Did you know trivia games aren’t cool anymore? That’s what the guy at the game store told us.
My friend was having some school friends over for a game night while I was visiting. He wanted to play Trivial Pursuit, but didn’t own it. He said he had attempted to procure it recently with no success. It’s one of the most common games, it shouldn’t be hard to find. We headed to ToysRUs.
All ToysRUs had was Trivial Pursuit Party edition. Party? That sounds like watered down Trivial Pursuit, which it was, and we had no interest in that. Trivial Pursuit is a ruthless game where you don’t just want to win, but the goal is to demoralize your opponent while you beat them. Is that just me? Anyway, there was very little else to choose from related to trivia in the board game isle of ToysRUs.
Same deal at Target, just a whole lot fewer games.
I found a game store in Madison so we headed over there. I’ve been to game stores before, I like them a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything, but I always come close. Game store employees are more helpful than any employee at any other store. If you know what you are looking for, they will help you find it and anything similar. If you don’t know what you are looking for, they will ask you twenty questions to find something you might like. If you don’t want any help, they’ll leave you be, and may just head to the back of the store (they are very trusting as well). This one also had a game room in the back and on the back wall were some framed game boards, which is an idea I like very much for future room decorating.
When we first got to the store, we said we were just browsing and after a few minutes of not seeing Trivial Pursuit, we asked for help. This is when we were informed that trivia games weren’t popular anymore. The guy at the store said that the only people who like them are the one person who is good at trivia and always wins. My friend said he was that person.
I guess I can see the point of the trivia games going away. You need a group of people and game combination that makes everything fair. The game has a limited shelf life. I’ve played my parents Trivial Pursuit before, the answer to every question was Reagan (oh, the 80s …).
We wound not getting a trivia game. There weren’t a lot of choices. There was a geek focused trivia game, but like I said about having the right group, I am the only one who would have enjoyed that.
The guy talked my friend into a game he said his family loved. It’s called Say Anything. Here’s how it works: Each round, someone picks a card with a few questions on it (the person picking rotates each round). That person can pick any question they like. It’s not trivia, very open ended questions. Each of the other players then writes down an answer to the question and displays it for everyone to see. The person who asked the question secretly chooses one of them. That person can choose an answer for whatever reason they like: their favorite, what they think will be a favorite of the group, or just a random selection. Each of the other players have two chips to bid on which answer(s) they think was selected. Points are awarded as follows: 1 point to the author of the selected answer, 1 point to the owner of each chip placed on that answer (so if someone had their answer picked and had bid both their chips on their own answer, they’d get 3 points in the round), the person asking the question also gets points for every chip bid on the answer they selected, up to 3. That last bit is key to the game, the questioner has an incentive to pick the answer that will be most popular with the group.
What’s great about the game is that it’s completely open ended. So any combination of people could really play together. You have the choice about how to answer: serious, funny, completely unrelated to anything going on at the time. The visibility of the answers adds to the fun. After the first person lays down their answer the other players may not have even started writing yet. At that point you may decide to go in a different direction from that answer, or attempt to top it. I think a time limit could be useful, but we played somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 rounds and never really had an issue with time.
It was a little difficult for me, only knowing my friend, and having met the others just prior to starting the game. It puts you at a bit of a disadvantage because the others sometimes know what to say to assure their answer will be picked. That may have kept me from winning, but I didn’t lose completely. I finished 2nd to last or tied for last in each of the three games. Even finishing last, the game is still a blast. Who says you have to win? Me, except when I don’t.
You might be shocked but the National Mustard Museum was not on the planned itinerary for my time in Wisconsin. The only thing actually on the itinerary was Miller Park, which meant that the other 3 days could be filled with just about anything. So maybe the Mustard Museum isn’t that strange. Ok, maybe it is.
The museum is in a town called Middleton, WI. My friend said it was #1 in one of those best places to live rankings. We wound up there because we were in the area he needed some mustard that they only carry there. Also, I had mentioned I could go for some pie, and there was a diner next door with excellent pie (which was true).
The museum is really a mustard store – mustards from around the world, organized by category (I was unaware there were categories), mustard t-shirts, games, and whatever else you could relate to mustard and sell, and a snack bar where you could buy things that you usually put mustard on. There were also lots of samples with pretzel sticks to try it out.
The museum part is downstairs, they just ask for a donation, and includes some history about mustard (I presume, I didn’t actually read any of the signs), a mustard theater, which must just show movies that had mustard in them, and all the varieties of mustards they could pull together, organized by origin. Here is the Pennsylvania section:
Going in, I had mentioned that there is a very popular variety of mustard from State College that people love so much they ship it all over the place. Sure enough it was available for sale in the store and was represented in the PA section with a Penn State logo jar.
I didn’t mention this while inside, but up until recently I was only into yellow mustard, which I didn’t even notice on the shelves. I therefore would not even pretend to be a connoisseur of mustard. They were very friendly and I was not made to feel inferior for not knowing very much like I’ve felt in some specialty cheese shops I’ve been dragged into by friends.
One issue I have with the vast number of mustards to choose from … I don’t really care for a lot of varieties of things. Let me explain, or try to. I’m a bit of a picky eater. So when I find a food or drink (or condiment brand), I prefer to stick to it. Yes, I realize there might be something better but the road to finding something better is littered with bad experiences. Look at this store, they have hundreds of mustards. In all likelihood, you won’t know that you’ve found your favorite until you are on your deathbed. In the case you do find your favorite, the odds are high that this is the only place in Wisconsin you are going to find that brand. If you move, you’ll spend an amount of time attempting to find that mustard that the marginal taste advantage will be outweighed by effort of the search.
Which bring us to my friend and his mustard of choice. A friend of his brought it back with her from Europe for him. Which begs the first question … why did she bring him mustard? Is he a huge mustard fan? That seems like something I’d have known about him. I believe the mustard was from Bavaria. It isn’t even a domestic mustard! When he leaves Wisconsin in a few years, he’s screwed trying to find that again. Interesting that it is from Bavaria. I don’t know anything about Bavaria, except for Bavarian Pretzels. The obvious question then is … Which came first Bavarian Pretzels or Bavarian Mustard?
Tailgating prior to the Brewers game, I was lucky enough to sample this mustard with the brats. It was pretty good mustard. Not ‘I’m going to run out and find a local specialty mustard store’ amazing, but still, very good.
Back from my weekend trip to Wisconsin. I probably don’t need to explain the purpose of the trip because when someone takes a trip in the summer, Wisconsin is usually at the top of the list. I went because my friend is in a Phd program at UW – Madison and I haven’t seen a Brewers game at Miller Park yet (I was at the stadium a few years ago, but the Brewers were on the road). I’ll try and share some posts over the next few days to recap the trip.
flickr set (warning, pretty much all the pictures are from Miller Park and none of them feature people)
LEGOs and BBC have been dominating posts recently, I mention those because it will continue.
LEGO Breaking Bad Lab
This isn’t official, just awesome. $250 of awesome. At that price, they should break it up a bit. I think they’d sell quite a few packs of minifigs. The town isn’t quite as developed as The Simpsons. However, there are a few things that should be released after this:
- The RV
- The White House (with pizza on the roof)
- El Pollo Loco!!!!
- Pest Control Tent, so you can turn any of your existing LEGO houses into a cook site.
Doctor Who Mr. Potato Head
This one is official and only $25. The Doctor is much more consumer friendly than meth cooks/dealers. I don’t really like all the variations of Mr. Potato Head. I love the original, but all these branded ones are a bit much. Most of that is likely due to the fact if I bought one, I’d have a thousand. Just from Doctor Who, why not all the Doctors? Throw in the companions while you’re at it.
Doctor Who Blu-Ray Set
I was browsing Amazon for the Doctor Who seasons and specials. I know I can stream them again on Netflix or Amazon but I wouldn’t mind having the discs. I’ve looked before but it quickly gets confusing. The older seasons are only on DVD. Then I have to take the time to figure out which specials aren’t included in the season sets and where to find them. Eventually I give up.
Today when I searched I came across the almost perfect set. It includes all the episodes including specials since the show returned 7 seasons ago. Everything on Blu-Ray, with the older stuff upconverted. It even includes a Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote. (Side story: for Christmas my sister got me a TARDIS, but she wanted it to serve some use, so she got a TARDIS USB hub. So just a Sonic Screwdriver wouldn’t make sense, but one that is a remote, ok, I’m listening.) Actually the screwdriver is a bit much, from what I was reading it usually sells for $100 or more. And that presents part of the problem. The set has a $350 retail and is currently $315 on Amazon. It doesn’t come out until November. I know with most releases Amazon sticks close to the retail until the release week when the movie or show is on sale everywhere, then they match it. But I read somewhere that they had a similar Limited Edition set up through the 6th season and that sold out quickly. I have some time to wait. They may release the seasons individually next year, which they should for the people who have bought the more recent Blu-Rays.
Question: what would you buy first? The Simpsons’ house? Moe’s? Qwik-E-Mart? The Nuclear Power Plant? I think it’s pretty obvious that it would have to be a Simpsons-branded Monorail. That’s mostly because I never had the LEGO monorail as a kid.
The 12th Doctor
I watched the live broadcast of the unveiling of new doctor on Doctor Who. The broadcast was a great idea, but since I didn’t know many of the people they had on stage, it was much more for a British audience (which is fine). I hadn’t a clue who Peter Capaldi was when they announced him. After hearing all the talk about him being on a previous Doctor Who episode and on a Torchwood season, I at least knew where I’d seen him, but did little to add to the excitement.
I’ve enjoyed the energy and excitement of the young doctors that have been on since I started watching. I’d have preferred they stuck with that and gone with a female. But I’m relatively new to the world so I can’t care that much, and I’m sure it will be great.
The link from BBC America is a helpful collection of clips to see his previous work.
Sherlock Series 3 Trailer
Actually, I didn’t really care about the trailer, I’m just anxious for the show to come back. And then the long wait until it makes it way to the US.
Somehow I missed this last year. A fan remade the original Super Mario Brothers, at least in video form, if it was made today. It shows the good and bad of today’s games. It looks great but going crazy with the zooming and animations (explosions and blood) are a little over the top. Which is not the fault of the video creator, he is just basing it on the experience of today’s games.
From last year:
And this year’s:
I look forward to SMB3 recreations in a few decades.
First saw on Polygon
Inbetweeners 2 Next Summer!
I’m really excited about this, if you couldn’t tell. I watched the US version first before going back and watching the British version and movie. I love both versions, probably because they are nearly identical. I’d prefer more of the US one, only because I don’t get all the slang and references of the UK one, but I’ll deal. I’m just excited to have more Inbetweeners. I just hope it makes it to the US quickly.
Ellen DeGeneres to Host Oscars
She hosted in 2007. Which made me look up who hosted since. Since Ellen it was Jon Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin, James Franco & Anne Hathaway, Billy Crystal (after Eddie Murphy dropped out), and Seth MacFarlane. That Franco/Hathaway one was so bad, my memory is fuzzy on everything before. I completely forgot about Hugh Jackman.
Hourglass Traffic Light
Cool, right? Useful? I’m not really sure. The current traffic light, while old, might have gotten it perfectly simple.
- As the green fills up in the bottom of the hourglass. Approaching, will it be clear that it’s empty? Meaning, a large green blob, is a large green blob if you are moving quickly.
- The yellow countdown timer is useful.
- Is there a point where there isn’t enough lit up that it would be impossible to see in the fog?
- The most useful condition is to know that red is almost over. Although that may encourage timing the light and flying off the line.
Flashing left turn arrow
The previous link reminded me of a light in Michigan that I shared with my friends a while back (I have a thing for traffic lights apparently). This light adds a blinking yellow that indicates a left turn is allowed, but you should yield to other traffic. I didn’t like it when I first read about it. I can see the value in a light that sometimes allows left turns on green. During non-rush hours it’s such a pain to hit a left turn only light with no traffic on the road. However, I’m still not sure this is the way to do it. It seems that the blinking yellow would be easily confused with the solid yellow. So you’d either try and make the turn without yielding or stop and wait until you realized it was blinking. I’d have to see some to know for sure, but I don’t expect to be in Michigan any time soon.
Diverging Diamond Intersection
Slightly still on topic. I’ve had this link saved for a while. Take a look at the video, because just looking at a picture it’s almost impossible to figure out how it works. Even with the video, it takes a little bit of effort.
It actually makes a lot of sense. It’s probably a little complicated for people to accept right away and start building them all over. The concept has it’s own homepage and lists quite a few existing ones. None close to me, but maybe I’d go out of my way the next time I’m in Maryland.
Of course these are all meaningless when every car on the road is driverless. I tweeted this one back in February.
Imagine the future terror of going through one of these intersections. Would you ever get used to it? I’m pretty sure everyone who grew up driving themselves would be terrified forever while a generation of driverless kids would just cruise right through with no worries.
Update: Just after posting this, I opened the app and was greeted by the ‘Get started’ button once again. So the only difference in the latest version is that I haven’t gotten a pop-up telling me the app crashed or forcing me to re-install. Progress?
Google Hangouts for iOS was updated yesterday. This is the 3rd or 4th version of the app. It was first released in May during Google I/O. My fingers are crossed that this one will actually work.
I was really pleased when Google finally announced Hangouts (the expanded chat version, Hangouts was already an awesome launch feature of Google+). I’ve been waiting forever for a chat service that would work seamlessly between desktop and mobile, have group chat, and be something that my friends would actually use. Google had a bunch of different messaging platforms going at the same time and they didn’t work well between platforms and there was no first-party app for iOS.
The short overview is that everything is saved by Google. So wherever you load the service (web or app) you have access to all your conversations. So you can start on one platform and continue on another without having to do anything else. Group chats work exactly the same. You can also share pictures and join Hangouts from the app. It’s built in to Gmail and Google+, so a lot of people will have access to it without any effort.
The web version has worked well since it launched, but the iOS app, not so much. When actually using it, I didn’t have any major problems. The notification counter on the app icon was never correct, but that was tolerable. The problem was that every few days I would open the app and it would tell me it crashed. It must have crashed in the background because I never had it crash while using it. I’d have to login again after the crash, which was pretty annoying, especially with two-factor authentication. After a few rounds of that, the crash message would tell me that it couldn’t recover and I had to reinstall the app. I pretty much gave up on it a month ago. This one hasn’t given me that issue, although it’s only been a day. It does linger on the splash screen long enough for the ‘Get Started’ button to appear, but then it loads the recent conversations.
On the web I’ve found the best ways to be through Gmail or Google+. I liked the Google+ version a little better. It has a larger font and it’s much less likely that the chat window will interfere with something I want to see on Google+, because there is so little to see there. That’s also why I haven’t used it much, there isn’t enough on Google+ for me to always have it open in a tab.
In Gmail, it works just fine. I’d recommend the Right-Side Chat Lab in Gmail. It does what it says and puts a column to the right of your Gmail window with your recent chats. I like this a lot better than just having a few contacts listed in whatever space is available on the left side.
There is also a Chrome app that gives you a buddy list-like view that is detached from the main window. It might be an option if I used Chrome.
Myq Kaplan – Meat Robot
I’ve been trying to utilize Spotify to listen to more comedy albums. I’ve queued up some new ones and some classics. Myq Kaplan obviously falls into the newer category, and this album was released this year. I’m not going to be sharing every one I listen to. So the fact that it’s here means that I really enjoyed it. He has a lot of really smart humor (I’m a sucker for math jokes) and is quite skilled in the deadpan misdirection.
Album Links: Amazon Spotify
Brewers offering $10 concession vouchers at August home games
My trip to Wisconsin in a few weeks just got $10 cheaper. The team says they were planning this before Ryan Braun’s suspension, but now it’s being tied to that not just because of timing but because the amount the team won’t have to pay Braun the rest of this season is very similar to how much this program will cost. It sounds like the vouchers can be used on just about anything in the stadium: food, beverages, tickets (where I assume you get another voucher), and merchandise. You can hang on to them and combine them, so that’s cool for season ticket holders who could save up a few hundred bucks during the month and go crazy at the team store.
Me? I imagine my $10 will go toward a hot dog and ice cream helmet.
Ars: Why YouTube Buffers
I’d recommend this article to anyone who users the internet. So, everybody. It doesn’t get too technical and explains a bit about how the content you consume online (specifically YouTube and Netflix) make it from it’s source to your house. It’s not Verizon or Comcast connecting right to Google or Netflix.
There has been lots of talk online about Verizon and Netflix and how companies aren’t cooperating causing Netflix to be unusable at times. I have Verizon Fios at home and haven’t noticed any major issues. Sometimes it takes a long time to start playing, but I don’t run in to buffering issues. YouTube also has been fairly solid, although not perfect. However, having Comcast for the past few months, I can understand the YouTube frustrations. With Comcast, every few days YouTube would just stop playing videos for a few hours. Although for Comcast that’s a step up from when we first got their cable internet and every few days the whole internet would just not work for a few days.
Mike Herrera on Stage It
If you don’t recognize the name, he is the lead singer of MxPx. If you have known me at any point since 10th or 11th grade, then you’ll know that band. Just listening to the Tomorrow is Another Day track is a musical time machine back to high school. The track on the link is live and acoustic, he stops a few times along the way. Here is an album version to hear it with the full band.
The 8-track performance on Bandcamp was done on Stageit, which I wasn’t familiar with. Taking a look at the site, I’m a huge fan of the idea, so long as the quality is there. An artist or band can decide they are going to do a show from their webcam. Tickets are sold and then fans can watch and chat (even with the band) during the performance. Most of the shows I clicked on are Pay What You Can, but you can also Tip, and Top Tippers get rewards from the bands.
The site says that the shows aren’t recorded so they are once-in-a-lifetime, but the Mike Herrera one is on Bandcamp. I would think Stageit would also want to sell the live tracks for them and the musicians to make as much as possible. People would still pay more for the live experience, especially with the interactivity and rewards.
I didn’t recognize many of the bands currently on the site, but it looks like they’ve had some in the past. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.