Simple Pleasures and My Theory on How Facebook Can Help Save the Economy Friday, Jun 5 2009 

Top of the Farm List

4 June 2009

One of the simple pleasures in my life is being able to have intelligent conversations with the people I love.  Even when we don’t always see eye to eye, the process of a friendly debate is so stimulating for me.  I almost always come away feeling smarter, or I go straight from the conversation to the internet and read up on what I didn’t know, and still come away feeling smarter!  I had a couple of those wonderful conversations yesterday—one with my mom, and one with Ronnie.  As a follow-up to the latter, Ronnie sent me this article from Slate magazine.  It is a brilliant and concise look at the economic mess our country is currently in.  It even throws a couple of suggestions on methods for digging out of the mess.  Unfortunately, the author of the article will likely never hold public office again. <sigh> Darn puritanical laws . . .

Another small pleasure for me these days, is the social networking site known as Facebook.  Now, I know I spend more time on there than I have a right to . . . but it’s good in so many ways!  I wasn’t on it for many days when I started connecting with dear, dear friends that I’d lost touch with many years ago . . . people from my childhood, my high school, my TCU years . . . it was wonderful!  In fact, in October, I’ll be journeying to Ohio to spend a weekend with six of my dearest girlfriends from the college dorm!  All because of Facebook. I was able to hire a kick-butt staff for the booth at Scarborough—because of Facebook.  And when Estelle died last week, I found out about it within about three hours—because of Facebook.

And, not only is it a rocking social network, but it’s also a relatively safe play-place.  There are countless games and “applications” that can entertain, educate, and otherwise enable one’s need to procrastinate!  😉
We all know the proven health benefits of playing wordgames and puzzles, so that’s healthy, almost necessary playtime.  But, I have come to realize something about my own idea of fun.  I do not think it’s fun to kill things. I don’t like violence.  I don’t like war games, mob games, army games . . . even fantasy games where one race tries to kill another.  Don’t like it.  Won’t do it.  Many people that I call dear consider certain games of these types to be relaxing, cathartic, and enjoyable.  Not me.  My flavour of game is what is labeled an “acquisition game.”  Now, before anyone out there laughs and draws the parallel to my love of shopping (yes, I see it, too!), it’s also much more than that.  There’s learning, too!  In each of these little games I’ve come to love, there is planning, and budgeting, and saving for the future, and bargain-hunting. There is art and design. In my favourite, a game called Yoville, you have a little cartoon-like avatar, and you earn money by “working” and various other things, and you can spend that money decorating first your apartment, and subsequently any houses you save up the money to buy!  There are even economic lessions to be learned.  In Farm Town, one I’m still learning, you plant and harvest crops and trees, and learn that you can make more money on each crop by hiring workers to harvest them for you, rather than doing all the work alone! And sometimes there is even a global benefit—in Zoo Builder, for example, players are actually driving ad hits which generate money being donated to Wildlife-related charity!

My photo today is of the “friends” screen within the game called MyFarm.  It’s one of my real favourites, and I’ve been playing it longer than any other game.  Tonight—finally—I met my own personal game dream . . . to be the top player of anyone I know!  I honestly didn’t think of this game as competitive in any way at the beginning.  And, now that I’ve accomplished this, I won’t think of it that way in the future, either.  But, for so many months, I have always looked at this screen and been somewhere down on the page.  The gap between these top five or six players and most of the pack is very wide, and I thought I’d never reach the top.  But, here I am!  So, before I go buy another barn and fall back down the page, I thought I’d enjoy it by sharing my success!  And if anybody reading this also plays MyFarm—send me trees for my orange grove!  😉

Hey, maybe if more top executives played games like these, some of these economic lessons (like, for example—one has to MAKE money before one can SPEND money) would help the folks at places like GM and our Federal government!  See, Facebook isn’t bad!    It might just play a role in healing the global economy!

~MB

Games, Games, Games Thursday, Oct 9 2008 

8 October 2008
As the owner of a small game store, and a self-professed “wanna-be game historian” I keep my research materials close to hand. This is a small section of my most frequently accessed books:
Games Books
They live on the shelf directly behind my chair in my office where I can get to them easily to answer questions for myself or my customers.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 9 October 2008 )

Listening to:
Bad Haggis by Bad Haggis
from Trip

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.2 sec (1/5)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Balancing Thursday, Oct 2 2008 

Balancing

1 October 2008

Balancing . . . work vs. play . . . right vs. wrong . . . sleep vs. productivity . . . checkbooks . . . blood sugar levels . . .

Balancing brings to mind all those things, and hundreds more.  Or it can simply refer to the bone on the dog’s nose!  🙂 

At the end of a long day of sniffles and sneezes . . . yes, still . . . I hadn’t taken a photo, yet, and Kyle and the dogs were squeezing some bedtime tricks into the evening.  From a pretty early age, we taught ‘Tia to “wait” while we balanced this or that on her nose.  When released, she inevitably flings the object into the air and attempts to catch it.  When it’s a small treat, she usually succeeds!  But, with the big bone, the toss tends to result in a few seconds of chaos and a little bit of growling while she and Cormac both try to figure out where it’s going to land and get there first.  It amuses the humans.

~MB

Draughts or Chess? Monday, May 5 2008 

3 May 2008
Saturday. Week 5 of Scarborough Faire.
Happy Birthday Starr!
The day was phenomenal for a faire day. Temperature in the low 70’s with a slight breeze and sunshine. Can you ask for better? Here you see a family playing chess on my large chess table that I have set up in the front yard. In the foreground, next to a small garden is another table with a jumbo draughts (Americans call it Checkers) set.
Draughts or Chess?
I was taught to play draughts at an extremely early age, as are I think most American youth. I grew, quickly, to detest the game because I either won too quickly or lost too quickly. There was no challenge in the game. As the owner of a game store, I have found a new love for draughts, but not in the form I was taught. There are, literally, hundreds of draughts variations that enhance the game and make it much more challenging and oh, so much more fun. My favourite version is Irish Draughts and I sometimes play it to distraction.
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 5 May 2008 )

Listening to:
We’ve Been Had by Walkmen
from The Walkmen

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

Wooden Dice Friday, Apr 18 2008 

11 April 2008
Goodness, a lot of product came in this week. Marcus and I were up quite late getting everything labeled, inventoried & displayed. Although these 30mm wooden dice did not come in this week, I liked the play of light from, on & through the glass bowl that contains them. So, that’s the image we get today. 30mm wooden dice in a glass bowl at the East Wind Games shop at Scarborough Renaissance Festival.
Dice Bowl
Cheers.

~KR (Written on 15 APril 2008)

Listening to:
Whenever God Shines His Light by Van Morrison
from Live in Montreux

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.4 sec (2/5)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Polyhedron Dice Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

10 March 2008
A man who helped shape my pre-teen world & defined my teen-angsty geekdom has recently passed away. Gary Gygax, co-creator (with Dave Arneson) of Dungeons & Dragons died in his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin on 4 March. The man, while not necessarily visionary, took the mundane and with the help of his friend, Dave Arneson, re-wrote rules to create one of the greatest phenomenons in recent history. The Age of Role-Playing was born in the minds of those two men. While animosity & credit soon got in the way, the contribution of Gary Gygax cannot be overlooked or understated. These, now-ubiquitous polyhedral dice collections, were his brain-child and with this I salute the man, the husband, the father — Gary Gygax.
Polyhedron Dice
R.I.P. Gary

~KR (Written on 13 March 2008)

Listening to:
Any Colour You Like It by Dark Side Voices
from Dark Side of the Moon A Capella

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.067 sec (1/15)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire