Sunday, November 30, 2008

A brief history of BoardGameGeek Con

I posted a Geeklist of everything I played and taught at BGG.Con 2008. Feel free to take a gander.

I played 39 times, 17 of which were new-to-me games. I taught games ten times. I bought, traded, or otherwise acquired [REDACTED] new games.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

'Tis the season to be shopping

Tomorrow is Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the American retail year.

I don't want to go shopping tomorrow, if at all possible. I know that several groups out there on the tubes advocate less consumerism: Buy Nothing Day comes to mind.

Right now, I support not buying useless crap. I can't promise that I will not spend a dime tomorrow, but I do not plan on camping out at Best Buy the previous day (no lie, this is happening), but I may still need to go to the grocery or hardware store to get things done.

But: 'Tis also the season to get presents! How do I reconcile these two opposite desires? With compromise, of course. For my circle of friends, I want to do a Secret Santa/Kris Kringle/buy one present event. This gets people giving, which is allegedly the point of the season; prevents un- or intentional snubbery by not including someone in gifting; and is an excuse for a party.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Famous on the airwaves

Oh, by the way, I was interviewed by the local fox affiliate while at BGG.Con. You can see the segment online. Does anyone know a good way to rip the video from the flash stream?

I only have a few lines, but they interviewed me for at least five or ten minutes. Remember, the secret to TV interviews is short sound bites and to ruin the shot if you flub a line.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peggy's book meme

Thanks, Peggy. I needed something to blog about today.

Their succession is punctuated and made a rhythm of intakings and outgivings. — John Dewey, Art as Experience
This book came from the NOCCA library collection, copyright 1934, published 1958, donated by the Ida Kohlmeyer family in 1999. My friend Terry referred it to me after our discussion of "What is art?" (I need to read chapter three, for the record)

This book on my desk in the office has aged faded brown caramel pages; each turned page smells of age, must, and old paper.

The meme's rules are as follows:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56. Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence along with these instructions.
  • Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the closest.

I owe a few of those on my blogroll a few of these.


Sadly, it appears that I did lose my glasses during my vacation. Instead of paying $400 that I can't afford for a new pair in a brick-and-mortar store, I'm going to buy a pair online. My brother told me about the GlassyEyes blog some time ago, and now I need to make use of this information, stat.

I have bad vision. Not just "Oh, I can't read that small print" bad or "I can't drive at night" bad, but "Poor Mischa, pity about him being eaten by a saber-tooth tiger" bad. Seriously, I can not see the E on the large eye chart- and I mean I can't see it.

Quick-and-dirty Photoshop rendering, me on the right:

I do not believe I exaggerate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

BGG.Con 2008 Library

Several people asked me where I went out of town this last weekend, or why I went to Dallas. When I responded, "To a board game convention," most people express surprise and disbelief. I can't imagine why, honestly.

For posterity, here's a few glimpses at the library.

Party games, not under lock and key:

And now the library! 2000+ games!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Post-BGG Con

I'm back home. Got lots of pictures, lots of games. More details later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Caving in to Twitter


On the other hand, I'll have a lower barrier to entry than the old way. I never finished expanding this from last year, so here's what I've got.

Games played at BGG.Con 2007:

  • 1001 Karawane
  • Army of Frogs
  • Axiom
  • Ca$h 'n Gun$ : Live
  • Chateau Roquefort
  • Cheeky Monkey
  • Circle, The
  • Crokinole
  • Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg
  • Fairy Tale
  • Felix: The Cat in the Sack
  • Fire
  • Garden Competition
  • Geistertreppe
  • Gheos
  • Glik
  • Jungle Speed
  • Kakerlakensalat
  • Kapitän Wackelpudding
  • Laborigines
  • Los Mampfos
  • Lumberjack
  • Master Thieves
  • Metromania
  • Passe-trappe
  • Piratenbillard
  • Piratenhändler
  • Quelf
  • RattleSnake
  • Rukshuk
  • Ruse & Bruise
  • Santorini
  • Saturn
  • Säulen von Venedig, Die
  • Shocking Roulette
  • Spinball
  • Time's Up!
  • Tumblin-Dice
  • Uptown
  • Vitrail
  • Viva Pamplona
  • Was Sticht?
  • WeyKick
  • Wicked Witches Way

Games acquired at BGG.Con 2007:

  • Adam & Eva *
  • All-Zeit *
  • Atlas & Zeus *
  • Buy Word *
  • Chains of Fenrir *
  • Conquest *
  • Corsari *
  • Covert Action
  • Employee of the Month *
  • Feurio *
  • Filthy Rich *
  • Flickwerk *
  • Fraud Squad *
  • Halli Galli
  • House of Whack *
  • Konig Laurin *
  • Kreta *
  • La Strada
  • Laboriginies *
  • Martinis & Men
  • Neuroshima Hex
  • Paris Paris *
  • Pick & Pack
  • Santiago
  • Scream Machine *
  • Siena *
  • Taktika

* means unplayed

Done is better than perfect, but it's a royal pain to fix and create links for these.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holy crapper

The toilet in the house is older than we are. Time for change.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Minor Facebook Rant

Yes, Facebook. I know that more than one person I know knows a new person who knows me. So when Alice joins because Bob said so, please don't send me three different messages from Eve, Carol, and Dave.

Sure, there's a lot of different behavior you could expect here. Maybe the first message got lost, eaten by a spam filter, accidentally deleted, ignored, or overlooked. Maybe you know Bob only slightly, but once Eve vouches for them, you accept her cred instead of his and decide that you want to get to know Alice a little better.

I think I would rather Facebook wait perhaps all of two seconds before instantly sending messages of this nature, perhaps bundling all of the vouch/suggestion messages into one: "Alice just joined Web.20 [sic] Social Networking site. Bob, Eve, and Carol all say she's pretty cool. Do you want to know more?"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Habitat Store

The Habitat for Humanity has a discount building material store, roughly the size of a small warehouse. It's across the street from the Homer Plessy site and around the corner from NOCCA, straight through the praline factory. The building itself contains a vast amount of donated material; doors, windows, furniture, books, miscellaneous hardware, sinks, tubs, scrap marble and granite, lighting fixtures, even a free-standing swimming pool. There's a certain smell familiar to those who frequent small hardware stores, a musty sense of use and need.

We specificially wanted a door for the bathroom to replace the crummy hollow semi-balsa ill-fitting existing door. Measuring is the easy part, but the paradox of choice is a factor- how do you match a contemporarily-built door (for the smallest room, no less) to a pair of fifty-year old doors in the same hallway?

Answer: buy an old door.

The Habitat store had several hundred for us to choose from. We found exactly the correct size and style door to use- it just needs paint and a knob. I also only paid forty-five bucks, less than half of the cost of a new solid wood door.

Score one for the home team, har de har har.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Full Weekend

Tons of plans this weekend, some of them house related and some of them fun related.


  • Sometime, the other floor guy shows
  • Possibly game day at Chez Radish
  • Priming and painting
  • Possibly furniture shop
  • Plan, plan, plan
I am forgetting things. Need caffeine. Need to decide on interior colors.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Watch the Watchmen

The powers that be have released a new trailer for Watchmen. Yahoo is kind enough to allow me to embed it for your viewing pleasure.

In the future, when that link breaks, try looking at the official site or on Apple's site.

This is a dark graphic novel; unquestionably one of the best of the medium. I dearly hope the movie does the source material justice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008



Tom Jolly posted some great news for the future of Wiz-War, a game I dearly love. Briefly, he's had some sort of contract with Chessex (the dice manufacturer) for them to produce the game. As I understand it, they've held this contract for more than eight years- and still have not produced the eighth edition. He's finally in a position to cancel this contract, so the Wiz-War property is going to be snatched up by a currently-nameless company which is probably Fantasy Flight Games.

This means that the game will be back in print after a decade, the property will be in the hands of a game company that has a long-established relationship with the designer, and that it will be dripping with theme.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Behold my economic prowess

Paid off my credit card today. Done.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Human animals

I spent a few hours this evening tearing out awful clown wallpaper from the back bedroom with my lovely wife.

Who doesn't love matching wallplate hardware?

Please note these matching, handmade (!) curtains.

Several people have told me that "it never ends" once you buy a house. Some have a honey-do list, some have a Ma & Pa Kettle list. Why do people feel compelled to remodel, redesign, rework, redecorate, or replace things in their home? We do not adapt to our environment. Humans are the animal that adapts their environment to themselves.

This is why Cat and I used an engineered enzyme in the form of a blue goo to remove the vestiges of a stranger's taste in wall covering.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

For the future!

With IT and wiring, you really need to document everything that you do for the idiot that will be there in five years. Especially if that idiot could be yourself.

What you need to pull off a medium-big wiring gig
You'll eventually build up a kit full of tools you like. This list is pretty off-the-cuff, and a decent start.

  • Ladders, fiberglass. I enjoy having one four-foot and at least one each of six- and eight-foot. You will move a ladder often, so don't get anything too heavy.
  • Electrician's tape, many many rolls of black, a few extra rolls of "other." White never hurts because you can easily write on it; day-glo whatever never hurts because you can see it in dark crawlspaces.
  • Sharpies.
  • Wire cutters, aka "dikes."
  • Good scissors, aka "snips."
  • Boxes of cable, probably category 5e and probably plenum.
  • Patch panels. Don't get crummy ones; these things will probably outlast you. Think six times before you mount them, since once you punch down, you will never want to move them.
  • Sharpies, fine tip.
  • RJ-45 heads, lots.
  • Crimping tools.
  • Wall plates, various sizes. I currently like the keystone-style blanks so you can pop in different colored jacks or blanks or coax or RJ-11 as needed.
  • A bucket of pull-string. Two colors is fun, but overkill. If you remotely intend to mark different things with different colored string, rethink everything.
  • At least one cheap toner and wand per person.
  • A fancy Fluke meter. If you can, get the fancier one.
  • A whole box of miscellaneous screws.
  • Cordless drills, non-sucky. Also get extra batteries and a charger.
  • Screwdrivers, various.
  • More sharpies, and pens. Write down as much as you can.
  • Fish tape. For some reason, this stuff is expensive. It also sucks.
  • Labelmaker, good. Label extensively.
  • A good knife. Maybe two.
  • Measuring tape. It never hurts.
  • Punchdown tools.
  • Fish sticks. Expect to lose or break at least one, so have extra. Bonus if you don't lose 'em.
  • Flashlights.
  • Batteries. Those Fluke meters, cable testers, radios, you name it will eventually need batteries. Have spare so you don't need to waste an hour on a battery run.
Did I forget anything? Yes. I have no doubt. The moral of this story is be prepared to improvise, and be prepared to make at least one mistake.

Always pull twice as much as you think you need, always, always. The cost of a wiring gig is virtually never the material, but the cost of labor and the calendar time. If they ask for one drop per room, make sure you do two drops. I say overpull unless physical space is a serious concern- for a one-person office, I'd do at least four terminations total. Maybe six. This gives you maximum flexibility in the future: Maybe you put in two people into the office, maybe a printer, maybe you go VOIP with your phone system, maybe you rearrange the furniture.

Wiring shouldn't be an afterthought. Do it when the walls are down.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Audio pleasure

For a few years now, I've taken opportunities to listen to the demos of Bose headphones whenever possible.

Realizing that we do not have a boom box, radio, or speakers of any sort for music while we work on the house, I snapped; I drove to Worst Buy to acquire a stereo dock for Cat's iPod. I looked over the various brands and models and colors, waffled... then said to hell with it, I'll buy the Bose.

I brought it home; to the new house. It's the first major purchase that doesn't count as a fix-up tool. It is shamelessly a luxury item for aural pleasure. It reminds me of the saying: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

The new Bose is useful as well as beautiful; a fine start.

Friday, November 07, 2008

My current promise

I've promised that after my current order comes in from Funagain, and after I go to BGG.Con, I will not buy any more games until I unpack the game room onto the shelves I need to build.

Thrift finds and trades do not count.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I like my Gphone

I've seen a rfew reviews of the iPhone that basically acknowledge its coolness as a platform and a data window, but question its value as a phone. Many people come down on both sides of the fence, but the reviews I've seen generally fuss about dropped calls and the like, saying it's a great device, but an okay phone.

The Google phone (AKA HTC Dream, AKA the Android OS, AKA the Open Handset Alliance) is pretty nifty and generally succeeds as a phone.

Let me talk about the Dialer/contacts list app. It has four tabs at the top: Dialer, Call Log, Contacts, and Favorites. The actual phone dialer itself is straightforward: you press the button, you get the number Like virtually every cell phone, it's not a live dial pad in the sense that you can edit your number before you call in case you fat-finger it.

Call Log has all outgoing/incoming/missed together together, with handy icons in white and blue/green/red to catch the eye. If you're worried about not being able to ferret out your missed called amidst a sea of completed calls, worry not- missed calls are shunted to a "notification" section, so I an easily quickly check all new missed calls since the last time I checked.

Contacts sync with Gmail contacts pretty easily. I've had a few snags where I need to force a sync from my phone or touch a contact in Gmail so it would know to sync, but generally it's pretty good. I also had a huge kerfluffle when I accidentally imported hundreds of useless old contacts into Gmail, so be careful if you go that route. I'm also not happy with iSync's unwillingness to sync to Google unless I bought an iPhone.. but there are ways around everything.

The Favorites tab is particularly well-implemented. Star any contact, and it shows up in Favorites as well as in Gmail as "Starred in Android." It also is pretty smart about keeping frequently-contacted numbers automatically as part of favorites. I'll see how things change in the coming weeks as my dialing habits change.

Nutshell? I got a smart phone.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Done and done

There you go. We bought a house.

Now becomes time to juggle work and play and home improvement and contractors. Honestly, you think it would be easy to call someone up and say "I want you to do work. Here, look; this is money I will give you for your labor."

The Ma and Pa Kettle list has four priorities: "Gotta do to make it livable," "Do ASAP when we move in," "Would be nice," and "Pie in the sky." Tasks range from AC and floors to appliances and locks and bookshelves to stained glass and solar power.

I promise that I will post pictures, particularly as I do the game room.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election day

I'm getting up early to vote. We don't get time off to do so. I hear that some people have the day off to vote.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Election eve

""I am a committed radical. I am against nearly everything." — Adrian Mole
I just ran through the Political Compass, reminding myself that we do not have a simple one-dimensional political spectrum. Where do you fall?

Fundamentally, I'm more for personal freedom and civil liberties, smaller government, and more technology to improve our life. I had a nice long laundry list of wishes hopes and dreams, many of them irrational and unrealistic, but I then remembered that I'm a state employee and have restrictions.

I don't think anyone other than a nominee from the two parties really has a chance of attaining office. I don't really think that my vote matters, given the electoral college. I'm still going to vote tomorrow.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Failing at NaBloPoMo; starting

I saw that Stephanie has started in on National Blog Posting Month. I'm already a day behind, but I'll keep on the effort. I'll even post a day behind in time to make up for it.

I knew about Nanowrimo, and I knew that between buying a house on Wednesday, fixing it up, trying to move in, going to BGG.Con 2008, running the Math Trade for this year, and attempting to perform some didj playing for the NOCCA faculty, I would never be able to make that fifty thousand word goal. And you know, I'm okay with that this year. Would I like to have a big complete project like that? Absolutely. But I've got too much on my plate that I can and will do this month.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy All Saint's Day

Brief Halloween report.

Cat was "A Hahcky Mahm from Minnesohtah, don'tcha know." She stayed in character the whole evening, freaking many people out.

I was fucking metal. (I later realized I went to work with a t-shirt that said "Metal Up your Ass.")

You can't see Cat's lovingly hand-painted vintage Danzig scene on the jacket. Best quote all day: "Mischa, a toasted bagel isn't very metal."