Friday, September 20, 2019

Board games, the next level.

My cousin in LA recently bought the game Ticket to Ride and then subsequently got introduced to Settlers of Catan.  When he bought Ticket to Ride, I asked him why he hadn’t checked with me.  I told him I could have guided him otherwise. He said that he was advised to buy Ticket to Ride and somewhere I started thinking about board games and the board game revolution and when to introduce who to what game.  What would I have told him to buy if he would have asked me? And then the answer slapped me in the face.  Whenever I host game nights at my place, and we have a new player, we almost always, invariably start with Ticket to Ride.  OK.  Maybe I would have told him the same thing.  I don’t know.
And then I think about my own game revolution.  When did I become so knowledgeable about board games?  And then time to dig deep and think about all the board games and why I enjoy playing them.  If you are a serious gamer, then this blog may not be for you.  Heck, at that point, I should be reading your blog.  But anyway, if you want to be a gamer or want to expand your horizons about board games, stay put.  If you want to know about the different types of games out there, hang tight.  We are going to take the next step from the Monopoly and Scrabble.  We are taking the next step from the games we grew up with.
When I discuss the board games in this blog, and no I will not discuss all the games I have played, and yes, there will be another blog about board games, but I want to break it down to a few categories.  Fun. Competition/cooperation.  Aggression.  Number of players.  Card building.  Strategy and luck.  If you are a type B personality, I’ll tell you right now – you won’t enjoy the games that I do.  The games I enjoy are not low key.  Actually, all the games I prefer to play are aggressive, involve strategy and the more convoluted the strategy, the better.  I love a good brain workout.  How to make this board work for me?  And how to make it not work for my opponents?  And when to do so?
I’m going to start off with a cooperative game.  These are games where players play against the board.  So, you all win together or you all lose together.  You talk to each other and strategize to figure out the best way to defeat the board while every turn the board tries to defeat you all. The game I’m talking about is Pandemic. It’s fun, but it’s not aggressive and competitive.  Heck, you are all friends playing together beating a board.  For me, that’s OK.  Kinda. I would rather play against each other to the death, but the good point of this game is the strategic element.  You all still have to flex your brain muscle to defeat the board.  It’s a 2-4 player game and I think a type B personality may enjoy it, especially one trying to transition into becoming an A type personality.  Haha.  Sorry. Couldn’t resist that comment.  I’m big on winning.  I know it’s better to have a win-win philosophy in life, blah, blah, blah.  Moving on.
Ticket to Ride is a standard. Why else would they have so many expansions of this game?  It’s a lot of fun.  The competition/aggression in this game is mild to moderate.  Basically you are building tracks to get from one city to another and if your tracks block someone else’s, then the real fun begins. It’s super easy to learn.  It’s super family friendly and it’s really the first game to introduce people into the genre of the strategic games.  There is some luck depending on the shuffle of the cards, but it’s not bad.  Also, upto 5 players can play it and that’s great because most games stop with the 2-4 player range.  The friends I have introduced this game to, went home and purchased their own copy.  I wish I had this blog up way back when so they could have used my Amazon Associates link but anyway.  Great game to start off with.
Next up.  Settlers of Catan.   When I first started this game it was a full blown fight at my home.  Anger.  Loud arguments.  Well, what can I say?  My family is hugely competitive.  The aggression in this game is because you can help someone but then they can end up double crossing you.  Basically the strategy in this game is to build roads, settlements and cities.
 Points are scored for longest roads, largest army and for the settlements and cities you own.  The strategy elements in this game are plentiful. Yes, there are dice so there is the luck of the draw, but I have won this game by buying strategic locations and having certain resources.  If you are past Ticket to Ride, this is the next best thing.  And the board is variable so every time is a different board and a different strategy so it will take a while to get tired of this game.  The game is for upto 4 players after which you’ll need an extension to make it 4-6 players.  The game is 25 years old and is still one of the gold standards of the modern gamer.  If you don’t own this game, then stop now and click on the link(s) above because this is the next best thing since sliced bread.  Please note, I will be posting my top strategies for Catan in a future blog.
The last game I want to mention for this blog, for now, is Dominion.  It’s a card building game.  It involves strategy and some luck (based on the shuffle of the cards).  Up to 4 players can play it.  Lately, my group has been playing it a lot.  The manufacturer has over 10 expansions of this game and the variability is extremely high.  Depending on the cards you play with, a game can last for 30 minutes or even an hour.  And repeating the same game?
 Hmmm. Well, there’s a randomizer app. It’s going to take a while.  So, just enjoy the variability that this game comes with.  To start, I would just buy Dominion and then if you enjoy it a lot, move on to Intrigue and after that, you should qualify to write this blog.
There are so many other games to mention.  But I will say this.  Yesterday I went to a board game meet up.  This is with gamers, so yes I lost, but I played a game called Hadara.  It was my first time playing it although it’s a variant of 7 Wonders.  Let’s save talking about these games for a later post.   As I said, I will be blogging more about games.  This is a way for me to process what I like and why.
Before I go, a few years back, I even went to Geekway to the West, the gaming convention in St. Louis.  OMG.  What a rush.  I loved it.  But I digress.  I was introduced to Viticulture and Scythe.  At that time, Scythe was not released to the market yet.  I was lucky to play it then.  It was so much fun, but back to yesterday’s board game meet up.  There were a couple of tables playing Tapestry.  That game looks involved.  I looked it up on Amazon.  Yes, it’s $99.  Holy Kamoli. Yes, it’s for the serious gamer. So, no, there won’t be a review of that game here for a while, but I just thought I would mention the two games that caught my eye yesterday.
While I plan more game posts, do you have any questions for me about games that you play, extensions, expansions.  I will try my best to steer you in the right direction.  For now, please use my links to purchase any of the games, if you are interested.  I may get a few pennies for it, so I thank you in advance.
Stay tuned for more.  
Real quick:  I am moving this blog over to shahnazahmed.com.  That site is a work in progress, but please save the link.  At some point, when I have a way for you all to subscribe to my blogs there, I will eventually move this blog over.  Of course, I will keep you all posted.  Thank you for hanging in there with me.
PS.  I’m posting this blog on shahnazahmed.com also!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Never give up!

I know people say this.  I've read a lot of memes about how persistence pays.  It's the plugging along and the plugging along and the plugging along and the one fine day, everything works concept.  It's easier said than done.  I don't want to hear, but I'm sure there are millions of stories of the trying and trying and trying and never making it to where they wanted.  I guess, we don't want to focus on that because then we'd most likely quit.  Heck.  I may not even start.
The thing with this concept is the continued focus even when things are going south.  When things are not staying in a consistent lull, but actually getting worse.  How does one not give up in those situations?  I don't have the answer, but I will talk about a couple of situations where I've heard this "never give up" philosophy work.
Situation 1.  I am following a podcast on Anchor and I haven't listened to a lot of their episodes, but there was one particular episode where the speaker talks about how he had only 7 listens to his podcast one day and he thought he was irrelevant.  He wanted to give up and then boom, it changed and a week later it just grew and it became 1000 people listening.  Wow.  I would like to know how that happens.  I would like a 100 people to listen for starters.  I'm digressing.  The point was that he stuck it through and if he would have quit when there was 7, he would have never known the potential.  It probably was really hard with just 7 listens especially when you are trying to make it big and when your livelihood depends on it.
The reason for this podcast is not situation 1.  It's situation 2 that really spoke to me.
Situation 2.  I'm in Antigua on the beach reading a book.  This a public beach and the vendors approach you to ask if you want to buy something or book a tour.  They are trying to do business and it's their livelihood.  There are guests who book and why not?  If you are not interested as a guest, you just say, "No thank you" and they move on.  Sometimes, they'll stop and ask how you are and what your plans are and if you want to book with them.  So, maybe the conversation takes a few more sentences than "Are you interested in a tour?" Reply with "No thank you".  I was on a beach chair reading a book and I didn't want to get interrupted but I didn't mind.  I understood the culture and it was fine.  A couple in the beach chair next to us, did not want to get interrupted and instead of "no thank you." They responded with "Do not talk to me.  I'm just trying to relax here and you come and talk to me."  And the vendor, I will not blame him said, "It's a public beach.  I can approach anyone I want." And this conversation went on and on with the guest getting more and more frustrated and security at the resort stepped in and finally the vendor moved on.  As he moved on, he said to himself and loudly, "Never Give up!  Never Give up!" and I wished I had a tour to book with him, but I didn't.  In face of contempt, the vendor, shook it off and held on to his mantra and went on.  I watched and thought about how often we shake away something bad and say to ourselves, "never give up."  For me, not too many times.  But maybe, I do need to do that more often.
So, before I go, Never Give Up dear friends.  Great things are coming your way.
TTR

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mid-life crisis and the mental block

As is the case when I've been gone for so long, I feel like I need to explain myself to you all.  I feel I need to fill you all in on my life and my podcast.  Yes, I do have a podcast now.  I have a new website now, with my name on it.  Yes.  My actual name.  As my husband asked me when I pondered the concept of eventually moving Theythrowrocks there, "But you won't be anonymous anymore!"  Hmmm.  Anonymity.  I thought it would give me the strength to be true.  To speak my mind.  To just say it as I see it, with judgement and all.  To bear myself.  To bear my true self.  While I "decided" that I was going to give it all up, then again, in true TTR fashion, I think about it.  Should I?  But don't most of my readers know who I am already?
OK, so that's something that I shuttle back and forth in my mind, but lately, my mind and even my life has felt like a mess.  Imagine a set of long tiny wires all tangled together and as you remove one knot, you create several others and after trying for as long as one does, you just give it all up.  You realize those wires will not ever be untangled and there's nothing you can do about it.  No amount of patience was going to help you.  Funny thing with mid-life crisis or just life crisis is that it jams your brain and like the tangles of wires, you try and try and nothing works.  Except with your brain you don't have a choice of trashing it and picking a new piece of neuronal networks.  I worked with the tangles and it became my new reality.  Simple questions became difficult to understand or respond to.  What are you doing with your life?  What do you want?  The answer was always, I have no flipping clue.  Seriously.  I wanted to give it all up and start over.  Then there's the finances to consider.  I couldn't think straight to try to salvage my reality and my job.  I looked for something new.  Maybe I want that.  No.  I want that.  In this mayhem, I cannot imagine how I started and kept consistent with a podcast.  Something that doesn't pay me at all.  It can't be a profession or a job.  I know you have to be famous to make it that way, but I'm a nobody right now.  I'm just TTR who's still struggling to understand the reasons for my own anonymity.
I just returned from a fabulous vacation to Sandals Grande Antigua.  Sandals, a chain that my husband and I have chosen, has been fun.  Has been a week of beach and sand and great food.  This time around, I decided it better be more.  I didn't know what I wanted from the beach but I looked up "beach meditation" online just in case.  So, first day out, we do our breakfast and I make it to the water.  I tell my husband that I am going to meditate and be one with the Universe and he laughs rolling his eyes because he knows his wife is crazy.  I don't care.  I feel the sand under my feet.  I look at the water, the small waves, the tiny ripples.  I look at the light greenish blue color of the water, as it turns bluer towards the horizon.  I look out at the shore line of white sand and the waves crashing.  I kept doing this.  Day 1.  Day 2.  Day 3.  And sometime around Day 2, some things started making sense in my life.  The twisted network that refused to work started sending signals.  I felt a change within me.  A clarity, if you will.  Suddenly I was able to see my work and what I wanted from it and also from my podcast and my blogs.  Yes, blogs.  I plan to have 3.  This one which is going to continue to be a lifestyles blog.  A wandering spirit blog about my travels and the third one, the script of my Living A Life Through Books podcast.
And I think about my office and what will make it work.  Everything that felt like a crushing feeling within me, was slowly releasing away and I could see clearer.  There was still a question I had in my mind that I was not finding the answer to.  I couldn't connect completely.  Day 4.  Better clarity.  I need to get a dot journal or whatever those things are called.  Or just a TTR style journal.  Day 5.  As I lay down to bed, the one question about my office hits me.  The why I do what I do.  It may seem crazy but you know how parents tell you not to touch a hot pot or just stuff like that and you learn it instinctively and it becomes a part of you.  What if someone asked you why you don't touch the pot anymore and you just didn't know why?  What if you didn't remember that pot was hot, but you just didn't touch it because of habit.  And when someone asks you, you say, that's just how it is, but you stumble with the why of something as simple as that.  Well, similarly with my job there was something I did and there was a reason.  Except, I did not remember what that reason was.  I think I starred at the blue ocean and felt the waves for a long time looking for that one last answer and it was the night of day 5 that it came to me.  More than just the answer.  A conviction about why I did what I did.  I spent Day 6 floating in the ocean and thanking the Universe for giving me answers that I couldn't find anywhere else.
Now, here I am, in a lounge at Miami International Airport, feeling a renewed sense of clarity.  OK.  I would be lying if I said I sorted every answer out.  As I sorted answers out, more questions came up and most of them have been sorted out.  The most important thing is the clog in my brain that has cleared up.  I can answer questions now.  My brain actually feels like it got a jump start.
Is is all mid-life crisis?  Is it all a mental block?  Who knows?  I know one thing for sure.  Everyone says they need the beach, that they need a vacation.  I feel my definition of a vacation has been to get away from it all for a while.  A panacea for a week and then back to the grind.  A bandaid that doesn't cure that which is your reality.  That used to be vacation for me.  This one was a first.  I can look at the beach with a renewed focus and a new set of eyes.  The eyes that allow me to return.  The eyes that want me to return and live the life I set out to live.
Before I go, I will say that I am not clueless to the stresses that are going to hit me as I get home.  I know the brain will unfortunately get clogged again.  I also know that, for me, a week of beach meditation and gratitude for being able to experience it has gone a long, long, long way.
I wish you all the best in this coming New Year.
TTR

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How to cut a jackfruit

Dear friends,

Here's a crazy video I decided to post.  Hope you all enjoy it.  It's just one of those wild things that I thought about sharing and said, "why not?"

I could talk about the LONG Facebook live video that my husband posted of myself cutting a different jackfruit.  I would have loved to add the elements from that video, but my camera cut off while recording and I had to re-record some stuff so some stuff just didn't get recorded and the sequence got cady-wompused (is that a word?)

Before I go, on a totally different note, for those of you not following my Facebook page, a lot of changes are coming my way.  I have a podcast now called "living a life through books" and I'm going to do a TTR podcast also.  And I'm going to be having a new website and all that jazz.  I know I have been MIA, but please bear with me and it's going to be fun.

Hope you all are having a great day.  Catcha all later,

TTR  

Monday, June 4, 2018

All over the place

Dear readers, first off, I want to thank you for being there and putting up with my rambles.  For those of you who have been with me from the first day, I cannot tell you how much your support means to me.  Usually, when a post starts like this, it's usually a post about an end, but I'm not here to end this blog.  Far from it.  I'm just here to give you a tiny window into my crazy brain that is all over the place.  OK.  You've figured it out from my posts already.  I can hear one of your go, "have you finished your ship yet?".  No I haven't, although I have been thinking about going back to the basement and start working on it again.  It's just that my brain keeps hopping from one thing to another.  I'm glad I've even stayed half way consistent with this blog.
Last year, in efforts to tame my crazy mind, I started a project.  It was to read a book a month.  I finished it.  It was a big deal for me.  Well, it was also motivational to me because for the first time I felt that I can finish things.  That's why I was thinking about the ship again.  Finish one task at a time, I tell myself.  It's all a great idea but with all great ideas, more ideas pour into the mix and my brain goes on a scrambled mission yet again.  I have tried to keep focus with my books and that focus alone has helped me stay on a path.  A path leading to a new venture.  I'm planning on starting a podcast.  No.  It's not going to be like this blog and all over the place.  It's going to be about my journey through books.  It's not necessarily a book review.  Maybe I discuss some books, but mostly it's about how this journey of reading one book a month has changed me and how it makes me process my relationship with books.  So, while I'm all over the place, I do plan to keep up with this blog.  I will be starting another new blog also, which will essentially be the script of my Podcast and of course will be doing the Podcast.  I'm hoping to start sometime in July and I would appreciate your support.  And again, thank you for sticking with me through my many adventures.  Here's to many more adventures together.
Best to you all,
TTR

Going around in circles

Everyday for years now, I have taken the same path to work.  It's timed to be about a fourteen to sixteen minute drive depending on the lights.  I don't know why I settled on this path because there are 3 different ways to get to my office from home.  Everything was all smooth until last week when they decided to close, for 3 months, the main path that I used.  Like I said, there are 2 other paths to my office.  I picked a different path, which ended up being a eleven to a thirteen minute drive except, it's not always that way.  Let me explain.
When you drive the same path everyday, you don't pay attention.  Muscle memory kicks in and your car just drives itself.  When that path is blocked, changing a habit becomes tricky.  I have to repeat to myself over and over, take a left, not a right.  This is a left here and yet, I forget and lose myself.  I think I have taken a couple of right turns and then had to take a U-turn around and added time to my commute by 1 - 2 minutes.  Interesting enough, that's happened only couple of times to get to work.  Getting back is a different story.  I think there may have been only one day so far that I made it the right way.  One day, I turned the wrong way and then I cut across the parking lot and turned around and was about to turn back the wrong way but I remembered.  Today, I turned the wrong way all the way until I hit the sign that said "road closed ahead".  How did this happen?  When will I be able to drive and pay attention to where I'm going.  After all, I just realized this new path would save me 3 minutes.  It would make sense to just do it, but my mind just wants to go to autopilot when I'm driving, especially when I'm driving back.  Today I kept repeating to myself that I had to go the other way, after I made one turn around.  Well, repeating and focusing helped, but I never thought driving to and from work would be so much effort.  I wonder if one day I'll just drive around and around and around and how many circles I'd have to make before my mind can focus and actually go home.  I wonder.
That's it for this post.  Nothing deep but it is what it is.
TTR

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is almost over and I've been musing about this post.  I want to write something, but what?  I thought, I could start with the definition of "mother", but then in reality, I unfortunately do not know that definition.  I know it from one side of the story - watching and learning from my own mother.  The other side would be the true understanding of motherhood that only comes from being a mom.  I think in my life, I've gotten micro slices of that feeling of intense love that fills your senses and takes away all common sense where a child could have you wrapped around their little finger and play you like a violin.  I've seen that happen also and have watched mothers be oblivious to the power yielded by their little monsters.  Alas, am I straying off course?  Maybe.  Maybe not.
Today, on Facebook I saw a post from a mom advising other moms to "milk it" for today anything was fair game.  I personally, felt bad for that mom.  I thought about the moms who might have felt the need to "milk it".  It's like they give their whole life and sacrifice and deal with the crap of the wonderful nature of motherhood and they get what in return?  A day!  Out of 365 days, they get ONE day.  My mom always said that everyday was Mother's Day and that's what I feel.  A mother is more deserving of being special everyday and it's almost an insult to give her one day.  One measly day.  It's like saying, I love you and I appreciate you and I'll take the time and effort on this day.  The other days, well, don't expect much.  It's not mother's day and we did all that stuff for mother's day so get over it!!!
My niece asked me this morning if I wished my mom a happy Mother's Day.  I told her I'll get to it.  And then after going around and running errands, I went to visit my mom.  I don't know if I did it for mother's day or if I just wanted to go visit with her.  No.  I think I went because I felt obligated for Mother's Day and the sad part of it is that I almost feel like it absolves me of my duties as a daughter because I took the time and effort to go visit her on Mother's day.  If she calls, I can always say, hey, I visited on Mother's Day so don't complain.  See, my mom would tell me off and tell me that there is no such thing as Mother's day and the fact I visited her on Mother's Day doesn't count.  Everyday should be just as special.  I guess that's why I didn't send her flowers or do anything different.
For those of you who think that I'm a horrible daughter for not doing something out of this world on Mother's Day, well, you are entitled to your opinions.  My mother, has done more for me, than I could ever hope to do for her, even if I spent everyday and treated it as a special day for her.  Ya.  That's a mother.  My mom has worried about me and still worries about me when I get sick.  She's the only one who prays for me and wishes for my health, happiness and success.  I won't say I have the best mom in the world.  I think my mom is far from perfect and to live thinking that she's infallible is an error.  She has, however, despite her mistakes, always wanted and hoped for what was best for me.  Even if I didn't agree with her, she hoped and did what she felt was the right choice for me.  So, that's mom.  She's hilarious, crazy, smart, silly, caring, loving, the best cook and everything else.  Doesn't she deserve more than a day?
Alright.  Rant over.  Go on about your own business.
TTR