Q and A with Julie Bratvold Ghanbari

     Julie played on Wednesday July 18th and Thursday July 19th.
Q: Mr. Trebek mentioned in one of your contestant interviews you have a degree from MIT?
Julie: Yes, I have a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Q: I thought you got some tough clues right: knapsack, widow, 1936, caliban, chimera, Starlight Express, the Russia Daily Double, ricin…
Julie: Thanks! I was very happy to get some of those!
     Some of them I just knew from life experience (like the “knapsack on my back” lyric, widow/orphan line placement, GWTW movie =1939), while others I knew from making flashcards of facts that seemed like potential Jeopardy! material (Caliban, chimera/centaur/satyr/griffin, Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, etc.)
     Along with the rebound for Camden -> Baltimore Orioles (which I knew only from studying, as I don’t follow baseball), the get on the Russia DD was, for me, one of the moments of which I was most proud. But the ironic thing is that what I’m proud of is something that 1) wasn’t visible to the viewing audience and actually made me appear less knowledgeable to them, and 2) ultimately had no effect on the outcome.
     When I I saw the river “DON”, Russia immediately popped into my head. And what I am most proud of is that I somehow managed to keep from immediately blurting that out.
     And the reason I held back was that I wasn’t certain why I thought it was Russia. Russia felt right, but whatever connection there was between them that made it feel right was apparently lost in the mists of time. And without knowing that connection, I was hesitant to go forward with that response and risk having the reveal be a head slapper!
     So I decided that since I had a little time I would take a super quick mental trip around the globe and just check to see if there were any other countries that “felt” as correct as Russia. Let’s see … North America – no, South America – no, Europe -hmm, the briefest of pauses at Spain, as they use don as an honorific there (Don Juan, etc.), but no good vibe, so no, Africa – no, Asia- well, I didn’t think so but now I am starting to run out of time. I check the category/clue one last time to make sure I’m not violating any category rules or missing any obvious TOMs (doesn’t take long with only 3 words to work with – I wonder if there are any 2-word cat/clue combos out there?) Having failed to come up with anything that felt better, I say Russia. And, instead of recognizing my deliberate strategic DD approach, Alex Trebek compliments me on my good guess :lol: . Like I said, it ended up not mattering (since it was correct) and ended up making me look like I just took a lucky guess, but I’m still proud of it!
     So, anyway, since I had gotten it right, I pretty much put it out of my mind (i.e., no reason to dwell on it). But you know how sometimes your brain continues to work on a problem at a subconscious level even when you don’t think you are thinking about it? Well, maybe 3 or 4 days later while I was at lunch, all of a sudden I realized where the Russia-Don connection must have come from! I have both read and listened to the Robert K. Massey biography of Peter the Great, and I assume that the river Don must have played a role somewhere in that (either practicing with his new navy or maybe going after a port on the Black Sea – or both!). So, it turns out there was a reason I knew it, but I just didn’t know what that reason was at the time so was hesitant to trust it.
Q: I too said “hypothesis” for that weird clue in the OED category.
Julie: Yeah, lots of people have told me that as well. I’m glad it didn’t cost me the game. Expecting contestants to distinguish between very similarly defined words based only on recognizing direct quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary seems a bit extreme, IMHO.
Q: You mentioned on the boards that you’ve just moved. May I ask where, out of curiosity?
Julie: Oh, just a couple of miles. But 3 miles or 300 miles, it’s still a lot of work!!
Q: Are you going to play the Summer Hiatus Challenge?
Julie: I haven’t before, but I plan to this time – looking forward to it!
     Thanks, Julie!

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