Category Archives: Games

Go Fourth!

With 4th of July events cancelled all over the country and the current political unrest and unhappiness, it seems hard to celebrate Independence Day with enthusiasm.

For many years, Child and I took part in two parades every 4th – the Tangletown Parade and the Richfield Parade.  The Tangletown is a homegrown parade in which kids dress up their bikes and dogs sport their best red, white and blue bandannas in order to follow a firetruck through the neighborhood, followed by a big party at Fuller Park with games, music, face painting and a big picnic.  The last few years I’ve gone up to the high school parking lot where the parade starts to see everybody in their finery and then I head home.  Then later, YA and I go down to Richfield to watch their more traditional, candy-throwing parade.  I got hooked on this parade when YA was in gymnastics and her team was part of the parade line-up.

No parades this year.  Richfield unilaterally cancelled all the 4th of July stuff and Tangletown cancelled the parade and party, but is doing a decoration contest and neighborhood scavenger hunt.  I hadn’t though about decorating (besides putting out all my flags) because I didn’t really want to put any money into it but then something I saw yesterday changed my mind.  In walking Guinevere, we found a house up on the water tower hill that had outdone themselves with their chalk decorations.  Their entire driveway was filled with a huge chalked American flag and then the sidewalk all long their property was covered in fireworks.  Such a low-cost and low-tech way to decorate – I think I’ll get my chalks out in the morning (before it gets too hot).  And I might even have enough Independence Day spirit left over to do the scavenger hunt with Guinevere on our morning walk!

How have you traditionally celebrated the 4th?  What’s different this year?

Knuckleheads and Knuckle Balls

Husband had been so hopeful.  The two libraries in town (Public and University) had been closed until two weeks ago.  The Public Library opened “appointment only”  and he ordered a classic, 1930’s book from inter-library loan about the history of the Great Plains. He has been reading it this week and is pretty happy about it.  He was hoping this was a sign that things were returning to normal.

The COVID-19 numbers had not increased in our county for about three weeks, with a total of 63 as of last Sunday.  That was until yesterday,  when it went up two. It went up because there is this baseball league in town in which young adult players come from other parts of the country, live in sponsor homes, and play baseball all summer. Well, an 18 year old player from Oklahoma came up Sunday, was feeling ill on Monday, and he and one more person tested positive for the virus. Now, all the players and hosts  and their families are being tested. The rest are all negative as of yesterday, but we will have a couple of weeks of continuous testing to see if it has spread. This is frustrating.

How do you think reopening should occur?  How are you doing with precautions?  What will be a sign to you that things are returning to normal?

False Alarm

We had rather a to do here on Monday when the city police issued a shelter in place order for the part of town north of the interstate.  Someone had found a cylindrical metal container, like a mortar shell, chained to a fence near the Department of Transportation lot where they park the snow plows and road graders.  After assessing things, the police determined it was not a bomb,  but a container for geocaching.  Someone attached it to the fence without getting permission from the DOT to do so.

I like the concept of people  getting outside and wandering around searching for hidden objects with their GPS. How fun!  It is too bad the north part of town had to be so alarmed about being blown up.  My friend the General Mills security guard says they get several reports a year of such unsanctioned containers on the borders of General Mills property.

What are your favorite  outdoor activities?  Any good scavenger hunt stories?

 

Speed

Husband is slow. Motorically slow. He always has been slow.  He really can’t do much of anything quickly, and it has been a source of frustration for him that I can do things quickly.  Really quickly.  When I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital in Iowa, we interns were administered  the same  battery of neuropsychological tests that we would eventually administer to the patients.  One of the tests was the Purdue Pegboard, which is a large board with holes for pegs, and you time people to see how fast they can put the pegs in the holes. It assesses bilateral motor speed and coordination. I had the fastest time ever for anyone who had taken the test at that clinic.

Last week, I got a notification from Ancestry.com that recent analysis of my DNA revealed me to have the Sprinter gene, common in athletes, especially in successful short distance runners. I never was an athlete, but my dad was, and he was really speedy.  In high school he could zip around the basketball court so fast that he once caused the boy assigned to guard him to start crying during a game because he couldn’t keep up with him.  He did most things really fast, and I am pretty sure I inherited that gene from him.

What genetic advantage  do you think you inherited? Make up a gene you would like to have.

 

King of the Mountain

The other day I happened to look out the window as three squirrels were playing… I can only call it King of the Mountain – they were taking turns being on top of the snow piles, alternating with a round of Hide and Seek, followed by more King of the Mountain. (Turns out it’s as important for animals to play as it is for humans, according to Dr. Gray, see below.)

There is precious little outdoor play happening around our neighborhood – the one family whose kids would regularly be out playing during the warmer months has moved away. I see several kids walk by afternoons after the school bus deposits them, but I seldom hear see/hear them later on.

So this article, based on the work of Dr. Peter Gray, psychologist, caught my eye yesterday, about what has happened to Play here in our tightly scheduled culture. In the article, “for an activity to truly be considered play, it must:

– be self-chosen and self-directed

– be done for its own sake and not an outside reward

– have some sort of rules/structure

– have an element of imagination

– be conducted in an alert frame of mind.”

Then I found the TED Talk by Dr. Gray, which is even better (16 minutes).

He points out that kids are now more depressed and anxious, largely due to no longer having an internal sense of control over their lives that comes from experiencing plenty of real play. Adequate play allows children to learn to solve problems, get along with peers and practice empathy, be creative and innovative.

Here on The Trail we have told stories of our various play exploits in freer times, and have lamented the loss of this kind of childhood. At the end of his talk, Peter Gray suggests some ways for us to get play back into the lives of children, but first let’s give our baboons here a shot at it:

What changes would you make in our homes, schools, and neighborhoods that would allow more true play to exist for children?

Office Party

Yesterday  from 11:30 until 1:00 pm was my agency Christmas party. It was a potluck for staff only, with the Social Committee supplying deep fried Turkey, cheesy potatoes , and punch, paid for by agency fundraisers over the past year.  It took place in a large and shabby meeting room in the basement of our agency.  All the food was good and calorie laden. I brought cranberry salsa. We played simple games, ate, and returned  to work. What a change from the parties of 30 years ago when Husband  first started at the agency.

The director at that time was a guy who really liked a good party.  He was the first director the agency had,  and he headed our agency for many years. In his mind, a good party was held at the Elks Club or the Knights of Columbus. It was catered, and there was plenty of alcohol and fun, with late night pinochle games. Spouses and significant others were  expected to attend. He somehow managed to find money in the budget to fund it.

Well, things are different now, and I kind of like the change. There is less drama and alcohol-related poor judgement.  It is less fuss.

What are your experiences with office parties?

Armadillos!!!!

I am a calendar person. I love them.  I have multiple calendars at work: one online, my Daytimer, a year-long calendar on the wall so I can look ahead and a month-at-a-time –print out on which I cross off each day as it goes by.  I started doing this last year, to count down to a program that was driving me crazy and after the program was over, I just kept doing it (I assume one of these days I will decide I really don’t need to do this anymore.)

At home I have a pretty calendar on the fridge, a handmade calendar in my bedroom that attaches to a wooden pedestal and a birthday list in my studio that “says” it’s a calendar, but it’s just a listing by month of birthdays so I think that might be stretching it. I also keep a few things on my phone calendar.

In addition to having birthdays listed on the “calendar” in my studio, I also keep birthdays in my Daytimer. This means that once a year I go through the old Daytimer pages and copy the birthdays over to new Daytimer pages.  It’s a relaxing project; this year I used magenta ink.

As I was copying over the birthdays yesterday, I came across a notation on June 27 of this year that said “Armadillos”. It was written in big letters in the after-hours section of the day.  And it had several  exclamation marks and was highlighted!   I have no idea what this was about.  Was it a southwestern-themed bar that I was supposed to go to after work with colleagues.  Was it a concert that someone on the Trail mentioned?  Was it some National Geographic special I wanted to watch?  No clue.

Any idea why I wrote “Armadillos” in my Daytimer?

Retro Bribery

The news today is that McDonald’s has decided to re-introduce some of their retro Happy Meal toys. To celebrate the 40th birthday of Happy Meals, they are bringing back some of the toys that were most popular in the past.  This means some little Beanie Babies, a Mulan figurine and even a Tamagotchi.  I remember my sister waiting in line repeatedly for the little Beanie Baby toys from McDonalds for her kids; I expect we will see more of the same with this promotion.

When YA was young, our go-to restaurant was Noodles, who didn’t do kids’ meals or toys. McDonalds still isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly place and it certainly wasn’t 24 years ago.  Same with Burger King, Wendy’s and the rest.  I do remember that Taco Bell (our other favorite) had a kid’s meal w/ a toy, but Child didn’t like the inclusions, so she never got the kids’ meal.  And if there was an occasional cheap plastic toy, it usually went in the trash when we got home.  Two big dogs and little cheap plastic toys are not a good combination.  (Side story.  When Child was little I had told all my nearest and dearest that I didn’t want Barbies in the house.  Not because I have anything intrinsically against a Barbie doll, but because they always come with lots of little bits; Child was still too little to be held responsible for picking up lots of little toy accessories and I didn’t want the dogs ingesting them.  That Solstice, middle sister sent an Arial doll.  Little coconut bra, little comb, little Sebastian and little Flounder.  When I questioned my sister, she said “but it isn’t a Barbie”.  We donated it.)

Long story short, it makes me wonder that our society thinks we can’t ask our kids to sit through a short meal without being bribed by a toy and now retro toys.   Personally I save bribery for much bigger issues!!

Have you ever had to coerce someone with toys/treats/gifts?

Mind Games

Jacque mentioned yesterday that she thought Husband’s challenge for imaginary dinner guests was the result of filling time during Great Plains travel. She wasn’t far off.  Travel out here is tedious. People at the conference I attended were somewhat surprised to hear that we drove to Minneapolis, since it was “only” 500 miles from our home.

I listen to classical music on the radio, either streamed from MPR at home or at work, or else the Symphony Hall station on our car radio. I challenge myself to identify the composer and/or the name of the piece before the announcer says them.  I pretend I am in a competition. I listen to music whenever I can, so I do the challenge quite a lot. I have  a really good auditory memory, and I recognize pieces quite quickly. (I can always tell if it is the Concordia Choir on the MPR Choral Stream just by the sound.)  It is coming up with the name of the piece and the composer that is tricky. I find that the more pieces I recognize, the harder it is to sort out exactly what the name of the piece is. My brain is getting too full.  I am pretty good at recognizing pieces by Brahms or Schumann. They have distinctive patterns of harmonies and rhythms. Mendelssohn and Schubert can sometimes confuse me.  I always know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, but sometimes  late Prokofiev sounds like Shostakovitch

As I was in a wind band in college, I can identify Vaughan Williams and Holst and Grainger very easily, but distinguishing Molly on the Shore from Handel in the Strand is sometimes hard.   I am  somewhat embarrassed to say that I  can always identify the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper and also know the name of the composer. It is so distinctive.

I know that Baboons have various areas of interest. Mine is classical music. I hope that my classical habit helps keep my mind alert and healthy.

What are you doing that keeps your mind active and healthy. How are you at identifying the names of musical pieces and their composers?

Are We Really Ready?

The headlines today say that Facebook is creating  “an immersive environment called Horizon to tempt people into spending more time in virtual reality.”  They’re calling this virtual world “Horizon”.

I just recently finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which is about a future in which a worldwide virtual reality called “Oasis” has become the reality for most people.  Despite there being some seriously bad guys in the story, Ready Player One is much more optimistic about this future virtual world than I am.

Having just written yesterday about my unhappiness with my phone game addiction, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to jump into a virtual reality world with both feet. I mean, if you spend lots more time in “Horizon” or “Oasis” or “Eden”, who does the dishes and vacuums the dog hair?  My job of physically sending people to exotic destinations would be kaput.  In Ready Player One, many people got jobs in the Oasis but it still doesn’t answer the question of who makes your frozen burritos and who maintains the building you live in.

So I think I’ll pass. At least for now.

You just got a new planet for your birthday. What would you call it?  Anything special about it?