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Thursday, July 23 12:00 AM ET

BBspot Mailbag

Now you too can enjoy my Inbox without the annoying spam. Every week I get some amazing e-mail. Some amazing because of the sheer cluelessness of the sender, some because of the time and energy that went into crafting them and some are just simply amazing.


Got this BBeliever in the comments for the Microsoft to Create Vista Browser story....

This from BBspot: Why would I want confusion, or  AVista Desk Top on a Vista Desk Top, is Microsoft going silly, or cookoo. I think I'll opt for Google Chrome or switch altogether for a MAC.

Random Road Trip

On Tuesday in the BBlog I posted an idea for a "random road trip" and asked people for their suggestions. First my post reprinted...

The kids are gone for the next few weeks, so Mrs. BBspot and I want to take a road trip to "destination unknown." She just wants to start driving and end up somewhere. I want to make it more fun than that. I'm thinking of using a d4 to determine the direction we head and maybe a d12*10 for the number of miles we go in that direction. If you have any thoughts on how we can do this send them in.

And here are some of the suggestions I've received...

From: Michael
Date: Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 8:49 PM
Subject: Random road trip

We do this too.  We try to find a weekend in October when it’s nice and warm (Indian summer to you, a fellow upper Midwesterner).  We load the dog in the convertible and just take off.  We hit farm stands and craft fairs for whatever we can find – apples, honey, a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, squash, crafts and just drive at random. 

It’s fun to be driving along and see a hand lettered sign that says “Honey, 2 miles on the right” and some guy has his own local stuff.  A welcome change from the mass produced stuff we get so often.  Usually we pick a general direction like North or West but it’s just a guide.  We have a gps so eventually we just tell it to take us home so we never worry about getting lost.  We almost always find some cool little country place for lunch and have a good day.  You may be looking for something longer but if you have a free day, I highly recommend this.


From: Vasha
Date: Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 10:13 PM
Subject: Random road trip

Sir! I believe your random road trip to be an excellent idea.  If Mrs. BBSpot is not on board with the total randomness, perhaps 'randoming ahead' and planning the trip via the die roll would work better.  Like your idea, start with the d4 (or d8 if necessary) and just have it pick the direction, and then use another die for miles, until another intersection when you bring out the d4/d8 for another directional choice, and then mileage.  Repeat as necessary, and plugin to your favorite mapping software er something.  Sounds pretty complicated.

However, follow your original plan but for extra (?) geekiness, you should have directional and/or mileage modifiers or perhaps even 'saves'.  I'm not sure how that would work, as I just came up with that idea just now. Or perhaps add a little game-showiness to it and have some free spin or 'chance' cards, that like say 'subtract 40 miles' 'go in opposite direction rolled' er something.

Of course, you could just always come to Des Moines.  Next week is the National Balloon Classic (about 20ish miles to the south of us) plus lots of other stuff here in town.  Visit the hotel where Tiny Tim lived for a while, visit Iowa State University where the digital computer was invented, come see Shawn Johnson in some random event her parents pushed her in to, or if you are lucky, chase down a tornado. Did I just ruin it? Thanks be to you Geekfather.


From: Jennifer
Date: Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 11:07 PM
Subject: your mystery tour idea

That sounds like a fun vacation...only issues may be no place to turn off when your mileage is up according to the dice, though, you can always turn as soon as possible after the given mileage, I suppose.  If you're up for a long haul type of vacation, maybe determine the direction from your dice, but then just go that direction until food/bathroom/leg-stretching calls.  Then change directions with another roll.  Or for a non-dice way, maybe every, say, 5th different out-of-state plate you see, you make a turn ASAP and head in a direction that would be toward that state.  If you cross state lines, what's "out of state" would change too.  I was thinking of your license plate spotting comments from your last family trip entry.


From: Jeff
Date: Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 10:45 AM
Subject: Random Road Trip ideas

Brian, It sounds like you've got a pretty good start to your random road trip idea.  I'd add some rules and points to make it more fun.

  1. Figure out how long you plan to be gone so you can turn around in time to make it home.
  2. Plot out road side landmarks in advance, using websites like this one:
  3. Assign points to the landmarks based on how much fun the family would have there.
  4. Alternate rollers at each direction change.  If a roller's path is within 30 miles of a landmark, they get the points for the landmark.  Reroll direction to prevent backtracking (roller's discretion).
  5. On the trip back, travel straight GPS directions (deviating for landmarks).  Bonus points if you get home in less than 1/4 the time it took you to get to your final destination.

There are some further parameters to add. This is a weekend trip beginning in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There'll probably be about 4-5 hours of driving time one way. Mrs. BBspot is smart, but not a total geek like me, so making it too complicated probably won't fly.

I've done a couple practice "trips" using an atlas and d4, but they didn't turn out that well. Further modifications will be needed.

If you have any suggestions, be sure to send them in. Thanks.

BBspot Media Mention

From: Chris
Date: Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 9:52 AM
Subject: Transformers story mentioned on the radio
To: Brian Briggs

Thought you might like to know that your story "Transformers 3 to Feature Two-hour Explosion" was mentioned one of the popular Boston area morning radio shows this morning.  They said it was funny, but unfortunately didn't mention where the story came from (they just said it was an Onion-like website).  Still pretty cool.. 

Indeed. Let me know if you hear about BBspot on any of the "traditional media." Thanks!

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