Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's our 5th Anniversary!

If you've been trying to reach us and haven't had much luck in the past few days, that would be because we have been on vacation to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. Yay for us!

This year we decided to continue our tradition of going to a new zoo on our anniversary and chose the Minnesota Zoo as our destination. But did the fun begin or end there? Oh no!

We arrived in the Twin Cities on Thursday evening amid an incredible rainstorm that commenced the moment we emerged from the car at our hotel. Soaked and tired, we collapsed upon the bed and tried to work up the energy to go to dinner. The Holiday Inn we stayed at had a terrific restaurant attached with some of the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life! Yum!

Energized with a new infusion of cheese and cured meats, Jenn and I ventured out to IKEA! I only became familiar with this huge, Swedish superstore a few years back and it is a paradise for those, like my Jenn, who love to decorate and find cool things for their homes. Jenn was in a bit of a frenzy and found all sorts of neat things we could use. I pushed the cart and enjoyed her enthusiasm. I love to watch my wife get excited about the things she enjoys. It is one of my big joys in life.

The next morning broke stormy and dark, but with the weather radar showing a clearing trend for the day, we headed off to the Minnesota Zoo. First, I forsook our pre-printed Mapquest directions and followed the "helpful" signs pointing "Zoo". This got us lost in a suburb with not a sign of any zoo-like structures. Next, we backtracked and I followed our directions and this time we ended up in an industrial zone that did not look like a welcome habitat for any critter. Finally, we stopped and asked at the gas station with the SLOWEST PUMPS IN THE WORLD. The folk there we very friendly and quickly got us on the correct route which ended up being nowhere near the other two directions we had previously followed.

Thus we ended up at the Minnesota Zoo. It was an enjoyable tour with the highlights being: some gigantic looking wolves, the Fishing Cat, the dolphin show, snow monkeys and a very impressive aquarium display with lots of large, impressive fish (Jenn got to pet a shark). A lot of the animals, however, were absent. Most were being kept in their enclosures due to the storm warnings that were out and some might have just been busy doing other things. It was a little bit of a let down, but all in all a good visit. We ended our day with another great dinner at the hotel and congratulated and were congratulated in turn by another couple there for their 50th anniversary.

Saturday, our actual anniversary date, broke with the both of us a bit wiped out. Still, we had planned to go to the Mall of America to do some shopping and we made a valiant effort. We had some barbecue at Famous Dave's, where the seemingly untrained hostess kept trying to seat everyone right by the kitchen door even though the restaurant was empty. We then proceeded with our planned shopping trip which was over in one store!

We popped into Games by James and made some purchases: a copy of Password...and something called Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition (I think, I'll have to take a look at it again to be sure of the name). We then realized there weren't any other stores we wanted to do to visit at all...a zillion stores and nothing there that interested us. How sad is that? Undaunted, we hit the suburbs and found some interesting little shops including an organizational store that Jenn went wild for.

Finally, we wrapped up our visit to the cities with a stop at White Castle for some burgers (I love these little burgers, and swear that the frozen ones you can get at the supermarket are NOT the same. Jenn loves them much less and is not convinced of my arguments concerning the frozen ones) and then we headed home. Today we are recovering from our trip, and Moses is enjoying having us around again.

So, to sum it up: we went lots of places, saw lots of stuff and ate fattening food, but these are not the important things. What is important is that I am more in love with my wife than the day we were married and that our marriage just gets better and better each day. I enjoy every little detail about Jenn and would not change a thing about her. She is a precious gift given to me by the Lord and it is my job to love her and try to be the best husband she can have. It is the best job in the world.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

It's the End of the World as We Know It (Now, where's my dice?)

Do you feel it?

Place your hands on the keyboard and sit still for a moment.

There, feel that?

That, my friend, is a disturbance in the internet. The quivering tension of a thousand forum servers groaning under the weight of postings more numerous than there are stars in the sky.

What could be causing all this electronic chatter? Simple.

Saturday, a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons will be released.

I will freely admit it. I play D&D and have since I was 14. For those of you who don't really know what Dungeons & Dragons is, I will give a brief explanation. You other geeks can count your dice until I get done explaining things.

Dungeons & Dragons (and other games like it) is a role-playing game, or RPG for short. RPGs often use dice, like board games, but there is no "board" per se. Each player creates a Player Character (or PC) to control in the game "world". These characters are usually comprised of numbers that reflect the characters skills and abilities. One player has no character to play. This player is referred to as the Gamemaster. (or Dungeon Master, or Referee) He is in charge of the game world that the players are about to adventure in. He plays enemies, allies and occasionally, inanimate objects the player's characters will interact with. It is his job to create an objective, or adventure, for the players. He describes what characters can see, hear, smell and touch around them. The players, in turn, tell the GM what they want their characters to do in reaction to what the GM has described. Rules and dice are used to determine the outcomes of what the players want to achieve.

Nearly anything can happen in an RPG. The game is really only limited by the time the players have to play and their imaginations. This kind of interactivity and creativity really is unmatched in other forms of entertainment and is the reason why I'm still playing them.

Okay, educational section over.

Saturday, the 4th edition of the D&D rules hits the shelves. Thousands of players will be snatching up Player's Handbooks, Dungeon Master's Guides and Monster Manuals. Thousands of others will firmly refuse to spend money on a new edition, claiming the publishers are merely trying to make money off of them. (Make money? What a ridiculous reason to get into publishing...) Thousands more will loudly claim to refuse to spend their money and then go and do it when they think no one is looking.

Despite all the online fury, I don't see any horrible fallout or problems with a new ruleset. D&D's publishers, Wizards of the Coast, have revised the ruleset to make it more accessible to younger players, which is a good decision. But you would think, by reading the internet forums dedicated to D&D players, that the End of the World (or a Great New Golden Age, depending on who you ask) is upon us! I've seen talk of the danger of a new edition (What, someone will get a 4 sided die in the eye?) or what it will do to the roleplaying industry. (You can tell when you've crossed the line into geekdom when you refer to your hobby as an industry)

What will I do? Probably wait and see what comes about. I have plenty of rulesets that I can use to run my games with. But, the reason I have plenty of rulesets is that I like to buy and read them for enjoyment. So, I may end up buying into the new rules at some point in the future.

But regardless of what ruleset people use to play them, RPG's are an enjoyable pastime that you can take with you your whole life. I've played with gamers as young as 8 and as old as 80 and have met some fantastic people along the way. It may not appeal to everyone, but to those it does: Keep your dicebag ready, and "When in doubt, roll and shout!" 2008

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