Monthly Archives: August 2015


Actually I recently had two reviews published at Wink FunThis one is can be found here if you look for this picture.  Of course you’ll find lots of other fun things there as well.



Publisher: Baxbo Games

Tummple! has been described as reverse Jenga. That seems pretty accurate. Both games share a similar wooden-block aesthetic, and in both games the object is to keep things from falling. The key difference is that in tummple! you are building.

The game goes like this. A small wooden base is laid out. All subsequent builds are placed on the base or on other pieces. Players take turns rolling a nice big twelve-sided die that will give the rolling player one of five options. The first three involve placing one of the blocks. The block is to be placed on the wide side, the narrow edge, or the end. The other two options are what add a bit of strategy and meanness tummple! Players may be required to place a tump. Tumps are little plastic half marbles. The white ones act as blockers. They cannot be touched by any pieces played subsequently. The yellow tumps are even tougher. They render the entire surface area on which they’ve been placed untouchable.

Blocks must be placed flat. And when the player releases the piece, their turn is over. Anytime someone causes pieces to fall, they keep all those pieces as points against them.  When all the blocks in the box have been played, the game is over.  Add up the blocks you’ve collected. Player with the fewest, wins.

The box says 2-4 players, but you can play as many people as you can fit around the table. With more people you’re likely to have ties as some people will cause no collapses during their turns.  But it’s still fun. While taking photos for this review, I discovered there’s also something to be said for solitaire play. We have had a good time with this one. It’s good for all ages. And you have a pretty cool little abstract sculpture when you’re all done.

Da Cau

I got another review published over at Wink Fun. Here’s the review and one photo. There are more photos at the Wink Fun site. There’s no direct link to the review, but you can find it here if you look for this picture. Plus you’ll find a link to buy one of these, and lot of other cool things. I believe they publish a new review every day.


This summer our family got to take a dream vacation to Vietnam. While my wife sets up the slide projector and screen, let me tell you about this thing I bought during a stroll through one of Saigon’s beautiful parks. A number of young adults were kicking around this thing that’s sort of a hacky sack with feathers. And what they were doing with this thing was amazing.  They were kicking this thing back and forth, 30 feet between them, often kicking it forward over their shoulder with bottom of their foot.

As I watched in amazement, a street vendor approached me with the product in hand. I said no thank you and kept walking. I didn’t need anymore stuff. By the time I got to the next group of folks playing with one of these, the 10-year-old inside me had won. Clearly, if I had one if these things, I would be able to perform these amazing kicks just like these kids (never mind that I’m no kid anymore). I spotted a vendor, our eyes locked, and she reeled me in. After very little haggling, I purchased a large and small version for about three dollars, if I did my conversion correctly.

When I got home last week I did a little internet research and learned that I had bought a da cau. One online encyclopedia tells me that the da cau is the national sport of Vietnam. There are a variety of versions with different names that are played across Asia, but Vietnam is where it all started 25-hundred years ago.

So the family took our new toy to the back yard. We soon learned that the traditional hacky sack circle was too small for the da cau. I don’t know if the da cau is heavier or more aerodynamic than the hacky sack, but a nice kick sends it farther, and with a bit more practice, I suspect the feathers will aid in accuracy. Also, the stack of curved disks at the bottom of the da cau acts as a spring, and delivers a satisfying pop when you connect solidly. I haven’t mastered the over the shoulder heel kick yet. But our new da cau has been a great reason for our family to stand around the backyard after dinner to play and laugh and visit. And that’s certainly worth three dollars.

Treadmill Films 64-72


Big Night. Love this movie. Great cast. Great food. Don’t watch hungry. A metaphor here for how one should live life, i.e. big & generous.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Doc. Fascinating to imagine what we were thinking about 30k years ago. What was that last bit about albino gators?

With a Friend Like Harry. Clues you have a bad friend: kills your parents; kills your brother; then wife & little girls? Oh, spoiler alert.

Control Room. Every point of view is a view from a point (R. Rohr). So easy to think ours is the only/right one. Some glimmers of hope here.

Muscle Shoals. Interesting people. Amazing music (goosebumps). (Jerry Wexler once sat and told me (and classmates) back in the day stories.)

I am Divine. An interesting cat. Glad he felt successful at the end. Also, Beloved heavy actors–Take care of yourselves, for heaven’s sake.

Chasing Ice. A very cool and ambitious project.  Some beautiful photography. The glaciers are clearly retreating.Too late to do anything?

Deep Water. Makes you wonder how close any of us are to losing it and sailing over the edge. A circumnavigation away, or just down the road?

High Noon. Well executed tension–myth of redemptive violence vs. restorative justice. Sheriff vs Quaker. 1950s America, so sheriff wins.

Plainview #27

I start off with my famous Jack Benny bit. Mare talks more about politics and the job of government. Then we discuss the introduction of the sperm and egg.  Egg, sperm. Sperm, egg. Gay statutory rape? We threaten to get rid of netflix (10 years later it hasn’t happened). Run, Lola, Run. We finish with two famous stories. One about Mare teaching WWII to ignorant old men. The other, the epic story of boy vs. tooth.

Plainview #26

This week (10 years ago) we reveal the dark side of Sunshine. The shine has worn off a bit. Also there some political discussion where I’m not sure we know what we’re talking about.  And we talk about the movie Capturing the Friedmans.  The highlight of the show is clearly the visit with Will at the end of the show.

I guess I got a pole job

November 1986

Dear Sirs,

How’s everything going? Things here are the same. I will be home Monday the 24th about supper time.  This was a pretty busy weekend. My Icthus Bible Study had a retreat out at a farm. Slept in a shed like cabin–it wasn’t too bad.  The retreat in general was a lot of fun. We also had a party at the house this weekend. It was a gangster party. I did have a date with a girl J.F. set me up with. She was a neat girl. I had a good time.  The picture lady took 26 rolls of film–I guess some kind of record.  I got a Radio-TV test back. I got a 98%–not too bad.  I got a B on a speech I gave today.  I took a test today in Political Science–don’t know how well I did–not great.  And Reporting–uhh, nuf said.  But I did get a letter from my Philosophy (Ethics) teacher that said I was doing pretty well and encouraged me to look into other philosophy classes in the future. Is pop coming up this weekend? I’ll be home that Monday, so if so, great and if not, great. Oh, they finally caught up with me on the 12th.  It didn’t hurt a lot. See you soon.



The Door Into Summer

by Robert Heinlein


I like when 1950’s science fiction imagines all sorts of futuristic advancements, but that folks still have their mid-20th century positive attitudes about industry and growth and capitalism and such. It’s comforting to go back to a time, even if it’s in the future, when industry and growth and capitalism didn’t mean the abuse of people and the earth. (Ok, ok, I know that the industrial revolution brought horrible consequences along with cheap textiles, and one of my favorite television shows, Hell on Wheels, focuses on just one corruption-ridden business, the railroad in the 19th century, but let me occasionally live in the land of 1950s television commercials.) The main character in the novel is Dan Davis, an engineer and an inventor. He invents robots that do household tasks. Really he’s an innovator. He’s proud of the fact that he’s able to take technology that already exists and change it just a bit to produce completely new results. A good example of this is when he takes an electric typewriter, you know, like they use in the future, tinkers with it a bit, and creates a device that types architectural plans. Coincidentally, while reading this book I was being trained on a computer program called Revit that is used to design buildings. It’s fun that Heinlein missed predicting the personal computer (and email) revolution (Davis spends a lot of time at the post office and making phone calls), but was still able fairly accurately predict computer/electric typewriter programming.

The story revolves around Davis going into business with a couple of people of folks who turn out to be shady characters, including one really awful/great femme fatale. This part of the story reads like an old hard boiled crime novel, one of my favorite genres, so that was fun. In order to get his head off his business partners’ chopping block, Davis engages in some twisty and turney time travel maneuvers, something else I enjoy.

And there’s something in there about his cat, that seems really important to him at the beginning of the story, but it don’t remember. And something about a door into summer, a metaphor that may have been missed on me.

But among the engineering discussions, the noir fiction element, the 1950’s future, the fun characters, and especially the plot twists and turns made possible by the time travel, I really enjoyed this book.

When swimming in a sea of scooters



When swimming in a sea of scooters
It’s important to catch the best wave

Ok, right after this guy in the blue helmet (we try to swim together) we go
Slow and steady keeping an eye on the current as they swim by before us and behind
All beeping as they pass
Surrounding us as we drift carefully through the school
Singles, doubles, and triples.
The rare quadruple—Against our best judgement we pause to stare and smile

Our feet touch the curb
We come ashore
Safe for now
(Look both ways before you cross the sidewalk, we joke)

We walk a bit more, catch our breath, check the map
And dive in again


* photo from