Animal Crossing: Day 4

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With winter around the corner, I’m starting to stock up. I’ve been purchasing things such as:

  • A snuggly blanket
  • A mug, for all my coffee needs.
  • A bottom warmer. No need to freeze when your ruling the kingdom.

And best of all:

  • An axe

Now hear me out. I am a pretty hairy dude. The axe is perfect for some late night trimming, if you know what I mean. I can trim with the axe… and I can even cut down some trees if I want to.

Whack a tree three times, you’ll find your pockets full of useful stuff like:

  • Wood
  • Softwood
  • Hardwood

Whack a tree four times, and your tears will start to flow. Goodbye tree.

Animal Crossing – Day 3

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A day in the life of an Animal Crossing Star is something like this:

  • Running Around
  • Hitting Trees 3 Times, Collecting Whatever Falls
  • Gathering Fruit
  • Running Around
  • Finding Fossils
  • Fishing On The Beach
  • And Might I Add, Running Around

While it may not be easy, living the life of a superstar, I do it. I do it because I spent $55 on this game.

Animal Crossing – Day 2

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I didn’t sleep much last night. Hard to sleep on an island full of strangers.

Tom Nook says that today is the day. Today is the day that we are now on synced time. This means that everything that we do is done in real time. Real time? Of course everything is done in real time! I am not sure Nook is up to task on running the island. All in good time though.

Also, I met Bozo (a sports loving nut) and Ms. Put-in-Pockets (a grifter). I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of them, so I’ll put on my best game face.

Animal Crossing – Day 1

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I’m here, on the island. Running around, gathering sticks, pulling weeds, living like a partially deranged madman. Sure, I guess I could go home. But home would entail mucking it up with a raccoon in order to get my money back and procure transport. Having now seen the bill just to get here, I can’t imagine the small fortune required to get home. Guess I’ll just stick out… for now.

A Week Without Talking

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Sometime on Saturday, I suddenly couldn’t talk anymore.

I remember being over at Tab’s parents house. I had just finished taking a nap. Only I had awakened from the nap and found that I couldn’t speak. Strange. Someone would ask me a question. I would answer it with a one word response. People would look at me weird. Suddenly, I was a prisoner of my own body. I didn’t know how to ask for help.

Monday – Stayed Home.

Tuesday Went to Work. What’s happening?

Wednesday – Went to Work. Have no clue what I did.

Thursday – Went to Work. My doctor called me. Told me that I was messed up and that I would be fine. Great. I’m not sure how I got back from lunch.

Friday – Went to Work. I am exhausted.

As it stands, I have been suffering from a drug overdose. A lingering of drugs and medicine. Though time, I will get better. Just need to rest, relax, and drink more liquid.

Amos 5: “I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies.”

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While I’m a little behind in my 5 Day Bible Reading Program, I continue plugging away. This morning, I came across these verses in the Book of Amos:

21 “I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living.

Amos 5:21-24 (NLT)

Or as another translation puts verse 21:

I hate, I despise, your feasts!
I can’t stand the stench
of your solemn assemblies.

Amos 5:21 (CSB)

Got me thinking about how we can come to a point, individually and as a Church, to where our worship of the Lord can become like a stench to Him caused by:

  • Habitual sin
  • Ongoing disobedience
  • A stinky/unrepentant heart

Not exactly a place I want to be.

Photo by Aditya Chinchure on Unsplash

What have you been reading, in the Bible, lately?

On My Radar – Next Stop Nowhere

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Night School Studio, developer of Oxenfree, has a new game up on Apple Arcade called Next Stop Nowhere. I can’t wait to download/try it out.

Next Stop Nowhere is a road trip adventure story set in a colorful, cutthroat vision of outer space. Play as Beckett, a simple courier living a simple life until a chance encounter with former bounty hunter Serra throws him into an adventure he never expected. And might not survive.

The unlikely allies fly across a dusty, deadly galaxy in a race to save Serra’s son Eddy–dodging gangsters, bounty hunters, and the dangers of deep space along the way. Beckett is in over his head. How he survives–the choices he makes, the relationships he forges, the person he becomes–is up to you.

A new story from the award-winning studio that brought you Oxenfree and Afterparty.

Features:

* An intelligent conversation system with branching dialogue that changes your relationships and the story based on every decision

* A spaceship that comes fully equipped with his own personality

* A completely unique version of space (the outer reaches of a dilapidated galaxy) filled with colorful skies, treacherous asteroids and a several orbits to explore

* A thrilling and thoughtful narrative brought to life by a vibrant cast of voice actors

* Cross-device play through Apple Arcade

Darth Vader Goes to Walmart: Pandemic Musings

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“Children, ages 2 and older, will be required to wear a mask at school.”

“Parents, whether your student wears a mask or not is up to you.”

“We are not going to require masks.”

“We will only require our teachers to wear masks.”

I was talking to a high school student the other day, she told me:

It is one thing to wear a mask, into a store, for a short amount of time; It is another thing to wear a mask at school all day.

I get it. I never knew that I had issues with claustrophobia. Not being a doctor or someone required to wear a mask for work, I never really thought too much about how wearing a mask would make me feel. That is, until I was required to wear a mask to shop in a store.

I try to play off the mask wearing by making Darth Vader breathing sounds as I wear one. While at the same time, I also try not to think about how we all look like a bunch of poor doctors and bank robbers.

Speaking of bank robbers, I saw a Brink’s armored truck parked the other day. The two armed security guards were wearing bandannas. They looked like armed robbers, as they casually walked back to their truck with cash. This pandemic plays mind games with ya when the good guys look like the bad guys.

For parents having to make the choice as to school their children online or in person at school, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine having to work around enforcing that my child stays in front of the computer/in their seat, at home, for as long as they would if they were at school; I also can’t imagine sending my child to school and forcing them to wear a mask all day and social distance. Your children’s teachers are not paid enough. But you know that.

I was recently telling Tabitha that our lives, as parents who have chosen to homeschool, do not revolve around a school. No, our son’s education/schooling revolves around us and neatly fits into our day.

  • We decide when school begins and ends.
  • We decide which curriculum to teach from.
  • We decide whether there will be masks or not.

I am thankful that we made the choice to homeschool. I am thankful for my gifted wife who has made the decision to stay at home and teach our son. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone though. Not every kid is built for homeschooling. But for our family, homeschooling works for us.

No masks will be required, in our home, this Fall. We will strive to preserve as much normalcy as we can in our school routine. Wearing a mask, around the house, seems silly. I shouldn’t say that aloud though as home mask wearing could soon be a thing. Stupid 2020.

However, I WILL BE WEARING A MASK if going to the local Walmarts… I mean, if Darth Vader goes to the Walmarts.

>Insert Mechanical Breathing Sound of Doom<

Adoption Update – Jumping the Shark

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I won’t ever forget watching The Fonz, water skiing in his leather jacket, jump over a small ocean corral of sharks. For years, I had heard of this “jump the shark” moment, but I could never have imagined just how random/stupid this stunt really was.

Jumping the Shark

Our adoption journey had a jump the shark moment a few weeks ago. Our caseworker, despite knowing our adoption preferences, sent us the profile of a much older kid.

At first, I was okay with our case worker testing the waters. Sure, Tab and I could give this child a last name, a place to crash, and help them get ready for life. Sure, we could pack in all of the important life lessons, we would have taught them over the years, into one year of their life. I was okay with the idea of adopting a 17 year old–would especially like to look into this once our son is older–, until I wasn’t.

Our adoption process has been marked with friends and family making small comments that burrow deep under my skin. Comments such as:

  • “Why don’t you do foster and adoption like we did? You’ll get a kid then.”
  • “And we were told that we’d never get a child if we went the route that you have.”
  • “You shouldn’t be frustrated, hurt, or angry over this process, God has this under control.”
  • “Oh, I’ve heard horror stories about older kids being adopted.”

I don’t think that these comments are meant to be hurtful but they are.

I am forever thankful for those that ask us how the process is going. Those that are willing to listen and not necessarily push their way of doing things. God has brought good friends to walk alongside us on this journey.

I haven’t written as much on adoption lately because there hasn’t been much to say. Silence, from our caseworker, continues to be the norm. I have also felt God telling me to pray more and write/talk less about it. I’m sure there is a balance to that though.

If you think about my family, could you take a moment and pray with us? Every morning I wake up to see the room across the hall is empty. Someone is missing. Could you pray over that with me? That God would have His way. That we would be able to listen/discern the route we need to take. I’d really appreciate it.

Growing our family through adoption.

July 2020 in Review

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I feel like I’ve been all over the map this month. July 2020 has been all about:

  • Turning 39 year old / celebrating my birthday
  • Playing all the games
  • Continuing to read Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer (70%)
  • As part of my reading through the Bible in a year plan, I read/finished: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, Titus, Philemon, and Jude
  • And a sinus infection that won’t go away

Tabitha and Wyatt bought me Paper Mario: The Origami King for my birthday. So most of my gaming time has been spent working my way through an origami world with Mario. I’m loving the tight writing and unexpected moments of pure Nintendo delight.

Snacks are good

Wyatt and I have been playing Injustice: Gods Among Us a bunch. Nothing like Superman kicking the snot out of Superman.

With some of my birthday money, I picked up:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
  • Doom (2016)

I should note that Paper Mario has been consuming my gaming time, so I haven’t given much time to the above games. Soon though.

Throw Throw Burrito - MeowCow

As a family, we have played a bunch of Throw Throw Burrito (think of the classic game Spoons but with a burrito war/fighting element where you chuck a burrito at fellow players. This game is super fun!

Throw Throw Burrito - Winners Badge

We also had a chance to sit down and play Disney Villainous, which I also got for my birthday. I like how you have your own character board/objective to complete while you also get to mess with fellow villains. Tab beat Wyatt and I with the Queen of Hearts (Wyatt played Captain Hook; I played Prince John). I can’t wait to play again.

Disney Villainous - Prince John
Disney Villainous - Prince John Card Back

My biggest project of all, this month, has been replacing all of the interior doors in the house. After this past weekend, I’m down to 4 doors needing to be replaced.

Door Replacement Project

What have you been playing lately?

Let me know in the comments below.

Timber!

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A few weekends ago, I spent a Saturday morning working alongside some guys from church. As we cut down/removed trees from a member’s property, I looked around me and thought, “Where are all the younger guys?”

The guys who were working with me, the guys with their shiny trucks and fun power tool toys, were all in their mid-40’s to mid-60’s. Here they were, working away, moving chunks of tree as if they were younger dudes.

Part of me was in awe seeing these guys in action. Them being the hands and feet of Christ to a family who could no longer do this work on their own. Another part of me was troubled…

What happens when these guys can no longer do the work?

What happens when they pass on?

All I can think, is that I can learn from them and lead by example. I can invite those who are in my circles at church to come along on the adventure. Get some younger blood to sacrifice their time, to use their talents, to touch others for Christ.

Photo by Gerold Hinzen on Unsplash

Wyatt had a friend’s birthday party that morning. I told him that if not for the party, he would have been working with me:

  • Chopping down the trees
  • Hauling their tree-bodies away
  • Being an example of the hands and feet of Christ to the world

Next time, my son. Next time.

Press Start – Paper Mario: The Origami King

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Tab and Wyatt bought me Paper Mario: The Origami King for my birthday. I have enjoyed what I have played so far.

Send snacks.
Not creepy at all.
Hit EVERYTHING.
I would like to thank everyone.
New friends.
It's amnesia.
SOLO.
Most challenging part of the game so far.
I did it!
This made me laugh.
Moving on in Autumn Mountain.

From Across the Net – “Focused on What Our Kids Can Do!”

Painted Waters Concept
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Amy and Ryan Green, creators of That Dragon Cancer, announced The Playability Initiative yesterday:

Today, we are announcing the Playability Initiative at Games for Change. It’s an initiative that has our whole heart because it allows us to focus on the abilities of children like Joel, who may not be able to leap and run and dance and sing, but we know that everything they can do is a precious gift to the people who love them. We are designing a video game for “the one.” The one others may not see. The one that may get brushed aside so we can serve the majority. The one who the shepherd might leave the 99 for. And what if this one can only move a single finger, ever so slightly? Can we imbue meaning and joy and connection to that child’s ability? We can. We just have to be willing to consider them, to see value in their abilities, and believe they are precious enough to warrant our efforts. Because of Joel, we see all of these “ones,” and we don’t think, “what a shame,” we think, “look at them go!”

You can learn more about designing a video for “the one” here

The Pool Pump Saga

Photo by Yehor Milohrodskyi on Unsplash
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It was almost 80 degrees this morning, when Tabitha and I walked out the door to walk. The breeze that had greeted us so gently yesterday had since vanished. In place of a breeze, a nice warm snugly blanket of humidity.

For years, Tabitha and I have had an above ground pool in our backyard. A place to escape the house, in the summer months; a place to help overcome the cabin fever that sets in when you live in air conditioning all the time.

At the end of last year, my pool pump decided to die. This year, I didn’t jump on buying one right away and have since paid the price. Due to our friend the Coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone and their cousin decided to buy above ground pools. STAYCATION!!! The laws of supply and demand have left stores without normal stock of both pools and pool pumps. My $70 pump that I need right now is going for $400 on Amazon and is out of stock through the manufacturer online. That said, I’m hoping that everyone is enjoying having a pool in their yard this year… because we are not.

I miss my pool.

Question: How do you stay sane during the summer months?

A Walk, A Birthday, And A Few Board Games

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Woke up this morning and went for a walk with Tabitha. My Apple Watch didn’t record any of our walk as exercise. So if an Apple made watch doesn’t record something… did it ever happen? From the picture below, yes, yes it did.

East Texas in July

I turned 39 this week. Spent my birthday working in the office with frequent breaks to text/talk with family and friends. I loved catching up with those who reached out.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) dominated many of the conversations I had on my birthday. I’m not complaining. But I can tell that the pandemic and the information roller coaster we’ve all boarded because of it, is weighing heavily on us all.

For my birthday, I received a few new board games. My parents bought me Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – The Thames Murders & Other Cases; Tab and Wyatt bought me Disney Villainous. I’m looking forward to playing and writing on both of these games.

Disney Villainous

As an observation, I was telling Tabitha this morning that I do not play video games like I used to–like, this surprises me–. Board games have become the thing I ask for and play more frequently. There is something about having screens off and being able to gather around the table with family and friends that is special and builds memories.

As a further thought, I am thinking about starting to write board game reviews. Trying to think of an angle that would best serve the JBG Community. All one of us. 🙂

Hope you all are doing well.

Perspective – Black Simulator

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Choose the right clothes.

Don’t make eye contact.

Seriously, don’t make eye contact! It freaks folks out.

All you’ve got to do is run a couple of errands.

You can do this, right?

My first time playing developer Justin Fox’s Black Simulator, I got distracted by the TV in the in-game living room. The option to play “dat Tekken” made me curious. So I chose the option to play… which ended up taking the rest of my day. Game Over.

My second run through the game, I decided to go take some bread to my grandma. In the process, I made some white people mad by looking in their direction (which is a no-no, apparently). I then got mugged right outside my grandma’s house, which left me in my underwear. Grandma wouldn’t talk to me until I put some clothes on. So, I made the decision to run back to my house and get some clothes. Somewhere along that route, the game glitched–I became invisible!–and I had to restart.

What am I playing?

A few weeks ago, Justin Fox (whom I’ve interviewed before) contacted me about writing on Black Simulator. He gave me a code and asked for my perspective. The word perspective is key in discussing Black Simulator. As the perspective in the game, though viewed through the lens of satire, is radically different than my own day-to-day perspective as a white male.

The Steam description for Black Simulator reads:

A SATIRICAL MINI GAME where you spend the day as a black man (er “Blackmenn” if you prefer) on your day off. You must run 3 errands without getting shot or arrested by the Police! Depending on various choices your experience will differ either slightly or drastically with multiple playthroughs.

Avoid the dangers of the PoPo Meter – Police suspicions increases with certain choices of attire, and behavior!

I.G.N.A.N.T Meter, the rage is REAL – Attempt to avoid responses to rude people that may lead to someone calling the cops on you!

T.O.M Meter – Attempt to maintain street cred even though it can be SERIOUSLY unhealthy to do so!

Multiple ways to end your day off! With peace, or bullets.

Blackness awaits!

Survive a day, in the life of a black man, without getting shot or arrested by the police. Sounds easy, right? After my initial experience with the game, I’m not so sure when an errand to grandma’s house ends with me getting jumped.

Am I allowed to say that this game leaves me puzzled? That the overall experience feels foreign?

Maybe that is the point?

I need to play more.

You can find Black Simulator here, for $3, on Steam.

From Across the Net – “Follow the Way You Want To Be Followed”

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
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I feel like God has been teaching me this for years (via Tim Challies):

If we are going to follow in such a way that we parse every word and appeal to every loophole, we should expect our followers to parse our every word and to pursue every loophole. If we are going to follow formally, to go through the motions but with grumbling and complaining, we should expect our own followers to grumble, to complain, to do no more than the minimum. If we are going to follow the letter while ignoring the spirit, we should not be shocked when those we lead likewise follow the letter but violate the spirit. We are all natural imitators, so that the way we follow begins to look a lot like the way they follow.

You can read more here