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2005-01-26 RussCon Report

take it easy

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17 of us played 13 games! Welcome new guy Leo (KevinK) friend of MarkY.

Peace: Eyes Wide Open is a touring exhibit about the human costs of the war in Iraq which will be coming to Austin in mid-February, and looks like an interesting opportunity to volunteer helping set up and take down the exhibit. Here is the info I have received (note that I don't know who the contact person "me" is):

February 15-17 a wonderful exhibit will come to Austin - to the Peace Grove at Zilker Park: Eyes Wide Open - Beyond Fear - Towards Hope, An Exhibition of the Iraq War. This exhibition has been traveling the country. It is comprised of over 1,300 pairs of empty combat boots, tagged with the names of U.S. soldiers who died in the Iraq war, together with a 24 foot wall of names and incidents identifying Iraqi civilian deaths.

Many of us have longed for a way to publicly witness the on-going destruction without further polarizing those who support the war and those of us who don't. In short, a way to bring us all together to grieve the losses of these precious lives who wanted nothing more than to serve their country and, like all of us, to simply live the life we've been given.

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship is a co-sponsor of the exhibit. We will be leading walking meditations through the field of boots - formally on Wednesday evening at the opening and informally, during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. More information will follow on the exact times.

There are three ways you can help this exhibit a success.

1. We need several hundred volunteers during these three days. Most volunteers will be needed on Tuesday, Feb 15th in the morning, to set up the boots and then again on Thursday in the late afternoon to take the boots down. There is also a need for volunteers during the day all three days. If you can volunteer to help, please send me your name and the times you have available and I'll pass them on to the volunteer coordinator.

2. We need donations to help pay for the expense of bringing the exhibit. Tax-exempt donations may be made to Austin Center for Peace and Justice and mail to ACPJ, 5801 Westminster Drive, Austin, Texas 78723.

3. Help us spread the word about the exhibit. Send notices out to elists, post notices in public places where you go, make announcements at meetings you attend, etc.

Spanish: I started formally studying Spanish this week (in a class). It seems quite a few RussCon folks know a little Spanish and are interested in learning more. No one responded very concretely about the study group idea. So I will simply propose this: I'll be at Texspresso (Anderson Lane, across from Alamo Village theater) Sunday afternoon at 2pm (before my 3pm Esperanto club). If anyone wants to show up for some basic practice (VERY basic since I've only had 3 class sessions so far!), feel free, and if not, no problem, I'll just read and study on my own.

Esperanto: UT Informal Classes will be offering a beginner's Esperanto class in February. (View Courses, category Languages), Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30 to 8:30. It's being taught by Todd Phillips, who is a cool guy (I know him from Esperanto club) and a really excellent language teacher (I know since I'm learning Spanish from him now!) (There's even a Daily Texan article which interviews Todd and me!) If you are at all interested in checking out Esperanto, I would highly recommend checking this out. Austin's hosting the national Esperanto congress in June - this is a great time for Austinites to get into Esperanto.

Mandarin: RussD is talking me into taking a Mandarin class sunday mornings. If anyone else is interested, let us know.

The Death of Marty:

Ben: Wendy would never kill anyone.
Wendy: To win a bet? Sure I would!
Ben: Okay, then I bet you $1 you won't kill Marty.
MarkH: I'll chip another buck.
Wendy: Marty, enjoy that popsicle because it's the last thing you'll ever eat.

After a coaster breakage incident this week, I declare a moratorium on that annoying "put a coaster on the edge of the table, whack it upwards really hard and try to snatch it in the air" nonsense.

Game Results

EinfachGenial3TimG 2 Jeffles 0 Tim -2
Tichu2( MarkH Ben ) 1 ( Whendy KevinU ) -1
Flaschenteufel3Jeffles 2 Tim 0 TimG -2
CarcassonneCity4Marty 3 JP 1 RussW -1 Clayton -3
TakeItEasy7William 6 Chad 4 Jeffles 2 TimG 0 SarahM -2 Tim -4 Whendy -6
Attila5William 4 ToddG 2 TimG 0 Ben -2 KevinU -4
TakeItEasy8Tim 7 TimG 4 Marty 4 JP 1 Jeffles -1 SarahM -3 Whendy -5 William -7
CarcassonneCity4JP 3 Jeffles 1 SarahM -1 Whendy -3
EinfachGenial4RussW 3 MarkY 1 Chad -1 Leo -3
ZirkusFlohcati4Chad 3 RussW 1 KevinU -1 William -3
Blokus4RussW 3 Chad 1 MarkY -2 Leo -2
Vampire5KevinU 4 Chad 2 William 0 SarahM -2 Clayton -4
SanJuan2JP 1 RussW -1

Woohoo, I maxed out 5 of my 6 colors in Einfach Genial.

Carcassonne: The City is a new Carcassonne game which Marty brought. It is fancier, in a wooden box, with lots of wooden bits as well as the now-world-famous and beloved Carcassone style tiles. It combines familiar Carcassonne tile and meeple placement ideas with the new idea of a wall getting built around the growing city. This looks neat and plays interestingly. I will certainly be up for trying it again.

Jeffles brought an 8-player set of Take It Easy! It seems that for quite a few turns many people kept playing the same positions, leading to amusing conversation about who was copying whom.

I hadn't played San Juan with 2-players before that I recall. The governor gets to do a 2nd role after the other player's turn, so there are 3 actions per round. In any case, I sucked again at San Juan!

It should be noted that the Civil War themed card game Victory & Honor (which looks suspiciously like a hardcore wargame on its packaging, but is apparently actually a trick-taking card game) was almost played. After 15 minutes of rules reading, Whendy bailed out saying it seemed too complex for her taste. After a full hour of rules study and exegesis, MarkH and the others finally decided to bail out as well, and so the game was never actually played.


Rank Ratings:       
 3.1781 Chad
 2.7081 JP
 2.2336 Marty
 2.0794 RussW
 1.7918 Jeffles
 0.8473 TimG
 0.6931 MarkH
 0.6931 ToddG
 0.0897 William
 0.0000 Ben
-0.1178 Tim
-0.2877 MarkY
-1.0987 KevinU
-2.0794 Leo
-2.3026 SarahM
-2.9957 Clayton
-5.2785 Whendy
Win Ratings:
 2.9110 William won 2 of 5
 1.6582 JP won 2 of 4
 1.5041 RussW won 2 of 5
 1.2528 Marty won 1 of 2
 1.1144 Tim won 1 of 4
 0.6931 MarkH won 1 of 1
 0.4700 Ben won 1 of 2
 0.4337 Chad won 1 of 5
 0.4055 KevinU won 1 of 4
 0.1823 TimG won 1 of 5
 0.1178 Jeffles won 1 of 5
-0.2231 ToddG won 0 of 1
-0.5108 Clayton won 0 of 2
-0.5754 MarkY won 0 of 2
-0.5754 Leo won 0 of 2
-0.7985 SarahM won 0 of 4
-1.2683 Whendy won 0 of 4

Chad, JP, and William are Co-Devils! An unusually shaped graph this week, I'd say. Whendy is the Generous Angel.

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

I used GraphViz to generate the graph image.

devil graph

Meta Game

JeffS won last week's Meta Game and thus got to pick the Meta Devil. He decided Shari was the Meta Devil, and she designed the following Meta Game.

The game: Storytelling

Supplies needed: lined notepad, pens, one minute timer

The rules:

  1. After completion of every game, each player takes a turn at adding to the story.
  2. From the time you *start* reading the immediately prior sentence written, you will have one minute to add to the story (obviously, it will take longer to catch up on the rest of the story the longer it gets).
  3. Write your name in brackets prior to your entry so everyone will know what you added.
  4. Writing must be legible.
  5. Your entry must be at least ten words.
  6. You must stop writing as soon as your time runs out even if that means you cannot finish a sentence.
  7. Entries must make some sense and be grammatically correct except to the extent you cannot finish a sentence because time ran out. Extra kudos for creativity and humor. Misspelling will be tolerated if the meaning is still clear.
  8. You should not use abbreviations or contractions.
  9. The story can be about anything, but please keep in mind that I would like to see it posted to the list after it is done.

The winner: The winner (and I suppose the next week's meta-devil) will be the person who writes the most words (even little words count) in one turn. The entry must also comply with the rules above to be considered. In the event of a tie, roll dice to determine the winner.

If the ultimate story is a good one (in my opinion), I'll make brownies for everyone at the next Russcon.

Well, we created quite a bizarre little tale. The handwriting was often a bit hard to read... apparently too hard to try typing the story in! The results were reckoned by Shari and JP as follows:

The winner was the person who wrote the most words in a single entry; I wrote 39 words in one entry, so I am the Meta Devil and will design next week's Meta Game!

(Update: Tim typed in the story! See the thrilling transcription here!)

Evening's Soundtrack

The Straight Story, music from the motion picture soundtrack
The Dandy Warhols, thirteen tales from urban bohemia
Miranda Sex Garden, Fairytales of Slavery
Oasis, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
White Mansions, A tale from the American Civil War (1861-1865)

Another of those pesky meta themes.

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