Play Them All in 2015!

As the new year starts, I’ve decided to commit to a couple resolutions. Most of them are fairly personal. But one… while admittedly very geeky, I’m comfortable sharing with you.

I’m going to play every single board game in my family’s collection at least once before the end of the year.

My grand plan is to record the games as they get played in a list below. I’ll probably throw them up on Twitter & Instagram (#playthemall2015) as they get played, and then update the list in batches… when I remember. šŸ˜‰

Yes, the links below are Amazon affiliate links.

The List

  1. Flash Point: Fire Rescue 1/1/2015
  2. Planes 1/3/2015
  3. Power Grid 1/3/2015
  4. Yardmaster Express 1/7/2015
  5. Ticket to Ride: Europe + 1912 exp. 1/11/2015
  6. Sushi Go! 1/14/2015
  7. Tokaido 1/31/2015
  8. Escape 2/6/2015
  9. Mice & Mystics 4/2/2015 (Chapter 11, finally!)
  10. Pathfinder: Adventure Card Game 4/7/2015
  11. Dragon Slayer 4/9/2015
  12. Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game 4/11/2015
  13. Terror in Meeple City 4/11/2015
  14. Love Letter: The Hobbit Edition 4/25/2015
  15. Eminent Domain: Microcosm5/15/2015
  16. Smash Up 5/17/2015
  17. Dominion 5/31/2015
  18. Takenoko 6/21/2015
  19. Eminent Domain 6/27/2015
  20. Belle of the Ball 6/27/2015
  21. Space Hulk: Death Angel 6/28/2015
  22. Monopoly: Millenium Edition 7/4/2015
  23. Cornerstone7/4/2015
  24. Avalon 7/17/2015
  25. Age of War 7/17/2015
  26. Cypher 7/18/2015
  27. Survive: Escape from Atlantis 8/1/2015 #GenCant
  28. Lords of Waterdeep 8/1/2015 #GenCant
  29. King of Tokyo 8/1/2015 #GenCant
  30. Exploding Kittens8/4/2015
  31. Tsuro 8/9/2015
  32. Hot Rod Creeps 8/9/2015
  33. Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds8/10/2015
  34. Skyline 8/29/2015
  35. Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 11/14/2015
  36. Portal – The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game 11/14/2015
  37. Bomb Squad Academy 11/15/2015

Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds

Mouse Guard has been a part of our family for a few years now. We’ve bought a few of the books, checked out a couple from the library, and keep our eyes out for new releases. Both my wife and I have loved reading to the kids as well as giving them a turn. I’ve said it before and I can’t seem to avoid saying it again, it’s been a delight to watch them encounter new vocabulary words, discuss meaning, and even work through reading difficult words that appear in highly-stylized handwritten text.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 was our first journey into the Mouse Guard universe of Kenzie, Lieam, and Saxon. Winter 1152 followed. And then we found our noses buried in Beginning The Black Axe and even the Legends of the Guard books.

In the last few pages of Fall 1152, there are a couple mice gathered around a little game in a tavern. I remember the kids exclaiming at the tiny mice tokens when we read it for the first time.

Little did we know we’d have that same game on a table in our ‘tavern’ a few years later.

Kickstarter Campaign

Writer & Artist, David Petersen, teamed up with Game Designer, Luke Crane, to create a light strategy game and put their concept on Kickstarter.

A two-player board game from the Mouse Guard comicsā€”for guardmice, patrons of the June Alley Inn and their fans.

Long story short: we backed it.

The Goods

Thankfully, the Kickstarter campaign succeeded. Once our copy showed up, my son and I were the first to put it through its paces. It’s a chess-like game that looks and feels as though it was magically extracted from the pages of the book, and most importantly plays easily enough while hiding a lot of depth. I’m sure we’ll get Swords & Strongholds to the table a lot around this house.

Over this last weekend, my dad showed up to Dice & Decks – a local board gaming club/event I run. I had to introduce him to the game.

Now, I’ll admit that I was so wrapped up in being thrilled that he came, that I forgot just how good my dad is at chess.

Early on in our first game of Swords & Strongholds, my dad captured one of my pawns, and then another. I felt like I fought back valiantly and managed to recover both after a few more turns. Although, it was only my third playthrough, so I’m sure to a seasoned player of chess or chess-like games I looked like a fish flopping around in a puddle.

He eventually whittled me down to one pawn and was able to maneuver one of his into the winning, stronghold-making position.

He called it a practice round and eagerly asked to play again.

I wanted to pass along a heartfelt “Thank you” to David Peterson and Luke Crane for the wonderfully delicious anguish over the decisions made while playing Swords & Strongholds. It’s a brilliant little package with a ton of charm; there’s so much game there. Excellent work, gentlemen!

Buy from BurningWheel | Buy from Paizo

Roasted Marshmallow Cups

Mmm! Roasted Marshmallow cups with chocolate milk. So good!!!

Canine Caption Contest

A little less than two weeks ago, we adopted a second dogĀ from PACC.

Sweet Sophie has been an excellent addition to the family. As similar as she is to Lil’ Bro, it’s been a riot making note of all the ways they’re different.His coat is coarse and he’s really agile. She’s so soft, calm, and docile. He goes. She saunters. Bro plays eagerly, earnestly, and – seemingly – with endless energy. He’s been dying for Sophie to get comfortable with her new surroundings and just play with him!

Then things like this happen:

Part 1

Part 2


That’s Bro in full derp-mode.

Give me your best caption in a comment below!

Operation Homecooked Mobile Device Lab

TL;DR ā€” I’m a web developer nerd that wanted to test my sites on multiple devices at once. So, I built a thing to do that.


I’m the in-house web developer at an excellent CPA firm in Southern Arizona. I build/maintain all their web properties – internal and external. As it stands, all but our main site are responsive and feel modern-enough1. Our main site is based on a non-responsive WordPress theme I chose (D’oh!) in 2010 that’s been heavily customized over the years2. It needs a major responsive redesign – yesterday! Based on other job responsibilities/projects, I haven’t had time to focus on it until now. As I really started to stare the project down, I started to wonder how I’d make sure the new theme looked right across multiple devices.


The proper way to go about this would be to identify ‘target devices’ currently used by our visitors via our analytics provider of choice. However, at least initially, I’m attempting to do this on my own dime aka Ā«on the cheapĀ» … so, I’m using whatever I can get my hands on. I currently have access to:

  • iPad w/ Retina screen (Previously provided by employer)
  • iPhone 5s (Previously provided by employer)
  • Kindle Fire
  • Droid X

Use what you can! Perhaps you own an Android phone… Tell your friends what you’re doing and ask if you can borrow a previous-model iPhone that they’re not using or something. I’m hoping to get my hands on a newer Android device or two – especially if they’re different screen sizes. I’m debating whether or not to send an email to the firm asking folks to donate a dusty device or two.

Available Solutions

Thankfully, in this day and age, we’re able to hop on the internet and look up how other folks have solved similar problems. After poking around the web, I found a cool project/movement called Open Device Lab. It aims to highlight device labs that are open to public use for free and encourage the creation of more. It’s certainly a very cool idea; one that I think could be a really cool addition to any of the co-working locations in downtown Tucson. However, it’s an idea I don’t think I can pitch w/o having a working example to demo.

The well-made, professional solution

I’m just gonna leave this here and say, yeah… looks really nice.

Vanamco’s $149.00 Device Lab

My improvised solution

Stand hardware

Items from Home Depot & Amazon:

Note: If you anticipate needing to test more than 4-5 devices, you may want to double up on these items. The beauty of the pegboard used in this build is that it’s designed as an expandable system. Two of them will lock together really nicely with a couple screws.


There are two pieces of software magic that make this setup work beautifully.

DesktopServer by ServerPress

Cloudup rjmauqxttnm

You can certainly pull off this setup with any local web server stack (MAMP, LAMP, XAMPP, VVV) or with ServerPress’ free version, DesktopServer Limited, however, I want to point out that after using that version for a few hours one day a couple months ago, it was enough to convince me to upgrade to their fully-featured DesktopServer Premium version. I have not been disappointed.

DesktopServer allows you to quickly and easily generate optimized WordPress projects that run locally.

Prior to DesktopServer you would have had to install a LAMP stack, edit multiple configuration files, create databases, create security credentials, and repeat the process for each new project or site you wanted to run; a painful time consuming and unfriendly process for non-developers and seasoned programmers alike. DesktopServer diminishes mundane tasks and is preferred even by advanced developers who like to tinker with WordPress Multisite based projects, domain aliases, and host files.

ServerPress has done a great job putting together a software package for Mac or Windows that lets you run a local version of your sites quickly, with very little fuss.

ServerPress’ Videos

For more information on how DesktopServer can exceed your needs, hit their YouTube channel!


If DesktopServer is the cake, BrowserSync is the frosting. It allows you to inject live-updating code into your pages and then sync scrolling, mouse clicks, and form input across any browsers viewing the URL on the same network. No more saving your code, switching to each browser you’re testing in, and refreshing the page. It refreshes each connected browser automatically. It’s free, open source, and ridiculously wonderful.

I’ve got it hooked into my Gulp build process. PHP, JS, and SCSS files are watched, compiled/concated on-save, and all connected browsers are refreshed w/ the latest changes.

Here’s the gulpfile from one of my projects:

Solving Real Problems

Using the hardware and software covered above, I was able to tackle a pain-in-the-butt issue last week. Long story short: we had embedded a survey (thanks Survey Monkey) into a dedicated, responsive landing page on our site. In testing, the survey loaded when viewed on an iPad or any computer… but it wouldn’t show up on any phones we tried. Using the device lab, I was able to discover that Survey Monkey’s embed javascript was specifically NOT rendering the form on any devices with a screen smaller than 760px wide. From that Ah-ha moment, I was able to build a ‘warning’ pane that would only show up on the smaller screens offering to launch the survey in a new view.

Mobile Device Lab getting it done!

BOOM! Problem solved!

Future Plans

Obviously, the goofy Guitar Hero stand needs to be replaced by a sturdy solution of some sort. It does the job for now, but I’ve already spent some time sketching out some ideas for a wooden frame (with room for two panels mounted together – I went ahead and bought another one :)).

For now, version 1 works really well for me.

Operation Homecooked Mobile Device Lab is a success!

I’ll definitely add photos of version 2 when it gets to that point. Perhaps that’ll be one I can replicate down at CoLab Workspace or Connect Co-working?

1: Everything changes so fast on the web, I don’t dare declare anything modern or ‘done’. ^

2: A year or two after launch, we added a mobile device sniffer and have been redirecting that traffic to a /mobile/ subdir… which has worked well-enough. But it’s 2015, dangit! Time for a completely mobile-friendly approach. ^

Temptation in the seat next to me

Martha and I are about 8 days away from the end of the DietBet game we’re in. We’re both so close to hitting our goal weight! It’s been a fight, but we’ve done well over the last 3 weeks.

Today happens to be my daughter’s 9th birthday. Happy Burpee, Abbilicious! After an entire-family-snuggle-session in our bed, she requested cinnamon rolls from Copper Creek Cookies – the best in the city. Mar and I looked at each other with dread. Do we behave and abstain? Do we cheat? We’re so close to making our goal!

While the rest of the family got ready for the day, I took a little drive to pick some up for the kids.

The best cinnamon rolls in the city taunting me from my car's passenger seat

Look at them. I’m pretty sure they whispered my name as I got off the freeway.

Gooey, delicious little punks.

Connecting with a Specialist When You Have Melanoma

Martha and I had the pleasure of participating in a Melanoma Town Hall meeting in Phoenix a couple months ago. Just before the meeting started, Martha sat down with the host, Andrew Schorr, to tell her story and give hopeful advice for other cancer patients out there. I’m terribly biased, of course, but I think she did an amazing job!

Martha Bishop, melanoma survivor and patient advocate, pushed to have a bump removed after her daughter pointed it out. Even after her doctor dismissed it, she persisted. Days later, she received a phone call with a diagnosis of a malignant tumor.

Source: Connecting with a Specialist When You Have Melanoma

A Woman With Skin Cancer Posted A Graphic Selfie To Warn Against Tanning

Source: A Woman With Skin Cancer Posted A Graphic Selfie To Warn Against Tanning


New Family Rule

While not a new rule for us, this clip is certainly worth a watch.

Happy Dirty Chai Day Friday


May is Melanoma Awareness Month

The month of May is Melanoma & Skin Cancer awareness month. Martha and I will be amongst those attempting to ‘paint Facebook/Twitter black’ by replacing our normal profile photos.

If you’d like to join us, put on some sunscreen and use the image below.


Team Ā”Mela-NO-MAS!

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