Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Farkle Odds

Farkle is an old dice game popular at parties and in bars. It’s a folk game, so the exact rules and scoring vary from place to place. I was introduced to the game on Facebook, where there is an online flash version. Basically, the game is played in rounds. During each round, you roll up to 6 dice. Certain die combinations are worth points. If you score some points during a roll, then you must take at least some scoring dice away and add those points to your point total for the round. Then you have the option of rolling again or standing pat. If at any time you roll and you don’t score, you “Farkle” and lose all of your points scored so far for the round. If you stand pat, then you can “bank” your points from the current round towards your total points for the game. In the flash version on Facebook, the following die combinations can score:

  • Any single 1 or 5
  • Three of a kind
  • Four of a kind
  • Five of a kind
  • Six of a kind
  • Three pairs
  • 1 through 6 straight run

On every successful roll, you should be taking at least one die away. If you happen to score all of your remaining dice during a roll, you can continue the round with all 6 dice again.

So I got to wondering, what are the probabilities of rolling various die combinations in Farkle? How often do you score, and how often do you Farkle? So I made the following tables.


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Bike the Drive 2008

Well, Grace and I both made it to “the cookie ride” this year. We had a great time. On the ride this year with us were Paul and Kenneth , two friends of mine from the burbs.

She was a little disappointed by the scarcity of cookies – for some reason I thought there were more cookie stops than just the two at the Museum of Science and Industry and up at Wilson Av. Usually Grace, like a lot of other four year olds, has trouble sitting still and focusing. However, when she gets on the tag-a-long, it seems like all her nervous energy goes into pedaling and she actually gets a more contemplative. She seemed to take in a lot of the scenery.

Going south to the Museum was a bit difficult at first. Grace is not a morning child, and she was crabby and a bit hungry to start out. We shared a Clif bar, and as we went along, she got more comfortable. People along the way remarked at how much she was pedaling. I honestly think it soaked up the energy – if she weren’t pedaling, she’d have been fidgeting somehow ;-)

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Bicycle Sleeper

We went on vacation last week to McHenry County in Illinois. Grace is now 4 years old, and she loves going out on the bike with me using a Burley Piccolo (a tag-a-long) that has six gears and attaches to my bike frame through a special rack behind the seatpost. Last Monday, she had a busy day hiking with Jen and I through Moraine Hills (I carried her on my shoulders for the last mile) and playing in the pool. That evening I wanted to go for a ride myself, but she begged to go, and I relented. So we got in the car and drove to a point on a bike path, hooked up the tag-a-long and off we went.

We headed through Glacier Park, which is a very beautiful area with a limestone and dirt path and minimal car crossings. The ride is very straight and uniform, the sun was hanging low in the sky, and the evening was warm. After about 3 miles, she started to feel like a loose sack of potatoes back there, so I asked her if she was OK and if she wanted some water. I didn’t get a reply, but I could see that she was sitting up in the rear-view mirror, and occasionally she looked from side to side, so I continued to the end of Glacier Park. At a road crossing there, I stopped and turned around fully: Grace was fast asleep, and yet gripping the handlebars tightly. While I stood there contemplating this turn of events, she gently swayed to one side and the righted herself, all with her eyes firmly closed.

So I did what any loving father would do in that situation, 4 miles from the car on a bike: I took out the water bottle and gave her two good squirts. Grace woke up startled an said, “Daddy, why did you squirt me?” I explained that it wasn’t really a good idea to fall asleep on the tag-a-long, and we really didn’t have any other options other than the bike for getting back before dark. So I turned around and we sang “Wheels on the Bus” all the way home to make sure she stayed awake.

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Against Customer Loyalty Cards

Keywords: Grocery Store Cards, Preferred Member Cards, Junk in my Wallet

I’m turning over a new leaf this week.

Lately I’ve been concerned about reducing my weekly “discretionary footprint”; that is, the amount of money I spend every week at coffee shops, convenient stores, and fast food restaurants. So I went to the grocery store last night and picked up a few loaves of bread (some of which I can freeze), lunchmeat, soda pop, and some prepackaged treats. I went through the self-checkout line at my local supermarket, and while I was checking out I noticed that quite a few items rang up at higher prices than advertised on the store shelf. After checking out, I walked over to the attendant and brought it to her attention. She informed me that the difference was due to the fact that I didn’t scan my “Preferred Customer” card. As it turned out, I didn’t have it on me, so I will have to go back today with my card and argue for the difference.

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Bicycling This Weekend

Just came back from Charlotte, NC! I organized a small bicycling trip among friends, and we converged on that fair city and had our pick of many exciting road routes in the area. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was ever a city more surrounded by thunderstorms as was Charlotte this past Saturday, so on Saturday we ended up driving into Virginia to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of the town of Meadows of Dan. Locally, this is pronounced like “metasedan”, which sounds a little bit like a car racing game, or even a little bit like “Medicine Man”. It was still rainy in those parts, and cold, about 55 degrees, and I was having trouble with asthma.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

Two recent classics:


Mommy to Gracie: “We can’t have a cat because Daddy is allergic to cats.”

Gracie to Mommy: “When Daddy dies, can we get a cat?”


Daddy to Gracie: “There are no more dinosaurs.  They all died long ago, and their bones are in museums.”

Gracie to Mommy: “When papa dies, are they going to put his bones in a museum?”


I know Gracie’s going to read this someday, so I’ll say right now: I forgive you (Ha ha ;-)

Really though, keep in mind, she is four years old now.  This is how kids learn, incrementally drawing connections between concepts as they come up in conversation.  Yet I am often surprised by the reactions I get when I tell other people these stories.  The last one above in particular had me laughing so hard when my wife called to tell me on the phone that I had to tell my coworkers in the neighboring cubicles, and two of them were disturbed. Come on, she’s FOUR!  This is how you learn.  And it’s hilarious to boot!  Was it beyond the pale of office etiquette to discuss?

My Uncle Joe  observed during our trip to California last year that my wife and I generally do not talk dumb to Gracie.  We take pains to explain unfamiliar words when they come up and we usually don’t change subjects in front of her.   And Gracie is a chatterbox and a half, and she reliably absorbs all of the language she hears.  She is very adept at drawing connections.  Nonetheless, the permanence of death is one concept that we’re not going into until she gets a little older.

Oh, and when I die, go ahead and put my bones in a museum and get all the cats you want, what the hell do I care?  In fact, I think I’ll put that in my will.

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Long Time, No Write

No, I do not intend to abandon the blog. However, as a father and a professional, I have other hobbies to occupy me. Family life and work have been going very well.
I will respond to comments soon.

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