ida herself was not upset or frightened; it seemed to me that she faced situations like this frequently and had learned to deal with it, with patience.  She encouraged me to go on my way and assured me that she would be just fine. I just didn’t feel right about walking away and leaving her all by herself.  But I knew that my employer would chastise me for clocking out after 10 PM.  I decided to call local security for assistance.  I would remain with Ida until security arrived and security would stay with her until her private cab picked her up.
It wasn’t until pulling out of the parking lot onto the road that unexpected emotions welled within me.  I experienced literal visions of myself, my aged mother, and others caught up in the circumstances that long life deals out.  I found myself feeling profound respect for the lady in the chair.  I found myself feeling fearful that someday, I too may face the same kind of challenges that she must face many times each day.


REFLECTIONS
9/18/19
It is the best of times.
It is the worst of times.
It’s just one’s sense of the time.
Attitude controls our view,

Is it the beginning?
Or am I through?

Looking forward
excited with anticipation
planning for a culmination?

Have I completed?
Is my project finished?
Am I feeling the void, feeling diminished?

I make myself useful
and just like my mother
Doing service for others.

I feel validated
by their thanks and their smiles
appreciated for my style.

Yet times do occur
when I’m filled with self-doubt
It’s those times I quake and SHOUT.

“IS THAT ALL THERE IS?”

At times I don’t even know myself
Who is this person?
Who have I become?
What happened to the Gary?
Who traveled the mid-west
then flew west to make a new nest.

Leaving behind 50 years of history
Entering a future filled with mystery
Looking to write a new story.

New city, new home,
new job, new babble
but brought along scrabble

New scenery, new clubs
new friends, new ties
2000 miles as the crow flies.

Missing and longing for tastes of the past
but time changed the characters
still Love remains and lasts.

Labelle & Key were only mirages
reflections of bygone eras
with memories to take care of.

Seeking old ghosts
that live in my mind
wanting to enjoy one more fine time.

“AND THAT’s ALL THERE IS.”


NOISE IN THE SCRABBLE ROOM
9/17/19
How often are you bothered by the noise level surrounding you when you are playing scrabble at a club or in a tournament?
While there are accepted standards at some venues, as far as I know, there are not any ‘rules’ or ‘consequences’ for those persons who speak loudly or chat with others during or after their game, while other persons are playing nearby (being disturbed by the noise).  Even though most directors begin each session asking players to ‘silence their cell phones,’ some players are always guilty of not changing the settings and permit their phones to ring during play.  There is at least one director who assesses fines for indiscretions.  That action does make a difference.
And at the same time, there is at least one sanctioned director who enjoys playing in a noisy environment and even has a ‘No Shushing Rule,’ providing permission to players to sit at their boards after a game and chat (regardless of other games still in progress).
Some directors who prefer silence at their scrabble venues find themselves shouting QUIET, making more noise than the chatters themselves.  Some clubs have assigned monitors who admonish players for their loud voices while others are still playing.
The venues themselves frequently determine the noise level.  Some clubs play in private rooms or homes where there is better control of any noise.  Other clubs play in public places such as restaurants and community centers where other activities may be happening in adjacent spaces.  Some clubs cram as many wannabe players into rooms where players are shoulder-to-shoulder (That invites noisy situations).

During the last two days, I’ve spent a lot of time with my good friend, Barry Spinner.  We initially met via scrabble in the late 80s.  Barry is now a very active player in the world of competitive Bridge.  I have been working a part-time job for the largest senior Bridge Club in North America (within Laguna Woods Village in Laguna Woods, CA.).  When we talked about noise surrounding players in ‘thinking games’ Barry shared that it is not a problem at Bridge venues because of their No Tolerance Policy.  Bridge leaders decided that the games were for the enjoyment of the players and any individual who disturbs the happiness of others is in violation of their policy.  A person in violation has points deducted from their scores by the director.  A frequent offender can even be asked to leave.
It is my experience that when a director raises his/her voice to admonish noisy player without there being any meaningful consequence, voices die down temporarily only to

Scrabble could learn from Bridge and Put Some Skin In The Game.


Hamilton, Ontatio
9/16/19
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 twelve games of scrabble splitting, six & six. 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
9/15/19
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.


NASPA
9/14/19
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?


Superstitions
9/13/19
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.

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.


POSSIBILITIES
9/12/19                                     
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: newclevelandradio@gmail.com


MEMORY
9/11/19
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.

CELEBRATION
9/10/19
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:
http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/w/Official_Tournament_Rules


Yes I Can!
9/9/19

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!


Serendipity
9/8/19
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.


Breakfast
9/7/19
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 (www.just4thespellofit.com) 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
9/6/19
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
9/5/19
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! 
9/4/19
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
9/3/19
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
Family
9/2/19
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
9/1/19
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
8/30/19

  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
8/29/19
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
8/28/19
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
8/28/19
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
8/28/19
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
8/27/19
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
8/26/19
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
8/25/19
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
8/24/19
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
8/24/19
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.


OOPs
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
8/22/19
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?


LOSS
You don’t know what you’ve got till she’s gone.
8/21/19
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
Tuesday
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.


Luck
8/19/19

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
Sunday

8/18/19
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
Saturday
8/17/19
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?


BE PREPARED
FRIDAY
8/16/19
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 Just4TheSpellOfIt.com 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.


SDRAWKCAB
Thursday
8/15/19
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.
https://just4thespellofit.com/jftsoi-items/


All of a sudden
WEDNESDAY

8-14-19
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 wwwJust4TheSpellOfIt.com



77 Sunset Trip
TUESDAY

8-13-19
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!

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