A Walk in the Rain

We are dropping Joanna off at Mike’s Famous motorcycle shop tomorrow, where she will meet up with her aunt Gale. We didn’t do too much today other than unwind a bit. We took a long walk in the rain (I got to chase some ducks!) and finished up our Lost marathon (I’m rapidly becoming disillusioned with this show, the more I watch).

Scrabble Puzzle

I played a game of Scrabble at the beach with Jo and my dad. I scored 288 in a three player game. At one point early in the game I had the rack:

EA?RNIIL

I found a seven letter word using only these tiles (the ? is a blank and acts as a wildcard), which made a bingo. There are probably a lot of seven letter words you can make with these tiles – can you find one?

"Welcome to my Barbeque! Muahahahahaha!"

Points for knowing where the title of this post comes from.

My cousin Trent and I held our annual New Years bonfire on the beach. Fueled with the 8 palettes we treasure-hunted from a K-Mart, along with a truck load of wood we found in a construction dumpster, our guests this year were treated to a roaring fire with 12 foot high flames.

Trent also brought some firearms – two flare guns and a rifle with an attachment that allowed it to shoot tennis balls.


Trent applies lighter fluid to the blaze


FIRE!


The audience


Trent, me and my mom


Jo fires a flare


Awesome long exposure of a flare being fired, and falling over the Atlantic ocean


Trent and my dad


Fireball

Daley Dose of Fun


Jo, in the back of Trent’s pickup truck

My cousins and my aunt Kim (collectively the Daleys) came to visit us at the beach for two and a half days. Usually when the Daleys come over it means board games, cheesesteak, and a bonfire. This year was no different.


Cheers!


Trent pondering his next move

We played a couple of games of Starfarers of Catan, which I have come to think of as the little bastard brother of Settlers of Catan. I hear that several watch_your_back members {Brendan, Eric, Michael} have also been playing this game over break, which is the main reason why I mention it. The main problems with this game, as I see it are:

  • Lots of “inbetween time”. On average there is more time between strategic decisions in Starfarers, while you wait for your ships to finally get to where they are going.
  • Degenerate optimal strategy. The player who builds the most boosters first usually wins. This is worse than the ore problem in Settlers.
  • Too long. It usually obvious who is going to win within the first 45 minutes of play, but it has taken us up to 3 hours to actually finish a game.

  • My girlfriend is adorably cute

    Beat at Chess

    …by a girl who isn’t a Polgar.

    I took Jo to the local coffee shop in Rehoboth. I have a love/hate relationship with this place because: 1) I like coffee shops, but 2) this “coffee shop” closes at 4 PM. What the hell. The owner must be an idiot because his store front is in a prime location and clearly he could sell coffee 24 hours a day.

    Jo surprised me by offering to play a game of chess while I drank my coffee. It was good to have a relaxing morning before the chaos of having visitors descended on our house.

    Winter in Rehoboth

    After Christmas, my family traditionally spends a week at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It’s your average Eastern shore beach town, though it has become increasingly popular over the past 15 years with the Washington DC folk. You might think that there’s not much to do at the beach in the winter, but I really like it. The entire atmosphere of the place is different. The boardwalk and the streets are mostly empty, which makes for great bike rides. A lot of the stores open for the week between Christmas and New Years, so it’s not completely desolate.

    These pics are from a bike ride Jo and I took in Henlopen Acres before my cousins arrived.

    I rarely put pictures of myself on my blog, so here’s one. The weather was good for most of the week – maybe 40s.

    Christmas Day

    A picture says a thousand words, so here’s a short novella.


    Before the madness descends


    Christmas dinner


    My uncle Pete


    Jo and aunt Yolanda


    Opening presents


    “Damn. I was hoping it was a motor scooter.”


    Doin’ the Ninja Thing


    Jo receives photographic evidence that I used to be cute. Thanks mom.


    Mommom Lee


    Uncle Terry, the Big Dog

    A Tragedy in Three Parts

    A story that will last the ages. Guaranteed to entertain, this one never gets old.

    1. My Uncle Pete’s Van

    2. My Cousin Trent

    3. My Uncle Pete’s Van

    BAM! 1. a4!

    After a while, Trent, Bryce, Skylar, Rayven and I retreated to the basement. A furious game of chess ensued. I think Bryce should have gotten queen-odds to be fair, but chess is war, after all.


    Chess is a storm against man


    …And ten year olds

    Christmas Eve

    I love Christmas. It’s the only time of year I get to see my whole family. We did the usual thing this year – Christmas Eve at Mommom Shed’s with dinner at Westleys, then Christmas Day at Mommom Lee’s with the extended family on my mom’s side. After these two Christmases, we drive to Rehoboth and do our own relaxed family Christmas.

    We exchanged gifts before dinner. Somehow Mommom Shed found out that Joanna really likes turtles (something of an open secret, I suppose). This turtle’s name is Leopold the Maybe. My mom, mommom Shed, mommom Lee, aunt Kim and aunt Yolanda all gave Joanna Christmas gifts. It was great how my whole family went out of their way to include her as we did our family Christmas things.

    Here is us at Westley’s, the seafood restaurant mommom Shed likes to go to. Not pictured are my mom, sister, my two cousins Molly and Addy, my aunt and Jo. We were seated at a really long table, which wasn’t great. For large meals, round tables are best, so you can talk with everyone.

    After dinner we played Scrabble (Joanna, Mommom, the team of my dad + my sister, and I). Mommom Shed is the person who taught me how to play Scrabble way back in the day, when I don’t think I could spell anything besides my own name. Since then I’ve become good – I average 300 points a game, which is 50 points below expert level. My mommom is just as good. Four player Scrabble has a completely different game dynamic than two player Scrabble because with 4 players, it is almost always in your interest to maximize your score, instead of blocking off your opponents. The two highlights of the game where when I spelt “INKY” and my dad didn’t think it was a word and challenged me. Then the team of my dad + my sister attempted to spell “FUNNER” on a triple word score. Ha. Challenged. The other “dubious” word my dad wanted to challenge before my uncle Jerry laughed him down? “BREACH”. “BREACH” was later looked up in the dictionary, and we discovered it has 10 definitions, strongly establishing its wordness.

    Whew. All this Christmas is exhausting!

    Trains!

    My dad has a bunch of old Lionel O27-gauge trains that we sometimes set up for Christmas. I love them. These trains are from the 1950’s. Back in those days, toys were made of metal so that they won’t even break (our locomotive has taken more than one tumble off our train table). Also, toymakers weren’t concerned with child safety. Back then the philosophy was, “If your idiot kid can’t figure out how to avoid getting shocked or burned while playing with this toy, well that’s just the gene pool taking care of itself” (or the work of Jesus, if you live in the South). When everything is connected and plugged in, the entire layout hums with electrical discharge. And when the trains go, there are sparks everywhere. AWESOME!

    The best part is the ridiculous train accessories we have.

    There’s the basic stuff, like a semaphors and banjo signals that are triggered when the train rolls over a particular section of track. There’s also a little gateman who will pop out of his house to say hi to the train as it goes by. There are various lit-up accessories like street lamps, the train station, and a rotating search light tower.

    The coolest thing we have is the rocket launcher, which has a moving gantry and fires a rocket fifteen feet into the air. There’s also an electro-magnetic gantry crane for loading trains. There’s an operating milk car that drops off cans at a loading platform, and a log car that similarly can dump logs. A new addition this year (my Christmas present to my dad) was a helicopter car. When the car goes over a special piece of track, you can trigger it to launch the helicopter – which goes flying off. The steam engine we have whistles and makes smoke. It’s all pretty fun.


    You can see the rocket launcher in the foreground here. The gantry crane is behind it. Both are remote-operated.


    The mighty Santa Fe diesel engine has two electric motors and runs as smooth as silk.


    Jo and I playing with trains.


    The finished layout has two circuits on different transformers so that it is possible to race!