Friday, January 27, 2006

Uno Olympics

Today went better at work than it has in the last couple of days. I reviewed my notes from one project and started a new experiment, changing a couple of variables. I think this time it should work, but I'll find out on Monday. The supplies I needed came in this afternoon, so we'll see if my microbes held on over the weekend or if I need to grow a new batch of them. Finally, I discussed another project with my boss and figured out some new directions to follow with that one. It's easier to feel like you're getting somewhere if you have a plan. It also reminds me of writing, as characters need to have goals that they work towards over the course of a story. In fact, as I've become more aware of that, I've also felt the need to behave more like a heroine from a story--always trying to find solutions to problems and working towards my goals.

Even heroines have to take breaks sometime, however, and that's where the inspiration for my blog today comes from. My co-workers and I like to play games over lunch. We tend to go in streaks, playing games like Trivial Pursuit, Phase 10, and a German version of Sorry! called Mensch ärgere dich nicht (Translation: Don't get angry, man.) that I have. But the game we play most often is Uno. We started with Uno Attack!, which features a machine that spits out random amounts of cards when you press a button. The machine doesn't work too well anymore, so we've gone back to using a regular Uno deck--but with our own rules. Those of you from college (hi, Russ!) may remember some of them. For example, if Person A plays a Draw Two or a Draw Four on Person B, if B has one of those, she can play it and make Person C pick the total amount of cards. (This actually keeps going until it reaches the unlucky person who cannot defend herself with a card, so you can accumulate cards very quickly. In college, when we used Uno decks enriched with extra cards, we once made Tom Dees, one of the Sellery gang, pick 22 cards.) But at my job, it's not enough just to have the right cards, but to play them properly. What we do is flick the cards into the air and make them spin before landing on the pile. We also impose penalties if you make a mistake. Below are the normal rules for picking cards:

Missing the pile: 1 card
Missing a Wild or Draw Four card (applies to the first person to play after it appears): 1 card
Landing upside down: 2 cards
Hitting someone: 3 cards
Landing on the floor: 4 cards

These penalties accumulate, so if you miss the pile and your card is upside down, you pick three cards. As you can imagine, your hand can grow very quickly under these rules. I've also seen people (and done this myself) miss the pile with their last card and have to pick a penalty card.

Today, we decided to be even more sadistic than usual. We discarded the normal rules and replaced them with a simple one: land on the last card played or draw a card. After we finished, I took a picture of the table and posted it above. Looks like we need to work on our aim a bit, don't we? When we get to the point where we can flick cards from behind our backs across the room and hit our targets, then I think it's time to call the Olympic Committee and have this declared a sport. In the meantime, we may not win gold, but we have fun with our lunch hour.

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