Settling in for this spring semester

As the semester progresses and becomes more settled (in terms of schedules, be they academic, work, or personal), I wanted to toss some of the important details out there:

Spring schedule update

Overall, I am actually extremely excited with my schedule.  The specifics as I have  begun to discover them are as follows:

Martin Luther – his Life and Thought, taught by Professor William G. Rusch, this class has thus far proven to be a fascinating lecture about Luther, interspersed with a variety of details about the historical, sociological, religious, and other contextual details which play a major role in truly understanding both Luther as a person, and then Luther the theologian.  This class is one of my favorites this semester, if the first two weeks have been any indication.

Old Testament Interpretation II, taught by the fantastic Professor Robert Wilson, has already demonstrated itself to be the best part of my week, every week.  The professor is extremely brilliant, and works in some POWERFULLY dry humor to his lecturing, which is just icing on the cake: he is teaching us about the Prophets and the Writings of the OT, and he has gone out of his way several times to warn people about shoddy interpretations, which really resonates with me (the best one being an introduction to Amos, used most powerfully by MLK, that included a call to NOT fashion ourselves prophets, as we really don’t grasp the level of commitment that entails).

Transitional Moments in Western Christianity II, taught by Professor Clarence Hardy III, is the second half of this past fall’s class, meaning it is a history course spanning ~1650 until the present day.  Professor Hardy focuses on African studies, and so this class will certainly present an enlightening view on history from a different perspective from mine; additionally, the professor is quite hilarious, so the 8:30am time slot will hopefully be survivable.

American Religious Thought & the Democratic Ideal, taught by Professor Andre Willis, should prove to the course closest to my AU experience thus far here at the Divinity School.  It is a hardcore philosophy course, wherein we are going to read a wide swath of the literature which directly or indirectly contributed to the formation of the American sense of pragmatism and its odd relationship to the faith we all seem to have in democracy (the untested kind of faith; the “we were raised believing this works” kind of faith).  The pattern of discussion is particularly interesting, as each week involves one person writing a 5 page argument about the readings; a second person writing a 2 page response to the first; and then they team-lead the discussion, all of which conspires to make for a discussion that really tests our understanding of both the concepts at hand alongside the overarching importances of that week’s readings in understanding this sort of civil faith around democracy that exists in the US.  Let’s face it: a class that starts by reading John Winthrop, Roger Williams, and Thomas Jefferson is Change I Can Believe In.

Lutheran Student Colloquium – Social Justice & Spirituality, taught by Pastor Heidi Neumark,is going to be an interesting foray into the world of community organizing and how it fits into the Lutheran church.  While not everyone in the course is looking forward to the content per se (most folks in there want to be a pastor full-time and encourage their congregations to organize the community, not organize themselves), it is actually rather refreshing to be amongst Lutherans in the otherwise ecumenical Div School community; as one friend put it, its like we have a shared language of sorts, as we all have similar enough faith outlooks to be able to be ourselves more comfortably.  As part of this semester’s Lutheran Overdose Tuesdays (as this course is after the Martin Luther class, and before Tuesday night’s Lutheran weekly vespers), it should be good.

Health update

Two major details here alongside a minor one, in the time since last I posted on the subject:

-Working hard in the basement, as previous posts here have showcased, has actually borne fruit: both of the improved-house variety, as well as the in-better-shape-as-a-result-of-6-consecutive-days-of-working kind of way.  This is a start, and a good one, but it will need to be maintained; that is partially why the next point is exciting:

-I continue to shore up my Good Habits Defenses for the coming midterm and finals seasons, which consistently makes my bad habits arise anew.  Towards that end, a new product was just put out for preorder that pairs with my Fitbit; it is a wireless scale called the Aria that does weight and % body composition, and then wirelessly syncs the data with my existing Fitbit account. As someone who responds pretty well to hard numbers, this should be a good purchase (when it eventually ships out in April or so).

-As the photos should continue to demonstrate, I have indeed been taking advantage of the free time, the space in the house, and Ryan’s interest to continue making a great deal of time to play games a bunch.  It has, I am excited to report, done great things for my health: I don’t feel any stress whatsoever, which is a peculiar state of being, for me.

Odd things learned

-Having an uninsulated laundry room is a bad thing. A bad, bad thing. While it doesn’t break any records for cold air temperature, our washer’s water pipes  froze (not entirely unexpected). What was rather unexpected/never even considered before is that laundry detergent has a gelling and then freezing point. So, I sort of have a load of frozen laundry with frozen gobs of laundry detergent sitting on it, waiting for our landlord to buy and install an automated pipe heater on the washer later this week.  Never a dull moment.

-Old Testament II is already paying off in unexpected ways.  Besides being thoroughly entertained and learning a lot, I am also making peculiar connections between Biblical ideas and the modern world.  For instance, Yale’s motto is “Light and Truth,” rendered both in Latin (‘Lux et Veritas’) and then present on the opened book, in Hebrew (‘Urim ve’Thummim’).  Light and Truth are fairly common goals for academic institutions, and so those words are often used; the  Hebrew, however, is actually referring to the Old Testament references to the divine game of lots played by Israelite high priests to determine God’s yes or no answers to prayers.  A very different (and altogether more interesting) kind of motto to have.

Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

FINISHED the basement (until this summer’s Ceiling Installation Adventure!)

As the parenthetical aspect of this post’s title admits, there will be a follow-up post in several months, when the landlord and I put in a full ceiling and thus actually have a fully-finished (and gorgeous, I might add) basement.  That said, I am too excited at this moment to NOT post this, and consider it a major milestone in the process of making the space from a health hazard into a mental-health-bolstering (as my landlord excitedly put it) gamer’s heaven.  Yes, you read that correctly: the (not so) secret objective all along has been to have a large space in the house dedicated to relaxing and enjoying one’s self, and to be able to entertain guests.  What kind(s) of game(s), you might ask?  The beauty of a such a large space is that we will have all kinds.  The board games I have posted about before are the root cause of the basement; one quarter of it is dedicated for board and card games (be they a specific game, or poker!).  Towards this end, you’ll see a broken table our landlord got for us turn into a repaired and rejuvenated gaming table in the photo section.  We are also going to put up a dart board on one side of the basement.  There will be a couple of futons (both a place to sit and talk, as well as guest sleeping options), and some chairs.  My mini-fridge will provide cold drinks/snacks without having to venture upstairs.  There are even strong rumors of something very, very big making its way into the other larger open space of the basement.  My roommate Ryan and I have a plan about naming and theming the basement along the lines of its intended purpose as well as based on our home improvement’ing experiences, but that will be for the upcoming ‘Furnishing the Basement’ post to reveal.  All said and done, I am extremely pleased to have had the chance to do this project over the past several months: given that I paid $0 (the landlord payed for all of it, in lieu of getting a rent reduction), I got a whole bunch of extra exercise and the satisfaction of making such large positive changes to the house, and the fact that we’re getting 25% more useable house for the same amount of rent, methinks this investment of time and time (a good portion of which was spent getting to know and befriend Ryan, one of my best friends in New Haven at this point) was very well worth it!

Be forewarned that there are a large number of photographs in this section, but it is due to the final basement push including a LOT of different tasks!  It is fantastic to be at such a late stage in the project that each and every task shows noticeable improvement.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Second Semester at Yale Divinity: a plan, a purpose, and preparation

Introduction

As some of you may recall from a prior blog post and my increasingly-frantic Facebook statuses, this past fall semester was another jewel in my Mike Crown of Taking On FAR FAR FAR Too Much.  I am basically an old man at this point, so this crap can’t continue.

A Plan

So, first (as is almost always the case with me), there is a plan.  In this case, the plan is simple enough: cease doing anything and everything that leads to my wearing myself down and missing out on the more enjoyable parts of life, while still maintaining an acceptable minimum (luckily as a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, that minimum will not be lacking, [un]fortunately enough).  As a secondary but integral part of this plan, I am writing out the specifics here so 1) interested parties can use whatever works for them, but far more importantly 2) I have the accountability of people knowing my intentions.  After all, I wouldn’t want someone who reads this to later approach me and say: “Mike, you wrote a good faith proposal to stop taking on too many things… sadly, the proof in the pudding over this past semester demonstrates that when it comes to your written proposal, IT’S A FAKE!  Consider the preceding example sentence to be a free invitation to make me keep my word(s) below.

A Purpose

The above plan can only work with an overarching purpose: I have finally, totally and completely decided to forestall EVERYTHING other than school and work, in order to focus on my own health (mental, spiritual, physical, et al.).  As a matter of fact, I am going to re-implement last semester’s intention of health being more important than school, which is more important than work… except this time, I am going to implement that policy with an iron fist.

Preparation

The above gives a general sense of what I am setting out to do; what follows are some of the key specifics:

Health

Fitbit: This neat little device was my graduation present to myself from my American University undergrad experience, and while I have used it off and on for the past few years, I will be getting my money’s worth out of it this semester and beyond.  This tiny little bit of tech is a pedometer, accelerometer, sleep monitor, and calorie counter all in the same package.  The sleep monitor works by wearing it on your wrist at night (and is great for helping you figure out if you’re actually sleeping soundly or not, thereby tipping you off to the potential of something stressing you, etc).  The calorie counter isn’t quite to Star Trek levels yet: while I cannot say “Computer, add a 12-inch Subway chicken breast sandwich to my daily calorie count,” I can indeed manually input the foods I eat in a day, thus keeping an online private set of records of how many calories, my percents of daily values consumed, and eating patterns in general.  This calorie count is even more useful when combined with the pedometer/accelerometer – this pair enables the device to know when you’re walking/running versus in a moving vehicle, and only counts your real steps…. AND it is capable of detecting when you’re going upstairs, and thus logs those steps as having burned more calories.  Between all of those pieces of functionality, I have all the tools I will need to quantitatively badger myself into keeping up good habits.  I honestly cannot recommend this product highly enough to anyone – the price is great, the shipping was quick, and the customer service is up there with the giants (Amazon and Newegg).
Kettlebells: A Ukrainian invention that won the Soviet Union a WHOLE bunch of Olympic Gold Medals, I purchased three different sizes of this exercising demi-god a few years ago.  As my experience last semester showed me, using them for no more than 20 minutes, 5 days a week (and combined with some incredibly easy calisthenics) gave me enormous amount of muscle gain as well as losing a bunch of weight quickly.  It was almost uncanny, and as the next item in this list will explain, was also partially due to the diet I was and will again follow, but the fact remains: I have kettlebells and a floor mat and thus can work out on the landing outside of my bedroom door, at any hour, in any weather, without a problem.  I am well-prepared for the coming exercise storm.
4 Hour Body: This book, by Timothy Ferris, was recommended to me by my doctor from home of all people.  While I do not agree with every bit of advice put forth in the tome, I can attest to three things: 1) his years of experience with the necessity of quantifying health habits was the tipping point to make me want to use the aforementioned Fitbit as the amazing tool it is; 2) the exercises I did and will start anew (and kettlebells in general) came recommended AND explained from his book, and work like a charm; and 3) the diet he proposes, basically the cessation of sugar intake for 6 days of each week followed by a day with a lot of sugar, enabled me (when combined with those exercises and sleeping enough) enabled me to lose 28 lbs last semester over the course of a few months.  As per usual, finals stresses thoroughly ruined most of those improvements, but that is why I am doing this post: I intend on achieving them anew, and then some, and then maintaining that state of being.  Assuredly, this diet is tough to pull off (protein is expensive, I don’t have a lot of time to cook, and I have many, many sweet teeth), I did it before for a time, and I will do it again.  This time, for as long as it takes to get down to a healthier state of being, and then doing a modified version of it to stay healthy.  While I know the dangers of the no carbs –> to –> eat lots of carbs after the diet changes, I will put this forward as a counter-argument: the Mongolians ate pretty much only protein, fought numerically-superior armies of grain-fed Europeans, and won so effectively that they decided to turn around as their foes weren’t advanced enough to be worth their time.  In a sense, I guess this means I am partially engaged in this diet procedure in order to be able to fend off any number of Horse Lord invasions, but more seriously: I have found that a more protein-heavy diet leads to better sleep, highly-improved capacity to concentrate, the cessation of spikes/drops in hunger from carbs, and generally being better-enabled to take care of business every day.  That preceding sentence sounds like moves in the right direction for my overall purpose of health, so I will embark on this journey, and from time to time post updates on the blog.
Attending a local Lutheran church regularly: while the ecumenical environment of Yale Div has been excellent, and I have found many good friends amongst the Lutheran student community with whom I have enjoyed weekly Lutheran student vespers, I find myself missing the experience of attending a regular church, specifically a Lutheran one.  As such, I am going to do my very best to attend one somewhere in New Haven weekly. More on this as I explore the options/I am not awake past 7am on a Sunday writing this post.
Having more fun: As I once mentioned, when I attended my Lutheran Candidacy Committee interview as part of the process of seeking to become a diaconal minister, one of the Committee’s chief expectations and hopes for me was to do less work, and have more fun. I am fully embracing that command, and this will likely manifest itself in a lot of gaming with my housemates and friends here in town (as the past few posts should indicate, I am already geared up for this process!)
Rekindling the greatness of my saltwater reef: sadly, the reef tank got neglected far too often last semester, when in reality it is extremely relaxing and satisfying to watch the ecosystem in play after a hard day’s work.  As such, I am going to strive to keep the tank up to a higher level of care, and also to set aside pennies here and there to add some new denizens (first up, and soon: multiple peppermint shrimp, to start dealing with the pest anemone explosion that started last semester). More on this as it happens.

Work

While my work schedule started off way above an acceptable number of hours last semester (due to my own choosing, and with my boss’ hesitation), she was the biggest supporter of my scaling them back.  I fully intend to both keep that lower number of weekly hours, while also ABSOLUTELY AVOIDING scheduling any kind of massively important meeting during finals prep week (say, like I did this past fall).  Also, expect more updates on the blog about work, as plans and projects move forward… this spring should be exciting at my office in general, and with paper reduction efforts specifically.

Scheduling spring classes

Finally, I thought folks might be interested in hearing my intended spring schedule.  It is not especially different from the fall, as I am taking three Part 2’s, so here is the list:

-Transitional Moments in Western Christianity II (English Reformation to the present day)
-Old Testament Interpretation II (the Prophets and the Writings)
-Systematic Theology…. II
-American Religious Thought and the Democratic Ideal (this course sounds eerily similar to what I tried to produce back when I wrote my undergraduate thesis at American University, but with more of a focus on religious outlooks, so I am VERY excited!)

To the general tone, timbre, and content of the above, I pledge my life and sacred honor, &c.  -Mike

Photos

As will sometimes happen over the coming months, I find myself compelled to include some action shots of various board games played in the house.  First is a fantastic game that was Game of the Year for nearly 10 years, and is currently #3 – it is called Puerto Rico (simply put, this game involves creating plantations on your own section of the newly-discovered island of Puerto Rico in order to score the most victory points via several methods).  Second, you’ll find an old favorite of mine, a card game called Citadels (which is a card game where players attempt to add the highest-valued districts to their corner of a medieval castle, while attempting to forestall other players’ attempts to do the same).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2012, Anno Basement Finishi (almost)

A much-anticipated, VERY noticeable set of changes to the Basement, Chez Mike/Ryan/Shawn

To the folks who have been keeping up with the (mis-)adventures of Mission: ‘Turn this house’s basement into something useable that ISN’T a health risk’, this post will basically showcase a completely unrecognizable room from the start.  To the folks checking this out for the first time, I suggest taking a look at previous entries in the Home Improvement category I do on this blog, to have a comparative look.  Hell, I don’t even believe its the same room myself, and I have done a lot of the work.

Prior to showing you the money, as they say (though I don’t know who “they” are, nor how they distribute their ideas so anonymously), a quick written explanation.  The past two days of work centered around a few major goals.  First, finishing the upgrades/improvements to the heating system downstairs (replace ancient uninsulated metal pipes that hung low and bashed heads with me a lot with well-insulated flexible tubing); second, fixing the ceiling in the stairwell down from the first floor so it is paintable and presentable; third, painting the entire floor in 2 portions, as well as the stone staircase to the cellar doors; fourth, paint most of the new internal wooden door to the stairs out the back; and finally prep as much as possible for the remaining painting (the metal exterior cellar doors, the interior wooden staircase, and the stairwell after the spackle dries).  A whirlwind pair of workdays means that all of those goals were accomplished, and the prep work is done so that the remaining areas needing painting can be done in one fell swoop.  Though the idealized goal was to completely finish this basement before classes begin (on Monday), it looks like the basement-finishing will be done by the end of the week, and hopefully the basement-furnishing (a game table suitable for poker, board and card games with several chairs; another futon and maybe an easy chair for the sitting area) will be done before the month is out.  Ryan and I are excited to be able to show the place off, so stop by if you’re in the area.

I also just scored 3 extra Mike Points for using the word “spackle.”

Photos

As insinuated above, but for added emphasis: this post is basically a testament to the awe-inspiring power of a simple coat of new paint.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcoming in the new year: the game(s) is afoot

The gameplan

As alluded to in the previous post, I both got some games for Christmas, and then got to play a LOT of games over break, particularly on New Year’s. Prepare yourself for a little bit of nerd excitement. Only a little.

1) King of Tokyo: A game belonging to Jeff, this is a peculiar entry.  The only “board” is a small piece representing Tokyo with 2 spaces on it (one in the city which is always open, and one in the sea for larger games).  Each player gets a monster standing cutout, and then a card with victory points and hit points.  Victory is achieved by reaching 20 victory points, aided by cards and the dice (which can roll numbers, additional hit points, energy to use to buy cards, and attack other monsters).  The purpose of Tokyo is to assist in gaining points: if your monster occupies it, you gain victory points and your attacks hurt all the other players, but all of their attacks are directed at you.  We played many rounds of this over break, and I definitely would rate this in the top 15 games I have played.
2) Eclipse: Another game of Jeff’s, this is a brand new German board game composed of many pieces, surprisingly low complexity after you read the rules for 3 hours, and a lot of heartache.  At least, a lot of heartache if you were me the first game we played.  Basically, its like Civilization in space, with hex board pieces – this means that the board changes each time you play based on number of players as well as randomizing the hexes.  The point of the game is to expand your empire by exploring new tiles and colonizing any planets there, while defending yourself from the other players.  The heartache piece comes in because I didn’t know that once an opponent matches the number of ships I have in a territory, their additional ships can move beyond it… which meant that Jeff met the number of ships in my Defensive Square and then flew behind them to my unguarded colonies (which he proceeded to virus bomb to death).  Losing my production colonies meant I couldn’t compete in the fight, and so Jeff ended up sweeping that first game.  Even with that in mind, still an excellent game, one I am considering purchasing.
3) Fluxx: This is an extremely simple to learn and play card game; in some ways, it might be characterized as the Gateway Game, as I fully plan on using this to addict non-gaming friends here in New Haven and then get them to play harder and more complex games.  As the title suggests, the game is based on constantly changing circumstances – the initial Basic Rules are always “draw 1 card from the deck, play 1 card from your hand.”  From there, cards in the deck are either New Rules (as the name suggests, they add to and/or modify those Basic Rules); Actions (which involve reading the card and performing whatever it says); Goals (the combination of things you need in front of you to win the game); Keepers (positive items you can put in front of you, towards Goals); and Creepers (mostly negative items in front of you which can sometimes be game-winning).  The game by its nature cannot be strategic, only tactical, due to the constant shifts in rules &c. A really great game to try, if ever you stop by Winchester House.
4) Bohnanza: A classic German card game, this bean planting experience was shown to me by my good friend Josh from back in DC.  Simply put, this game involves dealing with opportunity costs in order to plant the highest values bean cards into your bean fields (via drawing, trading, and most importantly playing from your hand in the exact order you got those cards).  It is one of those games where the rules sound much more complex when explained than when merely demonstrated for a few turns.  Another great introductory game for people new to this hobby.
5) Super Dungeon Explore: This is another one of Jeff’s that he got for Christmas, and it is also a fairly new game.  This is essentially an amalgamation of anime-artwork and story, 8-bit video game art and mechanics, and Dungeons and Dragons.  As such, every player receives a character with a miniature, except for the person who is the Dungeon Master. The DM gets to play all the enemies, place the items, and so forth, and so it is a cooperative grid-based miniature combat game with some light RPG elements.  Overall, a fairly good time, though the game seems slightly too difficult for the DM to actually win (by killing off all of the players), from the one time we went through it.
6) Cargo Noir: I got this for Christmas, and it is the usual for a Days of Wonder board game – it is extremely easy to learn, and then has a high amount of replay value.  Basically, each player controls a rival cargo smuggling crime family, with ships and bidding coins.  Random cargo is spread across the ports that comprise the game board, and then players (in turn order) make initial bids and then deal with each contested port, with the winner receiving the cargo and the loser(s) getting back their coins.  The game is won by victory points, which are cards purchased by turning in certain combinations of cargo (having many of the same kind is worth a lot more than turning in sets of 1-each of different cargoes).  The artwork is really imaginative, and its a game anyone can enjoy, assuming they have a halfway decent poker face.
7) 7 Wonders: This is a game that Joe picked up on sale at the mall, and it is fairly entertaining.  As the name suggests, this game involves each player working to build their own selection from amongst the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (Library at Alexandria, Colossus, etc).  Around their in-progress wonder, each player takes cards each turn in order to build various other buildings, including raw and refined materials production, military encampments, research buildings, and point-scoring buildings of various kinds.  At the end of the game (when the third and final deck of cards has been used), the players tally their various scoring cards and tokens, and the highest score wins.  For additional replay value, each wonder board is two-sided with an A- and a B-side, with B being more difficult and requiring a very different style of play to win.  A game I enjoyed a lot, but probably not one I am going to purchase
8) Munchkin: This is a very old game that Jason has, with approximately infinity expansions, add-ons, sequels, booster sets, and reduxes.  Its a card-based game where you are a hero attempting to reach level 10 by battling monster cards, with the help and/or handicap of whatever items/curses/etc you draw from the deck.  As per Fluxx, it is a game worth playing as a palette-cleanser between longer, more complex games.
9) Twilight Struggle: The cream of the crop has been saved for last.  All of the links to the titles of these games to you Board Game Geek’s website; they rate Twilight Struggle as the best game around right now.  It is a two player game that manages to simulate the entire Cold War, from 1945-1989.  Neither side directly attacks any of the countries on the board; instead, it is (as per real life) a contest of spreading, keeping, and stealing levels of influence in key areas at different points.  To make that complicated process more fun and difficult, the game also includes a DEFCON counter to nuclear war (the person who causes it loses); a Space Race track to give points and perks to whoever is able to keep trying to research; and then several decks of cards from the Early, Mid, and Late War (all tied to real historical events, and often only allowing you to help yourself if you also enable the positive effects for your opponent).  Clearly, for people who enjoy complex and complicated games, this one requires a lot of different areas of awareness from each player at all times (while also being not that difficult to learn or that long to play), making this an extremely enjoyable gaming endeavor in my book.  I played one “lets stumble through and figure this out” round of the game with Jason at home and enjoyed it (incorrect rules-reading and all), so I am triply excited to get actual rounds of the game, properly-played, with any and all foes.  Consider that an open invitation, O ye readers of this blog 😀

Photos

As per the above order, plus a couple more (of the locale where we did my mom’s birthday dinner, an Asian stir fry place near my house).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Christmas Break 2011 – Rest, Relaxation, and Laughter

Traveling home

After a long semester indeed, I ended up steeling myself for the 16 hour train ride home to Ohio.  The actual amount of travel time was something like 11 hours; due to the lack of a direct line between New Haven and Cleveland, I got to experience a couple of layovers along the way.  All told, Mike’s AMTRAK Hypothesis held true: armed with a Kindle, some snacks, and a scarf for the midday AMTRAK cold, the entire experience, regardless of elapsed time, ended up being absolutely excellent.  Unlike some prior trips (such as my 2007 Thanksgiving experience on Greyhound), this trip home was free of odd folks and/or experiences.  As a matter of fact, I ended up seated next to an elderly Lutheran Swede for nearly the entire trip, and we had an interesting set of discussions about politics, life, and the world in general.

Time with friends

Quite soon after arriving home and sleeping for a while, I embarked upon the requisite break activities – movies, food, board/card and computer games with friends.  I was lucky enough, even this far after our undergraduate education, to still meet up with all of my oldest and best friends, engaging with each in our shared favorite activities – for some, this meant intentionally crappy movie screenings; for many others, this meant a variety of board and card games.  The around-Christmas contingent of games included several rounds of Jason’s game called Killer Bunnies (basically, using a set of bunnies and weapons to battle for the most carrots, one of which is randomly the winning carrot for whomever holds it at the end), and my newly-received copy of Bananagrams (simply put, Scrabble but without the board, requiring a constant shifting of their grid by each player).  These experiences were buttressed by a long set of resting, relaxing, and resting and relaxing.  All told: a deeply-needed, wholly-fulfilling aspect of my break.

Time with family

Finally, one of my favorite parts of going home is time with my folks and my siblings, none of whom I am able to see as much as I would like because of years of school.  I will go ahead and officially declare that 2011 was probably the best Christmas of my life thus far, due to a variety of reasons: mostly, because my siblings and I are all older now and able to have a good time without bickering any which way.  As the photos of Christmas detail (particularly my brother’s excellent Christmas suit, and my dad’s last-minute-arrived package’s “bow”), it was such a great holiday because we were all able to, and interested in laughing and enjoying our shared company as the blessing it really is.  Speaking of Christmas, and referring here to the issue of gifts: as these next couple of posts will indicate, I have discovered (to my utter delight) that both of my current housemates, Ryan and Shawn, are interested in and veterans of some board games in the past.  As such, I grabbed several for Christmas (and you’ll see action shots of them in the next few blog posts).  This spring promises to be a delight.  😀

Photos

Finally, a wide variety of photos from my Christmas-time experiences.  Everything from examples of board games I played, to hockey, to Christmas events, to delicious food served!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.