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Saturday, December 29, 2007


The Psychic Dispatcher.

I knew he was good. How good amazed me.

Driver: These people say they didn't call a cab.

Dispatcher: Are you at the right address? 'Cause I just heard back from them.

Driver: Yep.

Dispatcher: Ooookaaaaay.

Driver: They say they were thinking about calling a cab, but haven't yet.

And such is a typical Friday night in Alaska.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Merry Christmas. With bonus pictures for Grandma. And just to verify my redneck credentials...


Come on. Even if you've seen it, watch again. You know you want to.

My favorite YouTube video of all time.

And now the second on my list.

Sunday, December 23, 2007



Chris Golson



For the first time in many months...

...I'm ahead of the curve on a recently released game.

Played Cuba last night and must say I enjoyed it.

Although I made several strategic blunders as I felt my way through the initial game it wasn't a game that caused me to think about how to improve my score after the game was over.

Likewise, when the game was over there wasn't a call from the group to play again, although everyone seemed to enjoy the game. Instead we played two games of Yspahan, a game none of us are particularly fond of.

As is the case with many well designed games, in Cuba players aren't able to accomplish everything they wish to accomplish and must make decisions which actions will reap the most rewards. I was left with the feeling that the decisions in Cuba were meaningful, and with good play you could screw with your opponent's plans, although other commentators disagree with this.

Take for example the assortment of buildings players can build, each of which will allow the player some small advantage later in the game. (Very similar to Puerto Rico.) I particularly like the fact that there is only one of each building. Once a building is bought out from under you, you will have to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Others have commented that Cuba is a mishmash of mechanics that may or may not work well together. I was not left feeling that the game was a cobble job of mechanics any more than Puerto Rico is a mishmash depending upon which roles you choose.

I very much look forward to playing again.

Friday, December 21, 2007


-20 never felt so warm

The temperature warmed by 30 degrees overnight at Coldfoot Manor.

The warm-weather-dweller notion that there is little difference in temperatures once it gets below 0 F. is just wrong. Very wrong.


Going, going, going, Gone Gaming

Gone Gaming, the boardgame blog which I helped to organize a couple years ago, is closing up shop. The contributors will be merging with the bloggers at BoardgameNews.com.

Due to blog burnout I haven't contributed to Gone Gaming is a year or so, but due to a glitch in Blogger my name can't be removed from the contributor list in the left hand column.

Gone Gaming was the first major grassroots, group boardgame blog, and was started back when blogs still had that new blog smell. The internet game seller, Gamefest, had a lineup of bloggers before Gone Gaming, but they were established boardgame personalities writing for a commercial site, and they didn't last very long. In fact one of the reasons I organized Gone Gaming was the fact I missed the daily boardgame blog format of Gamefest. Now boardgame blogs are a dime a dozen, and with an RSS aggregator you can easily get a boardgame fix every day.

The nice folks at Gone Gaming have asked me and the other early contributors who are no longer members to contribute one last piece. As of January 1, Gone Gaming shall be no more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Long Time Coming/Advice for Crack Heads

Finally got down to -40 at Coldfoot Manor. Happened rather late in the season, but we're not complaining.

Here's a clue for dopers. When calling for a cab at a crackhouse at 3 a.m. don't be pulling this "I don't know the address, but I'll show you how to get there" nonsense.

I understand that dopers are generally paranoid. They know taxi records can be subpoenaed, and they don't want a written record of their activities.


A) You do know the address.

B) Even if you don't know the exact address to which you are going, you can describe the approximate location.

I'm under no obligation to take you to a secret location in the middle of the night. If there is trouble no one knows where to start looking for me.

You aren't worth it.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Tuck and roll. It only works in the movies, and if you aren't drunk.

Picked up at a downtown bar the other night.

As the guy was getting into my cab a woman came out of the bar loudly begging to share the cab. It was fairly clear that the woman had some mental problems, compounded by excessive alcohol consumption.

The guy said, "Uhhhh, sure. I guess. As long as it's all right with the driver."

I said, "Uhhhhh, sure. I guess. As long as it's all right with you."

So there we were, driving down Airport Way at 45 mph, the woman started mumbling that she wanted to get out, and that she should have called Smurf. (Smurf is the dispatcher at the other big cab company in town.)

I offered to drop her off at the 24 hour McDonalds in order to call and to wait for another cab. But nooooooooooo. She needed to get out. Right. Now.

She flung open the door and started to get out. We were still going 45 mph.

The other passenger made a grab for her. I started to slow down as best I could on icy streets with moderate traffic. We were both yelling at her to shut the door. All the commotion merely stiffened her resolve to exit the cab at that moment.

We were yelling at her to stay in the car, she was yelling at us to stop telling her what to do.

Luckily I was able to stop before she exited the vehicle. I came to a stop in the middle of the street, heart firmly lodged in my throat, and put the emergency flashers on. Fortunately the car behind us was a cop. I'd never seen this particular cop before, he looked like a kid. He was very professional and took the lady into protective custody. It was clear to everyone that she had some mental "issues" at that point.

We sat in the street for about 5 minutes while the cop sorted things out. The other passenger kept saying, "Sorry, man."

"Don't worry about it. This is all going into my blog."

"No man. Sitting here is costing you money."

"Don't worry about it. No one was hurt. This is simply blog material."

And so it is.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Holy Crap Batman! I think I made the back cover of a real book!

Thanks to fellow boardgame blogger Yehuda for pointing this out in his blog.

A year or eighteen months ago a German fellow, Peer Sylvester, sent me an E-mail stating he was writing a book about boardgaming around the world. He asked me a couple leading questions and I was off to the races, giving him much more information than he would ever need.

Apparently the book has been published. Of course it is in German.

Click on the picture for a bigger view.

I lifted this picture of the book cover from Boardgamegeek. Here's the link to the book on BGG. I suspect that the Brian in Alaska referred to on the back cover is me. (Close translation: In Alaska Brian travels some hundred miles to play games. Actually I think I told him I have driven all the way to Anchorage just to play a solitary game.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Fantastic game weekend AND I scored some Muktuk

Started gaming on Friday evening and kept it up until Sunday evening.

Played a couple games on Friday the highlight of which was A Game of Thrones which is a Diplomacy style game based upon the books by George R. R. Martin. Fun game for a group of wargame-minded individuals.

The six player game was won in six rounds. Well it wasn't really won, but after six rounds there was an impasse on how to resolve the text on two opposing war cards. If the issue had been decided in one way (the iffy interpretation), the game would have been won. The simple fact was that in six rounds no "muster" cards had come up and everyone was pretty disgusted. We decided to go with the iffy interpretation and award the win.

After that I played a two player game Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage late into the night. This was only my second time playing the game, and the first with my own copy since the game was reprinted. It was every bit as good as I remember. The original version was well worth the couple hundred dollars it was going for in E-Bay before it was reprinted. Can't wait to play again.

Saturday was a long day of Twilight Imperium with six players. After playing seriously for the first time in more than a year, I must say the game was not as good as I remember. I have played a couple short games of TI3 with fewer people in order to flesh out the expansion rules. The full game is just too long.

Note that the twelve year old won. There was one player in his mid twenties, and the rest of us were old farts. And that has absolutely nothing to do with my disappointment in the game. Really. Toward the end of the game the kid made a brilliant move while voting on the political card. By doing so he locked me out of a win in what was shaping up to be a tight game. I made a suicide run against him in an attempt to keep him from winning. Didn't work. But let it be known that I was wondering why I liked the game previously, before the brilliant vote on the kid's part. Really.

TI3 is just too long and too fiddly. But it is supposed to be. I think my game tastes are changing, especially in the realm of wargames.

On Sunday afternoon I played my first game of 1960: The Making of a President. 1960 is a two-player, card-driven game based upon the very tight Kennedy/Nixon election. Due to a misunderstanding of the rules, I made a huge mistake going into the debates, which caused me to lose the game. Nevertheless, I liked the game. Any one want to play?

Cab driving score of the year, so far:

While pushing hack on Sunday night I encountered an Eskimo couple who were going around town delivering muktuk to their friends and family. Offered to give me some. Couldn't turn that down, now could I? I love the stuff, but I only rarely get to partake.

Good stuff. Try it if you ever get a chance.

Friday, December 07, 2007


December 7, 2007....

.... a date which will live in cabdriving infamy.

Dumbasses were a dime a dozen last night. I suspect it had something to do with the arrival of Arctic Slope Native Corporation dividend checks earlier in the day.

Of course that would be a politically incorrect suspicion. To be fair it wasn't just Eskimos acting stupid.... no wait. That's not true.

At any rate I need to go to bed. I might post some stories later this week.

There were so many good stories that I had better note a couple before I forget them.

Do not read. Spoilers Follow

The crying girl at the crack house and cops story.

The "you must be new. All the cabdrivers in your company let me charge rides," story.

The "oh no, this isn't a crack house, my daughter lives here" story.

Can you get me to the Comet Club for five bucks? story.

Dumbass cabdriver is back.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Wouldn't she be horrified?

Driving home from work this morning I was listening to the morning news show on KFBX. Apparently a California, hippie, PETA activist left a message on the radio station's answering machine asking they remind people to let their pets inside now that the temperature is projected to hover around -20 F.


There are more pressing reasons to let your pets inside right now. I quote from the Fairbanks daily paper, the News-Miner:

With a pack of bold, hungry wolves running around the outskirts of Fairbanks snacking on pet dogs, some residents in Alaska's second largest city are getting skittish....

Monday, December 03, 2007


We occasionally need days like this to remind me why I left Montana

Tonight: Clear. Lows 10 below to 20 below. Local east winds 15 to 30 mph. Wind chill to 35 below.

The wind has been really been an issue the last couple days in and around Fairbanks. It has been cold. Eastern Montana cold.

I frequently tell friends and family in the lower 48 that they are better off spending a winter in Fairbanks than my childhood home in eastern Montana. This is due to wind. There isn't any in Fairbanks. Ever. The wind is currently blowing a modest 15 mph, which is basically a calm day on the Great Plains. No snow is drifting, the trees are barely moving, but it is bone chilling cold.

Here is the link to U.S. wind speed averages on the official gov't NOAA website.



The annual average wind speed in Fairbanks, Alaska is 5.4 mph and the average wind speed for the winter months is significantly lower than that.

Glasgow, Montana (which is not my home town, but close enough) has an annual average wind speed of 10.7 mph.

Having grown up in an area where the wind always blows I have never put much stock in wind chill factors. On my scale it's the kind of cold that makes your bladder contract as soon as it hits you. Call it -60 on the Coldfoot scale.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Just for fun: Primary Election Predictions

After 2 years of posturing by the candidates we are finally getting close, and it might just be a horse race.

On the Democrat side I will remind you of where we were at this time in the last election cycle. John Kerry was on no body's radar, he was simply the rich kid in the ring. Nearly everyone assumed Howard Dean was a shoe-in for the Democrat nomination. He was polling well nationally and the early states. The party rank and file decided he was not electable, and he probably wasn't, so they switched horses at the last minute.

Hillary is no Howard Dean, but the party rank and file are having doubts whether she is electable. Obama is a much more likable guy, with the potential to have much broader appeal than Hillary and he has none of the baggage Hillary has. Still, Obama is a virtual neophyte to national politics. Could he be the next JFK? Probably not.

John Edwards may be the most electable of the Democrats, but he seems to be running for the second slot on the ticket, to my eye. He doesn't seem to want the nomination as badly as the other two.

I predict Hillary gets the nomination and chooses a VP who will be perceived as tough on terror.

For the Republicans everything is still up in the air. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans don't have a default candidate like Clinton.

Huckabee is gaining ground due to good performances in the debates. Romney is coming on strong. Thompson is doing more poorly than expected, but he is still in the race. Giuliani leads in the national polls, but even so he is in the low 30% range. McCain is the only major candidate who we can cross off the list.

Giuliani is a media candidate. Pro-abortion, anti 2nd ammendment, pro-civil union, philanderer, fought for NYC to be a sanctuary city, corruption in his administration, etc. He can only run on the fact he was tough on crime and may be tough on terror. He does have the liberal media behind him, so we can't count him out. However, I doubt he will be getting the nomination in this election cycle.

Huckabee, Romney and Thompson all have a legitimate shot. When Giuliani is out of the race 30% of the voters will need to make another choice and who knows where that support will go?

I don't feel confident about this prediction at all but here goes: Romney gets the Republican nomination, and chooses Thompson as his running mate. The Republican ticket will then consist of a New England moderate and a Southern conservative, which should have very broad appeal.

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