Sunday, July 29, 2007

95% unloaded

We have almost the entire truck unloaded right now into various places- the attic, the guest room, and fully sixteen boxes of board games in the living room for easy access. The furniture is going into a basement tomorrow before we have to return the truck.

Mad kudos to my homies for helping schelp boxes over a few hours. Afterwards, we went swimming and threw small plastic beach balls at each other.

Lunch was a classic Roman Pizza duo: Buffalo Chicken Pizza and a pizza made with garlic sauce, not red sauce, topped with garlic and salami. I call it Garlic Love. Dinner was Dot's Diner: Cat got a B6 (pancakes, eggs over medium, and bacon) and I got an L2 with cheese (two mini Dot's burgers and delicious fries laced with addictiveness), don't be shy with the Tabasco.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Pulled in at my mom's place a hair before midnight; made it to Bennett & Leslie's about 12:20 or so. Unpacked the essentials, played a hand of Oh Hell (BGG) and I lost by one point to Daniel, and now we just need to acclimate the cat to the other three cats and the dog.

The drive took about twelve hours for a noodle over five hundred ten miles. I didn't count on A) the rain which stopped nearly the instant we hit the state line, B) Houston sucking twice: The first time was due to a closure of the I-10, and the second was a three-out-of-five-lane closure due to an accident. C) the truck was actually quite pleasant, just not really good to drive much over 65, so I forgot to guesstimate the travel time with the reduced speed.

It still hasn't quite hit me yet. I'm expecting to have to go away in a few days.

Tomorrow, decent coffee and Harry Potter 7 and schlepping more boxes. We might be able to get away with not needing a storage shed, too.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We are in Iowa. Iowa, Louisiana. About two hundred miles to go before we sleep. There is a nice sunset here, Houston sucked and the rain has stopped. More later.

Friday, July 27, 2007

95% packed

Nearly done. Just the miscellany of daily life is left: food, computers, bedding, clothes, toiletries, a handful of this or that to put into the last few boxes. A bunch of the crew showed up to play sherpa. They are a great group of people. I'm glad to have known them and to have brought them all together. Do things fall apart without a center?

Right now our apartment is so empty that every room echoes. We have more stuff inside that we evacuated with. Hitting the road in about fifteen hours.

About to shower and play my last games in Austin.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Firefly (the bug, not the show)

We saw fireflies in our courtyard last night. Amazingly cool. Just for a moment, I could see how our ancestors believed in fairies. Cat and I spent a little while looking at their erratic and pale green glow... following them, I even caught one for a fleeting moment.

A picture wouldn't do justice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brazilian Steakhouse

Last night, John and Jen took us out to go eat at Estancia Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse. In short, it was a damn fine place to eat.

I had never eaten Brazilian-style steakhouse before, but evidently everyone and the grandmother has heard of all-you-can-eat steak "with the swords." Yes, all you can eat. They served us two courses: a salad and a meat course, both unlimited. The salad bar was very nice, with delicious artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, huge mushrooms, hearts of palm, lettuces, cheeses, fruit and more. All very fresh, crisp, and never empty.

To get meat, we had a signal for the servers. Each diner has a laminated card with a red side and a green side. When there's green side up, men in pantaloons with Brazilian rotisserie on swords appear out of nowhere to slice freshly cooked meat at your request, directly onto your plate- a small set of tongs makes up part of your silver service. We had leg of lamb, beef ribs, chicken breasts, pork sausage, bottom round, and two or three kinds of house special seasoned beef.

Finally, I had the best flan I've ever had there. Amazingly rich, creamy, and possessing the right balance of egginess and caramel.

If you ever get a chance to eat at a churrascaria, do so.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Manhattan: a fine game

Manhattan (BGG, BUY ME!) is due to be back in print in a month or so, and I highly suggest you pick it up.

I got my copy as part of a trade (big surprise), and knew very little about it beyond a few base facts. The game won the Spiel des Jahres in 1994, the first for Andreas Seyfarth of Puerto Rico (BGG, BUY ME!) and Thurn and Taxis (BGG, BUY ME!) fame. I've played both of the latter, and while T&T won the SdJ in 2006, I'm not as captivated by either of those two games as Manhattan, and it gets a fair amount of table time in my circle. This simple game of building skyscrapers is way more vicious than I ever anticipated.

Gameplay is pretty simple and tight: You will make exactly twenty-four moves during the game, placing your buildings with the aid of cards. Each player has a set of buildings, or floors- mostly one story pieces, some twos, some thees, and a few fours. The game board has six different neighborhoods- Wall Street, Soho, Downtown, and so forth, each a three-by-three grid with no special powers for the neighborhoods.

Each player starts with a hand of four cards- the deck consists of repeats of nine different cards, one for each of the nine positions you can place a building. The clever thing is that each is played in relation to how the player perceives the board: Say I have a card that lets me plunk down a building in position 1, if you think of an area like a phone dial pad. That same card, if played by Bob on my right, lets him play on position 3- and so on, with that card letting Fred play on position 9 and Fritz on position 7. It's a great way to maximize play value return on the components, but that's kind of a dry observation- I should have some pictures here. For an added bit of cleverness, you pull aside the pieces you're going to use each round, so you're committing your building power before you know how you can really use it.

You control a building if your color is on top. Points are awarded at the end of each round as follows: 1 point per each building you control on the board, two points for each neighborhood where you control more buildings than anyone else, and three points for the tallest building on the board. If there are ties, no points for anyone.

Now, here's the fundamental rule for taking over buildings: You can only place a piece on a building if doing so would give you at least as many floors as whoever currently owns it. It's relatively easy to get locked out of a tasty position, too. I haven't played a two-player game yet, but I believe it would be very compelling.

I keep bringing Manhattan to game nights, and it keeps getting requested. It's tactical and fun, and just mean enough. Having your moves limited by cards also greatly reduces the whole spectrum of opportunity, so you can focus on strategy by retaining a few cards between rounds. There's also a few variants in there which have yet to hit the table; I'm looking forward to trying the ones with the monster that destroys buildings.

I doubt I'll tire of Manhattan for a long time.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lifehacking with knots

Applied topology is cool.

I found this link on Lifehacker, a Aussie fellow who focuses on efficiency and knot-typing as a side interest. I'm trying out tying my shoes a little differently.

Inspired by Thoreau

From yesterday's A.Word.A.Day:

It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

I haven't read Civil Disobedience or Walden in quite some time.

Undesired work is a kind of evil.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Packing for the move is like a Reverse Katrina, a little.

Now, all the books and CDs are packed. None of the games or RPGs are yet, and the movies are waiting for their cardboard shuttles.

I'm going through boxes of mementos I haven't opened since I packed them a year a half ago- stuff that got emptied out of drawers and into boxes for salvage. Some is crap, just receipts and papers that I didn't go through. Some is valuable, either financially, for providing memories, or for utility.

We found the vintage 60"x40" Apocalypse Now poster. It was hiding behind the didjes.

I'm finding correspondence from my college days, and photographs I've forgotten about, along with disposable cameras I never developed- who knows if the film is still good after several years?

The apartment has stacks and stacks of boxes, cardboard edifices of things. It's eerily reminiscent of moving in, leaving home, and facing the unknown... and all the memories they stir up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moving date set

You read it here first, people. We're getting a truck on Friday, July 27th.

Penske rocks! Cat basically filled out a request for a quote, and they gave us a call and offered us a discount. w00t!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Just got paid today me a pocket full of change.

I haven't had access enough to post to Blogger lately, for which I apologize. I've got some links and articles shared over in the sidebar.

For my RSS friends, please click on an ad or two, okay? If not, that's okay. You can still read my shared Google Reader items.

Speaking of ads, I've gotten something like less than forty bucks credit over at FunAgain, about four bucks at Amazon, and less than fifteen from Google Adsense. Hooray! You too can be famous on the internets and get paid for it... eventually, and in small amounts.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Time flies like an arrow...

...fruit flies like a banana.

By the time you next have to pay your rent or the house note, we'll be back in New Orleans.

I suspect my dance card will fill up faster than usual. Call now to reserve your spot.