More Street Slang Added to The Official Scrabble Dictionary

May 7, 2018 – Remember the two old ladies playing dirty word Scrabble in the 1978 movie Foul Play?

Scrabble snobs like me may have a sense of humor when it comes to comedy scenes in movies, but in reality we would never accept those words if they didn’t appear in The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Last month, Scrabble celebrated its 70th anniversary, and in its honor, The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary added 300 more words, marking the sixth edition of the game book.

Prior to this, the book was last updated in 2014, when 10 new street slang words were added, some more offensive than those words used by the old ladies. They include “thankx” (it’s not even shorter than the proper spelling, but the “k” and the “x” together can score plenty) and “bezzy”, (a term used to describe a “ho” is not particularly good-looking). Do we really need a slang term for this scenario? Not to mention, Scrabble only has one “z”, so you’d need a blank to spell the word.

The newest volume, which publishes this fall, includes 21st century slang words like “emoji,” “facepalm” and “puggle.” I’m familiar with the term emoji, but I just learned that facepalm is the act of bringing your hand up to you face to express disbelief, and puggle is a breed of dog with a beagle and a pug for parents, the latter of which seems acceptable.

Even better, the newest volume includes more of those elusive two letter words that can score big points for you at the end of the game when trying to use all of your letters. The expressions “ew” and “hm”, are now official, along with the strange slang term for pizza–“za”, which is simply disrespectful.

The latest edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary will be available in September 2018.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

March 23, 2018 — This week’s photo challenge is favorite place.

There are two peaceful places I visit often to catch my breath, and they just happen to be two places that I’ve photographed the most over the last several years.

Sunset Beach in Cape May, N.J. where folks gather each night to watch the sun set.

Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, is beautiful all year round, especially in the spring.

Is Ignorance the Key to Happiness?

March 12, 2018 – We’ve all heard the clichéd sayings that ignorance is bliss, and that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Do you believe that to be true? Are less intelligent people happier than super intelligent people? Is being uniformed the way to be happy? Is it better to be clueless?

That’s a lot of questions to throw at you at one time, but they all ask the same thing. To find an answer, let’s start with some statistics.

Results of a recent general social survey suggest that wealthier people tend to be happier than poor people. That’s hardly surprising news. If fact, the survey showed there was no one change that would make a person happier as much as moving from the bottom 5 on the income scale than to the top 5. Since most people with money are well-educated, let’s score one for the “informed” column.

However, statistics also show that people who do something as simple as switching off the evening news tend to be happier. After all, it’s difficult to listen to destruction and misery everyday and remain blissful. Maybe there is something to remaining clueless.

I could provide more examples, but we’d still be at a standoff because there are both good and bad points to being informed and remaining clueless, which leads to my next question.

What makes people happy? If you asked 50 people that question, you’d probably get several different answers. However, experts explain that happiness breaks down like this:

50% of a person’s ability to be happy comes from genetics, which means we all born with a happiness “set point”. 15% of our ability comes from our circumstances, such as health, where we live, what we do, etc. And 35% comes from the areas of our life which we can completely control, such as our attitude and how we react to situations around us.

So, we’re back to square one. It appears that we can control about half of what makes us happy, while the other half is determined for us. Genetics vs. circumstances/attitudes is just about as equal as being informed vs. remaining clueless. It seems that like most things in life, the answer is in the middle.

It’s interesting that we use the phrase “ignorance is bliss”, leaving out the second half of the quote, which is from a poem by Thomas Gray. He actually wrote, “While ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.”

We’re in the middle again.

I guess that means it’s wise to have a little balance in life.


January 22, 2018 — There are a lot of things in this world that would benefit from change.

Since they’re too numerous to mention, and many are out of my control I’ll start with something simple.

I started this blog nearly eight years ago, and have made only two layout changes during that time. Now it’s time for something different, a facelift if you will, and although it might have been more appropriate to introduce a new look with the start of the new year, today felt right.


The Kindness Gene

November 27, 2017 – When Blanche Dubois uttered her famous line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” in A Streetcar Named Desire, I bet she didn’t know that one day there would be a scientific theory to explain why. Or rather, to explain that we can spot kindness in people we don’t know, and maybe she was drawn to strangers she sensed were kind.

According to research data published in 2011, people with a certain gene trait are known to be more kind and caring than people without it. Who knew?

This isn’t earth-shattering news, but what’s interesting about the research is that they’ve proven that if we have the kindness gene, it can be easily and quickly picked up by people who don’t even know us.

The research was conducted on average people, and not folks who go through life pinching babies and kicking dogs, where it is more than obvious they’re missing the kindness gene. Researchers at Oregon State University devised an experiment in which 23 couples, whose genotypes were known to them but not to observers were studied. These observers were asked to watch them converse in groups of two, and with the sound turned off, identify which listener had the kindness gene and which did not. In most cases the observers chose correctly.

Finally, an explanation why I’m always selected for jury duty.