Irritating day

I mentioned, recently, getting a bit more into photography. One of the reasons I got the bigger ball-head was that I had already ordered a new camera that was much heavier than my old one.

Anyway, the new camera was originally supposed to ship in the middle of February. For some reason (I heard several ideas, but no consensus on why), they didn't end up shipping until the fifteenth of this month. And despite preordering on the first day, I was not in the first batch of cameras shipped from the store. I wasn't feeling too good about that, and was wondering if I'd have to wait for months, but was happy to get a shipping notice last week (it seems that Nikon sent out another batch much quicker than they usually do).

Bad luck (them attempting to deliver just minutes before my wife got back home from taking the kids for a walk) kept me from getting it Saturday. It being Fedex Home, they didn't make another attempt until today. Since I was kind of anxious (and it required a signature), I stayed home all day waiting for it (well, and doing work on my computer).

I checked the tracking a few times, not seeing anything (not even, "out for delivery") until 1430. Then, it said that they had failed to deliver at 1418. Well, I was within 20 ft of the door at 1418, and there was no door tag left, so I can only conclude that they tried to deliver to the wrong house (odd, given that they got the right house on Saturday). Thank goodness I didn't tell them they could leave it without a signature; who knows where it would have ended up? Irritating enough, but it got even worse when I tried to call them right afterwards. They claimed that the driver would come by before 1530.

Ok, I've had second delivery attempts when they've screwed up at least one time before (although that was UPS).

So I went back to my work until 1610 or 1615; at which point I called again. Now they tell me that, not only is the driver already back to the depot, but that he was already back when I called the previous time. And they have no way to get the package to me (not helped by Fedex home drivers being contractors, apparently) today, nor can I go to pick it up myself (because pick-ups stop at 1630, and the depot is 30 minutes away).

And as if all that wasn't enough, when I called Ritz to complain, they just kept telling me what the tracking information page said. Thanks, I found that myself. Even worse, the person I was talking to kept going silent for long periods of time (30+ seconds) without telling me they were doing something. I just kept talking, and then getting dead air. I even hung up on them once because I thought they'd lost me. But the same useless guy answered again when I called back.

Very poor customer service from both FedEx and Ritz, to put it mildly. And I'm definitely not getting anything shipped via FedEx Home ever again.Regular FedEx? Sure. But not the Home variant.

Stay hungry, my friends

I mentioned that my wife and I managed to go out on Friday, missing the Caps game against the Jets. We were going to see The Artist, but my wife decided she couldn't sit through a silent movie. So we ended up going to The Hunger Games. (It being opening night, I was surprised we didn't have trouble getting tickets (or seats), but I think that was just because we went to such and early show. There were already lines for later shows when we got to the theater.)

And, to my surprise, my wife, who went into it knowing, "that she [Katniss] did something to help her sister". I didn't think it was her style, plus she knew nothing of it, so I wasn't at all sure she'd be happy with it. But she liked it quite a bit.

They did some very interesting things in the adaptation. Instead of staying totally in Kat's perspective, they cut away to a cut-from-whole-cloth control room during parts of the Games sequences. They made things a little confusing in at least one way, with the dogs at the end, but it was a cool thing to see. They also showed President Snow pushing his weight around a bit behind the scenes (my guess is that Donald Sutherland insisted on having more screen time). The rule changes also seemed much more abrupt and capricious.

My main disappointments with the movie were the removal of Madge, making the Mockingjay pin a gift from someone (Greasy Sae?) in the Hob (I know the woman next to me read the book, because when this happened, I let slip a "What?", and she said, "I know" in an agreeing tone). Prim was also even weaker than in the book. And the entrance of the "Girl on Fire" was pretty lame. It just did nothing for me, at all.

One thing that really hit me was the difference in appearance of Kat's behavior, when you didn't have her thoughts to go along with her actions. Her behavior towards Peeta seemed really terrible, and mercenary. I think that was not an accident (nor do I necessarily think it was "wrong"), but it felt a whole lot different.

A smaller one that I had mixed feelings about was when Kat was judged for "deadliness" just before the start of the games. She got back to her apartment, and everyone knew what she had done. Haymitch's reaction, as well as Effie's, were both good, and played on each other well. But I liked it better where they asked what she had done and she just said something like, "I got their attention". Perhaps that would have been too hard to do without knowing her thoughts on the matter, though.

We also only got to see some of the baggage between Peeta and Kat. My guess, though, is that that was just a matter of screen time. It was interesting, the way they did it, but a little weird, too. Because not only did we not see all of the situation, but what we did see was spread out a bit as well.

The last thing that felt missing was the explanation for the mockingjay. They said what the pin was, but didn't touch on its significance. I imagine they'll have to do that in the second movie. Certainly, they'll need to before they get too far into the third.

Overall, I thought it was very good. Not perfect, but very good. I don't think I'll go see it again in the theater, but I'll certainly buy it on blu-ray, when the time comes.

A Caps week (or so) in review

I haven't had much chance to write, lately. Lots of things have been going on, mostly for good reasons. And I've had trouble with the Caps games, for both good and bad reasons.

The Chicago game a week and change ago, I missed most of, due to DVR issues. They seemed to play a bit better in the parts I was able to watch, I think (based on comments by the announcers, and such), but they still didn't look very good. And it being 2-0 Chicago when I turned it on didn't incline me towards excessive patience. Adding to all that, I was absolutely exhausted when I finally got a chance to think about writing about it that night.

The Wings game, the night after, I was able to watch from start to finish. I didn't think the Caps were the best team in that game; the Red Wings were more consistent in their play, but the Caps did have a few really nice plays for goals. And it was good to see something like a killer instinct from the Caps for most of the game (I thought they were too content to sit back towards the end of the game).

The Flyers' game, I also managed to catch all of. It certainly got started with a bang, with OV scoring in the first thirty seconds. And the Caps did a good job of dominating play through the first two periods, even if they didn't convert any of their large number of chances, and even if they did allow the Flyers to score one in there. But they were just unlucky not to score more; I was feeling pretty good about the game at that point.

The third period, they were again way too content to sit back and play for overtime. And the habit of doing that carried over into the overtime play, where they were heavily outplayed by Philadelphia. It was mostly luck that they were able to maintain the tied score into the shootout. Because of that, I wasn't feeling good at all in the shoot-out, and wasn't surprised at the result. Hunter's choices, other than OV and Hendricks, were a bit peculiar, but there weren't exactly a plethora of options.

I had said, before the road trip, that I'd be convinced they were a playoff team if they got six points (and yes, I knew that was a stretch, but that was kind of the point). And they finished with five, meaning, I suppose, that their asses were still in the fire.

They returned home for a game they really needed, against the Jets. This one I ended up missing for mostly good reasons; my wife and I were able to go out that night and I saw the score in the paper accidentally before getting around to watching the game. But it's hard to categorize the 4-3 OT loss as anything except disappointing; if they hadn't at least made it to overtime it would have been a huge disappointment.

The homestand continued against Minnesota, and I ended up missing it due to the combination of playing with my kids (when the game was on live) and the DVR erasing the game the next night (just before I turned it on; I guess it was an NBC Sports game, and I only save one game on that channel. So the Flyers game the next night wiped it out. Ugh). I certainly couldn't be upset with that result, 3-0, and the only negative I got from the little I read about it was that OV probably shouldn't be playing 26 minutes in one game. Great that he can, and a good performance, I suppose, but you haven't accomplished much if he's totally wiped out when the playoffs arrive. We'll see.

Tonight's game I watched a good bit of, some of it even live. But there really wasn't anything to be happy about. They had ten giveaways just in the first period (that's generally a total for a so-so game), so finishing the period down 2-0 wasn't a huge shock (although scoring chances being close was a little bit surprising (8-6, bad guys)). I almost turned it off when the score got to 3-0, because they were looking worse, rather than better, to that point in the period. But Semin closed the gap a little bit shortly after that, so I was feeling a little bit of hope.

And I felt better when they finally got another power play chance. But OV made two bad plays back-to-back at the point (failing to hold the puck in, then failing to keep himself between Pominville and the goal (and falling over while trying)), leading to a 2-on-1 going the other way that was converted. I gave up hope, and turned the game off before they even got to the replay of that one.

And thank goodness I did, because the only goal remaining went the wrong way. Ugh.

Holtby had a mostly decent game, although it was his turnover that led directly to the first goal the Sabres scored. I thought he looked pretty good, outside of that one play.

Sadly, none of the skaters really jumped out at me during the game. It was a nice goal by Semin (just his 19th; man, he's been overpaid this year). And Dima looked good the one or two times I noticed him being out there. OV had a few good plays early, but man, those were some bad ones leading to that last goal.

So the Caps stay three points behind the Panthers, and are now two points behind the Sabres. At this rate, they'll be lucky to make the playoffs. And no danger to make any noise if they do get there. I don't know what's up with the Caps' state of mind, but it's pretty terrible.

Barring some impressive collapses, they'll need to win at least four of the remaining five games (three of which are on the road). I'm not holding my breath over their chances. But the first look will be Thursday, against the Bruins in Beantown.



I haven't flown a whole lot in the last several years. Mostly because I haven't felt a whole lot of need to be elsewhere, but it also didn't help that I kept getting pulled aside for additional screening in the first several years after 9/11 (it only made me miss my flight once, but I still didn't appreciate being treated like a criminal).

The point being that I haven't exactly been in a position to notice most of the problems pointed out in this article from the Washington Monthly, but I can't say as any of it surprises me.

Actually, I think this article misses the two biggest factors in what has gone on. The first is the security theater that is making getting on such a hassle, but which has yet to show any indication of being able to stop a serious attack (it doesn't set you back to note that all of the airline threats we've heard about have been stopped by passengers in the air?).

The second is actually alluded to in the article (unintentionally, I'm pretty sure), which is the growth of executive plane service. You know, those planes that carry the obscenely rich or well-connected that don't use the normal terminals and airlines? Where the article alludes to it is in talking about how some expensive service subsidizes other service. Well, those people who would pay for the very expensive seats are, increasingly, just avoiding the airlines entirely. They get to avoid the security theater (hence, all those Congressmen who tell us that it's for our own good, but who never see the problems), plus, they don't buy the really expensive seats that would subsidize the cattle class for the rest of us.

If you want to look into this problem some more, the book Perfectly Legal has a whole chapter on how this problem has sprung up. It also has a whole host of other info that will get your blood boiling, as you see who the real "welfare queens" are.

Oh, and one irony I almost forgot to bring in. The movie Up in the Air is about a "downsizing specialist" who flies all over the country to fire people, and help them get started again. What made me think of it was 1) his goal in life was to collect ten million frequent flyer miles (so he was always "Up in the Air") and 2) the film was made in St Louis. The irony about St Louis is that it is one of the places the article talks about getting squeezed out of service. So Mr Clooney wouldn't be able to talk to the people there, because flying in is, it seems, becoming prohibitively difficult.

ps: Thanks to Meteor Blades, on kos, whose article pointed me towards the Washington Monthly piece.


Cardiac Caps, indeed

Well, the Caps have finally managed to make me regret turning a game off. The Caps weren't looking too good, and when they allowed an amazingly fluky goal nine minutes in, it really wasn't looking like their night. This goal deflected off a defender (or forward, it was tough to tell) to the side of, and above, the goal, bounced off the glass, and hit Neuvy in the stomach as he turned around to look for it. Next stop? In the goal. Ugh.

The Caps then allowed two more goals (both on the power play; one with twenty seconds left in the first, the second nine minutes into the second), and I thought about turning it off then. But the Caps cut the lead back to two twenty-eight seconds later (and now that I looked, they changed the scoring; they called this as a Wideman goal initially, but I guess Knuble did touch it for the deflection), so I left it on a bit longer. But when Tavares scored his second of the game two minutes later, I gave up.

And it appears I shouldn't have, now. OV got a tip-in from Laich with a minute left in the second to show a little life. And in the third, Dima scored two minutes in to make it close again. Eight minutes later, OV got another tip-in, this time from Coiner, to tie it up. And that was all the scoring.

I might need to queue up the rest of the video, though. It appears that Hendricks scored on the fourth Washington shoot-out attempt to win the game; I wonder if he used the same move as usual. Regardless, it's the first time Hunter has used Hendricks in the shoot-out; I wonder what happened. Semin, OV, and Dima took the first three, with only OV scoring.

In any event, Washington desperately needed this game, and I'm proud of them for not packing it in, and taking the game. And since the Islanders are out of the playoff picture, I don't even mind that we gave them a point in the process.

Underscoring how much the Caps needed it, Florida crushed Toronto to maintain their lead on the Caps.

Next up is Winnipeg on Friday, and again, the Caps need a win desperately, because after that come Chicago, Detroit, and Philly, all away. If they can win Friday, and come out of the other three games with two more points, I'll feel pretty good about their chances of getting into the playoffs. If not, they're toast.


I get to push the button

There were several episodes of the old show Tiny Toons that featured a baby version of the character Plucky Duck. These were fantastic episodes (shorts?), one of which had him in a mall elevator insisting on pushing the button to go up and down. (Not on either of those collections, alas. I believe they were season two. If would make my week if they'd get released.)

Anyway, saw a vehicle yesterday with a magnet "ribbon" saying "Adopt a Pet". What made me think of Baby Plucky, though, was the license plate '4MEONLY'. I wonder if they see the irony. (And compounding the self-centered-ness was the fact that the vehicle was a large SUV. Do you really need one of those for one person?)


Maple Rag

Today's Caps game against the Maple Leafs was a bit weird for me. Well, it started when I was reminded that the game was a home game; a small break in the middle of what would have been a fairly long road trip.

But it seemed that the Caps had a big edge in play when the game started. They were hitting hard, and forechecking really well. They got a power play for too many men, and did a good job taking advantage of that (despite not scoring). But at the end of the period, the Caps were only one shot up on Toronto (8-7), and only one scoring chance as well (6-5).

Of course, on the scoreboard they were up by a goal, thanks to a really good read by Laich that sent him in alone on a shorthanded breakaway that he converted. And that goal finally put the Caps (as a team) ahead of David Steckel for shorthanded goals on the season. Oy.

Anyway, the second period did not seem nearly as good, to me, with the Caps spending too much time in their own zone defending. And they were behind on shots, 9-8, but ahead on chances, 5-3, so it was actually a pretty good period.

And, happily, there was no scoring at all, so the Caps went into the third still ahead by a goal. Just before the game re-started, they were pointing out how many of Laich's goals were game-tying or -winning, and I remember thinking, "Well, his goal today could still end up being the game winner, as well".

Well, less than a minute in, insurance came from a nice move to the net by Semin (who had an excellent game, even if he didn't get a goal), the rebound from whose shot went right to Perreault, waiting at the side of the net. He didn't hesitate to put it into the top of the net to give the Caps "the most dangerous lead in hockey". That's bollocks, of course, but the extra goal definitely made the rest of the game a lot more comfortable, because they gave up some really good chances the other way.

But Neuvy was up to the challenge, and made Laich's goal stand up by itself. And shots for the period were tied, which was quite a surprise, given the two-goal margin.

So the Caps did exactly what they needed to do, taking advantage of a tired Toronto squad (Toronto also played yesterday, but their game was later, and went to a shootout, so they apparently didn't get in until 0230. Ouch) to get two more standings points. Unfortunately, Florida beat Carolina by the identical score, so the Caps didn't make up any ground. But at least they didn't lose any, either. And it does mean they won both of the games they had in hand vis a vis Winnipeg, which leaves them in 8th place in the conference.

The three game winning streak certainly makes the Caps situation seem a lot better, but the brutal stretch that starts a week from today does not help. If they can keep from getting killed on the road trip (or Florida, facing much easier competition, manages to get destroyed), they might be able to pull out a playoff position. We'll hope.

And first up is Lon GIsland on Tuesday. Let's hope they can stretch that winning streak out a bit. Once again, showing up will not be nearly enough to win the game.



After the pasting the Engineers gave Clarkson last week in the opening round of the ECAC playoffs, I paid a little more attention to the games this weekend. Perhaps I shouldn't have. It was great to hear the Engineers open the scoring last night very early on.

Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got, as Union (when did they get good, anyway? I remember them as conference doormats) scored three, overwhelming RPI's one other goal. Perhaps it was just as well that I stopped listening ten or so minutes in (had friends over to watch the Duke game).

Tonight's game was even worse, finishing at 4-2. Barring a serious bout of insanity by the Frozen Four selection committee, that will end RPI's season. No big surprise there, given RPI's season as a whole, but disappointing.

Beantown brou-ha-ha

I speculated about the Caps' odds in Beantown, but two holes were punched in my speculation before the puck even dropped. And neither hole was in the Caps' favor. One was that Thomas got the start in net for the B's, and the other was that Greenie got suspended for three games for his hit on Connoly last game.

And things did not start out looking too good for the Caps. The B's got a number of good chances early (leaving Lucic undefended on the doorstep was one), but TVo came up big quite a few times to keep it scoreless. Then the Caps got it into the O-zone, and the rebound of Alzner's shot went right to Semin, who knew what to do with it. Half a minute later, Hendricks fought his way to a short rebound that he put in the back of the net.

The Bruins got several more good chances, but it looked like the Caps might be able to take that lead into the dressing room. But then there was a lazy icing (by OV, I think), leading to a D-zone faceoff with 5.6 seconds left. Lucic managed to get the faceoff almost immediately, and put it past TVo, five-hole. That made the Boston faithful feel a lot better going into the intermission.

And Boston certainly came out buzzing, culminating in Marchand getting a steal in the middle of the ice, at the blue line and walking in to put it five-hole again. That woke up the Caps, and they picked up their play considerably.

When the puck went behind the Boston net, and two defenders ran into one another, Semin pulled the puck away from a Boston forward in the corner, and threw it across the ice to Beagle cutting in. Beagle didn't hesitate, and decisively put the one-timer into the twine to put the Caps ahead again.

Washington got a couple of power plays in this part of the game. The last of which was an absolute clinic the Caps put on, where they managed to take six shots. The last of those was a tip by Laich of a pass from Wideman that restored the Caps two-goal margin.

At this point, the Caps were up eight in shots and two in chances (the first period was 8-4 Boston in chances, with the second 9-3 DC), so things were looking quite good.

The Caps kept that margin into the third, but they seemed, for quite a while, content to just play defense in the third. Shots, at one point, were 7-1 Boston in the third. Things did improve a bit, as they started clearing the zone a bit more, and getting the puck in deep, at least, but it wasn't a huge improvement, as the shots ended 13-2 for the period.

But they did, at least, manage to keep the puck from going into the goal more than one more time, so they held on, barely. And let me tell you, when they iced it with 5.6 seconds left, again, I was really worried. But this time, they kept the puck to the sidewall until time expired.

So it was, overall, a very good game by the boys in white, but they don't have any time to celebrate. They'll head up to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs tomorrow evening. Let's hope things go as well as they did, today (they should, given the relative quality of the competition, but you can't take that for granted).


Cardiac Caps back!

Well, a few games ago I was wondering. Now I'm sure. They're back, for better and for worse.

I didn't really feel like writing about the Canes game. The Caps mostly played a good game. Unfortunately, the couple minutes (aggregate) that they didn't resulted in some very easy goals for Carolina, and the Caps lost a game they probably should have won. The only good thing about it was that at least they managed to get a loser point.

Tonight's game was much better. As usual, I could only watch the first with half an eye, but they seemed to be doing ok. And the numbers at the end of the period bore that out; shots were 15-13 and chances were tied at seven. And they got a nice deflection goal from Aucoin to take a lead into the break.

The second period did not go nearly as well. They were pretty well dominated with shots 8-3 and chances were... something like 5-1. And Tampa put two pucks past Neuvirth, both on the power play. The first was a pretty nice tic-tac-toe passing play, although Carlson deserves some blame for not being on Malone (the scorer) when the pass came towards him. The second one was more on Carlson, as he deflected the puck past Neuvy while trying to tie up his man.

Carlson definitely seemed on a mission in the third, and now that I see how he has to take most of the onus on both of those goals, I can understand why.

He and the rest of the team absolutely owned the third, with Tampa not getting a shot until after MarJo scored to tie it up with four minutes left. Shots in the period ended up 12-3, and that's actually closer than I would have guessed. The Caps did a good job of keeping play out of their own zone (although there was a lot more played at neutral than I would have preferred, still). Unfortunately, that one tally from MarJo (off a nice O-zone steal from Wideman (wait! what? yep)) was all they managed to muster.

So, again they went into overtime. And this time, they managed to keep their momentum from the third period, and took all four shots in the overtime. The final scoring play had Chimmer get a steal at neutral and dump to himself into the corner. He finally fought the puck free and fed it to Orlov in the slot. Dima took just enough of a fake to get the goalie to commit, then calmly fed it over to the opposite side, to OV. OV then coolly deposited it into the back of the net for the win (and his 12th career overtime goal).

So there was a lot to like in this game. The third period was extremely well-played, although some "credit" for that goes to Tampa, for playing so passively with only a one goal lead. But give the Caps credit for taking advantage of that; they didn't roll over and play dead.

And the other good news of the day was that Philly spanked Florida, five-nil. So for once, the Caps took advantage of that. Unfortunately, the last few games were the "easy" part of their schedule, and they didn't take advantage, so their odds of making the playoffs are pretty bad, despite the small number of points that they're behind.

But we'll see. Next up is Boston, in the city by the Back Bay, in early afternoon on Saturday. The Caps seem likely to get Marty Turco in goal, who's been out of the NHL for a while now, but came back as a late-season injury stop-gap. The Caps need to take advantage of that. That edge in net might just be big enough to give the Caps the edge, overall, in this match-up.

But Boston won't give it to them. If they expect to win just by showing up, they'll get their asses handed to them yet again. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

More towering advice

I forgot a couple of things I meant to mention last time.

The biggest one is another case of when it probably makes sense to use bux to hurry things along. That case is before going away from the machine for quite a while (especially going to sleep). That's one time when it makes sense to use bux to quick-sell the items that take a long time to restock (basically, anything over four hours or so), if there aren't a whole lot left (say, less than 2k).

One thing I think is useful is to get floors, where possible, in sync, so they restock at the same rates and times.

Also, I forgot to talk about the elevator. Upgrade that as fast as you can; it's unbelievable how much difference that makes (especially going to the speediest one; that one made me laugh for a while, because it was so fast).

I've also seen the suggestion that you repeatedly delete a store to get the one store you want. I can't help but think this is a total waste of time. Every floor you build takes half an hour longer than the one before. When you re-build, it still takes a half hour longer than the time before.

Finally, except, perhaps, at the very beginning of the game, I wouldn't bother stocking the 1c items on any floor, unless it'll completely stock that floor. The profit margin just isn't worth it. The only thing that makes it ever worthwhile is the bonus for fully stocking the floor (especially when the bonus is a bux).

Finally, as near as I can tell, skill level makes no difference for dream jobbers. I mentioned earlier that my Architect Floor was taking 13h20m to produce the 3c item (building plan?) with a 25% discount. But that's the nominal time, so there was no discount. I was even able to find a couple more 9s to put in there. Still 13h20m. So I think the discounting isn't happening.


Spurious defeats

It wasn't planned, but I've caught the last two Tottenham games, versus Arsenal and versus Man U, and both were very entertaining games. The Arsenal game had Spurs go up two-nil, and Arsenal storm back with five unanswered goals. van Persie continues to impress me (I guess he better, since he's leading the Premiership in goals :) and the whole side looked quite good.

Today's Man U game was interesting from an entirely different angle. Spurs dominated the first half almost entirely; neither Rooney nor Nani got significant touches and Tottenham got a number of good chances (one goal called back on a hand-ball, even). But Rooney got his head on a corner kick in the waning moments, and the Red Devils took a small lead into the half.

Tottenham continued to play very well, still dominating play through the first third of the second half. But a defensive breakdown gave a dangerous cross to Man U, and Ashley Young caught the end of it and put it in the net on a nice volley. And nine minutes later, Ashley Young got the ball just outside the box with some time, and put it into the corner of the net. That left Tottenham basically out of it, almost completely deflated. They did score a late goal on a terrible giveaway by late substitute Giggs, but the outcome wasn't in doubt.

Tottenham have to be downcast; that ended their chance of putting themselves in the running for the title, and left them vulnerable to charging Arsenal. So they could find themselves barely qualifying for the Champions League for next season. The end of the season will be interesting.

And two more notes on Ashley Young: he looked terrible in the first half, but came back for the pair of goals in the second. And those were his third and fourth goals of the season; the first two were also scored in only one game (against Arsenal). Very funky.

Flying out of the playoff picture

Given the Caps road record so far this season, two games ago it was looking like the Caps would pretty much need to win all of their home games to have a chance to get into the playoffs. After losing the first two of those home games, they've got to win the rest of the home games, and play around .500 away. Sad that I don't think they can do it.

To be fair, though, the Caps looked quite good this evening. I actually missed the first part of the game, not realizing that the time change meant that my recording wasn't going to get the game (at least, I assume that's why the DVR didn't pick it up). I turned it on right after Brouwer crushed one of the Flyers into the bench, opening the door with the hit (and didn't get to see a replay until the period break). Apparently they picked up some momentum from that, and looked much better afterwards.

They were getting pressure, making chances, cycling well (actually, might have been the best cycling I've seen from this team all season), and getting a good forecheck. But they couldn't solve Bryz (which is amazing, considering how terrible he's been of late); he looked quite good.

Orlov had a particularly good game, with some really crunching hits and keeping the play away from the Caps net. Beagle also looked very good on the forecheck and the cycle, and created some problems for Philadelphia. Carlson and Alzner did nothing spectacular, but did a great job of shutting down Philly's top line.

But Philly was able to get one deflected shot off and past Neuvy, and was able to make that stand up.

It was not a fun game to watch, especially after that goal, but it wasn't a terrible one. I just kept expecting them to put one in the net, and it kept not happening.

Neuvy looked great; that one shot was a very, very difficult one, and he still almost made it. He was locked in, and didn't deserve the loss at all. Having said that, I hope he gets a rest next game; let's not tire him out, even if the odds of making the playoffs are tiny, at this point.

That's pretty much it for tonight. Next game is Tuesday against Carolina. I'm comfortable calling it a "must win" for the Caps.


Baby tower

I've been playing quite a bit of 'Tiny Tower' recently, and wanted to talk a little bit about strategy.

I talked a little bit, before, about the uses of Towerbux. Hurry construction, hurry stocking, hurry buying, moving floors, expanding stores, moving people in to an apartment not fully occupied, and getting coins is, I believe, the complete list. Moving people in is a total waste (I'll come back to why), hurrying those things is mostly a waste as well (I'll come back, in a minute, to when it isn't). Moving floors is key; by the time you get to 40 or so floors, you'll find that a necessity, so that you can group types of floors (all retail together, all service together, all apartments together, etc). It'll save huge amounts of time when you're trying to find people later.

That leaves expanding stores and getting coins. This is pretty much an either-or proposition. You'll want to do one of these heavily, and the other a little bit. It depends on how much time you have to play, which is better. Basically, the more time you have to play (and the more often you can restock your stores), the less sense expanding stores makes. Expanding a store adds 75 to its capacity for each of the three types of merchandise (so using this monkeys with the ratios of types of goods, for better or for worse) for three bux. It means a total profit of 315 more coins for each full restock (of all three items), so if you frequently leave the game to itself, it will pay for itself in 19 or so restocks. If you have all dream-job people, double that amount to cut the number of restocks down to about nine.

So it seems to pay for itself, eventually.

Do you buy coins? Well, you can, and certainly will for quite a while. Once you get one of the huge-quantity floors (doctor, auto dealer, architect, etc), you might want to stop doing it, and just use that floor to get coins. How? Let me explain.

I have 138 workers in my shops. 137 of them are doing their dream job. That takes some effort, but it totally worthwhile.

I have the architect floor, obviously filled with dream job people, so I get a stocked capacity of 24000 for the 3-coin item. My people give me a 25% time savings, so it takes 13h20m to restock that item. I just let that item stock, and whenever I get a big spender (generally 2-4 times a day), I hurry the re-stock and send the big spender in. Counting the coins for the initial stock, that's about 66k profit each time. I never stock the 1- or 2-coin items on that floor (only on that floor). Worst case, I get 66k coins for 13 bux (if he appears in the first 20 minutes, I'll leave the iPad alone until the counter gets below 13 hours; it's only happened once); a much better rate than buying coins. Best case, he appears right after I finish stocking, and I get all that for no bux.

I can see an argument for doing that with two floors, but I certainly wouldn't do it with more than two. Well, maybe if you can play for ten hours a day.

Once you do start doing that, though, putting bux into expanding floors starts making a lot more sense.

So, how did I get so many people doing their dream job? Easy, instead of building the minimum number of apartments, I build almost half my levels as apartments. That way I always have a lot of free space for people from the elevator, and can house them. If they fit in with a floor I have, I employ them. Maybe momentarily, maybe permanently. If they replace a non-dream job person, I employ them permanently. If they allow me to evict a dream jobber in a full apartment, I keep them permanently (even if they have a lower skill level; the empty apartment space is more important than the skill bonus). If neither of those is the case, I employ them momentarily so that I can get the 2 bux bonus for them. If they might see the floor I'm currently building as a dream job, then I keep them until that floor is built. Otherwise, I throw them out immediately.

In this way, it's been more than ten days, I think, since I had more than six non-dream job people in my building.

When a floor is being built, that is another time I will sometimes hurry it up with bux. If my apartments are all getting full with potential employees, I'll hurry building a store (you need to weigh the opportunity cost here of not having room for more people. I once paid 30 bux to hurry a floor, and I'm not sure that was a bad deal. But that should be a rare situation). If a realtor shows up when an apartment is almost finished, I'll also hurry things.

I'll sometimes hurry restocking when I have people waiting to be employed (even if only temporarily). I actually doubt that's the correct play, but I sometimes do it.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. Maybe I'll talk about it some more, later. It's a fun little game.

Playoff battle gets much harder

The Caps went into tonight's game against a team that had played an overtime game the night before, that was also playing away tonight. They needed to win, to take advantage of Florida's demolition by the Jets last night, as well as to get back into playoff position.

They came out looking pretty good, until Hendricks took a penalty on a crunching hit (they said he got his stick up; I didn't see it, but I didn't rewind to watch for that, either). When that happened, the Devils had a very good keep-in when the Caps tried to clear, then made a very pretty passing play to Parise beside the net for an easy tap-in goal. It was their second shot of the game.

The Caps did decently for the next six minutes after that, and then just fell apart. On a 3-on-3 coming into the zone, Aucoin peeled away from the goal immediately, while his man (Parise, again) went to the goal and tapped in the puck that trickled behind Neuvy. Then, half a minute later, Semin had a really bad turnover that was passed to Zubrus in alone on Neuvy. Dainius put it past Neuvy while falling over to make it a 3-0 lead.

Three minutes into the second, there was another terrible turnover at the D blue line, giving a 2-on-1 break that Parise converted for the hat trick.

At that point, I was sufficiently disgusted to turn it off (actually, I darned near turned it off after the third goal). And thank goodness that I did, because the only goal I missed was from New Jersey.

Now the Caps need to win basically all of their remaining home games, as well as improving on their play away from home.

'Tain't looking good for the playoffs. And next up is the Flyers, coming to town on Sunday. And apparently the start time got moved back to seven. Let's hope Bryz is still off his rocker... errr, I mean, game.

Vive la revolution

Mockingjay arrived very quickly (I'd like to say, as usual with Amazon, but they've managed to screw up two of my orders since then (actually, maybe three; one looks suspicious)), and I blitzed through it a couple of nights ago.

As expected, this is where the revolution became an open one, and tracks the course of the revolution.

Kat is wanted to be the face of the revolution, which she eventually agrees to do. One good thing about this book was the process by which that occurred. I liked that it was not an instantaneous thing, that she had to work up the courage to do it.

In fact, I liked almost everything about the book. The last twenty or so pages were fairly weak, but it was really amazing up to that point. My gripes at the end are that I didn't like the way the final mission was handled, didn't think much of the parachute stratagem, and thought ending in obscurity was a bit... unlikely.

The issue with the final mission is that I don't see why so much of the book would be dedicated to a bunch of people dying in a failed attempt. I guess I can see some possible reasons (wanting to show the horror, and frequent lack of glory, in war, perhaps), but from a story perspective, it seems odd, at best. I suspect the ending will be changed pretty significantly in the movie, because of that. Hollywood really doesn't like that style of ending (and, to be honest, this is a case where I didn't like it either).

The parachute stratagem bugged me because, while I understand why they'd have that strategy available, when and how they used it made no sense whatsoever. It wouldn't help militarily, and you certainly don't set up something like that to kill your own medical staff. Especially when you don't have a surfeit of such staff.

I also don't understand why Kat survived. We're told the President wanted her dead, the President had her helpless, and she ended up alive somehow. I can't explain that part. It's not like it would have been difficult: order one group to kill her, tell another group that the first did it under someone else's orders, and have the second group kill the first. Then you've got the martyr that you want, along with some heroes (the second group) who can be useful after everything is over.

And having Kat fade back into obscurity just seemed like more than a bit of a stretch. Too many other people would have wanted to use her, in one of dozens of ways, for her to ever be left alone. Ever if she never regained her mental stability, she would have been too useful to let go.

Anyway, despite all that, I thought it was a very good book, and a very good series. I'll probably look out for Ms Collins' other books.



My Mom would have had her 18th real birthday yesterday.

I was thinking about her quite a bit a couple of days ago. Apparently, the commonwealth of Virginia passed a law (issued a rule? I don't know the exact method of the requirement) that made it a requirement for public high schools students to take a class in financial literacy before graduation, and the Kojo Nnamdi show was talking about the requirement.

I didn't go to public school (and didn't even live in Virginia when I was in high school), but I never got any formal teaching along those lines.

I can't say as I missed it, but that's entirely because my mom did a very good job of explaining those sorts of issues to me when I was around that age. I never really appreciated that, and how useful it's been to me in my life, until that show got me thinking about the matter.

Frankly, when I heard about the school requirement, I thought it was a fantastic idea; everyone should have a pretty good idea on how money works (especially loans). But it was yet another way that Mommy helped me out a great deal, when I didn't even realize she'd done so.

I miss you, Mommy.