Monday, January 30, 2006

If only I was sure that my head on the door was a dream

Once again, I need to congratulate Kevin for another outstanding performance at a Scrabble tournament. He went down to Charlotte and came back with a nice chunk of change in his pocket for winning his division. He was 13-1 and won most of those games with ease.

With that in mind, I wanted to share one of our recent games. We've been doing that Wednesday night thing, and we had a really good game two weeks ago. Because the board was so pretty, I reconstructed it later and I'm sharing a picture of it here.

Here's how the plays went:

David 1: BLAME ..........24 (24)
Kevin 1: ENVIOUS.......73 (73)
David 2: AY ..................22 (46)
Kevin 2: REMANDED......86 (159)
David 3: BIO ............5 (51)
Kevin 3: RAKE ..........30 (189)
David 4: IsATINE ........67 (118)
Kevin 4: TINNY ..........18 (207)
David 5: EX .............52 (170)
Kevin 5: WRY ............18 (225)
David 6: FOP ............21 (191)
Kevin 6: QUILT ..........28 (253)
David 7: LORE ...........18 (209)
Kevin 7: FEZ ............30 (283)
David 8: JoWS ...........63 (272)
Kevin 8: SWATTER ........74 (357)
David 9: COVER ..........30 (302)
Kevin 9: OHO ............35 (392)
David 10: FOH ..........13 (315)
Kevin 10: COATI ........20 (412)
David 11: PAL ..........10 (325)
Kevin 11: DIG ..........11 (423)
David 12: RECOVERING ...48 (373)
Kevin 12: SILEX ........29 (452)
David 13: BAUD .........28 (401)
Kevin 13: ET ...........18 (470)
David 14: TUG ...........4 (405)

Kevin had three points (A-E-I) remaining on his rack, so I got six for that, pushing my total to 411 to his 470.

I really liked this game because despite starting off in a huge hole, I managed to crawl back and make it close. Kevin had three bingos to my one. I got both blanks. Kevin got three of the four esses. We split the "power" tiles; I got X and J while Kevin got K, Q, and Z. All told, the tile gods were pretty fair. "ENVIOUS" was a great find by Kevin. I liked my "RECOVERING" a lot because it isn't often you get to play a ten letter word, and although it wasn't a bingo ("COVER" was already on the board -- I simply added the RE- and -ING hooks), 48 is nothing to sneeze at.

One of us hitting 400 is pretty normal, but it's rare for both of us to hit that mark.

Kevin had 13 plays for 470, which is an average of 36.15 points per turn.
I had 14 plays for 411, which is an average of 29.36 points per turn.

Another great thing about this game is that there isn't really anything fancy there. None of my ridiculous triple-triples. With the exception of my "JoWS", the triple word squares weren't really a big factor.

Back in the day, we'd take way more turns and get less total points, so we've both improved drastically. I'm still planning on getting back into the tournament fray, and thankfully when I do, Kevin will be in a higher division than I. Athens GA is a possibility. February 25-26. The 'Canes will be off for the Olympic break, so I don't have to worry about a game interfering. I won't be able to watch the medal rounds on TV, but I'll be okay with that.

Now playing:

The Dandy Warhols Come Down

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fill our Christmas socks with whiskey drinks and chocolate bars

So here's the thing.

I'm not really into making New Year's resolutions. However, I did recently set some goals for myself to reach this year. Some of them are general in nature, some more specific.

One of the more general ones was to be better to myself and to take days off work when there's something I want to do. So far, I've been doing that. There's an out of town hockey game that I'm going to this weekend. I've never allowed myself to go to things like 30th birthday parties or concerts or MLK weekends or cd release parties because I made myself work. But I'm trying to change, and taking the weekend off to go to a hockey game in DC is a big step in the right direction.

Another step in that direction, one that I'd like myself to make this calendar year is to find a job where I don't work weekends anyway.

On those same lines, I had a #1 goal of getting out of my current job before St. Patrick's Day. I work in an Irish pub, and St. Patty's is so completely retardedly busy that everyone wants to kill each other when it's all over. Last year, almost the entire staff worked 13 hour shifts, both in the front and the back of the house. That was my #1 objective, and I've succeeded at reaching that. I'm going to work at a different restaurant (bar/grill, really) that was recently bought by a friend of mine. He'll pay me better, but won't be able to offer benefits right away. I don't care about that because this is a guy I've known and worked with for seven years, and I'm doing it as much for him as for me. I was delighted to be given the chance, and I jumped at it. I start in three weeks. The horrible part is that the owner at my current job is such a nice (and gorgeous, to boot) lady. I've known her long before I started working there, and we've always gotten along well. It broke my heart to tell her, but I have to do it.

Other goals: get (and keep) a girlfriend, go to a few more rock shows, try to get back in the indie-rock loop, take control of my finances, things like that.

Also, going hand-in-hand with allowing myself to do fun things is that I want to play in some Scrabble tournaments this year. The first obvious choice for that is a big tournament in Charlotte at the end of January. Unfortunately, it interferes with a hockey game that I would otherwise skip if not for the historic importance of it. It's the day that the Hurricanes will be retiring the #10 sweater of Ron Francis, who is by anyone's account, one of the 10 greatest players of all time.
I'll think about going to the Pigeon Forge, TN tournament in April, which is a mammoth tournament -- a four day affair.

Other things that aren't so much goals as HOPES. If one of my sports teams could win a championship, I'd be totally thrilled. My Panthers are one game away from the Superbowl, so that's a good chance. My Hurricanes are presently the top team in the NHL, with a little less than half a season to go. So that's looking good, too.

Anyway, I've accomplished one of my goals already, even if it fell into my lap. I'm working on some of the others.

now playing:

Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs, part 1

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Before we begin operating, would you like these instruments to be washed in elevator juice or hospital equipment-washing stuff?

Just to prove I'm still alive.

So I'm minding my own affairs, reading the online version of the Raleigh News & Observer.

I came across this article about Duke University Health System. It caught my eye because my good friend Amanda is an RN at Duke. The article had nothing to do with her or her ward, but I thought I would read up about the goings on over there.

Turns out, they fucked up really bad, and have come forward to apologize for it. In a nutshell, what happened is that some maintenence folks were draining hydraulic fluid out of some elevators as part of routine elevator maintenence stuff. The fluid was drained into some empty detergent barrels, and were presumably set aside for disposal. Somehow, this fluid was recirculated as "cleaning agent", and lots of surgical tools were "sterilized" using said elevator juice. Some 3,800 patients at two hospitals were operated upon using the tainted equipment.

They've come forward to apologize, and apparently they are protected from litigation. North Carolina has recently joined many other states in enacting a mea culpa law that states that as long as they admit fault, AND apologize, people cannot come out of the woodwork to sue. If they have legitimate health issue stemming from this aggregious act of negligence, then they can sue. I can understand the logic, which is to prevent silly litigation. However, there has to be some provision for a case like this.

This part of the article actually made me laugh:
One study confirmed that instruments were clean of viruses, bacteria or fungi in spite of the hydraulic fluid on them, easing concerns about infections. A second study, which Duke commissioned from RTI International in Research Triangle Park, analyzed the chemical composition of the used hydraulic fluid and determined how much was left on instruments. RTI reported that about 1/2000th of a drop of fluid coated the instruments -- an amount so small that Duke has argued it was harmless.

James A. Bond, a toxicologist and editor of the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions, reviewed RTI's full report and said the amount of fluid on the instruments is important because risk depends on the dose. The smaller the amount of fluid, Bond said, the smaller the risk to patients.

But he notes that, despite RTI's findings, there is no way to know exactly how much hydraulic fluid came off into patients' bodies. Further, if fluid did come off, there's no way to know how much each patient absorbed.

Here's my whole thing. Agent 007 doesn't think that anyone should be alarmed. "Oh, c'mon. It's just a few drops. You'll get over it". I'm not as qualified to comment on the toxicoligy of it, but I would loudly scream that any amount at all, whether it's one drop or one gallon or 1/2000th of a drop, is WAY too much hydrolic fluid to wash surgical equipment with. He seems to be taking the "It's not that bad" route instead of the "Wow! That's really fucked up" route.