That’s right, I am back, and now I feel okay telling you I was in Europe for the last two weeks. (Didn’t Brian do a good job while I was gone?) The first week was spent visiting my older sister in Germany (my younger sister was there too) and the second was spent walking and climbing stairs all over London. Anyway, that’s how it felt! I had a great time. Tonight I’m eager to watch all the Jeopardy! episodes I missed. I can’t imagine what the delirium will be like afterward.
Coincidentally, there were two clues on Jeopardy! today that had to do with London or England. In Rebels With a Cause: “The 17th and 18th century Jacobite rebellions attempted to return this royal house to the British throne.”* Incidentally, right now I’m reading John O’Farrell’s An Utterly Impartial History of Britain (picked it up at Westminster Abbey!), so I felt really bad when I couldn’t come up with the correct response in time. Steven Milton got it right. And I almost went ballistic when I needed just a half-second or so more on this clue in Architects: “In 1657, he was appointed Professor of Astronomy at London’s Gresham College.”* I’ll bet the contestants on the show sometimes want to stop play and yell, “I really, REALLY knew that one!!!” I wouldn’t have known that particular clue before this trip. Three-day champ Janet Bradlow got it right. She said in her interview today that she is a crossword puzzle fan and that she attends tournaments! The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is the place where I was inspired to start this blog after the man sitting next to me mentioned me in his blog. (I’d guide you to it, but it appears to be defunct now.) It looks like Janet was there this year too, and finished 212th. I finished 283rd. Janet said she finished 8th once, a long time ago, but I don’t know if it was at this tournament.
Today’s Jeopardy round had two categories after my own heart: All Aboard Amtrak and Bananas. The Daily Double in the round was the third clue selected! In the category Same First and Last Letter: “An invisible emanation, or an intangible quality.”* I got that one right, and so did Janet. My dad, a chemistry teacher, nailed the last clue of the category: “A noble gas, atomic number 10.”* Steven got this one right, too. But when Double Jeopardy rolled around, my Dad said “Boo hiss!” when he saw the first category, before Mr. Trebek could even finish reading it: Shakespearean Operas.
Going into Final Jeopardy, Steven had 17600, sharply-dressed Christopher Scheeren had 4600, and Janet had 16600. The category was Physics: “Discovered in the early 20th century, these two particles, 1 with a positive charge, the other a packet of energy, differ by a letter.”* I got this one before Mr. Trebek was done reading it. Mr. Trebek said Christopher looked unhappy (or at least wasn’t smiling), but he got it right too and had wagered all but a dollar. Steven got it right, and had wagered 9100. Janet missed it and lost 1001. Thus a grinning Steven is our new champion! My mom said, “He’s a cutie” when he was announced as the winner, but when I asked her several hours later if I could put that in this blog, she asked, “Which one was he?”
As an aspiring Jeopardy! champion myself, I have been frustrated with my inability to get myself to study for the show. I want to be a Jeopardy! champion more than anything, but I’m still a long way from being ready, and it is evident every time I play along. I know that I need to practice NOW if I want to win later. So while I was in Europe, I read Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. I got a few ideas, and I’m going to implement them. I’m telling you about them here so that I can update you on my progress and so that I can be held accountable. These are the changes that are directly Jeopardy!-related, with the supporting advice from Switch in parentheses:
- Learn one mnemonic a day from Rod L. Evans’ Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge: The Book of Mnemonic Devices. (Shrinking the change) There is an endorsement from Jeopardy! legend Brad Rutter inside it, but I’m mostly choosing it because I think I will really learn the material this way.
- Listen only to NPR, Catholic radio, or books-on-CD in my car. (Scripting the critical moves) Hearing songs I’ve heard zillions of times before will not help me learn anything new! I’d might as well put that time to good use. Remove all my CDs from my car. (Tweaking the environment)
- No more losses, when playing along with my Jeopardy Challenger. (Pointing to the destination) I’m also modifying how I play, slightly: I used to participate in every Daily Double, but now I’m going to participate only when I’ve gotten the previous clue right, like it would be on the show.
I hope this didn’t bore you to tears, and/or you didn’t find it unrelated to the subject of this blog.
Finally, I got a comment on a previous entry from a former Jeopardy! contestant. I had stated that if I were a contestant, I would not respond with something I knew was wrong on a Daily Double or Final Jeopardy. He says he disagrees and that it is better to respond with something than with nothing. I want to know what you think. I’m putting a poll on the home page of this site, and I’ll allow one week. I’d also love to read your comments!
*House of Stuart, Christopher Wren, aura, neon, proton and photon