Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Drunken Game Theory?

RULE 1: You are playing The Game.

RULE 2: Whenever you think about The Game you lose.

RULE 3: Loss must be announced (to at least one other person).*

Object: The object of The Game is to forget that it exists. Frustratingly enough, you don't realize you're winning The Game until you lose!

Q&A: Q: Is this really a game? A: Yes. It involves a number of players trying to reach a certain objective. Q: Are there winning strategies? A: In some sense there are no winning strategies, because if you are thinking about strategies you are thinking about The Game and therefore losing it, but there are strategies for increasing the losses of others. (Information taken from "loseTheGame.com," click on link for more FAQs and strategies).

History: According the the Flinchley Central Hypothesis, The Game may be a parody of a parody of a parody of a game created by drunken game theorists 30 year ago. Click here for more information on the history.
*Since, if you choose to abide by the rules, you must announce your loss, would you mind doing so by sending the message "I just lost" to heidi@losethegame.com? I'm involved in their email Lose the Game Challenge.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sum of Things

At Easter time they hide coloured eggs about the house and the garden that the children may amuse themselves in hunting them and finding them. It is to some such game of hide-and-seek that we are invited by that power which planted in us the desire to find out what is concealed, and stored the universe with hidden things that we might delight ourselves in discovering them . . . . The sum of things to be known is inexhaustible, and however long we read we shall never come to the end of our story-book.
A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Disneyland California Adventure

"CA" for California (or Caleb and Anthony). We actually spent more time at California Adventure Theme Park than at Disneyland - more thrill rides there for our guys - and other good stuff too (though Disneyland is always THE classic.)Disneyland: "the happiest place on earth!"Walkin' down "Main Street USA!"
I wish they'd make up their minds!!!

After all those rides we NEEDED some rest!AMAZING! Disneyland has the secret to life, the universe and everything!!!Don't worry, Anthony - we won't tell your friends, so, technically you haven't lost The Game!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Line Drawing

Our choicest plans
have fallen through,
our airiest castles
tumbled over,
because of lines
we neatly drew
and later neatly
stumbled over.
On Problems, a Grook by Piet Hein (1905-1996)

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise--
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Friday, June 19, 2009

House Adventure 1b

The house hunt continues!

I stated in a previous post , which has initial search details at the bottom, that we had always said we would never move, but I didn't expand on that. We're in a tiny space, but we get along really well - we like being cozy - and we've had fun being creative with it. For instance my office, where I spend MOST - seriously - MOST - of my time at home is the four-foot by four-and-a-half foot former master closet pictured below. This 18 square-foot space houses not only my office but most of our game storage (and we have a lot of games), our CD collection, two short file cabinets, and storage for our card table among other things. I even have some family pictures and some artwork hanging up in there. All that in 18 square feet!! And this is an office for a teacher/student/author! (The binders you can see on the top shelf scrape the ceiling.)

I kinda like being surrounded by my games while I'm working, and it's kinda fun to be forced to be creative with our space. Unfortunately we haven't been able to get as creative with bathroom space. Here is the main bathroom that our family and guests use - no counter space whatsoever! It's a good thing we have 3 boys and not 3 girls!!Why are we thinking of moving after 18 years here thinking we'd stay put? The reason the idea came up at all is that we'd like to have a slightly larger and more open living and eating area so that we can have people over more easily and so that we have enough space to accommodate our boys and their (future) families for holiday meals and other family gatherings. The dining and kitchen area you see below just aren't going to work for that purpose - nor is the living area pictured below that . . .
. . . so, while our current space keeps us close and cozy and creative, the desire to have the space to be more hospitable is a real draw. We'd like basically what we have now but a BIT more living, dining, and (we now realize) gaming space.

The search has been quite an adventure so far. I'll probably sound naive as I write, but David and I have only shopped for a house once before, and that was 18 years ago and before we had kids. The one pictured in my previous post was pretty close to perfect, and I sure wish someone hadn't beaten us to it. We looked at 6 homes today. I only took pictures of 2 of them. Of the 4 others one was on a busy street and was also too small to justify moving, one had an INSANE layout, and three were really trashed (as well as not being quite right in other ways). Both homes I liked enough to take pictures of are more than twice the size of our current home (so much for a "bit" bigger). The yards are smaller, though, which is a loss we would really feel.

Compre the picture directly below with our living area above - quite a contrast, huh?
I fell in love with the curved staircase immediately, but the home is very impractical for us - a lot of space to pay for that's not really possible for us to use well. Ah well, it's fun to dream about having something PRETTY! And this house IS pretty!!!Speaking of pretty - check out the master bath - the door with the full length mirror is the door to the large master closet with a window in it! Across from the tub is a LARGE very nicely tiled shower. It also has two sinks AND counter space!!!! The "curb appeal" (below) is GREAT too! Pretty, pretty, pretty!I found it very hard to walk back out of the front door and drive away from this house, but I know in my heart it isn't right for us.

This next had one item that had serious potential for us in the form of a loft upstairs that we could use for gaming - potentially big enough for David to set up his ping-pong table and have room for Wii and a table or two for other games or puzzles, but it also has THREE AND A HALF BATHROOMS - good if the entire family comes down with some sort of intestinal distress (four toilets!), but who wants to clean that many bathrooms?!?! (I already HAVE a full time job!) I often hear people talking about how boring it is when houses are painted all white. I have always thought white was fine and am becoming more and more partial to it, especially after seeing the following which had in adjoining rooms dark orange, lavender, blue and pink - YIKES! At least paint can be covered! These two rooms connect directly to the dark orange below. (There is also dark orange between the doorways here, but you can't really see it.)Were we to buy this house we would even take out a wall between the loft and one bedroom to make it an even bigger play area. Since it has SIX bedrooms, this would not be a sacrifice!! (Six bedrooms?!?! You could house a village here! All 5 of us, including me and David separately could have our own individual bedroom, and there would still be an extra, empty one!!)This is a view of the loft (left) and bedroom and the wall between them that we would remove - kinda cool that the window styles match between the rooms - has some character too. I tried to capture a bit more of the loft in the pictures below. You can kind of put it together if you realize you can see the same railings in the two following pictures (from above and below). The door on the right below is the door pictured above. The door to the right of that is to a bathroom. David and Caleb are pictured heading down a hall towards the front of the upstairs where there are two more bedrooms. The pink and blue bedrooms, which round out the total of 5 bedrooms upstairs, and ANOTHER full bath are in the direction where I was standing with the camera taking the picture. The master bedroom is downstairs, which is nice. In the first place we never imagined buying another house. In the second place we never imagined looked at something this big. Not only are these houses big - therefore pricey even in this market - but both need the flooring and painting totally redone and need a backyard put in )i.e. more money). Right now neither one has anything but dirt in the back yard - not even a cement slab for a patio, not a blade of grass, not a tree, nothing. So, as much as I LOVE many things about the first one - including the BEAUTIFUL curvy staircase and as much as I also LOVE the potential MONSTROUS gaming/gathering area in the other (gaming being our passion), it ain't happenin.' For now I'm sticking with my 18-square-foot office :-)AFTERTHOUGHT: It has been really eye-opening to go into other homes - some that were rentals - some that were foreclosures that had former residents who were not happy to leave. Before I revised this post I had a lot of words in this "afterhought" - especially about rentals that people had been living in and had not trashed in anger on the way out but rather were living in what we saw. Suffice it to say I am no housekeeper, and I know it, but after looking at some places we've been in I feel like Suzy-Q Homemaker!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Speaks for itself...

Copyright: Thaves 2009 www.comics.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spring Diary Page

As I write I'm continuing to savor my celebratory Pinot Grigiot from my defense. (There is a story behind it that I will share at the end of this post.) And as I savor I am taking a moment to think back over the spring as I relax in the eye of the storm.Among the things that happened this spring (other than my studies!) was the celebration of my grandfather's 96th birthday. (I caught him, and everyone else, off-guard in this picture, which isn't entirely fair.)Anthony and David took a trip to southern California during spring break to check out colleges. They visited Harvey Mudd and Cal Tech. Anthony would like to major in mathematics (hmm . . . I wonder where he got that from? :-)
Early for class - typical for Anthony!
(I have no idea why this text is underlined.)
I was totally bummed at not being able to go. They did get to sit in on a class - a class taught by Dr. Arthur Benjamin (finite math). I'm continuing to have to work at not being jealous! (I also have no idea why some of that is underlined and some is not, but you should be able to click on his name and get to an Arthur Benjamin Mathemagic link.)
I ALSO have no idea what's up with this decapitated Smurf (although my thesis revisions from the library were all marked in blue ink and looked suspiciously like a Smurf had exploded on my work . . . hmm . . .). This wasn't at CSUS, however, but on the Claremont campuses somewhere. The following picture is of CalTech. I thought I'd put it up since they visited, but Harvey Mudd won Anthony's heart hands down. It sounds like it's either that or Calvin for him.
On the Saturday after my thesis defense I took time to play. Jacob and Anthony and I played Magic (with pre-constructed decks). I creamed them with my Elvish Predation!! You can see all my 1/1 (actually 2/2 because of the properties of another card) elf token creatures at the top of my mat on the left. Look out dudes, or the elves will get you!Anthony and Jacob got to participate together in a math competition on the five-man "Bomb" team and made a good showing (first place).
. . . and we spent some time INSIDE the house . . . . . . OUTSIDE the house . . .
. . . and LOOKING for a house!!!

We looked at 2 today - having looked at about 8 a few days back, which made my head spin! The first today was way too big, way too fancy, and needed WAY too much work and upkeep. But it had a HUGE yard, by standards in our area, something we really want, and a bedroom downstairs that could be used as an office and/or guest room. It was priced REALLY low for its size because it was on a busy, busy street and "needed some love" on the inside - uh - and on the outside.
I fell in love with the second house we looked at even though it was a bit too small to really justify such a drastic change in our lives as moving will be. Among other things, the yard was small, and the house didn't have a room we could use as a guest room for when David's mom or other family members or friends visit - only just enough bedrooms for us if Jacob and Caleb continue to double up, which they're fine with, but if we're moving in order to get more space . . . uh . . .
It did have a loft upstairs that we could use as a game room/office, where the boys could hook up the Wii and where we could do our other gaming, which is such a huge part of our lives. It has two living areas, which we don't need and don't want, but David told me I could use one of the living rooms for a library and line it with bookshelves!! That sold ME on it! But then we found out later this afternoon that someone else's bid late yesterday had been accepted. I put up some pictures of both houses anyway because I'm dreaming. This is something we never thought we'd do.

This house-hunting is really a gut-wrenching process. First you can't find anything that's just right (or even close) - or you find something that IS close to perfect but has a postage-stamp-sized yard or is on a very, very busy street. Then you find something that really speaks to you and find out it's gone.

David and I have said for years that we would never move . . . but . . . well, it's a long story.

So here we are looking. Being the nostalgiac person I am, I thought I'd never be ABLE to bring myself to leave the home my boys were raised in - our first home - with 18 years of memories - pets buried in the yard - a tree planted to honor the birth of our first child - all that sort of stuff. Now that we've started the process I see that it can be pretty exciting to imagine possibilities, but I also feel terrified at the thought of taking care of all the details, repairs, improvements (both to the home we are selling and the home we are buying, which will most likely be a foreclosure) right at a time when I am starting a new and demanding job. ARE WE CRAZY?! I need to be focused on getting tenure - not on packing, home repair, and interior decorating! I also can't imagine moving all our stuff. When we moved into our current house, we had no children. Now we are a family of 5, have accumulated a ton of stuff, and none of us is very good at getting rid of things. I HATE sorting. I HATE garage sales. I HATE painting. (Though I do like rearranging my bookshelves.) I realize people move all the time, but we've been in this house 18 years and never moved out of a house we've owned. I'm really stuck between excitement and horror at the prospect.

Anthony does not want to move. Jacob is torn 50/50. And Caleb can't wait for a new adventure and seemed ready to move into the house with the loft immediately. What does that say about the impact of birth order?

OK - and now forgetting houses and remembering what makes a house a HOME!

Ah . . . much better . . . and I just have to finish with the following picture because I love it :-)
Oh, I was going to tell my story about the first picture. It's actually probably one of those "you had to be there" things, but here goes. Well, actually, I now realize I've given the punch line away already!

Oh well. If you still want to know, read on.

After I gave my thesis defense I needed my committee members to sign my approval page, which will be bound into my thesis. The first said to me, "I have a red pen, does it matter what color we sign in?" I said, "According to the graduate website it has to be blue or black." Immediately the chair of my committee said, "Red or white?" I had no idea why he said that. I thought he was giving me a hard time. I replied, "It has to be blue or black." He said again, "Red or white?" I'm thinking, "What's wrong with this guy? It's white paper; you can't sign in white ink, it would be invisible. Does this mean he isn't passing me?" I repeated, "It has to be blue or black." He asked again, and I finally caught on - red or white WINE! What a sweetheart! That was such a special touch!