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.

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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!

Becoming a Geek Dad

As a dad you can always instill certain beliefs and ideology and hobbies onto your kids. You might not mean for it to turn out that way, but they are such a helpless mound of clay ready for your kneading. We, as parents, tend to do in conscientiously…sometimes. I’m always for trying to push my kids in a certain direction as long as I am not narrow minded or don’t mind them choosing against it. I’ve done the typical root for this sports team, play this sport, do this, try that. I wouldn’t say I pushed lil Eddie into playing a trumpet but I helped him choose the instrument I played as a kid. He could of picked the saxophone like he originally wanted, but he didn’t like sucking on the reeds.

Anyways, a lot of stuff I push on my kids to do has its own level into geekdom. You could analyze it all you want and tag watching and rooting for a specific sports organization as a level of geek. (Especially when the fan starts spouting out statistics, strategies, and historical revelations about the game or team.) The more wide range of stuff I introduce my kids to, I realize that I am that geek dad. I think I am more of a geek now than I was 2 decades ago. Good thing too, I probably would of spent more money and acquired more stuff lying around the house if I did this when I was single.

A lot of the stuff I pushed or encouraged on my boys would of come naturally as they usually do for young American boys. You know the typical superhero, video game, Pokemon, and war. Sure I helped guide them along by taking them to comic book stores, introducing them to video games other than shooters (jRPG), Magic the Gathering, and old fashion strategy board games. My wife and I also helped them pick out good literature from Star War novels, Harry Potter, Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Kingdom Keepers, and others. (Eddie reads so many books that I may have to buy him a Kindle. We have three huge bookshelves filled with books.)

We do puzzles, models, science experiments, etc. We watch Discovery and the Science Channel. We go to museums to see exhibits like King Tut, Star Wars, Pirates, and Narnia. (All social exhibits at Ben Franklin Institute over the years.) I try to explain the technologies I deal with at work. We build things. (We once took all their Hot Wheels tracks and built the longest raceway that spanned two rooms.) Lil Eddie and I almost stayed up all night playing video games.

I can’t wait for this summer to start some new projects. We got The Dangerous Book for Boys, which has a few projects in there. Plus Eddie has some other book with all kinds of cool stuff from making Zombie makeup to laser pens. I’m also considering getting the Geek Dad book series which outlines a lot of other fun projects.

Don’t worry. No matter how much reading and imagination they use, they still play sports and are a huge hit with the ladies. Which is good, no matter how geeky they become, they are not living in my basement. (I have plans for my basement…that’s my domain!) Now excuse me while we get fresh water for our dinosaur plants.

Bringing Back Family Game Night

It is time to put this back on the table. The tradition of a weekly family game night. A night where there is no TV, no Netflix, and amazingly, no soccer practices or games. A night where we all sit down and play one of our numerous board, card, or dice games. Either all 4 of us or 2 or 3…I’d say 5 but our cat, Matilda, only messes up the game boards or chews on the cards.

It’s time to brush up on my chess skills to take on lil Eddie. He is at that age where things just click on their own. He is building his own strategy and I can see in his face that he is planning ahead. Soon, I’ll have to increase my skill level so he does not beat me all the time. In chess, he has awhile to go to beat me. That was one of my games back in the day. Magic The Gathering, we almost break even when we play. I would say I win about 60% of the time.

It is time to start adding to our game shelves. It is that yard sale season. Anyone out their having a yard sale or getting rid of games, let me know! I need to get out their and find some missing classics for us. Some high on my list to find is a bigger chess set, Risk, Stratego, Mastermind, Othello, and Axis and Allies. Eddie’s been eyeing some non-traditional games that I am not accustomed to. Mainly games he sees at our local comic shops. You know the one’s that have instruction manuals as big as Cisco training text book. No not the one where you have to dress up, but I’m sure a d20 is needed to roll something.

I’m not against trying new games. Never have been, I just never had the chance or the close immediate friends that were also into it to play. It’s one thing to teach a friend Mancala or even Risk for the first time but trying teaching a game from TSR to anyone, especially when you have no clue on how it is played. Actually, I owned Marvel Super Heroes RPG. I read the manuals, tried to play practice games, but I do not think I was doing it right. I knew some kids that lived close by that probably were into it, but I didn’t know or didn’t bother to find out. Not because I thought it was nerdy or anything. I had my own nerdy things out in plain view that it didn’t matter to me.

Pretty soon our game shelves in the family room will be packed and it will be time to thing of our basement project. We want to convert the basement into a huge game room. It’s a big open space and there is already a poker table and air hockey down there. I want to add another long rectangle table, my desk, data cabinet for a server or two, couches, TV, shelves, and of course a small bar.I’m not going for that over the top media room, sports themed pub, or an over-the-top fantasy room (although his ideas go along with a lot of the decor styles in our home).

*On top of the games, anyone getting rid of 4-6 wooden chairs for my poker table?