Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Experiences

I am still in Seattle, though I am flying home tomorrow. However, I had two new experiences today that I wanted to mention. First, during my lunch break I wandered over to Pike Place Market to check it out. While there, I ran across a hot dog stand. That sounded like it might be a good place for lunch, so I stopped by. That is when I discovered that they sold salmon hot dogs. Of course, I had to buy one. With sauteed onions and diced tomatoes and jalapeno mayonnaise, naturally. I must say, it tasted exactly like salmon, so I guess they weren't lying!

Then, tonight, I had dinner with a colleague at an Indian restaurant in Renton. I have hardly ever eaten Indian food, so that was kind of interesting. Not what I want to mention, though. In the restaurant they had a plasma screen TV that showed Indian music videos. This was rather different, though they have obviously learned tricks from MTV, VH1, and that crew, as they pretty much looked like American music videos, though a bit cheesier, and a bit rough around the edges. I also learned that Indian women might be the hottest on the entire planet. At least, they would be if they all looked like the women in the videos. Wow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Some Pictures for You

This is the view out of the window in the office I am using here in Seattle.

Yeah, it's a grey, overcast day, but still. You don't get any views like this in St. Louis, I can assure you.

Admit it; you're jealous, aren't you? I'm also proud to note that the fact there are pictures in this post means that I have figured out how to properly use the camera in my new Blackberry phone. Now, If I could just figure out how to accomplish my project using less than the entire 24 hour day, I'd be in great shape... so tired...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rockin' the Northwest

Greetings from Seattle, Washington. As usually happens when I am up here, I am here for work. A client had me come up for the week to review a financial process for them and identify the problems. I like identifying problems, so it should work out OK. The bad part is, of course, the travel. You try spending 6 hours on a plane and then try to work the rest of the day. Not much fun. Well, it wasn't fun until dinner, which was great. I ate at Cutter's, a seafood place near Pike's Place market that was wonderful. We'll have to see what trouble I can stir up while I'm here, so I'll have to update you over the next few days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blues Win! Blues Win!

So, the Blues finally won a game last night. It had to go to overtime, and then to a shoot-out, but they won. Yeah, I know, I'm not sure how they did it, either. I'm also not sure how they lost the last 728 games, or whatever the streak was (it felt that long), but at least they finally beat somebody. It would have been nice if it was somebody in our own conference, but I'll take what I can get!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

While most of the country will be trying to destroy their livers by drinking their body weight in beer, I am celebrating the day by listening to my old Nightnoise and Iona CDs. Good times!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Commands and Colors: Ancients

The next game I have played in my quest to play everything in my collection is the excellent Commands and Colors: Ancients, by Richard Borg. This game is part of a series of games that utilize the same basic mechanic, though each game is customized to reflect the technology and tactics in use at the time. Actually, what I played was a scenario from the first expansion pack, which focuses on Greece and their battles with the Eastern Kingdoms, which generally means the Persian Empire, but not always.

All games utilitize the same playing board, which is 9 hexes deep by 13 hexes wide, and is divided into 3 wings (left, right, and center). Orders are given to units by use of command cards, the number of which varies from scenario to scenario. For example, I played a scenario of the battle of Marathon, and the Greek player got six cards, while the Persian player got five. The cards allow you to give orders to a number of units, or to take special actions. The trick here is that sometimes what you really want to do is to attack with some units on your right flank, but all of your cards are for units in your left or center wing, not the right. Or, you have heavy units to move, and thus need two cards to get them into contact with the enemy, but you only have one. So, do you march them forward, putting them in missile range of the enemy, and hope to draw that second card, or do you sit and wait? This is the key to strategy in the game. It can be highly frustrating to people who prefer much more detailed historical simulations, but it helps emulate the "fog of war" concept, as well as the fact that before the advent of radio communication, command and control was much less of a sure thing, and sometimes your wing commander was dumb and wouldn't do what he was told, or would screw it up.

I really like this game. It is a fairly light treatment of the subject of warfare in the ancient world, but it is a lot of fun. Each scenario takes two hours or less to play once you know the rules, so it isn't a huge time commitment like Rise and Fall of the Third Reich or Twilight Imperium. I should also note that the scenarios are usually set up for historical accuracy, rather than providing each player an equal chance at victory. Thus, sometimes one side is just hosed before play even begins. The best way to handle this is to take advantage of the short play time and play each scenario twice, with the players swapping sides. Thus, if one player wins both times, they are clearly the victor, and not simply the happy recipient of a good starting position.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Sure enough, the first one was weird. Globbo is copyright 1983, which means that it turns 25 years old this year. That would make the game a classic if anybody still played it, which they probably don't. I wonder why that could be? Well, the premise of Globbo is that one player has a group of bratty insect-like children from an alien race, and the other player has a blobby robotic babysitter. The babysitter tries to kill all the kids, and the kids try to destroy the robotic babysitter.

I'll let that sink in for a minute.

Yeah, kind of a weird premise, eh? I must say, however, that I really liked this game when I was in high school. I played it a lot. I liked it so much that I wrote a set of campaign rules and got them published in the late, lamented Vindicator fanzine. So, I found it in the basement and broke it out and played a solitaire game (because the odds of me getting any of my friends to play this with me now was probably close to nil). Let's just say that I didn't enjoy the game as much as I remember from high school. Mechanically, the game works fine. When kids are killed, they "blow up" into six different pieces, either blips (energy balls) or yeasts (blobs of matter), which can reform into new kids, or the blips can commit suicide to try to destroy pieces of the globbo. And the globbo is kind of scary because it bristles with weapons and grows every turn. This is important because the kids are trying to constantly bite or blow off parts of the globbo, in order to destroy its head. If the head is destroyed, the kids win. If the kids are all killed, the globbo wins.

The rulebook lets you know after about 5 seconds of reading that nothing in this game is serious in the slightest. In fact, whenever the rulebook mentions anything dying, you are encouraged to send cash donations to the author in memory of the dead game piece. Seriously. The whole thing is just strange. It was goofy fun when I was younger, but I found it to be just goofy. This is a game that still holds up as a basic competitive tool, but I just have better games to play today, so I don't know that I will every play this again.

Wandering Through the Game Collection

So, I have an idea for an interesting series of blog posts. See, I have a lot of boardgames, over 100 at last count. I have a nice list over at boardgamegeek if you're ever interested. So what I have decided to do is to select games at random off the list, play them, and then blog about them. My collection is quite random, so I'm sure my first one will end up being something weird.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Off of Work

So I had the day off from work, today. I mainly took time off because I could. I started the year with about 2 weeks of vacation in the bank, and I'll earn almost 4 weeks the rest of the year, so I needed to start using some time. That and I'm having my carpets professionally cleaned tomorrow, and I can't be at work and let the Stanley Steemer crew in my house at the same time, can I?

I'd like to say that I did lots of fun stuff today to celebrate my day off, but I didn't. What I did do was clean. A lot. I figured that if I was having my carpets done it wouldn't be good to have great-looking carpets and then lots of dusty furniture with unorganized junk on it, so did lots of dusting and organizing and throwing away old magazines. Sorry, placing old magazines in the recycling bin. And I did 3 loads of laundry. All told, that took about 5 hours, I think. After this, I think I'll go iron some clothes, because that is the kind of crazy man I am.

This Explains a Lot

I recently discovered the website of Kate Beaton, who has embarked on a quest to draw comics about famous (and, occasionally, not-so-famous) historical characters. My favorite so far is below. I thought it did a good job of explaining the way I feel different from most men on the planet.

EDIT: I should probably mention that there is some occasional bad language in the comics on the site, so potentially NSFW.