EW!

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Most of you may know that I have written a Scrabble book. Or more precisely, a word book for US Scrabble (US), UK Scrabble (UK), Super Scrabble (SS), and Words With Friends (WWF).

 

A major challenge of this type of book is trying to keep current with the English language. The language morphs, changes, evolves. Added to the pot of confusing growth is the manufacturers, or at the people who write the official dictionaries, periodically update their dictionaries.

 

In August, 2014, US Scrabble decided to release their 5th version of the official dictionary, adding some 5000 (!) new words. The list was made mandatory in December of that year. So I had to redo the book.

 

In 2015, UK Scrabble, not wanting to be left behind the Americans, decided to update their official dictionary. They added not only the 5000 new words from the Americans, but added a few hundred more words of their own.

 

I had to update the book again. At least the US and UK gave enough time for everyone to make the change, and even graciously and thoughtfully provided their updated book for the general public (but you still have to buy it).

 

Earlier this year, I got word (so to speak!) that WWF had added at least one word to their dictionary. The word is EW.

 

It is defined as: EW [n. Short for Electronic Warfare; interj. An exclamation of disgust – WWF only]

 

Someone had apparently tried his word, and was accepted. I tried it and it worked for me too.

 

So once again, in 2017, I am updating the book. So why didn’t the nice people at Zygna send a notice to all their players who use their app? I don’t know. But it could have made them some money.

 

Meanwhile, I wonder how many more secret words there are in WWF.

 

The updated book (mine!) will be available in the first week of July.

 

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Memorial Day

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This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those who died while defending our freedoms.

 

Back in the 1980s, when I was still growing up, I had a conversation with a classmate of mine. I remember him as being (I’m going to be nice here) at least slightly misogynic and homophobic.

And I had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to him during class time and at least once he followed me outside the classroom (I don’t think he ever figured out why he wasn’t liked by most of his classmates). But back to the story, for it is short.

He asked if I had a problem with women serving in the military, calling them “weaker”. I told him I didn’t care if it was man or women who took a bullet for me.

Then he asked if I care if a gay guy (his words) was to serve in the military. I replied, “Why should it matter if a gay or straight guy were to stand up for my beliefs?”

He said I was gay because I stood up for them.

I told him I was not gay nor a female.

He went off to bother another classmate.

Congratulations to all those who protect my beliefs with their own lives.

 

Rob

There are many photos and wallpapers for Memorial Day one can download off the Internet. This one reminds of those who fought and died defending my rights before I was born.

 

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Letting Go

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I am thinking of a male friend of mine who is extremely good looking. He is almost six feet tall, with clear skin, and slightly wavy hair. He cites that this all due to his daily workouts, being a practicing vegetarian, and obviously good genes.

 

He has a gentle and healthy disposition gentle and he protests (non-violently) against animal cruelty and abuse. And he is very nice person.

 

One thing I also need to mention is that his first name is a derivative of my middle name. How much closer can two people be!? 😉

 

I am saying all this in the present tense as part of my memory of doesn’t want me to admit it is in the past.

 

You see, for most of his life, my friend didn’t feel normal. It took him years of therapy in order to figure it all out. And support(ed) his decision when he made it, as I promised I would, and still would.

 

Towards the end of 2014 he began his treatment to become a woman. There was an element of shame he felt towards his male body and I am not exactly sure why.

 

But nevertheless he began hormone treatments, electrolysis, and everything else that precedes the operations. It was tough and I know he was often in pain after long electrolysis sessions.

 

My friend is not the first transsexual I met. I had a roommate once (F/M) who lived with me for six months. And I didn’t know this person was a transsexual until the last day. His revelation answered some questions about his behaviors that seemed forced rather than natural. And I find myself not caring if this person was a male or female. Just wished he had told me earlier.

 

The transformation of this more recent friend is more personal and more intimate. No doubt due to I was able to watch him slowly change into a more beautiful female. And we had discussions about his transformation, not just in body but in his overall acceptance of his own body.

 

Let me share a couple of things with you. One of our discussions included whether he should get “B” or “C” breast size. How many people can honestly say they had this discussion with a friend? I suggested a “B” size but he went with a “C”. I think he made the better choice.

 

We talked about his hormone treatments and how they affected him. He almost laughed that he felt like shopping more.

 

And I had to tell him he needed more sway in his hips when he walked. It takes time to learn how to walk gracefully!

 

Sadly, I have not seen him (her!) this year. He didn’t want to tell me, but he did it, with everything else, with kindness. I was one of those people he knew that reminded him of his past shame (he mentioned it to me more than once) and he didn’t want too many people know that she was previously a man. This I understand. There are so many people (and mostly men) who want to physically harm a transsexual. And obviously she wanted to walk away from potential harm.

 

So she gently, and with kindness, asked me to walk away. There was no demand or threat; I just knew why.

 

So I walked away from her. I still care about this person. I even cried. But I understand the reluctance and the fear and the want for a new beginning.

 

 

To my friend, the door is always open for you.

 

 

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Wednesday Nite Story 2

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I was driving to my SF meeting for a Foundation series talk when I saw a man standing on an island in the middle of the street.

The island was large and long enough to provide him safety from the traffic that was coming from both directions. He was carrying a large cardboard sign with him that I could not read. And when I got closer I noticed he was leaning into a car that had stopped because of a red light.

At first I thought he was a panhandler and his sign said something like, “LOOKING 4 WORK”, “HOMELESS VET”, “NEED FOOD”, “NEED MONEY, “NEED FOOD AND MONEY”, or even “NEED MONEY FOR COLLEGE”.

But as he backed away from the car, I was finally able to read his sign. In bold, orange and red letters, the sign said, “FREE HUGS”.

What a wonderful message! There are some things better than literature, even SF. Not many, but hugs are.

 

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ANOTHER GRATEFUL PANHANDLER?

 

Wednesday Nite Story 1

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On Wednesday night I attended the Orange County Science Fiction Club.
During that night I had two divergent and separate inspirations. Meaning I am writing two posts.

Here is post 1.

 

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I’ve always loved Science Fiction (SF) and Fantasy.

I own a pair of dragon necklaces which I occasionally wear, and they (dragons) make up a large part of screen savers I use on my laptop.

Of SF, I have seen all of the Star Trek episodes and movies and all the Star Wars movies to date (new one coming later this year).

Of course they also make a large part of the literature I’ve read. I immensely enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Foundation series.

And that is where I want to start this post.

 

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The Foundation series was started by Asimov and there are seven books that make up the collection. It is considered by many, including myself, to be the best series of either SF or Fantasy.

 

But to get the full effect, you have to read not only the seven books, but a number of earlier robotic short stories by Asimov as there are references to the subjects and themes in the stories, esp. in the supplementary books in the series.

 

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(A good place to start?)

 

Anyway, everyone had an opportunity to talk about his or her thoughts and conclusions about the series. There were 7 or 8 people at the table. And this is where things get interesting.

Most of the people there liked that series and told of how inspiring or entertaining the books were to them.

But two of the people thought the dialogue was boring, esp. in the first book, as there was no action (space ships fighting, etc.). It was apparent that these two people were stating, or at least inferring, that all dialogue in literature was boring.

Surely it is not.

Dialogue can be dramatic. We have Hamlet’s soliloquy and Anthony’s speech in Julius Caesar, both considered great pieces of dialogue in literature. We even have Inherit the Wind, in which most of the play is dialogue.

 

For those of you who prefer short stories, try Animal Farm. After the animals have driven off the famers, there is still drama. But by diving deep into pigs’ announcements and pronouncements during and after the Revolution, we find the main theme of the story is NOT the fight against a repressive farmer.

 

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The main character in the Foundation series is Hari Sheldon. However, to call him a protagonist may be reckless or careless as it’s hard to figure out exactly what he fighting against.

But in the first book he is on trial for suggesting the Galactic Empire is on the verge of collapse and this collapse cannot be prevented.

During the cross-examination by prosecutor, it appears that Hari Sheldon is playing with the prosecutor and that he, better than the prosecutor or anyone else in the courtroom, knows more about the future that he is leading them to believe.

In the end he banished to an outer world. Where he continues his work.

 

So what is wrong with dialogue? Nothing! Maybe so many of us are so used to fast moving events at the movies and the speed of the Internet we forget about the other forms of drama.

Aliens and Other Stuff

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Aliens

 

In about 2015 I met someone at Del Taco. For those of those of you who don’t know, Del Taco is a Fast Food (FF) Mexican restaurant here on the West Coast. Also, for those of you who don’t know, men like FF.

 
Anyway, I met this person, who I’ll call “C.”, as we both like Classic Music and apparently, burritos, hamburgers and French fries. We met at Del Taco with some other acquaintances to talk about the world problems (yes, men do this too!)

 

But what is troubling about “C.” is that he all too prone to insane ideas and conspiracies that threaten my sanity.

 
At Del Taco, he stated that people have been abducted by aliens and they had chips embedded in their arms from both them and the US government who wanted to record all their conversations, as well as keep track of their movements.

 
I asked C., “Why didn’t these people take out these implants?”

 
He said he didn’t know but he was sure some of them had had them removed. I asked him, “Where are these devices now?” He said they probably threw them away.

 
I replied to him (and for some reason, I remember all this),

 
“That doesn’t make sense at all! Surely if someone was to find something an alien object in their bodies, they would take them out, want someone else to take a look at them and immediately go to the doctor. Even if these people didn’t trust the government, they could hand deliver them to a university or to a TV or radio station. In addition, I am also sure they would want to talk to other people with the same experience or implements and share not only their stories but compare their devices. I mean both women and men do the same with just normal stuff like clothing, jewelry, and pets.”

 

 

He replied, “Well maybe these people are crazy”.

 
I am not sure they are the only ones who are crazy.

 
In another episode, and this one happened at Starbucks (I like hot chocolate), he said that he had proof that we (the US) did not land on the moon and it was all a conspiracy. I was planning to do some work on my laptop, but I agreed to listen to what he had to say.

 

He show me a slim, slightly oversized, hardback book from about 1971 titled, “Our Moon Landing”, or something like that.

 
C. had bookmarked that page where his “incredible photo” resided. It was an image of the earth taken from outer space and it clearly showed some large land mass that was partially covered with clouds, with some white stuff on the bottom.

 
He said that was picture of the US and the white blur at the bottom was due to the some photo editing so it could be shown on in the book. He didn’t elaborate how this “disproved” a Moon landing.

 
I looked at the photo. It didn’t look like the US, but what was it? Finally, it dawned on me.

 
I asked him, “What is that island on the east coast?” He said he didn’t know. I told him it was Madagascar. And the land mass was Africa.

 
I told him that this image was taken from south of the Equator and the white mass he saw at the bottom was Antarctica.

 
In our third encounter of the alien and conspiracies (yes, you can insert a joke about “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), he wanted to disprove science.

 
He said that all science was all junk, as they only had “theories”. I asked, “What is the definition of a theory?” He said it was an untested claim.

 
So I asked him, “What is a foot?” He asked me if I meant the part of the body or 12 inches.

 
I told him that sometimes a word has more than one meaning. And I didn’t press the point as he already conceded it, but the word foot has at least five meanings. See my definition(s) below.

 
Then I told him, “The word ‘Theory’ also had more than one meaning. In science it means, ‘an explanation that takes into account all the known facts’ ”.

 
He asked me for an example. I picked up a napkin about two feet (I love it!) off the table and dropped onto the table. As one might expect, the napkin actually fell onto the table.

 

I then told him the reason the napkin fell to the table was due to the Theory of Gravity.

 

And the lights were on in Starbucks due to the “Theory of Electricity” and he should be thankful that his doctor was following the well-known principles of “Germ Theory”. And his van ran on multiple theories.

 
He then tried to trip me up by asking, “What is gravity?” I told him it was a force like the electromagnetic, the same one that powering the lights. And this force (gravitational) could be measured and predicted. And that everything that had mass had a gravitational force that attracted other things with mass to it. And, finally, that mass and its gravitational force were proportional to each other.”

 

It took a while and he was a little(?) overwhelmed about scientific terms and concepts. But he did have (slightly) more appreciation (but maybe not comprehension) about science.

 

I don’t get it. This person went to college. But didn’t learn. He didn’t know how to analyze.

 

 

Here are my footnotes on feet.

 

 

FOOT (FEET) [n. (1) The part of the body at the bottom of the leg on which a person or animal stands, (2) A unit of measurement equal to 12 inches, (3) A unit of poetic meter consisting of stressed and unstressed syllables, (4) The bottom or lower end of something, or in the same direction of the feet]
FOOT (ED, ING, S) [v. To be responsible for paying the cost of something]

Ready for US?

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I belong to an online chess social group (Chess.com).

 

One of the leaders, we both co-lead the group, expressed her fear that if she was to travel to the US she might fall victim to a religious attack as her beliefs are not part of the majority.

 

This is my reply to her.

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T.,

 

Someone once told me that FEAR is an acronym meaning F*ck Everything And Run. There are certainly some things to afraid of.
Since this conversation was /is motivated by a fear of the mainstay religion (in the case, Christianity) attacking a member of a minority religion, we’ll start there.
In every country in world there are always people who put their faith in god ahead of human beings. I would suggest you stay away from groups or individuals.
There are also, again in every country in the world, people who have a phobia (an unreasonable fear, anger, or hatred of something or some group of people) against women, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, foreigners, atheists, dissidents, nudists, artists, intelligentsia, science, and religions other than their own. But the US is still more accepting that most other nations.
Tell the FEAR to Run Away. And you come anyway!

 

We have kindness, generosity, lots of places to get free (or nearly free) food and clothing, educational opportunities, beaches (and clean ones too!), amusement parks, libraries, plenty of places to hike, run, walk, play, study, or even to play chess (that’s a big one for all of us here!), and national and regional groups for all the previous.

 

Here it is OK here to criticize the government (or a government official), to read what you want to read, attend a rally of your choice, attend a concert, go to sporting event, ride a bike, eat a hamburger, or simply walk down the street barefooted (ok, that’s big one for me! 😉
And lastly, no one will force you to join their religion or forgo your own.

 

R.

 

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