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As a fan of randomness, I enjoy the way late game situations can sometimes get rather crazy. A classic example might be one player having a rack full of vowels, the other a rack full of clunky consonants. Here's what I think may be the most extreme late game situation I've ever experienced (taking place in a Facebook game right now):

Me: IIIIILR (a draw after a bingo)
Unseen: AAADDDE?

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OK to Good:
--Going after LaRoche (relatedly: Trying to get out of the Napoli deal)
--Signing Dempster (2 years/26.5)
--Signing David Ross (backup C, 2/6.2)
--Uehara signing (1/4.25)
--Drew signing (1/9.5)

--Napoli deal (3/39)
--Gomes signing (2/10), though I'm surprised they think he'll play every day

--Hanrahan trade

--Victorino signing. Should have been 2/16 at max, instead of 3/39. Guy hasn't hit righties in a long, long time.

All in all:
If nothing changes from now, they'll improve from 69 wins, but I see no reason to think they'll contend with 4 other tough teams in the division...
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Pardon me for another Subway-related post. On my behalf, I would like to say that it has indeed been a while since the last one...

Right now at Subway, a footlong Cold Cut Combo is $4. If you order that, but say you don't want the meat, you've got a Veggie Delite (which is what I often order)--which I think should logically also cost $4. Is there any rationale for not allowing customers to order the meatless Cold Cut Combo, and instead charging them the full $5 (the normal price of a footlong Delite)? Are there other examples of places that charge more if you order less? Because it seems insane to me...but maybe it's not as uncommon as I'm thinking it is?
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I'm certainly not the first expert to go through a stage where mistakes are being made at a relatively high rate. (Heck, a post this morning by another expert inspired me to finally type this post). It's a strange thing to all of a sudden miss easy bingos and not see hooks and just not spot key words that clean up a rack or generate points in non-obvious spots. A few reasons come to mind:

1. I feel like my overall focus is down--meaning not just in Scrabble, but across the board. Could this be because I'm not sleeping as well? Or because I now have a glass of wine just about every night? I still exercise very regularly, so I still should be getting that lift.

2. I hadn't really studied in a long time. As an example, some med-high bingos that I first learned in 2006...well, I literally might not have refreshed them since then. So I'm trying to refresh all of it--all the bingos, all the shorter words, all of it. When I'll have it done, I just can't tell. But every word I review helps the overall cause, and that feels like a step in the right direction. Gotta shake off at least some of the study rust.

3. I play almost no games over the board outside of tournaments (including almost no games against Quackle). My only regular Scrabble action is on Facebook, and I'm pretty sure I'm picking up some really bad habits there. But I just love the game so much I don't want to give it up, even though I'm certain I should.

Well, I guess the good thing is that I do honestly believe I can get back. My kids will get older and easier and I'll have a little more time to study and play games over the board. This unfocused haze can't go on much longer either.
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In each of these scenarios, do you consider the runner described to have "run a marathon"?

1. A person runs 20 miles, and walks the last 6.2 miles.
2. A person alternates: 5 minutes running and one minute walking for the entire 26.2 miles.
3. A person runs 26.2 miles, but not in a race. They ran on their own time, on a course of their choosing (but is known to be exactly the right length). Of course, their finish time would be unofficial.
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So, if Gibson plays Ou(T) G2 for 2 points on his last turn--instead of LO(SEL)--I think he ends up winning the championship by two spread points. Am I missing a better counterplay from Nigel? Has anyone found anything better for David than that?

Man, that was one hell of a great game. I've gone through it several times already, and will probably keep going back...
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There are some deals for those of you willing to stay off-site in Orlando. I just booked here, which is $55/night, INCLUDING tax and the commuter fee ($40 for the room, $5 for the tax, $10 for one-fifth of the $50 commuter fee). I'd have to pay twice that to share an on-site room, so this is a no-brainer to me. It's about 0.6 miles away, I think. Would love to have folks to walk with...

Link here.
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I'm currently working with a couple of kids who'll be competing in the School Scrabble Championships. They're pretty good players; other than perhaps the Meller-led pair, they're possibly as likely as anyone to win the event.

They asked me what they could be studying...they've studied the standard intro lists: twos, threes, fours and fives with power tiles, high prob bingos, vowel dumps. One "list" I think gets really overlooked--the ugly list: fours and fives that have a very high chance of getting played when you have those tiles. Some examples: VROUW, FAUVE, FUGIO, BEWIG, KIVA. These clunky combinations of tiles need to be cleared out when you have them, so knowing these words is often a pretty big deal.

Generating the complete list is course not an easy task as you'd have to quantify the ugliness, but I'll be sending them a list of 25+ words that I think should help them.
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Just booked a flight for Nationals...and even though it's still more than 6 months away, just booking the flight makes it feel so tangible. I'm excited.

Probably will do a quick look at nearby hotels--it's hard for me to spend $100ish per night and not have my own space. If anyone out there has found a decent choice of two, do let me know? I guess Mason is running his shuttle service business again, that could be a cheap option.

Upcoming (expected) Scrabble action:
March 30 - April 1 Princeton
April 13 - April 15 BAT
that might be it for the year, it's about my norm these days
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So, you may have seen my post on Facebook...I ran and finished my first ever marathon this past Sunday. I felt mostly good going into it--had done the recommended training (which included a longest run of 19 miles), slept OK, felt hydrated, thought I had a decent mental game. But the way the 26.2 miles transpired proved a bit surprising, well at least to me. (People who aren't runners might want to bow out here...)

I had hoped to run the entire race in less than 4 hours, 10 minutes, which a pace of approximately 9:30/mile. The first half of the race went well: I averaged 9:20/mile, felt pretty good. But mile 13 took me back onto blacktop pavement, and I wouldn't be able to get back on the boardwalk until mile 23--I'd then stay on the boardwalk until the end. (The first half of the race was about 5 miles boardwalk/8 blacktop). So I had 10 miles of pounding pavement ahead of me, and it would start with 3 miles into a fairly strong headwind.

The combination of things in that portion of the race really started slowing me down. Miles 13-20 were rough, and as a result I started taking shorter strides, really laboring. I averaged just over 10:00/mile. As I neared my return to the boardwalk, I was exhausted, in some serious pain, and wondering if the Power Bar, 3 packets of GU, and all the water had been enough calories/hydration. Would I be able to run through this?

At Mile 23, pretty much right as I got back on the boardwalk, I started a "walk a bit, run a-bit-more-than-that" mix. It was OK--slow, but doing the job. I was still really laboring, taking short strides. My right hip was aching, as were pretty much all my leg muscles. Makes sense, though, I was already 4 miles longer than I'd ever been before. At mile 24, I passed my/my wife's wonderful cheering family and that gave me a lift that allowed me to run half a mile before the next walk. That walk lasted a short distance, and included a stop at the next water stand where a young Asian feller was telling all the runners how hot they were and that they should give him a call. Weird. Anyway, at that moment, I decided to change up my iPod situation, and put it on shuffle. It chose "The Cave", by Mumford and Sons.

That choice changed the race for me. I got an immediate major rush of adrenaline, and started running again...faster than I had the entire race. And I was able to sustain that good pace until the end of the race because a) I kept replaying the motivating song, which features the awesome & relevant line "And I will find strength in pain" and b) the faster running felt like it was requiring slightly different muscles to do the job--and those muscles didn't feel the same kind of tax from the first 24 miles. I finished the race in 4:19:07, which was slower than I wanted (about 9:53/mile) , but I was so happy and relieved at the end that I cried in my wife's arms.

It was a good lesson about the different leg muscles though. Should I ever struggle in a long race again, I'll try alternating between slower and faster runs before resorting to walking.

One other thing I'll always remember about this race is the way my son wanted to participate, and came up with a way to run side by side with me for just a little while between miles 11 and 12. Michael, a dear friend of mine, recorded it, and I'll hopefully be able to post it somewhere soon. Props to this friend for his running consults, for coming to cheer me on, and for even running a few miles with me to try to take my mind off of the pain.
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