I finished off the last of the Boat Books, Blue at the Mizzen, over the weekend. I still heartily recommend the series. The series definitely slows down a bit, but even #20 is still good. I'd call it entertainment rather than literature at that point. I talked with my father about the books, he started them and found them good, but gave up during the second because the whole bit about the bear was too much of a conceit. Fair enough, but it's a minor point at the beginning of the second book, so I recommended he give them another shot and try to ignore that bit. I'm now reading Flashman.
I've been poking around and learning skat. Unfortuantely, there aren't many resources in English. It's all auf Deutsch. I found a decent free program, JSkat, to play with. They play their hands well compared to me, but rarely bid their hands very high and utterly suck at ramsch if you play that when nobody bids. It also doesn't quite do the multipliers right, which caused me to lose a bid once. I was, like, with 5, game, and hand, bid almost to the game value, but it only counted 6 instead of 7, so it claimed I overbid. I've also been fiddling around with belote, I found a decent program that seems to play fairly well, has a lot of options to cover common variants, and bids well (Bel Atout). I prefer the "modern belote" to classic or auction belote. There exists for skat high quality software that plays the game at a very strong level for a price, but I don't think I'm that interested in the game and I don't speak German. I think it's a pity that the game isn't more popular outside the German-speaking world, because it has all the complex potential of bridge without getting all weird.
Now that I'm a little familiar with skat, I read the rules for sheepshead, a related game for 5 players commonly played in Wisconsin. It seems simple enough once you're used to a couple things, so I'll keep it in mind as an option for 5-player games. Shafkopf, however, is too complicated. So now I have a couple 2-player games (piquet, schnapsen, maybe cribbage), a good 3-player game (skat), some 4-player games, and a good 5-player game (sheepshead). One thing to note is that the scoring of belote seems a bit complicated,which is something I'm not terribly fond of when keeping score by hand. Skat has some complications, but it's not too bad, certainly easy enough to do by hand.
The wifing unit's keys mysteriously disappeared during our trip. The most likely explanation is that my parents' dogs dragged them out of her purse, but it was almost always in the bedroom and I do not think they ever got in there. Moreover, the room is rather sparsely furnished, so they would have been seen rather easily. The other theory is that they fell out in the rental car somehow, but I would imagine they would find it and they didn't. Whatever the case, as long as she didn't lose them in the snow bank in front of our apartment, I think we can survive.
My jaw on the right side has been hurting lately. It's definitely the jaw and not the teeth and it's right at the hinge. It hurts when I close my jaw. If it doesn't resolve in a few days, I'll call somebody up about it. I fiddled around with my jaw a little and things got a little better, but it still hurts. Friggin' temporomandibular joint. Not sure whether to call the dentist or the doctor. Both probably work. My last dentist's appointment, however, noted that I have no evidence of grinding my teeth and I don't think I've started in the last couple months, so that's one possibility taken off the table.
I've been thinking about statements that should not be controversial at all but which, for some reason, some people can get very upset about.
- The American Civil War was about slavery.
- Vaccines are good and almost all of your children should get the ones recommended by the government for your kids. Corollary: the germ theory of disease is true.
- Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States.
- I can't think of a good one-sentence positive description, but, basically, 9/11 conspiracy theorists are crazy. Planes hit the towers, the government didn't plan it, etc etc.
- Homeopathy and other forms of "complementary and alternative" medicine don't work. Most supplements, as well, are pretty much worthless.
- Home birth is more dangerous than hospital birth. This is courtesy of the wifing unit.
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