Category Archives: Thoughts

Holy Fuck I Did It

I emailed four government people today (Obama, two congress people, and my representative), and even posted to facebook about it. I’ve never written a letter, and I can’t remember the last time I posted on Facebook. I’m probably I’ll go to a protest on July 4th, too.

Below is the full text of what I sent, plus a modified paragraph I sent specifically to Obama. Maybe it matters. Maybe it doesn’t. The fact is I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and couldn’t sleep until this was done. It’s 5:40 now. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Oh, and fuck Hoover.


Subject: End sweeping surveillance programs

Dear congress person,

The recent revelations concerning the NSA and Edward Snowden inspired me to write to you today. It doesn’t matter what Mr. Snowden has done, what his educational background is, or what he decides to do next. What matters is he’s right. He’s right in that eventually, the information gained by the NSA and our government will be used, by one or many persons, against the public for less-than-wholesome reasons. History has seen what the vengeful and paranoid have done. Imagine what they would do with the technological advances of today.

My first letter to an elected official probably should have been about the U.S. drone program. Military involvement is my most important issue, as far as the federal government is concerned. Everyone has their own values. Defense, education, social equity, the environment. But whatever our opinions may be are moot unless we live in a free and open society, and have leaders who will listen.

My first letter concerns PRISM, all other programs like it, and the direction U.S. policies and intelligence agencies are headed, because they have the potential to destroy free societies. With enough information, a picture can be painted on anyone to discredit them no matter how innocent they may be. The more information that can be used, the worse it can get.

It doesn’t matter if the surveillance programs are currently being used for just causes, and everybody involved is acting with their best intentions. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not. It doesn’t matter if it’s just meta-data, targeted querying, or reviewed via warrants or subpoenas, or if the data is given voluntarily. The fact is that some time down the line, a person or persons will be in put charge, and they will not think twice about using the collected information to attack what they believe to be their enemies, wrong or right, legal or no.

We can let the future become that. Let it get so bad that there’s no turning back, when letters and rallies and public discourse won’t matter anymore. Or we can stop it now. Begin stopping it, before it gets too late.

Ideally, I would like the end to the NSA and all surveillance done on the public in general, foreign and domestic. Also, I would like to see a return of a transparent judicial system, with traditional public oversight and review, without programs like FISA and secret interpretations of the law.

Thanks for reading.

Modified paragraph for Mr. President:

My first letter probably should have been about the U.S. drone program. While I believed in most of your promises in 2008, Mr. President, your actions lost my vote in 2012. Military involvement is my most important issue, as far as the federal government is concerned. And everyone’s values are different. Defense, education, social equity, the environment. But whatever our opinions may be are moot unless we live in a free and open society, and have leaders who will listen.

People contacted:

The White House

Maria Cantwell

Patty Murray

Derek Kilmer

This Week in Review

Lots of amusements these past few days. I guess this is what happens when tax season is over. Much to my surprise, Eclipse keeps coming back to the table. Amara and Jessica can’t seem to overcome my leads. If only they’d agree to team up against me…but they’re too nice for that (thankfully). Jess brought her friend Matt over on Thursday, and through my trademark wheeling and dealing, I managed to handily beat everyone, partially by bottlenecking Matt and getting him to attack his former ally. The Planta are a blast to play, but probably only if they win. I think my favorite part was turning allies on each other. I was laughing well into the next morning.

Strictly Ballroom

The first picture uploaded to the site. I couldn’t find a more appropriate picture for this milestone if I tried.

Mara and I watched two movies this week on Netflix: Strictly Ballroom (pictured above) on Tuesday, and The Hunger Games on Wednesday/Thursday. Strictly Ballroom was aaaaaawesome. Apparently directed by the same guy who did Moulin Rouge, which I also enjoyed. Only this time, there were 500% more Australians, and songs that now play on the easy listening radio station. Hunger Games was all around bad. The acting was the only not-horrible part about it. Watching Woody Harrelson is always a joy. At least Amara was there to give me some context from the book that the movie managed to somehow gloss over, despite being over two hours long. Movies have covered a lot more than what the Hunger Games covered, and in shorter time.

Also got to play some Dominion: Intrigue and Boggle last night when Jin came over. And some more Eclipse, Dominion, and Boggle tonight with just Amara.

Oh what a life.


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Thanks, James Kirks! Too bad every comment has to be approved by me first. The system works.

Weekend Gaming

Mike invited us over to his family’s house for his birthday. Great food. The main dish was steak. Too bad we’re vegetarians! He picked up three new games, only one of which he heard about before. Who does that?!

He bought Alcatraz, which we he and his friends played the night before. They said it was pretty fun, and it sounded like it was. It’s a prison break game, where you’re forced to leave one player behind as the scapegoat. We did play Room 25‘s traitor variant. It’s like a mini-Betrayal at the House on the Hill (which is the third game he bought). We had no clue what to do, and even though Mike was the hidden traitor, he only had to waste his actions rather than actively stop us to win the game. Oh, and Amara and I let a teammate walk into an Orb of Obliteration. But he could’ve been the traitor! We didn’t know! At least it was a quick death.

I sheepishly brought Resistance along, as I know Mike loves that game. I would’ve bought Avalon for his birthday if I was invited more than two days in advance :/ We played three times, and those were the worst three plays I’ve ever experienced. I tried the Lady in the Lake variant once, which the creator supposedly uses in every game. It did not fare well with the group. People didn’t seem to want to figure out who was who. Some Resistance members just went with the flow. When that happens, the Resistance loses. The other players enjoyed my table antics, at least. By the end, it became a game of Confuse Anthony.

Last night I invited Alida, Leo, Anthony, and Gabbi (GabÉ) over for six-player Eclipse! And it was just as unfun as two-player. The others enjoyed themselves, but I think that was due to the newness factor.  I played twice previously, but only with Amara. I warned them the game takes three hours. It took six. SIX. And I lost handily. Amara got pretty much wiped off the map near the midpoint of the game. By her ally, no less! I had no strategy, and felt bottlenecked. Everyone was laying the tiles out to prevent completing warp gates with their neighbors as much as possible. At least people made diplomatic ties. Can’t do that in two player.

Aaaaaand it’s twelve hours later, I want to play again. Friggin’ Eclipse.


We ended up catching the tail end of Tacoma’s first gaming convention, ConTac, and I had a blast! They had a ton of games to , plus quite a few things for sale. There were about 25 people playing at any one time. It was a very chill and much better than expected.

We got to try out Kings of Tokyo. Very disappointing, since I read nothing less than outstanding reviews. I think I just rolled shitty, and couldn’t evolve my mutant, the King Kong dude. And when I did, the evolutions weren’t as great as the others I was seeing.

Then we played some Carcassone, since Jin and Jessica have never played before. Amara got first place, and I got second. Somebody else got a distant third. It was sort of embarrassing. We played with two of the expansions. Inns and Merchants and Lakes and things. I didn’t get why they’re considered essential to the game.

At the end, I tried scoring a promo card for Spartacus. The head guy said I could have one, but then never gave it to me. 🙁 Even after buying Dominion: Intrigue. Oh, and I really wanted Prosperity, but they didn’t have it. Still should be a fun expansion.

Funny story. The seller asked where we heard about the con. I said Reddit. After a pause, he asked where. I said /r/ boardgames, Amara said /r/Tacoma. Later in the car, we realized he heard “read it”, and was asking where I read it. Saying /r/boardgames probably didn’t help us. It turned out okay in the end, though, since he gave us a flyer with a link to their meetup group at the GameMatrix store. Fun times ahead!

Other thoughts: nobody introduced themselves to us. We read Ryan’s namecard. He owned the games we played. ConTac and GameMatrix really need to hire designers and SEOs; googling for game stores doesn’t bring them up, their website is awful at a glance, and their pamphlet they gave us looks like it was created by a middle schooler with no help from his parents. And why is it every time I go buy games, the most awkward interaction I have at the store is with the cashier? Maybe it’s just coincidence. Maybe it’s just me.

Rereading everything, it’s a wonder I enjoyed myself as much as I did. I think I just like playing board games. A LOT.

Metal X

Metal X (okay fine. Chemical X. Stupid Powerpuff Girls) transforms into anything you want. Perhaps it’s the life-blood of replicators. By molding it, you can create anything from fuel to food, from a starfighter to an engine room. You’ll be able to harvest it directly from various sources, or scrounge it from debris.

You’ll be able to build your own ship, starting with just a command center. Build an engine room, and off you go. Add barracks for additional crew (they help out in building time, repairs), weaponry to blast enemies, hangar decks to house fighters, subsystems, harvesters. Tile by tile, you’ll slowly transform your small two-tile fighter into a capital warship.

Tiles will give (dis)advantages to surrounding tiles. Engines stack. But can overheat nearby rooms. Hull acts as a shield between the enemy and your precious innards. Subsystems benefit any touching tile, but must connect to other subsystems and your central command. Tiles near barracks get repaired faster than others.

Hopefully you’ll be able to recreate famous ships. Right now I’ve got Galactica in my head. Weapons up front. Hangars on the sides. Engines in back. Command Center smack dab in the middle. Launch the fighters to protect the harvesters. Call them all back. Jump the ship.

Should each tile be as-is? A weapons room is a weapons room. Add more for more pew-pewing. Or should building two weapons next to each other create one bigger weapon? A 4×4 weapon room could turn into a slow-moving missile launcher. 2×8 for nuclear warheads.

Schematics for additional supplies? Perhaps enemies drop schematics, and then you can use Metal X to build whatever it is. Radar, warheads, giant laser beam. Or maybe it’s like Minecraft crafting. Set up a weapon, hangar deck, and engine room, and you get a handful of fighters. Weapon and engine gets a missile. Weapon, subsytem, engine get a guided missile. Weapon, engine, engine? Faster missile. A single weapon room surrounded by engine rooms produces a teleporting bomb. Two subsystem rooms turn into a radar dish. A radar dish and an engine room turns into a drone. Etc etc.

I’m actually attempting this one. So far I have a 3×3 grid. The center tile is a “Command Center”. It’s black. Click on a tile, and you can turn it into an “Engine Room”. Red! Fancy stuff, huh? Up next, I’ll have it so if you have an engine room connected to your command center, and you launch the ship, you can fly your two-tile craft around. Neat-o.

Playing and Learning

Remember Math Blasters? I’m trying to think of a way to incorporate learning tax rules into a game. In Math Blasters, there’s only one right answer. The input can be processed quicker, and output can be entered even quicker. What sort of questions would a game focused on tax look like?

John is 38. His AGI is $43,000. He puts $5,000 into this IRA in 2012. How much will his credit be?

Jane is 19. Her AGI is $4,000. She paid $600 in tuition expenses. Her mother is claiming her. What sort of education credits are available to her?

Or maybe you have a chart of information (age, AGI, itemized deductions, etc) in which you had to click the appropriate fields relevant to the question.

Jim wants to know if he can deduct his unreimbursed employee expenses. What information do you need to answer his question?

Age AGI StandardDeduction IRA Contributions Dependents FilingStatus

But these are just the questions. The game needs gameplay.

CPA. A time management game, in which you have to get as many people through as possible? Penalties for wrong answers, bonuses for uninterrupted correct filings. If you take too long, you have to stay overtime and your wife leaves you, or the client gets fed up and walks out.

Client. Scam the IRS as much as you possibly can, without going overboard. Avoid the obvious errors. Conjure up “receipts” for everything.

Client. It’s February 1st, and the days are winding down. The CPA is rapid-fire asking for random pieces of info. Scrounge through the desk? Go online? Ask the broker? Whoo! Made it just in time. And then uh-oh. Random audit!

IRS Agent. You must base your questions off of what the taxpayer filed. You can only ask for so many things before your boss wants it done. What looks fishy? What will be impossible to prove? Will anything take up too much of your time?

Eh. These all sound stupid.

I beat the system

Gig Harbor.

Gig Harbor. Gig Harbor. Gig Harbor.

It’s a harbor of gigs. Gig Harbor. You know, GIG Harbor. Where’s Gig Harbor? It’s Gig Harbor! You live in Gig Harbor? I live in Gig Harbor! Let’s go to Gig Harbor. What’s in Gig Harbor? Everything is in Gig Harbor.

You know how if you repeat a word often enough, it becomes gibberish? Road. Road. Road. Road. Roh-add. Get our your learnin’ hat: Semantic_satiation!

This is impossible for Gig Harbor.

I beat the system. Gig Harbor.