Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Strategy

Strategy is a word I like. Maybe it is because I've studied business much of my life. Perhaps though, and this is why I think I like it so much, is because I'm a board gamer and you often need to have a good strategy to win. I think strategy can be used in more than business and games though, I think it can be used in family rearing and growth as well. As matter of fact, I think it is something that is required if you want to succeed in leading your family.

The other day I was talking with a buddy about what we want our kids to eat. I said, "red meat off the bone!" of course. No seriously.

The point is that we were talking strategy in how to raise our kids healthy. Krista and I try to discuss family goals at least once a year such as what improvements we want to do with the house, what things we'd like to buy, what activities we want the girls to get into, where we'd like to go, and then most important how we are going to make those goals happen. That is where the strategy comes in. We'd like Kaylee & Ella to grow up learning the Bible and participating in activities with others their age in order to make sure they are ready to join teams later in life. So we've enrolled Kaylee in "cubbies" at church. Ella...well she still slobbers and snots a lot, so we've got a strategy of having a snot rag around.

Do you have a family strategy? I think similar to the 5-year plan you hear about in interviews or the business plan you need to write in order to get a loan, family strategies should be an important part of our lives each year. They not only help you define what you are doing as parents or spouses, but they also help define what you need to do as an individual to contribute to that family strategy. I'm guessing, and hoping, that as the girls get bigger they'll want to have input in these family strategy discussions. No, they won't be making the decisions, but the more we get them involved in the strategy the more they will likely embrace it and run with it (see what I did there, a strategerized even that).

For now though, it's Cubbies, snot rags, and surviving the bed time break downs.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Assumption of Mary

A while back, because I like to try and stretch myself and I enjoy theology, I borrowed the book A Year with John Paul II: Daily Meditations from His Writings and Prayers from the library. Figuring I'd read a bit about this Pope, who I of course new a little about, but has always represented the Catholic church in my mind.

There were some really good things in there, such as the ultimate goal of a Christian is holy living, because Christ is holy. I agreed completely with that. Then there were some things I disagreed with, such as during the Eucharist, the bread and wine actually being the flesh and blood of Jesus and not just a symbol of it. Then there was something new I learned about, which is the Assumption of Mary.

You can get a quick overview of this event here: Yeah, I know Professor Van Kuiken, it's Wikipedia, but I'm not writing a paper for you - which means it'll have to do! Basically, if you like me are too lazy to click links, the Assumption of Mary is the Catholic claim that the Body of Mary (Jesus' mom) was taken up into heaven. This was a completely new claim to me upon learning about Assumption Day, which is in August, and learning what it was all about. There are different schools of thought, one that says she was taken up pre-death, while others saying it was post-death.

Now at first, I thought this claim was ludicrous, but now that I've had a month or so of thinking about it and talking to a devout Catholic friend about it, I'm not so sure. Miracles have happened in the past and continue to happen today, so why not this miracle? The first and foremost thing, whenever I'm discussing theology, is to be sure I attempt to check it in scripture. The Assumption of Mary, simply put is not in scripture. So that immediately takes away the factness (my spellchecker is saying this is not a word, but I disagree) of it. However, something I've really thought about this past month, is that just because something isn't fact doesn't mean it didn't happen. What I'm saying is that, just because I didn't tell you in my blog that my favorite color has changed to green, doesn't mean that my favorite color isn't green.

So this is where I fall on the Assumption of Mary, it could've happened. We know of 3 times in the Bible where someone was assumed into heaven: Enoch, Elijah, and of course the person the whole point of the Bible is about Jesus. So, from that, I know that this is something that does have precedent. There are many miracles that aren't recorded in the Bible, at least from Jesus' works (John 21:25). So I'm thinking it isn't much of a stretch to imagine others weren't recorded, even though they easily could've since the Assumption of Mary would have happened even before 90 AD (estimate) when the last book of the Bible was written.

Whats the important take-away from this? Well, for me there are two. First, don't just write something off because you've never heard of it or doubt it happened. Second, don't glorify something so much that isn't in the Bible and part of God's Word. Even though I think it is possible the Assumption of Mary could have happened, that doesn't mean I worship Mary. I don't put Enoch anywhere near the level of Christ. I don't put Elijah anywhere near the level of Christ. Both of these assumptions are in scripture. Mary, even though she was obviously a follower of God, may have been assumed to heaven. However, if it did happen, the whole reason it happened would've been for the same reason Enoch & Elijah's fancy trips to heaven happened, to bring Glory to God. Not to bring glory to Mary. That would miss the point.

As always, when I write these theological posts, I'm writing them from the layman's perspective of one that doesn't have their profession as a professor of theology or pastor or priest. So, go do some research yourself, but being the do-it-yourself type person I am, I'd say that even if I was able to devote my full time to theology.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Andriod: Netrunner

My 3,400 game played was Andriod: Netrunner, which is the latest Fantasy Flight Games Living Card Game, in the vein of Warhammer: Invasion, this game isn't a gambling game similar to Magic or my favorite Lord of the Rings: Trading Card Game. However, it used to be in 1996, when it first came out. FFG now has the license and has changed it into, the much better format, of the Living Card Game. So here is what I think:

I can't say I've ever said anything bad about an FFG game's components, they are just absolutely great! the cards are very sturdy, the artwork is excellent and thematic, the various tokens are extremely thick and well done. I think everything makes sense with how they've laid out the cards, which is important in these types of games where everything is on the cards and needs to be quickly assessed.

Game Play
Netrunner is a card game, where two players each have a deck of cards that they play against each other. One player plays as the Corporation and the other player plays as the Runner or Hacker. So I imagine something like a big heist movie, where the little smart guy is trying to get into the big bad corporation's computer system in order to shut down the security or change traffic lights for a clean get away. The goal of the game is to get 7 points, or if you are the Corporation empty the hand of the Runner, or if you are the Runner empty the deck of the Corporation. The Corporation essentially builds different servers and protects those servers with defense cards. The Runner then attacks those servers, trying to defeat the defense cards that are there, and then claiming the reward that the server has at the end to score points or in some cases be surprised and punished. Because these cards are originally played face down, the Runner really doesn't know what to expect until they go into the server for the first time.

What is very interesting and unique about this game is the complete difference between Runner and Corporation goals and game play. As a Runner you get 4 action, the Corporation only gets 3. As the Corporation you get to draw a card every turn, the Runner doesn't. The game just plays very differently for the different players, which I think makes the strategy of this game have a much higher threshold to obtain. By its nature, an LCG will have plenty of strategy, at least in the deck building portion of a game. Having two different decks, both a Corporation deck and a Runner deck, I think will compound this deck building strategy. In the game itself, the strategy is much more on how well you bluff as a Corporation and choosing the right servers to deal with as a Runner. This of course, will be set up from how you've built your deck.

My Thoughts
As a big Warhammer: Invasion fan (as of this writing I've played over 250 games of it), Andriod: Netrunner seems more complicated and more intimidating than Invasion. The two deck system turns me off, at least as a competitive player. The reason being is the time I'd have to invest to build two good decks. A lot of times, the drain that people talk about in these games is the money drain, but for me there is also the time drain. I'm a board gamer first and foremost, so I can only invest so much time in learning about the different cards and the different types of decks and would have to do this both for a Corporation deck and a Runner deck. One thing I did find interesting, is that according to what Corporation you chose, the number of cards and the number of cards from different factions that were in your deck changed. I thought that a very nice touch on the deck building portion of the game.

Now, as to what I think of the game itself, right out of the box and not from a competitive standpoint, I liked it. I enjoyed the two games that I played of it and how thematic it really felt. The sneakiness of the bluffing really makes the game feel like a Corporation trying to hide those important assets. The games I played lasted around 45 minutes, but just like any game with lots of text, the more you play the less you have to read and know what things do. We had a few rule questions, but not too many.

My Recommendations
The CCG Player - I'd say this is a must buy. As I said before, I'm primarily a board gamer, but if I was a CCG player I think this is right up their ally. A lot of deck building strategy, a very thematic feel, and a less expensive option than Magic or WoW: TCG.

The Dominion Player - Not so much for this person. Even with the pre-constructed decks, this is feels like it is a few steps up Dominion lovers, who only love Dominion. There are other card games out there that would help them work there way up to enjoying this, but this isn't the starting step.

Ameritrash Players - I think these people will love this. I do feel that this is the most thematic card game I've ever played and theme is what the Ameritrasher is looking to see. Some of the really powerful cards are great smack down fun. I almost won my second game on turn 2, with a hidden card that the Runner thought was important to get and yet turned out to almost destroy him.

Myself - Yes, I'm making a recommendation to myself. As an Invasion player, do not purchase this game. The game is a good game, you like it, but you only have so much time and money to invest in LCGs, since you are a board gamer at heart. You've already heavily invested in Invasion, so that is where you should stay. However, if you could time travel and have the choice to choose between the two without pre-investment in one or the other, then it might be a tough choice.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dreaming About Turtles and Laptops

So I was 35 minutes late to work today, because for some reason I shut off my alarm. I'm glad I did though, because in that time I had a dream. Now this isn't an MLK dream, but an actual dream while sleeping a la Jacob from the Bible or somebody from Inception. More likely Inception.

I was at a river, a rushing river, and I feel like there were other people there. For some reason there was a huge log that this river was rushing into. It was a big, black, gnarly (I like spelling that word) log, that was as big as a house with a large black hole. Occasionally, birds that were in the duck/goose family would fly into this hole and come back out with a turtle in their beak and fly away. Not sure why they were doing this, but they were.

After awhile, one of these birds came out with a pretty large turtle in it's beak, which must've meant the bird had to be large. I don't remember, so quit asking me how large! This turtle was about the size of a turkey carving plate during Thanksgiving. I decided to catch it. Don't know how I did, whether I caught the bird first or just sweet talked the bird into dropping the turtle, but eventually I did catch it. Even avoiding getting bit in the process.

Once I had that turtle out of the bird's beak, I realized there was a laptop strapped to its back! That's right a regular old laptop, not an iPad or whatever you Android users say is equal to an iPad, but just a regular old flip up the screen and start typing laptop. Somehow I found videos on this laptop of people dancing and singing. I don't know what they were dancing too, probably something by the Black Eyed Peas, but it was there. Don't ask me how the laptop survived in the log, on a turtle, then being carried by a bird in it's beak, but it did!

I then was magically transported, you know how this works in dreams, to a log cabin where I tried to get the turtle to be still so I could get my friends to record a video with me on the laptop. First, I don't know who my "friends" were, but since it involves turtles and laptops I'll assume Sean Chambers was one of them. Also, I hear you asking now, why did you leave the laptop strapped to the turtle? Again, I don't know. Perhaps it was important to the turtle to remain with the laptop. Perhaps, and I'm stretching a bit now, the laptop was his shell. Either way, at some point my dream ended with my futile attempt to get my friends to record on the laptop that was strapped to a turtle.

So I was 35 minutes late to work today...