Archive for June, 2017

Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 2

June 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 29, 2017

Late Tuesday afternoon, I showered, took the dog outside and set out for Sterling, Va., which is a 20 or 25-minute drive from where I’m staying. I was going to — well, let’s call it Massive Marvin’s, a dining establishment that a pair of Internet websites assured me had six pinball machines.

I haven’t yet blogged about pinball, but in brief: I started playing casually sometime last year at the instigation of my friend D—, who’d picked up a pinball jones in 2015 or so; I began developing a true pinball obsession myself about two months ago, which has evolved to the point that I played pinball at five different Triangle venues in the four days leading up to my departure for Virginia.

My phone’s navigation program led me to a nondescript shopping center in a part of Northern Virginia that looked remarkably like every other shopping center that was developed in Northern Virginia in the 1990s. It contained a supermarket, a tool store, a library, an automotive parts store, a few restaurants… The place I was looking for was right by the entrance I’d used, so I found it without too much effort.

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Non-adventures in dog-sitting, part 1

June 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2017

This week, I’m dog-sitting for the Os, friends of mine who live in Northern Virginia. Their home is close to the Beltway — Interstate 495, which rings our nation’s capital — and yet lies more than an hour from the District of Columbia.

I arrived on Thursday night last week, the evening before O pére et mére were to depart for a family reunion in New England. After dinner, I asked to be shown how the dishwasher, laundry machines and TV worked.

After the entertainment system demonstration, Mr. O and I watched a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation on this cable channel, which I’d never before heard of. (The cable channel, that is, not the show.) We happened to tune a few minutes after 9 p.m., and almost instantly I exclaimed, “Is that Matt Frewer?!”

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Cheeps and Chirps for April 2017 (more catch-up)

June 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2017

You got it: Yet more catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump!

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Cheeps and Chirps for March 2017 (catching up)

June 19, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 19, 2017

More catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump (and comrades)!

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General notes on East Coast road trips, or: More morning motivation

June 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2017

I recently made one of a number of hometown pilgrimages that I undertake each year. On Wednesday, the eve before my return to North Carolina, my Parental Unit and I were discussing what time on Thursday I planned to depart. (I’d asked to be awoken by 9 if I wasn’t already up and about.)

P.U. then asked if I was trying to get back to the Old North State for any particular event. “Nope,” I responded flippantly.

Actually, this answer was in the nebulous realm between truth and untruth. I typically play free bar-league poker in Raleigh on Thursday evenings, and I prefer to arrive in time to participate in the early game, which begins at 7 p.m. (There’s a 20-minute grace period for late arrivals.) So there was that incentive for returning to Carolina by a particular time.

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Chronicle of a phantom gas leak

June 14, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 14, 2017

I was sitting in my parent’s family room with my Parental Unit and the dog Friday night when the three of us heard a chirp!

This, of course, is one of the minor nuisances of modern life: A gadget with (usually) a dying battery starts emitting plaintive noises, which will continue until either the battery (usually) is replaced or the power supply fails altogether.

When the chirp! repeated itself, I heaved a sigh and decided to go looking for the ailing device. I stood in the front hallway near the stairwell, but the detector there didn’t seem to be the source of the chirping. I went into the kitchen and held the stand-alone carbon monoxide detector to my ear, but that didn’t seem to be the origin of the noise either. I moved from spot to spot on the first floor, ears pricked, and I even went to the top of the staircase on the second floor. But the chirps kept coming, and I still couldn’t ascertain the source.

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Robert does me dirty: In which a terrible man beats me terribly at free poker

June 13, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 13, 2017

Time for more tales of free poker!

Last night, shortly after the late tournament consolidated from two tables to one, blinds were 10,000–20,000; as it happened, 20,000 was all that the fellow in the big blind had. I was sitting in first position with suited ace-10, both hearts. Naturally, I called. So did Robert, the player on my left. A third player did as well.

The flop, it seemed, could hardly have been better for me. The first card out was an ace; then came a four, followed by a second ace. That gave me three of a kind. I checked.

Not so Robert, who went all in for 65,000. The other live player folded; I counted Robert’s chips, sorted through mine and announced that I would call.

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June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

June 9, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 9, 2017

The seventh round of Saturday’s Scrabble tournament was a repeat match between me and O—. It turned out to be incredibly dramatic.

O—, playing first, had a bingo with her second move, MUTATING 65, which put her up, 89-11. I had a sound answer, however, in KEX/EM/XU, a 66-point play utilizing the top row–center column triple-word-score bonus that the bingo had exposed.

Two turns later, I had a bingo of my own: rEFINERY, also a 65-point play, which leapfrogged me ahead, 143-118.

Then my lead started to grow. After she and I exchanged 20-point plays, O— had a power outage, making seven straight words that scored as little as 4 points (on two occasions) but no more than 12 points.

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June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

June 8, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 8, 2017

The fourth game — and the final one of the tournament’s morning session — pitted me against N—, a North Carolinian whom I’d beaten a few months ago in our only previous meeting. I began with a rack of CEGHLTT and started the game by playing TETCH*, a 28-point phony. (TETCHY, TETCHIER and TETCHIEST are valid.)

N— answered with a 28-pointer of her own, COOEED, which I challenged — unwisely, as it turned out. Cooee is, per Dictionary.com, “a prolonged, shrill, clear call or cry used as a signal by Australian Aborigines” that has been adopted by that country’s settlers; it can also be a verb meaning to utter the call cooee. Upshot: COOEES, COOEED and COOEEING are all valid, and I forfeit my second turn. The score remained tied, however, as N— used her next move to swap out all seven of her tiles.

The two of us played a nip-and-tuck game until turn 9. I started the round with a rack of AILOSV? and played VOE 9, which tied the score at 146 apiece. N— responded with CORSETE*/LATE, a 65-point bingo.

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June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

June 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 9, 2017

I returned to Scrabble tournament play at Durham’s Northgate Mall last Saturday. Despite having had another night of abridged sleep, I was feeling pretty excited about the day ahead of me.

The event started with my facing S—, an older North Carolina player whom I’d beaten in our only two previous meetings. Playing first, he swapped out five tiles, letting me open with LOVE 14. S— then used the O to put down a 70-point bingo, PIMENTOS. I considered challenging but opted not to, which is fortunate; PIMENTO (referring to spice) is valid, and its plural can be spelled with either -S or -ES.

My second play, FAILED/FA/AN/IN/ES, garnered 36 points. But S— answered with a nifty 47-pointer, CROAK/CLOVE/RES/OD, which I challenged because I was unsure of RES. Since that three-letter word is valid, I forfeit my next move. I trailed, 117-50, entering turn 4 — hardly a great start.  Read the rest of this entry »

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