Monday, May 28, 2007

Blue Max Online

I enjoy playing Blue Max online. I love the theme as I have an interest in WWI air combat. It's free. It fills my daily desire for gaming. I can sign up for as many, or as few, games as I like. It's easy and quick to complete a turn. There are hundreds of players from all around the world to play against. There are numerous planes to fly. There are hundreds of different scenarios to compete in. It fits perfectly into my busy schedule. Even though I don't get much time to play games I can always find 5 to 10 minutes to enter some moves.

You can play Blue Max at YouPlayIt.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Geek of the Week

BoardGameGeek (BGG) is one of my favourite sites. Thanks to an excellent idea by a local Brisbane boardgamer, Critical Mass, the Geek of the Week was born. Each week, one of the users of BGG is nominated as Geek of the Week and featured in their own thread and the BGG community learns a little about them.

The Geek of the Week for this week has just been announced and it's the first time that it's been someone I've actually met and gamed with. Congratulations to Friendless who is the 90th Geek of the Week.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Get Vomitted On Twice! (er...Make That Three Times!)

My Mum didn't come over this morning for her weekly visit and gaming session. It was probably for the best as little 16 month old Georgia wasn't feeling well. My wife, Deb, and our 5 year old daughter, Maddie, were out all morning helping Deb's Dad with his garage sale while I stayed home to look after Georgia.

After giving Georgie a bottle I was sitting with her on my lap watching TV. Next thing I know she's vomiting all over me. After settling her and removing her clothes I notice that she's got spew in her hair and all over her arm. So I run a bath, get her cleaned up and then put her in fresh clothes.

She seemed to be a bit more herself after that. She ate morning tea at about 10.00am and after that went down for a nap. I took the opportunity to soak my spew-covered shorts and shirt, have a shower and change into some fresh clothes.

Georgia woke up about 11.30am crying. I sat down with her to give her a cuddle and switched on the TV. Five minutes later she vomits all over my front again! She's crying, I stand up and carry her to the bathroom, one arm holding her and the other arm across my middle trying to prevent the vomit from running down my shirt and splattering all over the floor.

Another bath for Georgia and another change of clothes for us both. Luckily, my wife arrived home about this time to give some assistance. Some medicine and a little bit of TLC from Mum, Dad and her big sister and Georgia's feeling a little better this afternoon.

Ah, the joys of parenthood.

[EDIT] 8.05pm - My wife was helping Maddie clean her room when we heard Georgia start crying from her cot in her room. I went in to check on why she'd woken up and found that she felt a little hot. I picked her up and was taking her to my wife to suggest some more medicine when - you guessed it - Georgia upchucks all over me again. That's THREE TIMES today! And as it was a couple of hours after her dinner this vomit had the most volume of all three. Now I've been spewed on before by my kids, but three times in one day has gotta be a new record.

Hopefully this is one of those 24-hour bugs our kids occasionally get. After another bath, a fresh set of clothes, some medicine and a cuddle Georgia soon fell asleep. I bet you she will be fine tomorrow morning and I'll be sick for the next week ;)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy 30th Birthday Star Wars!

I was only 9 and a half years old when Star Wars was released on 25 May 1977. I first saw it when my parents took my younger brother and I to the Redcliffe Drive-In Theatre. Although the drive-in is now long gone, my memory of that first viewing and my love of this movie still remains.

And regardless of what changes George Lucas has made to the original movie, in my mind, Han Solo always shot Greedo first!

Han Solo shoots first!

Greedo: [Though some believe he is speaking in Rodian, Greedo is actually speaking Huttese] Going somewhere, Solo?

Han Solo: Yes, Greedo; I was just coming to see your boss. Tell Jabba I have his money, at last.

Greedo: It's too late. You should have paid him at the first chance you had. Now Jabba's put a price on your head so large, every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first.

Han Solo: Yeah, but this time I've *got* the money.

Greedo: If you give it to me, I might forget I found you.

Han Solo: I don't have it *with* me. Tell Jabba...

Greedo: Jabba's through with you. He has no use for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser.

Han Solo: Even *I* get boarded *sometimes*. Do you think I had a choice?

Greedo: You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship.

Han Solo: Over my dead body!

Greedo: [He doesn't notice Han going for his gun] That's the idea... I've been looking forward to this for a long time.

Han Solo: Yeah, I'll bet you have. [Blows Greedo away]

[Han calmly leaves. On the way out he flips the bartender a coin]

Han Solo: [to the bartender] Sorry about the mess.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Adult Asian House Gecko

I had an earlier entry on a young Asian House Gecko I'd discovered on our back door. This evening as I arrived home I noticed this adult Asian House Gecko on the ceiling of our front porch. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

This particular gecko was about 10cm (4 inches) in length. You'll also notice the different colouration of his tail, a sure sign that the tail has recently grown back. This may be the one we nicknamed Stumpy, an adult gecko who'd lost his tail and often appeared on our kitchen window in the evening to feast on moths drawn to the light. We hadn't seen Stumpy for several months so maybe he's grown his tail back.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Postcards From Brisbane - The Mephisto

Back on 1 March 2006 I took the family to the Queensland Museum. One of the exhibits, a WWI German tank particularly interested me.

The Mephisto is the last surviving example of the first German military tank, the A7V Sturmpanzerwagen. Although Britain and France developed several types of light, medium and heavy tank during the World War I, the Germans produced only one: the A7V. The prototype was completed and demonstrated in April 1917, but because of production delays the first operational A7V (Chassis Number 501) was not rolled out of the Daimler plant at Berlin-Marienfelde until October 1917. Mephisto has the chassis serial number 506. Only 20 A7Vs were built by the Germans, the rest of their tank force was made up of captured Allied vehicles.

Unlike modern tanks, the A7V has no single, large central turret, but instead is armed with a number of smaller casemates, two on each side and one at each end. A replica A7V was built in Germany in 1991, which is modelled substantially upon Mephisto.

The Mephisto was captured at Villers-Bretonneux on 24 April 1918 by a battalion of Australian troops, mostly from Queensland. It was shipped to England in January 1919 and then sent to Queensland, Australia as a 'war trophy', arriving in Brisbane in June 1919. It was displayed at the Queensland Museum in Gregory Terrace where it remained until 1986 when both it and the Museum were relocated to the Queensland Cultural Centre, South Bank.

You can click on the following links to check out Mephisto's story, combat history, inside, fate, specifications, and general info on the A7V.

Maddie, then aged 4 (almost 5) in front of the Mephisto

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Western Buildings - Outhouse

This is another in my series of Old West buildings that I've scratchbuilt in 25mm scale. The outhouse is made out of balsa wood and then painted and drybrushed with acrylic paint.

You can see my Dry Goods Store and my Undertaker's by clicking on the links.

"Stinky Pete! Come out with yer hands up!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Writing In Books

I enjoy reading about early North American history, particularly the history of the American Old West. I’m currently reading Gold Dust & Gunsmoke – Tales of Gold Rush, Outlaws, Gunfighters, Lawmen, and Vigilantes by John Boessenecker (1999) which I picked up last week at a city thrift store.

Now, 90% of the books in my personal library are second-hand. About the only thing that annoys me about second-hand books is when people have written in them. Sometimes it is the previous owner’s name, or if the book was a gift there may be an inscription to the recipient, or sometimes someone has written notes in the margins or highlighted or underlined certain words in the text. That sort of thing really bugs me. I always take good care of my books and would never consider marking them in any way.

So when I opened Gold Dust & Gunsmoke I noticed that the previous owner had written his name on the title page. As that was the only marking I could see, and as the book was reasonably priced and on a topic I was interested in, I purchased it.

As I was perusing the book on the train home, I wondered why the previous owner had not printed their name, rather than what appeared to be their signature. Looking closer at the signature I could make out ‘John Boessenecker’. That name seemed familiar. Then the penny dropped - it was the author’s name. The author of Gold Dust & Gunsmoke had signed this particular copy of his book.

I then reflected on my distaste of people writing in books. Author’s signatures usually increase the value of a book rather than decrease it. With that thought in mind I guess I can now make one exception; if the author wants to sign their book then that’s ok with me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Crikey! Tigers!

I live less than an hours drive from Australia Zoo - Home of The Crocodile Hunter. Here are some photos from our family visit back on 15 March 2006.

They have both Bengal and Sumatran tigers at the zoo. You can enlarge the images by clicking on them.

All I can say is that we weren't expecting to see what happened next in the tiger enclosure...

The tiger stalks the trainer. Something is wrong! The trainer flees...

The tiger chases the trainer who attempts to escape by jumping into the water...

The big cat launches itself at the trainer!

Oh, the humanity! I can't show you any more pictures because they're too horrific.

Nah...only joking! This was all part of the show.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gaming With Grandma - 19

Another Saturday morning session of gaming with my Mum (Grandma to our kids). Maddie, my elder daughter, aged 5, didn't play today as she was playing with a friend.

Mum and I only played the one game today. I was eager to get The Downfall of Pompeii onto the table and Mum was happy to learn a new game. I'd only just received Pompeii two days ago and in that time I'd bagged all the various components into plastic zip-lock bags. I usually do this with my games to save on set-up time and also to reduce the chance of pieces getting lost. Unfortunately, I found that I was missing 1 yellow wooden playing piece. This effectively means I'm unable to play 3-player games (without substituting something else for the playing piece). I sent an email to Mayfair Games customer service so hopefully they'll be able to send me the missing part.

Mount Vesuvius overlooking the city of Pompeii

The Downfall of Pompeii is a game for 2-4 players by Klaus-Jurgen Wrede who is the designer of the well-known and popular tile-laying game Carcassonne. Pompeii is played in two parts. In the first part of the game you play cards to determine into which buildings you may place your people. In the second part of the game you place lava tiles and move your people out of the city. The person who has the most people escaped from the city wins the game.

The map board showing an overhead view of Pompeii is beautiful and really evokes life in a bustling Roman city in AD 79. The cards are sturdy and have a nice feel to them and the artwork is beautiful. The rules are easy to understand and have plenty of examples of play with helpful illustrations. The coloured hexagonal-shaped wooden playing pieces are also very nice. The volcano representing Mount Vesuvius is made of plastic and fits together easily. Overall, the quality of the components is top notch.

In the first part of the game Mum and I placed our people. Where you place your people depends on the cards in your hand. You always have four cards in your hand in this part of the game. As you discard a card and place a person you may draw another card from the draw pile. A card will tell you into which building you may place your people. Naturally, we both tried to place people close to the seven exits of the city.

The board at the point when the first AD 79 card is drawn

The deck is cleverly 'seeded' with event cards which have certain effects when revealed. When the first of two AD 79 cards are revealed the Omen cards and the Relative rule comes into effect. If you now draw an Omen card you may pick up an opponent's person from any building and throw it into the volcano. This is one of the fun parts of the game. The Relative rule allows you to place additional 'relatives' depending on how many people are on the square you initially place a person on your turn. For example, if I place a person into a building where there are already two people, I get to place an additional two people in other buildings of the same colour or into 'neutral' beige buildings.

Mum about to drop one of my people into the volcano

When the second AD 79 card is drawn the second part of the game begins. At this point in the game Mum had 25 people in the city and I had 17. Now you draw lava tiles from the lovely red cloth drawstring bag that came with the game and place those tiles onto the board in such a way as to help yourself and hinder your opponent. Unfortunately, I was so engrossed in the game at this stage that I forgot to take pictures of us laying the lava tiles.

Each lava tile has a symbol on it. The first tile you draw of a specific symbol goes onto the matching 'starting space' for that symbol. After that, if you draw a symbol that matches a lava tile already on the board you may place the new tile adjacent to it (orthagonally, not diagonally). If you place a lava tile on a space containing people they all die and are thrown into the volcano. If you surround people with lava in such a way that they can't get to a gate then they also die and are thrown into the volcano.

So, on your turn you first lay a lava tile then you move two of your people. You normally will move two different people. How far a person can move is determined by how many people are in the space when they begin their movement. For example, if I move one of my people from a space containing three people (including my own) then I can move my person three spaces. You cannot move the same person twice in one turn with the following exceptions, 1) it's the only piece of your own left on the board, or 2) If it is alone in a space at the beginning of your turn you can move the person to one space and then move again. It can now move a number of spaces depending on how many people are now in the new space (including the moving piece).

Even though Mum had 25 people in the city to my 17 I was able to go on to win the game. I ended up getting 14 people out of the city to Mum's 13. If our scores had been tied we would have counted the number of people in the volcano and the person with the least number of people in the volcano would have won.

We both really enjoyed this game and I'm sure it will be played again soon. Now, just to remember to check the camera doesn't display the date-stamp next time I take photos of games in progress.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Angus McBride

I was saddened to read over at The Miniatures Page that acclaimed and highly respected military and fantasy artist Angus McBride had died of a heart attack, aged 76, on Tuesday 15 May 2007. I came to know and appreciate his artwork through my research into historical armies and warfare.

Angus McBride

Angus McBride's artwork in the Osprey Men-at-Arms series has certainly inspired my interest in military history from ancient times onwards and also given me enthusiasm for painting miniatures for wargames. You can see a list of all his Osprey work here. He was also well-known for his illustrations for Iron Crown Enterprises' game Middle-earth Role Playing (MERP).

Last night I went through all the books in my collection to find ones that contain artwork by Angus McBride. As you can see in the image below, I have quite a few. If there was artwork by Angus McBride it was certainly an incentive for me to buy the book.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Parcel Arrived For Me

I love it when a parcel arrives for me. And I especially love it when the parcel contains games. For those of you who didn't have a parcel containing games arrive today feel free to experience my joy vicariously through the following pictures.

I came home from work this evening to find a large Australia Post Postpak Mailing Box waiting for me in the hall. I love these boxes as they're very sturdy and I'm always confident that they'll protect their contents from the roughest of handling.

I didn't open it immediately (as much as I wanted to). You see, as soon as I arrive home 'Crazy Time' commences. This is the period of time when the kids need to be bathed, dried, dressed in their pyjamas, dinner needs to be made, the kids fed, teeth brushed, homework done, stories read, etc. 'Crazy Time' only finishes when there has been silence from the kid's bedrooms for a period of 10 or so minutes, enough time to fairly well guarantee our little darlings have gone off to the Land of Nod.

All evening that delicious yearning to open the box had been building within me. Finally, the time had come.

I was pleased to see that the games were internally protected by packing beads. Half hidden on top was The Downfall of Pompeii. The box was larger than I expected. I picked it up and was a little surprised at the weight. A box with a decent heft is always good in my books - it means lots of bits. In this case a thick sturdy board and nice thick cardboard tiles as well as lots of coloured wooden playing pieces.

Beneath it lay Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition. Now I've played Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation before, four times to be exact (all against Friendless). I thoroughly enjoyed each and every game as they all felt very close, very tense and were dripping with theme. You can play the standard game with the Deluxe Edition but with even more characters the replay value of the Deluxe Edition should be much higher. I had to own it, to possess it. It is precious.

Of course I opened up both boxes to view all the pretty bits and pieces. There's a certain pleasure to opening a brand new game; experiencing the pristine components, punching out the tiles, cracking open a packet of cards, sorting the pieces into zip-lock bags. And then there's the 'new game' smell. game smell. And finally, the excitement of reading the rules for the first time and imagining the game play.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Succumbed...

I made a recent blog entry about an Australian game store offering 20% off all board games as part of their mid-year sale. Well, I couldn't resist the temptation and placed an order. I knew in the back of my mind that I was always going to place an order. In fact, I've been squirreling away the odd dollar here and there all year from my small fortnightly allowance of spending money knowing full well that this sale would occur. You see, it's easier getting these sort of things past the wife if she can see it's not coming out of the family budget.

This is what I ordered.

Battlelore: Call to Arms
Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition
The Downfall of Pompeii
No Thanks!

I wanted to order more but was strong and kept within my budget. There will be more sales in the future.

The good news is that LOTR - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition and The Downfall of Pompeii were posted to me on Monday so, fingers crossed, I should have them by the weekend. The rest of the games are on back-order with the discount.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Board Game Purchases This Year

I thought it would be interesting to look back over the last 4 and a half months of 2007 to see what board games and accessories I've bought so far.


BattleMasters (2nd hand) (incomplete) $2.00
Rack-O (2nd hand) $3.00
Rally (2nd hand) $3.00
Schnipp Schnapp (2nd hand) $3.00
Flip Flap Flop (2nd hand) $3.00
Packrossli (2nd hand) $3.00
Chairs (2nd hand) Trade


Pounce (new) $12.50


Harry Potter Hogwarts Dueling Club Game (2nd hand) $4.00


No purchases


The Simpsons Slam Dunk Card Game (new) $2.99
Scrabble Bag (new) $9.95
Scrabble Dictionary (new) $24.95

Ok, so I've spent $71.39 on this hobby so far this calendar year. That's pretty reasonable I guess. It works out to be roughly 50 cents a day.

So why this sudden interest in attempting to justify my gaming purchases so far this year? Well, tune in tomorrow to find out why...

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Sinking of the Centaur

Most Australians are aware of two attacks on Australia during World War II; that is the bombing of Darwin in February 1942 by Japanese aircraft and the attack on Sydney Harbour in May 1942 by Japanese midget submarines.

However, the majority of Brisbane residents are probably unaware that the action of WWII did occur much closer to home, in fact, just off our coastline exactly 64 years ago today. On 14 May 1943 a Japanese submarine torpedoed and sunk the hospital ship Centaur just east of Moreton Island.

The following is from the Australian War Memorial Online Encyclopedia.

The Centaur, 2/3rd Australian Hospital Ship, was a motor passenger ship converted in early 1943 for use as a hospital ship. In November 1941 it had rescued survivors of the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran after it had sunk and been sunk by HMAS Sydney.

Sydney, NSW. 1943. Starboard bow view of the Hospital Ship Centaur. Prominent red crosses and green lines are painted on her hull. Red crosses are also attached to her funnel and stern with another lying horizontally on the after deckhouse.

On 12 May 1943 the Centaur sailed unescorted from Sydney at 0945 hours carrying her crew and normal staff, as well as stores and equipment of the 2/12th Field Ambulance but no patients. It was sunk without warning by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943 at approximately 0400 hours, its position being approximately 27°17' S, 153°58' E about 50 miles east north-east of Brisbane.

Of the 332 persons on board, only 64 survived. These survivors spent 35 hours on rafts before being rescued. Sister Ellen Savage, the only one of twelve nursing sisters on board to survive, though injured herself, gave great help to the other survivors and was awarded the George Medal for this work.

The ship had been appropriately lit and marked to indicate that it was a hospital ship and its sinking was regarded as an atrocity. The Australian Government delivered an official protest to Japan over the incident. The Japanese did not acknowledge responsibility for the incident for many years and the War Crimes Tribunal could not identify the responsible submarine. However, the Japanese official war history makes clear that it was submarine 1-177, under the command of Lt Commander Nakagawa who had sunk the Centaur. Lt Commander Nakagawa was convicted as a war criminal for firing on survivors of the British Chivalry which his ship had sunk in the Indian Ocean.

Also of interest is the following address to Parliament by the then Prime Minister, John Curtin.

It is with the deepest regret that the Commonwealth Government has learned of the loss of the Australian hospital ship "Centaur" and I know that the news will come also as a profound shock to the Australian people. The attack which took place within a few miles of the Queensland coast bears all the marks of wantonness and deliberation. Not only will it stir our people into a more acute realisation of the type of enemy against whom we are fighting, but I am confident also that this deed will shock the conscience of the whole civilised world and demonstrate to all who may have had any lingering doubts the unscrupulous and barbarous methods by which the Japanese conduct warfare. To the next-of-kin of those who are lost the Government and nation extend heartfelt sympathy, which is the deeper since those persons were non-combatants engaged on an errand of mercy, and were by all the laws of warfare immune from attack.

The full circumstances of the sinking of the "Centaur" are as follows:-The "Centaur" was at 4 o'clock in the morning of Friday 14th May a short distance off the Queensland coast. The weather was fine and clear, and the visibility was good. The ship was brightly illuminated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Illuminations, in addition to the usual navigation lights, consisted of red crosses on each side of the hull, red crosses on each side of the funnel, a large red cross directed upwards on the poop, and rows of brilliant white lights along the sides of the hull to illuminate the characteristic green painted band - in this case five feet wide - which encircles hospital ships. On board the "Centaur" at the time were 352 persons, consisting solely of the ship's crew and medical personnel, including twelve nurses. There were no wounded on board. In all there were only 64 survivors including one nurse. Remaining 288 persons, including members of the ship's crew, nurses and other medical personnel, lost their lives.

Notice of intention to use the "CENTAUR" as a hospital ship, together with particulars of her dimensions, markings, and appearance, was communicated by the Commonwealth Government to the Axis Powers early this year; in the case of Japan on February 5th. In addition, full publicity including photographs of the ship was given in the Press, and particulars were broadcast in news broadcasts from Australian radio stations. There is therefore no reason to suppose that the Japanese Government and the Japanese naval authorities were not fully acquainted with the existence and purposes of this vessel. In all the circumstances, the Commonwealth Government is bound to regard the sinking of the "Centaur" as an entirely inexcusable act undertaken in violation of a convention to which Japan is a party and of all the principles of common humanity. An immediate and strong protest in these terms is being addressed to the Japanese Government, and the country may feel confident that the Government will do its utmost to establish right of redress and ensure that the war criminals responsible for this dastardly act are brought to justice.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A New Scrabble Dictionary

About a week or so ago I bought a new dictionary for our games of Scrabble. Not just any dictionary, mind you, it was the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (the newly revised and updated 4th edition 2006). It was certainly time to upgrade as prior to this we'd been using the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary - 1977 edition.

The thing about this edition of the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary (OSPD) is that Hasbro, Scrabble's parent company, have removed all offensive words, ethnic epithets and racially derogatory terms. In fact, they did so from the 3rd edition of the OSPD after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) raised concerns about the offensive words with Hasbro.

This is what it says in the preface of my 4th edition:

It is the intention of the makers of SCRABBLE crossword games that they be enjoyed by children and adults alike. With this consideration in mind, words likely to offend players of the game have been omitted from this edition. The words omitted are those that would qualify for a warning usage note on the basis of standards applied in other Merriam-Webster dictionaries.

If you are interested in what words were expunged from the 3rd and later editions of the OSPD then check out the list below. Regardless of the move by Hasbro, as far as I know, the following are all still legal words for use in the majority of Scrabble clubs and international tournaments.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gaming With Grandma - 18

My Mum (Grandma to our kids) arrived this morning for her weekly Saturday visit. As it was Mother's Day on Sunday we got her a bouquet of lovely yellow roses and she also got some extra cuddles from her granddaughters.

Deb's Dad (Dah to our kids) also dropped around for a cup of tea this morning. Maddie soon arranged a game of Pass the Pigs with Dah while we all watched. Dah kept 'pigging-out' which meant Maddie eventually went on to win.

After that, Maddie went to the shops with Deb and Dah while I watched Georgia with Grandma. After Georgie went down for a nap Grandma and I pulled out the Scrabble board. We agreed that if a word was challenged and was found to be invalid we would be allowed to play a different word but this would only be allowed once per turn.

I went first after selecting an A to Mum's P.

Turn 1 [Me] ZIP 24, [Mum] Q(I) 21

Turn 2 [Me] (P)UN 5, [Mum] BA(N)E 12

Turn 3 [Me] (U)M/M(E)ET 16, [Mum] (T)ACK 20

Turn 4 [Me] (TACK)Y/YETI 28, [Mum] W(I)GS 36

Turn 5 [Me] (B)IN 5, [Mum] BAR(K) 10

Turn 6 [Me] OVE(N) 14, [Mum] SIE(V)E 8

Turn 7 [Me] FEEL/ES/LI 20, [Mum] TI(E) 9

Turn 8 [Me] (MEET)ING 11, [Mum] JU(G) 33

Turn 9 [Me] SAU(T)E 5, [Mum] (B)OAT 7

Turn 10 [Me] CI(T)Y 27, [Mum] WIN(S) 11

Turn 11 [Me] (S)TROP 14, [Mum] (F)OX 13

Turn 12 [Me] MIGH(T) 22, [Mum] (G)ALL 10

Turn 13 [Me] (M)OUtHED 39, [Mum] (E)AR 4

Turn 14 [Me] (R)OOF 8, [Mum] (SAUTE)D 7

Turn 15 [Me] O(F)TEN 12, [Mum] (SIEVE)D 10

Turn 16 [Me] (L(E)AN 8, [Mum] (BIN)DS 10

Turn 17 [Me] s(OFTEN)/sEA 11

I had used all my letters and Mum was left with R, R, R and V for minus 7 points. I got to add those points to my score. I felt I played a fairly ordinary game with Mum leading me in points for the first 12 turns. Final scores were [Me] 276 and [Mum] 214. I averaged 16.23 points per turn.

Probably the most obscure words I played were UM (an expression of doubt or hesitation), ES (the letter S), LI (a Chinese unit of distance), SAUTE (to fry in a small amount of fat), and STROP (to sharpen on a strip of leather).

Grandma left just as Deb, Dah & Maddie arrived home. Dah soon left and then Deb had to get Maddie ready to go to a friend's birthday party that afternoon. That left me and 15-month-old Georgia home alone for the rest of the afternoon.

I was pleasantly surprised this evening after the kids were in bed when Deb suggested a game of Scrabble. I gladly accepted and Deb went first after selecting an E to my P.

Turn 1[Deb] WHORE 24, [Me] WHA(R)F 28

Turn 2 [Deb] NO(W) 6, [Me] OVE(N) 10

Turn 3 [Deb] T(H)ONG 11, [Me] (G)OAT 10

Turn 4 [Deb](H)OUSE, [Me] ZINC/C(OVEN) 55

Turn 5 [Deb] S(T)AMP 18, [Me] J(E)STED 42

Turn 6 [Deb] (S)aI(D) 6, [Me] (O)F 13

Turn 7 [Deb] KIT(E) 9, [Me] (P)ITY 18

Turn 8 [Deb] DI(N)G/G(O) 17, [Me] E(Y)E 18

Turn 9 [Deb] (D)RAPE 11, [Me] LEN(DING) 11

Turn 10 [Deb] G(L)AD 12, [Me] RI(N)G 6

Turn 11 [Deb] YOU(R) 21, [Me] QUESt/(DRAPE)S 78

Turn 12 [Deb] (GO(B) 6, [Me] (I)NTO 6

Turn 13 [Deb] RI(P)ER 8, [Me] B(O)L(D) 10

Turn 14 [Deb] (A)XE 10, [Me] D(I)VA 10

Turn 15 [Deb] (B)EAM 24, [Me] (O)IL 4

Turn 16 [Deb] CUL(L) 6, [Me] A(A) 4

Turn 17 [Deb] (O)R(E)/(A)R 5

Deb had used all her letters and I was left with an A and an I for minus 2 points. Deb got to add those points to her score. Final scores were [Me] 321 and [Deb] 206. I averaged 18.82 points per turn.

I was most pleased by my play on turn 11 for 78 points which is my highest-ever points score on a single turn.

Probably the most obscure words I played were COVEN (a group of witches), DIVA (a distinguished female operatic singer), and AA (a rough, cindery lava).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Who Won Lotto?

Well, not me I'm afraid.

Our state lottery corporation has a series of TV ads where the end of a rainbow appears over the household of the winner. This is what I saw from our back deck early this morning. It looks just like the advertisement.

The Powerball lotto was up to $20 million last night. It didn't go off and has jackpotted to $30 million next Thursday. I think I'll maybe buy a ticket. Perhaps the rainbow was scouting out my suburb in preparation for appearing over my roof next week. :)

On a more serious note, seeing a rainbow has been pretty rare here lately what with the drought we're experiencing in South-East Queensland. Unfortunately it was just due to a passing shower which had no impact on our dam levels whatsoever.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Scrabble Bag

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I'd purchased a game accessory. Well, now I can reveal it was a Deluxe Tile Bag for Scrabble. I've recently enjoyed playing Scrabble with my wife and mother so I thought a decent bag would be nice.

Deluxe embroidered bag to enhance your Scrabble set. Cloth bag features sewn 'stand-up' base for ease of use.

The benefit of a rounded base is that there are no corners in which a tile could get stuck. Having a bag to draw tiles from is far more preferential than selecting them from face-down tiles in a box. Although we did have a cloth bag previously, it was actually the bag I'd had for my copy of Carcassonne. Now we have a dedicated bag for our Scrabble tiles.

I bought it from Myer in the city for $9.95. It was also available at Mind Games in the Myer Centre but they were charging $19.99 for it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I checked out a few game shops in the city at lunchtime today. I bought two items; the first, a game, which is the subject of this entry, and the second, a game accessory, which I will reveal tomorrow.
The game I purchased was The Simpsons Slam Dunk Card Game. My eyes were first drawn to the picture of Homer and then to the price sticker - $2.99! A Simpsons-themed card game for such a low price was worth buying simply because my 5-year-old daughter, Maddie, is such a big Simpsons fan.

Then I looked at the back of the packet. "A game by Reiner Knizia"! Woohoo! One of my favourite game designers as well! Now, prior to any purchase I first thoroughly research the games I am about to buy on BoardGameGeek (BGG) , but with a) a Simpsons-theme, b) low price, and c) a Knizia design, I immediately marched up to the counter and plonked down my money.
This is what it says on the back of the packet:
The game of "Grab the Donuts" - A Game by Reiner Knizia
It's this simple...
Watch the cards the dealer lays down. When you like what you see, hit the Slam-Dunk board and grab them all! The catch? Someone else may want the same cards as you. Most cards are good (donuts) some are bad (eaten donuts), then there are toasted donuts, jackpot donuts and the Krusty donut!
Slam-Dunk the game that grabs you!
Contains 78 cards and 'Slam-Dunk' board. For 2 to 5 players aged 7 to adult. Time to Learn - 3 minutes. Time to Play - about 35 minutes.
When I arrived home I researched it on BGG. It turns out it's a re-themed version of It's Mine by Reiner Knizia. Some people have commented it's like a light version of Ra which was also designed by Knizia. It looks like it will be a great game to introduce to my mother and daughter for our weekly gaming sessions.
Oh, if you're in Brisbane, I bought it from Mr Toys Toyworld in the Myer Centre for only $2.99. Mind Games in the Myer Centre also has it but they'll charge you $16.50.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Postcards From Brisbane - The Old Windmill

The old Windmill is only a few minutes walk from where I work in the city. It is located in Wickham Park just off Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill. I decided to visit it and take some photos. All images can be clicked on for a larger image.

The Windmill - November 1924 (Photo courtesy of the State Library of Queensland)

The old Windmill is actually the oldest surviving building in Queensland. It was built by convicts in 1828 to grind flour and maize meal as food for the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement.

A stone and brick building, it originally had wind-powered sails and contained two pair of mill stones - one pair connected to the Windmill sails, the other to a treadmill outside. The treadmill was used when the Windmill was under repair, in calm weather, or as a means of punishment for convicts. It was demolished after the area was opened up to free settlement in 1842.

In 1841 men, women, children and local Aboriginal tribes were pressed into witnessing the hanging of two Aborigines, Merridio and Neugavil, at the windmill. The Aborigines were hanged for allegedly murdering two white men and the hanging was meant to be a deterrent to Aborigines. Apparently the pair were hanged from a window above the perimeter platform and according to historian, Barbara Taylor, talk was that the wrong men were executed. I know of one Brisbane-based Ghost Tour company that claims the Terrible Tower (the Windmill) is the the oldest haunted structure in the state.

The Windmill fell into disuse, and was converted to a signal station in 1861. In 1862 it became the first home of the Queensland Museum. A flagstaff was erected in 1865 for flying shipping signals received by telegraph from Fort Lytton. The Windmill was also used as a fire look-out, and for pioneer radio and television broadcasting experiments in the 1920’s – 1940’s. The Windmill is now used as a weather observatory.

Monday, May 07, 2007


I just found out that a particular Melbourne game store is having a huge mid-year sale with 20% off all board games. This game store also sells online so is offering the same deal to all online sales.

My wishlist at the moment is:

BattleLore: Call To Arms
Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition
No Thanks
Ave Caesar
The Downfall of Pompeii

I'm not sure at this stage what I'll buy (or if I'll buy anything); it's just fun thinking about it and making lists.

What's the number one game on your 'to buy' list at the moment?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pied Butcherbird

The Butcherbird is a mid-sized, magpie-like bird that is native to Australasia. This one dropped by our back deck for a bit of a look. It is a Pied Butcherbird. All images can be clicked on to enlarge.

Butcherbirds apparently get their name from their habit of hanging captured prey on a thorn, tree fork, or crevice. This "larder" is used to support the victim while it is being eaten, to store prey for later consumption, or to attract mates.

Butcherbirds are mainly insect eaters. They will also feed on small lizards and other meat. They are also fairly fearless. I've had some wild butcherbirds visit our back deck and take small pieces of meat directly from my hand.

Butcherbirds have a beautiful, warbling song. Unfortunately on this occasion we didn't hear it as the butcherbird didn't hang around for long. Maybe it was because one of our cats was hungrily eyeing him off.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Gaming With Grandma - 17

My Mum (Grandma to our kids) came around today for her regular Saturday morning visit. As it was such a beautiful Autumn day (that's right folks - I live in the southern hemisphere of our world) Maddie (5 years old), Grandma and I decided to play some games at the table on our back deck.

Maddie asked to choose our first game. After rummaging around in our dining room game cabinet she came out with the Kidz Cards tin I'd bought her when she was about 4 years old. The tin contains four simple kid's games with jumbo-sized cards.

We played Crazy Eights first. In this game everyone starts with 5 cards and on your turn you play a card to the central pile. You can only play a card if it matches either the number or suit of the topmost card on the pile. 8's are wild. If you can't play a card you must take a card from the draw deck. The winner is the first person to get rid of all their cards. This is a great game to teach young children how to recognise matching cards and suits. I won the game.

Next was Go Fish. I find this an extremely boring game but it teaches kids set collection and memory so it was a good experience for Maddie. It was great that Maddie won this game.

The final game from the Kidz Cardz tin we played today was Old Maid. This is another game that is good to play with little kids. In this game there is no winner; rather there is only a loser. This morning Grandma was the loser having got stuck with the Old Maid card in her hand.

Having seen Maddie's enthusiasm today for card games I decided to try her on UNO. I haven't played UNO with her before as I thought it may be too complicated as it has words on the cards. Maddie is in grade 1 at primary school and is currently learning to read. She quickly memorised the Skip, Draw 2, Reverse, Wild and Wild Draw 4 cards and what they did. She'd gone quite well with Crazy Eights earlier, which is sort of like a basic version of UNO. I was very impressed with Maddie's play and she needed very little reminding of how to play the game. We ended up playing 3 rounds of UNO with Grandma winning.

While we were playing there were some distractions. First we had 15 month-old Georgia playing peek-a-boo from her play house on the deck...

...and then one of our two cats, Saxon, decided to invade our table top.

Next up was Diamant. This game was difficult to get in Australia so I made a demo-copy for myself. It really is a great game, especially for larger groups. It has now been re-released as Incan Gold.

Maddie reveals her pawn which means she leaves and takes the 3 rubies with her back to camp

In this game players are adventurers exploring 5 caves for treasure. Each round you explore a cave but each player must make the decision each turn whether to continue on or return with their collected treasure to camp. It's really a push-your-luck style of game. Each turn a card is revealed which either has a number value or a warning (on my cards the warnings are exclamation marks of different colours). Rubies (1 point) and diamonds (5 points) to the value of the card are divided evenly amongst the players with any gems left over remaining on the card. If a second warning card of the same type is turned over then all players must flee the cave losing any collected gems from that round. The trick is determining when to leave thus securing the gems you've collected on that round and taking any remaining gems in the cave on the way out.

Maddie with the coloured glass stones we use to represent the rubies and diamonds
Grandma came 1st with 35 points, Maddie came 2nd with 32 points and me (Mr Push-His-Luck-Too-Far) came 3rd with 29 points.
Our last game of the morning was Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus. This game is all about playing cards (attractions) in your flea circus to attract the most cats and dogs. The card you play to the top of your 'show' pile determines how many points of animals you may take from the pool in the middle of the table. Cats are worth 1 point and dogs are worth 2 points. There are some special cards that perform certain advantageous actions for the player. There is some 'take that' with players being able to steal cats and dogs from opposing players. It has the elegance Reiner Knizia is known for and we found that it was a very close game. I won on 22 points, Grandma came 2nd on 20 points and Maddie came 3rd on 18 points.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Postcards From Brisbane - Post Office Square

Another in my 'Postcards from Brisbane' series of posts. It was such a beautiful day that I though I'd show you Post Office Square in the city of Brisbane. All photos are clickable for a larger image.
Post Office Square is a public square which is built over a collection of shops. The square is situated between Queen Street and Adelaide Street. Unfortunately, the once lush, green grass is somewhat brown with the current state of drought we are suffering.

The older building in the background just across Queen Street is the General Post Office, also known as the GPO. The GPO opened on September 28, 1872.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I Shall Return

I’ve been aware for some time (through my reading of military history) that General Douglas MacArthur was based in Brisbane during part of World War II. I decided to go in search of the building in which he had his offices. My internet search revealed that the building (now known as MacArthur Chambers) is located on the corner of Edward and Queen streets in the city. So I ducked out of the office at morning tea today to have a look.

There is a plaque on the corner of the building which states that MacArthur had his offices on the 8th floor. There is a museum there now. I caught the elevator to the 8th floor to have a look. A museum staff member at the counter was quite helpful with my enquiries. It was $5.00 to enter. I told him I was only here for a brief look as I had to get back to work, but asked him if I could take photos of the exhibits when I did come back. He replied that it was ok to take photographs. He also informed me it would take a good hour to see all the exhibits and gave me a brochure to take away with me. This is what it said:


Discover a part of Queensland’s military heritage and visit the restored offices of General Douglas MacArthur, the Commander in Chief Allied Forces, South West Pacific Area. The MacArthur Museum Brisbane presents a story of Brisbane at War during 1942 – 1944, a crucial period in Australia’s history.

Meet MacArthur – the General and family man – through displays of his early life and he and his family’s escape to Australia from the Phillipines. Experience life in Brisbane during the dark days of War and see daily stories through the eyes of The Courier-Mail newspaper.

View the very table where General MacArthur and his staff planned the South West-Pacific battles and his famous, ‘I shall return’ campaign for the recapture of the Philippines. See stories of Brisbane’s unique history and the alliance between Australia and America, whose value is very much in evidence today.

I told the staff member I would like to come back when I had more time and as I was leaving my last words to him were "I shall return". I don’t think he got it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Evening Sunset

I thought I'd share some photos I took from our back deck of a beautiful sunset this afternoon. All images are clickable for a larger version.