Getting a smart phone

People keep saying they want to kick me…and maybe they should. After years of saying that I wouldn’t get a smart phone, I finally broke down and bought one.

My aversion to smart phones isn’t due to a traumatic experience as a child or because I’m afraid that microwaves or whatever are leeching into our brains as we press these miniature super-computers against our heads. Mostly, for me, it’s been the cost. That, and I’ve never been one for jumping on bandwagons.

When it comes to cost, you have the price of the phone, which can range from a couple hundred dollars to almost a thousand. Then there’s the data plan, which you absolutely, positively must have in order to use one these devices. I have a teenage daughter, so I know how much data a person can burn through in a day. Granted, I won’t be selfie-ing myself every five seconds like most kids, and a few adults, do these days, but I imagine I’ll use some data. It helps that the phone will be able to access wireless networks, so I won’t be using data all the time.

Looking at phones these days, it’s like they’re moving back in the direction from whence they came. Phones used to be these big, bulky things that you couldn’t possibly fit in your pocket. The trend moved towards smaller and smaller, until you had phones much like my current flip-phone. Small and compact, they easily fit into your front pocket. They were a marvel of the modern world.

Speaking of flip-phones, one reason I really like mine is because I’m a huge geek and a Star Trek fan. Using a flip-phone is like using the communicators they had on the original series. I remember being fascinated that such a small device could send communications across such great distances. The fact that I could now use one of those devices myself made my inner-child-geek very happy.

With the trend of being connected all the time, we’ve started heading back in the direction of bigger phones with bigger screens so we can watch movies and surf the net (is that even a term anymore? Does anyone even call it that??). A lot of people I see can’t fit their phones into their pockets anymore. At least, not comfortably. At this rate, we’ll be lugging our phones around in backpacks. Or they’ll just be wired directly into our brains. Whichever.

So the new phone is currently making it’s way to me. After a lot of reading and research, I decided to go with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I like Samsung and almost all of my phones have been from them. I’ve never had any serious problems with the phones, so sticking with what works makes sense to me. With only two choices of colors, I went with black. Should be a really fun time trying to figure how to work this, so if you get a weird, random text from me or a photo of my pocket, I apologize in advance.

Galaxy Note 4

Oh! It turns out people want to “Kik” me. And “Snapchat” me. And that I need to “Instagram”. And that I should be on “Hot or Not” (Not!).

Yeah, I think I’ve officially reached the point of “being old”. I can’t understand half of what these kids are saying to me anymore.

Halloween Safety Tips

With the approach of All Hallow’s Eve, a few safety tips for you:

1. When it appears that you have killed the monster, NEVER check to see if it’s really dead.

2. Never read a book of spells aloud, even as a joke.

3. Do not search the basement, especially if the power has gone out.

4. When you have the benefit of numbers, NEVER pair off or go alone.

5. If you’re searching for something which caused a loud noise and find out that it’s just the cat, GET OUT!

6. If appliances start operating by themselves, do not check for short circuits; just get out.

7. If you find a town which looks deserted, there’s probably a good reason for it. Don’t stop and look around.

8. Don’t fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing.

9. If you’re running from the monster, expect to trip or fall down at least twice. Also note that, despite the fact that you are running and the monster is merely shambling along, it’s still moving fast enough to catch up with you.

10. Stay away from certain geographical locations, like Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, anywhere in Texas where chainsaws are sold, the Bermuda Triangle, or any small town in Maine.

11. Dress appropriately. When investigating a noise downstairs in an old house, women should not wear a flimsy nightgown.

12. Carry a flashlight not a candle.

13. If blood drips on you from above, don’t look up, just run.

14. If you run into someone wearing a hockey mask and you are not at hockey rink, run!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Weekend gaming – 10-25-2014

Something that I would like to do each week, if possible, is to quickly talk about any gaming that I got in over the weekend. Nothing major or detailed; just a quick run-down. It wasn’t until Saturday that I thought about grabbing a photo at the end of the game. Hopefully I’ll remember to do that as it can be interesting to see how things end up.


Friday night some friends came over for a couple of quick games.

To start things off, I introduced them to Tiny Epic Kingdoms, a game I backed on Kickstarter that finally showed up. I’ll go into more depth about the game later, but the basic idea is to grow your kingdom across territories, both yours and your opponents. I lost that game, but only by a few points.

After that, we followed up with Police Precinct, which we hadn’t played in quite a while. This is a co-op where we all work together to solve a murder, handle emergencies and arrest criminals. It can be a pretty intense game, especially as you get closer to the end of the game. We managed to catch the murderer with a couple of rounds left to go.


We started the evening with Splendor, where we use coins to buy gems and gain points as we go along. Somehow I managed to win that one. I didn’t realize how many points I had until I was counting to see where I was at.

Next up was 7 Wonders, a card game where we draft our resources and other cards for points as we go along. I spread myself too thin, tried to do too much, and wound up with the lowest score.

7 Wonders
7 Wonders

We decided to try another game of Tiny Epic Kingdoms since we enjoyed the first one Friday night. Even though I triggered the end-of-game conditions, I came in third on scoring.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms
Tiny Epic Kingdoms

The night was finished off with an odd game of Innovation. It was a good game, but there was a lot of back-and-forth, quite a few attack cards being used and scores kept shifting all over the place. I wound up with just one Achievement, so I came in last.

Innovation (didn’t get a photo right at the end; cards were getting put back)

This coming weekend is looking pretty open, so if you want to join in some games, let me know. We have space at the table.

The death of my father

Taking a slightly more serious turn for a moment, this is something that I’ve thought about writing but held off doing until now. Just for clarification: my father and my dad are two different people. My dad is still alive.

My father passed away a few months ago and I haven’t really talked about it. Sure, I mentioned it to a few people. I told my boss and co-workers since I was going to be taking some time off to attend the funeral. Family members in my hometown of Lamar, Colorado knew what happened and why I was back there. But I’ve never really talked about it.

The first thing people usually told me when I mentioned that he had died was “I’m so sorry to hear that.” While I appreciated the condolences and kind words, it wasn’t something that upset me or made me sad.

My father was not a kind man. We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but if pressured to find a kind word about him I would come up empty. He and I hadn’t spoken to each other in years – and that last time ended with a heated exchange of harsh words.

You can imagine my surprise when I attended the funeral and people there (there weren’t a lot of them, but it was more than I expected, to be honest) talked about how friendly and helpful he was. They extoled his virtues of being such a giving person, willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.

That was not the man I knew growing up.

Maybe in the later years of his life my father decided to change, to become a better person and attempt to atone for the mistakes of his past. Maybe that goodness and kindness had always been within him, but he never knew how to express it. Maybe he was finally able to let go of all the anger and rage and pain and become a decent and caring individual.

I certainly hope those are true.

When it comes to how I feel about his passing, it’s a mixed bag. I’m not happy, as I often imagined I would be upon hearing about his death. I spent years having nightmares about that man, well into my adulthood; even as recently as earlier this year before hearing he died. I don’t think I ever really respected him, but I definitely feared him. Well, more like lived in constant terror of him.

That’s probably why I haven’t broken down in tears or even felt saddened by it. He and I never had a real connection, at least not that I felt. I do remember trying to have a father and son relationship, to do things that I thought a son was supposed to do, but there was always the fear that I might say something to set him off. No matter what I did, it was made perfectly clear that it wasn’t good enough (and says something as to why I am the way I am today).

Seeing my father in the casket, looking much smaller and frailer than I recalled, I didn’t know what to feel. I conjured up images of the past, of those dark and troubled times, seeing if there was a glint of anger towards him. Nothing. Not malice or fury; not even a glimmer of rage. If anything, I felt sorry for him.

I don’t know if it’s so much a case of forgiving him or letting bygones be bygones; more like it was time to finally put the last vestiges of the hard feelings to rest. Maybe I had already put all of that behind me so there wasn’t anything to feel at all. We never had a reconciliation or a final meeting, although I wonder sometimes if he wanted one.

For all of his faults and flaws, I can honestly say that I hope his last years were as people said: filled with being helpful, giving and kind. I never knew that man, but I hope he was finally a good one.


While you might think it’s a condition caused by watching the Goblin King strut about in too-tight pants, the reality is a bit different.

Last week I had a bit of an episode where I got really light-headed and dizzy after standing up too fast. Nothing unusual about that; happens to us all. However, it didn’t stop after a few moments like normal. It persisted for several hours.

The next morning I woke up feeling fine and chalked it up to it being a weird fluke. After a couple of hours, though, the feeling came back. Really dizzy, accompanied by a slight feeling of uneasiness in my stomach.

Having reached my middle-age years, the time of youthful folly and ignoring health concerns has passed. I may have thought myself immortal twenty years ago, but a couple brushes with mortality have dispelled that notion.

Off to the doctor I went.

After answering a bunch of questions and going through a few tests, the diagnosis was labyrithitis, an inner-ear condition that wrecks havoc with the equilibrium (another great movie that has nothing to do with this post). Fortunately I haven’t experienced one of the more common symptoms: anxiety attacks. I’ve felt a bit anxious at times, but nothing severe. While feeling off-balance almost all the time is certainly annoying, it hasn’t been enough to cause me to panic. Or maybe the chemicals that trigger a panic attack aren’t firing right. Whatever the case may be, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that on top of everything else.

Being curious as to what might have caused this, I did some reading. Turns out there can be a number of factors: a virus, bacterial infection, allergies, medication reactions, head injury or stress. Out of those possibilities, I think stress is the most likely suspect. As far as I know I haven’t been sick or had bacteria exposed to my ear. I’m not on any medications, no allergic reactions that I remember and haven’t had any head trauma recently. But who knows? Maybe there was something on that list and I just can’t recall it.

For right now I’m taking an anti-vertigo medication to help with the symptoms while waiting to see if it clears up on its own. It’s been a week so far and no improvement. It hasn’t gotten any worse, either, so that’s something.

A few people I’ve talked to that have had this said it’s cleared up on its own, although the times have varied greatly. One said that things were back to normal within a week; another said it took a couple months.

I’ll give it another week and hopefully things improve. If they don’t, then it may be time to go back to the doctor.

Until then, if you see me stumbling a bit, it’s nothing to worry about.

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