Friday, April 25, 2008

My Dice

This is just a tangent of a comment from the the last post. As I said, I have a bit of an obsession with unusual Dice. The Bottom View's color is a little off, because I had to take it without a flash and I was just too lazy to try to actually get enough light in the room.
(Click for Full Size)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Gaming Realization

Several years ago I was introduced to German style boardgames. The first game I played was at a the home of a friend to my wife. Carcassonne a tile laying game. It took about 20 minutes and we played a couple times, it was very fun. Some time later we visited their home and we played again, but with an expansion pack that added some new rules and extended the game playing time.

Then there was a family gathering where we played the Ever popular Settlers of Catan. I was so intrigued that I looked into it more and found that there was a whole new world of board gaming that had nothing to do with Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers (Both owned by Hasbro these days apparently).

We bought Settlers of Catan and it became the game of choice at parties. When we were introduced to the game we were also introduced to a house rule. The house rule says you can buy, sell, or trade at any time. With our college friends this made for a Fast paced trading game that rarely lasted more than half an hour. We bought all the Expansion Sets for it (except the difficult to obtain German releases) and I enjoyed it very much, in fact it was my game of choice for a long time.

We then started obtaining all the Carcassonne expansions. It is no longer a quick game. With all the expansions Carcassonne now averages 3 hours. While this is very enjoyable for me, it does not get out of the box as much as a result.

After finding that there are specialty game shops we tried a number of games including, but not limited to Bang! (and Expansions), Zombies!!! (and Expansions), Ticket to Ride (and Expansions), Fluxx (and Zombie Fluxx), Munchkin (and Expansions), Guillotine, Battle Cattle, Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot (and expansions), Colosseum, Cranium, Cleopatra and the Society of Architects, The Dread Pirate Games, Loot, Mystery of the Abbey, Pirate's Cove, Shadows over Camelot, The Haunting House, MidEVIL (and Expansions), Zombietown, Cartagena, Puerto Rico, Descent, Arkham Horror, Heroscape.

Anyway, the point is I recently had an experience playing Settlers of Catan with a group that insisted we play with the actual rules. I do not see what people like about that game when playing with the actual rules it takes Sooooooooo Looooooooooooong, and Frankly is quite boring. Then I got to thinking about the last few games of Settlers that I had played, and I realized that I now hate Settlers of Catan, with or without the house rule. I just don't enjoy playing it anymore.

My current favorite game. Hard to say, but almost anything is better than Settlers of Catan.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My battle with The Flopside Pit of 100 Trials, a Mouse, and a Skunk (Over Explained Version)

I did much battle last night.

My wife was conducting business at the dinner table after we put the little bean to bed last night. So I did enter the Flopside Pit of 100 trials. (For the uninitiated, the Pit of 100 trials is a beast of a challenge that the folks at Nintendo included in the game "Super Paper Mario." It is 100 Small Rooms that must be defeated sequentially. There is no saving; you have the option to leave every 10th level, but if you leave you must start over again. There are two pits. One in the City of Flipside and one in the city of Flopside. I thought Flipside was tough to defeat. You get to the end with hardly any life left and then you have to defeat a Dragon. Then I found the Pit of trials in Flopside and realized how easy flipside is. I stopped playing the game for a long time because this thing is so hard to beat, and boring at that.)

I learned of a little cheat in the game that allows you to Level up quickly. (Those not into the Gaming lingo, that means your character is more experienced. i.e. You can deal out more damage and can take more damage without dying, and you have more Skills.) There is a level in the game with a tube that spits out a bad guy, and when it had been defeated, it spits out another. To take advantage of this you go there with Bowser and blow his fiery breath, as they fall out of the tube they are defeated, you gain XP (experience points) and level up. The thing with levelling up is the amount of XP needed to get from level to level continually increases. So now that I'm into the upper levels, this method takes longer and longer. I have tried taking on the Flopside Pit on with 50 HP (Hit Points [technically Super Paper Mario calls it Heart Points, but it's the same thing], i.e. the amount of damage you can take before dying) and 60 HP multiple times. But the furthest I made it was about level 61. Over the past couple days I have spent a little time exploiting the levelling cheat and reached 85 HP.

I was leveling up Last night. As I was playing I saw a Mouse looking at our DVD collection. It looked and then jumped toward the shelf and then jumped back. It was odd for two reasons. 1) Mice usually don't venture out in the open when there are 3 people in the room with normal noise/conversation levels; Sometimes if everyone is watching T.V. with the lights off they will venture out briefly. and 2) It seemed really agitated. It was curved, like a cat that is trying to look bigger than it is. Its body was up off the ground; usually you can't even see mouse legs because they are hidden under the body as they scurry about. But this was raised up and it was jumping around a bit. I paused the game and ran over. It hid under a backpack. I lifted the backpack and it was scurrying back and forth in the space between the entertainment center and the DVD shelf. But something didn't look right, it was happening so fast that I couldn't tell what, but it was almost as if it was being rolled back and forth rather than running. Then it ran in the direction of the living room, I dropped the Backpack on top of it, and it disappeared. I went back to the game and hit 85 HP.

Then Justin came to the door, prepared to play a game of Ticket to Ride. Emily was still helping her client. I was Levelling so he dove into an online game of Ticket to Ride. I filled my inventory with Items that refill HP and tackled the Flopside Pit of 100 trials.

Ten or Fifteen minutes later Emily squealed a bit and moved to the other side of the Kitchen. I asked what was going on and she said, it just popped out from Sparky's food and was flying through the air. I spotted it in the Kitchen near the DVD shelves. It looked like it was having a seizure and it was literally bouncing around the kitchen floor. It bounced under the microwave stand and disappeared. I grabbed a flashlight, but could not see it under there. I moved the trash can, but it was nowhere to be found.

I returned to the Pit, Justin returned to his Rail Baron ways, and Emily and Josh returned to the selling of his house.

The mouse emerged again, this time it was moving like a normal mouse and went under the door that leads to the Garage. I paused the game, ran over and opened the door. There he was, standing on the second stair. I tuned on the light and it Jumped to the top stair and began to run towards me. If I had been wearing shoes, I would have stepped on it. I was not wearing shoes so I slammed the door on it. Slammed doesn't accurately describe what happened though, because that door has a weather strip there is too much drag and it doesn't slam. Nevertheless when I opened the door it was halfway down the stairs, a little dazed I think. I chased it down the stairs and it ran toward the bottom stair and thus just out of my sight. It was moving to the right and I thought it was cornered, but when I got to the bottom it was gone. It must have gone through the tight squeeze between the stair and the wall, DARN RODENTS AND YOUR COLLAPSIBLE RIB CAGES!!!

I set a mousetrap at that corner. Nothing could get out without being trapped.

I returned to the pit. Josh had gone, and Emily and Justin were enjoying a nice game of Switzerland Ticket to Ride. I reached room 100. I expected to have to defeat another Dragon. Instead I was told that I had Fought Valiantly, but I was not worthy to face the foe there until I had once more reached the bottom of the Flopside Pit of 100 trials. I was then presented with an Exit tube.

I was happy to have defeated the pit, but annoyed that I have to do it again. I saved and shut down. Emily wanted to wind down a little before going to bed so we watched some T.V. When we got up, Sparky wanted to go out. The door was locked for the night (by Emily), and in hindsight I should have just told him that he was done for the day. I let him out, he was barking like Mad, I figured it was just a cat. Then I started to smell something foul.

I poked my head outside. He had been sprayed by a skunk. At least I think it was a Skunk. It smells a bit different than what you smell driving down a Highway, a little more musky, a little more like burning rubber. This was at 11:30ish at night.

I found a concoction on the Internet that was apparently developed by Chemist Paul Krebaum
(Chemical & Engineering News , October 18, 1993, p. 90)

Here is a Paul's website.

1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon of liquid detergent.

For the record I just used what we had and did not mix the formula exactly as stated and it seemed to work just fine. But maybe that's just my nose getting used to the smell.

I did much battle last night. A Pit, A Mouse, A Smell.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I kinda freaked out when I had a big Manila folder from the F.B.I. in the mail today. Then I remembered that I had requested a background search, and that I was supposed to not open it and take it to the HR department.

UPDATE: I took the envelope to the HR representative in my building. She opened it up in front of me. The Note from the F.B.I. said (and I quote), "No File Found"

So I don't have a record with the FBI, but now they have my Fingerprints.