Gaming in March (so far)

Darlene and I got in another game of Great Western Trail – not withstanding Pan’s attempt to thwart us.  That picture was after having just finished setting up the starting game state – the first time.  We had to herd him away from the table mid-game a few times after that to avoid disaster.

Later, with my local gaming Meetup group, I tried out the cold war espionage, item-collecting game Covert (and cleaned up like a super-spy! ;-)

At another gaming meetup, I finally got the hidden traitor game Dark Moon back to the table again and incorporated some of the Shadow Corporation expansion into play with six players but it went very strangely.  All of our dice rolls were so lucky that we completed all four events in just one round and a half of play – without really any intrigue of trying to suss out the infected players.  Lame.  Will have to try again.  Meanwhile, others were engaged in a multiple-hour, six-player, three-stage bike racing series championship with Flamme Rouge. Darlene and I were introduced to the dice-rolling Space Base game and we introduced others to a quick three rounds of Cheaty Mages.

  

Click through for the full gallery.

To be updated over the course of the month of more gaming….

 

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Sun and Snow in Tahoe

I was able to join Jon at Northstar and Bill and Kat at Heavenly for three days of skiing mid-week last week – and we had lots of sun and snow to play in.

Click through for the full gallery and a short video montage:

   

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Ice Dams Remain

Partial snow load from off of roof

As I detailed earlier (Those Ice Dam Blues), the Tahoe house developed thick ice dams all around to the point where I was getting water intrusion where the dormers meet the roof above the deck.  Turning the poorly-installed heat tape/cables back on, and leaving them on 24/7, let the melt water drain off (and re-freeze into a thick layer on the deck).  I called around and found Millers Roofing would be able to come out and clear the snow and ice from the roof about a week later.  (Boy would that suck if the heat tape hadn’t been able to get the water to drain.)

Well… it would seem that I had some entirely unfounded expectations over what to expect.  I was thinking that a service to clear the snow and ice from the roof would leave the roof relatively clear of both (at least until the next snow storm).  Though I had no idea how they would safely remove the foot-plus thick ice, I was surprised to discover that they apparently don’t actually remove all of the snow or apparently any of the ice.  Six hours of work for three guys (and $2250) and what they do is remove about three-quarters of the snow off the top.  Troy sent me a photo of the front of the house two days after the roof snow removal crew finished (and after another storm dropped some more snow).  Here’s the before/after shots:


One week before and two days after the clearing work

When I did get to the house about ten days later, I was dismayed to see that while a lot of snow was dumped off the roof, the ice dams remain everywhere around the house except for where the heat tape/cables run beneath the dormers:

   

And there’s quite the load of snow and ice from the roof on the deck now:

 

The concern here is how the melt water from the roof continues to fall and refreeze into a slab of ice on the deck – getting up to the door thresholds.  We are starting to get a little bit warmer weather so we’ll see how this goes in the coming months but this clearly needs some work to avoid this mess in the future – both the ice dam formation and the ice slab on the deck.

All of this makes me wonder if it was worth hiring that crew to do that partial snow load removal.  I can see some more shingles are peeling off the roof eaves but maybe it would be worse.  On the other hand, the ice dams remain until they eventually melt away and there’s plenty of snow remaining (and to come) to feed them.  Hopefully there won’t be any water intrusion elsewhere on the roof where there are no heat cables installed.

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Utah Ski Week

Our annual week of skiing and board gaming didn’t happen last year but we did manage to get together this year in Utah.  Bill, Kat, Jon, Stan, Tom and I all hit up Alta, Snowbird and Solitude over five days.  We had plenty of snow and a few extra inches here and there over the course of the week.  We also got in plenty of gaming: Diamant, Sushi Go Party, Bang!, Slide 5, Decrypto, Cheaty Mages, Codenames: Pictures, Ricochet Robot, Cutthroat Caverns and a partial game of Fury of Dracula.

Click through for the full gallery of pictures from all of us:

      

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Check Your Old Sunglasses and Goggles

We were just about to toss out some old goggles that were in the closet and, on a lark, decided to check their UV protection.  Mine were maybe 10+ year old Oakleys (haven’t used in many years) and Darlene’s were her old Smith’s that she had been using up until last month.  Both are fitted with orange “high contrast” lenses.

Well, both appear to be failing to provide UV protection now.  Not good!

Sunglasses and ski goggles can lose their UV protection over time.  So… double-check your old sunglasses and goggles for UV protection!

I tested with a UV flashlight (“black light”) I picked up recently off Amazon when I decided I didn’t want to trust the unknown Chinese manufacturer (“Oho”) of some new camera goggles I bought.  As it turns out, those new goggles and my old Liquid Image camera goggles I’ve been using for many years pass the UV flashlight test fine.  (As do my and Darlene’s sunglasses.)

You can do a quick and dirty test just using a $20 bill and one of these inexpensive UV flashlights.  You can also get a more professional test (with an actual UV blocking measurement) from your local optician.

Here’s a bad result on left (strip is fluorescing due to UV light getting through lens), good result on right – both are orange tint lenses and many years old:

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Those Ice Dam Blues

  

Record loads of snowfall (and occasional bouts of rain) mean lots of snow and ice on the Tahoe house – enough to build up ice dams all the way around the house and to eventually find water streaming down the walls in the dining room.

It looks like the problem spot is where one of the dormers meets the roof.  Melting snow collects above the ice dam below the dormers, getting under the shingles until it gets high enough to stream down where the dormer wall joins the roof.  There is some heat tape installed under these dormers to create drainage through the ice dams but it’s not installed quite correctly and I had mistakenly understood that it’s not necessary to run it at night when the temperatures get down to the teens outside.  Apparently there’s enough heat getting through the roof to melt the snow even when it’s that cold outside.  So I ended up with water streaming down the inside walls (past electrical outlets, to boot):

      

Not good.  I’ve got a crew coming from Mills Roofing later this week to remove the snow and ice buildup.   There will be more snow and then more melt and more ice dams though.  The heat tape that is there now is only on a portion of the rear of the house and it wasn’t installed properly.  It doesn’t hang over the edge of the eaves as it should (to let the water drain off the roof) and a good 8-10 feet of it is wasted strung up on the wall coming from the junction box.  I was able to rearrange some of it but the roof here is too steep for me to deal with most of it.

I’ve been in contact with Brian from Summit Ice Melt Systems and will be looking into potentially installing their product to prevent these ice dams from forming at all.  However, that still leaves the issue of all this melt water collecting and refreezing on the deck below – and potentially leading to further water intrusion into the house:

  

There’s also still the outstanding damage to the roof from prior seasons.  There are several sections of shingles missing from the roof but I wasn’t able to find anyone that wasn’t already booked up to repair the damage over this past year.  I did eventually sign up with Jeff’s Roofing Truckee but he also wasn’t able to get to it before the first snows arrived.  He did manage to locate a supply of the Tamko shingles in South Lake Tahoe though.  Hopefully, he’ll get to my roof later this year once the snow and cold weather is gone:

  

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Quite a Bit More Snow in Tahoe

Three weeks into February and Lake Tahoe ski resorts have already received record snowfall for the month: Squaw Valley got over 21 feet this month so far and nearly 43 feet for the season, and Homewood even more at 23 feet for the month.

Crazy!  As in awesome fun! Well, except when the roads are closed due to nasty, accident-prone weather conditions – we spent one Saturday night trying to get back to the house in Tahoe Vista from Homewood.  First the lake road was closed due to numerous accidents and when we finally tried to take the long way around via Truckee (and through some crazy whiteout conditions across the meadow below Northstar), they ended up closing Brockway Summit.  After taking a break in Truckee for dinner and going back around through Tahoe City, we finally made it back to the house by 10 pm – maybe only barely before the unplowed snow on Regency Way got too deep for us to pass.

Three bountiful feet of snow overnight and many resorts had trouble opening for Sunday morning.  (Squaw and Alpine didn’t and Homewood was overwhelmed with people and only one chair lift they could run.)  That pattern of three feet of new snow repeated again and again over the month.

Short video montage at Homewood, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows over February.

Click through for more pictures in the full gallery.

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February Gaming

Got in a few more games this month, including a long gaming night with Roland, Clay, Dan and Darlene that began with Fury of Dracula and continued with everyone’s first time play of Terra Mystica.  Got to try Inis with four players at the local gaming meetup in Scotts Valley.  Darlene and I played many rounds of the new push-your-luck style game of potion brewing in The Quacks of Quedlinburg.  We also had our first encounter with the “boss minion” in the gorgeous co-op Mechs vs. Minions and, lastly, we were utterly clobbered and my character driven insane in our first two player campaign attempt of Arkham Horror: The Card Game.  So much for “standard difficulty” with even the starter campaign “Night of the Zealot” – we’ll be trying again though, with both the lights and the difficulty turned down!

Click through for the full gallery:

      

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A Gathering of Gamers

  

Six intrepid gamers (Mark, Stefan, Darlene, Charles, Roland and myself) gathered on a Saturday.  We pushed our luck seeking the most treasure in the mines of Diamant, struggled to cross the finish line first in Flamme Rouge, tried to make off with the most loot in Clank! In! Space!, worked to build the strongest foothold at the fringe of the galaxy in Empires of the Void II, screwed each other over with the storms of Category 5, and made and broke mad alliances to establish the most colonies in Cosmic Encounter.  Oh, and there was a bit of dice-throwing for good measure.

Click through for pictures and video…


Darlene and I also joined the local Scotts Valley gaming group a couple of times this month.  Early in January we had our first time run through the lovely fourth edition version of Fury of Dracula.  As Dracula, I was eventually tracked down and defeated but surely only because of the fact that I/we misinterpreted a few important rules.  Wait until next time…  mwahahahahaha!

In late January, we got together again and, as Long John Silver, I tried to keep my treasure hidden from four scheming pirates (Darlene included) in the new Treasure Island.  We also got in a game of Sushi Go Party before breaking off into two groups.  Darlene tried out Whistle Stop, while I had another go at evading the vampire hunters in Fury of Dracula.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time.

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Stormy Week in Tahoe

I went up to Tahoe last week (Monday through Friday) to catch a series of storms.  Monday night delivered a couple of inches on top of the old frozen stuff.  That made for some very rough and bumpy rides off of the groomed runs on Tuesday.  However, then we got a couple of feet Tuesday night but Wednesday was windy and gusting enough to keep the upper mountain from opening at Squaw or Alpine and eventually even closed the mid-mountain lift by noon at Alpine.  It was super wet and heavy snow too and way too tiring after the previous day so I bailed mid-day.  Resi, Troy and Aiden came up Wednesday afternoon and we got another couple of feet overnight.  Thursday proved to be fantastic and Troy and I spent all day making fresh tracks at Homewood until they started closing all the lifts on us.  Sheesh!  They stayed for another day but I had to head home to prep for the weekend.

Click through for pictures and video.

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December Gaming

Lots more gaming over December, including many more flaming balls of lava with Fireball Island and the Curse of Vul-Kar.  With the local Scotts Valley gaming group, we finally got to grow some trees with a full four players in the gorgeous Photosynthesis and we successfully terraformed Mars again in, of course, Terraforming Mars.  With Clay, Kevin, Rachel and Dan, we had a battle of alliances in the classic Cosmic Encounter; Troy joined me and Darlene for New Years Eve and a couple plays of Clank! In! Spaaaaace!, a lot of pushing our luck too far with Diamant, as well as a relaxing run of Tokaido.  Darlene got me a copy of Alchemists for Christmas which she quickly became so obsessed with that we found ourselves playing multiple games until the early morning hours.  That and she’s also hooked now on deck building games like Clank! and Dominion.  We also enjoyed some more dice puzzle solving in Sagrada, building out our fiefdoms in Bunny Kingdom and uncovering lost Mayan ruins in Tikal.

Unfortunately, I only sometimes remember to snag some pictures while we’re engrossed in the games:

  

      

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Home Theater Build Out in Tahoe

The Tahoe house has a large basement bedroom that was just crying out for a home theater conversion using my recently retired JVC DLA-RS55 projector and my old Sony amp/receiver.  This involved getting a full set of speakers for 7.1 audio, running wiring through the walls for speakers and the HDMI video, moving the badly placed heater vents and intake, painting the walls and ceiling a dark green, mounting the projector and adding power, building another seating riser and getting it carpeted, ordering and hanging a projection screen, ordering and setting up two rows of reclining seats and of course hanging movie posters!  The guest bed up front is a little weird and perhaps might make for some weird dreams of imagining an audience watching you sleep, but it doesn’t interfere with enjoying the big screen image or sound.  Just waiting on one missing chair now…

Click through for the full gallery:

  

  

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A Bit of Snow in Tahoe

We stayed up in Tahoe for a week and a half up to Christmas and got in a few half days of skiing at Homewood.  Not a lot of snow yet, but skiable. Christmas Eve day was mostly rain, but it eventually turned cold enough to get some new snow for Christmas Day.

    

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Great Balls of Fire

Lots of fun first plays of games this month both at home and meeting up several times with the local gaming group at the Scotts Valley library.  Alchemists has you experimenting on yourself and your students to figure out the ingredients for magic potions and then publish for fame and fortune, Decrypto pits two teams of codebreakers against each other, Inis has several Celtic clans competing to elect a king across all the land, in Mechs vs. Minions you must continually program your mechwarriors to beat back the onslaught of minions and accomplish the co-op mission but lastly, via Kickstarter…

…it’s the silly, flaming marble madness of Fireball Island and the Curse of Vul-Kar:

 

Speaking of Mechs vs. Minions, check out the absolutely incredible components that come with this campaign-style co-op game:

We also got in some great repeat games of Great Western Trail (drive cattle to market), Whitehall (track down and catch Jack the Ripper), Flamme Rouge (bike racing), Bärenpark (design an animal/bear park), Azul (lay pattern-matching tiles), Sagrada (pattern matching with dice), and Arboretum (build out paths of different tree species).

      

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Fire and Smoke

Lots of wildfires in California lately and over 100 in the Santa Cruz area this year so they’ve closed many of the county parks to try to reduce the risk.  This one a couple of weeks ago (the Rincon fire) was quite visible from my place but happily they were able to get it under control in a couple of days:

 

After seeing someone test the air filtration of Tesla’s Model X and its “biodefense mode” against the heavy smoke we’re getting from our wildfires this month, I decided to pick up an inexpensive air quality sensor to test my home’s air as well as my Model 3’s more mundane filtration system.  (The Model 3 doesn’t have the Model X’s fancy “biodefense mode” or huge HEPA filters.)

With the PM2.5 sensor reading 150 μg/m3 (unhealthy) in the San Jose area (due to smoke from the Camp Fire that burned through Paradise, CA), I found that the Tesla Model 3’s air filter would bring things down to the 20’s in the cabin in just a few minutes when recycle air was turned on.  Later, I stopped and made a video to record it falling from 135 to 5 μg/m3 in less than 10 minutes. It climbed back up to the 80’s pretty quickly though when I turned off recycle air and let it bring in fresh air:


This video was even picked up by Teslarati (“Model 3 protects owner…“) and re-tweeted by Elon.  Hi, Elon!  But they didn’t pick up on my follow-up test to compare the Tesla to a Toyota:
I decided to repeat the test with my 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV.  This time the starting air quality wasn’t nearly as bad as my initial test but both the Tesla and the Toyota were able to filter the cabin down to a reading of zero from a start of 50 μg/m3 with recycle air turned on. At full fan speed, the RAV4 took about 10 minutes and the Model 3 was able to do it in about 3-4 minutes.

With recycle air turned off (fresh air intake on), the PM2.5 reading in both cars climbed up again. The Tesla was able to hold it around the low to mid 30’s but the RAV4 went up to essentially the outside reading of 50 μg/m3 again.  So the Model 3’s system does work better.

One other thing of note is that the RAV4 ended up with a much higher concentration of TVOC (total volatile organic compounds), even though the vehicle is five years old. Presumably this is off-gassing of some of the materials in the cabin.

Oh, and I forgot to turn off A/C in the RAV4 for the test – hence the temperature drop.

Here’s more detail in screenshots – RAV4 start and finish with recycle on:

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Model 3 start and finish with recycle on:

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On a subsequent four-hour drive to Tahoe in the Model 3, I encountered much worse air along the way (San Jose, Central Valley, Sacramento, etc). I’d guess the PM2.5 count was easily at least 150 μg/m3 and probably much higher in places, but I avoided opening the windows to test it. I kept the air on recycle and saw that the particle count held down around 20 but sometimes climb to the 30’s. Not bad, given how bad it was outside.

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Keeping Darlene Safe

 

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