On August 10, 2012, the Cheyenne chapter of the AARP hosted a seminar called Gray Matters - which was free and provided a free lunch - unfortunately fish and cheesecake, blech - from 4 to 6 was a reception for all travelers who had come in for the AARP National Spelling Bee to be held on the 11th.
I attended that and it was a lot
of fun. The emcee introduced a few folks, we talked about words, there
was a "mock" spelling bee (which only consisted of about 20 people
getting up and being questioned on one word...) and so on. And there
were finger foods there - Chinese food to be precise. Don't know where
they got it from or if they cooked it on site (Little America is a hotel
and resort where people come to play golf among other things) but it
The spelling bee started at the ungodly hour
of 8:30 am (Well...8:30 is not so ungodly but I had to get up at the
ungodly hour of 6:30 to get there in time for registration, etc.) It
started with 4 rounds of 25 words each - which was a Written Test.
first 25 words were extremely easy. They asked words like "Greetings"
and "Navel" and "Mince." I suppose a few might have been considered
difficult... "Animus" and "Lacuna."
The second 25 words were equally easy, but I did miss MUGWUMP.
I assume they did this just to help everyone settle the nerves
and get new people used to what was going on. People had trouble hearing
some of the words (hey, they were all over 50 and most over 60) and the
Pronouncer would come down and tell them the word face to face and
have them say it back, etc. Indeed, the Pronouncer did an excellent job.
Third round was where they started asking the difficult words.
The fourth round was the real killer. I only got 12 out of 25 right. I missed:
I then stayed for the Oral rounds and was joined by one of
my friends from my Scrabble Club. (I think an audience could have
assembled for the Written rounds, too. There were chairs there and
family were in them...but I think most people only wanted to come see
the Oral rounds where you actually saw the speller's faces as opposed to
their backs, etc.)
Two of the people I met last night
at the reception made it to the Orals. One of them it was his first trip
to the Bee and he was successful his first time out. Made it through
about 10 rounds. (In the Orals, you miss two words and you're out.)
Another one was an elderly woman from Minnesota who also got through
about 10 rounds before being knocked out.
three sisters and a brother who had come as a sort of family reunion.
The eldest sister made it to the Oral rounds but was bounced after only
two rounds. This was too bad and it was because she was a bit unlucky -
she got two 6-syllable words in a row while some of the others were
getting much easier ones (but still, not ones I could have
spelled). But she was disqualified along with several other people in
the same round, so hopefully she didn't feel too bad.
words in the Oral Rounds were extremely difficult. Several times more
difficult than the toughest words in the final round of the Written.
But, had I studied for a year, I think I could have handled them.
And it is my intention to study for a year and get into the Orals next year.
So, why is the title of this blog entry 60 is thenew 40?
Because it is.
People are living longer. You don't want to outlive your money
and more importantly you don't want to outlive your sense of enjoyment
of life. And learning new things every day is enjoyment and keeps the
The AARP Spelling Bee is held every year, and it gives you an
excellent reason to travel to Cheyenne and see The Cowboy State. You'll
meet lots of interesting people.
You do have to study.
I studied very desultorily for about a month...combine all the
time I studied and it was about 10 hours. Not nearly enough, but then,
I'm a good speller so the Written Rounds were relatively easy - except
for that killer last round.
Why learn words that you'll never, ever say in real life?Well, because they're interesting. And the concepts of what you'll learn, you can apply in other areas. So it's a win win.
So start planning to live a long, healthy, active, intellectual life, and do it now, however old you might be!