March 27, 2013

March 27, 2013

Jew Taboo, You Can Too

Recently found myself COMPLETELY ENGROSSED in a game of Taboo, Jewish Edition.

This certainly raises a few questions, I know. Why was I willingly participating in a social activity? Why the Jewish Edition? Did I completely kick ass with my incomparable verbal skills? And so on.

(BLIF*, all those college Bible classes made up for my Gentile status. I killed.)

Friend-of-blog Lianne held a little gathering in which she promised to a) feed me and b) provide entertainment in the form of board games. What I didn't realize is that Lianne had been gifted Taboo, Jewish Edition. That's right: It's a thing. (Henceforth referred to as "Jew Taboo" because it rhymes.)

For those of you not familiar with Taboo, why are we friends again? you have to get your teammates to say a word or phrase without being allowed to say five words or phrases closely associated with that word. For example, you might be trying to get your teammates to say "bed" but you can't say "mattress" or "sleep" or "king size." You get the idea.

So Jew Taboo focuses on terms from Judaism, the Old Testament, famous Jews, etc. And while the "hard" cards were impossible for even me to parse (as they were mostly in Yiddish), the "easy" cards turned out to be doable. We even turned it into an opportunity to learn a bit more about the Jewish culture. Also, to make relentless fun of the Jews. As we do.

At one point, Lianne told me that I'd love Judaism because it's a li'l OCD. I must admit I've thought about it. Then I remember that I love shrimp. But still, I try to keep an open mind. It's like how my college offered a class about "Comparative Religions" that I wanted to take, until my roommate reminded me that the point of the class was more "Here's how these religions are WRONG" and less "Here's what these religions are about." BUT MATCH.COM SAYS IT'S OKAY TO LOOK, I wanted to respond. Sigh.

Anyway, huge-fan-of-board-games that I am, I found Jew Taboo only slightly-less fun than regular Taboo. But also slightly-more educational. And way more glottal. Yay Yiddish!

* Bottom line up front, for those of you not employed by the Department of Defense.

March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013

We're All Mad Here, 2013 Edition

It’s March, and that means one thing.

No, not the arrival of the first wave of Spring Break-ing tourists.

No, not St. Patrick’s Day.

No, not the start of spring.

No, not Easter.

It’s March, and one of the many things that means? March Madness.

Though serious people fill out multiple brackets, join pools, and wager money on the outcomes of the games, I simply fill out a bracket and forget about it. It’s the Ron Popeil theory of game play: set it and forget it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I pick winners based on geographical proximity to places I’ve lived, interesting mascots, and so on. Things like winning records, team skills, and coaching expertise are less important to me than the fact that Gonzaga is pretty freaking fun to say.

My bracket runs thus:

I have Duke winning because friend-of-blog A works there and I’ve visited the campus. It’s like how you always vote for your Dad when he runs for President.

Go Blue Devils!

March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

The Opposite of Fresh Brewed

Try as I might, I may never understand the culture of the South. I grew up learning that the Civil War was about slavery, shoes were required when outside the house, and any group of mixed gender can be addressed as “you guys.” It’s not necessarily better or worse, just different.


However, now that I have strong connections to Virginia and Texas both, it’s important to get in the mindset of the genteel. States’ rights. Running errands while barefoot. Y’all. Look, the day a Wisconsin native successfully works “y’all” into conversation is pretty much a banner day. I’ve almost done it twice.

But then I learned about sun tea and it all went bollocks up.

Now, I figure some of you are thinking, “Sun what now?” and the rest are thinking, “What does she mean, LEARNED about sun tea?” Enlighten us all, O Benevolent Wikipedia:

Unsweetened iced tea is sometimes made by a particularly long steeping of tea leaves at lower temperature (one hour in the sun versus 5 minutes at 80-100° C). Some people call this "sun tea".

Now, I figure some of you are thinking, “That’s pretty much how my mom always made it” and the rest are thinking, “YOU LEAVE SOMETHING OUT IN THE SUN FOR AN HOUR AND THEN DRINK IT?!”

Guess which side I’m on?

It’s not so much the fermentation that weirds me out. Plenty of potent potables are left to, well, basically rot for days. Months. Years. It’s totally cool. Literally. It’s literally cool, because THAT’S HOW DRINKS SHOULD BE AGED. IN COOLNESS. LITERAL COOLNESS.


I’m told that sun tea is quite good. I’ll take your word for it because ew. This from a woman who’s on the (very) flexible side of the ten-second rule. Who drinks enough Diet Coke to fuel a small nuclear weapon. Who’s on the side of this guy.

Sun tea, though, is just a bridge too far. You’re on notice, Dixie. More magnolias and verandahs, less of this kind of stuff, okay?

March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013

Riding the Rails

So I’m getting ready to take my first-ever Amtrak ride, and my obsessive preparation leads me to believe it’s going to be either the best or worst travel experience I will ever have.

The internet’s grand, innit?

Seriously, though, the recent BBC documentary “The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track” has inspired me to, well, ride the rails once again. I did it in Asia, I did it in Britain, and now I’m doing it in America.* Korea’s KTX high-speed train set a high standard, especially since my mom’s work with Federal-Agency-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named meant we got to ride first class.

Eff. Yeah.

My jaunt from London to Windsor was also enjoyable, if less Asian.

Now it’s America’s turn. While I’m hoping for the best (because MURICUH), let’s be real. There are any number of ways this could go bad:

Accidentally entering the wrong car.
Purposely entering the wrong car.
Making a ruckus in the dining car.
Making too much noise in the quiet car.
Obstructions on the tracks.
Denzel Washington flying a plane into the train.

And that’s just off the top of my head. (No pun intended. ) But I’m still excited. I think I must have had a railroad connection in a past life. Maybe I rode the Orphan Train. Maybe I helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Maybe I was a hobo.

Is it odd to get so excited about transport I won’t be driving, piloting, or steering?

* Also Genghis Khan’s motto.

March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

Stamps of Approval

Every so often, I have a good encounter with a public servant. Not often, mind you. Believe me, the inept employees far outnumber the, um, ept ones at places like the DMV and post office. But once in a while, you find one so competent that it frankly amazes you.

And since I’d certainly write in excruciating detail about a bad post office experience, allow me to recount a good one.

It was the Saturday before Inauguration. Not the ideal time to make a post office run. For one thing, it was a Saturday. For another, it was the very beginning of tax season. For a third, it was the one weekend when the entire DC area is overrun by people wandering in search of “the Smithsonian.” Meanwhile, I needed to mail a package and get stamps, tra la la!

Side note: I’m always amused by the sheer variety of services people need at the post office.* You have the guy who needs one stamp. ONE SINGLE FREAKING STAMP. The couple mailing 200 wedding invitations. The person with at least one small child who insists on running around the waiting area. The person filling out a change of address form even though the entire process can be done online. Delightful people, all.

So anyway, I arrived a little before noon (they were open until 2) and got in a line of about a dozen people. I watched single-stamp buyer, engaged couple, and parent-of-excited-child for a bit. Then it was my turn to be helped. I got the middle aged Indian**gentleman at window 2. I explained that I needed to mail a package and get some stamps. (I find that stating my entire purpose up front usually helps in situations like this. “What do you mean you also need stamps? You didn’t tell me that! Get back in line!”)

The package was one of those flat rate boxes, so it was wham-bam-thank you ma’am. The clerk asked whether I had anything liquid, fragile, or perishable. For once, I did: a coffee mug and a glass. After I told him that, the clerk dutifully stamped “fragile” all over that box. It was great. Except for the fact that the stamp was barely legible, but DETAILS SCHMETAILS.

So then. The stamps. To be honest, I had very little hope here. I usually get my stamps from the post office in the headquarters of Cabinet-Department-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named*** and the selection is lackluster. That is, when it exists at all. For much of holiday season 2011, it was out of forever stamps ENTIRELY. Yep. THE POST OFFICE WAS OUT OF STAMPS. Suffice to say I have seriously considered ordering my stamps online and paying extra for shipping to ensure I actually get postage.

Imagine my utter shock, then, when the clerk brought me a binder of women forever stamps and told me to choose which ones I wanted. An entire binder, you guys. At least a dozen kinds of stamps. I wasn’t ready for this. I was hoping for two books of the boring bell stamp or whatever. But they had the cherry blossom stamps and I was all “Give me every book you have, good sir!” (Actually, I just bought two books of stamps.)

Fabulous. If only a tenth of my encounters with government went as well.

* The DMV still wins for people watching, because DANG.
** From India Indian, not Native American Indian. Not that that’s important to the story. I just want you to have the correct mental image as you replay this story in your head.
*** Oooooooooooo, right?