Posts Tagged travel

Credit Card Game

Let’s say you are out to lunch or dinner with a group of friends. Maybe this is even a subset of the people you normally go out with. Unfortunately, not everyone has cash on them! Splitting the bill is a hassle for the server and for the group, so instead: use the Credit Card Game (sometimes called “Credit Card Roulette”).

Each player puts their credit card in the middle. Players may opt out – they pay cash to the central pot instead. The cards are shuffled and removed one by one, usually with the most recent player out to name a number (1 through “number of cards left”) for the next player out. Whoever remains at the end pays the entire bill for the table.

(Remember the cash in the middle? The original version of the game gives that cash to the “winner” – so that the game is only for the amount owed by all players – but since then, the popular “next level” game has taken hold, and instead the cash goes to the second-to-last player. In the next-level game, you can actually MAKE money! I’ve been trying to get the next level of variance – recruit other tables in the restaurant and add their bills to the mix – but nobody’s biting.)

The credit card game is an interesting risk study, because assuming everyone orders comparable amounts, the expected value between playing and not playing is equal – you pay the cost of your meal – but the variance in playing is MUCH higher: a (N-1)/N chance of paying $0 and a 1/N chance of paying the full N times the cost of your meal!

I’ve had the credit card game on my mind because we are eating pre-Cruise tonight at famous Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chao, and I expect I’ll get pressured into playing this particularly high-stakes and ill-timed game. Can I afford to? Can I afford NOT to? (In terms of excitement and hilarity, that is!)

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Travel Advisory

I take more than a few trips (which is awesome, and I am grateful I am able to do so!) but I always am unsure exactly how much stuff to bring along when I fly. This mostly boils down to: how am I going to spend my time on the airplane?

I bring my iPad on basically all trips these days, so either e-books or games are reasonable plans. I tend to get a bit bored after a while, distracted. I could watch an in-flight movie but quality (both in terms of movies available, and the audio/video components) makes this kind of painful. And since I’m on a redeye this very night, sleep could be an option, but I have a really hard time sleeping on planes.

I wonder if I could design myself a game to keep me entertained on a flight. Maybe a system of incentives for puzzles that other friends could create the content for? Not sure. I’ve tried the “game” of programming a website/game before, but the incentives for work don’t line up right in my head. It’ll take some further thought to diagnose the problem. I’ll take some notes on the flight!

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Faceboat, Redux

A few years ago, before I went on the Magic Cruise, I envisioned a digital bulletin board we could use on the boat (without actual internet access!) that would allow us to plan and meet up when it’s been historically kind of awkward to roam the ship for people. I dubbed this tool Faceboat. I made a pretty reasonable v1 of it, but when I tried to get it to work on the boat, I failed. (I hadn’t really tested the network connectivity stuff. Oops!)

Now as the fifth Magic Cruise approaches (getting super excited!) I’d like to reexamine the goals of Faceboat and see if there’s a way to make something simpler that satisfies my goals for it.

Goals:

  • Something digital
  • Each person can use it to communicate with any other person on the boat
  • Must work without cell service or internet (local wireless is fine)

I’m thinking that the SWEET version would be a self-contained app that you leave running and that pops a notification if you get within range of the hub and someone left a message for you.

The LESS SWEET BUT STILL PRETTY COOL version is a simple webpage with a comment form that you can filter by poster, in order to find messages left for you.

I wonder if I have time between now and next weekend to make a sweet iPhone/Android app…

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Year in Review: Summary

I went in to give blood today, and as part of the routine questionnaire they always give, the guy asked me where I had traveled in the last 12 months.  It was an unexpected reminder of how awesome this year has been, as I thought back to the Magic Cruise, my trips to Pro Tours San Juan and Amsterdam, and all of the amazing friends I’ve met and grown closer to over the last twelve months.

One of the themes of this year’s blog, if you read between the lines, is that I am very very hard on myself.  I am constantly upset at how poorly I’m doing compared to the Ideal Dave I have shadowing me in my mind.  I am thinking again and again of all these wonderful projects I could do only to fail to find time or energy to do them.  I fail to attend some social gathering and beat myself up over it.  The list goes on.  But now, taking a step back, I can see that if I look at Real Dave, not some imaginary ideal I have constructed for myself – well, he did a pretty great job with this year, and this year with him.

The highlights of this year were:

  • the Magic Cruise, reconnecting with the folk who attended the first one and meeting some wonderful new people (can’t wait for this year’s!)
  • my 30th birthday in San Juan
  • Karaoke Mondays, especially the, uh, Thursday with the Community Cup folks and later special guest stars Tom, Aaron and PV
  • my career shift into game design working with an excellent set of people
  • the focus this blog has given me in understanding how my brain works and what matters to me
  • the multiple marriages and engagements of my friends (they keep coming, and they are all great!)

Every trip I took for work or related to work brought with it a few days of the same awesome times with those awesome people.  Every night out with friends gave me a chance to cut loose, something I definitely don’t do often enough.  And now every day I spend at work I have a lot of fun and a lot of challenges that are rewarding to tackle.

Sure, some things could be better – they always could – but lots of things are way better than I have any right to expect! :)

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Year in Review: Resolutions 5

Today was a pretty incredible day, even though it feels like I didn’t actually accomplish very much.  I went to pick up a new awesome beanbag chair – a huge one! – through a series of sunny snowshowers, which was surreal.  I also managed to get my new Dance Pad set up with StepMania (the open source version of DDR, thanks Nate and Sam!) along with the old DDR song mixes from the PS2 that Todd and I used to work out to… so the circle is complete!

Onward, to finish up these resolutions!

9. Travel to one of {mainland Asia, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa}.

Hrm.  Well, if I had indeed done any sort of planning on this one beyond simple thought, I might give myself some credit, but the sad truth is that I didn’t.  I got a little wrapped up in other travel this year – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Florida/Grand Cayman/Jamaica, San Juan, Amsterdam, Minneapolis, Madison – that I didn’t really ever have the presence of mind to plan out a trip to Asia/Australia/Africa.  This is still a long-term goal of mine, as I love traveling to new places, so I may see what I can do planning-wise next year.  Overall, major failure. :(

10. Stress less.

This one is super difficult to evaluate – am I less stressed now than I was in past years?  In my work, yes, I think so.  Even though I am often busier in my new role as game designer, I am happier and managing it better.  In my social life, it’s kind of a push – I have a lot of great folk I see, but I stress sometimes because of awkwardness among friend groups or because I just don’t have enough energy or time to see them all.  I stressed quite a bit about women this year, but I wouldn’t say that’s particularly different than other years. 😀  Overall, I’ll give this the barest of minor successes.  I have a ways to go, but I have started along the path to more stress-free living.

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#23: Talk the Talk

One of the things I really enjoyed doing last year (that is, 2009) was taking some classes with Bill to learn Italian prior to traveling to Rome.  Granted, I didn’t put a ton into it – I enjoy learning, and did it relatively well, but I was/am far from fluent and I was barely able to hold conversations with folk in Rome about food.  It did teach me something valuable, though (well, more than Italian itself), which is that I am much more motivated to learn when there’s a goal for the use of the newly-gained knowledge in sight.  That goal was the trip to Italy Bill and I took in December, and when I set travel plans for next year, I could get a similar learn-test track going with a different language (or even Italian again).

So, I’d like to learn a language.  But more important than learning the language is being comfortable speaking it.  I made it all the through the Spanish series in high school, even passing the Spanish AP exam, but I could never really speak it (just read, write and understand).  It’s really important to me to be able to hold my own in a conversation with a native, so that’s my target.  I haven’t decided what language yet (that will probably be influenced by my travel plans), but I’ve got a good feeling about shooting to learn one next year.

23. I resolve to learn a language to the point where I could hold a reasonable conversation with a native speaker, and then apply my skills on a trip to a destination where that language is primary.

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#12: Great Outdoors

Living in Seattle, I definitely feel like I haven’t taken advantage of “the Great Northwest” – by which I mean, going out into the wilds and enjoying the environment.  I really like going out away from technology sometimes (but not all the time – just a way to cleanse the pallet) and I also really appreciate seeing green in nature – having spent a lot of my early life in “brown” areas like Phoenix and California.

I also am really excited to take Max outdoors for long periods of time – obviously, he enjoys outside and I generally don’t have enough time to take him for more than an hour or so to the dog park.  Planning and taking a trip with him means he gets a ton of outdoorsy time and I don’t have to worry about where he stays while I’m on vacation.

12. I resolve to take Max on a camping trip at least twice, for a period of two or more days each, possibly with other friends involved on the trip too.

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#10: Leaving on a Jet Plane

On the flip side of yesterday’s post (getting friends to come visit me), there’s a lot I want to do in terms of my own traveling that I haven’t done yet.  For example, if I hadn’t mismanaged my finances a bit this year (see tomorrow’s post), I might have been able to travel to mainland Asia, Africa or Australia like I wanted.  Regardless, although I do mostly travel due to work or friends, I think it would also be a good idea to travel on my own, to nowhere I know anyone.

There are a few benefits to this sort of travel:

  • I get out of my comfort zone, and as long as I am being social, I’ll meet new and interesting people.
  • I can spend as much time as I feel like I want to on the activities I care about (without compromising with others or feeling obligated to do anything I don’t want to)
  • I can see new places and things.

10. I resolve to travel at least once on my own, for a duration of about five days, to a new destination.

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#9: Stay, Friends

I had a resolution from last year that I liked, but didn’t really do much about – get some friends to come to Seattle and stay at my place.  As with most of my resolutions, I didn’t feel like I had the time or energy to do the work required to convince others to come and stay in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work – I just need to spend more planning energy, in the way that I might prepare a trip (but for them).

I don’t expect a ton of my friends to take me up on this offer, since a flight to Seattle from wherever isn’t the cheapest… but you never know when some might be thinking about coming into the area anyway, unless you get in on the planning level.  I’m down in Long Beach at Todd and Tory’s right now, and it’s awesome that they are able to let me stay with them… I’d love to be awesome like that with my place, too!

9. I resolve to coordinate with friends to make my home a place for them to stay for two weekends next year, or possibly for many friends at once (e.g. for a convention).

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Faster than Light

I’ve written at length about teleportation and how it might be achieved (along with the virtues and perils of those forms of travel), but since I just finished rereading Dune, with instantaneous transport across the stars, I thought I’d talk a little bit about faster-than-light travel for transit through space.

The speed of light is a curious thing.  As one approaches it, external time dilates (that is, expands) and your trip takes longer and longer to an outside observer.  That means you can’t cross the speed limit because there literally isn’t enough time – it stretches out to infinity.  So how then does one move around “faster than light”?  Generally, we think of the teleportation solution (here one moment, there the next) and of the shortest-path solution (travel at normal speeds but take a shortcut).  Of course, science fiction has come up with innumerable ways of defying the speed-of-light barrier but always by fiat.

In my head, I feel like we haven’t explored all the options yet, as a species.  We aren’t really *exploring* them at all right now, but that has more to do with the building blocks of what’s necessary (you have to crawl before you can walk).  Once upon a time, something smaller than an atom would have been inconceivable, and quantum mechanics would have been preposterous.  There will be more scientific revolutions to come, and some of them may involve the potential for FTL technology.

(This problem interests me so much because I think the best solution to our world’s environmental problems is to find more worlds.  Getting a species to slow reproduction seems a practically insurmountable problem, and without population control, we will one day outstrip this planet regardless of how green we can be.  Gotta think long term!)

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