Does This Shirt Make Me Look Retired?

Sena got me a new shirt that says: “Does This Shirt Make Me Look Retired?” It’s the greatest. No, she’s the greatest.

So…does it? Think carefully about your answer.

More On Taming the Juggling Balls

I’ve been juggling for about 5 months now and reflecting on my progress. I think I’m doing OK for a geezer. Sena would call me a hot dog although I would still call it ugly juggling by any standard.

What’s striking, at least to me, is the little bit of science I can find on the web about juggling. I hear the term “muscle memory” when it comes to learning juggling. Actually, there’s some truth to that. There are different kinds of memory. For example, most of us know about declarative memory, which about memorizing facts, because we use it to prepare for exams. Those of us who went to medical school remember the agony of taking tests for the basic sciences.

But so-called muscle memory, or the memory for learning new skills like juggling, takes place in the brain. There was a study published in 2009 which found changes in both gray and white matter of subjects before and after learning to juggle (Scholz J, Klein MC, Behrens TE, Johansen-Berg H. Training induces changes in white-matter architecture. Nat Neurosci. 2009;12(11):1370-1371. doi:10.1038/nn.2412).

The study about correlation of the inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds with higher mortality in older patients, which I relate to the ability to do the under the leg juggling trick, was published last year (Araujo CG, de Souza e Silva CG, Laukkanen JA, et al. Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2022; 56:975-980.)

I talk a lot about juggling as though I’m a teacher. I’m not a juggling instructor by any means. You can find better juggling teachers on the web. But my approach to talking about juggling in terms of it being a hobby for me is really not different from how I talked about consultation-liaison psychiatry before and after I retired. I’m still a teacher—just evolving in retirement.

However, you can find much better resources for learning how to juggle at the following websites:

Have fun!

Slow Progress with Juggle Behind the Back Trick

About a month ago, I made a YouTube video showing my miserable performance trying to do the throw behind the back juggling trick.

I have been practicing nearly every day since. I’m still not able to do the trick and integrate it into the 3-ball cascade. On the other, I’ve gone from zero percent to “maybe I can do this” when I try the 2-ball practice trick.

My latest video on the 2-ball practice trick alone still shows me chasing after dropped balls, obviously. But I catch at least one and sometimes both more often than I did last month.

The 2-ball practice throw behind the back trick has two components. They’re parts of the full trick which incorporates the trick into juggling a 3-ball cascade. I inferred this from the little manual I got with the Learn to Juggle kit I bought back in mid-October.

In one component, I throw the ball behind my back first with my right hand (the trick ball), then quickly throw the second ball up and—drop both on the floor. No, wait, the idea is to catch them both. This was easier a month ago then it is now because I quit practicing it to do what was harder.

The harder 2-ball practice component was to throw one ball up with my left hand first, then throw the trick ball behind my back. The object is to catch both, which I was unable to do at all until the last few days. It was a coin toss whether I would catch either ball or both. Most of the time, I dropped both.

I was amazed because it seemed like I went from being completely unable to do this to being marginally competent (luckier?) practically overnight.

I have watched demo videos of jugglers who can do the behind the back throw trick and it’s pretty impressive. At first, I thought I would be able to do this without as much effort as I put into doing the throw under the leg trick. They incorporate the same general moves, which includes throwing one ball a little higher than usual in order to make time for doing the trick throw and catching the next ball.

But the stickler for me is having to look behind me for the ball coming from behind my back—which means I have to take my eyes off the balls in front. When I do the under the leg trick, I’m looking at everything happening in front of me.

For a while, it seemed easier to throw the one ball before the trick a little lower rather than higher than usual. That doesn’t make sense, when I think about the timing, and yesterday it didn’t seem to matter exactly how high I tossed it. But I’m pretty sure that throwing it higher makes the trick easier.

Also, early on I thought you had to throw the balls perfectly to get the trick right. I do anything but that, which is why I’m good at ugly juggling. It’ll be a while before I incorporate this into a 3-ball cascade.

Legacy Blogger

I just found out today that my blog’s theme was retired. I don’t know when WordPress retired it, but it gives me a familiar feeling about retirement. Sena gets the credit for giving me the idea of changing the theme (which is how my blog looks on the web) because of the new year. As I looked over the themes, I saw a tiny notice beside the name of my own. “Your blog theme has been retired. Consider getting a new one, you geezer!”

The notice didn’t really say that, of course, but that’s how I felt. I’ve been blogging since 2011. I’ve never had a theme that was retired. I realized that if I changed my theme now, I couldn’t go back to the old, familiar creaky, cob-webbed, old-fashioned theme I’ve had now with my second blog. This one has the theme (using the word in a different sense) of—retirement. In fact, come to think of it, the word “old-fashioned” was used in the WordPress article explaining why some themes get retired.

So, I started looking at the themes seriously today. Most of them had the word “minimalist” attached to them. Frequently, I read how great they were for my “business.”

Hey, I’m retired. I’m not in any kind of business. There seems to be a lack of emphasis on a theme for hobby bloggers, some of whom are retired geezers.

Anyway, I dropped my old-fashioned theme and put on a new one. While I was at it, I got rid of a lot of old widgets. WordPress calls them “Legacy Widgets.” I couldn’t find a clear explanation for why they call them that. I did find a definition on the web. Essentially, in this context, I think it denotes software that has been superseded but is difficult to replace because of its wide use. What’s wrong with sliders? I don’t mean little sandwiches. I mean the featured images with post titles that slide across the theme page, showing off my best posts—or at least what I think my best posts were. Really, no themes with sliders? That’s what minimalism leads to, I guess.

I’m a legacy consulting psychiatrist, meaning I’m retired—something else to feel ambivalent about. Anyway, I kind of like the new theme.

29 Cribbage Board Antics

After a lot of encouragement from Sena, we got the 29-cribbage board. It’s a novelty board shaped like the very rare perfect 29 cribbage hand. You’re more likely to spot aliens in your back yard than to get a 29 hand—the odds are 1 in 216,580. See our 29 cribbage board antics in our YouTube video.

This is a follow up cribbage post, the most recent one being “Kitchen Table Cribbage” featuring our other new board, which was a v-tournament model.

We have a lot of fun playing cribbage and making the videos are a challenge, given that we’re still learning how to play. If we wait for the perfect video (meaning one without mistakes), it would be similar to waiting for the perfect 29 hand to show up.

On the cribbagecorner web site, there are interesting facts about the 29 hand probabilities. According to them, given the assumption that there’s a cribbage tournament somewhere in the United States almost daily, you should expect to see one 29 hand a year during tournament play.

One the other hand, there are many cribbage games, including kitchen table versions, occurring daily between commoners like us. Who knows how many 29 hands show up in all those unofficial competitions?

We’re not shy about comments from cribbage players helping us develop our skills. I suppose another way to do that would be to join a cribbage club. The American Cribbage Congress (ACC) sponsors the ACC Grass Roots organizations which has about 200 such clubs across North America.

Players in the ACC Grass Roots clubs compete to earn points for awards including being crowned champion and for getting 29 hand. There is one ACC Grass Roots club in Iowa and it’s in Ankeny. It’s called the Capital City 9-game club (given that most club members get together to play 9 games about once a week or so).

Just for the record, the capital city of Iowa is Des Moines. Ankeny is about 13 miles north of there. If we were to join the Capital City club, that would mean about a 2-hour drive from Iowa City. Since the season runs from September to May, we’d be driving in winter weather conditions sometimes.

If you earn enough lifetime milestone points in the ACC Grass Roots club, you can earn a trip to big tournaments such as the annual ACC Tournament of Champions, usually held in Reno, Nevada. However, the ACC announcement says the 2020 Grand National tournament XXXIX will be in Sacramento from September 22-27, 2020. The first-place trophy is a gold pan. The last time anybody from Iowa won it was in 1990. He was from Des Moines.

The obvious question is why isn’t there an ACC Grass Roots club in Iowa City? I don’t know if there is enough interest, frankly. I did see a small 29 cribbage board at a local hobby shop here. It fit in the palm of my hand. The one we just got works out better for us.

I just found out that National Cribbage Day is celebrated annually on February 10, which is just around the corner! February 10 happens to be the birthday of Sir John Suckling, the creator of cribbage in the early 17th century. He was also a poet. According to the Poetry Foundation web page for him, his poetry showed him to be a cynical party animal, womanizer, and gambler. He invented cribbage from an earlier game called Noddy and it was gambling game. I gather it’s still the only game that can be play in an English pub for money. Cribbage came to American with the first English settlers.

Can you tell we really like playing cribbage? Please, no wagering.

Robin Saga: Start to Finish

Robin saga ended too soon

We’re just a bit on the sad side today. The robin chicks are gone. It’s another empty nest and sort of the story of our yard over the last month or so, what with the loss of the house finch and cardinal chicks before this.

It’s a hard life for every creature. On the other hand, death in our own yard is always counterbalanced by the triumph of life elsewhere on earth.

That doesn’t make it any easier. I’m reminded though of a quote attributed to Sydney Harris:

“When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’”

Sydney J. Harris

I’m pretty sure he never, ever actually asked that question.

Hatch You Baby Robins!

Yesterday, we noticed 4 eggs in the Robins’ nest. They take about 14 days to incubate and it just so happens time’s up today.

Right on cue the eggs started cracking this morning. It takes all day and it was well after 3:00 PM before there was the tiniest pinhole in the third egg. Two chicks were squirming around when I finally called it a day around 4:30 PM.

This will have to be continued…. Hope it’s not raining tomorrow.

Baby robins hatching!

Life in the Garden

We were out working hard in the garden today–or at least Sena was. She was very busy planting Black-Eyed Susan and other things the names of which I can never remember.

I usually just take pictures and make videos of her garden. It’s a lot of fun watching her. But that’s not all I do. Sometimes I carry bags of mulch.

She has been devoted to gardening for over 17 years. It began with cultivating our back yard. I labored cutting out weeds by the dozens–until I found out it was Vinca. I think another name for it is creeping myrtle.

She gave me permission to film her usual planting posture. You’re welcome.

Out in the garden

Our Garden So Far

Short post again today in view of the Memorial Day holiday. However, the mood is light here today as Sena adds Gomphrena to our garden. It’s an annual that will attract hummingbirds, like the feeders.

It rained this morning and she got caught in it. She just stayed out there, planting flowers. I stayed dry, trying again to catch videos of hummingbirds through the window.

Hummingbird hanging out
More hummingbirds…they drink and they fly.

Hummingbird Adventure

It was a long day so this is a short post. It’s different from other long days in that my wife and I had fun besides doing all the yard work.

Sena got the hummingbird feeders (3) and I mixed the sugar water since I need all the practice I can get regarding cooking. It’s 4 parts water to 1 part sugar.

We’ve got Columbine flowers in our garden and that helps attract hummingbirds.

I’m pooped. That’s all I got.

Hummingbirds think my sugar water recipe is bangin’, dog!
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