Games March 2024

8:25 pm

Games I played in March 2024. Like books, I didn't get nearly as much game playing done this month compared to February.

Wyrmspan - Expand your cave system and attract new dragons to live in it. This game just came out last month. It's an adaptation of the game Wingspan--changing some mechanics and swapping dragons for birds. This games falls under "group solitaire" in that what each player does has very little impact on the other players.

It's a game of resource constraints requiring careful analysis to maximize your actions for gaining points. If you want to score well, that is. You can just enjoy the artwork and collecting dragons and not worry too much about points.

We played once at the very beginning of the month and once more today. I lost both times (Jess won both times).

Escape the Crate - Sled Race - One of the "escape room in a box" companies for which Jess' parents gave us a subscription for Christmas.

This is the second box for us. The story set ups and narration are a bit campy, but the puzzles have been pleasantly reasonable and we've been enjoying them as a family. I think I enjoy them more than the "Exit" series. In this one we've time traveled to 1925 when a mustache-twirling-type nefarious time traveler had swapped the diphtheria antitoxin out before the dogsled relay rushed it off to Nome, Alaska. We have to work together to catch up and put the correct medicine back in place.

We completed the first half successfully at _just_ below expert speed--still have to play the second half.

Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall - Jess and I continued our adventure as Feyn and Roland and played Quest 16 (you don't necessarily complete them in numerical order).

We had a very successful little adventure and handily defeated the ursaur in battle and rescued the elven pilgrim. I'm still very much enjoying it and looking forward to continuing our story.

Books March 2024

7:41 pm

Books I finished reading in March 2024.

With prepping Corinne's birthday adventure and being sick I didn't get nearly as much reading done in March as I did in February.

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

I bought this way back in 2016, but only just got around to reading it.

It describes the 14 principles that embody the "Toyota Way" of doing manufacturing--much of which has come to be known, in part, as "lean."

I think perhaps the most distinct aspect from traditional American approaches is the requirement that systems be viewed holistically. Demanding that each individual process get faster/cheaper/better may get you worse results than are otherwise possible.

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Griffin

I'm not really sure how this ended up on my list as its description didn't pique my interest, but it was and it was on sale for $2 so I grabbed it. It's kind of a modern adaptation of the Frankenstein theme.

Some interesting ideas, probably could have used another 100 pages to give it more depth.

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

This was my most recent pick for the tech-books book group I meet with at work.

Bell Labs was a ridiculously influential organization of the 20th century: the transistor, undersea telephone cables, microwave data relays, satellite telecommunications, cell phones, fiber optics, Unix, the C programming language--just to name a few. All that, so much more, and the foundation of Information Theory.

It's kind of crazy how much of the modern world was influenced by that organization.

Corinne's Egg Drop

March 28, 2024 7:35 pm

Every year Rancho has the 3rd grade students build projects to protect a raw egg which are then thrown off the top of the multi-purpose room (probably about 25 feet up).

Corinne designed her project with a friend. I assisted with construction (handling the hot-glue gun and cutting cardboard), but the design is all their own.

A cardboard box, bottom covered in cotton balls, filled with layers of cotton balls, tissues, paper towels, and an uninflated balloon. Then a parachute made from a small garbage bag.

Watch it fly!

Corinne's 9th Birthday

March 25, 2024 12:10 pm

For Corinne's birthday this year I designed a Minecraft adventure. She's been big into Minecraft this year. Since her birthday was on a Sunday we had lots of time for the adventure. Jess took the girls to lunch at Panera while I set everything up.

I was actively involved with the adventure as it happened and I asked Jess to take video, so I don't have any pictures during the event, but you can watch the whole thing if you like (55 min):

When she arrived home from lunch she was welcomed to Minecraft and given an inventory bag and a map. She was told that Blockville was being threatened by an Ender Dragon because someone stole the dragon's End Crystal. She needed to follow an old legend about a lost end crystal, recover the End Crystal, and return it to the Ender Dragon to save the village.

Her first stop was to see Shelly the Shepherd in the meadow. All of her llamas got loose and needed Corinne's help to gather wood, build fences, create a pen, and then bring all the llamas back.

Once the llamas were corralled Shelly was able to tell Corinne some information about the lost End Crystal and referred her to Farmer Peregrine on the Farm.

Peregrine wanted to help, but there was a wild pig loose in his crops. He needed Corinne to mine some stone, build a trap, and trap the pig.

With the pig trapped, Peregrine was able to dig through some old family documents for some information about the crystal. He suggested Corinne visit Annie the Archaeologist who has been studying ancient relics and runes.

Annie found a locked chest and determined that the combination was related to the coordinates of a nearby statue. Corinne needed to measure the coordinates from the origin indicated on her map. In the chest was the last piece of information she needed about the End Crystal. She now had all 3 coordinates for the crystal and just needed to find the location.

In her closet she found the lost End Crystal and then activated the portal to The End. Inside was the ferocious Ender Dragon.

With an acceptable substitute for the stolen End Crystal having been returned, the village rejoiced, showered Corinne in gifts, and threw a party in her honor.

Along the way she crafted a sword/pickaxe and some diamond armor. Here she is with her new friend, the Ender Dragon:

I designed and built the llamas, pig, Ender Dragon, armor, and End Crystal. They're all made from cardboard and hot glue. The dragon includes an aluminum skeleton of 1/8"-thick flat bar running from head to tail and wing to wing. Jess painted the llamas, pig, and dragon. Some concept art of the process:

Celebrating after the adventure with presents!

If you couldn't tell by the gift selection, she's really into Minecraft right now.

The rest of the family was recovering from sickness, so we stayed home for dinner (for which Corinne chose Taco Bell). Then it was time for cake!

The following weekend Corinne had a birthday party--the first we've hosted since the pandemic. She invited a few close friends and they made name tag headbands (so your name shows up over your head, like in Minecraft), assembled Lego kits, decorated cupcakes, and painted on canvases to take home. She had a blast.