Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for the ‘Non-gaming’ Category

Teach Your Children Well

Posted by sodaklady on December 26, 2012

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday with their loved ones. We spent time with our son and his girlfriend, and our daughter. We had lots of fun and laughs but, as happens on the rare occasion when we all get together, we also discussed serious topics. This year we inevitably turned to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

The discussion was mainly focused on the NRA, schools, and generally what could be done to prevent this from happening. I think the answer is not to look at how to prevent such horrors, but to ask what causes someone to do such an unthinkable thing? What is it in our society that promotes this kind of thinking?

I grew up in the 60’s. That’s not so terribly long ago and yet it’s an eternity when you look at the giant differences. We would never think of talking back to an adult unless you were looking to get a slap in the mouth for your trouble; we behaved in public or could look forward to a whack on the butt; we knew that an A on our report card meant we earned it and an F meant we were in trouble; we might play “cowboys and Indians” with toy guns but we also knew that when our beloved pet died, it was forever. In short: we learned there were consequences to our actions, for good or ill.

We raised our children the same way, teaching them that their actions would have consequences for them. In the late 80’s when they were about about 4 and 8 we took them to Mt. Rushmore with another couple who had four small children. While we were sitting in the cafeteria someone came up to us and complimented us on how well-behaved our children were.  What a feeling, to hear that the little people that will someday be the ones in charge of the world are worthy of praise from a complete stranger.

Somewhere along the line we’ve become so concerned about child abuse that we’ve taken it to an extreme, disallowing parents to show these impressionable creatures that being bad is not allowed. We had a man and his wife over one time, the man to help my husband put up walls in our unfinished basement, the woman and their son to socialize. The boy was about 2-3 years old and whenever he would misbehave, his mother would say, “I’m going to tell your father”, “I’m going to get your father up here”. Not my style of parenting at all but I let it pass. Until. The boy mouthed off to his mother and pointed his tiny index finger at her. I reached out and took that hand and calmly told him that we didn’t do that here; that he should show his mother respect. He was shocked, I think, that someone would actually show him there was a limit to his bad behavior and he was a good boy for the rest of their stay (which was their last, thank goodness). Was I wrong? My house, my rules.

I’m not saying everyone should beat their misbehaving children–I never used a belt or switch on my kids, maybe because that’s what I grew up with–and a “time out” works for many kids. But we need to set boundaries and make sure they’re followed or there will be consequences.

Children should once again know that they earned good grades rather than being given a gold star for everything so they don’t feel inferior to some of their peers. Children should have specific chores to do around the house so they learn responsibility. Even at 3 years old, my kids had to pick up their toys; that’s not too much to ask, is it? We love our children and want them to love us back, but we must also be aware that what they learn as children will carry over into adulthood.

Is this the answer? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know what goes through the mind of someone who takes a weapon into a public place and shoots everyone in their sight. Maybe the answer is something as basic to human nature as having a pet as a child, something to love and who shows you its love everyday no matter what. Wouldn’t that be nice?



Posted in Non-gaming, Personal | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Hoar Frost Photos

Posted by sodaklady on January 30, 2011

Nature is having a good time in our area lately. We’ve had freezing temps, then several lovely warm/sunny days, now back to bitterly cold combined with fog. This last results in the amazing spectacle known as hoar frost. This is after just one day but there have been times when we’ve had 2 or 3 days of accumulation– that’s an example of truly awesome.

Wind chimes

Wind chimes hanging from the porch roof. Sorry the camera decided that the background was what I wanted in focus! Still, you can see the lovely delicate lace that results.

Frosty Bush

I liked the white of the frosty bush against the red bark in this flower bed.

Flocked trees

And finally, an example of how nature flocks trees.

Posted in Nature, Non-gaming | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Annual Weisbeck Walnut Festival

Posted by sodaklady on October 22, 2008


This is the email my husband wrote to friends and family which I wanted to share. Be warned: you are entering a silly place.

Fall has arrived and the trees are turning colors so I am sure that all of you are thinking the same thing. Time for the annual Walnut Festival.

A review of the rules and history for the festival. The festival came to be when the Black Walnut trees in the yard grew large enough to present a problem. When the leaves would fall, some of the walnuts would still remain in the tree. Anyone who had seen these nuts would realize that when they fell out of the tree they would register on the Richter scale.  A method had to be devised to remove the nuts safely and to give us an excuse to have a good time. The Festival came to life. Assorted objects are thrown into the tree and the number of nuts knocked down is scored. One nut – one point, two nuts- two points with a two multiplier = 4 points. You get the picture.  Teams are formed and everyone gets a chance to play. Objects need to be thrown by hand with no mechanical assistance. Points are taken away if someone is hit with a nut. The amount of points subtracted is directly related to the amount of damage inflicted on the individual. The Judges determine the points removed. Bribery is accepted and expected.

Our son, Chris, put together a team of work mates from the Harley-Davidson shop. They were very excited about their chances until I reminded them that the objects cannot be thrown with mechanical assistance. The V-Twin catapult was disqualified. I wondered what he was going to do with that extra V-Twin motor?  So with tears in there eyes they set off to find something else to throw. I hope the cows are hiding. With the team from H-D out of the picture, Chris turned to his Billiards team and a new group was formed.

Cori, our daughter, got together with her boyfriend and put together a group that looked promising. The group of Wizards, Bards and Trolls were very excited until they learned that the games were planned for Sunday and they would all be off in some dungeon fighting dragons.  The back-up group was formed from the call center where she works. They all seemed very happy to be outside and not locked in cubicles. They spent a bit of time walking around the house looking for the designated smoking area–it is hard to break the habit. They came armed with cushies, broken mouses (mice?), and staplers.

Mary’s team was the most experienced. They were gamers, used to working together and achieving a common goal. The problem came when they started to review the rules. If you have ever been around gamers when they review the rules you would know that it can go one of two ways. The rules can be arrived upon easily, or they can be knick-picked and bantered about and pulled apart and then argued and objected to. Guess what happened?  They may still be auguring about it.

With the importance of the event we needed to spruce up the yard for the Festival. In keeping things local a couple from the neighborhood were engaged. In staying with the fall theme, they began there decorations. Domestic flora and fauna were used. Here problems started. They decorated the wrong back yard, our neighbors’.  There are apples and nuts on top of the fence, apples in the bird feeder and the decorative nest. Nuts had been packed along the fence below the pine trees. Have you noticed the continued use of the word nuts? Yes, ladies and gentleman, I should not have hired Mr and Mrs S. Quirrel as the decorators. When they were done the need for the Festival was negated. So once again, there was no Walnut Festival. We had to just settle for refreshments and admiring the wonderful decorations.

Play safe and enjoy the season


Posted in Humor, Non-gaming | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

McCain or Obama?

Posted by sodaklady on September 5, 2008

Republican or Democrat?

Conservative or Liberal?

Truthfully, I don’t follow politics because every time I read an article or watch a news feature I end up pacing the house in a rant. So much stupidity and self-interest in one city!

I am not registered as either a Republican or a Democrat since I choose a candidate by their beliefs and platform rather than a generalization of a Party. Sometimes I’m not sure that even the Party members know exactly what they stand for. The lines seem to blur sometimes.

And since I believe the government should change with the times rather than be stuck in some distant past, I guess I would qualify as a Liberal. I mean, when Ward sent the Beaver to his room, did he go there to call Lumpy on his cel phone or surf the ‘net or boot up GTA4 on his XBox? No, back in that day, he was sent there to think over his behavior. We can’t be stuck back in the ’50s just because they’re painted so beautifully on television; we have to change with the technology and the society we’re living in.

So with my background of ignorance explained, I will tell you my impression. It will be a sad day for America if McCain is elected. From the little I’ve read or heard, here’s my three top reasons why McCain is the wrong choice.

1. He wants to stay in Iraq until we win the war. Well, you may as well nuke the hell out of them right now because there’s no way you’re going to harness that team and get them to pull in the same direction.

2. He wants to build more nuclear reactors. Oh, sure, let’s poison our planet from the inside with nuclear waste because we’re not ruining it fast enough on the surface.

3. I’d hate to see the demand for wire coat hangers rise.

Posted in Non-gaming | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

The Squirrel in the Stovepipe Adventure

Posted by sodaklady on August 1, 2008


We have a couple of squirrels in our neighborhood and they have given us lots of entertainment ever since they showed up last summer.

Yesterday Cori came home from work, went downstairs and came running back up the stairs doing a bit of a freak-out.  A squirrel was squeaking from inside the stovepipe.

Now first off, I thought squirrels were smarter than that; strange, but smarter than that. Secondly, I thought Richard had put a wire cover on the top of the chimney after we had to get a bird out of it a couple of years ago.

The box we used to rescue the bird was still in the garage so we dug it out, checked it for spiders and put a little bird seed in it as enticement.  This box is taped shut but with a hole cut in it to fit over the end of the stovepipe where it comes out of the wall.  We carefully removed a section of the pipe, shown a flashlight into the pipe and saw a scared little squirrel looking back from its sooty depths.  With the box fit snugly over the end of the pipe, we settled down to wait quietly.

I was giving a couple of the cats some attention (they were very interested in the occupied stovepipe), and Cori was listening near the stove when a thought struck her: a squirrel is not a bird. Maybe you don’t know much about either so I will explain.  If a scared bird goes into a box, there’s a good chance you can move the box and cover the hole before it gets its wits around the circumstances and escapes.  A squirrel is very highly strung, much like Hammie in Over The Hedge, which made us wonder if it would be possible to remove the box before the squirrel flew back into the pipe where he felt safe.  We decided we needed a plan B.

Plan B came from Cori, some elaborate contraption involving the pet carrier, a small box with a slit in the top for a sliding panel, and lots of duct tape.  Even if this didn’t seem a bit of an extreme invention, we were stymied by the highly unlikely fact that we couldn’t find any duct tape!  On to Plan C.

Plan C seemed like the thing we should have done in the first place if we weren’t a family of self-sufficient, I’d-rather-do-it-myself types: call animal control.  But animal control was gone for the day!  Uh, o.k.  On to Plan D.

Plan D seemed quite logical, allowing the squirrel safe exit from the pipe while giving us an easy means to trap him and remove him from the house. We had brought in a huge, heavy drop cloth to put around the stove area to protect the carpet and I thought it would be great to just create a bag-like escape route with it.  When the squirrel was in the bag, we’d just squeeze the top shut and carry it all outside.  We thought we should put a small box at the bottom of this tube with food and water. In theory, this was a good plan; in reality, it was tougher to carry out. The drop cloth is very large and very heavy, creating something too unwieldy for the two of us.  Plan D needed modification.

We have several old sheets which come in handy for any number of purposes but they were very thin and I imagined the ruckus that squirrel would cause when he felt his trap being moved.  No, we needed something a little more substantial. Wheels turned in my head, envisioning what the perfect item would look like, and it looked pretty much like something we had at hand…a sleeping bag. We have some old, cheap ones that we got when the kids were little so it wouldn’t matter if they got nasty inside from soot and creosote.  

The sleeping bag slide escape for the squirrel

The sleeping bag slide escape for the squirrel

And ladies and gentlemen, this worked beautifully. A half hour of waiting found our unexpected house guest “in the bag”.  We carried it outside and laid it near a tree, gave it a little shake and out he ran.  He zipped straight up the tree and only stopped long enough to give us a look that may have said, “Thanks for the help.  Gotta go now since I’m really late for supper.”

Posted in Non-gaming | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Snowy Checkerboard

Posted by sodaklady on March 5, 2008

Snow on the patio

This sight greeted me when I went outside this morning.   I went right back inside and got my camera before the dog or cats could mess it up.  I hope you enjoy its simple beauty as much as I did.

Posted in Non-gaming | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

My Husband Is One Of Santa’s Elves

Posted by sodaklady on January 5, 2008

It all started with a doll cradle, a design which was improved after our daughter (at the age of 2) sat in hers and broke the bottom out. When Richard retired from the Air Force and started working for a local home center, he decided to build doll cradles for all the people he worked with that had little girls. For the little boys, he found a sturdy design for a dump truck with a handle to lift the bed. (I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of one.) Now every year, he finds new designs and, of course, there’s always a few new cradles to build.

Doll Cradle

The cradles have a cartoon character on one end and the girl’s name on the other.

Wooden toy car

The little car which looks to me like a Volkswagen Beetle, was one of the first and still my favorite.

Grasshopper Pull Toy

The grasshopper was a step in another direction, an animated pull toy, and he had many people ask for  them. A few were modified by request, made wider with holes in the body to hold crayons.

Wooden Steamroller

Last year’s model was a steamroller.

Keepsake Box

For an older girl, he built a small keepsake chest. The curved lid and beautiful dove-tailing made it a lovely piece. Inside is a removable shelf that rests near the top of the box.

Wooden Road Grader and Front-end Loader

This year he built road graders and front-end loaders for the boys.  One of the older ladies he works with got one of each for her two grandsons.  She came to work the day after Christmas and told Richard what a big hit they were.  The toys had not been wrapped but set in front of the packages under the tree so when the children came downstairs on Christmas morning, they were the first thing that caught their eyes.  “Santa’s elves came!”  I can just imagine a child’s amazement to find wooden toys under the tree—the kind they’d seen Santa’s elves building in many movies and cartoons.

 The wonderful thing is that of all the fancy, expensive toys that they received, these two wooden toys were the ones they played with all day.  Could there be a bigger compliment than that?

Posted in Non-gaming, Wooden Toys | 18 Comments »

A Happy New Year

Posted by sodaklady on January 2, 2008

I’ve never been one to become pensive or nostalgic just because the calendar says I should but I do want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, peace-filled new year anyway.  I don’t make resolutions for the new year but I hope to start writing more even if it isn’t about board games.  I hope you’ll bear with me if I just write about whatever is on my mind.


For Christmas my wonderful husband bought me Rock Band, which I had been obsessing over ever since my friend, Mike, brought his Xbox 360 and the gear over to show it to us.  On New Year’s Eve, we invited 4 people (2 men and 2 women) over who were interested in trying it out.  One of the guys was also intrigued by Richard’s description of a couple of my games, Wings of War and Bolide so that’s how the evening started.

 Richard and our 4 guests, Jeremy, Elizabeth, Jenna and her boyfriend, Patrick, gathered around the pool table downstairs to try a one-lap race.  I knew that each additional player would greatly increase the playing time with so many new players so I declined my husband’s invitation and continued watching the Twilight Zone episode I was in the middle of (a wonderfully done episode where a German concentration camp commander returns to his camp years later and finds the ghosts of the people he’d tortured and killed).

 Fifteen minutes later when I went downstairs, they were making their way through the first turn of the British track.  Patrick picked up the concept right away and was in the lead.  Jeremy and Jenna got the idea after the second turn but, sadly, Elizabeth never did understand.  It didn’t matter how many times I showed her or in what manner I tried to explain the concept that the “pin” was simulating, by the last corner of the race, she was still trying to put her car wherever she wanted with no regard for where the pin was located.  Oh, well, everyone said they enjoyed it—but maybe some of them were just being polite.

 After a break for snacking, it was time to start Rockin’!  Richard and I played one song to show everyone what the screen looked like and how the instruments worked then handed over the guitar and drumsticks to someone else.  At first, they were reluctant but we finally got everyone to try something at least once.  Patrick, who had said earlier that he just came to watch, found that he loved the guitar.  In fact, by the end of the evening, he was getting more than 90% of the notes even on the harder songs.  I think the fact that he’s an avid video gamer helped him pick it up so quickly.  Jeremy sucked at the drums the first time he tried but before he left, he’d managed to get through the hardest songs and wanted to get the game for himself.  Jenna did pretty well on both the drums and the guitar but enjoyed the drums more.  She really excelled at singing even though she said she didn’t like to sing and thought it was kind of boring.  Elizabeth turned out to be our biggest fan.  Yeah, she didn’t enjoy playing any of the instruments but she had a great time watching and listening to us yammer on about how we did on the last song.

 The evening finally broke up about 1:00 and everyone had had a great time.  I also found out that Patrick’s dad is a board game collector and has about 900 games.  I’m not sure what they are but Patrick has played Carcassonne, Age of Empires, Civilization, and Axis and Allies.  He’s interested in coming over to try some of my collection so I’m looking forward to a game night with him and Jenna when we can get everyone’s schedule coordinated.  I think this was one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve ever had, full of fun and laughter and good people.

Posted in Non-gaming, Video Games | Leave a Comment »

Psycho Cat & Houdini Mouse

Posted by sodaklady on August 16, 2007

My story starts with Bess, our psychotic cat.  She’s funny and cute but full of neuroses.   If you look in the dictionary under “scaredy cat”, her picture is there.


She likes attention but she doesn’t like to be held.  She gets the creepy-crawlies and flies around the room, only to stop somewhere with her skin dancing across her back as she tries to lick it away.  She runs for cover whenever the dog barks.  And she doesn’t like to be outside like the other cats unless it’s dark.  Here’s where the tale begins.

 When she first started going outside at night, she decided it would be fun to bring her new-found friends in the house to play with her.  We have a pet door so this caused her no difficulty since she didn’t have to get past a bouncer at the door.  Her first friends were night-crawlers, those lovely fat worms that fishermen prize.  It’s only by sheer luck that no one accidentally stepped on one that she’d left lying helpless on the kitchen floor.

 She’s also brought home moths and large, black beetles as houseguests but they were shown the door–just as soon as we could catch them.  That was excitement enough for us humans but she had to step it up a notch by bringing in her newest friends, mice.  Yes, most people have cats to rid their homes of mice; I get a cat that brings them in. Even that would have been bearable if she hadn’t lost a couple that turned out to be smarter and faster than she is.  Our Corgi, Tucker, snatched one away from her one night while I stood around wondering what the hell to hit it with or catch it in.  He also helped us hunt one down that managed to get into a closet.  A closet!!  Take a look at most people’s closets and you can imagine what fun that was.

  This brings me to Houdini mouse.  This one somehow managed to get into a kitchen cabinet, the corner one with the brilliant design whereby the floor of it does not reach the next cabinet.  What a wonderful home, he thinks.  Safe and secure with easy access to the rest of the cabinets via the underground.

 Right!  It’s time to get a mousetrap.  After all, we humans should be able to out-maneuver a mouse; tactics and strategy, man.  But I refuse to use one of the old-fashioned, smash their little necks and leave gore all over the place traps.  I wanted a humane, catch and release trap.  And here you have it.  A teeter-totter trap.  Put some peanut butter (recommended, though I don’t know why.  Do mice routinely go hunting for peanut butter in the wild?) in the very back, the mouse goes in, over-balances the trap, and the door falls down.  Brilliant, no?

 A Better Mousetrap?

 But Houdini mouse has eaten the peanut butter twice without being caught!  Is he a light-weight who doesn’t over-balance the trap?  Does he have an exceptionally long tongue?  Is he huge and his behind is still in the door when it falls down?  Does he have a lock-pick under his tongue?  Maybe–tell me it ain’t so–he has an accomplice!  Anyway, he’s still safe and cozy in his under-cabinet home and we’ve moved on to mousetrap design number 2.  This one is larger with a hallway and a single room.  The hallway is a teeter-totter which the mouse has to walk up to get to the peanut butter (again with the peanut butter), it teeters over to let him in the room and then totters back to lock him in.  We’ll see who’s smarter now, Mr. Mouse.  (Please let it be the designer of this trap.)

Posted in Non-gaming | 1 Comment »

Local Band to Feature on Grey’s Anatomy

Posted by sodaklady on April 20, 2007

Today’s paper has an article on a Rapid City band, the Reddmen, who have had one of their songs chosen to be on an upcoming episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  How cool is that?!

The band has been together for over a decade but this is the first national notice they’ve gotten.  The lead singer/guitarist, J. Waylon Porcupine, got an email from someone identifying himself as an editor from Grey’s Anatomy asking where he could find their music.  He thought at first that it was spam.  But he answered politely and sent the man to their record label’s web site.  The editor had heard one of their songs on his cousin’s MySpace profile and liked it.  I think the truly amazing part is that the band is very low-budget and records on 8-track in a basement!

The song is “The Secrets of Amanda Prines” from their 2003 album, “Sons of the Morning Star” and should air on April 26th.

The other band members are Trevor Leo and Miyo One Arrow.  In case anyone is interested, their record label’s web site is

Posted in Non-gaming | 1 Comment »