Archive for the 'Diary' Category

Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about my sock-wearing habits

October 22, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 22, 2017

About six or sevens years ago, I was sitting in West End Wine Bar on Main Street in Durham with a couple of friends when, for some reason, the subject of my wardrobe came up. I think that I was wearing a nice long-sleeve buttoned shirt, jeans and sneakers — a very typical outfit for me when the weather is cool or when I’m doing something social in the evening.

My outfit was fine… for the most part. However, my friends’ critical eyes were drawn to my socks.

As was my wont at the time, I was wearing white crew socks. This was, my friends told me, a no-no. Instead, they encouraged me to start wearing dark-colored socks.

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Aug. 26, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

September 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 5, 2017

My foe in game 7 was L.B., a veteran player I’d never encountered before. She was seeded seventh and had begun the day with a 1029 rating.  To that point, her only loss on the day was a 538-351 defeat to A.H., the top seed, who’d beaten me to start the afternoon session.

I got off to a rocky start. L.B., playing first, opened with GRADED 22. My rack was awful, IILRRUX; I played off LURID 7 and drew AADO, which left me with a similarly puzzling rack of AADIORX.

L.B. used my L to play QUALE 30. (You can read the definition of quale here; I won’t claim to understand it.) I answered with RODE 15 and drew EIS, which gave me AAEIISX. Once again, these were not stellar tiles.

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Aug. 26, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

September 4, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 4, 2017

Despite getting off to a 3-0 start with a win against the tournament’s highly rated third seed, I knew that I’d have a stiff test in the fourth game, which would close out our early session. I was to play F.T., the fourth seed in the field, who began the day with a rating of 1394. We’d played once before back in March, which had resulted in my sustaining a 49-point loss.

F.T. opened with DIDY 18, which was not positioned so as to enable me to convert my rack of AELLMST into the obvious bingo of MALLETS. (Didy, alternatively spelled didie, means diaper; its plural is didies.) I settled for MALL/MY 14.

F.T.’s second play, FUMY 14, didn’t cooperate with my rack of AEEIPST. (Fumy, of course, means emitting or full of fumes.) I settled again, this time for APE/LA 17, which left the score 32-31 in my foe’s favor.

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Aug. 26, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

September 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 3, 2017

I plunged back into competitive Scrabble play last weekend with another tournament at Northgate Mall in Durham. I knew it would be an exciting day: Stanford football would kick off its 2017 campaign in Sydney, Australia, that night, and I was planning to drive up to Northern Virginia as soon as the event ended.

I didn’t get a great night’s sleep, but I felt pretty sharp in the morning. I’d already packed most of my bags. I woke up in timely fashion, showered, and walked over to the mall, arriving 15 or 20 minutes ahead of start time.

The field was small, only 12 contestants; I was seeded ninth with a player rating of 922. I was a little nervous about my first opponent, C—, a Scrabble veteran with a sixth seed and a rating of 1080. C— is a Carolina resident and shows up to all of the Durham tournaments, so I knew him a bit, but I was a little intimidated by his extensive experience and higher rating.

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The Friday that white supremacists (never really) came to town: Part 2 of 2

August 24, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 24, 2017

Author’s note: This post contains one word that is considered obscene and one usage of a notorious racial slur. The obscene word is part of the title of a famous rap songMEM

After returning to my car last Friday, I decamped for a coffee shop and finished writing about The Big Sick. Then I went back home and changed out of my sweaty clothes. Like I said, man, it was hot that day.

The rumors circulating on social media said that the white supremacists who had failed to show around noon might instead (or also) be planning to come around 4 p.m. A little after the hands on my watch pointed to that hour, I drove to another quiet residential neighborhood. I parked my car and began walking back to the courthouse.

At least one helicopter was still hovering in the air, but I found very little traffic when I arrived downtown. The block of Main between South Corcoran and North Mangum streets had been reopened. In fact, cars were allowed on Main as far east as Church Street, where there was a barricade. At least one police officer must have been standing there, but most of the people clustered around the blockade were regular people demonstrating against white supremacy. Some held banners and signs declaring their enthusiasm for diversity and tolerance.

It was at this point that I witnessed the first — and for me, really, the only — tense encounter of the day.

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The Friday that white supremacists (never really) came to town: Part 1 of 2

August 22, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 22, 2017

It was around 11 on Friday morning when I noticed a tweet saying that white supremacists were planning to march on downtown Durham at noon. I ate an early lunch and started preparing to go.

However, I dallied. This was partly because I was skeptical that any hate group would actually show up in what might be North Carolina’s most liberal city. Indeed, none of the tweets I saw from people who were downtown indicated that any white supremacists were showing up. But to be completely candid, I also dawdled for the very converse reason: Because I was afraid of the catastrophe that could occur if armed reactionaries did in fact turn out.

Many of the white-supremacist marchers at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month were heavily armed and obviously spoiling for violence. Moreover, on Thursday evening, I’d read a disturbing news story about a gun-toting militia group that had turned up at a San Antonio city council meeting. (The stated rationale was that an official of the This is Texas Freedom Force had received death threats after publicly opposing the council’s intention to move a Confederate monument.) If shooting had started in Charlottesville, or San Antonio, or Durham — or if some whack job decided to drive into a crowd, as happened in the town where Thomas Jefferson lived and founded a university — no one could guarantee the public’s safety.

However, when the Ku Klux Klan might roll into your town, able and available adults can’t just sit on the sidelines. So even though I showed up late, I did show up.

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Dining on the fly: A terminal experience

August 1, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 1, 2017

I arrived at RDU in plenty of time to make my flight on July 19. According to my parking ticket, I got to the long-term lot two hours and one minute before my plane’s scheduled departure. Despite this, and despite the fact that my flight was delayed, I wound up having to run to catch my plane.

Originally, I was prepared to wait at the gate until it was time to board. However, our departure was pushed back by about half an hour, until 8:44 p.m., and my stomach began demanding to be fed. The gate agent made an announcement that made it seem as if we might not leave until 9 p.m. or possibly later.

That meant that we probably wouldn’t land until 10:30. I wanted to meet my car service as soon as possible, and that trip would take another 45 minutes at least. Also, my flight wouldn’t offer any meal service. While I wasn’t exactly facing the prospect of starvation, it seemed important that I eat something.

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A short monograph on Triangle traffic; or, my Wednesday-afternoon trip to the airport

July 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 31, 2017

I’d planned on taking a trip the week that ended on Saturday, July 22. But I hadn’t planned on leaving on Wednesday the 19th, and I hadn’t planned on flying. However, an urgent situation arose, and it seemed best that I book an evening flight.

That afternoon, I went to a barcade in downtown Raleigh. I did this partly to help myself unwind for a bit before my flight, but I also did this because evening rush-hour in the Research Triangle tends to be heaviest going east from Durham to Raleigh, and Raleigh-Durham International Airport is located about halfway between the two cities.

(Sidebar: A significant disparity between housing and jobs helps fuel traffic holdups in the region, as does a lack of rail-based mass transit. The city of Raleigh, which forms the Triangle’s eastern vertex, is the most populous in the region. But a significant proportion of Raleigh residents work either in Chapel Hill, the site of the University of North Carolina and its major teaching hospital facility, or in Durham, which is home to Duke University, to Duke’s major teaching hospital facility and to North Carolina Central University, a large historically black state university.

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Weekend (?) anecdotes: A deer sighting and my seat-swap roller-coaster ride

July 30, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 30, 2017

My days have been a bit of a blur lately, so I’m only 99 percent sure that the following anecdote took place on Saturday, July 29.

I was walking a certain family dog around my Parental Unit’s neighborhood. We were heading toward a T-intersection of residential streets when I noticed that Lucky and I had company.

As per usual, the dog and I were walking on the street by the curb on the right side. (When there isn’t a sidewalk available, I typically walk along the right side of the road, as would be standard for a motorist or bicyclist.) But either a noise or something I saw out of the corner of my eye made me look to the left. Much to my amazement, I saw that a doe was walking parallel to us through the front yards of the houses on the opposite side of the street.

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My addiction to digital candy demolition

July 29, 2017

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

I haven’t updated the blog in more than a week, for which I apologize. I had to do some traveling, which I’d expected, but I wound up doing so for a purpose that I hadn’t anticipated when a family member suddenly developed a serious situation.

When I stay with this relative, I do something that I never do anywhere else: I play Candy Crush Saga, the free mobile game that makes an estimated $1.5 million a day.

I’m proud to say that I’ve never paid a single dime to play this match-three puzzle game (as Think Gaming describes it). Nor have I polluted anyone’s Facebook timeline by asking for help unlocking a level or whatever it is people do (used to do?) on the social network. Instead, I advance through the game the old-fashioned way: With lots of trial and error, lots of waiting and some dumb strokes of luck.

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