April 23, 2011

My Swiss Army Knife

Well, this always had to be the first post in this series and is in many ways what inspires it. Will also probably be the longest post. I have had the same Swiss Army Knife since I was a child and it has over time become the thing I own which would hurt me the most to lose. I am not sure exactly when I got it but the most likely time was just before going to Timberlake Camp (part of Farm & Wilderness) in Vermont for the first time in 1979, when I was 9. Ever since I got it, I have carried it in my pocket almost every waking hour of every day of my life. I think the particular knife I have is the Huntsman although mine doesn't have the Hook on the back. I have used my knife for all sorts of things, from whittling & carving to sawing to opening tons of wine bottles, beer bottles, cans, and for so many other things on a nearly daily basis - today I used it to peel an orange for example. I am sure every single tool I have used on at least twenty occasions, even the awl. Just an unbelievably practical and useful item to carry. The only tool mine lacks which I really wish it had is a phillips screwdriver but the tip of the can-opener can often serve as a limited substitute.

By the time I was in college, my knife had started to get beat up and a mess, eventually losing the toothpick and tweezers, having the scissors somewhat messed up and finally having the plastic sides come off it which was the last straw as it made it really difficult to hold and would catch on things in my pocket. Painful as it was, I finally knew I had to do something about it. Victorinox has a lifetime guarantee so I finally sent it back to them in Switzerland, including a note on what it meant to me. Unfortunately, though, I knew it had to be so much cheaper and easier for them to just replace it which is why I had delayed sending it back so long. Amazingly, though, they did repair it and I was thrilled!!! This was the closest I ever came to losing it although on two other occasions I lost it for a week or two. The first time was after staying at a friend's parent's cottage when I was around 16 - came back without it but they found it later and brought it back to me.

The other time that had me nervous was a year or so ago. Following 9/11 and the annoying changes to not allow pocket knives on planes, I bought a modern copy of my knife so that when going somewhere with checked luggage I would bring that instead and so not have to risk checking my real knife. I also made a promise to myself that if I ever had to make a choice between missing a flight and losing my knife, I would miss the flight. This plan has worked well for me but I finally forgot, last year on a trip, to leave my knife at home. Had no checked luggage and noticed my knife in my pocket as I got to the security line so turned back to try to figure something out. Fortunately, they now have a box where you can put an item in a plastic bag and fill out a form to have it sent back to yourself. I was very nervous about this but decided to trust it and I did eventually get it back although it took like 3 weeks during which I had largely given up - I even tried calling the TSA despite the needle in a haystack issue of finding it if they had lost it but with no luck.

Posted by aarondf at 09:43 PM | Things | Comments (1)

These are a Few of my Favorite Things - Introduction

I had planned to do this series from the moment I started this blog but never got around to it. With resuming posting here now recently, seems a good time to actually do it. Not really sure the purpose of this other than for me which is probably why I never did it before but I guess that is reason enough.

I am going to write a series of posts on my favorite things, almost entirely things I own but there may be some exceptions. These will range from the quite small to the very large, with the first two posts I plan being at the extremes, and then after that probably most of the posts will be on artistic pieces.

Posted by aarondf at 09:29 PM | Things | Comments (0)

April 22, 2011

Movies - The King's Speech

Just watched this on DVD and really an excellent movie. Performances by Firth, Rush, Carter, Jacobi, and the child who played Elizabeth all just wonderful. Quite powerful. For me definitely better than The Social Network or anything else I saw last year. ****

Posted by aarondf at 10:14 PM | Movies | Comments (0)

April 18, 2011

Stich-Meister

Played this new Friedemann Friese card game on Saturday and I think it is the best new Card Game (as distinct from "Game Played with Cards" like RftG or Dominion or many others) I have played since Tichu. Only played twice but I am pretty sure it will hold up. Initial rating probably an 8.5.

Posted by aarondf at 07:47 PM | Games | Comments (0)

April 15, 2011

A Crushing Defeat - Ubongo Card Game (and why RR regins supreme)

Played Matt last night two player in the new Ubongo card game and got absolutely crushed, losing all 6 rounds by an ever increasing margin of victory. This is almost certainly the worst I've lost at a pure skill game in many years. I was competitive really in only one of the 6 rounds. The way the game works is that each player gets 9 cards with a 3x2 pattern of symbols on each. They must arrange 7 (no benefit at all for doing more) of their cards into a single group such that wherever two cards join, exactly two symbols must match (and no symbols must mismatch).

Anyway, though, the game doesn't work at all as a game, but might be amusing to play as a solitaire puzzle for some. The better player will basically always win but more significantly the worse player(s) will never finish a board as the moment one player finishes the round ends. I still think Ricochet Robot is by far the best of the competitive puzzle games, both because some of the puzzles are quite interesting but also because the timer gives the lesser players a chance to also find at least a solution, and maybe the best one. They are also always shown at the end of the round the best solution found, which helps to teach them to be better next time very naturally. Even when the game was first released and I was playing some naturals who were far better than me, I still really enjoyed playing as well as I could and seeing the solutions they found. Unfortunately, while many more competitive puzzle games have been released since, almost all of them really fall down in some area of play as far as making the game work for both strong and weak players in the same game. Like even in the regular Ubongos, once you solve a puzzle you have nothing to do - in RR you have a solution but maybe can find a better one and for the super-simple ones you can just abort the timer once everyone finds the path.

I wish I played RR much more often but not that many people like it despite its advantages. Did get to play half a game on Wednesday though after finishing a game of High Frontier, which is a game that deserves its own post really - I enjoyed it but am amazed anyone was willing to publish it given its nature - in our game two of the four players dropped out halfway through to start the RR game. This almost never happens and yet I thought was completely understandable in this game for them to do - in a hopeless position after an hour or whatever of play with the game only like 40% over. And their troubles were despite a very strong rules explanation - the game is just too confusing and too unforgiving of small mistakes or misunderstandings.

Posted by aarondf at 01:47 PM | Games | Comments (2)

April 11, 2011

Changes

Well, haven't posted here in forever but seems wrong for my last post to be about World of Warcraft after I have now quit a couple of weeks ago. Enjoyed the game but really glad to have quit and have no desires to go back to regular raiding. Just takes too much time and not enough gain. Been taking advantage of the extra time to get caught up on some things, use my exercise bike, hike, get ready to start kayaking again, and just generally get out more. Also able to go to sleep earlier and try to avoid having a sleep deficit as the week goes on, given my forced 9-5 work schedule.

Posted by aarondf at 02:33 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (1)