The Stanley Hotel trip

Several months ago my daughter asked me about The Stanley Hotel. Apparently she had heard about it somewhere and I explained that it was the inspiration the novel, and subsequent movie, The Shining. She’s always been fascinated with the paranormal and the chance to stay at a haunted hotel was something she had to do.

By the time came around to make the reservations, a foster daughter had joined our family. The reservations were made, we packed up and headed for Colorado.

On our way to Estes Park, we stopped at the Dam Store. Yes, it’s the best store by a dam site. Very nice little shop with lots of gifts and trinkets, although the tower was closed so we couldn’t go look at the dam.

Although it was a long drive, it was well worth it. The Stanley Hotel is a gorgeous building situated in a beautiful locale. The staff there was very accommodating, friendly and helpful.

After we got there and settled in, we grabbed some dinner in The Whiskey Bar. Very good food, but if you go, be ready for the prices.

After dinner we headed to the basement to go on the Ghost Tour. They take around the grounds to a couple of buildings, as well as a few rooms in the hotel itself. They give you a run-down of the history of the hotel, as well as why it’s haunted.

After the tour it was back to the room for the night. Even though we were on the fourth floor, which is supposedly the most haunted part of the main hotel, I never heard or saw anything of the paranormal slant. The night passed uneventfully, although the wind did pick up around 4:00 AM.

We checked out, had breakfast and headed back to Nebraska.

If we do that again, we’ll probably stay an extra night, just so we can go around Estes Park and take in some of the sights.

It’s an experience that I highly recommend.

Check out the photo gallery here!

Changes are afoot!

If there’s one thing that never changes, it’s that everything changes eventually. Life is constantly in flux; people and situations existing in a perpetual dynamism that guarantees, even on a day-to-day basis, that things will never be quite the same. Sometimes the changes are small, sometimes they’re life-altering.

‘Life altering’ is where things are now. Not so much for me (although it does affect a little), but for someone else.

Two friends of mine, Jason and Lora, are moving away. Not a great distance, but far enough that it will require plans to be made in order to spend time together. These are the folks that introduced me to ‘real’ board games. Not the standard fare I was used to, like Monopoly or Clue, but games with real weight and complexity to them, like Power Grid and Terra Mystica.

Many, many years ago, long before I met Jason and Lora, there was a group of us that were really into role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons and Shadowrun. We also played Magic: the Gathering, with that card game eventually taking over all of our other games. But, as mentioned above, things change. People moved or simply fell out of touch with each other. I was left without a gaming group, desperately seeking another.

Enter Linda.

I kinda knew Linda through work. She worked there roughly the same time that I did, but we never really interacted with each other. Still, we knew about each other. Linda met, and married, Jerry, who found out that I painted miniatures. He once saw my work and made the comment that he had painted some for the gaming group that he belonged to. I mentioned that I was looking for a group to game with and asked that he keep me in mind if there was ever an opening at the table.

Months passed.

Linda then sent word to me that the gaming group was looking for someone to fill an empty seat, so I jumped at the chance. Slight problem, though: they were playing 4th Edition D&D; I had stopped playing during the hey-day of 2nd Edition D&D. I was very much behind the times, but the group assured me that they would bring me up to speed.

The first night I stayed pretty quiet, just learning about the folks around the table. Seeing how they acted and reacted to things, what their sense of humor was like and how they treated each other. It was a good group, very friendly and, much to my joy, major geeks. We understood each other. We could relate to each other.

I was very happy when I was invited back the next week.

It was about three or four weeks later that we were wrapping up our usual Friday night gaming session when Jason mentioned that they were going to play board games the next day and asked if I would be interested. One thing to keep in mind is that, at that time, the ‘game shelf’ in their house hadn’t been built yet. The games were tucked away in two different closets, out of sight. So when asked, all I thought of were the same tired old games. Still, I really liked these folks. Figuring it could be fun and we would get to know each other better, I accepted.

When I arrived the next evening, I was asked what I wanted to play. I shrugged, unsure of what to say. Jason lead me over to one closet, opened the door and said that I should pick one. I had never heard of any of those games. Words like Catan and Agricola and Dominion were boldly emblazoned on boxes, but offered no clues as to what they were. I confessed that I had never heard of these games and had no idea how to play any of them.

There was a strange look in their eyes, a glint not unlike a child on Christmas morning, and a wide grin on their faces. No doubt I get this same look these days when I bring others to new games.

And thus I was brought into the wide and wonderful world of board games. Games that challenge me, that make me think and, most of all, are absolutely fun to play.

Except Agricola. Agricola makes me cry and doubt my sanity.

Even though Jason and Lora are moving, this isn’t a ‘good-bye’ for us.

We’ll still talk on a regular basis. We still have our Friday night gaming sessions (we’re playing Pathfinder these days). Thanks to technology we’re able to meet-up virtually with Jerry, who’s living in Florida now. I’ll be able to join the game from home with my laptop. Just because there’s a lot of miles between us doesn’t mean we can’t still play games together.

One of the greatest things about Jason and Lora, besides getting me started with board games, is that they accepted me as I am. There wasn’t any judgement or chastising because we believed differently. Our belief systems are diametrically opposed, yet not only we were able to get along as individuals, we became friends. We care about each other. We help each other.

Hopefully we’ll still get together for board games, although it won’t be as frequently as it used to be. They’re going to find gamers in their new locale, just as I’m starting to find gamers around here.

So, Jason and Lora, I say thank you. You’re great friends and you’ve been some of the kindest, most-welcoming people I’ve ever met. I wish you all the best as you start the next chapter in this ever-changing life. May the move go smoothly, your boxes be quickly unpacked and your new home worry-free.

I’ll see you two later!

Hello to all my new ‘Friends’!

No doubt you’ve heard the expression that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. This is usually said by those individuals that are extroverts to the extreme. Those folks that are always peppy and “up”, who always have a smile on their face and spend every day walking on sunbeams. They’re friends with everyone and you can’t help but like them. You know….my evil counterpart; my antithesis.

Okay, so I’m not that bad, but I’ve never been overly outgoing, even though some people swear I’m one of those extroverts. Truth is, I’m a pretty severe introvert. However, over the years, with a great deal of practice, I’ve managed to be more outgoing but a lot of down time is required to recharge.

But this post isn’t about being an introvert or developing social skills.

This about a little experiment I tried over the weekend.

A few weeks backs I received a ‘Friend’ request on Facebook. Thing is, I had no idea who it was. The name didn’t seem to ring a bell and none of their photos showed a face that brought back any memories. We only had one friend in common, so it probably wasn’t someone that traveled in any of my local social circles.

Since I joined Facebook there have been a lot of people that I’ve reconnected with, some I haven’t seen in more than twenty years. Some of those were folks that I didn’t remember right away, but after looking over their profile a memory was jogged and pieces fell into place.

Not so with this individual.

This got me to thinking, as I’m wont to do, about how many people on Facebook accept these requests without really knowing who they are. How many click ‘Confirm’ without a clue as to who they’re letting to their life? How many are sending out requests to total strangers, just because they have a ‘Friend’ or two in common?

My rule has always been that I won’t send or accept a ‘Friend’ request without knowing who that person is. Some on my ‘Friends’ list are folks that I’ve never actually met, but I know them from various places online. We’ve spoken through forums or emails or private messages. We kinda-sorta know each other. That’s why my ‘Friends’ list on Facebook only has 123 people on it; and I’m amazed I have that many.

This time I broke that rule. I went ahead and accepted the request anyway because an idea sparked across the synapses.

Maybe this person was one of those individuals that likes to reach out, to make those inter-personal connections that draw us together as a species. And maybe, just maybe, it was something that I should try myself. As much as I enjoy my introversion – and I do relish it – maybe it was time to open up a little. But let’s not get too crazy about it. I’m not going to go out in public, walk up to complete strangers and ask them to be my friend. Finding friends on Facebook seemed like a good compromise.

As I perused my “People you might know” list on Facebook, I saw a lot of people that I know in real life and I almost started sending out requests to them; however, I hesitated when a thought occurred to me: what if I sent requests to people that I don’t know? What if I took a chance and reached out to almost complete and total strangers, just to see what would happen?

So I decided to send 50 ‘Friend’ requests to people that I don’t actually know to see how many confirmed and how many ignored me.

There were rules to this, of course. I’m wasn’t going to send out 50 requests all willy-nilly.

They had to be in my “People You May Know” list that Facebook generates.
We must have at least three ‘Mutual Friends’.
We must not have had any interaction in real life (that I can recall).
They can’t be friends of my daughters.

I would give it forty-eight hours and see who all accepted, who replied with a “who the heck are you?!?” and how many didn’t accept.

Hopefully my new ‘Friends’ understand that I was truly reaching out to meet new people. I wasn’t doing this to make light of them or Facebook or anything like that.

On Saturday morning I went through the list and sent out the 50 ‘Friend’ requests. No, I’m not naming names.

Here’s what happened:

Two accepted my ‘Friend’ request before I even finished sending all fifty requests. Within one minute of starting this, I had already gained two new ‘Friends’. That’s pretty cool.

Within five minutes, before I closed out of Facebook for a bit, four more had accepted. Six out of fifty.

An hour later, I checked back in. Two more had accepted. Eight out of fifty.

Twenty-four hours later and fifteen had accepted my friend request, with a couple saying of them sending a greeting.

At the end of the forty-eight hours, there were twenty-nine new friends. For all you stat-lovers out there, that’s 58%.

Some more might accept as days go by. After all, some people don’t get on to Facebook very often. I know a couple people that check in about once every six months.

Still, this was pretty cool and it answered the question. There are people out there willing to take a chance, to meet (in the virtual realm) someone they really don’t know and perhaps make a new friend.

Now it’s time to go back through the list and invite people I actually know!

Weekend gaming – 11-15-2014

After last week, this past weekend was down-right quiet, comparatively-speaking. There were games Wednesday and Saturday, but that was it.


Tried out Concordia, which was new to me but the others present had played before. It’s an interesting game using resource management to send out your colonists to other cities on the map, either on foot or by ship. I picked up on the mechanics pretty quick, which I suppose shouldn’t be too surprising. After playing all of these board games it gets easy to learn how to play. The strategy of it, though…well, that takes a bit longer. I came in last by a pretty large margin.

After that we moved on to Masters Gallery, a game using cards to ‘bid’ on artwork. The basic idea is to drive up the value on the various masters (Van Gogh, Vermeer, etc) and have the most paintings by those artists to score points. Pretty sure I came in last on that one, too.


Our two new gamers that I’ve mentioned before and I went to a friend’s house for soup and games. It was a great way to spend a cold winter evening.

Since they’re still relatively new to gaming, we decided to introduce them to Splendor. It’s pretty easy to pick up, but, as I mentioned above, learning the strategy can take a while. I won the first game, but they liked it enough it give it another go. One of our new gamers took first place that time around.

After that, our host and I knew it was time to step things up a bit and brought out Ticket to Ride. Often referred to as a ‘gateway game’, it bridges the gap between the simpler games (Monopoly, Clue, etc) and the more advanced and complex games, such as Terra Mystica, Concordia, Belfort, etc. They caught on to the idea of building the rail lines and completing tickets, but our host has far more experience with this game than the three of us combined and they easily won.

With that game in books, we went with another game that’s a bit more complex than Ticket to Ride, but still not crossing over to the more intricate and nuanced games, and broke out 7 Wonders. In this game you draft cards to grow your resources, build armies, study sciences, and construct your ‘wonder’ (Pyramids at Giza, The Great Wall, etc). Our other new gamer took first place by about twenty points, so they either grabbed onto the concept of the game fairly quickly or they just got lucky.

We’ll go with the former.

It was getting late by then, so we wrapped up the night and said our good-byes.

Although not as jam-packed with gaming as last week, it was still a great weekend. The fact that our new gamers are really enjoying these games is fantastic. And it sounds like they’re starting to bring others into the fold as well as I’ve been asked to their house this week to introduce others to some of these games.

Happy gaming!

6Months (3) – Week 1

Week one is done and it wasn’t perfect, but some progress was made. Down a few pounds and a bit in body fat.

My nutrition is still getting dialed in. It’s amazing how quickly you can fall back into the unhealthy eating habits, so it’s taking a little time to get back to the healthy ones. I went to the game night on Saturday and even though I told myself to stay away from the snack table, there I was, loading up on pretzels and cookies. Right now I would say that I’m at about 60% healthy eating throughout the week. It used to be around 90 – 95% and I’ll get there again.

On the training side of things, I’m quickly getting back to where I was. No major DOMs, so my body isn’t as out of practice as I thought it would be. Even better is the fact that my shoulder seems to be holding up well although I’m starting to increase the weight. I’m not going to push too hard, though; rather take it slow and avoid injury.

Not much to report beyond that. Just trying to get back to where I was and making some progress in that area.


Starting weight (pounds): 247.2
Starting BF%: 27.5

Current weight: 242.4
Current BF%: 27.0

Weight: -4.8
BF%: -0.5

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