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- pilgarlic (pill-gar'-lick)
n. 1a: a bald head. 1b: a bald-headed man. 2: a man looked
upon with humorous contempt or mock pity.
The Day After Tomorrow
I'd like to discuss
the science in this film, but
NASA won't let me.
You Say It First
This week's donation goes to:
Change the Climate
"A friend of mine came back to HK from England for a
week. I met him for only one day, and with one other guy, we
ended up playing Fluxx 3.0 for 6 hours straight. I knew I had
to get the game after that." -- Email accompanying
an order from Ronald of Hong Kong
||Andy's Back From Amsterdam
I'm back from Amsterdam and I had an absolutely fabulous time!
As you can see from this photo, I even managed to spend some
time riding around on a bike! Whee!
Of course, I have a million things to say (OK, it's more like
half a million, but who's counting) which means I can't possibly
squeeze it all in here, so I'll just toss out a bunch of thoughts
and we'll see what you find interesting...
Let's start with some statistics. I spent 31 days living in
Amsterdam and I return with about 2600 digital photos, amounting
to a total of 7.1 gigabytes of data. (And that only counts the
ones Russell and I took, Shel took a bunch of others during her
visit at the end of the month.) During the month, I made a total
of 125 different visits to 59 different Amsterdam coffeeshops.
(Of course, that doesn't count all the times I peered into a
coffeeshop but decided not to sit down for refreshments.)
As I've said before,
my idea of the perfect vacation isn't a trip to the beach, or
a resort, or camping in the mountains, or Vegas, or even Disney
World, much as I like all those things. For me, I can think of
no vacation activity I enjoy more than sitting in a coffeeshop
in Amsterdam, enjoying their refreshments and ambiance while
playing a game of Binary
Homeworlds with one of my close friends. And while I doubt
I'll get to do so again for an entire month, I enjoyed this trip
so much I'm already thinking about the next one...
I'd like to return to Amsterdam with even more friends to run
a casual little competition I'll call the First Invitational
Amsterdam Coffeeshop Binary Homeworlds Tournament. The competition
will last for several days, with opponents meeting up in different
coffeeshops around the city for official tournament events. The
competition will test the players' skills not only at playing
Homeworlds in the coffeeshops, but also at navigating from place
to place around the city. And for the Significant Others who
tag along but don't care for Homeworlds, we'll have a Spouse
Track: a Stoner
of elaborate schemes relating to the Amsterdam Coffeeshops, this
trip was more than just a vacation. Russell
and I are now in the process of writing a coffeetable book about
the coffeeshops, loaded with photos and descriptions of what
the experience of visiting these places is really like. Most
folks know about the Dutch Coffeeshops at this point, yet very
few indeed really know what the scene is like. The purpose of
this book will be to share that experience with those who are
curious but cannot make the journey for themselves. Of course,
it won't be done for a long time and we're planning to shop this
around to actual book printers before publishing it ourselves,
so it may yet be a long time before this becomes a reality...
visit to Amsterdam had 4 phases. First, I was there with Russell.
Then, Kristin and Alison came to visit.
Then, I was alone for a week. Lastly, Shel
came to visit my temporary Amsterdam home. During Shel's visit,
I taught her to play Homeworlds, and by the end of the week she
was becoming quite good at the game. After experimenting with
various ways of handicapping me, to make the game more fair,
we settled on giving her a 2-planet headstart, which worked well...
Speaking of games I played, I also got in a bunch of Zarcana
with Russell. As I've said before, I
prefer Zarcana over the redesigned successor called Gnostica,
but I also do now feel that a couple of little tweaks to the
rules are in order. The ruleset we've been using drops the "from
the hand only" restriction on the wild nature of royalty,
which necessitates the further change of increasing the power
of the Magician in some way, which we've done by adding a free
card draw (limited by hand size) to his ability. We've also been
playing a shorter game, by inserting a special marker card about
halfway into the deck that triggers the end game just as if the
deck were exhausted. Other than that, what we've been playing
is straight up Zarcana (using the stickers,
of course) and we had some great games.
played lots of other games, too, including such favorites as
Volcano, Stoner Fluxx,
I even got in a round of Hearts!
We also did some playtesting of yet another Icehouse game, as
well as playing more than a few games of Early
American Chrononauts, which seemed only appropriate given
that this trip was, in part, a reward for finishing the design
and production of EAC on schedule. And thanks to FedEx (the next
best thing to teleportation) I was even able to approve the card
sheet proofs while overseas!
Also, although I haven't played regular
old Chess in perhaps a decade, I even played a game of that,
too. One afternoon as I sat alone in a coffeeshop called Katsu,
a Dutch guy named Steven challenged me to a game, and how could
I resist? I did OK, too -- I fought him to a draw! We both had
nothing left at the end but a King...
sure some of you are saying, "You went to Europe for a whole
month and all you did was go to coffeeshops in Amsterdam? What
about museums? Parks? Other cities?" To them I say this:
I did go to a couple of museums, but I grew up in a city of museums
so those don't particularly impress me. I went to Vondel Park,
which was nice, but a park is a park and we have plenty of those
here at home. No, I went to Amsterdam to see something which
no other city on Earth currently has, and which most cannot even
imagine: hundreds of intricate little hang-outs where it's legal
to buy and consume marijuana.
I myself find this network of establishments endlessly fascinating,
and I had decided even before going that I wanted to spend this
time really getting to know this one particular town. For me,
further exploration of Europe can wait for other excursions.
During the long airline flights I read The Golden Compass
by Philip Pullman. Wow, what a great book! Now I just need to
find book 2, which is being hidden from me while I get caught
up on Life...
Upon returning, I find I'm swimming in emails... oddly enough,
my original email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, received around
2600 emails while I was gone -- the same number of photos me
and Russell took while in Amsterdam! I wish I could say they
were all glowing messages of praise from fans, but the fact is,
almost every one of them was a worthless piece of spam. Argghh!!!
It's enough to make one give up on email entirely! In fact, I
think it's time I shut down this account and moved over to a
secret, non-polluted one. Henceforth, if you write to me at my
old address, you'll get an auto-response that looks like this:
"I'm sorry, Andy is no longer reading email at this address.
It has become too polluted with Spam to be useful to Andy any
longer. If you wrote to him at this address recently, he probably
hasn't seen it. If you need to contact him, write to someone
else at Looney Labs and ask to have it passed on. Or send a letter
to him at PO Box 761 College Park MD 20741 USA. (And don't even
think about calling him on the phone!)"
Well, that's it for now. I had a great vacation and I
did get some work done while I was gone, but now that I'm
back and Origins is looming, I've got to get that nose back onto
a great week! See You at Origins!
||"The shaming truth is that everything has
gone wrong. Just as it was bound to go wrong, as many of us predicted
it would go wrong--if anything more hopelessly wrong than any
of us would have dared to prophesy. Iraq is an epic train wreck,
and there's not a single American citizen who's going to walk
away unscathed. The shame of this truth, of such a failure and
so much deceit exposed, would have brought on mass resignations
or votes of no confidence in any free country in the world. In
Japan not long ago, there would have been ritual suicides, shamed
officials disemboweling themselves with samurai swords. Yet up
to this point--at least to the point where we see grinning soldiers
taking pictures of each other over piles of naked Iraqis--neither
the president, the vice president nor any of the individuals
who urged and designed this debacle have resigned or been terminated--or
even apologized. They have betrayed no familiarity with the concept
of shame." -- Hal Crowther, "With
||"It's quite possible that spam alone is killing e-mail.
Add all the bogus messages containing viruses and you can see
people becoming disillusioned." -- John
C. Dvorak, "The
Death of E-Mail"
||I've reached a new conclusion about JFK:
I don't think there was a second shooter, but I do still think
there was a conspiracy. I think someone unknown fired the shots,
and that Oswald was set up to take the fall. Having studied the
matter for a long time, I feel that this scenario fits the evidence
better than either the single-nut-acting-alone theory, or the