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Giant Jenga

Some signs forbid Giant Jenga.

Some signs forbid Giant Jenga.

Giant Jenga

Giant Jenga is the game Jenga but at a more reasonable scale. It is best played on a beach or at a picnic outside so the collapsing blocks don’t damage anything. Also a slight breeze is beneficial as it adds timing tactics to the game. The more people playing the better.

The Build

The ideal set-up is to build it out of about sixty feet of two-by-fours. Each block is cut so that it is the length of three two-by-fours on a side (so the tower is a nice square). Ideally each block is then sanded briefly on the places and beveled on the corners.

They should not be planed as this will make them too uniform and removed the challenge of Giant Jenga.

Also it is best to do most  of the sanding before cutting (beveling the cut edges of course comes after this).

In the end it should be about four feet tall when initially set-up, most games can get it to five feet with good ones potentially going to six feet if there is little wind.

The Rules

1. You cannot pull any blocks from the top three layers, not including the currently constructed layer.

2. You can do whatever you need to in order to stabilize the tower, including but not limited too:

i. Using a hand to hold it steady while pulling out a block.

ii. Shifting existing blocks or layers for stability.

iii. Taking out and moving existing blocks as long as one more in added to the top layer.

iv. Waiting for wind to hold it up.

3. When finished the tower must stand for five (reasonable) seconds, then it is the next player responsibility.

4. There are no time limits to turns.

5. Blocks added to the top can be placed in any orientation, however the person who adds the third and final block must align the entire layer to be perpendicular to the previous one.

The Tricks

There are several tricks to playing Giant Jenga, these can be used to save yourself or doom the person after you. It is a good plan to make it unstable to the point where your turn will not arise again, however sometimes it does make it back and you must figure out how to fix it.

When trying to pull out a difficult piece on an edge, lean the tower away from that point to loosen it slightly. Look for the main instabilities ahead of time and pull out two pieces, one to place on the top, another to fill in the stability. If you are placing the first or second piece on the top do it to balance, ignoring the direction it is supposed to go, that is a problem for the person who places the third piece.

To doom others it is best to take out side pieces to create the greatest instability. This is best done early on to prevent a stable base from forming (this is when only the middle pieces are taken out). Create instabilities by removing key or load bearing blocks then use the removed blocks to balance these on the top, the next player will then have to add a piece that destabilizes the balance achieved. Finally if a top layer was just completed remove the block from the now fourth layer to prevent the next person from going for that easy piece.

The most important part of Giant Jenga: watch your toes.

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Bartering

 

It tells time just as accurately as one would expect.

It tells time just as accurately as one would expect.

While traveling bartering can either be a chore or a fun exercise. When I was traveling in China I enjoyed bartering with the street vendors over small souvenirs and gifts. I know that others who went on a similar trip did not have such a good experience bartering as I did.

It really comes down to how it is done. If you are bartering to get the lowest possible price, at perhaps a loss to the merchant, they will probably cheat you in the end. Some people bartered down to the lowest price on some scarves in Tibet, the owner went back to wrap them up and ended giving them some dirty/ripped scarves instead of the new ones. However when I bartered I kept in mind that the merchants are just trying to make a living and a few dollars to me means relatively nothing while to them it can mean a lot. I just bartered to a reasonable price, never to the point where the merchant stopped smiling.

A key point I realized is that there was no language barrier in bartering. Instead of me using broken chinese or the merchants using broken english they simply had a large format Casio calculator where we input our offers back and forth. This way there was no ambiguity in the price.

Usually one of us would start with a basic price that was either half or double what the final price would be. Some general tips to help with good prices:

  • Look disinterested in the product or don’t show that it is exactly what you want.
  • Start looking at another merchants goods with more interest.
  • Try to bundle items together, like 3 for 100 monies instead of 2 for 40 monies.
  • Walk away.

The last one is really helpful. If you either know that the item is available elsewhere or you really are not set on it, start to walk away. It may be hard to do but it is part of the game of bartering. 

Also bartering at the end of the day could result in better prices if they want to move the products, on the other hand the merchant may have had a bad day or not want to barter with a traveler.

Always keep in mind that in the bartering is really just a game.

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