Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Well, I lost a back massage bet tonight. Fortunately it is to my beautiful girlfriend, and losing because we cleared 50% on a 172-team duplicate bridge tournament!!! We had a top hand for the first time in a few weeks, which is more due to the opponent's misplay than our superiority, but I must admit we did screw them pretty good on that third hand!

Just prior to the bridge tournament, girlfriend and I were working on a shared google-doc spreadsheet called "Bridge Cheat Sheet" which is the convention we'll be playing by, just American Standard. It is very simple right now, but I assume it will get more complex as we continue to play and run into situations that give us trouble. I was a bit worried about spending too much time during the tournament looking at the cheat sheet for what I should bid instead of playing quickly and having good etiquette, but during the tourney I only looked at the cheat sheet maybe once? The act of making the cheat sheet itself was a big help, kind of like the act of writing note cards to study for an exam helps just as much as quizzing yourself with the cards later.

We still ran into a few tough spots, but for the most part we played much better than last night (a 108/110 finish!). Only two of our hands were under 40%, which is pretty amazing considering almost all of our hands last night were under 40%! Marked improvement!! We talked about reviewing all of the hands we get under 20% on, but I may have to bump that up to 30% or 40% (in this case we only had two hands under 40%, but they were also below 20%...).

I think just continuing to play together and discussing our hands as they go will be the best way for us to improve, but if any of you bridge experts have any other suggestions, please let me know! I really enjoy the casual but involved play we are doing right now, and I am looking forward to fifty years from now and still playing this very fun and tricky card game!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well, my continuous writing on the blog lasted all of... three? days? I think I've learned enough during my and others' past failures to know that even though I haven't accomplished what I set out to (lots of writing on a daily basis), this doesn't mean I have to leave the blog dusty for months. My first thought was to write 607 words and combine two blog entries, but then keeping track of the numbers would get all sorts of confusing. I think I'll just start off where I left off previously and pretend that the week of snow and rain and travels southward to Corvallis were enough of a distraction to prevent me from writing. A load of baloney, but whatever!

School was cancelled most of last Tuesday, and all of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, making for a nice early mid-winter break! When I found out school would be cancelled for Thursday, I raced down to Corvallis to spend a nice 4-night weekend with the girlfriend. The drive down was a little crazy, leaving at 5pm on a very snowy Seattle. Luckily once I slowly made it down the driveway, hopping on I-5 was easy and I didn't leave the interstate until I was down in rainy Oregon.

Driving on I-5 just south of Olympia was insane. Only one lane was plowed and the rest of the interstate was like a motocross with bumps making driving with any semblance of control nearly impossible. I stayed at 20mph in the truck lane and thankfully come Centralia the rest of the freeway was plowed.

Corvallis had record flooding, which was pretty awesome to go see. The flooding on the Willamette River was so high that classes at OSU were cancelled on Friday! We went and checked out areas near the river and an entire park was under water, as the river was 13' above normal water level. I got a neat shot of a park bench near the river walk, almost completely under water:

Now to figure out how to transfer phones from my photo to the web without losing so much quality...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Snowpacaplyse 2012 has begun in Seattle. With no snow on the ground this morning, I still got a two-hour late start at my teaching job. Nothing like some snow fear to start the calendar year off! By the time I got ready to leave, after much deliberation as to which transportation method and route to take, I donned my full bike rain gear and headed into the silent snow storm.

Snow was already sticking on the long driveway, so I walked down to the end of the driveway and up the slight hill before getting on my bicycle. It was snowing hard and I didn't see any other bikers on my two mile trip. The only sketchy part was coming to a red light and not being able to stop behind the SUV in the left turn lane, so instead of stopping I cut through the lanes of stopped cars and rolled to a stop at the light itself.

Only a handful of students showed up for the late start, which promptly turned into a two-hour early dismissal as well, and the principal came onto the intercom and told all of the students to call their parents to come get them ASAP. It was still snowing hard, about an inch in an hour out on the field.

My students decided to go to the lunch room for a quick bite before their parents picked them up, and I was left in my room with the snow falling outside. I began blasting Adele in my room, wondering what someone would say if they came into my room at that moment.

I feel like I am a fairly complicated person... I have my rock out to Adele moments. But while I was rocking out to Adele and the snow was slowing to a halt outside, I realized everyone is complicated. Everyone has their rock out to Adele moments, which I mean as doing something out of the ordinary for their persona. A tough guy has his soft side, a softie has a tough side. I like how each person is so different, and I find it intriguing that we really don't get to know each other very well as people. I bet a lot of cats know their owners better than the owner's friends do.



So this numbering system could get confusing somewhere down the road, but it is really just a speed bump in my writing process. I like to make organized lists--I love Excel spreadsheets--but the deep down reason for the organization is laziness. Both in wanting to save myself work in the future and also procrastinating by making an unused spreadsheet instead of doing something much more pressing... grading homework, playing video games, etc.

I am late already posting this, my excuse is MLK Jr. Day and not thinking this Monday to be a typical week day, but all I did today was play about 8 hours of Star Wars: The Old Republic. I had tried the Beta of the game back in December and enjoyed playing, but wondered how the story would continue to develop. Flash forward to this month and I have friends and roommates playing the game and the pull was strong enough to get me to try the game for at least a month.

The game is pay to play, which was a bit of a hurdle in wanting to try the game out again, but more pressing was knowing that if I bought the game, I would be playing it... a lot. I have a hard time buying a game and not playing it (oops, Skyrim?), especially if I am paying a monthly fee. My thriftness dictates that if I pay $15/month for a video game, that is only like $0.02 per hour if I play it 8 hours a day! (please don't check my math, it is late.) Also, oddly enough that same logic does not apply to my monthly gym membership or monthly phone bill. I rarely go to the gym, and although I do like to use my phone, it is mostly for the mobile internet and I don't spend hours and hours on the phone just because I have unlimited minutes (at least during certain times of the day).

Also, instead of writing 300 words a week day, I'm going to try and up it by a word each day into infinity and beyond, hence the 301. Here's hoping a 302 follows tomorrow, with something more creative than a breakdown of my illogical lazy video game justifications!


Friday, January 13, 2012

I will write 300 words

Found an old post after posting the bridge IMPs post, and read that I wanted to write 300 words a day. I'm not sure why I never started doing that, but for all of the times in the past month I've talked about wanting to write, I now vow to start! Three hundred words a day doesn't seem like that much... I'll say 300 words per weekday, to give myself time to catch up or skip the weekends if I'm off doing something fun.

GF asked what I'll write about, and I think mostly just what is on my mind, but if I'm feeling creative I might have some fun in fantasy land.

Today Carmen and I took the 8th graders to a trail work party as part of the 8th grade wilderness program at my school. It was really great to see the students getting dirty and working pulling out invasive vines and garbage from a ravine in the city. The kids were really proud of hauling out bbqs, trash cans, shopping carts and a hundred different beer cans and bottles.

On the bus ride to the trail work site, I closed my eyes along with the student sitting next to me and half-pretended to meditate. I decided to tell the students in close proximity what I was thinking about as my eyes were closed.

I envisioned being in a natural hot spring on a mountaintop with my gf. I think we were in Japan, on Hokkaido. At the top of this mountain, soaking in the warm 105 degree hot spring, the view is unbeatable. I can see out into the valley and I can hear the waterfall the hot spring is creating down the side of the mountain. The waterfall disappears into the fog lining the valley, and cherry blossoms poke out of the valley floor for as far as I can see.

All around the hot spring are trees unlike any I've ever seen. These trees look like giant cat-structures. And on many of the branches are snow monkeys, who have a tendency to cannonball into nearby hot spring pools.



Ever since seeing a link to on Mojo's blog, I decided to try the site out and I am impressed! The players are much nicer than Yahoo or any other place I've played, and the details of the game are blowing up in front of my face.

GF and I are starting to play together a few times a week, and although bridge has an incredibly steep learning curve, we're having a lot of fun learning together through the ACBL Learn to Play software that I believe Mojo suggested as well.

We played our second-ever pairs tournament tonight and still have plenty of learning to do, and IMPs do a great job of blowing all of the little mistakes we make into lots of points for the other teams!

I like that the only hand we got positive IMPs on was the hand that everyone at the table passed, hah!! I did pat myself on the back for getting set in diamonds, which at the time counted as positive IMPs because it was better than letting the opponents go nuts in hearts... but it eventually ended as the -0.9 IMP hand.