Mmmmmm... delicious


Not five minutes after we left the field yesterday, my phone rang as Chookie was driving the three of us back home. I answered, and Fatty Fat Andy (Fisher, a necessary distinction in this story) asked if I could pick him up from the airport, his roommate having just bailed on picking him up in four hours or so. Kris and I had plans with Skinny Andy (Crews, see? you needed the distinction), but figured I could sneak away as needed after dinner to pick him up.

A nice advantage to living 15 minutes door to door to the airport: picking people up from it is No Big Deal.

A couple hours later, when Kris and I arrived at Skinny Andy's house, I commented to Skinny Boy that I would need to dash away around 8 to pick up Fatty, I hoped that would be okay. Skinny Boy agreed it would be fine, and hey, if we go to the Cheesecake Factory (my current favorite dessert restaurant, trumping Cold Stone Creamery as of late), we could be even closer to the airport.

So, after dinner, the three of us, along with Blue and Shadow, piled into Andy's car and off we went to the Factory. After arriving, and realizing there were no bar seats available, we decided to order to-go, including a fourth slice for Fatty Fat. We looked at all our 1500 calorie choices, and found this one:

Low Carb Cheesecake

Yes, people, you see that correctly. Low Carb Cheesecake.

The three of us looked at that cheesecake, burst out laughing, and immediately agreed that Fatty Fat would receive the Low Carb Cheesecake Made With Splenda. After all, who else would be a better candidate for such a tasty bite?

I went to the counter, and ordered a slice of the French Silk Chocolate cheesecake, a slice of the Vanilla Bean cheesecake, a slice of the Key Lime cheesecake, and a slice of the Low Carb Cheesecake Made With Splenda.

The guy on the other side of the counter paused at the last slice, looked up at me and stated, "You don't want that."

Startled, I could only respond wittily with "I don't?"

Quite the comeback, eh?

"No, you don't want that."

"Why not?"

"Low Carb? Cheesecake? They don't go together. You don't want that."

Skinny Boy piped up next to me, "But it's for a prank."

"A cruel one at that. You don't want the Low Carb," the guy behind the counter insisted.

Okay, okay, I relented, and ordered a slice of the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle cheesecaske, my favorite after Pumpkin cheesecake.

As we were standing there waiting for our order, Kris piped up, "So, man, how far did you get with the Low Carb?" asking the guy who took our order.

He turned to us. "I haven't. I've never tried it."

"WHAT?!" Good lord, man, you haven't tried it but you won't let us order it? Dammit, man, "I'd like to order a slice."

He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and rang one up for me.

The three of us waited for our order of five cheesecake slices, then wandered to the car to be greeted by two happy, cramped dogs, and managed to distribute our slices before Fatty Fat called, he had just landed, and would be walking to the pickup spot shortly. Off we went to pick him up.

After a round about the airport and a valiant attempt not to be shooed away from the curb while waiting for Fatty Fat, we found him. He piled into the car, and off we went back to Skinny Boy's house. Kris handed Fatty Fat his cheesecake, and we all waited with bated breath.

Two bites later, "MMMMMMMmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMmmmmmmMmm! Thanks guys! It's DEE-LISH-US!"

Unable to contain ourselves, the three of us burst into laughter.

Oh, sure, we eventually gave him the tasty raspberry slice, and, sure, we told him about what we had done.

And, maybe, just maybe, the second slice tasted better than the first.

But only in comparison.

Oh, the irony


Right, so Andy's been helping me out around the house. Today's task was to paint the guest room closet. I've been meaning to paint that closet for years. YEARS. Since Heather is moving back in for a couple months, I figure having the closet painted would be fabulous. Ironic, to be sure, that Andy is painting the closet of his ex.





Andy and Andy came over tonight. We talked about playing Settlers, but Skinny Andy wanted to play Diplomacy. S.Andy played Diplomacy a lot when he was in high school ("A LOT!"), and wanted to see how it played now that he was older. The game has a maximum of seven players, and is like Risk in that you conquer Europe during some giant "world" war, but is different than Risk in that you can make deals with other players, removing some of the luck of the dice from the game.

Diplomacy is played with a map of Europe, with each player controlling one or more countries, and little tiles representing armies and navies. At the beginning of each round, each player decides what a piece is going to do: stay put and defend the space it's on, move into a new space and attack any other piece that may be already occupying the space, or help another piece move to a new space which is what the navy pieces can do. In deciding these moves or non-moves, players can talk to each other. Before the discussion part of the round ends, each player writes down what he's going to do for that round, which is revealed nominally all at once to everyone.

Since I wanted chocolate souffle, I was unfortunately in the kitchen during the boys' reading of the rules. Given there are a large number of nuances in the game (one of the worst being, if you wrote it down, you can't change it), and I was absent for most of their revelations, I ended up breaking an unknown rule every round. I have to say for that reason alone, my frustration grew and grew and grew with the game (hey, you can't do that, now you're penalized; you can't do that either, go back; you can't do that either, you lose another piece; you can't do that, take it back).

We started out all of us just sitting there, trying to figure out what to do with our pieces. By the third round, we were talking a short bit, but none of us were really managing to do much with our countries and pieces. Well, except for Skinny Andy. He knew what he was doing, and was doing it well.

By the fourth round, we figured out that we could pass notes back and forth between each other. Suddenly, negotiation and, well, diplomacy were possible.

I have to say, that certain aspects of the game were entertaining. Fat Andy complaining about how everyone was attacking him, while he was leading the charge on attacking one of my two countries, was funny. That I came around from his back flanks to out manuveur him was equally funny. Skinny Andy I think would have crushed us, given enough time. Kris was, I think, overwhelmed to the point of being nearly ineffective, often forgetting to write down steps that he had agreed to during our diplomatic conversations.

We played for a couple hours, then decided to be done. I ended up both completely devastated, with Germany having only one piece, and victorious, with Turkey having the most number of pieces, the broadest number of spaces occupied, and, arguably, the best position for future conquest.

Given how much Skinny Andy loved the game as a kid, I'm willing to play again. I can't say without that motivation that I'd be willing.


Pull up your pants!


After the tournament, Lyndsay (and her roommates) hosted the team (and other teams) at their house in Santa Cruz. As a sidenote, the house (the downstairs being all I had really seen of it) was great, with the grounds spectacular. They have a tightrope made of nylon strapping that was quite entertaining to watch people use.

In the car on the way over, Andy drove me, Steffi, Andy Fisher and Heather over to the house. We used the navigation system in my car, which means we didn't go the most efficient way to the fields. As a matter of fact, we ended up stopping at a slew of stoplights, driving down small streets, and meandering through the neighborhood in a most circuitous way.

At one of these particularly annoying stoplights, I turned to see a couple walking along the sidewalk beside the car. The couple were both heavyset, with glasses and a slouched appearance. They walked arm in arm and seemed quite happy together. Someone, it might have been me even, made the comment that people tend to attract those similar to themselves: ultimate players date ultimate players, Techers date Techers (okay, no one said that), sporty people date sporty people, that sort of thing, leading to the comment that slightly overweight people date slightly overweight people.

The couple, then turned the corner. As they did, I started to roll down my window. Everyone knew I was going to say something to the couple walking by, the timing was too close for anything else.

And so I did.


The guy was walking along with his pants in the style of today's youth, with his pants' crotch in line with his knees. His steps were abbreviated. I find the look incredibly retarded, stupid, inefficient, ugly and dumb. Yes, I repeated myself with three synonyms - that's how annoying that look is. Worse, that look will be back around in 20-30 years. Argh.

After my call, the guy pulled his arm from around his girl friend and lifted up his hand. I, and everyone else in the car, expected the usual response, and the response I certainly would have given had I been in his place.

I expected the finger.

Instead, he reached down, and pulled up his pants.

We were dumbfounded.

The light turned green. Andy accelerated through the street intersection, and we all burst into laughter.

The guy had actually pulled up his pants. Unbelievable.

Sunday after


Okay, today, it's raining.

Unlike the weather we actually had yesterday afternoon, we experienced the weather we were supposed to experience last night. We went to Andy's mother's house for dinner, after a quick stop by the Trader Joe's which was spitting distance from the hotel. Andy's mom lives in Montecito, an expensive suburb of Santa Barbara, on top of a hill. Even with clouds, rain and the wind whipping around, threatening to send very large branches down into the hottub we were sitting in (the hot hot hottub, mind you), the views were spectacular.

Moving our stuff to the car was wet. The way over to breakfast was wet. The walk from breakfast was wet. The way back to Andy's was wet. Fortunately, we were moving slowly, enjoying the day, so wet didn't adversely affect us.

Brynne went up to her Dad's place, the first part of her drive back to the Bay Area. Originally, she was going to take Kris and Heather up, and I was going to continue south to L.A. However, those plans assumed I was in Santa Barbara to coach at an ultimate tournament, which was partially cancelled due to lack of playable field space. So, instead, Brynne went north to her family's house, while Kris and Andy played a little Guitar Hero, I used some local wi-fi, and Heather futzed with her laptop which had died two days before.

Eventually, our CF subsided and we drove up to Brynne's dad's winery to meet up with Brynne. I figured I had some time before heading over to Paul's place, but I hadn't counted on the CF factor when I made that decision. So, the four of us, Andy, Heather, Kris and me, drove up to meet up with Brynne. Whoo, we saw a rainbow. More importantly, I met Brynne's dad. Yay!

The vineyard was, as Brynne said, naked, with no green on the vines or grapes, but still awesome nonetheless. I love farmland, vineyards and orchards. Something about the large space and growing food that makes me happy. Organic version of these are much, much better.

Andy and I drove back to Santa Barbara when Brynne, Heather and Kris went north. Not sure which one of us will arrive in our destination first. Me? I'm off to visit Paul.

I think I should be nervous.

I'm not.

World, meet Alex


Alex and I met on the wind swept streets of Santa Barbara, neither of us quite realizing what fast friends we'd become in one short day of drinking. Thick as thieves. We're like THAT! Yeah, just like that.

The day started off cold and windy. Oh boy, was it windy. My damp, freshly showered hair dried within minutes of stepping out of the car to wait for the rest of our crew to show up. Alex's girlfriend introduced herself first, Alex second, his hair whipping around his head like a rat running on speed.

He played it coy at first, sitting in the way back, far far away from me, in the van. I knew better. A few sips here, a few tastes of wine there, and he'd be talking to me in no time. Hey, what do I know? It took only two wine tasting rooms to convince him I was the greatest writer he'd ever met. Only TWO! Can you believe it?

Here, look, my new best friend, Alex.

A dollar says he's annoyed at me for this entry here. Hi, Alex!

P.S. Hey, world, Alex ate my pears. Either that means he's as weird as Kris for liking the gritty, mushy things, or he's my best friend ever. I haven't quite decided.

Wine tasting day


We start the day

First wine tasting room

Highlight from the first wine tasting room

Second wine tasting room

Highlight from the second wine tasting room

Third wine tasting room

Highlight from the wine tasting room


Fourth wine tasting room

Drive over the curb already


New life experience!


Kris, Heather and I are planning on spending the weekend in Santa Barbara. Heather has arranged a group wine tasting in celebration of Andy's birthday (that would be HER Andy's birthday, note the tag, we're going with Chenoweth here, not Crews).

We managed to drive all the way to Morgan Hill before disaster struck, where disaster is a minor bump in the road. Well, bump if bump is a bots dot and minor if a flat tire is minor.

Kris was just changing lanes from lane two to lane one when the rumble over two bots dots was particularly loud. "What was that?" I asked.

"I just changed lanes," Kris answered.

"Is it a flat tire?"

"No, just the bots dots."

We listened.

"Uh, that's flapping. That's a flat tire. Pull over."

"Oh. Yeah."

When all of this was happening, none of us thought to look out the window to see where we were. It was 8:15 at night, we were on 101 heading south. We had passed Morgan Hill. Great. That's all we knew when Kris commented, "Time to call Triple A."

"No it's not. Your membership isn't any good," I answered, fumbling with the console between us. "They cashed our check, then denied your membership, and we have no way to prove it because Netbank went under and f---ing took seven years of our banking data with them."

Kris looked at me aghast.

"Time for Audi Roadside Assistance!" I called out, triumphantly pulling out the card I had placed in the car just last week, finding it on one of my organizational crusades.

After a few minutes, the fifth or so question I was asked by the Audi operator was "Do you have a spare?" Well, crap. Did I?

Yes! And it was a full spare, no less! And it was full! Yay!

Five minutes after hanging up with the operator, we received a call back: the car service guy would be at our vehicle in 40 minutes. "That's too long!" Heather cried out. "Let's change the tire ourselves!"

Out of the car we tumbled out, hair and jackets whipping around in the cold wind blowing along the freeway, tousling everything. Heather found the jack and wrench from the back, handing them to Kris as she pulled the spare out of the back. After a few moments, Kris handed the jack to me, asking me out to work it, the mechanism's leverage point not immediately apparent. I cranked it, told him how to place the jack, then hopped back out the car, car manual in hand, to show him where to place the jack, then putting the jack where it needed to go.

Kris cranked up the car as I ran back into the car to get my camera. Only after I had taken a few pictures did I realize his folly, and told him to drop the car back down. "Why? I just lifted it."

"Because you can't loosen the lug nuts with the tire spinning."


Down went the car. Off went the lug nut covers (the car has lug nut covers? What kind of car has lug nut covers?). Loose went the nuts (after some heavy duty stopping in the left direction) and back up went the car.

You know, physics is great. With the proper leverage, even a scrawny woman can lift a car.

Part way though this escapade, our surroundings lit up. A police office had pulled up behind us, shining his lights on the car. He hopped out of his car, and stood behind us, flashlight shining down on the tire. His car lights helping much more than his flashlight did.

I would have helped Kris and Heather more, but I was too busy either taking pictures or talking to the car service guy, who called 30 minutes into the ordeal, after we had already changed the tire. I hopped back out of the car in time to roll the flat tire back to the back of the car and drop it back in the spare well, but not soon enough to let Kris know that when tightening lug nuts (or, as in the case I learned with: clutch plates), you want to tighten in a star pattern, and not around in a circle.

The police officer let us know that the Kris-arm tightening was sufficient, that we didn't need to jump on the lug nuts to tighten them, and that I needed to check the alignment of the car, as the tire wore then blew on the insides of the tire, indicating poor alignment. Great.

My thoughts were, huh, this flat tire wasn't so bad. I had fears of a disastrous tire blow like you see in the movies. "That's crazy, Kitt!" you think, "You're retarded." Maybe. But talk to my brother's ex before you say that, and ask about the Honda rolling after a blowout ("That's one [flip]. That's two. I wonder when I die. That's three."). Then ask me not to worry.

Heather's thoughts were, "HEY! New life experience! That wasn't so bad!" She had never changed a tire before, and was worried about it. She was happy the car had a good manual, as well as all the tools for changing the tire.

Kris commented it was the first tire he had changed, too, which surprised me. I hadn't expected to be the only person in the car who had changed a flat tire before.

When we arrived at the hotel, at 1:30 in the morning, much later than we had originally planned to arrive, Kris wandered into the hotel room, and wandered back out as I was walking in the door. "Huh, well, that's a new one," he commented, looking up at the canopy bed. "I've never slept in a canopy bed before."

"Another new life experience?"

I think I heard, "Yeah," through the toothbrush in his mouth.

I think I'll save the new life experience of "sex in a canopy bed" for tomorrow.

Heather and Andy games


Heather and Andy came over last night for games. That would Andy Fisher, not Andy Crews, which, if you've been keeping track, is a good thing to note. Today was supposed to start Kris' vegetarian week, but, well, we pushed it off for a day to make tasty pizza this evening with various ingredients the four of us had from our respective refridgerators.

Sidenote: I remember in kindergarten having to circle the pictures of the items that began with R. I circled the rat. I circled the rake. I didn't circle the refridgerator, and so had a big red X over the refridgerator. I cried foul in whatever way a five year old can cry foul, and said that doesn't begin with an R. "What is it?" the teacher asked. "It's a fridgerator." She didn't count that one against me. Why I didn't think the rat was a mouse, I have no idea.

To start the evening, I pulled out all the board and card games Kris and I have. I dug to the bottom of the office closet to retrieve some of them, pulling them out for the first time in years, I think.

Each of us vetoed two of the games for the evening: ones we were tired of playing, or tired of losing at when we played, or didn't want to learn the rules, or didn't like the color or shape of the box. Once that round was done, we still had a large number of games left to choose among.

At Heather's suggestion, we decided to play a game of UNO before making dinner. Usually, it's a quick game. In our case, it was a quick disaster, with my "hey! check this out!" distracted call as I walked around the table, bumping the Rumis box, which hit the Fast Figure box, which jammed the Password box, which knocked over the beer bottle sitting on the other side, which spewed beer all over the cards.

Yeah, party fouls come quick and furious when I'm around.

After spreading all the UNO cards out on nearly all the elevated horizontal surfaces in the house, Heather and I wandered into the kitchen to make dinner. Kris is planning on trying a fully vegetarian diet for a week or so, but Heather and I thwarted his start by fixing pizza with a beef topping. We managed to use up some ingredients from her kitchen, as well as ingredients from our kitchen, so, even though Kris was thwarted, I was not in my goal to use up instead of toss out (as in, eat before it spoils).

Kris and Andy spent the baking time out in the living room playing Parlay. The cards for the game have both normal playing card numbers on them, as well as a Scrabble-like distribution of letters on them. Each hand is played as both a Scrabble hand, make the best word you can with the seven cards you've been dealt, as well as a poker hand, make the best five card poker hand you can with the seven cards you have.

After the pizza was in the oven, I wandered out to the living room with Heather, to see what Kris and Andy were up to. The two of them were fairly evenly matched when we sat down, I next to Andy, Heather next to Kris. We figured this was a good way to distribute the poker talent, as well as the word creation talent: Heather vs me, Kris vs Andy.

If only Andy were so lucky.

He had been able to keep up with Kris mostly on the word games, but, gah, after I showed up, his luck with the numbers completely disappeared. We managed a few five letter words, which was great, but we couldn't even eek out a pair. One single pair would have been great. Maybe even an ace high hand would have been great, but, noooooooooo. We managed Jack high hands, and that's the best five cards from seven.

I did the best thing I could for Andy.

I walked away,

Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, his luck improved. Who would have guessed I could be such a bad luck charm?

After a few more rounds, even without the removal of his bad luck charm, Andy lost handily on an all-in, had-to-go-for-it move on the poker hand that lost handily to Kris' four a kind poker hand. Go fig.

The next game up in our night of games was Carcasonne. Now, I've watched Kris and Doyle and Mark and Chookie and Keith and Martha and Tyler and others play Carcasonne a lot, but I started playing only this year. I have played all of five times before, never making it past second place, behind Doyle, behind Kris, behind Keith three times. Tonight was my best shot: two beginners and Kris.

We played the game as we explained a bunch of the rules. I played for a strong end game, hunting a large meadow, fishing a large river system. I ran though a lot of cities during the game to keep the early points going, but I concentrated on cities with the little gold nuggets in them, finishing them whether or not I would receive immediate points, and concentrating on the bonus cards instead.

My plan mostly worked, but not completely. Kris was hunting my largest meadow with me, with Heather sharing my river system. I had to play sneaky, but it didn't really help. In the second to last round, I was tied with Kris. Tied with Kris and he managed to connect a meadow he was hunting with the meadow we were sharing, giving him more guys on the meadow, pushing me out. In that round, however, my collect-the-bonus-cards plan came through, and I managed somehow to pull out the miracle card and claim the meadow for myself.

Yay, me! I won my first Carcasonne game! Whoo!

Spoons came next.

I remember watching my mom play spoons when I was younger. I remember the large group of people, all crammed in the dining room around the table, the cards passed around the table, the flurry of card matching, the mad scramble for a spoon as someone snagged the first one and everyone realized it.

Playing with three people changes the dynamic a lot: fewer spoons to grab, quicker cards being passed along, sneakier opponents snatching spoons with more subtly than a big group can manage.

After eight rounds of playing, with each of us taking two turns at dealing, each of Kris, Heather and me had lost 2 or 3 times, Andy hadn't lost a single round.

Not. A. Single. Round.

We decided to try to rectify that situation, and switched places. Since the table is rectangular, the persons on the ends were at a disadvantage for reaching the spoons or even passing cards. Andy and I switched, putting him on the end, and me on the side.

Didn't help.

We tried grabbing the spoons closest to him. We tried being subtle. We tried being obvious. We tried grabbing spoons and pushing the other ones away from Andy. Nothing helped.

Four rounds later, he still hadn't lost.

So, we tried another tact. We put the spoons in the far corner, close to Heather, and away from Andy. Around the cards went. When I had a matching four cards, I grabbed the closest spoon. Since I had to reach across the table, my gesture was quite obvious and Kris grabbed the spoon closest to him.

Heather and Andy immediately lunged for the third spoon. Both missed. Heather managed to toss the third spoon on the floor. Andy managed to grab my hand. "My spoon! Mine! Mine!" I cried out, as Kris called out, "The floor! Heather, on the floor!"

Andy heard Kris and lunged even farther in an attempt to launch over the table to reach the last spoon. Heather bent over and picked up the last spoon.

Ah, that victory was by far the sweetest.