Responsible Updating

I haven’t been very good about updating this week – sorry about that. And with plenty on my plate for the weekend, I might not be so good about it for the next few days, either. So to be a responsible journaller, here’s a roundup of what I’ve been busy with:

The long weekend was nice. We mostly took it easy, although I did put a few comic book collections up for sale on eBay. Sunday we got together with Subrata and Susan for some dinner and gaming. Subrata and I have been playing the occasional Magic sealed deck duels, with 4 Shadowmoor packs and 2 Eventide packs. We tend to find that we can get 2 or 3 (or even 4) decent decks out of this mix, so there’s plenty to keep us busy; the hybrid mana costs allow for a lot of flexibility – almost too much, it sometimes seems. I think I’ve decided that I prefer pure Shadowmoor for sealed deck, though; you get to make better use of the hybrid auras and generally have more synergy among your cards. I bet pure Eventide would be fun, too. I’m kind of sorry they decided not to make Eventide a “big” expansion like Shadowmoor was, especially since the enemy hybrid colors can be a lot of fun. (I ought to write a whole article on what I think of the Shadowmoor and Eventide sets, actually.)

Speaking of games, last night I played poker with some other friends. It was a mostly-nondescript evening, as far as the game went, and I was mostly entertained by the livelier-and-snarkier-than-usual conversation. But around 10:45 when I announced I was going to leave soon, I went on a big winning streak and didn’t leave for another half an hour. I managed to stack one of my friends, and win some other decent pots besides, and ended up with probably my most successful session yet. Good deal!

Have I mentioned we’re getting our complex’s exterior painted at home? We are. It’s taking a while, since they’re repairing and replacing some of the siding, and although that’s a pain, I’m glad they’re doing a good, diligent job with it. It’s not something you want to scrimp on. The place will look nice once it’s done. Still, I will be glad when it’s done and I can move my plants from the patio back up to the porch where they belong.

I had a weird glitch with the ol’ journal last night: My site was unable to contact Akismet and so my spam trap stopped working. I get hundreds of spam per day, so this was really annoying. It was fixed by this morning. My hosting service has no idea what happened; I suspect some bad data got propagated around the DNS and it got stuck in their servers overnight. Probably not their fault, and hopefully it was a one-time thing.

Lastly, we’re having another heat wave this week – not as bad as last week’s scorcher, but still pretty hot. I’m hoping today was the peak and that it will cool off over the weekend. Fortunately, it always cools down at night so it has to be a really bad heat wave to really interfere with my sleep.

I think that about cover it. Now to get a good night’s sleep so I can bike in to work tomorrow!

A Tale of Two Weekends

The days have been just flying by, lately! I realized this weekend that I never wrote an entry about last weekend, partly because I’d been busy catching up on posting photos from my Dad’s visit!

The bittersweet part of last weekend was going to two Red Sox/Athletics games, which I’d been excited about since this is a rare year in which my Red Sox visited Oakland twice in the same season. Unfortunately, we ended up seeing two games of a three-game sweep by the A’s, with the Sox losing 8-3 on Friday, and then 3-0 on Saturday. The Saturday game was almost very exciting as Justin Duchscherer came two baserunners away from pitching a perfect game. But he hit Jason Varitek leading off the 6th, and David Ortiz singled in the 7th. Huston Street replaced Duchscherer for the 9th, and that was it. Bummer. On television we watched the A’s finish the sweep by winning 6-3 on Sunday. Alas.

On the bright side, the Sox have gone 4-2 since then, and they still have the second-best record in the American League (behind the Rays, who seem to finally be capitalizing on their substantial talent base).

Sunday we also had Subrata and Susan over for the day. We hadn’t heard from them for a few days and we’d figured they might be going stir crazy waiting for their child to arrive. (As I wrote over this past weekend, he arrived last Thursday.) We met at The Counter for lunch and then came back and played Magic (Subrata and me) and dominoes (all four of us) for the afternoon, winding up having dinner at Marie Callender’s.

The Magic session was interesting, my second time really playing Shadowmoor. We played a sealed deck game. Subrata had two viable builds from his cards, while I thought I had three or even four, but part-way through one game I realized I just didn’t have the right mix of stuff to make a white-blue deck work; it kept wanting to be write-green. So I did that instead and it worked quite well, better than the black-red deck did. The red-green version might have worked, too, but I didn’t try that. Anyway, it does feel like Shadowmoor is a slower format than Lorwyn or Time Spiral were. But since I enjoy creature-based decks, that’s not really a bad thing.

This weekend as I said we went to the hospital to visit Subrata, Susan and Ajay on Friday evening. Saturday we went out and did some shopping, including buying a new cat bush (half-height cat tree) for the downstairs. Even though it’s nearly identical to the old one, the cats still had to sniff it all over. But it seems to have passed muster!

I also went by a sale at Illusive Comics, an area store which I hadn’t visited before. (Well, I might have visited them years ago under their previous incarnation and previous owners, but I honestly don’t remember.) The owners are very enthusiastic, which is a great thing in anyone doing small retail! I’ll probably go back every so often, even though my I already have a regular shop I patronize (Comics Conspiracy). As most stores today do, Illusive seems to be focusing on new books and paperback collections. Unfortunately I’m an outlier among comics fans: the main thing that brings me back to a shop is a good and constantly-changing back issue selection, and the comics retailing biz has moved away from back issues over the last 15 years. And every store has pretty much the same set of paperback collections, so you don’t really need to go to multiple stores for those.

Anyway. Comics retailing is hard enough without listening to me moan about how comics shops aren’t like they were back when I was a teenager, so enough about that.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday doing chores around the house: We did a whole bunch of long-awaited cleaning, throwing away the little things which stack up on bookshelves and in the garage and in nooks and crannies elsewhere. I put up a bike hanger so we could reclaim some floor space by hanging Debbi’s bike above mine. Now Debbi wants to hang the step ladder and our spare folding chairs, so that may be another project soon! Debbi fixed up the shadowbox with my old Mardi Gras beads and coins, and it looks great!

Sunday we had a quieter day. I spent a lot of the afternoon and evening up in the study paying bills, putting together some Magic decks, and doing some cleaning up (though not nearly enough). We also cooked dinner and watched Sunday night baseball.

So that about covers it. We have some more projects to take care of around the house (for instance, replace the long-broken kitchen dispose-all), and I hope we can get a bunch of it taken care of this summer. It ought to keep us busy!

Meanwhile, happy June, everyone!

Debbi’s Birthday Weekend

Busy weekend!

Friday Subrata and I got together to play Friday Night Magic. Meanwhile our partners Debbi and Susan got together to do Friday night scrapbooking at a store they discovered. We each had a good time, and although Subrata and I went to Game Kastle, which started its game about an hour later than where we’ve been going to play before, we didn’t finish a lot later than they did, so it all worked out well.

Friday was the release day for the new Magic expansion, Shadowmoor, which is the complementary set to the previous block, Lorwyn. Rather than having interactions among creatures in a tribe (elves, goblins, etc.), this block involves colors which work closely together. That gives it a different dynamic in draft, since the “hybrid” color mana costs mean you can play more cards that come your way than in other blocks.

I had a pretty good draft putting together a green-red deck which had a few good tricks but basically came down to putting big creatures in play before my opponents could deal with them. I won my first match handily, lost my second match by a very thin margin, and got crushed in my third. So not too bad a showing. My third opponent isn’t impressed with the set, feeling that it’s a set which plays slowly at first, but then a single card can win the game for either player if they get lucky. To some extent this is always true in Magic, but it does seem like the power curve leaps rather suddenly at a certain point. On the other hand, I enjoy creature-based decks, so the slow progress early in a game suits me okay. I’ll have to play more to see what I think about it. It does feel like the set is very light on creature removal, though, which might make red-black the color combo of choice.

Saturday was a day of running around doing errands, followed by going to an engagement party for our friends Josh and Lisa. Some friends of theirs put together a very nice party at their house, and many friends of each showed up. Josh has been one of the more avid boardgamers at Subrata’s weekly session since he started coming a couple of years ago, so there were several people Debbi and I knew there. It was a fun time, at least until my cold meds started wearing off around 8 and I started wearing down.

(I can’t wait to shake this cold. I’m slowly getting better, and not really wiped out by it by the end of every day, but it’s sill a drag, sniffling and coughing.)

And last but by no means least, today it’s Debbi’s birthday!

I’d been teasing her all week about the presents I’d bought for her, all the while hoping that I’d actually get them in time, since I’m becoming the world’s worst procrastinator when it comes to buying presents. However, I’d come up with a couple of neat gift ideas, and hoped to pull it off.

Fortunately, I was able to make time to go by Lisa’s Tea Treasures on Thursday morning and picked up a nice English-style tea pot for her, since she’d talked about getting one so she could make larger pots of tea. (Lisa’s Tea came at Susan’s recommendation, for which I thank her since otherwise I had little idea of where to go!) And my order for Corner Gas seasons one and two on DVD arrived from Amazon Canada on Friday afternoon, somewhat to my surprise since they’d just shipped earlier in the week. Corner Gas is Debbi’s favorite show these days, and we watch it most nights on TV. A lot of its humor is based on wordplay, which means I enjoy it a lot more than most sitcoms.

Anyway, somehow I’d managed to not give her any hints about it all about them and she was completely surprised! And loved them all! Yay!

In the afternoon we had a small group of people over for grillables and cake to celebrate, keeping it small to not drive ourselves nuts with preparation. (I still drove myself nuts by insisting on mopping the tile floors this morning, but that’s my problem.) We had a fun time, and our friends Lisa and Michel brought their infant daughter over, which especially amused the cats, since Newton had no idea what to make of this not-a-lot-larger-than-he-is human sitting in the carrier on the floor. Isabella also was fascinated when I brought out the radio-controlled helicopter later on.

It all went smoothly, and after people left we had a quiet dinner, and of course some cake and tea and watched tonight’s Corner Gas.

Happy birthday, Deb! I’m glad you had a good one.

Competitive Success

The last two nights have been competitive ones. For those who don’t want all the cory details, suffice to say that Thuesday night we had out first ultimate frisbee game of the season, and it went really well! And then last night Subrata and I went to Superstars for Friday Night Magic, which also went surprisingly well for me.

For those who do want the gory details, read on…

Frisbee was one of the better first-nights-of-the-season I can recall having. Although I was not in top condition, I was not nearly as exhausted by the end of it as I’d expected, and I was still playing decent points as things were winding down. In the last game I even had a three-point run where I made a hard cut to catch a score, and two points later icked up a turnover and hucked it into the end zone for a score – very rare for me since my arm is mediocre and so I don’t huck much. Subrata and I also hooked up for a score in the first game, when I caught a turnover and saw him break in the end zone – he made a nice catch to grab it as it flew past the guy covering him.

I think we were lucky that the rain held off ’til Friday; it was actually a terrific night for frisbee. Next week is our team’s bye week, and then we’ll play every non-holiday week until the end of the year. (The spring half of the season’s schedule will be up around New Year’s, I assume.)

Magic featured a 10-person booster draft, and Subrata and I were in the same draft for a change. This was our first time drafting the new Lorwyn set, which has a tribal theme, which means in addition to the color divisions there are also “tribes” of creatures (goblins, merfolk, faerie, treefolk, elves, etc.) who span colors. So you can get additional synergy among your cards by having many cards from the same tribe, or from tribes which interact with one another. I’d done many single-player practice drafts of Lorwyn and felt ready to try the real thing.

Unfortunately, coming out of the draft I felt like I’d blown it completely: I ended up with a mix of blue/white/red with very little tribal interaction. I felt like the colors coming my way changed every 8 picks or so, and I had extended stretches towards the end where I was getting few-if-any cards in any of my three colors! So I worked to cobble together a deck, deciding to punt on white and going blue/red, mainly because that’s where most of my tricks and creature removal lay.

Things didn’t look much brighter after my first match, where I quickly lost the first two games (in best-of-three), and aso lost the consolation game, although I put up a good fight there.

For the second match I was up against Subrata, and to my surprise my deck suddenly came together, and I beat him 2 out of 3 games. The final match was against a regular at the store whom I’d played before, and again to my surprise I won two out of three, and the loss was by the slimmest of margins. So despite what I thought was a mishmash of a draft, I ended up with my best showing at a draft at this store to date!

I think I enjoy draft the best when learning a new set, since finding the emergent properties of some of the cards is a heck of a lot of fun. I’d reasoned out some of them in my practice drafts, but nothing beats actually playing with the cards. I think my deck’s best bit of interaction went like this:

  1. Played Flamekin Harbinger and searched my deck for my Changeling Berserker (which, being a Changeling, is also an Elemental).
  2. Championed the Flamekin Harbinger with the Changeling Berserker, removing the former from play.
  3. Played my Mistbound Clique, championing the Berserker (which counts as a Faerie since it’s a Changeling). This brings the Flamekin Harbinger back into play, so I get to search my library again, this time for Consuming Bonfire – an Elemental sorcery.
  4. Kill Subrata’s Changeling Hero with the Bonfire, since he’d just searched for it with his own Harbinger so I knew he was going to play it. He knew I had a way to kill it, but he had little choice at that point in the game, since I had a 4/4 flyer on the board.

(n.b.: Any game in which my opponent says “Damn you!” is a good game, regardless of whether I win or lose.)

Between our decks, Subrata and I both learned the value of Harbingers and Champions in Lorwyn. Green has two terrific harbingers: Elvish Harbinger also produces multicolored mana, and Treefolk Harbinger lets you search for Forests as well as some killer Treefolk, such as the Dauntless Dourbark that Subrata had, not to mention the Changeling Titan. (Happily, Changelings are also Treefolk, so Consuming Bonfire can take down the Titan easily enough.)

Subrata also noted (indirectly) that my deck had some nifty acceleration in it. The Inner-Flame Acolyte can target itself when it comes into play, meaning you get a 4/2 creature with Haste for 3 mana, making it highly desirable to make trades in the first two turns so the board is clear for it to thwack your opponent on turn 3. (I had two Acolytes, which was awesome.) And the Blades of Velis Vel can give two creatures +2/+0, which can work really well in trading small creatures for large creatures, or thwacking your opponent hard if he chooses not to block.

The other new mechanic in Lorwyn that I like is Clash. There are several good creatures in Lorwyn who are reasonably priced for their basic stats: I had two of them, an Adder-Staff Boggart which is 1R for a 2/1, and a Paperfin Rascal, which is 2U for a 2/2 – both perfectly reasonable. But when you play them, you Clash, which means the following occurs:

  1. You reveal the top card of your library, and have the choice of leaving it on top or putting it on the bottom. This is like doing a Scry 1, except that your opponent knows what the card was.
  2. Your opponent gets to do the same thing, which obviously isn’t good for you, but isn’t the worst thing.
  3. If you win the Clash, then your creature gets +1/+1, permanently. This means the creatures I had would be a 3/2 or a 3/3 respectively, for the same cost.

I was very lucky in winning my Clashes, I probably won 2/3ds of them, which helped make my desk faster. Clash is even niftier if you have what I think of as “Clash enhancers”, like Sylvan Echoes or Entangling Trap. Subrata had some of these enhancers, but fortunately they didn’t get into play early enough to hose me. Also fortunately, I didn’t play against someone with Hunter of Eyeblights, which would be death to such creatures.

(There’s some interesting stuff about the background of Clash here.)

I’m less impressed with the other major Lorwyn mechanic, Evoke. It’s sort of a “consolation prize” for a creature card if you don’t have the mana to play the creature, which is better than nothing at all, but it’s not usually a reason to draft a card. I don’t think I played a card with Evoke once during the night. It would be more useful if playing a card for its Evoke cost allowed you to play it as an Instant, but that’s not the case. Bummer. Contrast with the Champion mechanic where the “additional cost” of removing a creature to play the champion can actually be a useful bit of trickery rather than a penalty.

As for the other two Lorwyn mechanics, I think Hideaway is a neat idea, but the cards using it are of questionable value. Future cards might use it more effectively. On the other hand, the new Planeswalker card type is undoubtedly cool, as are all five of the Lorwyn Planeswalkers. Subrata drafted Jace Beleren, but fortunately I never saw him. (You can read pretty much everything you need to know about Planeswalkers here.)

So from first experience Lorwyn gets a big “thumbs up” from me. I still think I could have drafted better than I did, but I’m very happy that I fielded a competitive deck, even if I did sort of stumble into it. Next time maybe I’ll actually come out of the draft feeling like I have the building blocks of a solid deck. I still feel like I have some sort of mental block when drafting quality cards that work well together. If I ever figure out how to get past that, then I’ll be in a happy place.

Well That Sucked

Magic draft tonight. Onslaught block – our first time drafting that block. We had 8 players.

And I had probably the worst draft I ever had. A green/black deck with big creatures and not enough stuff to let me survive to get them out.

I got kinda screwed because the first pack there seemed to be plenty of green and black going around, so I thought I was in great shape. Then the second pack had no black – because the guy on my left was filtering it out – and the green was very mediocre. And the third pack had no black – because the guy on my right was filtering it out – so I ended up with big expensive creatures and not enough removal and no real combat tricks. I got completely run over in both matches I played, so I bailed after that since I wasn’t having any fun playing.

I should have ended up in green/blue, since there was a huge amount of blue going around. But not in the first pack, so I assumed one or both players on my right were in blue. (They were actually in red/black and red/blue.)

I feel like my drafting ability is going backwards – both of my last two drafts have been awful – and I don’t know how to get better at it. It sucks.

Feelings of Inadequacy

I went to Superstars today for their noon Magic draft. Only 4 other people showed up, so one employee played so we could do a 6-person draft.

Ugh, it went astoundingly poorly. I started off drafting white/green/blue in Time Spiral, then got a flood of white in Planar Chaos and abandoned blue, and ended up with a green/white deck. I didn’t really draft any bombs at all (just three Lucent Liminids), didn’t have enough removal, and lost all 6 games I played. A couple of them were close, but my best games involved getting off to a fast part, stalling, losing my creatures to various kinds of removal, and not drawing any answers to my opponent’s stuff. I could have played a little better, but probably not enough to win any of the games.

On the one hand, it was terribly discouraging. On the other hand, the other players told me that they’d all been playing (and drafting) for years, so it was actually a tough field. I might do better sticking to Friday nights, when they have a larger field and probably more people closer to my level. Also, I went through this with poker a year ago, feeling like I was stuck and not getting any better, but I think I have gotten better since then.

My play is getting a little better, but my drafts are decidedly mediocre these days. I need to figure out how to draft better. One guy there suggested trying a site called BrainBurst.com, which it looks like is an alias for TCGPlayer, which appears to have free single-player draft. So maybe I’ll give that a try – it couldn’t hurt (much), right?

Friday Night Magic

Although some of our other friends organized a poker game last night, Subrata is closer to my frame of mind and is more interested in playing Magic, and he suggested that we go last night to play the Friday Night Magic booster draft at Superstars (I found a list of their tournaments, although the URL of that page makes it look pretty temporary). Neither of us had gone before, but it was all pretty easy: We showed up around 5:30, signed up for DCI membership, and at 6:00 they seated everyone (18 players) for two drafts and we began. Subrata and I ended up in separate drafts, but that was fine.

The draft was in the Time Spiral block, which I mostly enjoy, although I find Future Sight somewhat disappointing. I had a mediocre draft, partly due to mixed signals I was getting: My first two picks were from mediocre packs, but I ended up solidly in green through the first pack. Planar Chaos – as it often seems to be – was my strongest pack, although I ended up moving into black and then blue during it. Then in Future Sight I didn’t seem to be getting many interesting cards.

Well, there was a reason for all of this: The player to my right was drafting white/blue, and the player to his right was drafting red/green, and the player to my left was drafting black/white. So I did well when there was a surplus of green and blue coming around, but poorly when there wasn’t. I ended up with green/blue deck more heavy in green. I drafted a few good black cards and one good red card which I therefore didn’t use (which was too bad mainly because I always enjoy playing cards like Enslave).

Tarmogoyf.jpgAfter the draft we play three matches as chosen by the store organizers. My first match was against a green/black deck, and other than my getting smoked in the first game, we were pretty evenly matched. In particular, Frozen Aether totally shuts down combat tricks using Flash, or one-shot creatures like Groundbreaker. Unfortunately, my mind had trouble getting into the mechanics of the game, and I could have won the third game had I played slightly differently, but instead I lost 1 game to 2.

(This opponent did point out that the Tarmogoyf I drafted, which is currently selling for over $20 on the secondhand Magic card market, so in theory I could turn around and sell it ad recoup my entry fee for the tournament. How about that?)

The second match I played against a boy who was there with his father, also their first event at the store. (Subrata ended up playing the father in his draft.) I suggested that they should check out the columns on the Wizards web site for tips on drafting and playing. Anyway, he was playing a black/white deck with a number of tricks, and he got some help from one of the observers at the store (which I tried to be a good sport about). I turned out to have just enough answers for his threats (three Utopia Vows saved my bacon a lot) and won 2-0.

The third match was against a green/blue/red deck, and again we were pretty evenly matched, but he ended up with somewhat better draws then I had, and I went down 0-2. He had a lot of green cards that I had really wanted (I still don’t have a Nacatl War-Pride, sigh), so now I know where many of those went in the draft.

So overall I won one match, and it turns out that players get one free booster pack from one of the blocks in current Standard expansions, so I took a Planar Chaos one. Subrata also won one match in his game. We were both fairly competitive, but not among the top players. But we had fun!

The store is actually quite nice to play in, with plenty of tables, and it’s clean and bright (a lot of specialty stores in the gaming and comics areas can tend to be a little dark and dingy, and it’s always nice to visit a store that’s working hard to be pleasant and welcoming). All the other players were nice, too.

I still need to work on my card evaluation, and also getting better at reading which cards are being filtered out to my right. There’s a lot of randomness in the packs, which makes the latter difficult: One pack might make it look like blue is open, while the next make it look like blue is closed. Obviously I’ve got some work to do there.

Plus, now I know I have another outlet for playing Magic when I have the itch!

But I promise not to relate the details of every draft I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Gamed Out

I’m feeling gamed out right now. I’ll probably get over it soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’m happy for a break for the rest of the week.

Sunday I went over to Lee’s to play poker. We played our usual low-stakes no-limit cash game, with 5ยข/10ยข blinds and a $10 buy-in. Five hours later I was out $20 (I rebought once). It’s not the loss of the $20 I lament, it was my crappy luck and my not-much-better play.

The defining moment of the evening came just half an hour in when, I drew a pair of Kings, and lost almost my whole buy-in to Lee when he slopped a set of Eights. Lee suggested that I should have re-raised him when he raised my initial bet before the flop, which makes sense; it would have been a reasonable pot to take down right there. But I didn’t, and I ended up pushing on the turn, and obviously didn’t river a miracle.

Anyway, I rebought, but things kept going downhill. I won a few small pots shortly after rebuying, and at one point I did flop a set of Kings. But those were small consolation.

Adam suggests that I should play more aggressively, and also loosen my standards of what cards I play, since he points out that when I open a pot, he knows I tend to have high cards, and he can play low cards against me profitably. So that’s something to think about. It’s awfully hard to look at Q-7 and play it, though; what sort of a flop am I hoping to hit?

Monday a bunch of us gathered at Subrata’s to play Magic. We did a Ravnica draft (one person arrived late and assembled a Ravnica sealed deck to play with us on roughly even footing). I ended up with what I usually seem to end up with in Ravnica: A blue-green deck with a splash of a third color. I ran out of energy around 11 pm, so I only played against Adam and Subrata, winning against Adam and narrowly losing against Subrata (who always seems to end up drafting the most powerful guildmages in the block – I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to grab one).

So that was fun. I’d like to do a 7- or 8-person Time Spiral draft sometime soon.

But maybe not this week.

Mixed Blessing

I’m enjoying my return engagement with Magic: The Gathering lately, but it is sometimes a drag to have to organize draft sessions, and although I could conceivably go play at a nearby store, I doubt Debbi would want me vanishing for, say, every other Friday evening to do so.

So then, there’s Magic Online, which supports drafts and constructed and all that good stuff. So I could conceivably play while sitting around watching baseball or having a quiet afternoon.

Except, of course, according to the FAQ it’s not supported on the Mac. So I’d need to run Windows to play it. And besides my fundamental distaste for Windows, I don’t want to lay out money to get Windows just to be able to play Magic.

Besides which, I could probably spend a lot of money and time there, both of which are arguably better spent elsewhere. At least playing Magic with actual cards is a social activity.

Sigh.

On the bright side, Starcraft II is going to be released for both Mac and PC. And it’s probably at least a year out (no release date has been announced), so sinking time into it is not imminent.

Insanity Week

The latest semi-irregular round-up of my life since I haven’t been posting regularly lately.

For most of my co-workers, this is insanity week.1 For me, last week was insanity week, and it had nothing to do with work, which has actually been quite reasonable for me lately (read: I’m not actually presenting anything at WWDC).

Last week was nuts for a lot of little reasons, and most of it revolved around gaming:

Last weekend I had wanted to host a Magic booster draft, but I wasn’t able to get enough interest, so it didn’t happen. That bummed me out. So I made plans to host again this past Saturday, since Debbi was going to be busy from late morning to mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, a couple of people couldn’t make it until mid-afternoon, which made the whole thing questionable.

Meanwhile, my new(ish) friend Lee wanted to host poker on Thursday, which I was also into, but for quite a while it looked like we might not have enough for that either. I eventually recruited my friend James for poker, and we jointly twisted my co-worker Daniel’s arm, so we had 7 people on Thursday, which was nice. We played a mini-tournament and I finished 4th (i.e. “just out of the money, again”), mainly because I took a couple of bad beats when I was the big stack which crippled me. (When I call an all-in bet with my A-9 and my short-stacked opponent turns over A-9 too, and then makes a flush on the river, I think that’s a bad beat.) But I mostly think I played very well, never going all-in until my final hand when I was forced to, and playing with the big stack for quite a while, which was fun. I certainly made some mistakes, but I managed to get away from them. No doubt a close assessment of my play would still make me appear as a newbie, but I was pretty happy.

And then on Saturday we played Magic, specifically the Mirrodin block, which is artifact-based, and which was new to all of us. Again, we had 7 people, and it was a lot of fun. A very interesting block to play. I ended up with a better-than-average deck, I think, with a couple of bombs, but a few weaknesses, too. I got very lucky a couple of times while playing, but then, that’s part of what makes it fun!

Unfortunately, Lee ended up getting sick and wasn’t able to make it, so he still hasn’t been over to see my house and meet the kitties. But we might get together with him and his wife sometime outside of gaming time to make that happen.

So all the gaming turned out well, but it took a lot of time and energy to organize it than it seemed like it ought to have taken. I guess that’s life sometimes. It reminds me why I’m less willing to take on ongoing organizational tasks like the fantasy baseball league these days, though.

Meanwhile, the first weekend we ended up going to a little party thrown by my friend Lucy, whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. It was a party with a Tiki theme and revolving around her writerly friends, but Debbi and I had a great time anyway (by which you can infer that my writing has not been going so well lately). I drank more alcohol at it than I have in quite a while, and was glad Debbi was willing to drive home when we packed it in late in the evening.

And then I had to read the book for last night’s book discussion, Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes, which I kept putting off and then had to frantically finish up Sunday afternoon. Review forthcoming. Okay, this hole I dug myself. But still.

My weekend wrapped up with the discussion itself – which ran about 30 minutes long – and then packing up some stuff I sold on eBay so I could mail it today. And then, whew! My crazy week was over. Fun (mostly), but very tiring.

So anyway, yeah. Now it’s WWDC. I’ll be working in the labs a few days this week, answering questions for folks. Not as easy as it sounds: The questions can be difficult, and there’s a lot of working in-depth with folks to figure out how to do what they need to do. So it’s mentally pretty tiring. But it’s nice to see people out there using the code I’ve written. If you happen to be at the conference, feel free to stop by and say “hi”! (Which would be an interesting change of pace, since I’ve never experienced WWDC as a social event, as I know some people do. I’ve always assumed this is because Mac programming is my vocation, not my hobby, but I don’t really know why. Of course, it takes some effort for me to experience science fiction conventions as social events rather than geeking-out-in-my-own-headspace events, so it’s probably just me.)

(1 It’s not really insanity week, it’s just a very busy week, and many of them enjoy it very much. But it is a very different week from the other 51 weeks in the year.)