Sunday, January 30, 2005

50/50 Chance of Leaving the Skins?

Redskins receiver Rod Gardner -- nicknamed 50/50 for his chance of dropping a pass -- is supposedly being offered to teams for a second round pick.

Here's a hint that he won't be back: Rod Gardner jerseys on sale for $9.99 at the recent Redskins tent sale. At least with Jeremiah Trotter they waited until draft day before marking him down.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Au Revoir, Lillipilli

I'm easily distracted. It's thus that during a web search for a place to eat on my birthday the other day, I discovered that the Lillipilli restaurant in Sydney closed last year. Christina and I visited this restaurant in July 2002 and enjoyed such foods as emu triangles, roast kangaroo, and barramundi baked in eucalyptus bark.

I have no trips Down Under on the horizon, so I lost no planned meals there, but it's a little sad to hear that a place we enjoyed is no longer in business.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Go Blue!

I had occasion to take pride in my alma mater's basketball team recently -- however, not for its on-the-court achievements. First, though, let's start with the shame. One of Michigan's star players was booked on a domestic violence charge. This sort of thing has happened enough to players on my favorite teams that I go through a fairly standard set of reactions. First, hope that it's not true. Second, realize that it probably is (although who knows). Third, hope that the team will suspend him. Fourth, realize that they'll probably, at best, wait until the athlete is facing some jail time before doing anything. (See the recent case of Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens -- not one of my favorite teams, and even less so after that incident.)

But, hey, what do you know, they suspended him.
"Given the seriousness and sensitivity of the situation, we feel it is in everyone's best interest that we suspend Daniel pending further review," U-M Coach Tommy Amaker said. "We feel this is the right course of action at this time."
After the Fab Five scandals of the 1990s, I'm glad to see Michigan's determination to run a clean program.

Christina expressed less pride in one of her alma maters this morning after being informed of last night's "riot" in downtown College Park.
One student standing in front of Wireless Solutions resisted. When two officers tried to push him back, a surge in the crowd sent the student and the two officers into the window of the store, causing them to break the glass.
Then again, they did beat Duke, so a lot can be forgiven.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Civilization: The Board Game

In a previous post, I mentioned that we had punched out the pieces for Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game. Sunday, as part of a pre-birthday fiesta of sorts (more on that later), we broke out the actual game.

Martin, Ben, George, Paul and I started out. We were learning the rules as we went along, but we forged ahead. Martin put down in Asia, Paul in Europe, me in Africa, Ben in S. America and George in N. America. Here you can see the basic layout.

(Martin was purple, Paul was green, I was blue, Ben was red, and George was orange.)

We stuttered through expansion for a few turns. Martin had to leave, but initiated an attack on Paul first. We left his pieces dormant for a turn, but Steve showed up to take over where Martin left off.

That included the attack on Paul. Here we see them at the special "battle table" we set up, with Ben refereeing.

Ben managed to expand to Australia and George to northern Europe before the game ended early in the Medieval age. It ended there because we were playing the "short game" which took us 3 or 4 hours. If we knew the rules as well as we do know, we could probably play the "medium game" in that time frame.

It was a fun game, but confusing. The element of luck in the game seemed a little bit high. Also, some rules were a bit weird -- if you discover a minor civilization, a new city goes not to the discoverer, but to whomever has the fewest cities. While this might mitigate the luck, it added to the sense of unfairness. Maybe over a longer game (with better strategy), this luck would even out. Also, because all minor civilizations were discovered when there was a tie for fewest cities, the city ended up being a barbarian instead.

When the game came to a close, Ben and George were tied with the most points. The rules gave no tiebreaker, but we ended up declaring George the winner. Now I can't remember why.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Stat Boy, Vikings Chapter

After watching yesterday's episode of Pardon the Interruption, I was moved to send them the following e-mail:

Subject: Wilbon & the Vikings

Dear PTI,

Where was Stat Boy on this one? Today (1/24), Wilbon said that the
Vikings ended up 8-8 and exited the playoffs in the first round. Tell
that to the Green Bay Packers...

Jon Grantham

(Many of you will recall that Minnesota bested Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs.)

This morning, I got the following response from Stat Boy:

Yeah - I guess I blew it... Didn't even hear that one. Had four other
errors, but this was a big one. My bad.

Good job outta, you, though. I hereby promote you to Stat Boy, Vikings
Chapter. Hold the office with honor.


Hmm, maybe I can get traded to Stat Boy, Redskins Chapter as part of the Randy Moss trade.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Wine Update: Beaucoup Wines

It's been a while since my last wine update, so I have a lot of ground to cover.

  • 1995 Bodegas Faustino Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja: I picked this up at duty-free on my way back from my last trip to the UK. It counts as the most expensive wine we've tried -- around $20 US. (We haven't quite made it into the category of "wine snobs" yet.) It was definitely a good wine. I think we've reached the point where we can easily pick up a good wine for more than $10, and with some work pick up a good one for less than $10. The next trick may be to figure out how to pick up a great one for more than $10.
  • 2002 Navarro Correas Malbec: Malbec is a Bordeaux blending grape that has come into its own in Argentina. This was an enjoyable wine, but not a "buy-again".
  • 2001 Trumpeter Merlot: Another Argentinean wine. Christina shared this with some friends while I was out of town and really enjoyed it.
  • 2001 Pepperwood Grove Merlot: This came from the same producer as Smoking Loon, one of our favorite Syrahs. It was somewhat disappointing, and not surprisingly, peppery.
  • 2002 Charles Back Goats do Roam: I had wanted to try this wine since I first read about it. It was very good, and increased my interest in both Rhone-style wines and blends.
  • 2002 Los Vascos Cabernet: This was an enjoyable Chilean Cabernet, but not so good that it's at the top of the list to become our "house Cab".
  • 2003 Trumpeter Merlot: When we went back to the wine store, they had no more 2001 or 2002 vintages of this wine. A guy from the distributor happened to be at the store, offering samples of other wines. Christina asked him how the 2003 vintage was, and he said it was very good. He then made a weird comment that sounded like it was about Riunite. We couldn't figure it out, and I thought maybe he was making fun of us for asking about vintage on an under-$10 wine. It turned out it was a reference to the Rutini Family, who make the Trumpeter wines. It was a very good Merlot.
  • 2002 Errazuriz Ovalle Grand Selection Carmenere: We enjoyed this, but it wasn't as good as the Carmen Carmenere I got at Piggly Wiggly.
  • Korbel Brut Sparkling Wine: We popped the cork on this New Years Eve. Combined with giving away some other sparkling wine, that freed up a bunch of space in the wine chiller. Yay!
  • 2001 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Cabernet: We bought the 2003 vintage of this wine because of a recommendation on an episode of Simply Wine with Andrea Immer. Because of the recent vintage, we decided to let it age for a while. We were excited recently to find the 2001 vintage in a store. Coincidentally, that episode was re-running the evening we opened this wine. It turns out we made a mistake -- she was recommending the Carmenere, not the Cab. It was a decent wine, anyway.
  • 2003 Indaba Merlot: This is a South African Merlot. They use some of their proceeds to fund scholarships for South African wine producers. That's pretty cool. Also, they make some very enjoyable merlot. Christina and I both really liked it. She didn't think it quite matched up to the Trumpeter; I'm not sure. It had a little bit of spice which matched up well with the pizza.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Loon-y Trip

My cousin Ian works as a mechanic for Southwest Airlines. This job comes with certain perks -- free airline tickets among them. He was kind enough to share some with us on Monday, when we headed up to New Hampshire for the day to go skiing.

Yes, for the day. The only other time I flew anywhere for the day (and as people who know me know, I fly a lot) was 1993, when I flew from San Francisco to San Diego (ironically, on Southwest) for the day. The only other thing I can compare this to is when I was visiting my parents in England in 1994 and had a train pass. So I had a free place to stay, but only if I got back home for the evening. I spent a lot of time riding trains.

Anyway, we left home at 5:15 in the morning, met Ian at the airport, and flew off to Manchester, New Hampshire. We rented a car and drove an hour and a half north to Loon Mountain.

While the Pennsylvania resorts we usually frequent are desperately trying to keep their snow from melting, Loon Mountain had great conditions. Well, actually, Ian said they weren't as good as what he had seen on past visits. But it matched the best conditions I've seen in the mid-Atlantic. We had a fantastic time, and made it back home by around 10 pm. Forthwith, some pictures of our skiing adventure.

Subscription Drive

Last fall, I mentioned that I had created an option to subscribe to the Android's Dungeon, so you could get e-mail notification when I actually get around to updating this weblog. Since my posting is sometimes sporadic, I thought it would be a convenient feature so people wouldn't need to check back all the time. Unfortunately (for me or for you?), only 4 people have signed up. 2 of those are Christina, and 1 is me. So I thought I'd do more to advertise this option. To that end, I've put a "subscribe box" at the bottom of all these pages.

Google Groups
Subscribe to Android's Dungeon

Browse Archives at

So I encourage you to subscribe. I won't be heartbroken if you don't (since, after all, I don't know who is reading this), but I think it's a useful thing.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Game Playin' Weekend

I played a lot of board games this weekend. Yesterday, George, Doug, Ben and I played a number of games. The complete list (for all of January, actually) is available here at After George headed off to par-tay, Doug, Ben and I ended up with a particularly devlish game of Robo Rally (using a board from the Armed & Dangerous Expansion). Robo Rally aficiandos will realize the painful strategy needed to complete this game:

I made a wrong turn after touching flag 4 and lost my last life. Doug touched flag 5 and was very close to touching flag 6 (and winning), when Ben killed him and won the game.

Unfortunately, Ben's mechanic had not properly re-attached his front left wheel, so he stayed over until he could figure out how to tighten the lugnuts. So he was still here today, and ready for some board gaming. We spent some time punching out and sorting the pieces to "Sid Meier's Civilization -- The Board Game".

After that work, we didn't have enough time to play the actual game (well, maybe we did, but we perceived that we didn't), so we had a nice game of Puerto Rico.

Friday, January 07, 2005

That's what I looked like in 1999?

One of the conferences I'm planning to go to this year, is SERMON, which I've attended 10 of the last 11 years. In looking at the web page, I came across pictures from 1999. For those of you who are not interested in pictures featuring other mathematicians, I am here and here.