Super Bowl Quiz – The Winning Answers

We were invited to a Super Bowl party. I knew it was going to be a good one when the hostess pointed me in the direction of a really well stocked snack counter. Then she handed me the first of the number of glasses of wine it takes to drink a half bottle or so. With my beverage in one hand, and a plate of munchies in the other, I commandeered a front row seat on the soft couches.

“Before the game starts,” said the hostess, “You are all going to take a Super Bowl Quiz. There is a prize for whoever gets the most right answers.”

She handed each of us a single page of questions, which I dutifully read. I only knew three answers. I had no idea about the rest. Not a clue. That wasn’t a surprise, since I didn’t even know which teams were playing in the game I was about to watch. (In my defense, I am Canadian, and the last time I really paid any attention to football was when Doug Flutie was quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders in the early 1990’s.)

So I filled in the answers I knew, and handed my page to The Car Guy.  His skill set is trivia, and he does follow American football. He filled in his question sheet first, then filled in the rest of my sheet with his second best answers.

At half time, the hostess put out more food (I have to get her recipe for pulled pork!) Then she announced the winner of the Quiz. The person who had the most right answers was ME! What a surprise!

You must be wondering how the ‘least likely to win’ quiz player stumbled into the end zone for a touchdown? Well, it was because I know Roman Numerals. Sample Question: How do you write the Roman Numeral for Super Bowl 48?  The Car Guy  knows Roman Numerals too, so my win ultimately came down to the fact that his second choice answers on my sheet were better than his first choice answers on his sheet.

The prize was a handy pair of glasses that made me look a cross between Groucho Marks and Hitler.  They look much better on Albertina Elf.

Did you watch Super Bowl LI too? What did you think of the commercials and half time show? Do you have a really easy crock pot pulled pork recipe?

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Why There are Back-seat Drivers

This is a story that started out with the Monarch Butterflies in my garden. I learned a bit about them and their remarkable journeys. It seemed quite natural then to discuss human journeys, directionally disadvantaged navigators, and why there are back-seat drivers.

An Arizona Monarch Butterfly

Some humans are remarkable navigators. Others – not so much. I call these people ‘directionally challenged’. Unlike a butterfly that can find the way from Canada to Mexico with only the sun and the stars to guide them, certain people are lost by the time they drive past the edge of their neighbourhood.

My spouse, The Car Guy, is moderately directionally challenged. The invention of GPS navigation has been a godsend for him. He has a friend, 3P, who is both directionally challenged AND has failed GPS 101. 3P can get lost when he ventures past the end of his street.

We discovered this on a recent road trip where 3P was the driver, and The Car Guy was the navigator. The ‘wives’ sat in the back seat of the vehicle. Neither wife realized that the spouse of the other would have difficulty finding the local mall, let alone executing a road trip that involved more than one left turn.

The driver’s vehicle had a GPS system. The Car Guy had a map and another GPS system. Both men, however, were unaware that the other had a navigational deficit. Both assumed the other knew the route and would, in fact, navigate when needed. Within half an hour, they had not only erred with the first few critical turns in the road, they were, in fact, heading back towards home.

That is why some people, usually wives, become ‘back-seat drivers’. They aren’t nags -they are navigators!

Do you have a ‘directionally challenged’ driver in your family?

More photos of Monarchs can be found at my Birds Blooms Bugs blog: Monarchs in Alberta

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Today was a Day of Coincidence

Is it mere coincidence, or are the stars aligned such that TODAY I should buy a lottery ticket, bet on ‘Stumbled’ in the 9th and eat that piece of cake that has passed the ‘Best Before’ date?

Today is indeed an auspicious day because of the number 15203. I just realized that today The Car Guy and I have been married 15203 days AND at sometime today my blog was viewed for the 15203rd time!

In comparison to other digital milestones, I suppose this isn’t much. But imagine what a feat it would be if each of those views was equivalent to a visitor stopping by for coffee each and every day of my married life!

Of course, coincidences happen all the time. Most of them go unnoticed. But here are a few more for you to consider:

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.
– Erma Bombeck –

Dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas. It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as ‘suits’.
– Paul Graham –

It’s no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase “As pretty as an airport” appear.
– Douglas Adams –

The sixties were when hallucinogenic drugs were really, really big. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we had the type of shows we had then, like The Flying Nun.
– Ellen DeGeneres –

A child can go only so far in life without potty training. It is not mere coincidence that six of the last seven presidents were potty trained, not to mention nearly half of the nation’s state legislators.
– Dave Barry-

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Picking up the Pieces – The Puzzle of Life

I don’t have a “Big Picture” of  where my life is going – no overall plan that says I have to be doing a certain thing by a certain time. I kind of just live day by day, picking up bits of this and that as I go along. What kind of bits? Puzzle bits. I think my life is like a Jigsaw Puzzle. It started with no pieces, and had no picture on the box lid. My job is to collect the pieces I either want or I am obliged to take, put them in as best I can, and see what picture emerges.

I don’t know how many pieces are in my puzzle. I think that depends on how long I live. The last piece will go in the moment before I die, I guess. I do know, though, that I look for a puzzle piece in everything I do and everyplace I go. I seldom know where the piece is going to fit in the puzzle, and it may just languish in the box for some time before I find a spot for it. But that is okay. I’m in no hurry to finish the puzzle.

puzzle shape

Now and then I fit a piece into the puzzle and discover that the picture I thought I was working on has shifted somewhat. Sometimes it is a big shift caused by something like a death in the family, or relocating to a different country or having a sick child. Sometimes it is a small shift, like the discovery that I’m not going to have enough mushroom compost for all the flower beds. Sometimes it is a really small shift, like today when I recalibrated my monitor and all the colors moved a few shades south…

I don’t know what piece I’ll find tomorrow, or the day afterward. I don’t know exactly what my puzzle picture will look like a week or a month from now. What I do know is that I was pretty happy with it the way it looked last year, and I’m just as happy with it today.  Hope you are too!

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Old Time Teachers and The Arithmetic Circle of Doom

My Grade 5 Teacher, Miss W., could draw a nearly perfect circle on the blackboard – freehand. She would face the board, take up a piece of chalk, and almost by magic her arm would go through the full range of motion needed to draw one very nice circle. It was impressive, even though it was the prelude to the hell that was to follow. She would write the numbers from one to twelve around the perimeter of the circle. Then the whole class would wait in dreaded anticipation for what was going to be written in the exact center of the circle. It would be a number between one and twelve and immediately after this number would be the sign of doom – a plus sign, a minus sign, a multiplication sign or a division sign. With that task competed, we all knew what the instrument of torture was going to be.

We would slink down in our seats, and try to look like we weren’t there. Miss W. would pick up her pointer, and with a sly smile on her face, she would gaze out the window. Without even looking at the children, she would call out the name of her victim. This poor soul would have to stand in the aisle next to their desk, and Miss W. would start stabbing her pointer at the numbers around the perimeter while the victim tried to call out the correct mathematical response.

A wrong answer was met with a Miss W’s. icy glare, then the pointer would come down sharply on the same number again. Somehow her pointer made a different sound when it struck the number that second time. The rest of the class perked up as the trembling victim struggled to find the right answer, an answer which had likely fled the scene and would not be found again that day. We all learned a lot about working under pressure in her class…

In those days of yore, Corporal Punishment was a perfectly acceptable tool in a teacher’s arsenal. Miss W. would never use her magic pointer to strike a student. She used the yard stick for that. I don’t remember what circumstances warranted a whack on the shoulders with that ruler – I just remember how startling it was when she came up from behind, with the stealth of a cat, and delivered the blow. It didn’t really hurt all that much – it was just such a surprise. We all learned a lot about consequences in her class…

At the end of the school year, our whole group passed Grade 5. Every single child had worked to the maximum of their potential because they never wanted to enter Miss W’s. classroom again. Failure would have meant another year of torture from the Circle of Doom and the Yardstick of Punishment, and no child was strong enough to survive that for two years. At least, that is what we all thought. We all learned a lot about motivation in her class…

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The River or The Road – River People and Goal People

fallsEarlier this week, Blogger Malcolm Bellamy wrote a post called Seven Words to Describe Yourself. Coming up with a list like that is perhaps a good beginning to answering the Really Big Question – What do you want to do or be When You Grow Up? It is interesting how some people are able to say, from an early age, what they want to be. Earl Nightingale describes these people as River People. They know their passion, usually from an early age, and they follow it over waterfalls and rapids, through backwaters and calm pools. They never abandon it, because it is who they are.

As I listened to Earl explain River people (and this was many, many years ago), I knew this wasn’t me. But he also said there are two types of Successful People. Perhaps I would see myself in the second group, (because I was sure I would be wildly successful at something, if I could just figure out what that might be).

Earl continued – the second group are the Goal People. They set a goal, follow one or more roads to get there, then set another goal.  Drat! A dusty road, not a flowing river. This was going to be harder than I thought. My children will attest to that, because they got dragged into the dreaded Goal Setting Exercises. It was part and parcel of Family Forum Night – the Car Guy, the daughters, the cat, and I would gather to discuss any important topic that impacted the whole family. At Christmas, Family Forum was Goal Setting. Each person would detail what they had done to achieve the goals they had set last year, then list the goals for the coming year. The kids wailed about not wanting to do this, but I think they learned a lot about the basics of goal setting. Which was good, because none of them indicated that they had a river they wanted to throw themselves into…

As the kids got older, their goals began to grapple with the When I Grow Up question. They looked towards their father for motivation, because for all intents and purposes they couldn’t see that their mother had made much progress in the career department. Which was fair. My goals were still mired in the trenches of the Stay at Home Mom and Chairman of the Committee of what Everybody Wants but no one Wants to Do. The Car Guy was bringing home a paycheck each month. Money – the litmus paper of career and thus success.

Much water has passed under the bridge since then, so to speak, and I’m still prowling roads, ticking off quirky little goals. I’ve decided to divert off the road to Growing Up, though. People seem to lose much of their sense of humor if they follow that road too far.

Back to the seven words to describe yourself.  I came up with curiousness, skepticism and humor which led to craftsman, writer, researcher and advisor. These are, I think, my River Words, even as I walk the dusty roads. And for now, Best Blogger within three miles of my house here in Canada is my goal. Next month, maybe I’ll expand that to a radius of five miles…

How would you describe yourself?

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Self-Indulgence and Consumer Spending Habits

One of the more interesting movies in 2008 was an animated Disney Pixar film called WALL-E .

With an estimated budget of $180 million, (and Gross Domestic Revenue of  $224 million), the movie depicts what happens to mankind when it has to leave the Earth they destroyed and live in the  luxury of a huge space ship. Seven hundred years after the earth was abandoned, all that is left on earth to clean up the mess is one little garbage collecting robot (WALL-E) and a cockroach. In contrast, the people in the space craft live a  pampered life, riding around on hovering chairs that give them a constant feed of TV, video chatting, and food. The inactivity has made them all so fat they can barely move.

The movie is actually very funny, and the hero, WALL-E is such a loveable character that I pinned a photo of him on my fridge. But there is no question that the movie is a cautionary tale of what happens to a society when a self-indulgent lifestyle goes awry.

Self-indulgent – indulging one’s own desires, passions, whims, etc., especially without restraint. How much of the American lifestyle can be described as being somewhat self-indulgent? How much of the American lifestyle could lead to the situation described in WALL-E? Here are some statistics I found on the internet about how Americans indulge, or over-indulge. All amounts are on an annual basis, and could vary by a few billion dollars one way or another. (I found conflicting amounts for some items):

1. Sitting and watching things; creating idols (movie, music and sports stars)
$10.5 billion for Hollywood movie ticket sales
$22 billion to support Major league athletes
$11 billion for videos
$10 billion for recorded music
$25 billion for video games
$50 billion for cable TV
$100 billion for consumer electronics to watch and listen to the above

2. Ingesting or inhaling things that aren’t necessarily very healthy;  attempting to fix problems resulting from this:
$110 billion to eat fast foods
$12 billion for coffee at coffee shops
$55 billion for weight loss products
$90 billion for alcohol
$88 billion for cigarettes
$65 billion for illegal drugs
$215 billion for illegal drug health care, justice, lost productivity

3. Trying to look a little bit like the idols created in item #1:
$1.4 billion for botox treatments
$1 million for spray on tans
$1.7 billion for tooth whitening products
$24 billion for skin care products, particularly anti-aging ones
$38 billion for hair care products, particularly hair dyes
$15 billion for perfumes
$18 billion for make-up

4. Sundry other items with dubious merit:
$41 billion for pet care products intended to make pets more human-like
$1 billion for anti-bacterial products  to create a false sense of security
$6.8 trillion in mortgage debt. There is no question that many people financed houses they couldn’t really afford. Some of these homes are still available – in May of 2010, the farm where the filming of Field of Dreams took place, was put up for sale. The193-acre Iowa corn farm with a two-bedroom house, a barn built in the mid-1800s, and baseball diamond built by Universal Studios was listed for $5.4 million. One astute observer asked, “Would the income from 193 acres of corn pay the debt service on $5.4 mil?”

Some portion of these purchases are made with credit cards.  With 610 million credit cards in the hands of approximately 231 million adult Americans (over the age of 20), personal credit card penalties are:
$15 billion for credit card penalty fees.
$77 billion for interest on unpaid balances

Canadians – don’t sit back with a smug smile. We, as a nation, are as self-indulgent as the Americans are. Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t indulge in a few of these things if they can afford them. I’m just saying that at some point self-indulgence leads to self-destructiveness, and I think both of our countries are on the edge of toppling into an  economic and social hole that will be very difficult to get out of.

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