So, a few days ago I was eating an Otter Pop because, you know, Summer. Well, Summerish. Is it Summer yet? I haven't taken measurements with my sextant yet so I've got to rely on what the MASS MEDIA tells me about the Equinox or Solstice and... no, stay off the conspiracy websites me, they're not good for you. Anyway, I was eating an Otter Pop which as you may know is a plastic sleeve filled with sugar water that you freeze. They come in exciting flavors like 'Blue', 'Green', and, (as featured on the cover of this month's Cordon Bleu Magazine) 'Red' and you eat them by cutting (or gnawing) off the end then squeezing the icy mess down your gullet. I had just finished delicately consuming (read: 'like a duck, no time for swallowing just spastically gulping') one of these when inspiration struck. I had used scissors so the pouch had a clean cut at the end and now I had a cunning plan. After thoroughly cleaning it, I got to work on refilling the sleeve. Using a mixture of three parts Sriracha to one part water, I filled it then fired up the stove. With a little experimentation, I figured out how to melt the end so that the new contents wouldn't drip out and flash to steam while the plastic flowed. The last part was important because every time a droplet of Sriracha Juice flashed to steam, it basically maced me with the pepper vapors. That wasn't great, but squinting through tear-gassed eyes, I persisted. Finally, I had a satisfactory seal on the tube. Holding it up, I could see that it wasn't perfect, but perfect is the enemy of the good enough and this was good enough. I kneaded it a few times to make sure the mix was uniform, shook it for good measure after making sure it wasn't going to spray Sriracha all over the kitchen, then popped it into the freezer. A couple days later, it happened. I had handed out a couple of Otter Pops on request and one of them was the 'live round'. Our ten year-old Child A ended up with it and I tried not to be obvious as I watched him clip the end off and start eating. After a couple seconds he stopped.... then turned and walked quickly to the garbage can. As he passed me, he muttered 'I hate you, Dad' and never before have those words brought such satisfaction. He started spitting into the trash then threw away the Sriracha Otter Pop. A few seconds later, he reached down, pulled it out again, and tried to casually offer his brother Child 1 a taste. "Hey, want to try?" he asked. Child 1, for once, hadn't had his nose buried in his phone and had caught on that something was going on. He passed. With little more than a few cents worth of Sriracha and maybe 10-15 minutes of effort I managed to teach my kids another lesson about how important it is not to trust anyone or thing. Hopefully this lesson will treat them well going forward just so long as I can keep them off those conspiracy theory websites. But today, just today, Sriracha Otter Pop was actually an inside job.
I received an amazing gift for my birthday this month and wanted to share this. Kassandra Kaplan made an actual 'Raccoon War 2012' board game for me, and it's incredible. As you may know, I had a series of incidents (linked) involving a raccoon that snuck into my house repeatedly defeating various traps along the way until finally (spoilers) I got it. Kass was inspired by my struggle to create a board game where players can fight their own battles against the procyon menace and it's a lot of fun. First, the production quality is tremendous. The game comes in a box (pictured) that contains a folding board, two cloth bags with game pieces, and two decks of cards in transparent boxes.
The BoardThe board is printed on quad-fold chipboard and has a heavy, solid feel. When set up, it shows a map representing something that looks very similar to the Willamette Valley, with a few slight changes. There are four geographical 'zones' with color-coded locations that often roughly coincide with real Eugene/Springfield places but have raccoon-esque names like 'Orsetto Lavastore Pizza', 'Araiguma Dojo', and of course 'Tanuki Sushi'. Thirsty? Better head to 'Waschbären Wein und Bier'! Each zone belongs to a raccoon 'general'/end-boss (who must be defeated). There are 39 total locations which are interconnected to form a network of paths. The top has a place for player cards and throwaways, and the bottom is dedicated to the raccoon army's attack cards which are pulled each turn and control things like the spread of new raccoons, breeding rates, and more.
The CardsPrinted on 165# heavy clay coated card stock, they feel professional and look great. There are two decks and some outlier control cards. The players have a deck of locations they can add to their inventory (which they can then use as instant teleports, to fight raccoon generals once they have 5 of the appropriate color, build teleport bases) and mixed in (proportionately to the number of players) with them are raccoon escalation cards that do things like increase breeding rates, advance the raccoon agenda towards winning (the 9 circles on the bottom, a sort of raccoon game progress indicator), and so on. There are also player cards that change their role; master trappers who can trap more at once, real estate agents who can set up bases, etc. The other deck has a card played each turn that helps the raccoons. The 39 placenames can have new animals 'appear' on them as summoned by the raccoon attack cards, and the rate they accumulate increases throughout the game as they breed.
PlayingThe gameplay is similar to Pandemic with many differences including a new 'Ricky the Raccoon' human-played antagonist that Kassie has been finalizing. We played the inaugural game a few days ago and it was a blast. Three adults and my 10 year-old played and everyone got into it very quickly. The raccoons started out in a couple of tiny colonies and victory seemed assured, but for every fire we put out, another one or two started... then spread. It's a collaborative game where we're playing against a common enemy, so there was plenty of horse-trading (well, card trading. There are few actual horses in the game.) within the rules and we had a great time. You can perform up to 4 actions a turn (with some modifiers based on role-cards) such as move, trap, build base, etc. It sounds complicated at the beginning, but we were playing like pros within minutes. Here's a gallery with pictures of an unboxing and the board during our game:
Browsing reddit this morning, I enjoyed this completely accurate picture and had to share my solution. This is why I built a rain shower. Out of PVC, I made a rectangular hoop of sorts that I hung from the ceiling. It had holes drilled in it and a tube going to a diverter valve I put between the normal shower head and my monstrosity. On a lark, I painted it gold. They had brass, but I felt it was important to go with gold for reasons that will become clear shortly. Once calibrated, I had a device that could allow both my wife and I to stay warm in the shower at the same time! We could spend lots of extra clockcycles in the shower and many good times were had. A few weeks later, we were at a party and wife was telling some friends about the device I had built. We were having a nice conversation, then she mentioned that I had painted it to look sort of like brass pipes which was neat. "Gold", I corrected, then took a sip of my drink. "Brass, gold, it's just spray paint, you get the idea" she responded, making eye contact with her friends and smiling. "Yeah, but no, they had brass. I picked gold." I cocked my head very slightly, patient. One of her friends suddenly twitched, then another. After a moment, one of them asked my wife: "So.... he made you... a golden shower....?" I don't remember much about what happened immediately after that, but all in all, I'd put this in the 'success' category.