Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Archive for September 2012

Board gaming weekend, part 1

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A friend from work had invited me along to a “board gaming convention” at someone’s house in the Garden State, which unsurprisingly ended up being a terrific way to spend half a weekend.

It wasn’t really a convention, at least to my mind. More of a bunch of gamers bringing a bunch of games to the house of Ed and his wife Stephanie, who most graciously provided a wealth of food, drinks and snacks. Not to mention four cute dogs and the coolest house I’ve seen in a good while (he even had a secret office behind a swinging bookcase!). All in all an extraordinary host. And though I was surprised that most of the participants were from my parents’ generation, they were a thoroughly enjoyable group of people. Add in exposure to a bunch of sweet new games and there’s no way I wouldn’t have a great time.

New games eh? New to me anyway, and why don’t I tell you briefly about each of them in case they’re new to you too (people disinterested in board games can stop reading now):

Glory to Rome is a card game that kind of strikes me as a mix of Race For The Galaxy and Puerto Rico. It revolves around cards drawn from a common deck, which can be used in multiple ways: during your turn you either Think to draw cards from the deck, or Lead by playing one of the cards from your hand and assuming the role on the card (e.g. a Labourer which nets you resources, or a Craftsman that spends these to build buildings). The similarity to Puerto Rico comes from the fact that your opponents get a chance to Follow your lead by playing an equivalent card and thus taking the same action. Because each card represents both a role, a building and a resource which come into play depending on how and when the card is played, it’s a bit of a mouthful at first to wrap your head around the interactions in your hand and formulate a strategy from these. But once used to this you should be rewarded with some serious replayability. This negates my main objection to Puerto Rico, that there often seems to be a clear choice of action, while also giving you a little longer to form a strategy than in Race. I only got a single game of Glory to Rome in, but liked it enough that I’ve ordered copy for myself.

Well, it’s getting late and I have an extended date with the Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer tomorrow, so stay tuned for board gaming weekend part 2, wherein I’ll review Cosmic Encounter, Kingdom Builder and King of Tokyo.

Written by Martin

2012/09/30 at 22:20

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Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

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AKA pictures from our recent barbeque:

Laying out the goodies. 20 pounds of baby back ribs, mm-mmmm.

The Lyle (of Greg & Lyle fame)

Yeah, George is lighting things on fire again. Good way to end a night, no?

Written by Martin

2012/09/28 at 13:51

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Aching for completion

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The other day it fully dawned on me that I’m a habitual progress-measurer. I’m sure I would have admitted as much had I been pressed on the matter, but in this case the weight of it hit me in the middle of a bike ride: the majority of my activities are broken into quantifiable steps towards a definable goal, and many a thought is spent gauging my progress along these paths. I must finish X papers for my Ph.D., this or that paper requires Y experiments for completion. Each day, each week and each year has a to-do list attached, and tasks are checked off upon completion. As soon as I make a beginning, whether painting my Yu Jing or just buying food, I’m already looking towards its end. Lord help the kids if I ever end up being minister of education.

As far as I can tell this is a trait that cuts both ways. Certainly there are scenarios were you just need to work your way through something…

That’s a gallon of milk right there, and it’s got nothing on those Charms

… and measurable progress along the way can be very motivating. But sticking firmly to the program is bound to result in missed opportunities, and not everything of value can be measured. Nor does progress always come at a steady rate, so banking on that as my main source of motivation is certain to bring woes. I wax poetic, so I’ll bring this to an end with the simple statement that I’m a habitual progress-measurerer. Just something to keep in mind.

PS: It seems that I’ve somehow transformed into a person that prefers oats with raisins and walnuts to Lucky Charms. I wish I’d noticed that before I bought the box in the picture.

Written by Martin

2012/09/26 at 19:57

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Snapshots

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Something is subtly wrong in this picture

And overtly wrong in this one

Written by Martin

2012/09/25 at 10:46

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Creams

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Last week I happened to tally my Ben & Jerry’s experiences and realized that there were only 14 (dairy) flavors I hadn’t yet sampled, so I halfway decided to make it through the entire range before heading home. My next trip to Wegman’s provided me Red Velvet Cake and Vanilla Caramel Fudge, at which point I promptly decided that life is too short to eat crappy ice cream for some arbitrary accomplishment. So when Sara decided to substitute some locally made monstrosity for the pint of B&J’s she owed me I wasn’t at all displeased (even though it tastes pretty bad).

Yeah, they’ll pretty much put it in anything over here.

Anyway, returning to the original subject: my favorite flavor is probably Phish Food, just because those fudge fish are so intensely delicious and the ingredients generally complement each other well. Runners up include Oatmeal Cookie Chunk and perhaps S’Mores. So yeah, all three have fudge, but I promise that they’re really very different! It’s not quite as simple to name the worst flavor(s), but I’m going to go with the two that made me drop the whole endeavor on account of their unpleasant artificiality. Banana Split was pretty unconvincing as well, and in general the flavors that tried to imitate some other dessert were less rewarding than those that merely incorporated elements from such. The award for most surprising has to go to Chubby Hubby, which despite being bought as a joke ranks quite highly in my (nonexistent) list. Snide individuals might comment on fudge being one of the ingredients, but in truth the salty pretzels just work well to emphasize the sweeter flavors (just like slightly salty caramel or toffee).

Of course I’m not saying that I won’t be digging into any more B&J’s, but the completist ice cream quest is now officially declared over.

Written by Martin

2012/09/21 at 08:11

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Planned spontaneity

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In case anyone was wondering, yes, in this case fewer posts actually does mean fewer adventures. A bit of a pity, but I’m nearing the end of the Ph.D. and thus entering into ‘get shit done’ territory.

That said, I did make a trip down to DC this Saturday, originally for a festival, a concert and just some good times.  The festival was on H street, apparently a pretty sprightly part of the otherwise muted and morose capital. Lots of bars, lots of restaurants, lots of life. Sadly we were a bit retarded in leaving Baltimore (partly my fault for going to aikido and work in the morning) and by the time we got to DC it was supposed to be pretty much over. So we instead proceeded straight to the good times, popping open a couple of bottles of cheap champagne on the lawn in front of the White House and throwing down to Snoop Dogg.

I’m surprised they let you do this

We moved the good times across town to H street (that festival hadn’t been over at five, by the way) and into Biergarten Haus which, despite the clumsy name, turned out to be a pretty authentic experience: big communal tables in the yard out back, lots of Munich beers (Maß-sized) and of course my beloved schweinshaxe:

All will be consumed for great justice

Concert was right next door, featuring a neat new band Sara introduced me to, plus some unnamed warmup act that turned out to be pretty nice. Small venue, pretty good sound and nice performances for both of them: definitely not bad, but in the end I was confirmed in my cognizance that concerts really don’t do much for me. To digress slightly, I think I enjoy music mostly to accentuate other experiences and get restless when I try to focus on it exclusively (just as I do for movies). Anyway, nice band and a solid though unsurprising performance; the scene was set for more good times, or so it seemed until one of my friends eloped with the lead singer of the band (solid move, though) and the other one eloped with the passkey for the hostel. I know it’s doable to boldly stepping into the night with the expectation of crashing somewhere random, but in this case I took the cowardly/reasonable way out and went back to the hostel. Which probably made for a much more enjoyable Sunday at work.

Written by Martin

2012/09/18 at 18:35

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For serious?

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Written by Martin

2012/09/11 at 14:46

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