Thursday, April 30, 2009

A new passion: "Settlers of Catan" board game

The alternate title for this post is "How a board game might have changed my life."

I was reading Wired magazine the other day when I came across an article titled "Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre," which piqued my intrest to say the least. I love games of all kinds and I am always interested in playing new ones. Board games have traditionally played a supporting role to videogames but ever since I tried and loved Cranium, I have been open to trying a greater variety of board games. I was very excited to hear that there was a "perfect" one now available and I sought to try it out immediately after reading the aforementioned article.

Long story short: Holy cow! I love Settlers. It is simple to play and offers more opportunities for strategy than any other board game I have ever played. The game is literally different every time you play and is always surprising me. It is so much fun that I have recently been putting off playing video games just to play more of it. Needless to say, I am finding the gameplay richly rewarding and deeply satisfying, even when I loose.

My experience with Settlers has taught me something that applies more broadly to my life which is this:
"One must not hold on too tightly to an idea of what one would like the world to be like. Constantly take stock of the current situation and try to accept it and use it to find a path to success. Always stay focused on the positive goals and figure out a way to get there from where you are right now."

Not bad for a board game, and I am not even very good at it!
My hope is that you try this board game and have enriching experiences just like I did. Good luck everybody!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recently Mary and I went on a little tripi to Mississippi!

In our quest to see every state in the U.S. we figured it was time to see Mississippi. We decided to visit the gulf coast city of Biloxi and used their city's webiste to find some interesting things to do.

First on their list of places to visit (it might be alphabetical): Beauvoir, the late life home of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America.
Au revoir, Beauvoir! (this is the back of the house after we just left.)

At first, the idea of visiting the one time home of the president of the Confederate States of America seemed a little weird. But after some consideration, we came to the conclusion that it is a piece of American History and we can't just ignore the parts that are associated with negative things.

It seemed remarkably busy when we got there, which we took as a sign that it was an interesting place. Soon we were touring the newly restored house. There are many interesting things about that old house,
Faux 3-d! It was all the rage at the time and was done with paint, not wall paper.

Jefferson Davis bathed in that cast iron tub! Crazy!

so walking and looking around was fun,

but it wasn't long before we began to suspect that something was going on.
Turns out that it was Confederate Memorial Day and Beauvoir was hosting a memorial service. After the tour we just sort of followed the crowd over to the cemetary area where there was a stage set up
Cool! Looks like something out of an old western!

and people in civil war costumes milling about. Even the band had a civil war sort of theme to it.
Wow! Just like something out of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

As more and more people started to gather, including a lady dressed in black civil war era mourning clothes, we felt more and more out of place. Oh, did I mention that they were armed with muskets? Try as we might, it was tough to ignore the rediculously large number of rebel flags,
Just the tip of the iceberg.

and by the time they started to march around,
Less cool: Just like something out of "Birth of a Nation."

Mary and I decided we just weren't that into this implicitly positive association with the Confederate States of America. Also, this one motorcycle gang in particular seemed a little too into it,
Not the most diverse gathering.

though they clearly have a sense of humor. As does the gift shop.
Apparently, Loons love it here.

All in all it was a pleasant excursion, but not nearly as pleasant as where we went for dinner. But since we didn't take any pictures of Kim Long Asian restaurant(the food was seriously tasty), the next post will either be about our trip to the beach or the bed and breakfast where we stayed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Yay for the Earth! Please help save water by turning the faucet off between spits when you brush your teeth.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Radon: Mitigated

The ever present threat of Radon gas has finally been mitigated at our house. After finding out only a few weeks ago that we were threatened with borderline high Radon levels, we decided to get some mitigation contracting done. Here are some pics of the finished result.

Yeah, that's a fan that sucks air from a hole dug underneath our house and pipes it 10+ feet up in the air so that the radon gas can mix with the rest of the air, just like if there were no house there to collect it all. It's all about soil communication and pressure differences.

Hey, what's that on the fan enclosure? Looks serious, let's zoom in for a closer look.

Booyah! This is super serious! This guy handles radioactive material so like, don't alter or disconnect it.

Love Is...

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

David Sedaris

Elliot and I went with our friends Mark, Leslie, and Steve last night to see David Sedaris speak. It was great! I'll have to write more later...


Okay, so we've had tickets to see David Sedaris speak since November. Elliot and I were super excited and so glad when April 16th finally rolled around. We've read several of Mr. Sedaris's books and heard him on NPR, so it was a treat to be able to go.

Before the performance, David Sedaris was doing a book signing. We hadn't bought his most recent book, so we purchased a copy and he signed it. Yay! He was very nice... even to the person in front of us in line who talked to him FOREVER about NOTHING. I guess you've got to be nice to your fans, though.

For the performance, David Sedaris read several new stories that he's working on, and then there was a Q&A session. All very entertaining. It was a fun night.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Elliot and I are taking it easy today, eating chocolates and filing taxes. We hope that you are having a happy, candy-filled day, too.

Last night we went to the Co-cathedral of St. Thomas More, a Catholic church here in town, and watched our good friend, John, be confirmed. The service was 3 1/2 hours long, and full of candle lighting, singing, confirmations, and baptisms. Here are a few pictures.

Elliot and I, just before leaving the house:

John getting confirmed:

Elliot and John after the service:

Yay for John!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Okra Creole and Banana Bread from Barbados

We're finally working on our World Peas project again! Yay!

Last night Elliot and I made Okra Creole and banana bread from recipes used in Barbados. Elliot couldn't really get past the sliminess of the cooked okra, but he enjoyed the taste of Okra Creole nonetheless. The fresh corn really adds a nice flavor.

Our first loaf of homemade banana bread:

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Caterpillar Camo

We're always finding cool new animals and insects in our yard. Here's the latest-- a wonderfully camouflaged caterpillar. You can't tell from the pictures but it scooted its little body along like an inch worm. Adorable!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eggah from Tunisia

I forgot to post the recipe when we made eggah a while back.

It was very tasty-- like a baked omelet. We ate it as a light dinner with a salad, but it would make a perfect dish for brunch.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Radar Gets Jealous

Lately, Radar can't stand for Applesauce to be sitting in my lap. If she sees him there, she comes over, licks his head, and then sits on top of both of us. I guess she's asserting her dominance with some sort of passive/aggressive cat behavior. Applesauce is the biggest pushover ever, so he just lets her sit on top of him. As long as they're not fighting, it's fine by me. Keeps my legs warm, anyway.