Lovely surprises came through the post from addedentry and ringbark recently. ringbark sent me a copy of the Otago Daily Times with the article I recently posted to dice_fetish, commentary on Yachtsman Chris Dickson (who lost 5-1 - sigh) and much more. addedentry sent me a bilingual Chinese/English calendar to celebrate the Chinese New Year on the 1st of February which has lovely pictures of fairly cartoony pandas at play. Thanks, guys! They really cheered me up and left me with a great big enchanted, silly grin on my face. I really appreciate your kindness!
tall_man points to mathematics jokes: long and short.
The BBC have a story suggesting that neurofeedback can improve memory. I'm generally pretty skeptical about things like this, but this one I do tend to believe. At some other point I'll write about how close I once came to spending US$5,000 (and probably a lot more...) on this myself. Not tonight, though - too late, The BBC also have the Book of the Future. Does seem to be an enterprise by which the BBC might make pots of cash off users' backs, but at least an interesting one. I have idle thoughts about putting some 2020-related transport speculations therein.
In-jokes and strange comments in a part of a newspaper that nobody ever pays attention to? That'd be Ears No One Reads, then. Particularly in later years they get tremendously funny.
I sometimes rant on and on about how wonderful the LiveJournal Portal is, but it took chrisvenus to point out that the little + buttons in the boxes in the right-hand column let you change some of the boxes' settings. For instance, you can customise the noise that your Frank the Goat makes. Mine currently goes warble. Warble, Frank, warble. Good Frank. Niiiiice goat.
On my travels - back late Monday! Have had what might best be described as a cowardly, unproductive week; haven't really felt like trying anything or like having much to say. On the considerable plus side, I'm set for two consecutive entertaining weekends; this weekend I'm off to Oxford for the OxCon board games convention: Diplomacy tournament on Saturday, Settlers of Catan tournament on Sunday. I organised the Settlers tournament for six years from '97 to 2002 but have finally handed it over now that I have finalised a format I am happy with. (I've run Settlers tournaments elsewhere to this tried-and-tested routine.) It'll be interesting to see how big the tournaments are this year - see if we can get at least as many as the 36 we got for Settlers last year, a record for a British one-day tournament. Will be seeing lots and lots of nice board-gaming friends from university, who are by and large my closest bunch of friends that don't know of the existence of this LJ. (Maybe the_maenad will be there this year. Fingers crossed!)
Have also booked a shockingly reasonably priced Apex rail ticket for the MacT00bage Harry Potter fandom meeting the weekend after next. It seems that zorac is bringing an Apple Mac so I suspect my part of the deal might have to involve bringing a Flasher's Mac. Hmmmh. By contrast, everyone at MacT00bage (without exception, I believe?) has a LiveJournal. Both should be great fun but very different; this will be the ninth OxCon (in effect - technically, two one-day Oxford Diplomacy Tournaments before seven OxCons) I've been to and the first Potter fandom gathering. It'll be interesting to compare the two and see where my interests really do lie.
Games: Am still hanging on in the cashless poker-by-e-mail WRGPT tournament. In fact, a rash move has made me the chip leader on my table of ten:
! 01/22/03 09:39:22! Dealing a new hand ! 01/22/03 09:39:22! Everyone antes $300 ! 01/22/03 09:39:22! Henrik Nyberg blinds $500 ! 01/22/03 09:39:22! Lee Bulmer blinds $1000 ! 01/22/03 09:39:22! S Casey is on vacation and folds ! 01/22/03 11:48:44! Jenee Wagner folds ! 01/22/03 11:48:44! Dan Nussbaum folds ! 01/22/03 11:48:44! Chris M Dickson raises $3000 ! 01/22/03 12:41:24! Halle Asterbadi folds ! 01/22/03 12:41:24! Doug Suffel folds ! 01/22/03 12:41:24! Jim VanWinkle folds ! 01/22/03 12:41:24! Greg FeltShark Reynolds folds ! 01/22/03 12:41:24! Henrik Nyberg raises $43925 and is all in ! 01/22/03 21:37:47! Lee Bulmer folds ! 01/22/03 21:46:36! Chris M Dickson calls - side pot ! 01/22/03 21:46:36! Pot right ($71600), flopping/dealing/drawing cards ! 01/22/03 21:46:36! 2 players, 2 all in ! 01/22/03 21:46:36! Flopped cards: Qd As 2c ! 01/22/03 21:46:36! Flopped card: 6c ! 01/22/03 21:46:36! Flopped card: 3s ! Hand over, current board is: Qd As 2c 6c 3s ! Henrik Nyberg has: Kd Kc ! Chris M Dickson has: Ad Jc ! Pot 1: uncalled $28250 returned to Henrik Nyberg ! Pot 2: Chris M Dickson wins $43350 with One Pair (A A Q J 6) +-+----------------------------+--------+--------+------+----+--------+ |#| Name |Bankroll| Action |Status|Pot#|Pot Size| +-+----------------------------+--------+--------+------+----+--------+ 1| Jim VanWinkle | 17175 | | | | | 2| Greg FeltShark Reynolds | 37375 | | | | | 3|D Henrik Nyberg | 28250 | | | | | 4| Lee Bulmer | 25525 | | | | | 5|V S Casey | 12800 | |<AWOL>| | | 6| Jenee Wagner | 650 | | | | | 7| Dan Nussbaum | 24900 | | | | | 8|> Chris M Dickson | 43350 | | | | | 9| Halle Asterbadi | 32100 | | | | | 10| Doug Suffel | 11250 | | | | | +-+----------------------------+--------+--------+------+----+--------+ ! 583 players left in the tournament, 0 tables down to six players
I only called the all-in because this table had been very loose - not least, Dan had been quite keen on pushing all his chips in pre-flop recently and I was starting to wonder whether he was on a steal more often than not. This time he had a monster but I managed to get a lucky draw - by my calculations I only had a 29% chance of pairing the Ace and even then he might get a third King. The call was probably correct if I thought that pairing at least the Jack would leave me ahead, but evidently I read his hand wrongly. :-) It was a suspenseful few minutes between sending the mail off confirming my big call and receiving the results of the hand, but I got very excited when I saw there were three mails, not fewer, waiting for me from the automated dealer. Back to Rockrington Stanley now, I suspect.
Game design: Had an appealing idea for a board/card game recently. This is what I jotted down about it: tech tree, trading elements from Settlers, race element from MULE / Dragon's Gold, rulebreaking from Cosmic Encounter, development elements from Outpost, race-against-time element from 18xx, semi-cooperative score comparison. Obviously you can't rely on explicitly taking chunks from different games to make things work - though there are a few games which do do this explicitly - but it's conjuring a nice image in my head. It also strikes me that it would need extremely careful balance playtesting, but if done correctly it might be the sort of game experience I enjoy very much indeed. This will almost certainly get no further, but it's a nice thought already.
Game design: very silly idea - Sorting Hat Twister. Take a large mat and daub it with red-and-gold, yellow-and-black, green-and-silver and blue-and-bronze dots. (You could just apply appropriately coloured tape to the dots on a standard Twister mat.) Play is as normal Twister except without the wheel. Instead, read out a Sorting Hat scene from a Harry Potter story - either canon or fanfic. The houses that the characters are sorted into determine the colours of dot that the players must move to. Male characters indicate arm movements, female characters leg movements, indeterminate characters (Blaise Zabini, I'm talking to you here) indicate both movements are required. Characters with longer given names than surnames imply movement of left limbs, characters with longer surnames than given names imply movement of right limbs. Either that or just make up the series of movements required by whatever will induce most contact, as usual.
Finally, a few dream excerpts. One involves playing poker. I am seemingly winning lots of hands but my stack of chips is going right down. I discover two reasons for this: a large sum of chips have been taken away by someone "to be replaced by some more modern ones" - and of course the replacement never occurs. The second is that sometimes my opponent is putting some item other than chips into the pot; when I come to collect the pot, I am failing to collect this other item. Hmm. I shall take this as an indication of tricks to avoid.
On a different night I am taking part in a kids' action game show where the object is to knock as many things down from the shelves (etc.) of a room onto the floor as possible - whoever has the messiest floor at the end (judged by the number of items touching the floor) wins. I do a fairly exhaustive sweep very quickly and score somewhere in the twenties, but I point out to the host that I have knocked a number of things off behind the bed in the room as well. Counting them brings the total up into the forties. My opponent's score is somewhere in the thirties and so I win, but I note that I only have won because the opponent has some tall stacks of building blocks on the floor. If he had knocked the stacks of building blocks over then he would have won instead. In my dream I think this is actually a great idea for a real-life game show. Outside my dream, I don't.
On a third night I dream that someone called Kelly is being teased by all the inhabitants of a house or a business. (I don't think I'm present - I'm merely watching this all going on and the "camera" is following Kelly around.) "The next day" a policeman and a policewoman call to investigate the situation and Kelly's complaints. Unfortunately for Kelly, it turns out that they aren't real police staff and join in with the teasing too. The last part of the dream sees the members of the house stopping Kelly from leaving the building just so that they can tease Kelly more. (Can't remember whether Kelly was a man or a woman.) I don't know a Kelly in real life, but I can guess which book the name has come from.
Last night I dreamt that I was meeting up with, firstly, a couple from my Friends list and that another member of my Friends list was going to arrive later. The venue was outdoors somewhere in London - strangely, I was settled to stay there indefinitely inside a light sleeping bag with only a polythene bin-liner by way of protection against the elements. Later on it turned into a journey on an incorrectly complex Piccadilly line towards Heathrow Airport, except that I had turned into Austin Powers and was pursuing some lady not from my Friends list. Now my dreams ending up on the London Underground is by no means uncommon, but the Austin Powers part is a turn-up for the books. Groovy, baby!