Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mountain Photos

Here are a few two photos from driving to and from Everett over the past month. The first is in the morning looking towards the Cascades. The second is coming home this morning from a quick two-hour sub job, again looking East.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Heist (Introduction)

Waves crashed into the rocks hundreds of feet below the Bloomberg Mansion. Built in 1920 as a retreat for industrial tycoon Phillip Bloomberg, the mansion sits atop a bluff overlooking a rocky and rugged section of the Washington coastline. The exterior of the mansion shows considerable wear from the constant wind and rain over the past 90 years. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark spent the majority of their winter expedition just miles south of the present day Bloomberg Mansion. They named the location "Fort Disappointment" for the relentless bad weather. After spending a winter at his estate in 1925 writing his memoir, Mr. Bloomberg vowed never to return in winter again.

Although the stone walls resemble the dreary November weather, tonight the inside is alive with action. Thomas Crow, a well-known art collector, is hosting a party to celebrate his 60th birthday. Without many close friends of his own due to his seedy art deals in the past, and feeling deserving of plenty of attention, he invited friends of friends, who were welcome to bring friends of their own.

With his extravagant art collection on display, Mr. Crow is reveling his role as host, telling stories of various art pieces and offering his impression of each piece. The wine is flowing and the host is blissfully unaware of the fact that his prized possession, a grandiose locket made for Catherine the Great, locked away in one of his many basement safes, is the only reason several of his guests are in attendance.

((Feel free to add your character and plot suggestions in the comments. I will post this week's comments as they come in. If you want me to NOT publish your comment, please let me know.))

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Monday, November 23, 2009

MHG-RPG Round Two -- The Heist

Back in July of 2007, I attempted my first story with input from the peanut gallery (Jordan, Schaubs, and my friends William and Tyler). The story involved pirates, ninjas, and a monkey named Jim-Jam.

I'm in that same creative mood I was in over two years ago, and I would like to try a similar writing project. Basically, I will be the author of a story, and you should drop a comment if you want to help brainstorm ideas, or if you want to be a character in the story. This story is going to be another short one, with four or five chapters (posts) at most.

My role will be to write the story and include as much input as I can from the participants. I will post a new chapter each week.

As a participant, you are expected to read the story each week and then post a comment on the story about what you want your character to do next. Also, if you have any other suggestions regarding the story you can post those suggestions. All comments will be moderated, and I will not reveal the posted comments until the next chapter is out (to keep a surprise element to the story). Also, if you want your comments to be kept secret, just write DO NOT POST in your moderated comment and I won't post that comment publicly.

The first time I tried this, I would have a vague idea of where I thought the story might be going, but a comment would change that direction and provide a storyline I hadn't thought of. Some comments altered the story, while others I dismissed as too difficult to weave in. In the event that two or more characters suggest very different paths, I will likely choose one of the paths to keep the participants together.

The general plot idea for this next story will be a heist, but I haven't decided on a location just yet, or a main character. Thinking about it more, there are several ways to do a heist story--the one I am leaning towards is possibly having a cast of characters like the board game Clue, where any of the participants might be the thief, and you don't find out until the end of the story who done it.

If you are interested, leave a comment here letting me know either that you are just interested, or if you have any character, location, or plot ideas in mind. I hope to start the story by this weekend, and you can feel free to hop in whenever.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Skiing in November

I made it up to Stevens both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Saturday had a few inches of powder, and Sunday had almost a foot of the fluffy stuff. These conditions aren't far from normal in February, but to have a foot of fresh powder on top of a 48" base on November 21st is just unreal.

I was hoping to start the season more in shape this year, what with basketball, racquetball, and swimming nearly every day for the past three weeks. The "training" didn't help. The outsides of my thighs are killing me. Better than the insides of my thighs, I guess??


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaching is Hard

I'm still substitute teaching, and I had a classroom of 30 students today where:

five students did no work and stared at their worksheets.
five students did no work and ran around the class horsing around with their friends.
five students tried to do the work and asked for help.
five students spent the whole period on the worksheet (target audience?).
five students finished the worksheet in ten minutes and got all the answers right.
five students finished the worksheet in ten minutes and got all the answers wrong.

If I was their teacher every day, I could put some plans in motion to get the students not doing the worksheets on track. I might call parents or have one-on-one conferences with the students to figure out why each student isn't trying, and try somehow to tailor a lesson to that student's strengths to get some involvement. I would be able to add extensions to the lessons that challenge the students who finish and get their answers right--and not make it seem like extra busy work or extra credit. I could also follow up with the students who zoom through the worksheet and get all the answers wrong--and know to check those students' work in the future before accepting it.

As a sub, I spend most of my time focused on the behavior of students. When a student asks a genuine question based on the lesson of the day, I enjoy giving them advice or pointing them in the right direction to find the answer on their own. When I stand up from helping that student, I find that a few of the behavior students have gotten up out of their seats and have started distracting other students again. I get them back in their seats and try to help them get started, when a few other students hop out of their seats. The combination of behavior police and helping students with their work makes it extremely difficult to notice the kids who need help but don't ask for it--whether they are kids who don't start writing, or kids with confidence, but not the correct answers.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Rainy Season Cometh

This is one boring game of Monday Night Football. The Ravens defense is impressive, and they are fun to watch, but the Browns' offense is no challenge whatsoever.

Not much exciting over the past few weeks. The rainy season has begun, which means I have crept back indoors and I have started playing more WoW. Priest hit 80 on the role-play pvp server with Josh and Derek, so phase two of the game has begun.

I started swimming laps at LA Fitness, and I have been trying to swim 10 laps (or 20 lengths) every time I swim. The first attempt was Saturday afternoon, and I did a lot of breaststroke and I ended with two laps of backstroke. Freestyle just saps my energy. Today the first lap felt really good, but I deteriorated from there.

Ski season starts Thursday, and I have some doubts about my 96' Honda in the snow.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Side Betting the side game at the WORLD SERIES OF POKER FINAL TABLE HEADS UP!!!

Hit, hit, hit, hit!

Dr. Chako face-booked that he was up to no good at the low-limit tables tonight, while following the heads up live-blogging of presumably Pauly. Matt chimed in and joined the waiting list at Chako's table, and I also followed suit. After a good 10 minutes of railing, we both got in the HORSE-esque game. There was No Limit involved, so I'm not sure what acronym does this mixed game justice.

We did the game justice though. From the first orbit we had a side-bet prop on showing down winning hands with 3's in them. I kind of forgot about the mixed game nature of this table, so when O/8 and razz came along, we kind of had to make up the betting on the fly, which Matt mastered.

We started the betting with just showing down a 3 for a win. Then we progressed to making sure the 3 played in the winning hand. Then the split pot games is where Matt's brilliance shown brightest:

$1 for winning the high hand and a 3 playing, $2 for scooping with the 3 involved in both high and low hands.

I'm pretty sure Dr. Chako was the only pooper-scooper to win a 2-pointer.

The side-bet increased the action considerably, because we kept trying to prevent each other from having other's 3's play, or psyching each other out by getting our monsters called down on the chance of a bluff.

Penner (link could be wrong, I'm getting rusty in my internet sleuthing) joined us about 30 minutes in, and quickly joined in on the side-bet action. He was my cooler, and as soon as I had a blogger to my left, I was toast.

And now, the thing everyone loves to hate...

The Results:

Dr. Chako--BIG WINNER!!! die.
Matt--owes Dr. Chako $1
Penner--owes Dr. Chako $1, owes Matt $2
MHG--owes Dr. Chako $4, owes Matt $1

On Full Tilt, the minimum transfer is $5, so if that is how you transfer money, just send what you owe plus $5, and the recipient can ship back $5.




Saturday, November 07, 2009

Memories: Hawaii

I'm still young in the grand scheme of things, but as I'm growing older I start to see how life experiences can lead to wisdom. I was staring up at the clouds tonight, and I tried to figure out what each cloud looked like as it floated by. I saw one that looked like a Big Mac, another looked like a skull, and another looked like a giant mushroom.

Then I got to thinking, how would I have viewed those same clouds when I was 10? What about when I was 5? I don't think I knew what a Big Mac was when I was five. Maybe I did, but maybe I would have just said hamburger instead. I preferred chicken nuggets. Hell, I still prefer chicken nuggets, I don't think I've ever had a Big Mac, but for some reason all I could think was "Big Mac" at the shape of said cloud. In attempt to cut off a ramble, I came to the realization that as you age and encounter more experiences, you have more connections to make, which gives one a broader understanding of... well, pretty much everything.

While I sat in the hot tub, looking up at the clouds floating by in the wind, I made a strong connection back to a hot tub I was in on a trip to Hawaii when I must have been 12 or 13. There was a big storm in Hawaii that day, and my sister and I huddled down in the hot tub as lawn chairs went scooting around the pool deck. There were two other kids in the hot tub with us, and we thought we were so cool for lasting out the storm. When the winds died down and we poked our heads up from the hot tub, almost all of the lawn chairs were squished against the far end of the pool deck, and a few had made their way into the pool.

I assume my mind made the connection because it was another time I was in a hot tub and it was stormy outside, but I hadn't thought of that memory for literally years. Tonight it came back to me like it had happened just the other day. There are some fuzzy parts of the memory. First, I'm not sure if my sister was there, and second, I can't remember how many other kids were in the hot tub, but I think 3 or 4 total. The interesting part to me is that this particular memory about Hawaii is lodged deep down in my brain somewhere, and it takes a connection for me to pull it up from the depths of my memory.

Other people must also experience these memories that seemingly come out of left field, but appear so vividly. I have them all the time, and I think I will start to write a few of them down when they come to me. I'm doing terribly at the NaNoWriMo, and I'm only at 1283 words after a week. I am supposed to be writing down 1667 words per day to hit the 50,000 mark by the end of the month. I haven't given up on it quite yet, but as long as I keep doing some sort of writing I will be happy, irregardless of whether it is the NaNoWriMo story or not.

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So Fucking Angry

Last night blew my mind. I am still steaming this morning about what happened last night--I don't think I've been this angry since I was an angry young teenager in high school. Hopefully by writing about last night I'll release some of my anger, but I am going to leave the part about the police out and let you try to figure out where the police fits into this story.


Friday night's story really begins last Monday. Mary Ann sent out an email to ten of her friends, inviting them over for a few rounds of Settlers of Catan. I hadn't seen this group of friends in a while, so I chimed in with an affirmative. On Wednesday, I realized that Josh would be coming up from Tacoma to attend the UW Volleyball match with me, and afterwards he'd probably be interested in playing some Catan. The original invite seemed somewhat exclusive, so I asked MA if it would be okay to bring Josh along, or if that would screw up the numbers for playing Catan. She said it would be fine to have another person along.

Friday morning rolls around, and I am substituting for my old class I student taught for last year. I check my email during lunch and find an email from MA, saying that the party has been moved from 7:30pm to 10pm. It seems a little late to make a 2.5 hour change to a party involving a dozen people, but the time change works for me, because Josh and I weren't going to show up until 9-9:30 due to the volleyball game. I also have an email from Josh, wondering if his roommate, Derrick, can join us. I see that MA is online, and shoot her a quick message asking about Derrick, and she replies that Derrick joining would be great.

Josh comes up a little before 7pm and we make it down to the volleyball match about halfway through the first game. All three games are amazing, and UW sweeps Stanford in three straight games. I believe both teams are in the top 10 national rankings, so the level of play was very high, also, Stanford handed UW one of its two loses on the year earlier down in CA. Most of the points consisted of UW just hammering the ball and Stanford making some amazing saves to get the ball back--but you don't win by just getting the ball back, and eventually UW would find an opening in Stanford's defense.

We get back to my house at 9:15pm and we call Derrick to tell him to head up to Seattle, and I call MA and leave a voice mail asking if it is alright if we come over a few minutes early since the volleyball game is over. Derrick makes his way up to Seattle and Josh and I wait 15 minutes, then head over to Mary Ann's. Josh and I arrive at Mary Ann's, and I still haven't heard from her, and her apartment doesn't have any lights on. This is 15 minutes to party time.

About five minutes later I get a text from Mary Ann, saying that they are at a restaurant and she will give me instructions shortly. Um... what? I send her a text back, saying Josh and I are at her house already. Josh and I walk around in the rain, trying to find a bar close to Mary Ann's house that we can crash at until the party arrives, and we end up getting back in Josh's car and back-tracking a mile to a bar we saw on our drive over. As soon as we step into the bar, I get a call from Eddie, who is with Mary Ann.

Eddie says that the group is at a restaurant in Bothell (30 minutes north), and they will probably be at the restaurant for another 45 minutes, and then they decided to switch the location of the party to Tom's house, because they are all already up in Bothell. What. the. FUCK? Are you serious? It is 10pm right now, and the party is supposed to start, and you are changing the time AGAIN and the location to 30 minutes away?!

Derrick rolls in about five minutes later, and I give him the bad news. The bar we found ended up being one of the coolest I've been to in a while, with a black IPA on tap, and rugby games on the televisions. The three of us were pissed about being left in the lurch regarding the party (especially because Derrick drove 45 minutes to Seattle specifically for the party), but we decided to head to my house and then I would drive us all up to Bothell to meet up with the rest of the gang.

On our way up to Bothell, we make an impromptu stop at Dick's drive-in, because we're all a bit hungry and nothing sounds better than Dick's fries, a chocolate shake, and a Deluxe when you are hungry and it is between 11pm-2am. I get a call from Eddie when I'm eating my fries, still waiting for Josh to receive his order. Eddie says they are about to start playing and he wants to know what time I'll be there. I tell him they can start playing, and we'll be there in about 20 minutes. He says OK.

As I'm driving from Dick's to Tom's house up in Bothell, I feel my phone vibrate a few times, but I don't like to talk on the phone and drive at the same time. I pull into Tom's apartment complex and I go to give Eddie a call, telling him we are here, when I see that I've received a text from Eddie (as close to verbatim as I can remember):

"Hey Chris, I think we might need to reschedule game night. We didn't realize there were more people with you, and we don't have room for three more people. So sorry, dude."

I read this text as we're exiting the car, 20 feet from Tom's apartment. Are you fucking serious? Really?! I get a call from Eddie as I'm literally laughing at the text he sent, and he asks where I'm at. I say parked outside Tom's apartment.

Eddie and Tom come out and say they are sorry, but thought it was only me coming up, and that they don't have room for three people. They say they've already started the game of Catan. Tom says he and his girlfriend have to leave at 8am the next morning and that they can't make a late night out of tonight.

I couldn't fucking believe it. I thought these guys were friends? Derrick, Josh and I just wanted to hang out and play a game or two, and now, at their doorstep, they are telling us we aren't welcome? Why the fuck did Eddie say "OK" 20 minutes ago when I told him WE are coming over? Mary Ann's car is parked outside, did she forget the email and chat conversations we had EARLIER THAT DAY about Josh and Derrick coming up to Seattle?!?!?

When I realized that they were serious, I couldn't even stand to look at them. We left, and I was so incredibly angry. There were a dozen things I was angry about, and it all reflected around Mary Ann and Eddie. Why? Why would they treat me like such garbage? I could understand that there was a lot of miscommunication, but even with the miscommunication, they had so many opportunities to give me a heads up or let me know what the real situation was. They strung me along the whole evening. The only message I received from Mary Ann was "We're eating at a restaurant up near Tom's house, you will get instructions soon" and this was 15 minutes before the party was supposed to start at her place. Tom and his girlfriend waking up at 8am the next day was bullshit, because they just started a game that would take two hours to finish, so they'd be up for another hour and a half at least, plenty of time for us to hang out and then head home.

I don't know. I've never been treated like that before, and the fact that one of those people is my housemate, makes me really rethink my living situation.

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