The Burden of High Expectations

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I woke up to an overcast sky, which meant no photography in SF that morning. Just as well, because Method Man had played at the Mezzanine the previous night, and just like every other hip hop act I'd ever seen, he started very late.

When I finally did get going, I drove around searching for breakfast. I settled on a place called Peter D's, where I was shocked to discover that the only way they served biscuits was with gravy, for $8.95!!! They would not allow me to substitute dry biscuits for toast on the egg breakfast, which meant the plate I wanted, plus juice, would have cost over $15!!! Given that the place was bland in appearance and attached to a cheap-looking motel, I consider that price nothing short of obscene. Clearly, these guys have never heard of Starbucks' "just say yes" policy. Come to think of it, the same can be said for most of the girls I've asked out.

As much as I enjoy hanging out at Starbucks in the city of San Francisco, with their plethora of attractive, intelligent and artsy-looking women, I figured I'd show up early at a tournament for once, and I took my pancakes (hadn't felt like hunting for another restaurant) and made for Berkeley. On the way to the bridge I passed no fewer than two other restaurants serving breakfast, and I was irked that I'd already wasted my money on those crappy overpriced pancakes from Peter see deez.

SHILL 6???

My early arrival paid off, and there just happened to be a parking space right in front of the Starbucks. I did not pull into the space all the way because a group of pseudo-homeless youth were sitting right by the curb. I call them pseudo homeless because I suspect they would have a place to go if they chose to abide by the rules of the household. But I could be wrong. Anyway, a couple of similar appearance (scruff, but could have been backpackers) exited the Starbucks, and I noticed that the young lady was pregnant, at least six months I figured. I started thinking of how I could explain to the woman that bearing a child under economic status is a crime against humanity. But of course the truth is that no person could compose an argument logical or elegant enough to sway a pregnant woman, because once the reproductive instinct sets in she is at her most animal and furthest away from the capacity to reason that separates (if used) humans from animals.

I tried to shake off my disappointment in humanity and headed across the street to Peet's Coffee. Why Peet's? Because the Starbucks in Berkeley (the original) no longer allows use of the restroom, for reasons that the baristas were not able to explain but have caused me great annoyance in the past three months. Across the street, the Peet's barista expressed surprise when he saw my Starbucks shirt.

I wondered if the baristas back at Starbucks would notice the Peet's cup, but once I spoted the attractive young woman sitting at a counter studying French, I decided I could live without Wi-Fi for a couple of hours. I tried to make the chit-chat, but I think there was some animosity towards Starbucks in the air, and I don't think she understood my sarcasm. But it could have been worse--I could have been the older gentleman, Middle Eastern perhaps, who also seemed to be trying to make time with the woman, by offering her a pastry I think. From the snippet of conversation I overheard, it appeared the man had tried before, several times even. Poor bastard, to have fallen under the spell of the vixen. I, on the other hand, would have forgotten the judgemental bitch very quickly were it not for this log.

Still, that front counter at Peet's is a pretty good place to watch people, and Shattuck Avenue on Berkeley has a healthy mix of coeds, homeless, skater punks, and just plain creepy-looking dudes.

Around 11:30 I headed across the street to The Original, and who had also arrived early, but Hottie. Once again I tried to make chit-chat, but I came to suspect that not even a shared interest in philosophy was going to get through to her. And that's where my age came into place. My younger self had a tendency to be very persistent. I can only imagine what some of those poor girls told their friends, about how this creepy guy was stalking them, when all it really was was my trying to get a straight answer. There's so many women like that, who refuse to tell a man to just fuck off, but instead keep dangling that hope, even though there really is no hope. Thankfully, my older self is better able to dismiss a woman as a possibility and instead focus on more important things, like theorizing about Lost and fantasizing about the next Spider-Man film. Sam Raimi has yet to disappointment me, in sharp contrast with nearly every woman I have ever met.

I went back to my studying, and then as noon rolled around I had a chance to play the hero when John found himself without the latest ratings list. With my laptop and handy-dandy Wi-Fi (from the Starbucks), I was able to download the latest list and save the day. Actually, in the past I would have had the new ratings list on my laptop as soon as it was posted, but every since the cooling of the fire, I haven't paid as much attention.

Isaac Apindi up first, and the tiles fell my way with an early ELODEAS followed by consistent scoring. My one scary moment was when Isaac played the phony (G)AVIL*. This was particularly irksome because the new 5-letter G words were next on my list to study, and the list had actually been up on my computer just a few hours earlier. But I had opted instead to review my fours, and so I let the phony go. Later, though, I got my own phony down, POG*, so it balanced out.

Against Lester I had an even better draw, three bingos in a row, F(U)STIeST, ROISTER, and MeDI(E)VAL, and I should have won by hundred or more, but I nearly blew it at the end with a few bad plays. First, R(I)TZ for 33 to set up FA/F(RITZ) for 38 with the case A, but forgetting IF, OF, and FE. Should have just played TZARS for 47, but I also had the case S and was hoping to bingo along a triple line that I figured Lester would leave alone because it could only be blocked for a few points and he needed the spot to win anyway. Then at the end, I tried SIX/(A)X/(PARVE)S* for 46, and lester challenged it off, when I could have played the save XIS for 35. Lester then made a brilliant play, UN(ECHOED)* for 42. Because of my two mistakes, his 42 would put him at 411 to my 420, and if I challenged and lost I'd lose the game, so I had to let it go, and thus Lester was able to cut the spread significantly.

Later I would learn I could have bingoed a fourth consecutive time if I had known and see PR(e)AVERS or PERVA(DE)RS. Too bad, because that would have been sweet.

Against Nick Meyer my tiles finally went fizzle-fozzle-fou, but I could tell even as the game progressed that I wasn't playing my best. Rather than pimping with an elephant fist, mine was more like that of a squirrel. I could blame it on the fact that I was juggling the food that we are required to order, but the truth is I had pretty much finished eating by the time I missed (D)ETRITUs. I wouldn't call it an easy find, but definitely one that an 1800 player should make.

It was a close back and forth game against Jeff Widergren that I might have lost because of another G word, GUIRO. My play of GIRO, leaving IUS, led to EEIIUS?, and an exchange. Had I gotten rid of the U, I might have gotten the bingo, or at least not had to exchange, and those extra points could have made all the difference.

Later, when I finally did go over that list of 5-letter Gs, I would notice GUIRO missing. Must have been an omission when I put together the list, and just like WHIN in Memphis a couple of years earlier, it cost me a game.

It was hardly a game at all against Bruce Ward. dIOXANE, ONERIER, I(R)ID for 7, then (d)eTRITAL to go up 103, and the rest of the game was just Bruce playing defensive while I prayed for a bingo rack and tried to create additional lines. Now, simulation clearly reveals that the game was winnable... just not by me. Even though Bruce was up 217 to 104, A(L)IKE for 42 instead of KA for 30 would have made the score 217-146. I could have had an extra turn by challenging off Bruce's phony GOL(D)ED*. Assuming I scored 25, the score would have been 217-171, and I would have been totally in the game.

But I failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented, and my rating was sunk. Regardless of whether I won the last game or not, 3-3 wasn't going to cut it given the strength of the field, and I'd be back in Nowheresville. That had been my worry all along, that there just aren't enough 1800+ players in California who play regular tournaments to provide me a cushion against the flawed expected wins table. But oh, well, like they say, sometimes you milk the squirrel, and sometimes the squirrel milks you.

Meaningless though that final game was, I was still relieved to eke out a second win against Isaac and at least staunch the bleeding some, to just 11 ratings points. I knew I could recover them in Los Gatos, but given the weaker field I expected, I couldn't count on 4-2 to do the trip. It would need to be 5-1 or better.


1.4 ELODEAS J2  
0 F(L)UID  
0 PANG  
0.6 DRAMA  
6.0 V(A)HINE  
1.2 TORT  
0 QI  
4.0 POG*  
1.5 CEL  
0 A(N)IL  
0 ZI(T)  
3.6 AGIO weak
0 BEWAI(L)  
8.1 F(U)STIeST  
0 JOT  
0 R(I)TZ  
14.1 CLAW  
22 lose turn  
0 (N)IXES disagree Quackle
3.3 DEOXY  
2.4 SLURR(Y)  
0.6 URI(C)  
8.6 KAIN  
0.4 DOG  
0 VIRT(U)  
0 JOI(S)T  
1.2 MO  
1.6 Q(i)  
42.6 lose turn  
4 RECIP(E)  
30.5 G(E)T  
1 zIT  
0 LAZY  
0 -EIIU  
0 EDIT  
0 JILT  
0 A(Z)O  
5.7 AN(V)IL  
0 IF  
0.3 WIRES  
14.9 BUR(D) BRUIT,ORBIT (why)
62 OUTGO (mistracked & failed to block bingo)
0.2 AZO  
0 BOTT  
0 M(AX)ING  
6.9 KA  
0 JE(T)  
5.7 CAROM  
--- L(A)UGH  
0 Q(I)  
7.7 B(OR)E  
0 NOSY  
0 WEE  
4 DE  
0.4 cORTEGE  
5.6 cO(N)K  
8.7 WIDEOU(T)  
0 MIL(K)  
0 H(E)H  
3.7 FAGOT 5B  
9 PRE(X)  
19.5 FRUG  
0 QUA(I)  
4.3 N(E)RTZ  

Average Equity Loss Per Turn (using Quackle 0.93)

1 - 1.8 (24.5)
2 - 5.4 (65.1)
3 - 11.2 (157.2)
4 - 7.4 (96)
5 - 7.7
6 - 4.8

Avg: 6.4

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