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Sunday, November 11th, 2007
12:05p - [WoW] Badges of Justice
The new patch in WoW is coming soon, and it brings a whole lot of things that can be purchased with Badges of Justice (which you get from killing bosses in heroic dungeons). To calibrate things: so far to date, I have earned 72 badges (of which I've spent 40). Before this new patch, I was down to one thing I wanted, which cost 50 badges. The new patch adds six more things that I want, at a total cost of 275 badges.

So I'm thinking about what the best order to buy things is. I feel sure that a lot of research has been put into this problem (though the funded research has probably been for less-frivolous trappings), and I'm hoping that my friends (especially glenbarnett and bluelang) can help me navigate the theory.

So, to abstract the problem a bit:
- let's say that there's an abstraction called "winnitude". Team winnitude is a monotonically increasing (or at least nondecreasing) function of the winnitude of the players (and other factors like team experience and cohesion), and player win is a nondecreasing function of the winnitude of the gear (and skill and whatnot).
- My real goal is to increase the winnitude of the team as quickly as possible. For this problem, I'm trying to increase the winnitude of the team by increasing the winnitude of my gear.
- The rate of badge acquisition is more or less directly dependent on team winnitude. (In fact, that rate might be the metric of team winnitude.)
- Team winnitude, player winnitude, and gear winnitude all increase over time (gradually), even if I don't spend badges to increase my gear winnitude.
- Let us suppose that for each item I might buy, I know a) the cost in badges, b) the contribution in gear winnitude, and c) the chances that I'll get something of comparable winnitude as a drop.

How, then, should I choose which item to save toward next?

Some edge cases are obvious:
- I should never buy an item that doesn't increase my winnitude.
- If I have more badges than the cost of any single item on my shopping list, I should probably buy something instead of continuing to save.
- If two choices on my list have the same cost and chance of replacement, I should buy the one with greater winnitude first. If two choices on my list have the same cost and winnitude, I should buy the one that is less likely to be replaced.

Some strategies I can think of:
A. As soon as I have enough badges to buy something that will increase my winnitude at all, go ahead and buy it.
B. Sort my shopping list by (winnitude / cost). Buy things in the order given by that ratio.
But I don't know how to compare these two strategies, much less think of other strategies to evaluate.

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10:15p - Cupertino Trip Conclusion
The trend of minor annoyances with this trip continued, but with a leitmotif of blessings in disguise:
- The meeting ran long enough that I couldn't join my guild in a Karazhan raid. But they weren't able to down any bosses in Karazhan, so this may have been a blessing in disguise, particularly since I was able to dine with a co-worker on tasty Mexican food and beer.
- The restaurant didn't bring me the corn chowder I had ordered. This too may have been a blessing in disguise; I received more green chile stew than I could finish, and when I said I didn't want the corn chowder, they gave me tasty sopaipillas to compensate.
- Various minor delays getting off and through the airport meant that I reached the gate for my first flight just as they were boarding, without time to hit the restroom. And in-flight turbulence precluded me from using the lavatory for a few hours.
- I was seated between two friendly men with shoulders as large as mine. It wasn't an unmanageable fit, but it wasn't perfect.
- In the Houston airport, the quick food options had enormous lines. This too may have been a blessing in disguise, because it inspired me to hit a very nice Cajun buffet at Pappadeaux.
- Unfortunately, I lost track of time in Pappadeaux, and I reached the gate only 10 minutes before departure time. I was the last one to board, and the flight crew was very anxious. I had to check my carryon bag, because there was no room in the overhead bins.
- The biggest annoyance: as far as I know, I left my credit card in the restaurant in the Houston airport. Fortunately, this was the last time I wanted to pay with a credit card on the whole trip.

This wasn't a wonderfully enjoyable trip, but I think Apple definitely got its money's worth by sending me out there. I have three key new insights that will set me forward substantially, and software thoughts are starting to bubble up--I'm feeling eager to get to coding.

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10:33p - South Carolina
November 1-4, we roadtripped to Columbia, South Carolina for a wedding of a cousin of Lori's.

~//~

The trip down:

Lori had trouble finishing up her school work to come home, so we got off very late on Thursday evening. We made it to Clarksburg, West Virginia, then got a hotel.

We were slow to get off again in the morning on Friday; after breakfast in the hotel, Lori saw a quilting store nearby that she wanted to explore.

Found a Roadfood destination for dinner: Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte, NC. It wasn't a really splendid dining experience; the experience of being worried about time and trying to juggle boxes of food in the car left me feeling very harried. And I didn't really taste a lot of smoke flavor in the barbecue. (Lori really regretted that we were unable to visit a nearby Dairy Queen with a giant smiling Eskimo looking down from the roof.)

We picked up Heather at the Columbia airport and found the hotel without much trouble, thanks to the GPS.

~//~

The Day of the Wedding

Didn't manage breakfast (others said that the hotel breakfast was very bad). Had lunch at Five Guys across the street--meh, it was Five Guys.

The weather for the wedding was gorgeous; a beautiful blue sky.

The church was very formal; there was cantoring and Latin and so forth. And the priest was very clear that people who weren't practicing Catholics were not welcome to take communion. It was sort of offputting. And the bride and groom were very quiet, which is not to my taste in weddings.

The wedding was followed by a reception, with 4 hours of hors d'oeuvres, dancing, and open bar--but no dinner. So afterward, we wanted something to eat, albeit light. The Steppling family posse had migrated into a bar that was too smoky for us, so we left them behind. The iPhone made life easy--we used Google Maps to look for restaurants near the hotel, and were able to check out menus and restaurant hours before we went walking anywhere.

We ended up at a restaurant called Nonnah's, which was a delight. Lori had wonderful ham and asparagus crepes, and I had a lovely grilled chicken salad that wasn't listed on the menu. Then, for dessert, I persuaded Lori to share orgeat crepes flambee. Oh man, this was delicious. The brandy in the cherries cut the sweetness in a wonderful way. It was absolutely delightful.

~//~

The Drive Home

We intended to visit with relatives, get a bite to eat, and be on our way. But the relatives had mostly headed out by the time we were ready, and breakfast places weren't open by the time we were ready to go. We figured we would stop at the first breakfast place we saw... but that wasn't until we saw a Waffle House thirty miles down the road. Waffle House was reasonably tasty.

We checked for roadfood on the route home with the iPhone, but every place was closed. This meant we ended up making good time to West Virginia. In West Virginia, we stopped at a center for Appalachian crafts called Tamarack. We did get a decent dinner there, but we spent two hours shopping fruitlessly there. Ah well. On home at last.

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