Return to Taserville (or Unlucky #13)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

8:51, or was it 7:51? My Sprint phone reported the latter, but the VCR and computer reported the latter. A quick google revealed the answer. I would have preferred the former, because that would have put me one hour closer to redemption.

Not total redemption, of course. I could not recover in 7 games what I had lost over 27 games in Lake George. But a 7-0 record would make a good bit of progress towards redemption, and there would be no small measure of satisfaction if I managed to obliterate the field.

With more than three hours until the event, I still found myself speeding towards the city. The reason, this time, my latest obsession, free Starbucks "song of the day" cards. There would be 37 in all, and I had not missed one yet, up to day #27 so far. Each Starbucks received a limited number, and while the stores in the suburbs did not appear to be running out, busier stores, like those in University City, ran out quickly. I had no idea how much volume Callowhill did on a Sunday morning, but I didn't want to take any chances.

As usual, I stopped at the Whole Foods for breakfast, and I was disappointed to find yucky herb cheese biscuits instead of plain buttermilk biscuits, and cranbery orange scones instead of blueberry. Further irritation across the street, when, after finishing my breakfast, I was not able to find my toothbrush in my backpack. Mind you, I own no fewer three toothbrushes. One at the house, one at the office, and one in my backpack. But the latter had fallen out somewhere. The prospect of going all day without brushing was yucky enough, but with the possibility that I might have another chance to charm a certain someone at the tournament, fresh breath was a must! Fortunately, the Whole Foods was still right across the street (no, it had not shut down in the previous minutes), and I had my first occasion to buy an organic toothbrush.

Okay, okay, the toothbrush itself was not organic, but the packaging did advertise that it is recyclable. While there, I figured I might as well try some natural toothpaste, Tea Tree Therapy brand Natural Whitening Toothpaste. Truth be told, it tasted a bit off. Not yucky. Just off. Perhaps it is because my mouth is so accustomed to Crest tartar control paste, which I have used almost exclusively for 10, 15, maybe more years. And the toothbrush itself--I found the shape of the handle awkward. But at least my breath wouldn't be foul.

Speaking of foul odors, the bathroom at the Starbucks was something else. I've seen a lot of bathrooms, at Starbucks, grocery stores, gas stations, rest areas, everywhere, and the odor permeating the small pace was absolutely the worst I had ever encountered. Positively overpowering. I cannot even begin to guess if it was the odor of a homeless person, or the odor of a person with a serious stomach problem, or a combination of both. But in just the few seconds I was in there I started to feel nauseated. I was kind of glad that I had not found my toothbrush and thus had to go across the street, because who knows if the odor would have been absorbed into my clothing.

I left the Starbucks in plenty of time, or so I thought, to find a parking, which, because of new enforcement of PIC zoning, could not be on the ground. I found a spot just a few hundred few from the venue, and, because I was so early, I proceeded to chillax and read Daredevil #100 (volume 2). The issue was extra-sized, and contained a backup feature, reprints of issues #90 and #91 of volume 1 which introducted Mr. Fear. I read #90, and then I decided that was enough of break. I headed over to the PIC to study, and boy was I surprised to see everybody seated and playing already!

Jeff Jacobson commented that I was going for the Joey Mallick prize, but the situation wasn't nearly that bad. My clock hadn't even been started, and it was already 12:20. I was puzzled as heck, because I thought I had had the whole time issue figured out. I had no time to process the situation, though, because Matt wanted me to grab my spare laptop for word judging. Needless to say, they did not start my clock while I was gone.

Once I got some plays down and relaxed, I started to look around and noticed that Jeff Jacobson wasn't playing. After the game he said that he had (in his own words) chickened out from playing as top seed in Division 2. I was surprised, given that he had won Division 2 at the last Philly. Jeff added that he quickly developed a jones for Scrabble and regretted his decision. Always play, I had to tell him. Of course, I myself will never again play another Division 2 field.

I also had time to figure out what had happened. The time on my Sprint PCS phone had been correct--it was my VCR and computer that were wrong. It really had been 8:51 when I got up. Rather disorienting, the whole situation was.

Anyway, I eked out a win against Engeldave, but there would be no 7-0 for me, as Joanne Cohen proceeded to tase me. Most frustrating was that her plays seemed to indicate easy racks, while I was struggling to keep up with real clunk. But despite my perceived tiles, I still made one critical mistake, and had I made the right play I still might have won it. The culprit--tunnel vision, focusing too much on hooking P(REFIX) when I should have taken a different spot instead.

I might have been mentally grumbling about the tiles, but another player was being much more vocal about his tiles, and he repeatly threatened to just leave. I was irritated about my tiles and thus thinking, "shut the hell up! I'm getting outdrawn over here too and holding it together." I wasn't in a sympathetic mood with what I was dealing with against Joanne, and furthermore it's just ridiculous to want to leave after a couple of bad drawns. Seven bad draws in a row, yeah, I can see that. But two, at the beginning of the tournament. Come on.

Meanwhile, I noticed that somebody who shall remain nameless (because I don't know his name) had decided to try and irritate me by posting a flyer for This fool almost certainly fails to realize that steps taken to feed starving populations are, while often well-intentioned, actually destructive. Without actually knowing the specifics of how the United Nations World Food Program words, and speaking in complete generalities, the primary effect of these programs has to be to prolong the suffering of the recipients. Food aid might keep people alive, but I see no evidence that it elevates them out of conditions of poverty, suffering, and vulnerability. If starving people are instead euthanised, or simply allowed to die, at minimum their suffering ends right then and their. The dead feel no pain.

A better approach, rather than sending grains of rice to many starving children, is to accumulate those resources and use them to elevate one child not just out of hunger, but out of poverty and into a proper education and a path towards becoming a benefit to society instead of a drain on society.

Against Polsky I made a minor mistake in misjudging whether he would challenge SORTIED/(FRYING)S* or not. It was a calculated risk, because even if he challenged I'd at least be spared the worry of having him hook a bingo later. Polsky immediately made a mistake of his own, and a much worse one--he exchanged seven. Since I knew he did not already have one of the two remaining eses or a blank, playing (V)OID all of a sudden became a much higher probability play. Had Phil kept a tile, I would have had to assume their was a good chance it was a blank or S, and I might have gone with a different play.

Given that I wasn't drawing like gangbusters, I took a chanced against Richard Popper and slotted IDEAED* at 8C, leaving an N. I got lucky and drew the U for UN(IDEAED), but unfortunately did not get the challenge. Those first few plays were crucial to keeping me in the game, but Richard went on to bingo three times to my none, I jut couldn't keep up with that.

Outblanked for a third time, a lot in a 7-game tournament, by Shane Tourtellotte. I concede his vIDEOTa(PE) was mighty flashy, and NOPALES was a pretty good find. I reject his implications that I should have fished for a bingo towards the end. Even if it's the only way to win, fishing for a bingo when there's only one line, and when the tile pool shows a multitude of ways to block--that's just a sure way to give up position in the KOTH rounds.

I finally got an outdraw of my own, against Shahid. Most interesting part of that game was my uncertainty about SEVICH(E), a Spanish word that is often used in my parent's house. I was sure that I had seen it spelled with a C, and in my experience Spanish is a more precise language than English with fewer, if any, alternate spellings. But yep, both are good.

Got back at Joanne, but I hardly cared. 4-3 was blah, and might even drop me under 1700 into the Land of the Lost.

I couldn't leave right away. Had to wait for all games to finish, as my spare laptop was still in use for word judging. Shane, at 3-4, came over to commiserate, and he suggested that it might be time to take a break and refresh on some words. I managed to avoid swearing as I explained that I hadn't missed any words. In the three games that I lost I was outblanked, and the only words I missed were AMIGO and IMAGO when I played GISMO, by which time Joanne had the other blank and the game was lost anyway. So much for that ladybug having been good luck.


0 ORA  
6.6 P(AR)TY  
3.3 AGEE  
6.8 PEA(G)E  
0 OO(Z)E  
5.4 MAFIA  
7.1 QI(S)  
17.5 AALII  
7.9 (E)MIC  
1.5 DUO  
0 (V)UG  
4.1 D(E)W  
2 H(E)  
0 ORDERs  
2 HOME  
2.2 (S)OILURE  
6.3 NOH  
1.8 ZA  
0 QUA(G)S  
9.9 DROPT MODS (critial mistake)
0* ICE  
38 lose desperate challenge (qUOININ(G))  
6.1 H(I)NKY  
0 QA(I)DS  
30.2 lose turn ((FRYING)S*) (S)TEROIDS,DI(G)ESTOR
17 (V)OID  
4.4 MOWE(R)  
6.1 FOG  
5.8 VAU(N)T  
0 PUPU  
0 (BO)W play quickly to push Phil over time
4.4 (A)LL  
36.9 A(X)EL  
23 GIE didn't see Phil's out play
0 SYN  
4.2 AGORA  
14.9 FOX  
8.1 (C)HINK  
0 (W)AIF  
0 HOU(S)E  
0 B(I)  
3.6 AX AXE (leaves me vowelless)
3 P(R)ANG  
0 (N)OBLER  
0.2 (T)ROVE  
0.3* GAITS  
15.5 H(E)R  
0 KING  
2.4* JOI(N)  
1.6 (J)IVED (M)U (fishing seems a losing play)
5.2 FEY  
13.8 (FE)UAR  
6.6 VE(N)DUE  
6.2 JUN JOUAL (noway too risky)
0 LOOK  
2.7 EX  
0 SEAL  
15.2 (C)AROTiNS  
2.8 Z(O)A  
0 YEA  
1 (S)UMP  
12 (E)TUI  
0 (JO)T  
0 VEX  
3 BOP defense
15.1 REJ(O)ICE  
0 EU(R)O  
2.5 YA  
0 AIN  
0 (ED)IT  
0 (NO)G  
0 U(S)  

1 - W - 4.1 (62.2)
2 - L - 3.1 (30.5) or (68.5) 6.2
3 - W - 12.8 (191.6)
4 - L - 6.4 (83.2)
5 - L - 3.8 (45.6)
6 - W - 3.5 (49.6)
7 - W - 1.8 (26.6)

Avg: 5.1

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