Wednesday, August 27, 2008
- What time did you get up this morning? 7:15 am (Shari let me sleep in)
- Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds (but I look better in understated silver... he)
- The last film you saw at the cinema? Wall*E (which deserves a Best Picture nod)
- What is your favorite TV show? Wow... there are (as those of you who've read this blog for a while know) so many - I'll narrow it to four: Lost, Heroes, 24 & Survivor
- What do you usually have for breakfast? a Coke Zero & a Prilosec OTC
- What is your middle name? Allen
- What food do you dislike? lima beans are high on this list, along with boiled okra & sushi
- What is your favorite CD at the moment? I just dug out Magdallan's "Big Bang" and What If's self-titled debut album (on cassette, no less) and am having an 80's party in my office
- What kind of car do you drive? a Honda Odyessey (and I do so without whining that driving a minivan has someone sapped the vitality of my manhood)
- Favorite sandwich? thinly sliced black forest ham with "high-end" swiss cheese; add fresh lettuce & tomato with some dijon mustard and put it on a ciabatta roll
- What characteristic do you despise? playing fast & loose with the truth (aka liar)
- Favorite item of clothing? it's a toss-up between my IncrediSlacks (which are made of some wonderful fabric blend that doesn't wrinkle & is amazingly comfortable) and what Shari calls my Uniform Shirt (which is a red & blue striped golf shirt that also does not wrinkle and is the utility fielder in my wardrobe when I have to look nice on short notice)
- If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go right now? if I get to take my wife & leave the boys with family, Hawaii (or something South Sea-ish)... OTOH, if we're going as a family, give us an RV, $ for gas, and a National Park pass & let us loose in the Western U.S.! (If this was October, I'd say Essen, Germany... soo-prise, soo-prise)
- Favorite brand of clothing? Old Navy - it fits well, I look good in it, and the price is decent if you watch the sales
- Where would you retire to? Over the years, a number of us have joked about creating an assisted living facility for gamers... that doesn't sound like such a bad idea to me. Let's put it close to pretty stuff - say, Denver.
- What was your most recent memorable birthday? 30... that's the year that Chris, Buster & their evil monkey henchmen moved the entire contents of my office into the foyer of the church and set it up there. It's also the year that my body fell apart, but that's a story for another day.
- Farthest place you are sending this? My blog is read around the world... which still weirds me out. I'm guessing South Korea or Finland is the farthest point from Fresno. (Hi, Tom & Mikko!)
- Person you expect to send it back first? Nashbabe - who has fun with stuff like this... or maybe Zion Red.
- When is your birthday? June 27, 1964
- Are you a morning person or a night person? Ha... obviously, if you're asking this question, you've not tried to have a conversation with me just after I woke up. In other words, night.
- What is your shoe size? My feet are getting bigger in the last few years - maybe my weight is causing them to spread out. (Now, that's a depressing thought.) I was an 8 1/2 but now I'm a 9.
- Number of Pets? None - we are not "pet people."
- Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? We had 16 people at Fresno Gamers last night... the more the merrier!
- What did you want to be when you were little kid? At first, it was a construction worker... then a lawyer... then an actor.
- How are you today? Tired but doing well... I'm a little nervous about the camping trip this weekend - we're novice campers - but I'm excited about finding a way for our family to enjoy vacation time without killing our budget.
- What is your favorite candy? Just one?! Ah, well... 100 Grand.
- What is your favorite flower? Pretty ones... I'm useless when it comes to horticulture.
- What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? We are still nailing it down - but Shari & I are getting to go to FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember in November.
- What is your full name? Mark Allen Jackson
- What are you listening to right now? still Magdallan's "Big Bang" - the title track, which along with the song "Dome of the Rock" just define 80's hair metal pop (Yay, Ken Tamplin!)
- What was the last thing you ate? Shari made some very yummy cinammon toast this morning
- Do you wish on stars? Only at Disneyland
- If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Orange
- How is the weather right now? It's Fresno, dude - it's hot & dry. (Ask me again in a month - the answer will be the same.)
- Last person you spoke to on the phone? Jack Bauer... well, that's what he said his name was. (I'm serious.)
- Favorite soft drink? Coke Zero
- Favorite restaurant? Walk up: Hog Heaven here in Easton (used to be Dave's)... gimme a ranchburger; BBQ: Doghouse Grill in Fresno (best tri-trip sandwhich ever); classy: Max's Bistro here in Fresno; out of town: Cafe Tu Tu Tango
- Hair color? brown with a touch of red in my beard and grey moving in wherever it can find a foothold
- What was your favorite toy as a child? Legos, of course - it still is! (I got Indiana Jones Legos for my birthday... yes, I'm the poster child for arrested development)
- Summer or winter? Winter - particuarly if it's an actual winter with snow & cold.
- Hugs or kisses? At the same time, please.
- Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla... preferably with something mixed into it (chocolate chips, cookie dough, etc.) Ben & Jerry are geniuses, I tell you -but I still haven't forgiven them for retiring Holy Cannoli to the Flavor Graveyard.
- Coffee or tea? If it's hot out, sweet tea.
- Do you want your friends to email you back? No, I prefer a hermit-like existence where I rant & rave on the Internet without receiving any responses. I particularly enjoy the sound of my voice. (That, btw, was sarcasm.)
- When was the last time you cried? Trying to tell Shari about the weightlifter from Germany who won the gold medal & held up a picture of his wife who was killed in a car accident last year
- What is under your bed? Nothing - we have our box springs sitting on the floor... anything underneath it is squished
- What did you do last night? played board games at our regular Fresno Gamers meeting - Galaxy Trucker, Dungeonquest, Agricola and a number of other kid games
- What are you afraid of? being irrelevant
- Salty or sweet? Sweet
- How many keys on your key ring? I have two key rings - the "family" key ring has 2 and the "church" key ring has 11.
- How many years at your current job? A little over 5 years
- Favorite day of the week? Whichever day I get to hang with Shari & the boys
- How many towns have you lived in? 15 cities, 9 states... in order: Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Beaverton, OR; Placentia, CA; Waco, TX; Rogersville, AL; Castle Rock, CO; Ft. Worth, TX; Silsbee, TX; Arlington, TX; New Albany, MS; North Richland Hills, TX; Fordyce, AR; Nashville, TN; Easton, CA.
- Do you make friends easily? I'm friendly, but I don't make close friends easily.
- How many people will you send this to? The current blog readership is about 1,500 people per month.
- How many will respond? At least two or three will do it on their own blogs - who knows how many of you will write something cute and/or snarky in the comments section?
- Who sent this email to you? Jim "Jimbo" Christiensen, who still needs to give me back my LOTR DVD set & my copy of History of the World, as well as bring me that carpet sample
If you read this far, I'm impressed by your interest in me and/or your complete boredom with the rest of your surroundings. Have a great day!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
- they aren't good at it
- they don't know how to fix it
- and they're threatened by what could/might happen if they did.
- money being tight
- ministries w/inadequate publicity that flop w/out sustained leadership
- a small core of people (20%?) doing most of the work (80%?)
- a great church has a great Sunday School program (age-graded w/teachers, secretaries, class leaders, etc.)
- a great church has a great music program (age-graded choirs & ensembles)
- a great church has a great Discipleship Training program (again, age-graded - this was not small groups but another teaching time to deal with doctrine & practice)
- a great church has a great Brotherhood ministry (this was an age-graded program for boys [Royal Ambassadors] to men [Brotherhood] that was missions focused - Brotherhood, btw, is completely defunct as a SBC program organization)
- a great church has a great WMU ministry (this is the Women's Missionary Union - also age-graded [from Mission Friends to G.A.'s to Acteens to W.M.U] women's program that was, for many years, the backbone of missions support in the SBC)
And now, even though most of those things don't/can't happen in the average small church, the church feels the pull to do that kind of thing. Couple that with the drumbeat of "why don't we have a Beth Moore study?" or "why don't our men have a prayer breakfast?" or "our teenagers should have small groups in addition to their weekly meeting!" or "we should have as good a children's church program as the Methodists" or "why don't we have Awanas here?" and it is nearly impossible for churches not to do the binge & purge method of creating/killing programs:
- hear the need (which, please understand, I believe are real - youth do need small groups; adults need deeper Bible study; kids programs should be excellent)
- flail about looking for someone to lead this new ministry/program
- grab someone who is already overworked but easily feels guilt
- do a horrific job of planning for the ministry and/or recruiting other leaders
- launch without doing good publicity to the community or the congregation
- initial success is followed almost immediately by decline in attendance, rationalizing about why it's not working, and a vow to continue despite obvious problems (which are ignored for "spiritual" reasons)
- depending on the church, either a staff person or a prominent lay person comes in to take over leadership as the program falters
- the program becomes dependent on artificial life support from the key leadership person - if they step out, the program dies
- due to the key leadership person and a fear of killing programs/hurting people's feelings, the program continues on LONG beyond its useful lifespan
Monday, August 18, 2008
- designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
- publisher: Cranium
- date: 2003
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3485/5.69
- age: 4+
- # of players: 2-6
- print status: in print
- cost: $24.99 (Amazon... but I've found it MUCH cheaper than this)
- Cyndi Lauper did a much better job with "True Colors" than Phil did.
- Phil's adventures into faux '60's R&B have not held up well - shudder.
- Wait a minute - a lot of these songs are musical expressions of the stuff he was talking about last night in his message!
Maybe we better stop & explain: our pastor/husband/dad has been preaching & teaching all summer about soul cravings (thank you, Erwin McManus!) and last night did a summary message on how all of this stuff affects telling people about the love & grace of Jesus Christ.
So when he started hearing lyrics like:
Well I held on to let you go
And if you lost your love for me, well you never let it show
There was no way to compromise
So now we’re living
Ooh, it’s so typical, love leads to isolation
So you build that wall (build that wall)
Yes, you build that wall (build that wall)
And you make it stronger
How can you just walk away from me, when all I can do is watch you leave
Cos we've shared the laughter and the pain, and even shared the tears
You're the only one who really knew me at all
So take a look at me now, 'cos there's just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face
Take a look at me now, 'cos there's just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against all odds and that's what I've got to face
And suddenly, songs that once simply reminded our hero of watching MTV in his college apartment or silly movies about dancers defecting while doing tap dance & ballet felt like a lighthouse in the fog - if we don't deal with our real soul craving for intimacy in a healthy way, this is where we end up.
There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (1 Corinthians 6:16-20, MSG)
And the reality of all that made him very sad... tinged with the hope that someone else might realize that giving away their body and/or their soul to another person will never buy them the community, the love, the care that they long for.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
- The value of one of the commodities (orange cubes, which shows you how much I got into the "theme" of the game) is widely variable, which causes some weird things as far as scoring goes - if I can get a lot of it at the right time, I do well. If the price tanks, no amount of clever play can make up for not getting in on it at the "right" time... and I have NO influence on whether it's the right time or not.
- Money is converting into victory points on a descending scale - money is worth less & less as the game goes on. This means that streaky and/or odd flukes of luck early will doom the later half of the game to a meaningless trudge through the system.
- designer: Alex Randolph
- publisher: Drei Magier Spiele
- date: 2000
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2454/6.04
- age: 4+
- # of players: 2-7
- print status: in print?
- cost: $23.99 (Amazon)
- This is a great game for young children & adults... it plays quickly & easily. It's also not uncommon to have ties (due to the stacking).
- The stackable piggies sell themselves - almost any time I've brought the game out, at least one person tried to put the acrobatic circus pigs through their paces after the game was over.
- It will play with up to 7 players without any noticeable extra downtime.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
- Beer is magic: it makes horses act like Rocky & abnormally beautiful women make goo-goo eyes at you (or at least at the camera).
- I know that computer company is trying to make a point, but all I think about every time I see their "lost data" ad is "Man, a little person with a fruit basket is a whole lot more than I got when my laptop's hard drive shattered."
- Budweiser actually has an ad in which the essential message is "I believe in beer." (Which, because my mind is bouncing around like a pachincko ball, reminds me of that old wheezer of a joke: "Everybody ought to believe in something... I believe I'll have another beer."
- It doesn't matter that Visa has co-opted the Derek Redmond story to sell credit cards - it still makes me tear up when I see his dad run out onto the track.
- It's August & I'm already tired of political ads... what will I be like in late October?
- I like McD's Southern Chicken sandwhich - well, at least until the REAL THING gets here when they finished converting the dead Krispy Kreme at Riverpark into a Chick-Fil-A later this year - but their ads are oopidstay.
Anyway, there's one other ad that's been running which is the whole point of this game of mental pinball. The University of Phoenix has a series of commercials with purposeful looking people and pithy taglines on the screen. (I don't know much about the University of Phoenix except that one of the two Andrew Jones' I know - not the emergent Kiwi church planter but instead one of my former youth group members - used to work for them. Of course, in the words of the film Airplane, "That's not important right now.")
One of those taglines blew me away:
You would think that having unlimited options would be the platform for freedom, but that is often not the case. We have put so much emphasis on avoiding evil that we have become virtually blind to the endless opportunities for doing good. We have defined holiness through what we separate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to. I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins we commit, bu the life we fail to live. You cannot follow God in neutral. God has created you to do something. It is not enough to stop the wrong and then be paralyzed when it comes to the right. God created you to do good. And doing this requires initiative. There is a subtle danger of hiding apathy behind piety. Getting rid of sin in your life? Great. Now it's time to do something.If we aren't hamsters, we can get out of the plastic ball of our lives & go free-range... we can touch people's lives, go to the ends of the earth, talk about what we believe and love with abandon. If we aren't on a wheel, we can follow God wherever He leads (Jeremiah 29:11-13) rather than huff & puff on some religious Stairmaster in a vain attempt to look spiritually fit & trim. Everybody ought to believe in something... I believe I'll chase God with all my heart, soul, mind & strength. Join me, won't you? (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Monday, August 11, 2008
Chandler : You don't think that makes me seem a little... Ross : ...desperate, needy, pathetic? Chandler : Ah, you obviously saw my personal ad.Well, do I?
- designer: Klaus Teuber
- publisher: Goldsieber
- date: 1997
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2866/6.11
- age: 6+
- # of players: 2-4
- print status: in print?
- cost: EUR 10,49 (Amazon.de, about $17.00)
I've been reading a library copy of The Vanished by Bill Pronzini, and was aghast to find that some little s**t had defaced the book because they disagreed with the content. It's a 1973 mystery novel, and it went into the collection of the Berkeley Public Library back in 1973, so I can at least presume that someone defaced the book a long time ago. But, nonetheless, they did. They thoroughly crossed out all the "blasphemy" in the book. I first noted it when I saw the word "g*dd**n" crossed out and then a few pages later when a "Christ" (used as an expletive) got crossed out. I guess I'm always astounded to believe that there are such self-centered censurious prudes in the world, especially in Berkeley. That someone crosses out words in a public book because they offend their personal beliefs, with no regard for anyone else who might read the book (and probably purposefully, because they think other people shouldn't read those words) just shows off to me one of the big aspects of what's wrong with religion: that people believe everyone else should abide by their personal morals. So g*dd**n you, you little self-centered piece of crap, and g*dd**n the people who brought you up in that way, be they parents or priests.Shannon, I'm bothered that you made the (il)logical leap that someone who was offended by the language in a book and chose the stupid & insensitive way of dealing with that (crossing out the offensive words) somehow makes the case that "religion" automatically demands that everyone else should abide by their personal morals choices. While I understand your anger, you've allowed it to cloud your thinking. You are bound up in a number of assumptions:
- that someone who crosses out references they consider blasphemous is personally religous or has some religious background (granted, this assumption is probably correct... but it is still an assumption)
- that someone who crosses out references they consider blasphemous is doing to so to purposefully keep others from reading those words (a bigger stretch, as you have no way of knowing their motive)
- that, even granting the first two assumptions (I'm feeling charitable this morning), their particular action leads automatically to the assumption that religion in general demands adherence to a particular moral code not only of its followers but also of the entire society
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
- designer: Gunter Baars
- publisher: Ravensburger
- date: 2006
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/5.52
- age: 4+
- # of players: 2-4
- print status: in print
- cost: EUR 16.95 (Amazon.de, about $26.00)
- Look at the list and bold those you have read.
- Italicize those you intend to read.
- Mark in red the books you LOVE.
- Reprint this list in your blog
- Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
- The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkein
- Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
- Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
- To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
- The Bible
- Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
- Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
- His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
- Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
- Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
- Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
- Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
- The complete works of Shakespeare -- I was an English major...
- Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
- The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
- Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
- Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
- The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
- Middlemarch - George Eliot
- Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
- The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
- Bleak House - Charles Dickens
- War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
- The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
- Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
- Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
- Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
- The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
- Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
- David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
- Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
- Emma - Jane Austen
- Persuasion - Jane Austen
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
- The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
- Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
- Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
- Animal Farm - George Orwell
- The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
- One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
- The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
- Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
- Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
- The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
- Lord of the Flies - William Golding
- Atonement - Ian McEwan
- Life of Pi - Yann Marte
- Dune - Frank Herbert
- Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
- Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
- A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
- The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
- Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
- Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
- Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
- The Secret History - Donna Tartt
- The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
- Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
- On The Road - Jack Kerouac
- Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
- Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
- Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
- Moby Dick - Herman Melville
- Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
- Dracula - Bram Stoker
- The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
- Ulysses - James Joyce
- The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
- Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
- Germinal - Emile Zola
- Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
- Possession - AS Byatt
- A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
- Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
- The Color Purple - Alice Walker
- The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
- Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
- A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
- Charlotte’s Web - EB White
- The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
- Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Faraway Tree Collection
- Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
- The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
- The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
- Watership Down - Richard Adams
- A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
- A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
- The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
- Hamlet - William Shakespeare
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
- Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
- Yes, that's right - no hands-free phone. There's really two reasons for that: (1) we're cheap. (2) Shari doesn't like us talking on the phone while driving. (As the last & worst accident I've had happened while I was talking to my aunt on a cell phone, I think she has a point.)
- Shelley was VERY nice about playing Galaxy Trucker... because she REALLY doesn't enjoy it.
- Meld puzzle-building with random events and you've got Galaxy Trucker... but you need to understand how brilliant the production is (it's gorgeous) and how silly the gameplay is (it's a "hoot & holler" game). I'm in love.
- I mentioned Dungeonquest... if you haven't tried it, you need to. (Let me once again say that Fantasy Flight needs to give DQ the Fury of Dracula treatment.) If you don't mind the randomness of Galaxy Trucker, you'll do just fine with DQ.
- I also mentioned Downfall of Pompeii - which is another game where you're fighting other players AND the game system.
- Can someone send Doug a set of loaded dice? (Not that it will help... my guess is that Doug will roll badly EVEN with loaded dice.)
- I still think that this is better than Pillars of the Earth...
- I've modified my opinion of Stone Age a bit since we recorded... I'd like to play again and see if it's one that needs to be in my collection.
- I didn't end up playing Monastery... but I did play Tinner's Trail.
- I also talked about Manoeuvre... which I'm still willing to try again.
- Braeden and I are STILL playing the Heroscape battle I mentioned... battle results will come later.
- Seriously, Doug is a VERY good cook.
- Finally, NO tag? Doug... you disappoint me.
As always, thanks to Doug for letting me play with the microphones!