Archive for February, 2013

The Gaia Hypothesis


Winner: Judy

Judy wandered in to play this evening after a long absence. Seems like nothing has changed as she won again in dominating fashion. Good thing she doesn’t play too often. Far back in 2nd and 3rd, were Frank C, Pluto, and Big Bad John.

It was a quiet night, with about 1 3 players. Everyone was well behaved, even Mistress Daphne. The Driver must still be suffering from jet lag, as he missed the first 6 questions, including a question about jets. He was also confused about his bits and bytes, where 8bits = 1 byte.

We had some wacko question about the “Gala” hypothesis that we all missed. Heck, we didn’t even know there’s no “Gala” hypothesis – that it was a typo. It’s correctly called the “Gaia” hypothesis which, of course, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. Who knew?

Good Question: What did da Vinci, Churchill, Einstein, Edison, and General Patton all have in common?

Choices: blind in one eye, left handed, dyslexic, only children

Answer: Dyslexic

If one of the choices had been “first born”, I would have gone for that in a heart beat. We all know first borns have superior intellect. But Dyslexia?  I would have thought that was a fairly severe handicap to overcome.

Developmental reading disorder (DRD), also called dyslexia, is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.

There is a problem in areas of the brain that help interpret language. It is not caused by vision problems. The disorder is a specific information processing problem. It does not interfere with one’s ability to think or to understand complex ideas. DRD may appear with developmental writing disorder and developmental arithmetic disorder. It is the most common learning disability, and the condition often runs in families.pablo_picasso1

keira-knightleyTough to believe that someone like Churchill, who wrote so many masterful works, was dyslexic, but he was. So were Bill Gates, Pablo Picasso, Keira Knightley and Alyssa Milano.

Failure in school, success in life

x It is often thought that those diagnosed with dyslexia are held back by their disability. The reality, however, is that there are many famous people both in the past and the world today who have overcome this disability in order to accomplish great things in their lives. Most people with DRD have normal intelligence. Many have above-average intelligence.

Fortunately for dyslexics, unlike school environments, life does not emphasize left-brain hemisphere tasks. Outside of an academic environment, the true nature of dyslexia can come to life. Dyslexics are strongly right-brain oriented, innovative, empathetic, creative, imaginative, holistic, artistic, and intuitive. Here are some of their works:




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Winner: Droppin’

Another big crowd this evening with 19 players. It was livened up by the return of our infamous “five golden rings” carolers. They were in their usual good spirits, and their party of 5 was just as loud as we remembered them. Droppin’ led wire to wire, and trailing far behind were Chris, Rosebud, and Keith.

We may have to blindfold Droppin’ to even the playing field.

We learned that 65% of all statistics are made up, which of course, is a made up statistic. Definitely a question that should have been tossed. Maybe the most important thing we learned tonight is how to respond when an Irishman greets us with: “Top of the morning to you.” Turns out we should say: “And the rest of the day to yourself”

BTW, in Pluto’s absence we used a replacement photographer, who will remain nameless, for tonight’s winner’s photo. We have sent him to his ophthalmologist for an immediate examination. Otherwise, he might lose his “drivers” license.

Good Question:

King Cakes are a popular Mardi Gras tradition. Inside the cake is hidden a ?

Choices: pickle, plastic doll, plum, coin

Answer: Plastic Doll


King Cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans.

As part of New Orleans’ Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called “A King’s Cake.”

Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s King Cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.

In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings. January 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is also the day our Mardi Gras season begins. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday). Who Knew?

So, in Louisiana especially, Mardi Gras season and King Cakes go hand in hand with literally hundreds of thousands of King Cakes consumed at parties and office lunch rooms every year.

Best Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras (if NOLA seems a bit too rude and crude):

  1. Nice, France

    You may not know it, but Nice, France, is the birthplace of the original Carnaval celebration. Nice hosts a huge 10-day festival that includes daily parades, concerts, theatrical performances, and firework shows along the French Riviera. It’s estimated that nearly 1.2 million people attend the Carnaval celebration each year.

  2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  3. Rio de Janeiro takes their version of Carnival to a whole other level of fun. The Rio Carnival celebration is famous for its big parties and even bigger and more extravagant parades. Droves of people line the streets and surrounding buildings to watch the famous and internationally-telecasted Samba Parade, which rides through the Sambadrome with the most colorful and whimsical revelers aboard.
  4. Quebec City, Canada
  5. It might be freezing this time of year, but Quebec doesn’t let the cold stop them from hosting the annual Quebec Winter Carnival. This French festival embraces the chilly temps by hosting a winter amusement park complete with skiing, snow rafting, snow sledding, and other winter sports and activities. Crowds also gather to watch the big parades and traditional dancing troupes as they ride through the streets and keep everyone entertained and warm.
  6. Mazatlan, Mexico
  7. The city of Mazatlan in Sinaloa, Mexico puts on a spectacular Mardi Gras celebration that is definitely worth traveling to see. Mazatlan’s seven-day Carnaval celebration puts on huge parades, live concerts, dances, and entertaining street performances that depict important native Mexican traditions and rituals.
  8. Binche, Belgium

  9. Binche, Belgium has one of the biggest and best Mardi Gras celebrations in the world. The Carnival of Binche is a UNESCO World Heritage event that draws thousands of people each year. The three-day event includes many exciting parades and performances, such as Shrove Sunday, where the participants of the Carnival, also known as Gilles, dress in Harlequin and Pierrot costumes and dance through the street to music.
  10. Barranquilla, Colombia

    Barranquilla has one of the most colorful and exciting Carnival celebrations in the world. The festivities begin four days before Ash Wednesday and come to an end on the following Saturday during the Batalla de las Flores. The Carnival of Barranquilla has some of the biggest performances and the most ornate parade floats of all time.

  11. Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean

    The Caribbean country Trinidad and Tobago knows how to have a good time and one of the best times to visit here is during its annual Carnival celebration. Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is an exciting event that’s rich in Caribbean culture and history. Parades, dances, and live performances make up much of the celebration, in addition to quirky events like stick fighting and limbo competitions. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  12. These celebrations all look fascinating. Maybe next year we should duck winter for a week, get a group together and hit one of these spots.

source: mardigrasneworleans.com, zencollegelife

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WINNERS: Jon (the bodyguard) and Pluto

Tonight, Jon (the bodyguard) was a first time winner in the solo game, but he seemed much more happy that he finally beat Nadia (the mad scientist). First time podium finisher Linda was happy to place, along with Madly and FrankC. Mistress Daphne returned from her trip around the world with a wonderful slide show on her iPad capturing their experiences. Unfortunately, she was back to her usual demanding self from the very start of the game, but at least she brought back some tasty alligator jerky for us to nosh on.

You would think a game played on Fat Tuesday would have a Mardi Gras theme, but instead Darin, ever the romantic, gave us a Valentine’s Day theme. Who knew there were 1 billion Valentine Day cards sent each year! Turns out that Cupid, the son of Venus, is not a big hit in Germany, where they don’t even celebrate V Day.

Good Question!: Why was the Colosseum flooded with water?

Choices: to clean it out; local pool; gladiator battles; drown prisoners

Answer: Gladiator Sea Battles


Talk about Bread and Circuses. It must have cost the Romans more to set up the Colosseum for these sea battles then it costs the yankees to field a baseball team.     main-qimg-86fb3f64ffc9fafb37b8639d1bc8c35d

But the question remains to this day. How did they seal the Colosseum to make it waterproof / able to hold the water?


The Romans enjoyed great spectacles. The wealth of the early Roman Empire allowed for extravagant re-enactments of famous water battles (naumachiae). The first Naumachiae shows date back to the first Punic war against Carthage during the days of the Roman Republic when the Romans were enjoying new successes with their naval fleet.

Gladiators were divided into different classes according to their weapons and fighting styles. There were strict rules and protocol surrounding the fights of gladiators. However the Naumachiarii were not the normal gladiators. They fought mock sea battles which re-enacted the Roman victories over their enemies.  The first Roman Gladiators, including the Naumachiarii, were prisoners of war and many were forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of the Roman spectators. The warships used by the Romans were called the Triremes, Quinqueremes and the Dromons.

No way we can talk about gladiators without including a video clip of the famous chariot race from “Ben Hur”:

BTW, “Morituri te Salutant” means ‘Those Who Are About to Die, Salute You”, widely thought to be the gladiator’s salute to the Emperor at the start of the festivities.

sources: roman-colosseum.info

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Winner: Droppin’

It was a quiet night in February, before NEMO hit town. We welcomed 2 new players to the game – Alix and Marc, and watched them both play a strong game, but it’s Mark who has couple bragging rights this week. Droppin’ led start to finish, with Marc and Pluto a bit behind. Mistress Daphne and the Driver are headed home from Singapore, so this was probably the last game where we get to take a bathroom break, talk to our friends, and otherwise enjoy ourselves. Next week the Mistress is back and the fun and games are over.

Tonight we learned that Mali, much in the news lately, is playing under an assumed name – it used to be the French Sudan, that Lady Gaga was banned from Indonesia, because the people there didn’t much like her style, and that the only big cat found wild in the Americas that roars is the Jaguar. Most importantly, we learned that Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” sold for a record $120Million. All I have to say is:


Good Question!: What word referring to an organizational disaster derives from Venetian glass blowing?

Choices: calamity; desastre; fiasco; cataclysm

Answer: Fiasco

Well, not exactly, according to the Oxford Etymologist, who although he differs, has no strong theory of it’s origin.

Vin_ChiantiFiasco, an Italian word meaning bottlereached the European languages in the 19th century. The reasons fiasco keeps baffling etymologists is because it emerged as slang, and the sources of slang are usually hard to trace. So let’s go with the conventional wisdom.

fiasco is a style of bottle, usually with a round body and bottom, partially or completely covered with a close-fittingstraw basket – think cheap Chianti. The basket is typically made of sala,a swamp weed, sun-dried and blanched with sulphur. The basket provides protection during transportation and handling, and also a flat base for the container.

Thus the glass bottle can have a round bottom, which is much simpler to make by glass blowing. Fiaschi can be efficiently packed for transport, with the necks of upturned bottles safely tucked into the spaces between the baskets of upright ones.

So how did Fiasco take on the negative connotation of a complete breakdown or failure? Here is the conventional wisdom: “After failing to make an intricate bit of the glass blowing art the blower has only one choice – take a big breath and make the thing into a common bottle: a fiasco.”


What I found interesting is that there is an old atmospheric cinema, the Astor Theatre in Melbourne, Australia, that specializes in movie fiascoes. Fans turned up dressed as giant ants. The hosts require that all of the films to be shown at Cinema Fiasco have to pass a strict test. “We have this kind of dossier,” Geoff says, “that is always a sure sign that you are watching a Cinema Fiasco classic, you know, things like big stars on the way down, unknowns on the way up, cat throwing.” “Animals that have been made giant!” says Janet. Sounds like a fun night.

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