Monthly Archives: April 2015

Duckpin Bowling

I’d be more surprised if you’ve ever heard of this sport! What most people know as bowling is tenpins–the large ball with 3 holes and tall pins that seem to like to fall down all at once for a strike. You get to throw 2 balls per frame there. Duckpins is similar, but the balls and pins are much smaller and we get to throw 3 balls per frame because this game is harder. While averages in tenpins can run in the 200s, a high average in duckpins is in the 120s.  

I’ve been bowling duckpins since I was 4 years old. A couple of my aunts were looking for something for my older cousins to do and  as soon as I was old enough (acutally, a few months too young, but they let me slide) I was dragged along, too. My cousins all quit a few years later, but my dad kept me and my brother in the youth league. My vividest memories from childhood were made at the bowling alley.

When I started bowling, there were 5 duckpin alleys with youth leagues that participated in the NDYA (National Duckpin Youth Association) in Virginia: Kegler’s Lanes in Charlottesville, Plaza Bowl in Richmond, Victory Lanes in Portsmouth, and Fairlanes and Bowlarama in Norfolk (I started at Bowlarama). Fairlanes closed a couple years after I started (well, it became AMF Norfolk). Then Kegler’s (also now an AMF). Plaza pretty much fell apart before finally closing their doors a couple years ago. Bowlarama got bought by a family who were hoping to make money by turning half the lanes into tenpins. It didn’t work and their doors closed for good in 2008. Walmart desperately wanted the land, but there’s a ministorage there now.

I was actually very glad when they finally tore the building down because it sat empty for a few years and it was just sad looking. My one regret is not stealing my favorite pair of house shoes. Anyway.

So. That leaves Victory Lanes in Portsmouth as the last duckpin alley in Virginia with a sanctioned youth league. Technically there’s 2 sanctioned youth leagues there: Victory’s and Bowlarama’s (the commute isn’t that much greater). This way the kids can still participate in NDYA  tournaments. There are 6 other houses (the technical name for a bowling alley) in the state which have up to 10 lanes of duckpins, usually next to tenpin ones. There are a couple of professional tours traveling the state and the country helping smaller alleys stay afloat.

This weekend starts the 85th Annual National Duckpin Bowling Congress Tournament. It’s being held at Victory and the tournament director, who is like the godfather of duckpin bowling in VA, made a point to say that this will probably be the last time the tournament will come to Virginia. No one is surprised by this assessment. Duckpin alleys tend to be a bit on the run-down side, especially the further south you travel. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maryland are where it’s surviving best, though they’re not really thriving.

The biggest problem with getting people to bowl duckpins is that the game is HARD. You can walk into any tenpin alley during league night and probably see someone throw a 300. In a duckpin alley, you can watch bowlers with 135 averages throw a flat 94. Strikes are pretty, but hard to come by. It doesn’t help that the lanes tend to be as old as the house with nooks and crannies and rotten boards that send your ball careening into the gutter when you hit them wrong. You know it’s started raining because a person with a 110 average who just threw a 130 game follows it with a 90. Recently, I watched a new bowler do the opposite when it started to rain–he wondered why he was doing so well and I said it was raining; he looked outside and was flabbergasted.

Tenpins, Duckpins, and Candlestick

People today just don’t like hard games. Heck! Victory doesn’t have electronic scorekeeping nor automatic pin setters, so in order to keep your score accurately, you have to be able to add while remembering to step on the pedal to sweep the lane and push the button to reset it as necessary. Throw in the fact that sometimes the equipment malfunctions, so you have to wiggle just right to get the buttons to work. 

One thing about duckpin bowlers that few will understand–once you’ve bowled for 5 years or so, you’ll say at least one time a league-night “I hate this game” (I personally threaten to retire often after my 20 years experience). Nothing sucks more than filling a mark with a 2 (because it is very possible to chop straight through the pins).

Haha! Okay–I have a great story for you. There’s this game, “Scotch Doubles” where a team of 2 bowls one ball each: A, B, A, B, A, B, etc for the whole game. Since duckpins gets 3 balls per frame, the teammates switch who starts off each frame. Anyway, I was bowling Scotch Doubles one time and I chopped 2. My teammate bowled next and threw his ball through that hole. Then I bowled and my ball went through the hole again. Dozens of years of experience between the two of us and we did that. But, that’s duckpins for you!

And that’s the slight insanity that makes duckpin bowlers stick with it. Because there are some nights when nothing goes right. And then there are those magical games when it doesn’t matter where you lay down the ball, something gorgeous is going to happen. One of the guys on our league threw a 195 last night. He has like a 125 average. There’s another guy who I’ve always been intimidated by because he’s big and quiet and always seemed to show no emotion (he’s the dad of one of my youth league teammates). Since bowling with him on an adult league, I’ve learned he does have a nice sense of humor, but it was when he bowled a 200+ game that I heard him actually shout when he made a mark. Most bowlers will give a little “woo hoo” or stamp their foot depending, but not him. 

Anyway, let me end this little PSA with a request that ya’ll try to spread the word about duckpins. And if you can get to where there’s an alley still in existence, I hope you decide to try it out. It’s wishful thinking that some billionaire will decide to open alleys across the country an revamp the sport, but who knows. 6 degrees of separation states that if enough people spread the word, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates will hear about it.

Just remember, “Duckpin bowlers have 3 balls”.

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

“>A deeply engaging new history of how European settlements in the post-Colombian Americas shaped the world, from the bestselling author of 1491. Presenting the latest research by biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the post-Columbian network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In this history, Mann uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars. In 1493, Mann has again given readers an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.

This book is awesome! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes social history. There’s plenty of anecdotes from the lives of individuals while overarching themes show that globalization is 500+ years in the making.

Old Ship Map Poster
Old Ship Map Poster by PrettyPosters
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Antique World Map Custom Pillow
Antique World Map Custom Pillow by photosoup
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Gifts for the friend who enjoyed “Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang”

This is so not the movie! Well, it is all about adventures with the magical car. :-). It’s a cute story though and quite Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame). A great beginners adventure novel.

I set myself a personal goal to read all the books that turned into movies that I’ve watched. It’s actually been really fun to see what changes were made to the original story. My boyfriend and I were cleaning out the dining room yesterday and he found a box of his books. Guess I’m adding Independence Day to my list, haha.

Postcard with Vintage Sport Cars Racing
Postcard with Vintage Sport Cars Racing by cardland
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Blue Vintage Race Car Magnets
Blue Vintage Race Car Magnets by art1st
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A drive in the country in Southeastern Virginia

My boyfriend loves to drive. No seriously, he LOVES to drive. Many moons ago (he’s old), he was a long-haul truck driver who went from Virginia to California and back to Virginia once a week. He’s calculated that he’s probably driven 5 million miles. Course, that was before a massive heart attack killed him 14 times when he was 39 years old leaving him with a defibrillator implanted and unable to pass a DOT physical.

Anyway, when he gets stressed, nothing relaxes him more than a drive. I don’t mind one bit–I was born to be in the passenger seat! Last weekend it was hot here and since the AC went out, we went for a 4 hour drive. We live in Southeastern Virginia (also known as Hampton Roads) and in case you didn’t know this, we are like the epicenter of early American historic areas. You can’t throw a stone without hitting something pertaining to early American history (disclaimer: I’m just talking English history post-Jamestown (which we have)–for Native American history, the South- & Midwest have us beat).

So yeah–want the first permanent English Settlement in North America? Historic Jamestown or the Jamestown Settlement. Here’s the insider’s tip: Historic Jamestown is where the settlers first landed and luckily the fort isn’t under the river!! It was only recently that archaeologists discovered that all three corners are indeed still on dry land; before that, they thought one or possibly two were underwater. The Jamestown Settlement is a full reenactment of what the site probably looked like during it’s heyday. It’s where you can see replicas of the 3 ships. Here’s the thing. The Jamestown Settlement is a private business with some state funding while Historic Jamestown is a National Park. There’s a price difference. They are neighbors though, so make sure you enter the correct parking lot.

We took the Jamestown-Scottland Ferry. It’s free and you can see both the Jamestowns (including whats visible of the original fort)! You can also see the recreated boats whose berths are kind of next to the dock (there’s a few trees in the way). The funniest part was having the GPS on the elevation setting and it saying we were 80 miles below sea level while on the ferry.

By the way, the “first” real attempt to settle, down in Roanoke, NC–just a few hours away from here.

Heh–I just learned something! While getting the link to the Jamestown Settlement, I noticed that they have a Yorktown Victory Center. Guess what–this is also not the museum you are necessarily looking for and there’s probably another big price difference. I don’t think I’ve ever been to this one, but I have been to the Yorktown Battlefield and it’s Visitor Center. You can walk this Battlefield for free or spend a few bucks to see the small museum. You can also walk a lovely path to the town of Yorktown or take a free trolley that links the two. Yorktown wasn’t really part of our driving tour, though we did drive through the “Historic Triangle”, so I’ll throw Williamsburg out here as well.

Anywho, back to the driving. He drove northwest where we saw plenty of farm land and what I teasingly call “congested areas”. I kid you not that while driving with my grandma to visit my aunt in Kentucky every time there were 10 buildings close to the road in what might be considered civilization (like, there’s a place to buy groceries and maybe a church), there’d be a sign warning about congested areas. We might see one car in each of these. Here in VA there aren’t any congested area signs like there, but the feeling stuck. I’m looking at Google Maps right now and I guess our route was roughly 258 to 460 to I-295 to 5 to 31 (where the ferry is) to home.

Route 5 is one that I can’t wait to take again. If your a Civil War buff, there are like 5 different plantations all connected by a gorgeous bike path (The Virginia Capital Trail) that starts at Jamestown and will eventually connect to the capital in Richmond (52 miles!). There’s a countdown clock on the website that indicate’s it’ll be done in 4 months (this post being written in late April 2015). Another name for part of Route 5 is the John Tyler Memorial Highway (for the 10th president) and one of the plantations on this road was his Sherwood Forest Plantation. I need to go here! I’ve been to Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, and the house in Staunton that claims Woodrow Wilson even though he only lived there from age 0 to 1. Still have 4 presidential houses to visit to complete Virginia’s eight. I know I can get my boyfriend to drive us, but we’ll see if he actually wants to tour. He doesn’t like big crowds, which was the downfall of Mount Vernon (I’ll make another post on these later).

Anyway, on this week’s blogging agenda is 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, which has a fascinating take on slavery in the New World (among other things) and reasons why it thrived where it did and not so much where it didn’t. My dad had been taking a course via Coursera on slavery, but since he takes the classes for fun, he thought that required reading too much. I was reading this book at the same time and it ended up being exactly what he needed to better understand his course material.

Love Overdue Giveaway

Meet Dorothy Jarrow: devotedly unsexy librarian 

Buttoned-up book lover DJ is all sensible shoes, drab skirts and studious glasses. After an ill-advised spring-break-fueled fling left her mortified, she’s committed to her prim and proper look. When she’s hired by a rural library in middle-of-nowhere Kansas, she finally has the lifestyle to match—and she can’t wait to get her admin on.

But it’s clear from day one that the small-town library is more interested in circulating rumors than books. DJ has to organize her unloved library, win over oddball employees and avoid her flamboyant landlady’s attempts to set her up with the town pharmacist. Especially that last part—because it turns out handsome Scott Sanderson is her old vacation fling! She is not sure whether to be relieved or offended when he doesn’t seem to recognize her. But with every meeting, DJ finds herself secretly wondering what it would be like to take off her glasses, unpin her bun and reveal the inner vixen she’s been hiding from everyone—including herself.

Liked the plot. LOVED the digs at “We’ve always done it this way, why change?” Hated the repetitiveness of half the chapters. Morsi’s characters aren’t deep enough to have secret motives for their actions–I don’t need the scene to be rehashed to explain why D.J. is snubbing Scott–I’m perfectly capable of figuring it out, thanks. At least she stopped doing this about halfway through the book (or it didn’t seem as evident). According to the first few reviews on Goodreads, I must be one of the few people who didn’t need an extra 30 pages.

Still, I have a copy of this book, so if you want to read it for free be the first person to send an email to with your name and address.

No Such Thing As Too Many Books Magnet
No Such Thing As Too Many Books Magnet by time2see
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Save Libraries 1 Buttons
Save Libraries 1 Buttons by Philbradley
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The Hunger Games

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

I got this book from the library because it was the “IT” thing to do (the book was highly popular at the time with the first movie about to be released). I didn’t know anything about it. I have to say that the first 2 chapters were painful for me to read. I just could not figure out the flow because it’s written in a way that I’m not used to (I guess one would call it first person very limited). Once my brain did click into gear, I was instantly hooked (I ordered books 2 and 3 that very moment). I saw the movie as soon as it was available from the library and enjoyed it well enough. Unfortunately for the movie, it actually portrayed the book precisely. I guess movie makers can’t win with me, haha. Actually there are some movies that are perfect complements to the book without being a complete rehash. The Help would be one. But I’m digressing. The one complaint I remember hearing about the movie was that Katniss was emotionless. I found this hilarious because that’s exactly how she is in the book–this emotionlessness was what was confusing me when I first started reading the book.

Mockingjay Pin from

Save the Beetle! (okay, maybe not this beetle)

I got called weird at work the other day. This isn’t a new thing. I am kind of weird.

Anyway, I was on the paper cutter (I work at a print shop) when I turned for whatever reason I noticed a big shiny beetle crawling across the floor. Yeah, I could have stepped on it, but I have a thing against killing organisms that are bigger than so big (kind of because of the very icky squish they make and kind of because of the Bugg Books (which apparently are a little known series!) and the Splintered series).

I like bugs! I think up close images of even the common housefly are gorgeous. In one of my college courses I volunteered to take the lower organisms section of our food web project (which actually was everything lower than the bugs we can really see, such as the fungi that grow on plant roots so that they can actually process nutrients–love ’em!).

‘Course, I like my bugs to stay where they belong: outside! I’m actually really squeamish about touching them. So when I saw the beetle on the floor, I grabbed a piece of chipboard and proceeded to scoot him towards the door. He was a quick little guy, running over the chipboard, which made me drop him every time he actually got onto it. Flinging him a few feet across the floor ended up being a much more productive method of removal, haha. Which is what prompted the weird comment. I did finally get him outside in more or less one piece.

Japanese Beetle

This looks a lot like the bug I was “playing” with. And I guess maybe I should have killed him because the site I got this picture from says he’s invasive. So I’m hoping either I’ve mis-identified him or that one of those drops seriously harmed his reproductive capabilities.

I wasn’t intending to post any links (other than the one to my Splintered post), but it seems like folks just haven’t heard of the Bugg Books (by Stephen Cosgrove)! That’s really sad because I loved them soo much as a kid (I’d read one or two or ten right now, but they’re at my parent’s house with the rest of the children’s books I want to keep for my own). They’re books with a focus on a moral, but it’s not down your throat like some. My dad actually didn’t like these books because he thought they were too juvenile for me, which was true to some extent. But I loved to look at the pictures and imagine living in that world. Anyway, the set that I have are “topsy-turvey” books, so you get two stories for the price of one!


On Blog Reading.

So, I’ve been looking for blogs to read and can I say that some folks take the monetization aspect incredibly too seriously? I mean, I’m not going to lie–I’d love to make a few bucks when someone buys something that I’ve linked to, but that’s the extent of how much of your time and energy I’m going to take.

I bought a cheap computer because I was broke when I needed one. This means that my processor doesn’t play well with big, bulky websites. The last thing I need is a semi-popup that wants me to put in my email address to follow more (often I have to wait for all the website to load underneath before I can scroll down to locate the “close” button so I can actually view the website). I am not a very patient person online. If I want to follow or get emails, I’ll look at the top right or left of the page (depending on the template) for that button. If I’m desperate, I’ll hit the END key and look for a “contact us” in the footer. If I can’t find it in 5 seconds, I ain’t sticking around.

The second part is the cluttered website (which usually goes along with that semi-popup). I heard on NPR this week that Google is cracking down on cluttered websites. Because most people are switching to smart phones and tablets to surf the web, Google is going to start downgrading the search score (or however you’d describe it) of websites that don’t play well with smaller screens–these websites will be placed lower on the search results page than websites which do translate better.

I found one blog today I was really interested in following because the content looked very good. Until I started scrolling through posts and realized that most looked like product reviews, which I don’t care about. Notice: I don’t review anything but the books here, and unless I particularly passionate about some random aspect of the book, I keep my reviews pretty short (the blurbs off the back of the book notwithstanding). As for the gift ideas, if the picture isn’t enough to grab you, feel free to move along.

I hate feeling pressured to shop. I was about to curse out a representative from our cable company yesterday because this was the 3rd call in 3 months asking if I wanted to add phone and cable–I do not and I’d asked 1 and 2 to take me off their call list. I feel bad being harsh to the lady yesterday, but the guys before her should have done their job! Especially because I was really nice to guy number one and almost nice to guy number two. Poor 3rd person in line, haha.

So anyway, to end my rant, I don’t care how much someone offers to pay me to put their ads on my site, I ain’t doing it because I don’t want to read that clutter. Oh sure, I’ll put a little ad-bar on the side if Word Press wants to pay me to do so, but nothing that will take attention away from my posts. Because honestly, if I had the money, I’d probably buy a lot of the things I link to.

Gifts for lovers of “Airman”

“>In the 1890s Conor and his family live on the sovereign Saltee Islands, off the Irish coast. Conor spends his days studying the science of flight with his tutor and exploring the castle with the king’s daughter, Princess Isabella. But the boy’s idyllic life changes forever the day he discovers a deadly conspiracy against the king. When Conor tries to intervene, he is branded a traitor and thrown into jail on the prison island of Little Saltee. There, he has to fight for his life, as he and the other prisoners are forced to mine for diamonds in inhumane conditions.

There is only one way to escape Little Saltee, and that is to fly. So Conor passes the solitary months by scratching drawings of flying machines on the prison walls. The months turn into years; but eventually the day comes when Conor must find the courage to trust his revolutionary designs and take to the air.

This was my intro to Steampunk and I have to say that it was an excellent introduction. I’d already loved Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series and this new(er) novel did not disappoint.

Steampunk Iphone Case from

The Rescuers

MISS BIANCA IS A WHITE MOUSE OF GREAT BEAUTY and supreme self-confidence, who, courtesy of her excellent young friend, the ambassador’s son, resides luxuriously in a porcelain pagoda painted with violets, primroses, and lilies of the valley. Miss Bianca would seem to be a pampered creature, and not, you would suppose, the mouse to dispatch on an especially challenging and extraordinarily perilous mission. However, it is precisely Miss Bianca that the Prisoners’ Aid Society picks for the job of rescuing a Norwegian poet imprisoned in the legendarily dreadful Black Castle (we all know, don’t we, that mice are the friends of prisoners, tending to their needs in dungeons and oubliettes everywhere). Miss Bianca, after all, is a poet too, and in any case she is due to travel any day now by diplomatic pouch to Norway. There Miss Bianca will be able to enlist one Nils, known to be the bravest mouse in the land, in a desperate and daring endeavor that will take them, along with their trusty companion Bernard, across turbulent seas and over the paws and under the maws of cats into one of the darkest places known to man or mouse. It will take everything they’ve got and a good deal more to escape
with their own lives, not to mention the poet.

Margery Sharp’s classic tale of pluck, luck, and derring-do is amply and beautifully illustrated by the great Garth Williams.

This is not the movie. Still it’s a very cute story so long as you don’t stop to wonder too much about the back story of the prisoner.