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July 6th, 2005


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07:32 am - Place held
My final set of shifts for another couple of weeks are over, passing with only pleasant incident; I am free, free, free on holiday for a fortnight. Hurrah! Down to London to stay at radinden's overnight; having not made the time to post about this I had no prior plans, improvising a trip to meet up with addedentry - damn useful things, mobile phones - and failing to meet up with huskyteer, verlaine and mr_babbage, the latter of whom was putting the finishing touches to his magic show.

I nearly met up with the_maenad, who was free to meet, but we concluded that I could not get up to see her and then back to where I would be staying in sensible time. She did have me stumbling around London for a wireless connection so I could talk to a Canadian puzzler (not the canadianpuzzler!) on a role-playing MUSH about puzzles. I managed to bootleg some wireless outside a London pub in a slight shower, but the connection was very intermittent and I kept getting disconnected. (All the same, O mysterious Canadian puzzler, I would be happy to hook you up with information if I can.) I return to London on the morning of Friday 15th and will be available to see nice folk before heading up to Birmingham for Manorcon.

(Incidentally, if anyone in London wants to use a my-cloud wireless hotspot, there may or may not be a little credit that I can no longer use left on username cyejqiff and password B9wM9 for a few more days. Have fun.)

And so to East Croydon to intersect with radinden, who has an extremely pleasant, clean and tidy bachelor pad in a leafy London suburb. It also has a very fine Indian restaurant at the end of the road. We watched the day's tribute to Richard Whiteley - surprisingly good - and called it a night before rising at 4:50am in order to forced-march it up to the nearest Tramlink stop and catch the X26 bus to Heathrow. (Thanks for everything, Rob, especially for making sure I got to where I needed to be on time!) I have written a trip report about my flight from Heathrow to JFK for a fan site devoted to the Virgin Atlantic airline; along the way, I watched two pretty decent Asian game shows on the in-flight entertainment, which you can also read about.

Touchdown in JFK was a few minutes ahead of schedule; immigration, baggage claim and customs were easy and amuzulo was very kindly waiting for me on the other side. I was asked five questions at immigration; I think the past six US trips have netted 3, 2, 1, 10, 1 and 5 questions respectively, so who knows how many I'll get next time. Chuck took me to the AirTrain - a very neat little automated driverless people-mover linking JFK's terminals; nothing terribly revolutionary, but a pleasant example of the genre - and from there we took the A train to our agreed meeting point, the 42nd Street Port Authority terminal. Chuck and I concluded that the NY underground system has better trains than that of London, but London has rather better stations.

Meg and I had been counting the hours until meeting again for many days beforehand so I hope Chuck can forgive me for rather sprinting through Port Authority in order to try to get to Meg as quickly as possible, and then to visit a restroom with all possible haste. (We met at the perpetual motion machine on the upper level. The balls that kept going up and around the structure had fallen off it, but the machine kept working, which was poetic.) All told, there were six of us in the party: dezzikitty, me, amuzulo, his friend Stacy, dr4b and nickjong. I had found dr4b long ago through the fondly-remembered but dearly departed magic index list of similar users and it was fine fun to meet at long last. We walked a couple of blocks to West Bryant Park and escaped from the summer heat by crowding under a shade to play card games (Fluxx and Hattrick - an interesting but sadly out-of-print trick-taking game whose main gimmick is that two tricks take place at once every round). It was great fun and extremely civilised.

After a couple of hours, we decamped to our favourite NY restaurant, Old Devil Moon. The menu had changed for the summer and my favourite dish of steak, pasta and salad was no longer there, but the summer menu offered enough options that I think all six of us enjoyed our meal. (Hat tip to Cassie for taking Meg and others there months back.) A truly lovely day in very pleasant company indeed. After the meal, we rushed off to catch the 7pm Greyhound back to Boston and napped most of the way home before getting lucky with public transportation within town. Long distance relationships can be terrible, but the first few hours after re-encounter are fantastic - a little like falling in love for the first time all over again. (The hours that have followed those first few haven't been at all bad, either!)

Lots of sleep later, we went out for Sunday brunch, then hit Old Navy for clothes shopping. They had a deal of two polo shirts for $20, so I got that three times. Am not sure that I am not overinvested in polo shirts - which are, at least, classic, apparently - but at least my wardrobe is now colourful and comfortable. I also had mango lassi from a food court (unusually strong mango, which is good, but no glorious aftertaste) and enjoyed looking at the official rules of a (past?) Burger King star wars promotion. Apparently 1/3 of the prizes are small drinks, 1/4 of the prizes are small fries, 1/7 of the prizes are very small burgers, 1/7 of the prizes are small burgers and 1/7 of the prizes are bigger burgers. I added up these fractions to see what proportion was left for the bigger prizes, which I was expecting to be about 1 in 5,000 or so, and my arithmetic has those five fractions adding to 85/84, which is worrying. Unfortunately I can't find a rule sheet online to check this but I guess the claimed 1/3, 1/4 and 1/7 must be highly rounded figures.

Yesterday saw a whole lot of packing, plus a trip to our favourite taqueria. Damn, but Boston has a lot of good places to eat - and fairly inexpensively too, thanks to the exchange rate. This lunchtime we went out for a sandwich, but this planned sandwich turned into gazpacho soup (like a soup version of salsa except with more cucumber - summery and pleasant!) followed by steak tips, pilau rice and a salad, with an ice-cream sundae to follow. Er, yes. At some point I may have to cut back a little - perhaps in the work weeks between holidays, I suspect. Anyway, returning to yesterday, we went out to watch Boston's annual Independence Day fireworks among a crowd of thousands tightly packed on a bridge; particular favourite fireworks among an impressive delay were ones which formed distinct smiley faces (orange circles around red eyes and a green mouth!), red hearts (which attracted big female-voiced "ahh!"s from the crowd) and planet Saturns.

This evening we have been out to see gwendolyngrace and etakyma for dinner and games. Four games were on the agenda. The first was the relatively famous Fluxx rule-changing card game and the second was a Harry Potter Quidditch toy (I forget the actual name!) that is the first officially-licensed game that I might consider buying. It consists of a Hungry Hungry Hippos-style mechanism whereby Draco and Harry fire little red Quaffles through rotating hoops. These rotating hoops contain flicky switches that count the number of goals scored. Every now and again a Golden Snitch pops out of the top of the mechanism, fired with random velocity, that players must try to physically catch before the bounce - sounds easy, but is satisfyingly disconnected enough to make it at least a little of a feat. Additionally the 150 points for the Snitch is not too high a factor, unlike in "real" Quidditch, when you can score hundreds of points per minute with the Quaffles. I'm not quite sure what the exact name of the toy is, or even if it's still in print, but it was satisfyingly silly, endearingly dangerous-looking-but-not-so-in-practice and far niftier than most.

We then played the Lord of the Rings trilogy edition of Monopoly; this has an elegant twist whereby the One Ring visits each of the 22 properties on the board in turn, advancing from one to the next on one roll in six and ending the game after completing the circuit. This keeps the game satisfyingly short to the point where it's unlikely players will get knocked out before the game ends. It also makes the stations ("steeds") particularly powerful - taking 200 in rent from a monopoly of steeds is quite a swing because it's unlikely the hotel monopolies will be developed enough to the point where you'll be getting the big rents. I got a monopoly of the red properties (the cheaper monopoly on third street) and built 3, 2 and 2 houses ("strongholds"); I only managed to get two people to hit to the tune of 90 along the way but it was just enough to win by a margin of about 2,500 to 2,300 to 2,100 to (slightly less). Definitely a fun and quick way to play Monopoly.

Lastly, we played a Vampire Hunter game of the roll-dice-move-pawns-resolve-tiles-fight-monsters variety, but this had a very neat twist whereby the board and tiles are marked in inks that will be illuminated differently by the game's inbuilt red light (illuminated during game days) and inbuilt blue light (illuminated during game nights). There's also a very satisfying race-against-the-clock element by which all players will lose the game equally if they have not won by turn 20+1d6 - one of the last six cards in the deck will see the vampire escape. A cute gimmick and one that works. A little rule-heavy for what it is, but fine family fun!
Current Mood: lovedloved

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:huskyteer
Date:July 6th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)
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Sorry I missed you; was already heading Dorsetwards when you called, but many thanks for the good wishes.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC)
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No problem at all!

You may have replied to this once already - apologies if you have - but did my parcel last time, sent to your old address, ever reach you in the end?
[User Picture]
From:verlaine
Date:July 6th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC)
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Did you try to meet up with me then? I'm a bit concerned that maybe no one knows my new phone number still ;)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 05:50 pm (UTC)
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I sent a text message to a number Owen supplied, but this was a day or two before you posted your new one. No wonder I couldn't reach you! :-(
[User Picture]
From:undyingking
Date:July 6th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC)
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That Quidditch game does sound like fun! Maybe JK Rowling can be persuaded to modify the in-book version accordingly...
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
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There's a story to be written wherein there are further Quaffles introduced into Quidditch and the size of the goals is considerably increased in order to get the game balance working properly.

Not a good story or one that non-game-organisation geeks would enjoy, but a story all the same :-/
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From:amuzulo
Date:July 6th, 2005 06:31 am (UTC)
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Yay! We'll have to do that again sometime! :)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)

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I do hope so! You were rather lucky (?) to get a crowd of us all meeting up in the same place like that, but I guess it's a perk of living in a world city like New York - all sorts of interesting folk, plus us, have reason to be passing through... :-)
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From:amuzulo
Date:July 7th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC)
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That's one of the big reasons why I love living in NYC! :)
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From:mewcenary
Date:July 6th, 2005 06:41 am (UTC)
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Your geekyness is incomplete without one of those cool light sabers I picked up recently ;-)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Mmm - might get one as a gag gift for my boss (a shade younger than me and a huge Star Wars fan) but I'll pass, thanks. Besides, zorac introduced me to the joys of the Babylon 5 Minbari Fighting Pike almost a decade ago and that's enough sci-fi pseudo-martial artistry for me!
[User Picture]
From:gwendolyngrace
Date:July 6th, 2005 07:05 am (UTC)
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Once again, it was great to see you and to get to know dezzikitty a bit better! Anytime you're in the area again, let me know - it was so cool to break in the flat's "hosting" capabilities (as Gwen also has a list of things to acquire...). Safe journeys home!
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! It has happened before that you only get to know the cool people in an area shortly before you leave, and Meg has long been looking to get to know cool and non-scary (or, at least, scary in a good, t00by way) people to get to play games with. See you at TWH, if not before!
From:2ndavemusic
Date:July 6th, 2005 09:25 am (UTC)
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So you're in Boston. Having flown into JFK.

Did you call? Noooooooo! Bah.

Haven't read ahead yet to see your return-trip plans, but would love to say hi if there's a chance.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 08:34 pm (UTC)
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It's a fair cop. :-) Not only did I fail to inform lovely London types that I would be in town and available to see them, I failed to inform NY folks at large of the same thing. We fly BOS-ATL on Tuesday; I fly ATL-JFK and then JFK-LHR on Thursday, arriving in JFK at 5:55pm and flying out at 11:10pm. I need to check in for the transatlantic leg, so doing something in the intervening hours seems optimistic, but if you happened to be in the area anyway at the time, then another meeting would be fantastic. :-)
From:2ndavemusic
Date:July 7th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)
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Optimistic at very best, since I have a meeting on Thursday 'til 6 and it'd take an hour or more to get out to JFK. Alas...

If things change, I'll comment again to say so. Or email. Or send a carrier pigeon.

Glad to have you on this side of the pond today.

[User Picture]
From:nystana
Date:July 6th, 2005 10:28 am (UTC)
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Wish I had known ahead of time you were in the States. I would've loved to say hi and see how you're doing.

It looks like you're having a fabulous trip. Perhaps, they'll be a get-together on your way back.

One can only hope. *G*
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 6th, 2005 08:37 pm (UTC)
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My fault for not organising things properly and letting NY folk at large know I'll be passing through!

I have a layover at JFK on the way back on Thursday 14th, flying in at 5:55pm and needing to check in again for a transatlantic flight which takes off at 11:10pm, so that gives me about 2-3 hours to get from terminal to terminal. Wouldn't be able to go too far within NTC in that time, but if there's a gap in your schedule, then perhaps we can make something happen. :-)
From:sweet_merak
Date:July 6th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Interesting bit of self-centered trivia: the One Ring from the LotR monopoly game fits my ring finger exactly. When playing I am fond of wearing it and loathe to give it up... ;>
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 8th, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC)
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We did those jokes too :-D

There's also the Lord of the Rings co-operative board game, as such, from 2000. It's very good indeed, though rather hard to learn if none of the players have played before, and features even more ring-related malarky.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 8th, 2005 06:52 am (UTC)
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Gazpacho is not only wonderful, but easy to make. Even with canned tomatoes, it's still pretty good.

If you want to make it just a titch better, though...

Steam and peel some shrimp. (Prawns, if you will.) Or buy them pre-cooked. Don't worry about buying the expensive big ones--in this case, the smaller the better. (There's a variety we call "salad shrimp," which are positively teeny; they're just what the doctor ordered in this case.)

Toss a small handful into each bowl of gazpacho. Top with a dollop of sour cream or unflavored yog(h)urt, and, if desired, a sprinkling of chopped parsley, cilantro, or scallion.

Life is good.

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