Category Archives: Life

Dice with Buddies (Yahtzee) personal heuristics


1. Be somewhat certain you can get the 35 bonus before you fill up 4 of a kind unless you are totally winning and are just looking for a safe game.

2. The 35 bonus requires an average of 3x per ever single category. Aiming for 3x in each will fail. Aim for 4x on some 5s, and 6s and worry about the 1s, 2s, and 3s at the end. With this in mind, the 1s square is a pretty good box for busted draws as it is pretty much worthless.

3. The chance square should be used for busted large straight draws. Unless very high busted 3,4 of a kinds later in game can get you high chance scores.

4. Chase for 5 of a kind (Yahtzee) early in the game. Don’t be afraid to use it as a filler for busted draws as you run out of turns. On that note, this rule is the same but looser for 4 of a kind and full house. If you don’t score for 4 of a kind or full house, realistically, will probably lose.

5. Promising high initial rolls of 1s or 2s or other combinations of low numbers, unlike 6s, should be used to chase full house, 5 of a kinds (Yahtzee) or perhaps even straights. Busted full house, 5 of a kinds can be used to fill 1s and 2s, etc.

6. Though it might be tempting to re-roll everything if you get a bogus initial roll, consider keeping the highest number for high 3 or 4 of a kinds. On that note, don’t be afraid to re-roll everything if there is nothing, but always consider the board. For example, keep a 3 if you’re thinking about small straight possibilities, etc.

7. Though expected value is difficult to mentally calculate especially with three turns ahead, it is useful to be aware that it is unwise to go for 4 of a kind or 5 of a kind when you have a full house even if it is 3 sixes.

8. More expected value: If you roll a small straight with a double (2 5s or 2 6s), don’t reroll for the 35 bonus points. Get points for small straight.

9. Banking on rolling 3 of a kind for any specific number in mind is a bad idea as it is statistically infrequent. If you get a pair of 5s but you already have 5s, maybe good idea to go for 3 of a kind instead even if you are hard headed with the 35 bonus points.

Any other heuristics you use? share in comments! (:

Advertisements

3 Types of Students


Applying to colleges made me aware that there are 3 types of students.

The first are students who don’t care about grades, only going to school because it is mandatory. The second are students who care only about grades, only trying in school because in the process of getting into college it is mandatory.

The third are students who don’t want to care about grades. They want to learn things and express things and make things for themselves rather than for the system. Without sounding too pretentious, I think I am in the third group, a very noble group to be in indeed.

Future in an Egg Shelled Seat


Forward: I haven’t been writing much; more will come in the future. Here is a short I composed a while back. This is just fiction, totally sensationalized. Have a great day! (:

———

I look outwards.

My local library recently remodeled one of its sectors into this new hip thing, and I’m sitting, curled up actually, into one of these egg shell seats. There is a futuristic, ultraslick aura that I don’t know yet what to make of. I mean, the ceiling tiles are porous metal sheets with streamlined lighting. The flooring is this swanky neon that is characteristic of clubs and video game rooms. Speaking of which, there is a video game room, attracting little kids like moths to a light. It is not an natural attraction, moths to a light, phototaxis inducing something that is unable to control, and likewise, the little kids, eyes reflecting the light and seductive obedience, arguing who gets to play Madden next, right here, weirdly, in the center of enlightenment. In an egg shelled seat, I am sandwhich between the the porous metal sheets and the swanky neon flooring, sandwiched between the two slices of what I can only make out is the future.

The kids playing the video games, a couple making out on the geometric shapings of a sofa, and I can catch a couple of swears on the television on some hip reality TV show. And as the middle schooled students, shamelessly flinging their bodies over the iMacs like starved hyenas, I ask myself: Is this the future of the library?

Kant said that doing the right thing for the wrong reason is just as bad as doing the wrong thing. I remember the times when little boys and little girls went to the great white building, not with a passion for the swankiest ‘learning environments’, but for a bulgy-eyed excitement for books.

I look inwards.

I saw there is a girl. I, like the seat I am sitting in, am only a shell, and without the yellow and white core to give me definition, I did the only impulsive thing.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” she returned with a tussle of hair. Suddenly, I remember from Friends that 90% of your body’s pheromones are secreted from the head. She had a sophisticated look, with one of those very soft looking scarfs. She, like me, was also applying for colleges in a white eggshell seat. She, like me, was also sandwiched between the future, between the the porous metal sheets and the swanky neon flooring. She, like me, while the world was shifting into something chaotic, is attempting to stand still, resting in her own egg shell seat, upon her future.

“Hey, want to go grab a coffee or something?”

“Sure.” She smiled, and we stood up from our egg shelled seats, moving past the future, us moving while the porous metal sheets and the swanky neon flooring only stood still.

Life is a game, a reflection


I am living a game, a complex stimulation with a balance of structure and exploration. It is play. It is freedom from structure, and yet, I am making it purposeful and fun.

Life is a game, and I am playing it.

A game:

1) must be played voluntarily

Sure, there are goals of life such as to make money, be a great husband or wife, make a difference, etc, but the fundamental aim of the game is to have fun, the undeclared sanctity. Have fun with your job, love your husband or wife, believe and smile at the difference you’ve created. To be coerced to play is to violate this sanctity. One who must play cannot play.

2) is about exploration as much as playing

The framework of a great game spawns interesting strategy and limitless exploration. The best games have an excellent balance of structure and exploration. By exploring, we can be great and interesting, but never perfect. Like chess, we can only be ‘very good’ at life.

Never has there been so much seriousness in having fun and exploring. And, in the end, isn’t that what life is all about? Determine the goal, love the goal, love life, and, most importantly, have fun.

Snow


This story was written in one sitting, almost unedited. There probably will be typos. But in all, it’s satisfactorily written. So here it is, ‘Snow’, a metamorphosis on one new year’s eve.

Have a great year. -Benson

Snow

I’ve been invited to a New Years party at my friend Ben’s house. He’s usually not the character to host parties, but he had a lot of friends so I’m assuming that his friends told him to host the party so that the entire faction can be more festive.

There weren’t many friends that I know there. Ben’s was this upper societal guy who usually befriends lawyers and small firmed politicians, office workers of the sort, and I, a lowly schoolteacher – a demographic often deemed as boring and unattractive and unskilled (and sometimes unnecessary) – was strangely invited to this party. I was skeptical, but once I realized that Josh Hash was there, the slow-brained donut hoarder, I realized that the standards to make the party were low, and Ben just wanted enough people so that party of motley 30 years old men and women could start looking like a party.

I arrived at 11:15pm, on the front lawn of the place, neatly trimmed and the sun setting in the deep distance, a fiery red, the house silhouetted by the mystic red and the gently falling snow, and I walked into the house. Let me just set this straight; I am not a talker, nor am I one of those effeminate sentimental feelers. I am one of those awkward males that just fit in because he is a male – one of those people like those wolfs who’ll starve to death once he leaves his wolf pack, feeling most at home when all of his wolf pack are here. Not a party-er. Nope. Not even one bit. A teacher. A lone wolf. Not a party-er.

I knocked on the door and I could hear the inside, the loud jagged beats of an expensive stereo system, techno. No college style dunking and cheering, just the polite murmurs of conversations. I didn’t have any gifts, nothing, no hats, even my attire was unthoughtful; just the casual professional I wear everyday, even on breaks. Again, not a party-er.

And single.

But I wasn’t one of those people that went to these obscure parties to get close to a female friend, waiting the right moment, or the last second, to flirt and score with her. No, I’m a poor bastard with nothing better to do. At home, I’ll probably just go online and click on a few links, and read Facebook posts about how everyone else’s New Years was so refreshing and sentimental and passionate and successful. I don’t like to be pitied. So here I am, in the mindset that I could probably have a good time if I try, but I’m the awkward little guy that is too shy to try.

As I opened the door and slowly tipped the door ajar, the music slowly crescendoed into my ears, the bleeding sharp melodies of the metallic band into some junkie version of the New Years song, failing to capture the joyous spirit one bit in my opinion. I looked around and saw that I knew about half the people. The other half, I tried feverishly to avoid eye contact. I just eyed around, and tipped my head to my friends, like giving attendance in a classroom. Joey; here. Tim; here. Jayden; here. Alice; here. And as I peered in my rattish manner, I slowly walked over to the table of alcohol and refreshments. Ben was thoughtful to have a bit of everything for everybody. Hot dog. Sushi. Pistachios. Ice cream.

I went over and picked up a plastic cup, the ones with a white rim and interior and helped myself to a Sprite, mentally heeding myself to save my sobriety to be demolished later. I looked around and the other drinkers were next to the tele, showing the electric rendition of pop songs and new year songs in New York, blasting loud enough so that it could do series ear damage 500 miles away. Before my tongue touched the sparkling water, I felt a tap on my shoulders, and immediately, my mind turned to responses. ‘Hey, Happy New Years’ was the standard and packaged response that everyone seemed to use on December 31st, but I’m awkward as such and much response was subsequently different.”

“Hey. How’s your day been?” Then I spun around to see the victim of my particularly awkward pretense. Then I saw; it was Jesse. I choked.

She looked at me giggling, feigning worriedness about my coughing, and raised her eyebrow and said, “Fine”, as if asking me how I could ironically ask her how she was doing if I was choking on Sprite.

The last time I was with Jesse was when I was a college graduate with her in high school. She changed her profession, from a kindergarten teacher to an marketer. She claim it’s the same thing; reaffirming people things that they already knew. We didn’t stay in the same dorm; I was in a male only facility, but she and I had about the same schedule freshman year and we maintained a student to student relationship from there since, helping each other with schoolwork, studying finals together. I was single, but I guess it never occurred to me back then when she and I were in Paneras that if I were to put my hands around her coming late to her dorm room, that maybe something else would’ve erupted between me and her. But we maintained the relationship of platonic friends and I was glad it was that way. I never had a thing for dating a person you knew well. It was too … awkward.

But now, I hadn’t seen her for eight whole years since. We drifted apart. Thus choking at the sight of …

“Jesse, I haven’t seen you -”

“-in the longest time.” We finished together and it was in such perfect unison that casual genuine zealousness triumphed awkwardness.

She was beautiful; eyes deep, irises large, hair parted and pretty, cheeks pearly. And it looked like her hair was curled for the very special occasion in such a way that it would make a Danish princess envious. She had a gray skirt accentuated by a pink link on the side, very stylish. And I? I looked down, frowned at my attire that only Steve Jobs could pull off as being fashionable, She seemed to notice and she put her hands around shoulder, attempting to physically comfort me out of my rugged robin blue-colored button down shirt. The collar, however, outwore its stiffness and likewise, I was limp, a bit ruggedness in shape and size, not the ideal way I wanted Jesse to see me.

She would have the wrong impression and everything. I wasn’t –

Then I looked up. She said something, but I was caught off guard so she said it again.

“Hi. So, how are you doing?”

“Good.”

“Good!” She was ecstatic, apparently glad to see me. And that made me all warm and happy. Jesse was so bouncy, tipping her head signifying for me to walk with her to the other room so I did. And when I walked I looked out the window.

Outside, it was snowing, glorious, light, sprightly snow, that whirled in the wind. I could tell because I was looking at the dark windowsill where the only thing bright was the small pile of snow that cozily congregated over time, fluttering a great journey down the darkness and coldness. But at last, it reached the earth with pure whiteness in its heart.

I looked back at her, Jesse and she patted the seat right next to her. I sat down.

“We need to catch up. Where have you been all these years?” Jesse looked at me enthusiastically.

“Around I guess. Mostly just here, teaching English at a high school, Suncrest High, and I help run an after school science program for the local Jr High students. Enough to keep me occupied. I haven’t changed much in my opinion. I guess when you live like me, you live in a tempo. Wake up. Teach. Come home. Prepare. Then life becomes metronomic. And frankly, kind of boring.” I squeezed a smile. “How about you?”

“Right now I’m working for a company called Innote Inc. Associate for PR, designing websites, logos, calling the right people, and all that. Right after you left Colorado to go to New York, I stayed. Found a job at Innote. Was a small firm back then. Then it got expanded. And I had a choice. Now I’m at New York.”

“Wow. What coincidence. So how did you know Ben?” I eyed over to other lovebirds smiling glossily, looking at the 52 inch HD tele, the electric band now offstage replaced by some shaggily-clothed teenager with a microphone. Sounded like a girl, but at least now it was a less edgy genre.

Suddenly, I had the faintest notion of something that made me sweat a little bit. There are things in society that just does, and if you don’t follow these untold dogmas, you will be glared at and mentally shunned. For example, when somebody walks towards you on a sidewalk, you must stick to the right. When your ice cream plops onto the ground at an amusement park, you must leave it for the foreign and mustached janitor to pick it up. If you’re a pirate, right before you die, you must scrawl a map of where you hid the treasures.

If you’re a 30 year old at a New Years Party, you must find a partner to conjoin lips with or you will be an awkward duck floating in a sea of Japanese love birds at 12:01, trespassing the following year with social disgrace.

This socially bounding idea frightened me. And if I were to get close (I’m not considering any possibilities beyond), I’m to enter this horrendous vicious circle, and embark on this idea that I must get uncomfortable to avoid being uncomfortable at midnight. Why did I even come to the party in the first place?

To hell with it. I looked at Jesse and her long lashes and she looked back. She asked a question, but now after the mental breakdown (again), I did not recall the question. But she still looked at me politely, expecting an answer.

And I just looked back bulgy eyed in a ‘don’t-do-this-to-me’ fashion, like an awkward duck. Jesse looked at me, then perhaps she got the memo, and asked a different question, “Any new year resolutions?”

“Me?”

“Yeah. Who else?” She laughed.

“Well, I really haven’t thought about that yet.”

She crossed her legs. “Come on. There has to be something you’re willing to work for the next year. Everyone wants something better somehow. Let’s figure it out.”

“What’s yours?”

“Me?” She smiled, “Lose a pound a month -”

“But you’re not even chubby.” And that was the truth. She wasn’t one bit, beautifully fit into her chic dress.

“Thanks. But you have no idea; you’re not a woman. I guess it’s also part of my other ambitious goal to be able to run a half marathon, but I’m not putting that down for realsies for now,” Then she continue to go through her list pensively, “Save enough money to get a visit to Greece. I heard that place is fantastic, but very expensive. Learn how to tap dance. Get a higher rating in chess. And …

… fall in love.”

She expected me to say something but I kept my mouth shut. And it was an awkward 30 seconds before I brought up 30 years of my manhood to stare her straight in the eyes, fearing that if I looked away, she would be mistaken. Females overthink, and I wasn’t trying to give her a reason to be judgemental.

She looked at me, broke out from her pensiveness, then grinned friendlily, “Come on, those are my New Year resolutions. What are yours? Come up with them right now if you have to.”

“Uh. I’ve always wanted to write a novel I, guess.”

She beamed and that made me happy. “Good! What else?”

“Keep my job. Stay happy. Don’t die? I’m not really sure.”

She jabbed me in the shoulders. “I haven’t seen you in 8 years. And you’re telling me that you turned from a graduate to a boring … whatever. Take a risk! Don’t be awkwarded out, and step out of a normal life. It’s New Years! You’re supposed to envision the parts of your life you’re supposed to improve on. Nobody gives a crap if you actually accomplish them or not.”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Sure.” I stood up and walked over to the table where I grabbed my drink and I poured a half bottle of champagne into my half cup. “Well, I guess my job isn’t perfect. And it would be kind of cool to go on a game show, I guess. Also, maybe eat in that new restaurant down the street for my birthday.”

“Your birthday is March 31st …” Jesse grinned.

“You still remember?” I was surprised. Definitely didn’t expect her to remember.

“Yeah. You don’t remember? In Colorado? You had your own little party in the dorm. We ordered pizza.”

“Right.” I smiled but I was skeptical, “But that was like 8 years ago.”

Jesse and I talked, swapped stories. And time passed quickly before I realized it was 11:50. Time travels fast, a new year to pass in ten minutes. I drank some pop. The idea that Jesse was still talking to me with 10 minutes to go before all the lovebirds conjoin is still a bit intimidating. But to be fair, I did have a crush on her. I looked around. Everyone else was with a partner, even John Hash. People that were married talked to other couples. Those that weren’t sitting down were standing up. Somehow Ben invited the same number of females as males. And dammit, was I really going to do something I wasn’t planned to do in less than 10 minutes? Like my new year resolutions?

I threw a couple of chips in my mouth and Jesse was still there.

I walked over to the windowsill and she followed me. I whispered, almost intimately, “It’s been snowing great this year.”

“Yeah.”

“Look at that snowflake.” I pointed. “Are you a snow person? Some people don’t like snow very much.”

“Yeah. I’m a snow person. It gets me excited, it’s the harbinger of winter, after all.” The pink on her dress seemed to cast a warmness around her.

I smiled. Winter, everything white. All over again. New Years. From darkness to light. It’s strange to have such thoughts when minute hand is almost aligned with the hour hand pointing straight up. After all, I disposed all of my awkwardness. New Year resolutions and whatnot.

And I can hear the noise from the TV screen, the shoutings, the joyous festivities, the countdown.

I looked at Jesse. And I realized that there was nothing to be awkward about, but instead, this was a moment to feel special about, like every flake of snowflake that comes down from the sky. A person’s life is just as magnificent, one where the journey down shapes us, and changes us.

I looked at her. She looked at me, lips ready. Mine was premature, but steadfast.

Flurrying and swaying like the twirling white specks, from darkness to brightness.

Dancing, twirling down like a snowflake, I closed my eyes.

… 5  4  3  2 …

 

And the snow fell.

All the small things in life …


All the small things in life matters.

Large goals don’t stick as well. I would guess the majority of New Year resolutions fail because the goals are too large. By breaking the large goals into manageable chunks, we can accomplish more.

Let’s say I wish to write a 50,000 word novel (NaNoWriMo). By breaking the insurmountable word count into feasible amounts, and writing everyday, I could develop a healthy habit of writing 2000 words per day.

The smart people in school aren’t created overnight. Rather, they are painstakingly chiseled, making their learning a journey rather than a revolution.

Or let’s say I wish to be a better person. I can slowly build my character up, picking up litter, saying please, showing love, etc. Hugging everyone affectionally would be a bit insincere, when you normally wouldn’t, would be insincere and sudden. Slowly change, and allow the change to seep into you for a permanent result.

The large things don’t stick. But good small changes slowly compound; before you know it, the habits will make you a new person.