A Weekend of Learning to Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game

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Pokémon TCG

Wyatt and I took a trip to our local game store, Three Suns Unlimited, this past weekend. I have been meaning to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game for awhile now. I figured Pokémon would be a great entry level collectible card game for us to learn. After asking the ultimate parent question in this scenario:

“What do I need to play this game?”

The knowledgeable store staff directed us to a Pokémon Sun & Moon Trainer Kit. Priced at $10, the Trainer Kit comes with everything you need to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). The kit includes:

  • A full 60-card deck that you split into two to play two player
  • Playmat (with rules on it)
  • Damage Counters (cardboard tokens)
  • Condition Markers
  • A Game Coin to flip to determine who goes first
  • And 2 Rule Books to teach you how to play your first game step-by-step

Our first game of Pokémon TCG.

Once home, we pulled out the instructions and got to playing. I was impressed at how easy the game is to learn. We ended up battling our Pokémon against each other in more than a few matches over the weekend.

Side Note: I was amused that one of the game’s rules is having to shake hands with your opponent prior to playing. This brought about a great opportunity to teach Wyatt about how men shake hands. Not too soft. Not too hard. Firm and determined.

Ready to play.

As a real man, I can admit that I got my butt kicked multiple times this weekend by a growing boy and his Pokémon. I am pleased that $10 provided the entertainment it did while allowing me to connect with Wyatt more. We’ll continue to play, refine our skills, and figure out the luck of the draw nature of the game. Who knows, maybe we’ll be ready to battle Team Rocket in the future… if we ever meet them.

Union Pacific’s No. 4014 – The Big Boy Visit’s Longview, Texas

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Last Sunday, after lunch had been hastily scarfed down after church, I packed the family (+inlaws) into the car. We headed down to the local train depot to welcome Union Pacific’s Big Boy No. 4014 into town.

There were so many people at the station. Many in the crowd still dressed in their Sunday finest. All held back by a fence from getting closer to the Big Boy. I have to admit, I was disappointed by the view from the depot. So we hopped back into the car, as Big Boy No. 4014 rolled out of Longview. We took a quick trip down down Highway 80 in order to get ahead of the train. One could say we had the perfect spot the second time around.

I would like to thank Union Pacific for adding a bit of history and steam to an otherwise slow Sunday afternoon. You can read more about the Big Boy here.

On My Radar – Some Distant Memory – Announcement Trailer

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This looks like a perfect bedtime game.

Hundreds of years after the collapse of civilization, you are the Professor, an archaeologist searching for the sunken city of Houston. Helping you are the Commander, an explorer from another colony, and ARORA, an artificial intelligence built to help the survivors of the Collapse.

The Electrical Panel

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A few weeks ago, we had an air conditioning company do some work in the office. While fixing a circuit breaker, they forgot to put the electrical panel back on the box. Instead of letting me put the two screws in, that hold the panel in place, I was told to call the company back out. I was mortified.

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

The technician the company sent out was 115% understanding. Took him less than a few minutes to put the panel back together.

I get the principal of holding a company to their work… but I wonder where the line of entitlement and laziness meet. Maybe I’m too practical? Either way, I say screw it.

Love Thy Nerd Convention Registration Opens

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When I first heard that Love Thy Nerd was hosting a convention in Dallas, I was stoked. Thoughts of taking Wyatt and hanging out playing games with others sounds like a blast. But alas, the speaking sessions intertwined with gaming sessions are not conducive to bringing a 10 year old (at least in my mind they are not). I’m thinking we’ll give it a year and give it a try next time around.

Don’t let that stop you from checking out the LTN Conference info/link below:

Join the first-ever conference hosted by Love Thy Nerd! If you want to learn how to love and serve your nerdy neighbors better, you know, like Jesus would, then this is for you. There’s literally no other conference like this. Oh, and we’ll play a bunch of games and nerd out about all kinds of things, so there’s that.

You can check out more information on the Love Thy Nerd Conference here

Someone, Please Save Us, Us College Kids

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During my junior college years, I listened to “College Kids”, by Relient K, on repeat:

Someone, please save us, us college kids!
What my parents told me is what I did
They said, “Go to school and be a college kid.”
But, in the end, I questioned why I did

I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I knew I wanted more than the part time restaurant job I was working. Surely there was more to life than general level college courses, commuting, and serving food/busing tables. Add on top of that friends moving away for school, girls/dating, and not being sure of who I was in the church (or the church having a clue of who I was)… this was a huge transitory time for me.

(Oh no!) Not for me, not for me
Call it torture, call it university
(No!) Arts and Crafts is all I need
I’ll take calligraphy and then I’ll make a fake degree

I am thankful for those that God stirred up and called into my life during that time. He is faithful. I just didn’t always see His faithfulness as I clearly do now in retrospect. Little did I know that He was preparing me for bigger things. Bigger things like:

  • Moving away from all that I ever knew (family, friends, etc.).
  • Texas. TEXAS. The shock of Southern/Bible Belt culture.
  • My wife. I met her within a month of moving/going to school.

For those in this period of transition, the church (as a whole) does little to help with the confusion. Once students leave the comfort and safety of the youth group, they are launched into church oblivion. This oblivion is somewhere between graduating high school and marriage. The church, inadvertently, preaches that marriage is the pinnacle; once married, growing a family becomes the next prize to be won. But where does that leave those in college? Forgotten.

Eighty grand later, I found out that all that I had learned
Is that you should show up to take your finals and your mid-terms
The party scene is kind of mean; I think it’s sick and twisted
The Navy showed up at my door and claimed that I enlisted

Some churches see the need and build college, young professional, and singles ministries (all of these are totally different ministries that should not be paired together) to bridge the gap till marriage. I am thankful for churches who see this need.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

College kids want to be recognized, listened to, and accepted in the church. They do not want to be treated as second-class citizens who serve as babysitters. Nor do they want to be treated as the “forgotten”, in-between singleness and marriage. We, as the Church, have to do more. We need to change the messages we are silently/subtly preaching through our actions. We also need to point to the stable foundation that is Scripture. College students are hungry for truth (scripture), faith that has depth, and delicious food. And maybe even a chance to come over, hang out, and wash their clothes.

We can do better. I’ve learned that Satan speaks into the silent places the church doesn’t. So let us speak and do.

Prepare to be Stretched

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A long time ago, I almost went to Azusa Pacific University. Finances fell through, reality set in, and I ended with a time where I felt lost. I had just walked away from my first job that I worked at for five years. Life felt unstable. I remember a marketing photo from Azusa that featured a ball of rubberbands. The tagline below the ball was, “Prepare to be stretched.”

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Growth is oftentimes not comfortable. Growth can be painful.

Some eleven years later, I feel lost once again. Caught in some sort of cyclical orbit that I cannot break free from. Since college graduation, Fall 2006, I have been trying to get my bearings. Part of that could be cultural, I live in Texas now versus my native California. Things are different here. The other part of that was thinking that God had called me to be a pastor. I had thought that I would go to seminary after college. First seminary I applied at told me I had too much student debt. The second seminary, which accepted me debt and all, was not to be. As I got ready to select my first classes, we ended up pregnant with my son. Any money for schooling vanished.

Where does one go with the path changes? How does one adapt?

I work as an Office Manager by day. Not the first job I would choose for myself, but I do enjoy the work when we are busy. In my eighth year now, I have no room for growth. I feel trapped.

I find myself wondering what that next step is. Where is God calling me to be? I find myself questioning my faith. I know all the right Christian answers, there is just a head-to-heart disconnect.

God constantly reminds me that He is working though. As waves threaten to sink me, He taps me on the shoulder and says, “hey man, I’ve got this.” I just need to believe it.

LeTourneau University Alumni Association Directory project

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In the Fall of 2004 I left my native state of California, Tetris-style packed my car, and made the 2 day trek to Longview, Texas. There I spent the next two and half years pursuing higher education and ultimately meeting my now wife. My time at LeTourneau University was amazing due to the awesome group of guys I became friends with (kick butt CLUB!) and the personal growth I experienced through student leadership.

Almost six years later, I find myself gainfully employed and slowly paying back my student debt. Over the past few months, I have been receiving emails/mailers from a company LeTourneau has contracted to update their alumni directory. I do not wish to participate in this update. Instead of offering me a chance to opt out, I have been bombarded with emails and mailers warning me of being “past due” and the dreaded “4th notice”. This collections agency language and behavior is not befitting of the memories I have of the university. I really think that LeTourneau is capable of holding itself to a higher standard.

What is funny about this is that no one else I know, who has attended LETU, has been contacted over this. Seems like a scam.

Weekend Trip: Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

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This past Saturday (6/30), one of my good friends was visiting his inlaws in Dallas. So, I loaded up the family and met up with him for lunch at the Twisted Root Burger Company (hadn’t seen him in 5 years!). Lunch was fantastic! The food was great and I really enjoyed getting to visit with Andy and having the opportunity to meet his wife for the second time.

After lunch, we said goodbye to Andy and his wife and headed on over to Fair Park. After an almost 2 and a half hour drive from Longview, I figured we’d stretch our legs a bit and visit the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park.

Who knew there was a Hall street in Dallas? I didn’t.

The Texas Star Ferris wheel. The largest Ferris wheel in North America, of course.

A fountain in Fair Park was apparently calling my son’s name. Thankfully, he did not heed that call. Not that I would have blamed him with the 100 degree heat.

All of the aquarium’s displays were at toddler level. This meant my son could engage the aquatic life on his own terms.

This guy was pretty cool looking!

Whenever we’d go to any lake in Arizona or Nevada as a kid, my Dad would always joke about snapping turtles. Guess what, they do exist in Texas!

Behold!

This Alligator Snapping Turtle had his own ecosystem on his back.

Hello.

As you can tell, I loved this guy. Just check out those claws!

I end with a symbiotic relationship that certainly must “suck”. Get it?

Overall, the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park is a fun way to spend an hour or two. They also have an excellent sting ray pool where you can feed and pet the wondrous monsters as they glide by. I enjoyed putting my hands in the tank, barely moving them, and being swarmed by sting rays! I don’t remember the sting ray exhibit at Sea World ever being this good.

God: Working Behind the Scenes

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I stood out in the front yard last night watching the clouds swirl by. A storm was coming. The sky was growing darker by the minute as the clouds rotated in an eerie fashion. Sirens blared off in the distance, a tornado had been spotted in the northern part of our county. Beauty and death danced before me in the clouds, such a mix of awe and fear.

Back in the house, the weatherman was drenched in full HD glorified sweat. I openly wondered if he was going to have a heart attack. He didn’t. He did, however, rant and rave about “rotations” and “charging up your cell phone”. There was no calm, no awe in his voice, just fear.

When the weather outside is possibly life threatening and the weatherman is swamped in a fear-induced froth, I find it hard not to become fearful as well. But fearful of what? Tornadoes, “death from above” as I like to call them, are random creatures. They can be slow moving and quick to strike without notice. In other words, I have no control over them.

Journeying through life, we live under the illusion that we are in control. We aren’t. Lately, I’ve been studying through the Old Testament. Reading through the book of Joshua, I have read time and time again of God orchestrating massive events, even using evil things for good. Though we are not in control, God is. Even in times where it doesn’t seem like He is answering our prayers, He is working behind the scenes as the book of Haggai points out. But even with God in control, our daily choices still matter. Choices such as whether to let fear rule our lives, instead of the hope of Christ (for those who have accepted Him), these choices matter.

Are the clouds of fear swirling around you? Does destruction seem to be looming on the horizon? Take hope in that God is orchestrating all things for the good of those who love Him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

The Old Republic

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Yesterday, the State of Texas celebrated it’s 174th birthday. Happy birthday Texas!

Speaking of other old republics, I started downloading Star Wars: The Old Republic last night. As of this moment, my download is almost done! My plans are to create a Han Solo type character–hey, I’ve always called myself a scoundrel!–. I am really looking forward to playing the game and comparing it to my other BioWare experience, Mass Effect 2.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. The high today, here in East Texas, is 62 degrees. A nice change from the 80 degree weather we have oddly experienced this past week. Until next time.

Sunday, Sunday

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It is a nice and toasty 89 degrees outside today. Hurray for Texas in the springtime!

So far, I have spent my Sunday going to church, hanging out with friends this afternoon (got to play Shadows Over Camelot for the first time), and now just relaxing. The house is nice and quiet due to my son being down for a nap. I can’t imagine what life will be like when he finally stops taking those…

Last night I dove into Red Dead Redemption on the PS3. First off, I would like to give developer Rockstar massive kudos for keeping the game relatively clean thus far. The lack of language and even sexual content has shocked me after dabbling with several games in the Grand Theft Auto series. Such restraint Rockstar! Keep it up! Second, I am not a huge fan of open world GTA-like games. Red Dead Redemption is slowly making a believer out of me. The game is a fulfillment of all of my childhood fantasies of becoming a cowboy. Love it! So far I have herded cattle, rounded up rustlers, and kept a garden free of varmints. I will most likely be writing more about this game in the future.

That is about all for this relaxing Sunday. See ya on the flip side tomorrow!

Lazy Sunday

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Sunday afternoons always seem to drag on into infinity…

Lately, the weather has been rather warm for spring time in East Texas. The 80 degree days have started reminding me of our blazing hot/humid summers. All in all, it is far too early for weather like this.

Yesterday, in an attempt to stave off the cabin fever Sunday’s induce, my wife, son, and I piled into the family sedan and headed off to Target. Our mission: To spend some giftcards we had recently received.

Walking through the store, my wife and I looked at dinner plates, blenders, and solar powered lanterns–I love these things!–. Eventually we made our way to the boardgame aisle. It was then that my wife spotted this:

Now, I have found that boardgames can really be a huge hit or a miss. Usually, I won’t buy a new boardgame unless we have had a chance to test-drive it, per se. But, having giftcards to spend, we decided that perhaps it was time to Pass the Popcorn. Now, for those of you who haven’t played, Pass the Popcorn is a movie trivia game.

To play, one player reads out the top of the card (“1980 Comedy”), and then the other player asks a question depending on what tile they have selected (Tiles range from Quotes, Story, Cast, Characters, etc.). If you guess the movie title right, you win!

Long after the Target trip and soon after my son had been put to bed for the night, my wife and I tried the game out. We had a really good time!

Sometimes its nice to just turn off the TV and enjoy spending time with those around you.

Podcast Spotlight: The Geekbox

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The Geek Box LogoThe Geekbox reminds me of  dinner table conversations I’d often overhear while attending a small engineering college in Texas. Robots, Star Wars, and even dirigibles used as floating combat platforms were common topics of conversation. Sometimes I would find myself cringing at the depths of nerdiness being discussed; other times I would join these conversations and contribute to no end.

Much like those overheard conversations in college, The Geekbox often veers off course into morally questionable material due to different guests. I find this to be unfortunate as the rest of the podcast is of high (nerdy) quality. However, just as I would in college, sometimes it is best to leave the dinner table (ie: fast-forward) if things sink too low.

At the end of the day, The Geekbox is like coming home to a group of old friends you know and love, flaws and all.

Not perfect but highly recommended

 

Give them a listen (link will open iTunes).