Travelling Alert Again

I’ll be going out of town again shortly, from about Thursday to Monday, so posts may be a bit slow around here til then. I’m taking the laptop with me and should be able to update stuff from anywhere, but we’ll see what happens. My cousin is getting married in Idaho, so looks like I gotta break out the old fancy dress-shoes now. Hopefully the plane won’t be too stuff with travellers!

Settlers of Catan — Homemade Version

I’m currently in the process of making my own homemade version of the boardgame Settlers of Catan since the retail version is around $50. The game is about intermediate on the simplistic-scale, and it has a lot of pieces. I would classify it as a combination of RISK, Monopoly, and the somewhat obscure old BBS door game Baron Realms Elite.

So far, I’ve experimented with a number of media for the board tiles. These tiles are hexagon shapes that represent different land regions from which a particular resource (ore, grain, lumber, brick and sheep) come from, which are laid out at random at the beginning of the game so that the logistics and strategy changes each time.

Instead of making individual hex tiles, I’ve instead opted for an alternative — creating a one-piece (or two-piece in this case) solid game board with drawn divisions for the hex borders. I’m taking a number of circles cut from patterned scrapbooking paper and placing them within the hexes to indicate which hex is which region, so I don’t have to worry about cutting perfect hexes anymore and making sure each one fits with every other one. I’m using two main pieces because the whole layout is slightly wider than the foam board, so I opted to cut the board in half and separate them slightly to fit within the usable area of the board, and I’ll just line them up side by side as normal when it’s time to play.

I bought a pack of thin foam sheeting that was on sale at a local hobby shop and will cut out and glue together little pieces for roads, settlements and cities by hand.

When I get the pieces made as I’d like them, I’ll be sure to post pictures and such. I may even call it my own version of the game, so that I don’t have to fuss with trademark issues by posting such things on the web, just as another website has recently gotten in trouble for doing lately.

The ocean pieces that make up the border have pieces of paper designating them strictly because I may opt to make expansion packs so I won’t be limited to strictly one size board to use.

Them Crazy Gas Prices

I just heard on the radio on the way home from the store that Diesel prices in the UK are now over $10 per gallon — over half of which is taxes! Trucking companies are naturally going nuts, calling for the government to provide some kind of relief since the majority of the cost is directly controlled by policy. Thousands of people could lose their jobs there if something isn’t done quick — and I wouldn’t especially predict government action to be very quick (though, that’s an American perception perhaps).

This reminded me of some of the “petrol” stations in Kenya during my visit — the signs only had 2 number places (not including the “99” cent section that never changes) and prices were already up to 89.99 and 99.99. This was in Kenya shillings, though, which then was about $1 = 65 KS. Plus, the increment was per litre. Still, there wasn’t any more room on the signs if prices went higher than that.

That last paragraph might make a good math problem. Leave it up to me to excite schoolteachers (and/or torment dozens of classroom students) accross the world by coming up with real-world math problems =P

Clarifying Ripley: Federal Hill in Bardstown KY

The May 22 Ripley’s Believe It Or Not comic panel had a blurb about “Federal Hill”, a mansion in Bardstown Kentucky that has 13 windows in the front, 13-inch thick walls, 13-foot high ceilings, 13 mantels and 13 stair steps.

I tried looking it up and found all sorts of picture galleries and such, including a wiki entry for it, but no particular mention of the business of 13 in those.

A visit to the official page, however, (or more specifically, the site’s History section) uncovers the truth:

Federal Hill is a Georgian style mansion that originally had 13 rooms. The number 13 is repeated throughout the house, supposedly to honor the 13 colonies at the time of America’s independence from Great Britain. The front of the home has 13 windows, and there are 13 steps to each floor of the house. Completed in 1796, the rear wing of the house contains a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a smokehouse. The first floor has a dining room, parlor, and library. The second floor has bedrooms, and the third floor contained the nursery. The house is built of brick and has six large rooms that are twenty-two feet square. Ceilings are 13-1/2 feet high. The floors are made of yellow poplar and the walls are 13 inches thick.

Federal Hill also happens to be the structure depicted on the tails-side of the United States Quarter that commemorates Kentucky.