4th Annual Carlota Acosta Parcheesi Tournament

Parcheesi Board
Seems this Parcheesi tournament thing has really become quite the event in our family. We now play more often throughout the year in an effort to get some practice in (or decode our opponents’ strategies), and if we’re not playing, the conversation will still often stray to various related topics. Those topics will usually revolve around general gameplay, ways to improve upon and expand the tournament party, who we should invite for the next year, and reminiscing about past “I-came-THIS-close!” games. One of the themes of these Parcheesi conversations has always been the names of those who have managed to get their names up on the Golden Caldero — most notably, the fact that all the names were Latino, and none of them were women.

ParcheesiPartyNow, I can guarantee you there’s absolutely no exclusion of other nationalities or of women. Our family is Puerto Rican and represents the majority of players, but the remaining players who have married or befriended someone in our family have been mostly Scottish, Irish, Canadian or a Russian/English/German/Native American mutt, and the skill levels have pretty much run the gamut on both sides of the ethnic fence. The genders are also pretty much a 50/50 split, and women have always been a part the final game. Despite these facts, we couldn’t help but wonder, “When will the first gringo or first woman get their name up onto the Golden Caldero?”

This innocent observation would usually lead to an episode of trash talking and taunting back and forth, as my non-Latin relatives swore they would get their chance, and my sisters, mother and I insisted that next year was OUR year. There was also the small conundrum of whether my or my sisters’ not-so-hispanic married names would count as gringo names on the Golden Caldero, nevermind the craziness that would ensue simply because we were women. Certain patriarchs of the family also went as far as to VOW that there would NEVER be a gringo or woman’s name on that caldero for as long as he could help it! (All boastful pride and good-humored ribbing of course!)

Finalists2015This fourth year, after three rounds of preliminary games and much food, spirits, teasing and, of course, Larry coming so close to a win (he does this so often, we now call this particular type of choking larrying), the final Parcheesi game promised to change things forever. The finalists included (left-to-right) my sister, Lisa; my brother-in-law squared, Bryan; Bryan’s wife, Joyce; and my brother-in-law (and also Joyce’s brother), Jim. If the winner was my sister, the Puerto Rican streak would technically still remain, but regardless of who won, a gringo name would be going up on the Golden Caldero.

In the last turns of the game, Bryan had one piece left to go all the way around the board, and Jim had the same plus another piece about halfway around. However, Lisa and Joyce were in a dead tie for first, each with one piece left and each needing only to roll a 3 to win everything. Eventually Joyce was the one who rolled that 3 and took the title. And just like THAT, the Golden Caldero would bear a name that was both gringo AND a woman’s… all in one shot.

Congratulations, Joyce! Your pioneering Parcheesi win has blown the door wide open for gringos and women everywhere, and you’ll never be forgotten! Just don’t think for one second that anyone, whether Puerto Rican or non-Latin, or man or woman, is going to go easy on you in next year’s tournament just because you’re a girl. And seeing as she has known you since you were little, I’m pretty sure Mamita is damn proud of you too. 😉

Last year's winner, Chuck, passing the Golden Caldero to our 2015 Parcheesi Tournament winner, Joyce.
Last year’s winner, Chuck, passing the Golden Caldero to our 2015 Parcheesi Tournament winner, Joyce.

Etsy Treasury: Ask a Question Day (Every Day is a Holiday)

Did you know that today is Ask a Question Day? Have you celebrated by asking a deep, philosophical question today? Or have you only asked simple questions that only demand simple answers, like a yes or no question? Will this entire blog post be made up of questions?

(Don’t worry, I’m not that sadistic. Or am I?)

Celebrating Ask a Question Day gives us the opportunity to do precisely that: Ask a question! Preferably one that you wouldn’t have asked otherwise, but there are no rules to this holiday as far as I know. Perhaps it’s a difficult question that was waiting for the right opportunity to be asked, or maybe you’ve just been wondering about something for a while and never got around to finding someone who could give you the answer. Everyone has questions that need answers, so there’s no reason for anyone to not celebrate! You probably already celebrated without even knowing by asking someone what time it was or asking your kids what they did in school today. That’s the beauty of a holiday like this: It would be next to impossible to NOT celebrate it!

Remember to take a closer look at the treasury and the featured items and shops. If you have any questions… well, you guessed it: just ask! Oh, and I nearly forgot… Have you seen the other Every Day is a Holiday treasuries that I have put together here? 😉

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Click on the image to see the treasury on Etsy, complete with links to the featured shops and items!

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“Every Day is a Holiday” is my Etsy Treasury project for 2014. I’m hoping to find unique and beautiful items that exemplify the holiday of the day—the sillier and weirder, the better! What’s better than finding something worth celebrating each and every day?

Etsy Treasury: World Math Day (Every Day is a Holiday)

Those of you who know me know that math and I don’t get along very well. We had a fight many years ago, and have barely spoken since. So it may be rather surprising to see me choosing to celebrate World Math Day today. Well, just because we aren’t good friends, that doesn’t mean that math isn’t important or doesn’t deserve to be celebrated! (I also didn’t feel like celebrating Registered Dietician Day or No Smoking Day. ;))

I was fairly average at math in school. Our class had been divided into four math groups based on skills, and I was firmly in the second-highest group. In sixth grade, we were given some sort of standardized math test to better evaluate our abilities and determine which students got to be placed in an advanced math class. None of us had ever been taught the concept of algebra, but this test included a section that briefly explained the basic premise of it followed by a few problems to solve to see how well we understood it. Perhaps the way it was presented made sense to me, because I apparently did really well with the algebra portion of the test and was the only student in second-highest group to be chosen for the advanced math class. There were kids in the higher math class that didn’t even make it!

I didn’t pat myself on the back for very long.

Sure I got the basic idea of algebra down pat: finding x in simple equations like the ones in the sample test was easy. But soon the math concepts got harder and harder, the homework got tougher and tougher. It was a far cry from the adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and fractions I had already sorta had down pat. In the third marking period in seventh grade, I got my first ever F on a report card. Yikes. I passed math by the skin of my teeth through eighth grade, and by freshman year in high school I was out of the special math class and simply put into geometry with the sophomores. Not an advanced class, I essentially just ended up a year ahead of my fellow freshman. Geometry wasn’t too bad since it was sorta visual, but then came more advanced algebra, a semester of trigonometry and then there was pre-calculus. I don’t even know what pre-calculus is or what it’s used for, never mind this “calculus” stuff it supposedly leads up to, but I did somehow manage to just barely pass. The moment I walked out of that final exam at the end of junior year, my brain was like an overfilled balloon, releasing all the math knowledge that had been crammed into it. Pffffffftttt… gone. I had fulfilled my math education quota as required by the State of New Jersey, and have never set foot in a math classroom since.

Today, I make do with what math skills I have managed to retain. I may not have ever found a use for that pre-calculus mumbo-jumbo in real life, but it has been difficult to escape the need for math altogether. In my graphic design work, I need math to calculate measurements and positions in a page layout (knowing the decimal equivalents to fractions of an inch is quite handy); figure out how many printed pieces I can fit on a given sheet of paper and thus how much paper I will need to order; as well as to tally how much of a given craft supply I will need to purchase in order to complete an order of, say, 100 invitations that will each be wrapped with 48″ of twine and use 20″ of adhesive tape, taking into consideration how much product is in one roll of twine or one package of double-sided tape. I will admit that I do resort to using the calculator for simple arithmetic that I probably should be able to do in my head. But at least I know I’m getting the right answer and not second-guessing myself because of my skills (or lack thereof).

So even if your daily life doesn’t require the use quadratic equations, math is important. There are many adorable items to be found on Etsy that celebrate math, and some that simply celebrate the fact that not all of us are gifted in its ways. Whichever side of that fence you fall on, don’t forget to visit the treasury and check the items out for yourself. And remember to visit my other not-so-mathematical Every Day is a Holiday treasuries here!

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Click on the image to see the treasury on Etsy, complete with links to the featured shops and items!

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“Every Day is a Holiday” is my Etsy Treasury project for 2014. I’m hoping to find unique and beautiful items that exemplify the holiday of the day—the sillier and weirder, the better! What’s better than finding something worth celebrating each and every day?