August 11th, 2010

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Pandemic Aug-11-2010

Harrowing game of Pandemic today. This was one of those games for which we squeaked out a victory just before inevitable catastrophe befell us.

Researcher, Dispatcher, and Generalist, 5 epidemics plus the mutation challenge.
We got an Epidemic and chain reaction of outbreaks in North America on the first turn, so that put us a step or two behind from the very beginning. We got lucky and drew our way to a yellow cure with only one yellow cube on the board, so we managed to eradicate that fairly easily-but there were purple cubes in yellow territory, so we had to go into yellow territory anyway.
During the course of the game, we got down to just a few blue cubes in reserve and clawed our way back to safety, and hit exactly zero purple cubes in reserve and clawed our way back from that.
In the endgame, our Dispatcher gathered us up on a research station, took a red card from the Researcher, and cured the red disease. I (the former Generalist, now Medic) took two cards from the Researcher, cured the black disease, and moved to the research station in Taipei to get the free treatment for the two cubes there. The Researcher went off to get a few cubes back - and drew an Epidemic that dropped three cubes in Taipei. The Dispatcher then brought back the Researcher, got a card, and cured the purple strain - but a picture of the board will show how close we were to catastrophe in East Asia.

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New England Roadtrip, July 6, part 3: Red's Eats

Our drive to Wiscasset, Maine did not achieve our goals. We wanted to see the ocean, but we also wanted to make faster progress than following the fractal coastline closely would provide. So I guessed that US 1 would provide a good balance, because driving Highway 1 in California had been so superbly scenic. I was quite wrong; US 1 hardly ever showed us water. Mostly we saw stores; in some places, we saw trees sloping down in a way that indicated that there was coast nearby and beach turnoffs. At one point near Portland, I declared an intention to take the next beach turnoff, so that we would see at least some coast before dark - but we did not see another beach turnoff before Wiscasset. In retrospect, we should have taken the interstate; we still wouldn't have seen much ocean, but we would have seen more countryside before dark.

Our GPS led us astray on our way to Red's Eats; there are apparently two places that can be addressed as "41 Main Street, Wiscasset", and the one our GPS picked was an abandoned building out in the woods that Lori described as a "chainsaw-killer-in-the-woods" sort of place. Google Maps pointed us to the same location. Finally, I checked Roadfood.com for the address, and tried the cross street that it gave, and that brought us into town.

I was looking forward to the lobster roll at Red's Eats a lot; various Roadfood sources credited it as one of the best lobster rolls, and its lobster roll had been featured in the Rick Sebak documentary Sandwiches You Will Like. I've been a bit wary of lobster since a bad tomalley incident in my teens, so I was eager to try an acclaimed lobster roll and have my lobster prejudices reversed.

It's hard to get a good picture of the lights with the iPhone, but this does capture something of the spirit of the place. There was no line.
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I had an impression that one of the Roadfood books had spoken well of the onion rings, so we ordered them and the lobster roll:
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Then came the moment of truth: how would I respond to this lobster roll of legend? A drum roll builds the suspense... then comes the verdict: the lobster roll was nasty. It tasted like old rubberbands soaked in brine. We ate at it for a while, because it was praised and because we'd paid a fair amount for it, but we ended up throwing it away. I didn't know whether this was a rare bad lobster roll, a change in quality since the former owner died, a doom pronounced upon late-night lobster rolls, or just a distaste for lobster in general.

The atmosphere was unpleasant as well - it was thickly swarmed with mosquitoes. We judged the crisp onion rings fine but not outstanding - but perhaps I judged them so harshly because of the horrible mosquitoes.

For dessert, we saw a whoopie pie on the menu that boasted of being Martha Stewart's preferred whoopie pie. We hadn't had one before, so we bought it. Now we know: whoopie pies are the same thing as what are called "gobs" in Western Pennsylvania, except that gobs are somewhat smaller and substantially cheaper for the amount you get. I don't know whether there's a zone between Western Pennsylvania and New England that has neither gobs nor whoopie pies or a zone that has both gobs and whoopie pies.
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Next: another answer to the lobster question.