Round One: The Potluck, June 24, 2016

The account of the Friday-night potluck began on Monday after the New Games reunion weekend at the San Francisco airport while waiting to board a plane to Los Angeles. I's been edited several times since.


Play Hard
Play Fair
No body with steatosis


Please excuse the tardiness of this update (also any grammar, punctuation, and/or spelling mistakes). Apparently my lobus hepatis sinister is in a territorial competition with my lobus hepatis dexter as they battle with the lungs for the title of Monarch of the Thoracic Cavity. This not only causes occasional shortness of breath—necessitating frequent pauses —but can result in typos as my enlarged liver expands to prevent my hands from reaching the keyboard.


Personal jetpacks? How about decent Internet access? The theme of this trip—I'm traveling to southern California after the weekend—seems to be WiFi Notspots. Sometimes it's not knowing the password, other times it's not getting reliable reception.


The reunion weekend was good. Only one injury (That I know about, at least. More on that in a future recap). Fortunately, that one appears to be not permanent. (Cross fingers, squeeze thumbs, and any other superstitious behavior one chooses.)


Round One: The Friday Potluck, Friday evening, June 24, 2016


John O'Connell and Joe Killian were gracious enough to pick me up at the airport. Had a burner phone to use in the States so was able to fit in with fellow passengers and make the obligatory call while waiting at the baggage carousel. (Truth be told, I had already lost some points before disembarking as I wasn't savvy enough to call from within the plane.) The description of John's car (plus the pile of clutter I could see through the windows) allowed me to walk confidently up to the waiting pair and jump in. Initially alarmed by the stranger who opened the door to join them, John cancelled the 911 when he realized it was, indeed, I.


Should not have been surprised to discover we needed to stop off for additional toys on the way to Bill and Dinahs—apparently the mountain of equipment beside and behind me wasn't rattling loud enough to suit John. A wiser person than I would have seen the desire to accumulate additional foam balls and Boffers (updated to pool Noodles) as a reminder—and possible portent of the weekend—people really are who they are.


"Joe" volunteered to stay with the vehicle. While shopping, I began to air my doubts. "John, I don't think you got the right guy. Are you sure that person in the car is really our Joey?" We proceeded to Pacifica as if nothing was amiss.


Cell phones at the ready, we confirmed a final shopping list from our hosts of what was needed at the second stop, the supermarket. The request seemed simple, if not apostrophic. Pick up salad fixin's and head to the ‘luck. Folks were already a'gatherin'. Once inside the grocery story my concerns about being stuck in a mistaken-identity farce were extinguished. Joey headed to the adult beverages; John proceeded to wander erratically up every aisle except those that housed vegetables.


Arrival: Bill had thoughtfully decorated his house with New-Games memorabilia, so we had conversation starters.


Meeting folks at the potluck involved a three-step decision tree.

1) Do I recognize that person? (sometimes yes, sometimes no)

2) Once recognized, were there any unresolved issues between us? (Nothing worth mentioning.)

3) Did I still owe her/him money? (Apparently not)


It was great to see everyone. Dinner was wonderful. The scenery from Dinah and Bill's house is better than I had imagined—Pacific Ocean with a bonus full-on view of Mount Tamalpais. (Unfortunately, photojournalism is not my forté. Folks better than I will have to provide the actual images.)


Small conversations merged into a group discussion after dinner. Toasts were made to Burton (Naiditch), Marcelle (Weed), and Andrew (Fluegelman).


Poignant memories, humorous anecdotes, life lessons, personal insights, and more were shared. The plus-ones who attended were patient and gracious. Happily, they felt included enough to share their own stories. Most folks seemed to agree it was a success—and a good prelude to the Saturday Symposium.


Folks who who attended:


Bill Michaelis and spouse Dinah Verby

Bill is retired from formal professoring while still being active leading workshops and is a new grandfather. Dinah is retired and volunteers with the Pacifica Land Trust to steward that part of the world for present and future generations.


Trina Merriman and spouse Robert

As near as I could tell, no Girl Scout cookie gets sold in SF without Trina's stamp of approval. She also finds time to renovate wooden ships. Among other things, polyglot Robert is among the few people I know who will actually read—and probably understand—Finnigan's Wake.


Betsy Brown and spouse Jamie Hascall

In between avoiding Libyans who are after plutonium Doc Brown dispenses medical advice while quietly changing the culture of medicine. If you have seen a good museum display on the west coast (and other parts) you probably won't see how it was mounted. Thank Jamie for that and move on to the next piece.


Barbara Naiditch and daughter Zooey

Barbara is retired from being a graphic artist—while keeping that one choice client. Embarrassed to say I didn't get a chance to speak with Zooey. She's a good listener, though.


Dale LeFevre lives in England and continues to spread New Games around the world.


Don't really understand what Joe Killian does these days, and he has enough juice to get comped to Hamilton. It was only later that I found out he's good enough at what he does to garner an Emmy.


John O'Connell is busy with various projects and was more tuned in to the SF scene than I've ever seen him.


Todd Strong (yours, truly) apparently hasn't quite learned the nuances of making travel arrangements with reputable companies. His car reservation in Los Angeles turned into an impromptu hike.


Dave Bacon with companion Tiger

Dave teaches golf and takes more interesting vacations than most of us. Didn't get to speak too much with Tiger, and she is remarkably supportive.


Humbly submitted by Todd Strong

Waiting in Terminal Three at LAX, another Notspot to add to the journey.


Used the kiosk to check in and wasn't given a magic pass to go through the pre-screened security check. Shoes off, pockets emptied, this line was not an express. Caught a small pause for an equipment recalibration and asked the scanner tech to take a look at my liver. He couldn't tell how enlarged it was, and apparently it's still within the limits for carry-on.


Next installment: Round Two: The Saturday Symposium


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