Archive for July, 2014


Next Tuesday, the 29th, will be the last game of the season, before our August Recess. That made tonight’s game the penultimate game of the season. With no Mistress Daphne available to moderate the game and a busy restaurant to manage, Darin thought it best to make tonight an evening of Dollar Questions.

There were a number of winners, hence the happy faces and fanned dollar bills. We were joined by our young friends, “the Goalie” and “the Goal”, who are about to start grad school. They were close on a couple of questions, but look like they may made need a bit more education before they become winners here.

Tonight we learned that cheese is the food that dieters find the most difficult to give up, and that cigarettes are the product with the most customer brand loyalty. But for a real bit of trivia try this: pre-war Japanese censors removed 800,000 feet of movie film involving what activity?
Kissing, of course. Bet you were thinking of something a bit more risque.

When I think of Japanese film, I think of Kurosawa. Here is Kurosawa’s Samurai Shogun Epic Battle in “Ran”, it is absolutely amazing:

Good Question!: What is the Fastest Racket sport in the world?

Answer: Surprisingly, badminton turned out to be the fastest racket sport.

Ask people what the fastest racquet sport in the world is and it is likely that most would say tennis, or even squash. Few would come up with badminton, but those who did would be right.

A shuttlecock, struck by one of the top players in the world with a modern racquet, can travel up to 200 mph. Not bad for a piece of equipment made from sticking goose feathers into a piece of cork.

The sport is extremely demanding. The shuttle travels so fast that players have to possess superb reflexes to keep it in play, together with awesome stamina. Top players have been known to cover up to four miles in a single match. Players must be extremely agile and light on their feet to counter the unpredictable flight of the shuttle. Rallies last for much longer than tennis – about ten shots more on average – and the shuttle is in play for roughly double the time.

So those who dismiss it as a genteel game involving delicate pats back and forth over a net could not be more wrong.

Badminton is similar to tennis in that the court possesses tramlines acting as boundaries and a net, which is 150 cm high. In singles, the players will try to make their opponent move across the whole court, measuring 44 ft by 17 ft, forcing them out of position in order to deal the killer blow. The players are so agile that most points are won by errors, such as hitting the net or going outside the court boundaries, rather than extravagant winners being hit.

A badminton match contains three games and the first player or team to win two games takes the match. A game, in the doubles and men’s singles, is won by the first to reach 15 points, but only if they are two points clear. If a match reaches 14 points all, then the players can choose to ‘set’, which means the first person or team that reaches 17 wins the game. If the players choose not to ‘set’ then the game finishes at the usual point. Points can only be scored on a serve, while the receiving side seeks solely to win the right to serve. (news.bbc.co.uk)

Here’s the US Men’s Singles – 2014 Badminton US Open – Tien Minh Nguyen vs Wong Wing K:






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Winner: Judy

After a surprisingly long absence, Judy showed the big boys she still has what it takes to finish on the winners podium. She was dominant with only 5 wrong. Finishing way back in second place were 10 O’Clock Bill, the Driver, and Lenny.

Lot’s of good questions about the national parks tonight:

  • Don’t take your car to Zion NP. Why?
    Because cars are banned during peak season.
  • Jimmy Carter more than doubled the size of the national park system.
  • Yellowstone’s geothermal pools have changed colors over the years due to trash! Come on folks. Pack it in, Pack it out.

Good Question!: Which California NP is home to more than 1,000 species of plants, with more than 50 being endemics, meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world?

Choices:   a. Katmai      b. Death Valley      c. Bryce Canyon      d. Mohave


Answer: Death Valley

caThe Death Valley National Park  is a United States National Park that is located primarily in the southern California desert, with a small portion extending into Nevada. Many potential visitors ignore the park due to the misconception that it is simply a lifeless, empty landscape, but this 3.4 million acre (14,000 km2) park is not only the largest national park in the contiguous 48 States of the USA (although Adirondack state park in NY is larger-let’s hear it for the EmpireState) but also arguably one of the most striking specimens of Mother Earth. Nearly every major geological era is elegantly exposed here in what sometimes appears to be one of her greatest tapestries, gloriously presenting her full spectrum.

The valley itself is 130 miles (210 km) long, between six and 13 miles (10-21 km) wide and is surrounded by steep mountain ranges: the Panamint mountains to the west, and the Black, Funeral, and Grapevine mountains to the east. Its three million acres of wilderness and rich cultural history make it a lifetime’s work to explore all that the valley has to offer. (http://wikitravel.org)

Endemic Plants

Death Valley is the hottest and driest places in North America, yet it is home to over 1000 species of plants and 440 species of animals.

The Park encompasses over three million acres and ranges in elevation from 282 feet below sea level to 11,049 feet above sea level. This provides a variety of habitats in which plants and animals have become established.

Although most of Death Valley’s plant and animal species can be found growing in other places, there are a few that exist only in the Death Valley region and
nowhere else in the world. These are referred to as “endemic” to the area. To save you the trip, here are a few of Death Valley’s endemic plants:


  Mimulus rupicola; Rock Midget


Napkin Ring Buckwheat Eriogonum intrafractum


Eureka Dunes Evening Primrose Oenothera californica ssp. eurekensis

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IMG_7037 3gWinner: Pluto

It was a lovely summer evening, perfect for a stroll along the harbor, but all the action after dark was indoors at MainStreetCafe. A record 31 players joined in celebrating FrankC’s 39th birthday with a delicious cake from Copenhagen bakery.


Tonight’s questions came from “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” Pluto had a rocky start, missing 2 of the first 3 questions, and worried that maybe he wasn’t smarter than a 5th grader. He began to focus and finished strong to nip the Senzers (father & son) for the win.

I don’t know what they are teaching the kids these days but we had a question on unit fractions, which seems like a contradiction in terms. Inappropriate Bob, who was a math major in college, did not like the answer and will be filing an objection. Sheena, who answered correctly, has offered to give him extra tutoring after school.

Good Question!: Who is the author of the poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty called “The New Colossus”

Choices:  a. Emma Lazarus   b. Robert Frost   c. Walt Whitman   d. Steven Scott


Answer: Emma Lazarus

On Fourth of July weekend the GoodQuestion! just had to be about the Statue of  Liberty.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Emma Lazarus’s famous lines captured the nation’s imagination and continues to shape the way we think about immigration and freedom today. Written in 1883, her celebrated poem, “The New Colossus,” is engraved on a plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Over the years, the sonnet has become part of American culture, inspiring everything from an Irving Berlin show tune to a call for immigrants’ rights.

Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883 for an art auction “In Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund.” While France had provided the statue itself, American fundraising efforts like these paid for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. In 1903, sixteen years after her death, Lazarus’ sonnet was engraved on a plaque and placed in the pedestal as a memorial.

The famous sonnet echoes many of the conflicting identities and ideals Lazarus dealt with in her own life. As an American author, she felt that ancient lands could keep their old traditions and “storied pomp.” At the same time, Lazarus invoked her ancient Greek ideals by transforming the “brazen giant ” into a “Mother of Exiles” who retains Greek majesty, beauty and defiance as a new Colossus. The compassion of the lines “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” welcomes the tired immigrants, but the following image of the “wretched refuse of your teeming shore” hints at the condescension these refugees were to suffer. And while this Mother of Exiles’ eyes command, and she stands alone beacon to all the world, she is still an ambiguous figure of power, speaking only with “silent lips.”

Struggling beneath the poem’s surface, these tensions—between ancient and modern, Jew and American, voice and silence, freedom and oppression—give Emma Lazarus’s work meaning and power. As James Russell Lowell wrote, her ” sonnet gives its subject a raison d’etre.” (jwa.org/womenofvalor/lazarus)


Emma Lazarus’ Famous Poem

A poem by Emma Lazarus is graven on a tablet

within the pedestal on which the statue stands.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


bloggers note: photos of the Lady in the Harbor generously provided by Pluto.



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Winners: Driver, Rita, Rosebud & Carol

Tonight “Common Core” came to the game.

Now we know how the kids feel when the test is too hard. The players got so many questions wrong we had to score the results on a steep curve to find the winners. The rest of us are writing our state legislators, asking them to require easier games on Tuesday nights.

The good news is that Darin is back from her Western holiday, and put out some nice treats. Unfortunately, she put the plate in front of the Driver. By the time he was finished, there wasn’t much left for the rest of us.

We learned that crickets hear through their knees, and that giraffes sleep for only 5 minutes a day, probably because they can’t find a comfortable bed.

Good Question!: Which country leads the world in cork production?


Choices:  a. Jamaica      b. Spain      c. Greece       d. Turkey

Answer: Spain

Tonight even the answer key was wrong. Pluto, who has an extensive cork collection, was skeptical that Portugal was not one of the choices.

Sure enough, Portugal produces about half the world output of commercial cork, and its exports over recent years have accounted for around 70 percent of world trade. Nearly one-third of the total cork oak area, estimated at 2,150,000 hectares (5.3 million acres) is in Portugal, which produces approximately half the cork harvested annually in the world (about 310,000 tons). Spain is the second leading cork producer and produces about 60% as much as Portugal.


This is a close-up of a piece of cork bark.

For an illustrated guide to the cork production process try this site: http://www.wineanorak.com/corks/howcorkismade.htm

Here are some marvelous cork designs:

cork1        custom_artwork


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