Cross Words

Crossword

CROSSWORD PUZZLES LEAVE SOME PEOPLE BLANK

Some people just don’t understand what people like me get out of doing crossword puzzles. We sit for hours, poring over ambiguous clues, to fill in little boxes, and when we’re done, all we have is a page full of letters.  I mean, we don’t even get a prize for all that work.

As you’ve probably guessed, lots of folks, my darling wife included, do not find crossword puzzles _ _ _ (three letters across, first letter F)  Even though I’ve almost made a C_R_ _R (life’s work, six letters) out of writing and playing with words, trying to do a crossword puzzle is an agonizing chore for many.  Their minds just don’t work that way.

My wife will sit for hours without saying a word, while I do my puzzles.  If I happen to muse aloud, “What’s a four-letter word for a garden tool?” she will quickly reply, “Spatula.”  I say, “No!  I think it’s rake.” and write that down.

If I had simply asked her to name some garden tools, she could have rattled off a whole list, from rake and shovel, to trowel, spade, and ‘Garden Weazel.’  Because I specifically mentioned a four-letter garden tool for a crossword puzzle, she can’t think of a single one.  Her mind just goes BL-N- (empty, five letters)

In fact, the moment I posed that question, she couldn’t think of a garden tool to save her life, even if she were being tortured by the Spanish Inquisition.  The Inquisitor could say, “All right, heretic.  Give me a three-letter word for ‘poem’, starting with O, or I will lock you in the Iron Maiden.”  She’d probably just stand there and say, “I think it’s ‘Owl’, before they ran the sharp spikes into her body.

CROSSWORD PUZZLING

The reason that some folks can’t think of answers to crossword puzzle questions is that, whenever they’re presented with a clue, their mind becomes a big, dark room where they rummage around, trying to find something, anything, to fill in the blank spaces.  They grab onto it, and shout ‘Spatula’ for no apparent reason.

The best they can do with crosswords, is come close.  If the clue is – a beverage: P_ _, they write down PUB, which is actually fairly good, since at least a pub is a place where you can get a beverage.  If the puzzle wants ‘Lennon’s widow’ in three letters, they put down ‘Mrs.’

Crossword clues are just plain confusing to some.  They read the clue: ‘state that borders Mexico’, starting with A, and try to put in ‘Atlantic Ocean.’  Or they look at the clue: ‘High ranking marine,’ with five spaces, and try to fit in ‘humpback whale.’

Obviously, they have to write really small when they do crosswords like that.  The boxes get so crowded that they have to stack letters on top of each other.  On the other hand, sometimes the word they want doesn’t work, because they don’t have enough letters to fill in all the boxes.  The clue will be: ‘balloon filler,’ needing four spaces, and they put in AIRR.

For some, the problem started back in school, with tests that had them fill in the blanks.  They’d get the history question, ‘The Gettysburg Address was delivered by……..’  They would go into that dark room and come out with, the Post Office.  Or, on a Geography quiz, the question would be, ‘The United States capital is in……’, and they put down, ‘total confusion.’

A fellow-student in one class would look at the first question on the test and panic.  Your name……….  He would wave his hand frantically, until the teacher said, “What is it, Myron?” and quickly write Myron down.

I had an uncle who liked to enjoy the company of a crossword puzzle book and a glass of wine after dinner.  After he passed on, I happened to pick up his puzzle book and look in it.  The clue would read: Lone Ranger’s horse, and he would have written GZODKE.  He had fooled us.  He didn’t like crossword puzzles at all!  He just liked the quiet, and a chance to drink.

Wine

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Coins Of The Realms

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My coin collection started innocently and modestly enough, with a few older Canadian coins. Then, as described in my ‘Penny, lira, etc.’ post, I was tricked into collecting foreign coins. Slowly but steadily, over the (many) years, I’ve added coins to both groups, till now I don’t count my coins, so much as weigh them occasionally.

I have almost 600 foreign coins, from over 100 countries around the world, some of which no longer exist, as well as numerous Canadian and American coins. The five binders shown above include Canadian and American coins, as well as bills, and total just over 47 pounds.  I store them on a closet shelf, next to the wall, directly over the support bracket, so as not to collapse it.

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Clamshell 2 x 2s come in various sizes, for various coins. They are folded over a coin and stapled shut on three sides, then the unit is inserted in a plastic sheet with 20 pockets.  Soon after I got started, I received some helpful tips from a couple of old collectors/dealers.

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I buy mounting sheets with reinforced holes, because the weight of 20 coins can tear unprotected sheets. If you’re collecting sequentially dated coins, and one always follows the next, they are inserted into the sheets and forever remain there.

If I get another Spanish coin, I might need to now give Portuguese coins their own page for enough room. My coins can move around.  One dealer advised me to trim the bottom corners of the 2 X 2s at 45°, so that they would slide into the tight pockets easier.  Clipped bottoms and unclipped tops seem ‘unfinished’ to me, so I trim all 4 corners, creating little square ‘malls’ among the coins on the sheet.

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Staples holding the 2 X 2s closed, protrude in small bulges at the back, causing an already bulky assembly to take up even more room. I have a special pair of pliers, with which I crimp them flat, ensuring smoother insertion and retraction, and less volume.

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The arrangement of my foreign coins in my catalogs resembles a giant M on a world map.  They start at the bottom of South America, work their way up past Panama and the Caribbean, and throw a quick wave at the USA and Canada with a couple of odd/special coins.

They cross the Atlantic, through England, Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands, and work their way across Europe. They then dodge the rocket attacks in the Middle East and flow down the body of Africa.  Returning, they trudge eastward through Russia and China, and down through South-East Asia, to Australia and New Zealand.

My foreign coins have taught me much about geography and history. Separate regions are arbitrarily jammed together to form the likes of Czechoslovakia.  Countries are split apart, like Germany, or India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  World economy, and that of individual countries, changes coins from gold and silver, to brass, steel, nickel and copper, all the way down to aluminum.

My little digital camera will not take good photos of individual coins, but I have some bright, flamboyant foreign bills/notes I hope to show you later. To some of you, these are not ‘foreign’, but merely coins of your realm.

Time Flies

Happy Blogiversary!

Has it really been a year since I started this silliness?  And you guys keep coming around to read it, even without a Community Service order!  You all deserve a big pat on the back.  Please take one each out of petty cash.  Just watch where you put your hands.

A whole year??!  Time flies when you’re making fun.  With BrainRants makin’ it look easy, and a daughter who pushed her creaky old father down the slippery slope, I thought I’d have a go at it.  The first thing I learned was that it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as Rants, and some of you others make it look.

Like so many other avocations, I find myself safely in the middle.  The authors, socio-political commentators and humorists among you show me levels to aspire to, though likely never achieve.  I keep up with the other raconteurs, constantly trying to throw in a small ration of humor, even among my rants, as well as interesting and educational, social and geographical trivia.

Never saddled with a need to publish, I started slowly, gradually increasing the pace until I was putting out a post every two days.  I cut that back to every three days when panic ensued about where new topics would come from.  Since I’m writing this before my actual blogiversary, I won’t know the exact count, but it should run about 125 posts in the last year.

Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve only encountered a couple of blog sites that I would describe as terrible, one that was an admitted psychotherapy project for a young, female, drug-using runaway.  Another was about the adventures of a young woman trying to find Mr. Right, and too often getting Mr. Right Now.  It began to read like the script from year 18 of a TV soap opera, desperate for followers.  I finally had to give it up when the contradictions and fantastic co-incidences became too much to believe.

I’ve found sites with posts about Popsicle stick carving and salt shaker filling.  Though I see no followers, likes, or comments, there must be at least a few people who stop by to read.  I like to hold my head and my hubris high, and assure myself that, at least I’m not that boring.

Some bloggers post every day, a few, more than once a day, even if it’s just pictures of clouds and a few words.  I still haven’t learned how to insert pictures or videos.  My forte is the (electronically) printed word.  I try to make my posts about something, even when it’s not something important.  It just takes me a couple of days to find each new subject and put together a cohesive story about it.

I try to hold my posts to a maximum of a thousand words.  Even with an interesting post, attention spans and patience start to wear off quickly, much farther than that.  I’ve revisited some of my early posts, and found rookie mistakes, huge paragraphs, half a page long.  It’s a wonder that I managed to garner any followers at all.  I’ve learned tighter, more concise presentation

I liken myself to one of my favorite pop bands, Jethro Tull, the British band with the American name.  Like almost every other English group of the time, they thought they were a “Blues” band.  Their first couple of albums were lame, experienced out of context, and yet they’ve hung in for over thirty years.  They’ve travelled, had fun, made some decent money, and still have long-time fans.  If only I do a quarter as well.

My posts are all free, and I try to ensure that you get full value for what you pay.  What you have paid is, attention….and friendship, and comments and following, and guidance, and encouragement, and compliments, and inclusion.  As I’ve been told, and responded to, the measure of the worth of me and my site, is not in the great numbers of people who only comment, “Nice post.”, but the numbers of great people who have made me one of them, and made the last year a real hoot.  I thank you all – again!

When I published my 100th post, my insecurity had me worrying about where to find grist to mill out a few more.  More and more I feel I’m mostly past that.  I now have about fifteen unpublished drafts ahead, and new thoughts pop up from time to time.  Some of them may seem chronologically misplaced, like when I post about a late September trip in late November, but you guys seem patient with the old fogy.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have found such a circle of great thoughts, in great blogs, by great writers.  I am not what I was a year ago.  I am much improved, and I hope to use your support and guidance to further improve me in the next year.  I hope that my meager offerings have improved my readers’ lives in some small way, and plan to try to increase the dividends.

Excelsior!!