Go Cribbage, Psychiatrist!

Sena and I started playing cribbage again yesterday after Thanksgiving dinner, for the first time in over 20 years. It was a great way to pass a little time; we hope you had as much fun in your own way.

 We’re rediscovering how fun it is to play cards. We’ve been brushing up on the many rules of cribbage. It was just a practice game—BUT I WON, YEAAHHH!

OK, technically the game was null and void because I screwed up on one of the several dozen conventions such as how to cut for the starter card. Actually, I forgot it completely during one hand.

Because scoring is pretty complicated and easy to screw up, I downloaded a simple and free smartphone app to check our addition, at least until we get more practice. We’re using it to help us check our math, just until we’re more confident.

In general, there two phases to the game, sometimes called the “play” and the “show.” In the play you try to earn points by making plays of scoring cards, such as 15s, pairs, runs, and so on. You keep a running tally of the cards by counting each card as it’s played. But you can’t go over 31. In the show, you score cards and the crib (a special hand that only the dealer scores) to which the two players each contribute two cards. Games usually go to 121 and you keep score on a cribbage board on which you “peg” your points as you make them. See the ACC for the full rules (see below).

And, it just so happens that today is the 29th of the month—which reminds us of the very rare but possible 29 score in cribbage (see below). We’ve not played in so long that we’re really green beginners, as you can tell in the video. Making the video was just as much fun as playing the game.

I’m sure anybody who is experienced will cringe as they watch us play. Probably even dead cribbage experts will turn in their graves. We think it’s a hoot. We made mistakes and Sena even got the giggles.

The biggest organization in the world for cribbage is the American Cribbage Congress (ACC), which was established in 1980. They have an annual Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nevada. You can find out anything you want to know about cribbage on their website.

There are many branch cribbage clubs located across North America, called ACC Grass Roots clubs. There’s even one in Ankeny, Iowa, called Club #17, Capital City. You play 9 games in an evening, rotating from table to table so you can play someone different each time. I notice that the club in Ankeny tells you not to worry if you have trouble moving through the rotation scheme, because they allow for stationary seats. There are awards given, such as for getting the extremely rare 29-point hand, which some say is as rare as a golfer getting a hole-in-one.

And I notice that photos of players on the ACC websites show mostly people my age—not implying anything at all. They say games usually take only 15 to 20 minutes. Sena and I took much longer than that today. I guess you could say that, as mentioned on the Capital City website, we play what they call “kitchen table cribbage.”

Go cribbage!

Back in the Saddle Again

This is just a short update on how phased retirement is going. I’m back in the saddle. Last Friday I went back on duty on the Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry service. I’m at 50% time. My step counter today shows about 2 miles and 17 floors—a slow day. That’s fine with me.

Colleagues pass me in the hall and say, “I thought you were retired.” They don’t look happy when I tell them I’ll be fully retired in June next year.

But I’m a little happier. It’s taking a long time to get used to not being a fireman, which is what it means around here to be a C-L psychiatrist.

How’s the cooking going? Miserable but getting better, in a way. I can deal with things like “Just Crack an Egg,” which my wife, Sena got for me, as a sort of sympathy gift, I guess. I can handle it. And I made an omelet the other day, my first ever. The kitchen was not filled with smoke and it was edible.

How’s the exercise routine going? I’m still at it, 20 minutes every day, along with my mindfulness practice.

As I was giving my usual orientation remarks to the new trainees coming on the service this morning, I caught myself saying “I do it for the juice” when telling them why I do this schtick. I’ve said that to a lot of residents and medical students over the years.

I guess I should rethink that remark and the mindset that makes me say it so often. Pretty soon, I won’t be chasing all over the hospital anymore— “for the juice.”

I’ve been trying hard to find something else for the juice. Sena and I’ve rediscovered card games we haven’t played in over 20 years: Pinochle and Gin Rummy. I lost track of time playing Gin yesterday, I had so much fun. We just celebrated our 42nd anniversary. It was magical.

I’m probably going to be OK.

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