Monthly Archives: November 2006

Game Day 11/30/2006

Game #1a

Leonardo da Vinci

Today, I stopped by the post office to pick up my latest lens rental. It is the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM lens. I have been dying to try this one for a while now. It is amazing in a number of ways. First, is the price ($1830 versus $340 for a f/1.8 lens). $1500 for a full stop bigger aperture. That is a lot of money for the next better model. Second, is the weight. This lens is 2 pounds (of glass) heaver. Of course, with the weight comes size. The thing seems like it barely fits on the camera. It looks like it is bigger than Dan Becker’s head! One oddity that I noticed right on the bat was that the focus ring wasn’t working. I had to Google to find that the lens needs to be powered on with a half-press before you can focus. Weird. Now I can see why Canon is introducing the 50mm f/1.2. Because the 85mm is not the right lens for 1.6 frame cameras like my EOS 20D. The 1.6 multiplier turns the 85mm into an effective 136mm. Which is too long for me. The 50mm would turn into an 80mm. I had to stand some distance away to take these pictures.

I uploaded both of these pictures to boardgamegeek. This one was denied and the other one was accepted. The reasons were:

  • Reason: The image was too blurry.
  • Reason: The image was too similar to another image already in the database.
  • Reason: The image was irrelevant to the subject.

All I can say is “Huh?!”. First, the image was not blurry. What some people don’t understand is that the depth of field for a f/1.2 aperture is razor thin. In this picture, the depth of field is less than 2 inches deep. Second, I doubt that Adam teaching a game is in the database already. And, third, how can a session of playing/teaching the game be irrelevant? Maybe the two chairs got in the way of the board. I should have moved them out of the way.

Game #1b

This game is still painful in the feeling of wasted inefficiencies you have after playing it. I tried to be better this game, but we just were not producing enough inventions. So I couldn’t plan ahead to have two inventions going during the last two phases. And that cost me the game.


In the first Tichu game of the night, the heroic team could not get any points at all. We scored 30 points in seven hands! However, our four Tichu calls and three 1/2s gave us the win! On the first hand of the game, I call Tichu. I called it after Adam bombed with a two wish. Little do I know that Doug had passed bombs to both Adam and Jon. Fortunately for me, Jon bombed too early on a full house lead from me. Adam would have played Queens-full and I would have played Aces full, Jon should have bombed, and I would have been hosed.

11/30/2006 The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
AdamR & Jon MarkH & DougG
  T+ 85  
  315     285  
  470     630 T+
    730 T+
  570   T+ 1030  

I don’t know if I should call the second game a real game. Rehana shows up to take Adam home and we call last hand. Adam makes a Tichu call and most of the points for the win. I believe that our team could have come back for the real win! I demand a replay!!!

11/30/2006 The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
AdamR & Jon MarkH & DougG
T- -75    
T+ 300     200  
  245 T-  


Why is sugar so expensive in the US? link via

Deep fried pizza link via

Making a large Cadbury Egg link via

Dot-matrix toaster link via

Trade Your PS3 for Lifetime Taco Supply* (only if you don’t eat there a lot) link via

Motorists cannot avoid accidents because they are incapable of reacting quickly enough when moving at high speed. Their flicker fusion frequency (the point at which an animal sees an increasingly rapid flashing light as a continuous beam) is too slow. link via

Logic problems link via

8.6 gigapixel stitched photograph of Italian fresco link via

Motorcycle for towing cars link via

Person waits 40 hours in line for Playstation 3, adds a bunch of extras, only to sell it on eBay for 0.99 link via

In space, if unprotected pieces of metal touch each other, they stick together permanently. link via

Traffic experiments link via

Tree of life link via

An experiment in which people eat soup from a bottomless bowl link via

How To Make (and grow) A Luffa! link via

Pizza quintux

Pizza for dinner

Tried another pizza tonight. But I still have yet to achieve a qualified success. I like my sauce, the toppings, and how it cooks, but I do not like the dough. I think that there is a basic failure somewhere.

Pizza slice

I don’t think that it was elastic enough to rise properly on the stone. At that point in the cooking process, the yeast has done its thing and now it is steam’s turn to blow that balloon up. Which it didn’t because the dough was too tough.

Farina flour

Of course I was side tracked because I tried a different type of flour. An Italian flour called “Belaria: Farina di grano tenero tipo ‘OO'”. I don’t think I am ready to experiment with different flours. It is cool that Central Market offers different types of flours that are not readily available. But I shouldn’t be distracted at this point.

windowpane test

So, this time, I went back to King Arthur bread flour. I used a packet of yeast to supplement the sourdough culture (my culture seems to be rather laid back). And I performed a “window pane” test on the dough. Which it seemed to pass.

I shall see how it turns out in less than a week.

Disc Golf 11/25/2006

Tagged hole 2

Another day of disc golf before a day of gaming. This time at Cat Hollow. It seems there are some taggers running around here…

Tagged hole 5

So sad…


One running commentary that we make is the term “pipped”. We use it to mean passed by the smallest unit. Here, I pip Gravitt by two discs! Woowoo!

Hole 13

Hole 13 still has not been fixed. But the bucket is still sitting there. My shot was the closest in the group. What was amusing was that the disc embedded itself in some cotton insulation. That disc won’t skip.

Invalid putt

Jon’s putt landed on the basket. Unfortunately, that shot is invalid. As some R.N.s would point out…

Game Day 11/24/2006

Game #1

Reef Encounters of the Second Kind

Ed had another game day. We had seven people today so we broke up into two tables (4 and 3). Mike and I wanted to play a meaty game (he suggested Reef Encounters). Thankfully, John decided to play with us. The others went off to play fluffy games. We have played Reef Encounter before. So we only needed to figure out what the expansion offered. And it is three things. The first is an additional set of tiles. They are tiles that can be one of two colors (depending on which side is up), tiles with a blue shrimp on them, tiles that count as two when eaten, rock tiles, deep water tiles, and crown of thorn tiles. The second thing are action cards which give you special, one time abilities. And the third thing is an extra shrimp that can help you protect your coral.

This is definitely a game that I will play again. The cards are mostly pretty powerful and they are easy to get. So I am wondering just how much they will affect game play. I will hold off reviewing this until I get more plays under my belt.

Game #2

Age of Steam: Northern California

Next up on the meaty table was a new Age of Steam variant. It was one that none of us have played, but was one that Mike said “had good reviews”. When we set up the board and looked it over, I knew that this game was going to be extra tough. There were not many good deliveries at all. Everyone started the game by taking one extra share while Ed decided to be different and took two. I ended up bidding enough to go second with Ed going first. So, I waited to see what direction Ed would go. He chose Urbanization, I went for first build, Mike took Locomotive, and Jon camped on turn order. Since I had first bid, I decided to go for the obvious route of connecting San Fransisco to Half Moon Bay. Ed connected Santa Cruz through Scotts Valley to Los Gatos (urbanized to New City C). Mike took a risk and connected San Jose to New City C. Jon saw a brutal opening left by Ed and connected Santa Cruz directly to New City C. This allowed Jon to deliver the black good sitting on Santa Cruz to New City C before Ed could upgrade his train to handle two city deliveries. This essentially took Ed out of the game (although I will give him credit for playing the game to its completion).

I was left alone for most of the game. And I finally broke even after the halfway point in the game (which is a good accomplishment in this game). My only flaw was that I built too many 7 length connections to deliver goods. I was only able to deliver goods that went along 5 of my tracks and one of Ed’s. Jon was able to mostly keep up with me and was finally able to deliver some 5+ goods. He also benefited from other people using his track (unlike me). Mike was never able to deliver long chains. The best he could do was length 3 goods.

Game #3

Settlers of Catan

With six people, we broke out Settlers of Catan. Instead of using dice, we used the new deck of dice with events. The events (when they happened) were mostly bad. I liked the deck of dice because it evens out the rolls. All but 5 of the 36 dice combinations will be rolled. With dice, you can have improbable events happen like never rolling an eight (this would suck for your houses on that 8 tile).

I tried to go for different numbers when I placed my initial two houses. Unfortunately, my numbers were not the best (9, 6, 12 and 3, 5, 10). It was the best that I could do going fifth. When I could finally build my first two roads, I picked a spot off to the right. So I was extremely worried when John built there as well. Fortunately for me, I was able to build my house there first. And I was able to grab and keep the longest road from Jon. But Jon was too much the powerhouse in this game and he easily won.


Paul wanted to play Tichu, so I stayed late and happily obliged. Paul made the mistake that all new players to this game make. And that is not calling Tichu when you have a Tichu hand. But that skill takes time to acquire. I could have called Tichu one more time in this game but I did not when I thought that it was likely that there was a bomb out there (there was: Ed had a 10-bomb, sigh). Ed’s Tichu call was stopped by two bombs. He could have handled one bomb but not two.

11/24/2006 The scorecard for a game of Tichu

GT or T bet made or lost

This team scored more points than the other or one twoed

GT/T Team #1 GT/T GT/T Team #2 GT/T
Ed & MarkH Jon & PaulM
  50     50  
  250     50  
  310   T+ 290  
  625 T+  
T+ 735    
  865   T+
T- 775    
T+ 1075     725  

Disc Golf 11/24/2006

Hole 3 first

John and myself went disc golfing at the Rivery before gaming at Ed’s. On hole 3, I had a great first throw (probably my best ever there). John went into a tree.

Hole 3 second

My second throw was close to the basket. While John’s was in the cactus bush. I made him get right in it to throw it out. Hehehe…

Challenge course

This sign was propped up against a tree. Is disc golf all that challenging? I hope not. Although I do imagine that certain members of our group probably need supervision…


It is impressive how tenacious life can be some times. That vine is making its way up the basket. It probably won’t be killed by the discs hitting the basket either.

Game Day 11/23/2006

Game #1


John invited me over for some Thanksgiving dinner (and some gaming). I knew that he liked two player, abstract, wooden games. So I brought over some which I have bought but never played. The first game that we picked was Complica. It is a slightly meatier version of Connect-4. Players shove their pieces into one side of the board trying to connect four in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal). You can place the piece in any of the four rows except for the row where your opponent has placed. The only exceptions to this rule is when there are three contiguous pieces of your opponent’s in a row or if there is no other free row left.

A short and simple game.

Game #2


The second game is played on a 5 x 5 grid with 5 different colored sets of five pieces. You start out with one of each color and the rest are placed in the middle. You place a piece on an empty spot and pick up any remaining piece. Play continues until every piece has been placed. The score is based on triangle numbers (1, 3, 6, 10) for connected pieces of a color. You are trying to connect pieces in rows and your opponent is trying to connect pieces in columns.

Another short and simple game.

Game #3


For the last of the series, we played Catena. This game uses a majority scoring based on spots in a column. The columns are arranged in a diamond. Spots are filled one at a time. For each location, players simultaneously reveal one of a set of numbered tokens (0 – 10, *). The higher number wins the battle with the exception that a 1 will always beat a 10. The * always looses but you get to replace one of your already played pieces with that one. In the case of a tie, you choose again. If still tied, then the spot is replaced with a neutral piece. After all of the pieces have been filled, the majority in a column gets one victory point (ties broken by the sum of the numbers).

Here, John’s un-crated son, Clint, poses for a picture.

Game #4

Aqua Romana

The last game was Aqua Romana. Which was a game where you build aqueducts and score them based on their length. Kinda like the Tron lightcycle game but set in old-school Rome. One of the interesting bits about this game is that only one player can occupy a spot on the victory track. So when someone scores an 11 long aqueduct, another person scoring an 11 long aqueduct would score the next empty spot further back along the board (with two spots available on 7 and 3).

Disc Golf 11/22/2006

Disc golf happenings

With the impending Thanksgiving day holiday, Wednesday was turned into a virtual Friday. Which meant a round at Old Settler’s. The weather was been absolutely beautiful out! It was cloudless and in the high 70s. I wish more of Fall was like this.

Hrm, colored sandbags cannot be a good sign. I wonder what is in store for the future…


And here is a line of colored flags. A race perhaps? It is certainly not for disc golfers.

Hole 12

I met up with John and Jon at hole 11. They had been playing the winter course, where I had been playing the original. I did have a good first throw on hole 12.

Rufi’s breakfast tacos


There are a lot of breakfast taco options for me. The IBM cafeteria makes a rather generous, filling, and cheap taco. But with Thanksgiving coming up, the cafeteria is mostly closed up. On Metric I go to the Taco Shack. You gotta love a restaurant that is only open for breakfast and lunch. Why work more hours than you have to?

Today, I went to Rufi’s on Lamar. I thought I was in trouble when I noticed that the siding was removed from the building. But then I saw a sign pointing to the right. So I looked around and realized that Rufi’s had moved to a new building. They seem to be doing well.


I like breakfast taco places that have more options available to you. And this one has Mexican options out the wazoo: Chorizo, Picadillo, Carne Guisada, Barbacoa, Al Pastor, Steak Ranchero, …