Stoke of Midnight 2015…2016?

Stroke of Midnight

For the past few New Year Eve’s, my family and I stayed home. Our main reason is to stay off the roads both for the safety from strangers and also so we can partake more in the celebratory ale. For the last four years, we started in a new tradition on New Year’s Eve with an all day family gaming event. It’s a day where we make a huge pile of board and card games to play throughout the day. We try to see how many games we can get through. I think this year ended up being slower than other years.

Our first year of this tradition was ruined by my work and an all day escalated issue. At the time I was an on-call management style person for a large data center. To make a long story short, my evening started off with me trying to place last minute storage units of computers on a commercial airline. The flight continued without the parts but I lost a good 8 hours of my holiday.

The next year we decided to step up our game and introduce Nerdy the Elf to the mix. (AKA Nerd Y. Elf) Basically, he is one of Santa’s little slave helpers who goes around hooking up nerd based families in their nerd type traditions on NYE. (See a pattern going on here?) Nerdy likes to leave games at our house for us to play. So far he (or she) brought us Munchkin and Qwirkle. This year was another great add to our night. Nerdy brought us Exploding Kittens. This was a fun Russian Roulette style card game. Easy to learn, easy to play. Nerdy also leaves us a letter. This year’s letter made reference to HoHo the Naughty Elf. That got a good chuckle from my oldest son who is familiar to the Comedy Bang Bang podcast I got him hooked on.

This year we started off playing a few hands of Gin Rummy with our new Princess Bride playing cards which came from our Lootcrate subscription. My wife and I saved up a few months of Lootcrate deliveries and came up with a great advent calendar of toys for them. We had a few items leftover for Christmas Day and this was one of them. I forget the rest of the order but we only ended up getting through Gin Rummy, Exploding Kittens, Munchkin Legends, The Office DVD Game, Ticket to Ride, Chopper Strike*, and Apples to Apples.

*Chopper Strike was actually the first game my sons and I played in the morning as a warm up. Chopper Strike is a 1976 strategy game that the kids got from a past school teacher.)

We usually get through more games but we broke a few times for food. I think we ate too much which slowed us down. We all had trouble keeping our eyes open for the last 30 minutes of 2015. Shortly after the countdown it was lights out.

We still have a pile of games to play this weekend in our traditional first few days of the new year playing all the games we didn’t get to in the past year.

A different elf puts something on our shelf on NYE

We never had an elf on the shelf. Never had to hunt for elves a month prior to Christmas. Snooping around our house. However an elf does break into our house on New Year’s Eve. It all started last year when a strange letter was left on our coffee table.  It was a letter from Nerd Y. the Elf who is Santa’s head elf in charge of “nerdy” subjects like comic books and games. Nerd Y. also shares the same initials as New Year’s Eve. So, this is one of his favorite holidays.

The elf took notice to our family’s NYE tradition of playing games all day long with each other. We break out the cards, dice, the classics, and any new editions we got for Christmas. Video games are also played but we try to downplay them and go with a different type of interactive game. Nerdy loved the tradition and his buddies get together and roll a d20 by the fireplace up north. He wanted to add to our excitement so he hid a game somewhere in our house on the morning of New Year’s Eve. The game was Munchkin by Steven Jackson and is one of our favorite card games of dungeon crawling and back stabbing.

This New Year’s Eve I know the elf will be back but what will he bring? I hear its a game with a fun word to say like Qwirkle or Babaganush. We already got 2 games for Christmas and one of them is becoming a top favorite,  Apples to Apples.  The other game is the starter set for Dungeons and Dragons (red box). I never played so I guess I should read the rules so lil Eddie knows what he is doing. Some of the other games we will likely play on NYE is Munchkin, Clue, Magic the Gathering, 3 man chess/checkers, Scrabble, cards, Dungeon Run, and more.

I hope a lot of other families could be visited by Nerdy. Gather around a table with family and friends too. Put Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve on in the background. Order a pizza. Make a drink. Roll some dice, flip a card, kill a meeple this New Year’s Eve. Stay in and don’t battle the roads with drunken revelers.

This has become a great family tradition. I know my kids love it. I hope this carries over to their families when the time comes.

Goals/Gameplan for 2013

135149571435cxJLHere we go again. It’s a new year and it’s time to post up my list of goals to do this year. These aren’t resolutions because resolutions never last. I will probably break a resolution by the time I am done typing this post. This is also not meant to boast because I think I am far off from others on being able to boast. I am just throwing these items out there into the blogosphere to create some sort of accountability that I need to accomplish more than half of the items below. I feel better about myself when I can physically see items being crossed off of my list. Sure, I can easily keep all my goals in my head but it is not the same.

It is not specific but the items towards the top of the list are more important to me than ones towards the bottom. They all carry some weight in the grand scheme of things but I would rather take my kids camping than replacing all the light switches and outlets in the house. Scratch that. I’m not going to waste any brain cycles on prioritizing them.

So without further ado, here is the 2013 goals:

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Gamestop Ruins Second Christmas

Tis the season to be merry and buying presents that will wipe out your bank accounts. Our family Christmas went well. The boys were excited and got some tech items they wanted. Eddie got an iPod Touch and Mason got a Nintendo 3DS. I even did good this year and bought Sarah something she really loves. I guess I can pick out good jewelry. I knew she always wanted something with her birthstone on it.

The boys also got a ton of gift cards. They always ask for Gamestop gift cards because they love the 2nd Christmas festivities they get to partake in with there dear old dad. For years, Gamestop always held a buy 2 get 1 free used sale right after Christmas. We take all our gift cards and spend them all in one shot and usually walk away with 6-9 games. We renew our Gamestop Rewards card and also grab a new controller for one of our systems. We don’t buy video games for December 25th. We let the boys pick out what they want.

winter-een-mas

For some reason Gamestop is not holding their holiday tradition and they are holding some other bogus sale offer. The kids are heart broken. Gift cards sit there burning a hole where ever you set them. Mason is wanting a Mario game for his 3DS. Eddie is looking forward to being a Spartan in Halo 4. My friend who works for Gamestop is also surprised that the sale is not going on. It’s not like Gamestop needs to offer this sale every year and they don’t need to explain why it is not going on. I’m just saying its a let down.

I do hope the B2G1 sale occurs before January 25th. Why this date you ask? That is the first day of Wintereenmas, a 7-day holiday celebrating video games. It was created by the crew of Ctrl-Alt-Del comics to help pass the late winter months when no good gaming titles are released. It’s not like I’m going to let the boys play for 7 days straight but I’m sure they would rather play with something by then instead of staring at the gift cards one month after Christmas.

 

Year 2012 is Coming to an End

We are almost 2 weeks away from closing out this year but only 6 days away from the end of the world. We will see if the ancient predictions hold any truth. I highly doubt it so we all might as well go out and finish Christmas shopping and think of the year to come. I’m hoping my 2013 will be the year of the reboot. This year was not one of my better years but I can’t sign off on it as being the worst. One of the things I learned through my ongoing Tao readings is change or the threat of change allows our life not to be stagnant. No one wants to drink from the cup of life if it contains stagnant Koolaid. Externally things could always be better but internally I learned a lot about myself and I hope to continue down that path.

I don’t want to drone on and on in this specific post but I just want to quickly chronicle how I progressed through my goals I set at the beginning of the year. Not for the world to see but for myself in case I go senile and need to remember what it is I did for my life.

-Stay well under 200lbs. [Optional goal is 180lbs.] (This has been my goal for the last couple of years and been successful.) Completed as well as the optional kicker. Somehow I dropped almost 40 lbs.
-Complete 2 certifications for work. Fail! I’m dropping this for 2013 because I don’t want to feel forced to care about work.
-Play more disc golf.  Sure I would love to play more but I think I got out more than previous years.
-Disc golf in 2 new states.  I try to do a new one a year and missed 2011. I failed to do 2 but I did play in Maryland so I’m counting it.
-Go fishing with the kids more. Fail! I went fishing in NY but nothing local that I could take the kids to.
-Take the kids camping. The boys and I had a great time after the quick storm we had setting up our tent. Can’t wait to do it again in 2013.
-Get all the rooms on the first floor painted. Only the hallway and kitchen remain.
-Insulate 2 of the 3 crawlspaces. Didn’t even hit the planning stages.
-Replace the ceiling fan. Not only replaced the old one but added one to the dining room.
-Replace the garbage disposal. After some bloody knuckles and Jaegermeister, this was done.
-Replace all electrical outlets and light switches. Only the second floor was partially completed.
-Expand the garden and hook up a rain barrel system. Garden was expanded and I have the design plans and the barrel so I am counting it.
-Build a compost pile. Maybe 2013.
-Decommission one of my servers. This should be done around the start of January so I’m on track at removing this from my plate of worries.
-Write 12 blog posts to this blog or any reincarnated form. (Actually 11 if you count this one.) Nailed this early in the year when I started writing game reviews for Boardgamegeek.com regarding boardgames on IOS devices. However I did drop off their radar without a notice. I feel bad and might try to repair that relationship.
-Hook up a surround sound system in family room. Does buying a Surround sound 5.1 Turtle Beach headset for my Xbox 360 count? Didn’t think so.
-Earn Xbox Gamerscore of 13500. Actually one of the failed goals that I’m glad I didn’t hit. That just means I spent less time this year playing video games. I’m currently at 11151. So I was way off my goal. I’m glad I didn’t go with my original 15000 mark.
-Read 10 books. I should hit 15 by the end of the year.
-Learn a new geeky/nerdish trait or skill. Well, I wouldn’t say I mastered editing documents using vi but I am better at it than I was before.

Sure that only works out to be a 50% completion rate but it is better than a ‘I gave up on January 2nd’ completion rate. Now to adjust some of my ongoing goals and add some new ones in there.

Free Comic Book Day is Just Around the Corner

 The first Saturday of May is becoming a special dad and son day with my boys. This Saturday is dubbed Free Comic Book Day. A day where your local friendly comic book store hands out special issues from publishers to all their customers. Each participating store will give out one free issue. Depending on the attendance to the store and their stock, you can get more. Our local store ended up giving us two issues each.

The first ever free handout of comic books started 10 years ago. That’s right, 2002. This event is orchestrated by all players in the comic book industry. (Retailers, publishers, suppliers, and Diamond Comic Distributors) If you live outside the US, do not worry. There are many participating shops in Canada and all over the globe. Check out www.freecomicbookday.com for their store locator to find the closest store(s) near you.

Not only is there free comic books but some locations will have artist signings, bands, and costume troops. Click here for a list.

What kind of free issues are available this year? Don’t worry its not a box full of crap. Click here for a list. I’m looking to pick up Avengers, Mouse Guard Labyrinth, and Star Wars. Maybe Zombie Kid but I’m going to recommend it to lil Eddie since the art style is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

**Also coming up is Free RPG Day on June 16th!

Top 10 List of Geek/Nerd Things To Do This Year

One of my goals for 2012 from a previous post was to learn obtain some sort of new geek/nerd skill, trait or as I’ll add; notch to my geek utility belt. I’ve been pondering what that item should be and was torn. I’ve decided first of all to add this as a constant annual goal. This came clear to me as I ended up with a list of possible items for this year. I ended up broadening it to ten items. Some might be a little lamer or easier than the other, but this is the first year and it might advance over the years. I’m also open to suggestions from readers…if there are any out there.

I’m open to geek/nerd activities that allow me to involve my two younger sons Quattro and Mace.

Here is the list.

  1. Build something with a solar panel.  I always wanted to build something that uses renewable energy. May it be a Lego robot that travels across the picnic table or get a solar power kit from Harbour Frieght and wire up all the external house lights.
  2. Learn how to splice fiber cable. This one would be tough since we don’t carry the necessary tools at work and could be an expensive project to make mistakes in. Playing with small strands of glass sounds like too much fun though. My skills at crimping Cat5e and Cat6 cables as sped up this year and comes in handy when you want to make clean precise cable runs. Continue reading