August 20 2003 RussCon Report

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Evening's Soundtrack
14 of us played 9 games.
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Comicollage: daily ongoing comic jam with 7 artists and no planning ahead! There's a russ strip every Tuesday.
I make exquisite corpses at deepmachines.


I needed a new vacuum cleaner since my old one (almost 20 years old) made a loud explosion and emitted smoke (which was kind of entertaining, I must admit). I've been doing some web research, and also asked friends for advice. Many people replied. Naturally there was no single clear consensus on The Ultimate Vacuum Cleaner. Thanks (in order of reply) to:

dysonSo much conflicting information! It's like the Star Trek where they confused the computer with logical contradictions! What to do? Luckily, Dudley went above and beyond the call of duty and brought his Dyson over to show me how it works - and I must say the Dyson is pretty cool, even though pricier than I was looking for. It has a satisfying "Lego meets Star Trek" geek appeal, bagless HEPA filtering, built-in 17' hose and very long power cord, and a transparent cruft container that you can easily empty when done, getting a visceral thrill at seeing all the cruft you sucked up. Plus, unlike other vacuum designs, its suction doesn't diminish as it fills with dust, thanks to its unorthodox design. And its HEPA filter doesn't need to be replaced; you're just supposed to wash it every 6 months. Dudley hasn't even washed his in a year and it looked pristine due to the Dyson's earlier stages of wacky cyclone filtering before the air even hits the HEPA. Very tempting. I think if Dudley decides to shift careers, he should become a vacuum cleaner salesman. Apparently he's already talked one friend into buying one, and is also working on Allen. Meanwhile, I am sold, so I went and got one at Best Buy and spent an hour vacuuming already. Woohoo! At lunch today a cow-orker talked about how waxing his car was a chore he enjoys and finds satisfying; I think vacuuming fills a similar niche for me.

There was some debate at work and at RussCon whether the Dyson or the Roomba is more of a geek's vacuum cleaner. The Roomba obviously has geek appeal since it's a robot that wanders around your house with AI. But the Dyson also has geek appeal with its nonstandard engineering and wacky manipulability. Depends if you're more of a passive "watch it do cool stuff" geek or a hands-on "make it do cool stuff" geek, I suppose. Ultimately I care more about getting a good cleaning done and I feel pretty confident that the Dyson's actual dust sucking is superior to the Roomba. Plus the Roomba isn't going to handle stairs or vacuuming surfaces other than the floor.

finaFina brought along a mysterious envelope she received in the mail (with 12 cents postage due because of its nonstandard size, though the mail deliverer did not charge her the 12 cents). By holding it up to the light it was possible to see (but not photograph very well, alas) that the envelope was empty except for containing a 37 cent Happy Birthday stamp. If you looked carefully, you could see that on the back of the Happy Birthday stamp is written "Fina maybe late but Judy'd like it anyway Love Dad". It seems her stepdad mailed her a 37 cent Happy Birthday stamp for her to mail to her mom Judy whose birthday was in fact August 20 (the very night of RussCon).

Anyway, Fina donated the enigmatic artifact to the RussCon Museum of Curiosities.

Heads up that the Willow Band (the new project of Clandestine bagpiper EJ) will be at the Cactus 8:30 on Tuesday September 2.

I recently joined, an interesting and potentially useful looking social networking site that seems to be becoming popular; if anyone else has an account there, let's add each other as friends. You can find me as Russ Williams (duh!) At this point it's not clear how useful friendster is, but it's an interesting idea and kind of fun to poke around and play with for a bit.

Game Results

CarcassonneHunters3Fina 2 RussW 0 Clayton -2
ZirkusFlohcati4William 3 Marty 1 Fred -1 Whendy -3
Mu4Ben 3 JP 1 MarkH -1 MarkG -3
Tichu2( Whendy Marty ) 1 ( William Fred ) -1
Exxtra4MarkH 3 MarkG 1 JP -1 Ben -3
UnionPacific5Matt 4 Clayton 2 RussW 0 MarkY -2 Fina -4
Zero4Ben 3 MarkG 1 JP -1 RussD -3
Bluff5Whendy 4 RussW 2 William 0 Fina -2 MarkY -4
Euphrates3MarkG 2 JP 0 Matt -2

More Union Pacific action this week! We played with the option of letting you burn a share of Unpac for a share of Unpac, which seems silly and we decided we wished we hadn't.

JeffF emailed me (in response to last week's Carcassonne edge-of-the-table discussion) that "One of the Lord of the Rings card games that's been played at RussCon has the stay on the table rule. It also suggests a minimum table size." I'm sure there are other such games as well.


Rank Ratings:     
 1.3863 Ben
 1.0986 Marty
 0.9808 MarkH
 0.9163 Whendy
 0.6931 William
 0.6931 RussW
 0.5232 MarkG
 0.5108 Matt
-0.4055 Clayton
-0.4055 JP
-1.0986 Fred
-1.2040 Fina
-1.3863 RussD
-2.3026 MarkY
Win Ratings:
 2.4849 Ben won 2 of 3
 2.0149 Whendy won 2 of 3
 1.2040 Matt won 1 of 2
 1.0986 MarkH won 1 of 2
 0.6523 Fina won 1 of 3
 0.4700 William won 1 of 3
 0.4055 Marty won 1 of 2
 0.2356 MarkG won 1 of 4
-0.2877 RussD won 0 of 1
-0.4463 MarkY won 0 of 2
-0.6286 Clayton won 0 of 2
-0.8518 RussW won 0 of 3
-0.9808 Fred won 0 of 2
-1.2685 JP won 0 of 4

Ben is the Devil! Marty, MarkH and Whendy are Co-Vice-Devils. Matt and William are Co-Vice-Vice-Devils.

An unusually short and wide partial order tree this week.

If you are confused how the ratings work, you could peruse the FAQ.

devil graph

Meta Game

Whendy was the Meta Devil. Here is the Meta Game she mailed out:

This Metagame is so meta that you don't even have to attend the gaming night, Wednesdays at Russ's house, to play. It's in honor of Marty Hoff, who appears to be slowly, ever-so-slowly, wending his way from Austin to Houston, but still makes RussCon for games. All you do is make up googlisms for "Marty" and email them to me, Here are the rules:

Make up Marty googlisms*, from 1 to as many as you want

Email them to Whendy, at by Tuesday, August 19th at 7pm CST. Make sure I know your name, though the final list will be anonymous.

I'll show the anonymous list to Marty and have him check or tick or otherwise indicate some he finds most pleasing or humorous or whatever criteria he wants.

From this sublist, I'll choose a winner by some random method, and then reconnect the googlism to the author to determine the Metagame winner.

--And that's it!

*Googlisms have been posted and discussed on this list, so y'all should know that they are sentences or sentence fragments that start "n is..." collected by from websites and web postings, where n = a named something. Right now, some true Marty googlisms, which can be found by searching on, are:

marty is dressed in a radiation suit
marty is a sooky little boy
marty is the middle child of five children
marty is the mother of three sons
marty is a website graphic designer and programmer as well
marty is male but vesna is not
marty is attacked one night letting off fireworks his uncle red has given him
marty is very smart
marty is not my buddy
marty is a large male with beautiful type
marty is a really nice guy


Whendy also created the Marty masks seen in the photo (each one a unique work of art with lovingly hand-drawn eyebrows and eyelashes). (There was also some green discoloration that gave a good rotting flesh effect, which I appreciated since I recently enjoyed seeing the cool film 28 Days Later for the second time.)

Here are the hot picks of the Marty Googlisms as selected by Marty himself:

Marty is half-naked with his ukulele.
Marty is a smarty, arty, and likes to party.
Marty is drinking from the fount of wisdom but will he choke?
Marty is straying from the one true path of Knizia obsession.
Marty isn't handsome and successful with a huge megaphone.
Marty kissed Brad again.
Let's hope Marty isn't contagious.
Marty pretends to be Darth Vader.
Marty isn't exactly your stereotypical Hollywood hero.
Marty isn't impressed by an amp that goes to 11.
Marty wishes for the Leprechaun's pot of gold, and he gets it... but of course there is a catch.
Marty is looking forward to returning 'home,'
Marty must confront vicious pimps, suspicious cops, Hollywood mega-moguls and all-powerful demons from the pages of myth as his life is turned inside-out.

(Our Most Assiduous Reader may desire to see all of the submitted Marty Googlisms.)

Of Marty's favorites, 13 came from DaveB, and 1 apiece from Whendy, RussW, and William. A lottery was then done (with Dave getting 13 tickets and the other 3 finalists getting 1 ticket) and DaveB was unsurprisingly the winner! So Dave is the Meta Devil and will design next week's Meta Game!

Evening's Soundtrack

Jean Michel Jarre, Oxygene
Jean Michel Jarre, Equinoxe
Jean Michel Jarre, Les Chants Magnetiques
Jean Michel Jarre, Zoolook
Jean Michel Jarre, Rendez-vous

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