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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Board Games return

Saturday of the first school week brought a reunion with the board game club. This time I already joined them at 1pm, when it officially started and so I got the opportunity to play lots of games (some of them even new ones):
  • Tsuro: A fast and easy game where the players have to follow lines and try to stay on the board.
  • Puerto Rico: An intriguing plantation / settlement game.
  • Tichu: Still cool card game. Best was when I managed to disrupt our opponents Tichu and Grand Tichu.
  • Euphrat & Tigris: My non-combat strategy left me with the biggest empire but not enough tokens to win the game, still was a fun round.
  • Saint Petersburg: A cool money management board game, which I managed to win by a slight margin :)
  • Alhambra: An intriguing palace building game, which I lost by a big margin, this was probably the revenge for Saint Petersburg ;)
  • El Grande: An older game which won the German "Game of the Year" Award in 1996. Despite this recommendation we couldn't warm to the game, which seemed to random at times.
  • Dominion: To finish we played two rounds of Dominion of which I won the second with a well-functioning Market-Village-Festival Strategy.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

A Weekend in Providence

After several failed attempts to meet Kachiu in Providence during the Fall semester, I finally managed to get to Providence prior to the start of Spring Semester. The first two days were spent sight-seeing in Providence, visiting Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design Museum and Downtown. I also managed to catch a screening of The Spirit in Providence Mall. The strangest thing was that the movie was 10 minutes delayed! The pre-program information screen got into an endless loop and it took us a while to realize the problem and report it to the staff. The movie was OK, but not as thrilling as the trailer led me to believe, even though I'll grant that it was a visually stunning movie.

From Providence, RI

Saturday evening brought a Snow storm to Providence and thus we delayed our plans for Sunday's day trip. But when we saw that it stopped snowing close to noon, we went ahead and drove all the way into Massachusetts to visit Old Sturbridge Village. Old Sturbridge Village is a village museum with complete houses from around 1830. Many of the houses were populated by staff in period costumes who did everyday things and were very eager to explain what they were doing and how they were living. We had very intriguing discussions with the Potter, the Blacksmith (both of which would have been part-time farmers as well), a farmer's family in the process of butchering a pig, the parson's wife and the merchants in the town's shop, which boasted an amazing array of things. We also got a try at sledding with period sleds. All in all a terrific experience, unfortunately the 3.5 hours we were there weren't enough to see all the exhibits. If your in the neighborhood I strongly recommend a visit, for which you should plan the whole day!

From Old Stubridge Village

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Pittsburgh is far away...

Thursday started under a bad omen. A slight miscalculation led me to believe I had to check in at 8am, upon reaching the airport I saw that check-in wouldn't start till 8.45am, so we basically were one hour early. Fortunately, my friend drove me to the airport and so we spent the time breakfasting and chatting.

On the plane my window-seat was already taken, but since I traveled alone I decided to be generous and take the middle aisle seat instead. The flight was longer than expected, which offered me enough time to eat, sleep, read and watch movies. I saw Death Race, an ok car action movie, and Ghost Town a cute little comedy about a dentist who started seeing ghosts.

The minute I stepped into the immigration area, I saw trouble ahead. There were thousands of people queuing and my next plane was supposed to leave within 1.5 hours. A small consolation was that I had my book out and could pass the time reading. After 1 hour and 45 minutes, in which I dropped my documents about five times trying to hold them together with my book in one hand and the board case in the other hand, I finally was officially readmitted to the US. Unfortunately, my plane was long gone by that time. I was lucky in so far that there was another scheduled flight to Pittsburgh at 10.15pm and I could take that, however, this meant killing 5 hours on Washington Airport, which I spent reading again.

The flight to Pittsburgh passed very swiftly and I slept throughout.

In Pittsburgh I had two chances to catch a bus to CMU. The first chance became possible because we landed 15 minutes early. However, waiting for my checked luggage almost took this time advantage away again. Finally, I managed to catch the earlier bus with two minutes to spare.

Back home I quickly repacked my bags for my upcoming weekend trip to Providence and finally fell asleep around 2am only to get up again at 4.25am. But more about that later...

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