Thursday, May 11, 2000

Android on the Moon

"It is our goal, to land a robot on the moon, and bring it back safely, by the end of this decade."

How sad is this? For someone my age, too young to remember the Apollo missions, what does NASA have in store for the return to the moon? A freakin' robot. C'mon, can't they do any better than that? What about this idea?

And for something really strange, read this "review" of Man on the Moon.

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Egyptian Rat Screw

I've been playing a fair amount of Yahoo! Hearts lately. Pretty fun, although my skills are a bit rusty (and I may be playing against people better than I'm used to.) I mentioned that I was doing this to Ben, and we started discussing the disadvantages of playing card games on-line. For one thing, he pointed out, you can't play Egyptian Rat Screw on-line.
Egyptian Rat-Screw. Now there's something I hadn't though about in a long time. For a good description of the rules, check out the above link. For a bad description, read on.
The goal of Egyptian Rat Screw is to get all the cards. Players take turns placing cards face-up in a pile, without looking at them first. There are two ways to win the pile. One involves face cards, and I won't bore you with it. The other is that if two cards of the same rank (e.g., two sixes) come up, the first player to slap the pile wins it. This game is a great deal of fun.
I first learned it at a CTY summer program, and eventually taught it to my friends in Maryland. One thing I never learned at CTY was the advantages and hazards of playing with drunk people.
There are two main advantages. One is that drunk people may not be able to concentrate enough to remember to slap when appropriate. The other is that, in their enthusiasm, they often slap for no apparent reason.
Their enthusiasm, however, creates the hazard that when they slap, they slap hard. As in, you may not want your hand on the bottom of the pile. The most memorable example of this was when George slapped in without removing the beer from his hand. Ouch. Plus, it was pretty messy.
Anyway, it's a fun game. Unfortunately, I don't think I've played it again since that incident...

Monday, May 08, 2000

More Harry Potter

I finished the 3rd Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It was very enjoyable, like the first two. So far I'd have to say that I liked the first the most, followed by this one, then the second one. Can't really justify it, though. This one was a lot about death. Someone's trying to kill Harry, Ron's rat seems in danger of dying, Harry's parents are of course...already dead. And several other items (that I won't spoil) play into this theme. It seemed awfully dark for a kid's book; I mentioned this to my friend Melissa, who teaches 3rd grade. She said, "Kids are thinking about death anyway." I guess this book gives parents a way to talk to their kids about death. And it deals with death in what seems to me to be a healthy way...not sugarcoating it, while not turning into the bloodbath that might seem appropriate in an adult fantasy novel. Anyway, I'm eagerly anticipating Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament. Thankfully, I'm 28, not 8, so I'm doing a pretty good job containing my enthusiasm.