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Saturday, April 29, 2006

I have to fly to warmer climes unexpectedly. Will be back in a week.

If it's above 50F. I'll find an air conditioner and vegetate. Either that or drive around with the windows rolled down all day. On second thought, with the price of gas being what it is I'll find an air conditioner.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Caylus and the weather

There hasn't been much to report on the game front recently. We've played Caylus several more times, and I am warming to it. Although I don't see it as a great game, it is pretty good. We've whittled the playing time down to about 2 hours.

One thing about the game that I don't think has been discussed enough is that the game plays very differently with different numbers of players. Even though the game plays differently it is just as good with 3 as it is with 5. With 3 players the gate tends to actually get used, and many more points are gleaned from building the castle. With more players you can ignore the castle and concentrate on the high value buildings, although it is a risky strategy. With fewer players points are easier to come by if you use a castle strategy. Turn order is much more important with more players. With more players precious workers need to be allocated to the turn order track instead of production.

Spring is still teasing us and digital technology still evades me. I couldn't take a good close-up picture to save my life. Here's the best shot of a blooming pussy willow that I could capture.

Even though we are now getting in excess of 16 hours of daylight, there is still a lot of snow in my yard. Temperatures are warming up. We can no longer put a 2 liter bottle of soda on the porch to chill in 20 minutes. Probably won't be able to do that again until late September.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to me.

Figure the odds. On my birthday Gone Gaming (the other blog I am affiliated with) was mentioned as a Blog of Note by Blogger. Kudos to all the bloggers on Gone Gaming.

The Journal of Boardgame Design was also mentioned as a Blog of Note. Considering that Mark Jackson's The One Hundred was mentioned last month I am left wondering who at Blogger is a boardgamer. Someone obviously has good taste.

Edit: Oh yeah. That would be 37 years old.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Alaska School Plot: A Local’s Take

Those of you who follow the news have heard that there was a group of Middle School students in North Pole, Alaska who were suspended because they were plotting a school shooting spree.

Although I claim Fairbanks as my home I do live closer to North Pole than to Fairbanks, indeed my address is a North Pole address. North Pole is a town of 1600 residents. There are (and this is an estimate on my part) another 10,000 residents who live within a few miles of North Pole.

The North Pole police department has a stake in this investigation, and that makes me skeptical of the news coming out of North Pole.

Two points.

First, this news broke locally a week ago. By all news accounts the threat was not serious. Classes were not interrupted. Now, a week later the story is in the national news and police are being dispatched to the school for the remainder of the year.

Second, the North Pole police are rather… rather… shall we say… aggressive. (Ahem- ah- ten-pound-badges- hem) They rule with a heavy hand in this area. The fact that NPPD has a stake in this situation is what makes me suspicious. The North Pole police exist to generate revenue for the city. At one time in the not too distant past, this town of 1600 had over a dozen police officers.

Keep in mind that I am a law and order guy. I think Rodney King should have gotten his ass kicked. I generally sympathize with the cop, not the poor criminal who shot trying to flee.

However, the North Pole police have a very poor image locally. They will not hesitate to fine your six-year-old for riding without a bike helmet in your own driveway five miles outside the city limits, at the same time they will refuse to respond to your emergency if you live 20 yards outside the city limits.

North Pole police will set speed traps 40+ MILES outside the city limit. The mayor and Chief of Police deny this, but I have seen it with my own eyes and it is a semi frequent topic in the letters to the editor and local radio program.

I used to live near a popular unimproved swimming-hole called “Bathing Beauty Pond”. It was several miles outside the city limits. There was one picnic table at Bathing Beauty Pond. There were two parking spots near the picnic table, both parking spots (at an unimproved pond on a gravel road in the country) were designated as handicap spots. There would be no one else at the pond. Families would routinely park near the table to unload their lunch, blankets, chairs and other picnic gear, then move their minivan across the road away from the handicap spots. The North Pole police would wait around the corner for families to arrive, unload their gear, then ticket them for parking in a handicap spot.

I do not know exactly what the benefit to the police department is, but I have no doubt that they are benefiting from the situation. I suspect that the school district (which is not part of the city) is paying to have the officer stationed at the school, and paying through the nose.

The North Pole High School and Middle School have a bad reputation for drugs. This could just be an attempt to get their foot in the door to have a full-time officer permanently stationed at the school. Ticketing drug offenders would bring a healthy stream of revenue into the city coffers, and possibly give them a better opportunity to bust marijuana growers and meth cooks in the area.

Who knows all the reasons? I don’t. But I can tell you this. Be suspicious of any news coming from North Pole. School shooting news is big news and the local police are not above exploiting that news for financial gain.


I understand that counselors are being brought in to help children cope with this "tragedy". My thought is that the School District found some way to milk this event for more funding from either state or federal sources. The North Pole police are still under suspicion due to their history, but they may just be going along for the ride. The school district might be the more important party in this shenanigan.

It was pointed out to me that North Pole had 20+ officers just a few years ago. Alas, the website that listed all of them has been taken down. I was thinking that the number was in excess of 20, but went with the more conservative number because I couldn't find the website in question.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I'm with you to a point.

These are two short blog entries I stumbled across in blogs named "Can't Figure Out a Name" and "The Lost MKs of Portugal".



While playing monopoly with my friends all night, I realised... It's more fun to play board games than to play video games....




If you haven't heard of the board game Settlers of Catan yet, it's awesome. A mix between Risk and Monopoly...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


New podcast.

I doubt I will get a chance to listen to this until morning, but here it is. I stumbled across this interview with the VP of Days of Wonder.

Gaming Steve appears to be videogame oriented. I will have to check out his site further, maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Heads up

Click on over to Boardgame News. It's back up and running.

Seems as though everyone affiliated with that site was at GoF for the last 10 days.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Pirate's Cove

this is an audio post - click to play



Saturday, April 15, 2006


Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648


Finally had 5 players on Friday night game night. Lately we have been blessed with 6 or 7 players every game night, which is good but has prevented us from playing Revolution. RtDR is a 5 player game, you see.

Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 is a game by Frank Tresham, the creator of Civilization and the 18xx series of games. RtDR is much more wargamey than Civ, and not destined to achieve the status of either 1829 nor Civilization, but I would say that he hit another one out of the park with RtDR.

The rules to Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 are tough to get your head around. I read the rules several times, and although I understood them it was very difficult to envision how the game would play out. It is not a difficult game, it is an advanced game and I believe it is a game that one must play before one can truly grasp it.

Can't wait to play again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Break-up update.

Another six inches of snow fell at Coldfoot Manor, but at least spring is in the air. The ice is rotting on the Chena river. Ducks and geese should be arriving shortly, and if you listen to the news reports you know that the bird flu should arrive shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Happy Birthday Grandma!

Here are some shots of the kids at the Kiddie Park at Ice Alaska.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Monopoly: The Realistic Review

this is an audio post - click to play


Spring is just teasing us.

Not much change to report since last week. Break up is progressing slowly at Coldfoot Manor.

You may have noted how long the shadows are. This picture was snapped around noon. Even though we are approaching 15 hours of daylight the sun is still quite low on the horizon.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Played two partial games of Caylus...

...and it is alright.

The first game was a learning game and we knew we wouldn't be able to finish. The second game was longer, but time was finite and I figured we wouldn't be able to finish. Took something like 2.5 hours to get 2/3 of the way through the game.

Both games would have gone faster if we had someone teaching us the game. As it is, the rules are a mess, we trudged our way through it, and we probably made a few mistakes.

If I had just played Caylus without knowing that it is the latest, greatest, second-coming-of-Puerto-Rico I would probably not be inclined to play a third time.

Time will tell if it is as great as the hype. I felt the same way about Puerto Rico, Powergrid and El Grande the first few times I played those games, and have since come to love them.

Right now Reef Encounter is higher than Caylus on my "need to play again" list.


Friday, April 07, 2006


Did ya ever notice...

...that "Mature Content" frequently means "Juvenile Content".

Thursday, April 06, 2006


El Grande: Audio Review

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Warmer weather is finally upon us.

There wasn't a whole lot of snow this winter, as you can see. March was fairly cold, so what little snow that fell has not yet melted.

The pussy willows are usually blooming by now, but not this year. They bloom when the ground is still frozen, long before the snow is gone. Since April 1 the temperature has actually been getting above freezing for at least 8 hours each day. As the nights get shorter and the days get warmer I thought I would post a picture taken from my front steps every few days just to document the progression of break-up (or spring as it is known in most of the English speaking world).

Right now, only a few weeks after the equinox, in the interior of Alaska we find ourselves with 14+ hours of daylight and are gaining nearly an hour each week. Even though the sun sets every day, by the second week of May the night sky will be too light to see the stars. Perhaps by the second or third week of May the bush in the picture will start to bud.


By the way: The second error I caught in the previous audio review is that the traitor does not have to go the entire game without being unmasked before he can win. He merely gets to flip 2 swords if he finishes the game unnoticed, he can win even if his identity is known.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Shadows Over Camelot: Audio review.

this is an audio post - click to play

Dang. After listening I discovered I made at least 2 rule mistakes. A geek gold to the first people to find at least one of the two.

If there turn out to be several mistakes that I missed, I'll have to re-evaluate my offer.

And no, there aren't quests on both sides of all the side boards, that is not a mistake, that is simply glossing over the facts in order to fit the review into 5 minutes.

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