The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Making the best of a bad rack

I play online Scrabble™ every day, so I've seen my fill of bad Scrabble racks. When you have four Es in your rack towards the end of the game, it almost doesn't matter what else you have.

Sometimes, though, you have four Es, a blank, a Z, and an N...and this happens, for 54 points:

Of course, there was the game where my racks looked like this for most of the game:

I'm actually batting .500 with this opponent after close to 100 games. So we're pretty evenly matched, which I think is best, as it's obvious that since we started playing we've brought each other's games up substantially.

It just goes to show: there's a lot more to life than a nice rack.

Not on my holiday list

Via Sullivan, an unfortunate product from Scotland:

AdFreak writes:

If the Old Spice guy really wants to prove his manliness, he should switch allegiances and endorse BrewDog, a Scottish craft brewery that has just released perhaps the most masculine product ever invented: a beer that contains 55 percent alcohol and comes packaged inside a taxidermied rodent. It costs £500 (about $760) per bottle and is called The End of History. PETA has yet to weigh in, but an Advocates for Animals rep calls the brew "a perverse idea" and adds: "People should learn to respect [animals] rather than using them for some stupid marketing gimmick." UPDATE: Despite the steep price tag, all 12 bottles of the beer sold out on Day 1.

Today's XKCD is unrelated to this, but still worthy of linking.

Where has all the time gone?

In the past seven calendar days[1], I have worked 40.3 hours[2], traveled 39.8 hours through four countries and six states, and, so far as I can tell, slept for about 40 hours. I am not sure what happened in the remaining few minutes, though part of it included walking Parker and part of it included staring into space dazedly. Fortunately traveling wasn't entirely wasted time, including as it did four episodes of This American Life and two complete novels.

This is all a long way of saying I apologize for the reduced velocity of The Daily Parker, and I expect to resume my usual average of 1½ posts per day in short order.

N.B.: Don't ask how I know all this. I will say only that sitting in a car, train, bus, or airplane for more than 40 hours in one week gives one a lot of time to think about irrelevant crap.

[1] Since 17:30 CDT last Sunday.

[2] Plus another 4.4 hours commuting to and from my client site.

Back in the US

The first day or so back is always hectic and exhausting. I still marvel that the 11½-hour time change from India was easier than the 9-hour change from St. Petersburg (or, come to think of it, the 8-hour change from Dubai.)

I'm still getting back into my life, so I'll end here, but for this non-sequitur: I have t oget these cookies.

St Petersburg Residency, Day 4

I didn't come to Russia for the food.

This is fortunate. The lunch buffet yesterday had pork filets, penne with cream sauce, white rice, salmon roulades, roasted carrots with butter. Then the dinner buffet had pork roulades, spaghetti with cream sauce, black and white rice, salmon filets, roasted carrots with butter. Same Sunday, same Saturday, though there was a minor stir when we found out the Halal meal was lamb chops, which the Muslim students eagerly devoured leaving none for the rest of us.

A Ukrainian friend asked, "This does not sound like traditional Russian food to me. What hotel are you based in?" Ah, here's where the story takes a particularly grim turn: we're in the British-owned Corinthia Nevskij Palace. British-owned. Which is odd, because our food in London was actually pretty good, especially breakfast.

Russia does, however, have tasty things to drink. But we'll leave that aside for now.

And another thing, which is keeping me in the building for the time being: It's bloody 30°C outside. Yecch. I'm hoping it cools off a bit before I head out for more photography and meeting up with my team to watch the Dutch beat Uruguay.

Battery strangeness

When I left home, my iPod, Kindle, computer, and GPS were all fully charged. When I got to Finalnd, my iPod and computer were still fine, but my Kindle and GPS were completely drained. I have no idea why. All of them were in the same bag, all of them were off (except the laptop, which I used in flight), and the two that were drained were completely drained, not just low. Plus they recharged just fine once I got here.

What gives?

Checking in

I'm right now at JFK on my way to Europe, to attend the CCMBA residency in St. Petersburg. This is just about the first moment I've had to chill in a couple of days. Thus the dearth of posts recently.

First, I want to build a copy of Scott Adams's house:

My home office is designed with a sound baffle. It's a 10-foot diagonal hallway between my office door and the main office space. It's a kill zone for sound waves, and it works like a charm. The house has no carpets, so sound carries, but none of it makes it to my desk. The master bedroom has the same feature.

... We made room for the oversized kitchen and the theater by leaving out rooms you normally find in a home. We left out the fancy foyer, formal living room, and formal dining room. Our dining table, which hasn't arrived yet, will float just off the kitchen and double as the main thoroughfare for the downstairs. That way we avoid extra walls and hallways that ruin the flow of a house.

Second, and more importantly, my friend DC got a new puppy, Rex:

He's a pure-bred German Shepherd dog, and he's just a sweetie. He's also drooling; he, like lots of puppies, gets car sick. He made it all the way to O'Hare but by then his forelimbs were covered in drool. Poor puppy. DC reports he eats a quarter of his weight in food every day, so I'm kind of glad he didn't lose it in the car.

6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6...70-68

The longest tennis match in history has ended:

When John Isner finally won the longest match in tennis history, he collapsed on the Wimbledon grass and then summoned one last burst of energy, springing to his feet to applaud along with the crowd.

The American hit a backhand winner to win the last of the match’s 980 points, and he took the fifth set Thursday against Nicolas Mahut, 70-68.

The first-round match took 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days, lasting so long it was suspended because of darkness — two nights in a row. Play resumed Thursday at 59-all and continued for more than an hour before Isner won 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68.


Morning round-up

After a Strategy exam, Finance exam, Strategy team paper, project estimate for work, and...well, that's really all I did the last four days, come to think of it...I'm more or less back.

Herewith a quorum of things I noticed but didn't have time to note:

  • The Washington Post reported yesterday that MC 900 Ft. Jesus—sorry, I meant an actual 30 m statue of Jesus—got struck by lightning Monday night and burned to the ground. Signpost to Armageddon? Probably not, but it has an element of Apocalyptic whimsy to it, don't you think?.
  • Via Sullivan, the Vision of Humanity project's Global Peace Index puts New Zealand at the top and Iraq at the bottom. We're 85th (of 149); Britain is 31st; and Finalnd and Russia, countries I'm visiting in two weeks, are 9th and 146th, respectively. Check out the interactive map.
  • The Economist's Gulliver blog linked to a Sunday Times (reg.req.) article about the beauty of window seats. I always get the window, if possible; so does Gulliver, apparently, and the Times author who wrote: "My favourite window-seat ride is crossing America — with the asphalt labyrinth of the crammed east coast giving way first to ceaseless Appalachian forest, then to the eerie geometric perfection of the farm-belt fields, then to the intimidating, jaw-dropping emptiness of the west, before the smog starts lapping at your window as California sprawls into view." Yep.
  • Today has tremendous significance to my small and fuzzy family which I will relate later.

Back to the mines.