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How a game of Scrabble (nearly) caused a family feud

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Learning to Fly
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Post: How a game of Scrabble (nearly) caused a family feud / December 30, 2008

How a game of Scrabble (nearly) caused a family feud

I’m not quite sure when it started, but our family has a tradition of following holiday meals with a game of some sort. In the past it’s been Cranium, SceneIt, Clue, Trivial Pursuit - you name it, we’ve played it. Occasionally, the games will even get a wee bit, ahem, heated - I come by my competitive streak honestly.
I think it’s safe to say that this Christmas we hit a whole new level.

After a few rousing rounds of Catch Phrase, we moved into the dining room for a game of Scrabble. My cousin, my uncle, and then teams of Mama & me, and Daddy & Jud. Everyone was doing well - we all grew up playing Scrabble and doing crossword puzzles with Mamie (my grandmother). And then Mama and I got a “Q” and started plotting how to use it most effectively. Oh, was that a Triple Word Score that just opened up? Why yes, yes it was. And down goes our word, two letters, thirty-three points: qi.

What? You don’t think it counts? That’s okay, neither did anyone in my family. (Except Mama - she totally had my back.)
In fact, I was getting yelled at, not just by my brother, whose competitive streak rivals mine, but also by my father, the usually calm voice of reason! He kept arguing that “qi” isn’t in his Scrabble dictionary (which, I recently found out, was published circa 1980 - and that’s generous) and that it wasn’t valid. Since I’m clearly too stubborn to take the word back so as to avoid a family feud, they challenged, and this is what we found from the official online Scrabble dictionary:
* QI
the vital force that in Chinese thought is inherent in all things
Oh, how I love to be right.
Fortunately, the game was over soon after that, a blessing, because unfortunately, even with the official ruling, my dad and brother were still acting like 10-year-olds who’d been cheated out of a win. I tried to let it drop, we drove home without mentioning it, and my brother (surprisingly enough) apologized later that night. I appreciated the apology, though I didn’t really need it, and I frankly forgot about it until yesterday.

Now remember, this happened on Christmas. As in, last Thursday.
Cut to Monday, around 5pm, just as I’m getting ready to leave the office. My phone rings, and I answer it professionally, even though I think I recognize one of my dad’s office numbers. Whew, it’s him. After a little chitchat about how AMAZING the Eagles game was, he says, “Well, I know you’re heading out, but I just wanted to apologize.” Huh?

Liebchen: “Apologize for what? Should I be mad at you?”
Daddy: “For the Scrabble game. I shouldn’t have acted like that. I’m just used to the old school rules and dictionary.”
Liebchen: “Really? It’s okay. I’d completely forgotten about that by this point.”
Liebchen: “Wait a minute. You thought I was still mad at you and you waited ’til NOW to apologize?”
Daddy: “Yeah, I had to think about it.”
Hm. Well, apparently I come by my stubborn streak honestly, too.
Stubborn and competitive - this can only end in tears.

sex and scrabble

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: sex and scrabble / Dec. 26th, 2008

sex and scrabble

My daughter sent me this today, and I mean, really, way to go to, Hannah. Like I really need this with my psychology...
But you see, this actually happened to me on Christmas Eve, when I was playing scrabble with my children. I looked at six letters in a row in my little tray and they literally spelt out: V - A - G - I - N - A

There was an N already on the board, but 3 people to go before me, and part of me was saying "Someone use the N", and an even bigger (competitive) part of me was saying "Don't use the N"... and they didn't.
The thing is, this really shouldn't happen to someone transsexual. I *so* need a vagina of my own, it's so central to my psychology, and this was ridiculous - the letters, in order, just spelling it out for me... like fate.
So I put down the word.

In my defence, V was on a triple-letter square.
Also to be fair they weren't that shocked. I like to think they're realistic and down-to-earth about these things.

But in two years' time, when it's not just words, I wonder how I'll spell out L-O-V-E...

Because, of course, words themselves are never enough.

The Latest in Handheld Gaming From PSP

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Post: The Latest in Handheld Gaming From PSP / November 28, 2008

The Latest in Handheld Gaming From PSP

As you hold it in your hand this small, shiny and compact device the size of a small console controller looks glamorous and intriguing even before it’s switched on. Available in a range of colours all in brushed metal, with more with customisable designs to follow, this handheld gaming system reeks of style and cool.

When you turn it on the brightness and sharpness of the colours and graphics will leave your pleasantly surprised, and are even better than the previous PSP editions. The games are still the most graphically demanding and pleasant to look at out of all the hand held consoles and some of the current bundles available offer a very good deal of six games with your purchase (including up to date releases such as Harry Potter).

The new PSP 3000 has had a microphone added into it which allows for free phone calls via Skype, which is proving to be a large selling point, especially as many are still waiting for the ideal combination of a mobile phone and a decent gaming platform.

The screen has been dramatically improved compared to the previous PSP and its evident when you pop in your old games you really will notice the difference. Colours are more varied and deep, shading and depth come across much better and just makes the eye candy element better.

Another addition to the screen is a different coating which allows for you to see the screen better, and play outside. The downside to previous PSP screens was that reflection of light could make it hard to see what you where doing, but this has been removed!

If you are playing indoors and can hook your PSP to a mains point you can take advantage of the “extra bright” option which is now available. This powers the screen to a brighter element than when the PSP is running off the battery and this makes the screen even more crisp and clean than it already is.

Food, Family, Friends, and...Scrabble?

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Post: Food, Family, Friends, and...Scrabble? / November 28, 2008

Food, Family, Friends, and...Scrabble?

My sweetie, lil one, and I packed up and went to visit family in the town over from us for Thanksgiving. We went down on Wednesday so that I could help my step dad cook dinner.

Well my mom ended up not having to go into work, and somehow we lost all of the men. Our land has a very large tree that fell and off the men went to check it out. My uncle, stepdad, and now sweetie are all into woodworking.

So they took off with the chainsaw, the lil one, and were gone til dinner time. As it turns out the majority of our land (and oh how this makes me happy) is filled with maple trees. There are a few black walnut trees as well which are great for making wooden items. My sweetie had to come back home last night so that he could go to work, but we had a great time.

After all were fed and the dishes cleared we filled the table with games. I've never seen such competition. It's been a long time since we've had enough people to sit around and play a good game. Taboo was probably the most competitive, followed by scrabble with people who spell words that I've never even heard of, and lastly the very simple game of Guess Who?

My littlest sister seems to be the queen of this one. All in all it was a great night, and I found myself abound with blessings for which to give thanks. The only regret I have is that I did not take my camera. Of all the things to forget.

Thanksgiving Word Games

Thanksgiving Word Games

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Printable Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle Challenge

Printable Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle Challenge

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Post: Printable Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle Challenge / 21.08.08

Printable Thanksgiving Crossword

Puzzle Challenge

Of all the Thanksgiving printable games, one of the tougher to explain to children is a crossword puzzle. This is not because the child lacks the capacity to understand what a printable Thanksgiving crossword puzzle entails.

It is just that the game is a lot less self-explanatory than most others. This, however, is not much of a problem. All that is required is a clear presentation of how the game is played. So, here is a simple way of explaining the rules of a printable Thanksgiving crossword puzzle to a younger audience.

The concept of a crossword puzzle is fairly simple. A person simply must answer a variety of questions in a manner that corresponds to the number of letters available on the crossword. That is, if the crossword puzzle reflects the correct answer to be 16 letters then the person playing the game is required to provide an answer with sixteen letters.

Here is an example of how a printable Thanksgiving crossword puzzle will work:
2 Across: What do people usually eat for Thanksgiving?
When you look at the corresponding blocks for ?2 across? there is space for six letters. So, the answer turkey would be a safe bet. However, the answer must also correspond with the ?down questions? that can be formed by the answers to the across questions. For example, let?s look at the following:

4 Down: What do most people eat as a trimming with their turkey?
4 down begins with the last letter of 2 across and it is a four letter word. (Don?t worry, it is not a bad four letter word) The end letter of 2 across is ?Y? so this would be the first letter of 4 down. As such, it would be a reasonable guess to conclude that the answer to 4 down is ?yams?.
It would also be somewhat helpful to explain to a young one that these games come with a host of values. Namely, it will increase their ability to think, write, and read. Obviously, these are all great skills that anyone ? young or old ? would find most beneficial. Granted, most young ones may not recognize the value of this.

However, as they grow older the value will eventually manifest. If you can get them hooked on crossword puzzles when younger, they will benefit dramatically from it. They might not appreciate this at first but they will discover the great benefits as time marches on!

Related Post of Scrabble in Blogosphere:

- Thanksgiving Word Games

Funny Sides of Scrabble-2

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Funny Sides of Scrabble-2

When you rearrange the letters












THE EARTHQUAKES: When you rearrange the letters:









Funny Sides of Scrabble-1

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Funny Sides of Scrabble-1


Expanding Vocabulary the Play Way

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Post: Expanding Vocabulary the Play Way / 10 November 2008

Expanding Vocabulary the Play Way

Lately my game fever is back. It is that phase carrying on in which I feel like getting hooked to playing word games – my favourite brain booster.

I think they are a brilliant change from the usual learning tips to improve our vocabulary. Word games such as crosswords, quizzes, puzzles, or text twist are interesting, different and enjoyable. Not only do these games provide entertainment, they help us apply what we have learnt thus far. And playing these games is not restricted to computer or Internet.

Reader’s Digest’s Word Power section is one of the best vocabulary builder exercises I have read so far. It is a monthly bite. For each answer they provide detailed meaning, origin, and explanation, and that’s their unique style. In fact now there are millions of books and ways in which you can access such games. On Internet, my favourite is East of the Web website’s Eight Letter word game. Wanna play? Visit:

The Eight Letter game helps you build as many words as you can out of a set of letters, precisely out of eight letters. The sets keep changing as you proceed through different levels. This is exciting! Scrabble just goes a little further by helping you form words by connecting them with each other. If you play it with ‘only dictionary words allowed’ rule, it is a great brain booster.

Another fascinating game is the Text Twister, which makes you race against time, play with a set of letters, shuffle them, and guess more, more, and more.

Some of my friends agree that word games are vocabulary builders. “Of course word games help, how could they not? Crossword puzzles are a favorite of mine. Try easy ones first,” advises Bob, a friend in an online forum of English language, adding, “Read a lot and you’ll eventually pick it up. More important are vocabulary, grammar, and idioms. Read, read, read. Listen, listen, listen. And talk to native speakers as much as you can.”

Another member of the forum says, “Scrabble would probably be most helpful when played with others with a similar command of the language (and skill level). In cryptic crosswords the answers are usually pretty commonplace, obscurity being confined to the clues, but a solver without large knowledge of idioms and phrases will be rather handicapped.”

That is right. But that’s what adds to your knowledge when you try and find out more about what you don’t know. Solving crosswords, puzzles and quizzes with people who have better vocabulary than yours is especially helpful because that is when you get to learn the most. Next time using the newly learnt words in their correct places helps in remembering them forever.

Considering this, social networking websites such as Facebook and Orkut are popular platforms for people from all over the globe to play word games together and learn together. And having played many such, I can say – it is really helpful and loads of fun.
Try some and gain score – in life and in game.

Favorite iPhone Apps

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Post: Favorite iPhone Apps / 2008-10-21

Favorite iPhone Apps

I’ve gone a little app crazy I guess you could say, with 76 iPhone applications that have been listed on my post “Downloaded iPhone Apps“. The next question is which apps are my favorites as well as an estimated all used? Of course the Phone, Camera, Text, Safari, Mail, as well as App Store are at the top. Other than the vitals here’s the list of my favorite as well as an estimated all used apps that I’ve downloaded via the App Store.


I’ve at all times wanted to be able to know what that song I just listened to on the radio was as well as the announcers would never say. Shazam comes in very useful on behalf of knowing. All you do is hit the “Tag Now” button on the top right corner as well as let the app do the identifying for you.


The name speaks on behalf of itself. Movies lists a catalog of over 50,000 films as well as more than 10,000 trailers. You can see when as well as where the movie is playing at local theaters as well as even see what others have rated the movie before you go out as well as see it.


Oh the Facebook app! What more do you require other than complete mobile Facebook? With the recent update it’s more functional than ever, you’re on Facebook, just without the computer. I would like to see the wall-to-wall feature on the application.


Remote turns your iPhone into a mobile iTunes library right from your computer. It comes in very useful when you’re listening to music across the office or house as well as you don’t desire to jog all of the way back to your computer to pick the next song. All you require is a WiFi as well as about 3 minutes to configure everything.


Twinkle is Twitter on location as well as picture steroids. You don’t even have to have a twitter account to chat with people that are nearby or halfway around the world. I utilize it to update my twitter account when I’m not around my laptop as well as to attach photos I’ve taken from my iPhone.


I must warn you I’m a huge Boggle nerd, born as well as raised I guess you could say. Wurdle takes Boggle to another level and integrates it with the iPhone. I’m in love. Wurdle claims in the App Store that it’s the an estimated all popular paid word game on the iPhone.


EA has took Scrabble to the iPhone. I’m just reading what is in the new version as well as it seems that two players can link via WiFi to play against each other. That shall come very useful when my mom as well as I are bored combined somewhere, no one shall ever know what exactly we’re doing.

Tap Tap

Is like Dance Dance Revolution on behalf of your fingers. I can’t quite get the hang of it, but I’ll retain trying.
EA announced that The Sims 3 is scheduled on behalf of release on the iPhone in conjunction with Need on behalf of Speed Undercover. These are on my list to retain a look out for!

“EA Mobile today also announced nine titles in development on behalf of the iPhone as well as iPod touch, pending regional availability. This list includes YAHTZEE Adventures, EA Mini Golf, Lemonade Tycoon™, Mahjong, MONOPOLY: Here & Now The World Edition, SimCity, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09, Need on behalf of Speed™ Undercover, as well as The Sims™ 3.”
Happy iPhone-ing!!!

How to Scrabble Tile and Glas Pendants

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Post: How to Scrabble Tile and Glas Pendants / October 30, 2008

How to Scrabble Tile and Glas Pendants

Complete Scrabble Tile Pendant Kit

Sun and Moon Craft Kits offers loads of kits just like these.

If you ever wanted to learn how to make scrabble tile pendants, glass pendant or magnets check out this shop. Everything is included in the kit at a very reasonable price. There are also extra tile and glass pieces that you can order if you find yourself wanting to make more and more and more -- we all know how addicting crafting can get!

Knowing When to Say When

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2000 Dollar Wedding
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Post: October 27, 2008 / Knowing When to Say When

Knowing When to Say When

So I'm crazily trying to finish my Scrabble Halloween costume by this Friday, and I'm realizing that I'm firmly in Stage 5 of the DIY process: Regret and Frustration.
What exactly made me think that quilting an entire dress was a good idea? I mean, seriously, I'm not much of a seamstress. Following a simple dress pattern (even quasi-successfully) is enough of a stretch. But then to quilt the fabric first? It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r!

Last night I had to make a decision about the white lines between the squares. On the one hand, I need to have them. They are clearly a necessary part of creating an authentic Scrabble board. On the other hand, they are a major pain in the ass. Seriously! I have to sew a little piece of white fabric between each square and then sew long lines of white fabric between the rows.

And, in my quest to make a more authentic Scrabble board, I'm actually making it more messed up because it's much more difficult to get the squares to match up from row to row. Argh!

As you can see from the photo, I erred on the side of making it more difficult on myself (although more authentic!).

When engrossed in DIY projects, we are inevitably faced with these kinds of decisions. Do we deviate from our original grandiose plans and settle for less than perfect in order to make the project a little easier? Or do we suffer through, confident that the pride we feel at the end (in Stage 6) will outweigh all the frustration of Stage 5?

It's a tough call. Sometimes I make the decision to stick to my original vision (as with the white lines) and other times I opt for a less-than-ideal-but-easier option.
Case in point: I originally wanted to sew plastic over the dress to create little pockets that would hold the Scrabble tiles, so I could be an interactive board. People could make new words. Very cool, but not necessary and certainly not time-efficient.
Sometimes, there comes a time in the middle of DIY projects when you just have to say enough is enough.

I'm reminded of Kristina over at A Lovely Morning. She had sweet visions of making homemade jam as favors for her wedding. She knew when to say enough is enough and instead decided to make individual jars for the smaller group of people attending her rehearsal dinner.

Do you have any examples of saying enough is enough when it comes to DIY wedding projects?

Winning at Scrabble

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Classic Board Games
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Post: Winning at Scrabble / October 27th, 2008

Winning at Scrabble

Many people lose because they have the wrong idea about Scrabble. A word game it is NOT. If you want to win at Scrabble you’ll have to look at this popular board game in whole new way.

First - look at a Scrabble board. What do you see? Squares and colors. Double letter and word squares. Triple letter and word squares. Think about this: space is more important than words.

Next - consider the letters. You have high value letters and low value letters. If you use all seven letters and they are the lowest scoring letters, you can still score 15 points on a triple word square. (but you’ll get 50 points for a “Bingo” - using all 7 letters.

Two important tiles to pay special attention two are “S” and “Blank”. It’s still valuable and should be used with care. While it carries no value, you can use it to make very high scoring words.

Your goal then should be to play as many bonus squares as you can. Better to settle for a smaller word and grab the bonus square than play a large word while leaving the bonus square for someone else.

Know when to swap your letters. If you simply can’t do anything with your rack (the term for all the letters you’ve drawn), then you need to trade them in. Waiting won’t make things any better. Never trade your “s” tiles or your blank tiles.
Keep an eye out for prefixes and suffixes. Prefixes go on the the beginning of the word - un + known = unknown. Suffexes are tacked on to the end. “s” hobbit + s = hobbits

Better yet is the ings and ers - ring + ings = ringings and ring + ers = ringers.
Watch what you leave behind. While it’s great to score big on a turn, sometimes you need to look ahead to the next play before jumping in. If the word you want to make is going to leave you with a huge mess to clean up, you may want to settle for a lessor word so you have more to work with in the next round.

Also, sometimes you need to get rid of some letters. At times like this, don’t worry about a high score for once. Just make room to resupply. It’s sometimes just easier to
take a small hit and move on.
Next time we’ll take a look at some more ways two win at Scrabble. Meanwhile…
Wanna Play?

Project of the Week! Scrabble tile ornaments!

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Post: Project of the Week! Scrabble tile ornaments!

Project of the Week! Scrabble tile ornaments!

Okay, so I got really Christmas-y with this one, but it was fun! A whole group of scrabble tile ornaments will look really fun on our tree this year.

Each letter is its very own ornament, and hung in a line they spell out "Happy Holidays." How cute is that?!? I'm keeping these for myself, but for a gift, it would be really cute to spell out someone's name, maybe attaching their photo to a blank tile...
I'm sure you could take this one all kinds of places :)

For a step-by-step tutorial, with lots of photos, check out my newest Squidoo lens:

A Great Word for Scrabble

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Post: A Great Word for Scrabble

A Great Word for Scrabble

I've never been much of a Scrabble fan. But I do understand the concept. Of course, the more letters one uses to form words, the more points are rewarded. I have a suggestion for those of you who play...SUPRALAPSARIAN. Sure you would have to have some luck. But you never know.

This could be a winner. Of course, before using this word, you might obtain a good theological dictionary. As thorough as Noah Webster was, his editors didn't include this word in the edition I have.

For those of you intent on using the word in a conversation, supralapsarian is defined as "the view that God, contemplating man as yet unfallen, chose some to recieve eternal life and rejected all others." This according to Theopedia.

Continuing our study through election in Perspectives on Election, we now turn to an essay by Dr. Robert Reymond, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at Bob Jones University.

Dr. Jones begins by sharing from the Westminster Confession of Faith. "...for the manifestation his own glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlatsting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death" (III/iii) (153). He continues to quote from the WCOF (1646) time and time again. Because of space, you can find the document here.

The WCOF states that Adam was placed in the Garden and had the ability to obey God or rebel and sin. However, because of mankind's (Adam's) choice to rebel against God in the Garden, the offspring of Adam (all mankind except Jesus) no longer has the same ability.

Man is dead in sin (Rom 3:23, 5:12). The WCOF then makes mention of an "effectual call" (Chapter X), stating that only those God has elected (prior to creation) will be saved. The rest of mankind is doomed to damnation (Chapter XXXIII).

This post is not intended to be a treatise on the Westminster Confession of Faith. However, Dr. Reymond continues to move point by point through the document, while staking his claim. I intend to hear more from Dr. Reymond next time, rather than hearing again from the WCOF.

By the way, when making his arguments, Dr. Reymond continues to preface his statements with the phrase "the bibically informed Christian will conclude..." Does this bother anyone except me?
What are your thoughts?

Board Games and Math Skills

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Post: Board Games and Math Skills / June 10th, 2008

Board Games and Math Skills

Yesterday a kindergarten teacher asked me for information about how board games can help develop math skills.

Here is part of my answer to her.

Naturally the first branch of math that comes to mind is game theory. Basically game theory posits that your best move depends on what the other player does. You’ve probably heard about the prisoner’s dilemma (should I cheat or cooperate) which is a classic example of game theory. But game theory was very important for developing algorithms, so it became important in computer programming. A child might use it in playing checkers: “If I move here, she can jump me, but then I’ll be able to jump two of hers in a row. So it is worth it.” An if, then statement, plus a cost-benefit analysis (more later).

Some strategy games help children develop heuristics, little things they can do to discover what the opponent might have or be planning. Hmm… this isn’t a very rational example, but if you’re playing Scrabble you might wonder if someone already has the Q, and since you have two u’s, you might play one in a prime spot to see if anyone plays a Q on it. Or in Othello, you might try to distract your opponent from a corner-seeking strategy by laying out a tempting side-square opportunity. Clue and Clue, Jr. are obviously logic puzzles and every guess you throw out there is a heuristic for eliminating some of the logical possibilities.

I don’t really know how to play chess, but my husband tells me algorithms and heuristics feature prominently in many people’s play. They have routines for starting the game.

A great many games help players develop intuitions about probability and statistics. “If there are 9 E’s in Scrabble, and 7 are already on the board, it is not too likely I’ll get one in my next turn. Therefore, I should think of a word that won’t need one…” Games with cards and dice are obvious ones for learning probability.

On a more beginning math level, color-coding games help children use set theory to think. “All the yellow ones are mine.” I think in Candyland, you don’t even count, you get a color card and move to the next/closest space of the same color. Of course there is a preliminary-to-counting skill in recognizing “next closest,” but I am not sure that would show up in any measures of math achievement.

Games like Monopoly and Life (I think) require counting, adding, subtracting, and even cost-benefit analysis. “Should I buy the more expensive property and get higher rent or a cheaper one, like near the jail, where people might pass by more often…? Should I buy hotels or more property?” “Would it be better to go to college?”

I am also reminded of the positive affect that playing board games with family and friends gives. Just like it’s the cuddle factor during bedtime stories that imparts a love of reading.

Here are a couple more opinions relating to traditional, commercially available board games:
Family Board Games Build Math Skills by Julie Tiss, M. Ed.

Carnegie Mellon study finds kids’ board games help to build math skills


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The Real Justin Chandler
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Tonight, Scrabble at a competitive level took another turn. You may be asking yourself, since when did Scrabble become competitive. I would reference Word Wars as a reference. Jack (my roommate) and I just got into a discussion about a challenge that I had with one of his words. If this isn't boring you already, then it most likely will if I get into what the challenge was.

One of the statements I made was to go "to the fullest extent of the law" and I echo a statement I heard George Wood make on a video he released as the Assemblies of God response to the revival that is happening in Lakeland, FL. He used a quote from a guy at Azusa street and said "We are measuring everything by the Word, every experience must measure up with the Bible.

Some say that is going too far, but if we have lived too close to the Word, we will settle that with the Lord when we meet Him in the air." I thought that was a rather intriguing statement and so I used it in Scrabble.

We will follow the rules and if we are too stringint, better to be that, than to be too loose with the rules. Jack proceeded to call me a Pharisee. Once you start keeping track of wins, friends go out the window.


Scrabulous, Scrabble, and Economic Development in South Asia

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Location: Washington, DC, United States
Blog Summary: Andrew Mack is the founder and Principal of AMGlobal Consulting. A seasoned, innovative professional with over 20 years experience in international business and international development. Andrew has worked in some 70 countries around the world with special emphasis on Emerging Markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
This blog has been active since: June,2006
Post: Scrabulous, Scrabble, and Economic Development in South Asia /Friday, 25 April

Scrabulous, Scrabble, and Economic Development in South Asia

In February I made my first visit to the Subcontinent, in Delhi, for the regional meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN. In the main hall there were business and government leaders from around the region. At one of the side events an innovative new registry, dot asia, was launched.

Everything about the event spoke of economic dynamism and to me, of the benefit of an economic system – and longer term economic growth – built on a strong foundation of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. But most entrepreneurs in South Asia and other Emerging Markets (EMs) are still not fundamentally interested in the IP debate. They do see themselves as authors, or artists, or techies, but they don’t see themselves as IP entrepreneurs.

Personally I think this is a tremendous missed opportunity, with long-term implications for economic development.
The rolled eyes phenomenon

Of course if you get into a discussion of IP protection, many people will roll their eyes. Issues of IP are seen in the negative, largely defined by our nearly universal dislike – and this seems to be a global phenomenon – of lawyers. Add to this the general skepticism about the functioning of the courts in South Asia – and most people back away from IP.

However, to my eyes the IP protection debate is not about lawyers at all, but about the very entrepreneurs on whom so much hope is placed. I take as an almost frivolous example the case of the brothers from Calcutta that produced Scrabulous...
The Calcutta brothers who made Scrabulous

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I am a big Scrabble fan. I love playing. I have the computer game on my PC, and I play a lot. I know enough of the two letter words and obscure words beginning with Q that few of my friends will even play with me any more.

So you’d think that something like Scrabulous would have real appeal for me. But I think they should close down the program, and the sooner the better.

There are a number of reasons, of course, starting most obviously with the idea the brothers are hawking, which isn’t theirs to sell. The fact that Scrabulous is for fun and not for profit is irrelevant. It’s no different than piracy of any sort. If I write a book, it’s mine to sell, or license, or give away as I see fit.

Next, you have to consider the Scrabulous phenomenon and ask yourself – is Scrabulous really creating any real value for India? True, in the short term there might be some work for a few lawyers and a PR firm or two. But a few billable hours do not an economic powerhouse make…
Plain fun vs economic value

Compare Scrabulous with the original board game. Scrabble (the idea, using IP protection) has provided value for 50 years. The developers licensed the name to Hasbro, and again to Mattel. Money made, taxes paid, employment provided—the seeds of economic growth. From there the game spread around the world, long before the existence of the Internet. Again, people were hired in manufacturing and promotion in different countries. The game entered into the world’s consciousness. It was a good idea, made possible in part because of IP protection.

Scrabulous, on the other hand, will likely be gone within the year. Not much economic value there for India or the world.

There are many in Emerging Markets that get caught up in arguments around the high cost of IP. And its true, some IP – whether music, or film, or software, or whatever – can be costly. However, if we are really focused on building long-term opportunity in Emerging Markets, a short-term focus on the cost of IP misses the point.

I often hear that Bill Gates or Madonna (or in the case of Scrabulous, Hasbro) won't miss a few rupees if their IP is pirated. Maybe so. However, there is something much larger at stake. Emerging Markets entrepreneurs and government officials talk frequently about their desire to promote investment and growth and protect their own IP and CP (cultural property). They decry the lack of available finance for growth, and complain that they don’t get the best and latest goods and products.
From value to development

South Asia, as well as other Emerging Markets, can't seek to create an environment that will promote rapid, information-based, high-skill economic growth while tolerating loose IP standards. Experience shows that you simply can't have it both ways.

Why? They simply won’t attract as much investment in the long term. They won’t have the same ability to retain good talent. They won’t be able to build wealth. They won’t build competitiveness. And they won’t be able to and create alliances with companies that can give them access to global markets.

So, Emerging Markets need to recognize the role that IP protection can play in economic development, from creating employment, to strengthening the middle class, to ensuring economic independence and cultural preservation.
Requisite for the next IP entrepreneur

South Asians need to demand the kind of business environment that will help them thrive, and the improvements to the courts that will help them protect and leverage their country’s good ideas. In the words of Sourabh Gupta, a Washington, DC-based Indian trade and development analyst, they need to build “a body of case law that is pro-innovation and pro-IP protection to help underpin their aspirations of upward mobility.”

It’s not about today’s Bill Gates. It’s about tomorrow’s Bill Gates, the one who might come from India or Bangladesh or any other Emerging Market.

And as Gupta says, the opportunity “will only be as strong as the energies invested by those most materially affected – the vast multitude of small entrepreneurs.”

In the end, if we are truly serious about what we claim to want so badly – investment, jobs, to be taken seriously on the world economic stage, to become economic drivers, not just followers – then we need IP protection.

Because unlike Scrabble, economic development is no game.

The History of Mahjongg

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Online Gaming Business
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Post: The History of Mahjongg / 13th May

The History of Mahjongg

During a recent visit to my parent’s house I noticed a solid black briefcase on the kitchen table. I was curious as to what was inside. From it’s size, I thought it might be a laptop computer. My mom opened the briefcase to reveal several colorful tiles and game pieces. She informed me that it was her Mahjongg tile set. She plays this ancient Chinese game weekly with her friends.

I am a big fan of playing Mahjongg on the computer. I wondered if there were differences in the rules of my mom’s physical board game versus my computer game. There are many differences indeed, just as there are many versions of Mahjongg available.

The board version is an intense game of strategy, logic, and planning. My mom plays with three other players and has to work with a partner. The computer version I play is basic in comparison as I just try to match tiles together to remove them from the Mahjongg tile pile.

What is the history of Mahjongg? Mahjongg is an ancient Chinese game that has a debatable origin. There are several theories as to who invented Mahjongg. Some believe that Mahjongg wasn’t invented until the middle of the 19th century. Believers of this origin maintain that Mahjongg was based on current Chinese card and domino games.

Others believe that Confucius invented the game around 500 BC. Confucius was known as a great Chinese philosopher. The theory that he started Mahjongg is based upon observation that game piece tiles and popularity relate to his philosophies and travels.

Mahjongg made its way to the United States by the early 20th century. The game was translated into English. In 1937 the National Mah Jongg League was created. The rules of Mahjongg were reviewed and revamped.

Who plays Mahjongg? Mahjongg has had a variety of players. The game requires four players and takes a few hours to play. Therefore, it is an ideal game for parties or special occasions. Players in China have played Mahjongg to celebrate life events.

When Mahjongg became popular in the United States it was primarily played by the Jewish population. Mahjongg is now making its way across all backgrounds and age levels. The physical tile game is familiar to the older generation while the computerized version is bringing in the younger generation.

How do you play Mahjongg? Good question. The answer is that it depends. There are basic rules, but rules tend to vary based on the geographic region. The main goal of the game is to find matching tile suits and complete the 14 to 17 tile set. There are rule books that cover the Western version of the game.

The Mahjongg game that my mom plays is closer to the ancient Chinese version then the computerized version I play. She enjoys the complexity and strategy of Mahjongg as well as the benefit of playing with her good friends.

Mahjongg is an exciting game to try whether you want to play with friends or on your own. I find playing the computer versions both entertaining and relaxing. Many games websites, such as, have several PC versions of Mahjongg available. The different versions are akin to the variety of Mahjongg history, rules, and players around the world. Start your exploration of the Mahjongg variations by searching GrandMatrix under the keyword ‘Mahjongg’ and you will be well on your way to fun!

Steve is a member of the GrandMatrix team. They provide a broad range of games and puzzle articles and reviews. Read more articles and play the latest PC games for free plus thousands of user submitted puzzles, quizzes and word games at:

Brutalities and Idiosyncrasies of the German Language

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Post: Brutalities and Idiosyncrasies of the German Language / May 8, 2008

Brutalities and Idiosyncrasies of the German Language

Dear Readers,
As you know, I have been terribly delinquent in keeping up with my blog entries. (Or as my good friend informed me, I've been a total flake.) I wrote the following entry back in March while I was still living in Berlin and traveling for auditions. I have much more to share, but for the moment, here is...Brutalities and Idiosyncrasies of the German Language.

I love German. Really, I do. My first German language experience was at the age of twelve, when I sang my first German Lied: Schubert’s Heidenröslein. A sweet little text with diminutive words and an elegant lilt. (I’m sure my German was less than elegant, as it was taught to me by the choir teacher at Summer Arts in Tulsa, Oklahoma.) As I continued my vocal studies, I sang the songs of Schubert, Schumann and Wolf, and studied the poetry of Goethe, Rilke and Heine. The music was so entrancing, and the poetry exquisite.

So imagine my surprise years later upon learning German grammar and vocabulary, to find that not all of German is beautiful. Some of the loveliest things in life are given the most heinous and graphic of German names. The word "butterfly" is commonly used as a point of comparison for different languages. In French, the word is “Papillon,” a sweet and lovely word even prettier than the English version. In German, however, the word for butterfly is “schmetterling.” Now, that isn’t the prettiest word in the world, but believe me, it gets much worse.

The German language is like the German people: capable of great elegance and beauty, yet sometimes cold, literal, direct, and with hard edges. Take for example, the German word for meat, which is “Fleisch” or literally, “flesh.” Every time I see that word on a menu, it is enough to make me want to become a vegetarian all over again. How about “Zahnfleisch”? As in, brushing your teeth regularly will keep your “Zahnfleisch” healthy. Translated into English, that word means “teeth meat,” or as we prefer to call them in English, “gums.” And downstairs next to my building, is a “Fleischerei,” or a “fleshery.” (I suppose the word “butcher” isn’t so subtle, either, but then, there are many similarities between English and German.)

To this day, I can’t figure out what the word “Spital” means in German. I know what it means in English, and it is revolting. Yet all over German speaking countries, you will see “Kinderspital” or “Spitalstrasse,” “Spitalmarkt,” or “Spitalgasse”. Regardless of what it means in German, it is a nasty looking and sounding word, and for some reason the Germans seem quite proud of it.

But by far, my all time favorite word to love and hate in German is…. ...are you ready???


Yep, you guessed it. And no, I am not kidding.

The translation of Brustwartzen is indeed: “BREASTWARTS!!!!


The Germans have managed to take one of the most beautiful parts of the body and turn it into something horrifying. (And they think the word “nipple” is slang!)

Some words in German are delightfully onomatopoeic, such as the word for chopsticks: “Stabchen” (“little stabbers”) and the word for a head cold, which is “Schnupfen.” I also adore the words “küsse” and “süsse,” which sound just as delicious as they are. And as most of us know, German words can extend on for miles, like the word “Jahreshauptversammlung,” which refers to an annual meeting. With words this long, I have yet to understand how one could play Scrabble in German.

In spite of all these linguistic idiosyncrasies, gross or just plain silly, German manages to redeem itself with lovely words such as “Rosenthalerstrasse,” or “Liebling.” I find these words incredibly satisfying and rich, and for all the ugly words to be found in German, there are far many more beautiful ones.

Which brings me to my love of languages in general. Last week I was in Paris, and within two days I felt like I could understand and communicate in French. Not well, of course, but well enough to experience the difference of what French feels and tastes like, verses English or the German I’ve been learning.

I remember that my graduate school boyfriend, who was both a native German and English speaker, would sound like a completely different person to me in each language. I felt like I was getting a glimpse into a whole different side of him when I heard him speak German, even though at the time I didn’t understand much of it. Someone once told me that you are as many different people as the number of languages you speak. I believe that is true, and perhaps that is part of why learning a new language is so deeply satisfying. In absorbing and reproducing the rhythm, cadence, and color of a new language, we allow different parts of ourselves to rise to the surface and be heard. The experience is an unveiling of a self you didn’t know existed.

Often maddening and always humbling, learning a new language forces you to put your ego aside and start from the ground up, like a child learning something for the first time. You must be willing to sound like a complete idiot for months at a time, and not allow your ego to creep in and prevent you from even trying. When one allows the protective walls of the ego to recede into the background, what comes into the foreground is always a relief. How wonderful to know that the world doesn’t collapse when I speak in a less than brilliant manner, when I make mistakes, when I allow myself to be vulnerable and ask for help. What a relief to know that people generally don’t care if you aren’t perfect. (How silly and egomaniacal to think it could be otherwise!) When those beautiful moments happen, when you realize you just had an entire conversation in German, or you spoke to someone with words you didn’t know you had inside of you, it feels like more than just a linguistic success.

It feels personal, as if you have allowed yourself to expand and briefly break free from the shackles of ego and insecurity. It is the best reward for all the patience and frustration that comes with learning a language, and it comes long before you have achieved full fluency. And so my love for German continues, in spite of my shock at words like “Zahnfleisch” and “Brustwarzen.” As long as I keep learning new words like “Gleichfalls” and “Blumen,” my love affair will continue.

The Wedding Planner and being Missional

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Meditations of the Heart
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Blog Summary: These are thoughts, meditations, ponderings, or realizations that have pressed upon my mind and heart through my daily Bible devotions, sermons I have heard, or class/social discussions. I hope that you might be encouraged and blessed from them.
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Post: The Wedding Planner and being Missional / May 8, 2008

The Wedding Planner and being Missional

Lately I've been reading a great book called "Breaking the Missional Code" by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. The point the authors are trying to make is that we here in America need to live in our communities as missionaries do overseas. No, you don't have to build a grass hut in suburbia and go without running water or toiletries. (That's not how most missionaries live either). The point is to live with intentionality.

When missionaries go overseas they are placed into a whole new context of living, a whole new culture. They learn the customs, language, and culture of the people they are trying to reach with the Gospel. They build purposeful relationships with those in that culture and find ways to present the Gospel to them within their context. They make connections that draw them to Christ.

When I left my little town in GA to move to seminary I contemplated the questions that Stetzer and Putman raise in their book. Why don't I live like missionaries do? Why is there a difference between the way they live for Christ and the way I live for Christ? Simply put, I think it is because we are in our comfort zones. We live in the same town we grew up in (or something similar to it), know most of the people around us, only associate with those who go to our church, it is all about ME.

Most do not live outside of their comfort zone. Missionaries have no choices. If they don't like the food, they starve. If they don't connect with people, they don't spread the Gospel. They live mostly out of their comfort familiarities for the sake of the Gospel. If we don't like the food, we don't go to that restaurant. If we don't connect with our city, we seclude ourselves to our "church friends".

I was watching The Wedding Planner recently(yes, I'm a guy, yes, I watched it, and yes, I liked it) and was convicted by a part of the movie. Can you believe it?! I was convicted by a secular movie!! Jennifer Lopez's character loves to play scrabble. She is even apart of a scrabble club. Later in the movie she reveals that she loves scrabble because her parents moved to America and didn't know how to speak English and so they joined a scrabble club to learn the language.

This convicted me for two reasons. 1. There are social avenues to meet the lost and connect with the culture around me that I don't even know exist because I'm too caught up in my own little world and comfort zone to even seek them out. 2. I have a friend from India that has been in America for a little over a year. He is involved in many social networks and events to try to make friends. I've been in Raleigh for almost 4 years and probably don't know half of the places and people he does only being in Raleigh for 6 months.

This is the reason I named my blog Engage the Culture. No, we don't live in a 3rd world nation, but our culture in America is vast and ever changing and we need to realize that in order to reach our cities for the Gospel we need to quit living for ourselves and begin living for Christ and engaging the culture so that many might come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

I definitely do not do things right but this is where my heart burns. I desperately want to see people come to Christ. The way I've been living has not been the most fruitful way. It might be time for a change. Time to begin living as a missionary among my own country. This is being Missional, this is engaging the culture.

Are you up for a change too?!

Brain training games can boost IQ

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Post:Brain training games can boost IQ / April 30th, 2008

Brain training games can boost IQ

A Swiss-American team reports in a leading scientific journal how they used a computer based brain-training method to improve general problem-solving ability.

Many psychologists had thought the only way to improve this was actually by practising the specific problem solving task you wanted to get better at. However, this theory is overturned in the work by Drs Susanne Jaeggi, Martin Buschkühl and colleagues at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and University of Bern.

They say you can improve generally problem solving ability by carrying out unrelated mental exercises and puzzles.

In the experiment, the team gave 35 volunteers a series of mental training exercises designed to improve their working memory, while they also had 35 more subjects who did not undergo the “brain boot camp”.

Those who underwent the mental exercise tests, were shown a sequence of squares appearing one after another on the computer screen every three seconds. The task was to decide whether a certain square was at the same position as another one previously seen in the sequence.

At the same time, participants heard spoken letters and had to decide whether the currently heard letter was the same as one presented two or three steps earlier in the sequence.

If they did well the task became harder, while if they did badly it became easier. They repeated the exercises for between eight and 19 days.

Their problem solving ability was then assessed compared to the group who had not taken part in the exercises.

According to the results of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group who took part in the puzzles had a significantly improved problem solving ability. Moreover, the more the participants trained, the more problems they could solve.

Motivation however, was also important too - suggesting people have to be committed to mental exercise to reap the benefits.

Dr Jaeggi said: “It’s the same in sports: you can not expect to get better in football if you merely run around a little bit and not really want to improve.”

This is the first evidence that mental exercise improves intelligence and problem solving ability generally and suggests time spent on crosswords, Sudoko and other number and word games is time well spent.

Scrabble obsessive? ... well check these out

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West Virginia Scrabble
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Blog Summary: This is a group blog about Scrabble in West Virginia. The Scrabble club (National Scrabble Association Club #620) is based in Charleston. We meet on a regular basis and play lots of Scrabble!! For some of us it is becoming (or already is) a deep-rooted obsession. Our skill levels range from "I play pretty often" to some of the highest-rated players in the state. We are an informal group and we all enjoy a good game. We welcome anyone who would like to play.
This blog has been active since: April,2008
Post: Scrabble obsessive? ... well check these out / April 30, 2008

Scrabble obsessive? ... well check these out

Are you ever accused of being obsessed with Scrabble or anything else? If so then you should direct them to a new documentary called The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters that details a level of obsession that is mind boggling.

I have posted a review of this film on my blog along with my usual savvy commentary and wit (click here for it). If classic arcade games aren't your style though you should check out the bevy of word-related documentaries that are out there (that also deal with obsessive people actually). I've recently re-watched Word Wars (Scrabble) and Spellbound (spelling bees) and then I've also recently discovered Scrabylon (Scrabble) and Wordplay (crossword puzzles).

All of these are excellent films that are available through Netflix. Also in the category of documentary films about words and language is The Aristocrats ... but that's not for everyone ... watch The Matrix too ... it rocks!

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