My Take on: Money

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I want you to name something that you can do that doesn’t cost any money. Since you cannot tell me what you came up with I see if I can guess. Did you think sit in your house and read a book? Exactly how did you get the book? Also having a house costs a handsome sum without considering electricity. Perhaps you thought of a walk to the park. You aren’t going naked are you? Clothes cost money and the food you would need to eat to get yourself there isn’t free. You cannot hunt for free anymore and harvesting would mean you have to trespass on someone’s land.

My point is that we have become enslaved by money. You might not be feeling as free as you had been a moment ago. There is no part of your life that isn’t dictated by money. The homeless don’t ask if you have spare housing, clothing or food. They ask if you have spare change, or some money that you could give to them. Money is the web we wove then subsequently ensnared ourselves in. You are a slave to money.

It probably takes a person who was either poor once or relatively poor now to view money as a trap or slavery and likely I would fit most people’s definition of both. My wife and I live comfortably in our apartment, but we have debt and it dictates what we can and cannot do. Still, I think I began to view money in this fashion when I was younger.

There is a frustration with money when you feel it holding you back. I might not be able to see the other side of the argument having never lived on that side of the fence but when you look at those who have I don’t see any indication that they themselves are experiencing freedom either. They buy expensive things which cost more to maintain and thereby the cycle of slavery is perpetuated to every social class.

Money, however, is a purely self inflicted wound. We created our vast societies and standards so that money can effectively govern over all of us without any deviation. We have carefully crafted the web so that none may slip past, if I may be so bold as to continue the metaphor. This is what aggravates me to no end.

I wonder if we could look at humanity from moneys’ perspective if we would then be able to see it for the vial act that it is.

I long to be free of it yet I know that I cannot be. Perhaps, if the so called chance favors me, I can have enough that I can ignore it. Yet I think I shall always hate it, because it robs me of my freedom.

Ticket To Ride: Great Lakes

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I have been playing the Ticket to Ride games for over two years now. It is easily my favorite game. So I was looking at some of the expansions and various versions (I have 3 versions and 1 expansion) and stumbled upon a website that had non-sanctioned expansion sets. I had to make my own. I had too. I could go through how I made it and how long it took but rather I am going to put some of the images of what I came up with so you can see it.

I know that this is a departure from what I wanted to do on my blog but I wanted to share this.

Falling in Love Again

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I have been meaning to write about this for a while so I apologize for the aged relevancy you are about to experience.

When I was growing up my family ate dinner together around the dinning room table. There was no TV, no radio and only our own participation in the conversation to occupy ourselves with. A lot of you might think that it was a different world that I grew up in but the truth is my parents made few exceptions when it came to eating dinner together without any distractions. But there was one distraction in particular that we seemed to almost always allow for, Chicago Bulls basketball.

I grew up in northern Illinois during the nineties when Jordan and Pippin lead the Bulls to their 6 championships. During the first three championships there were only a handful of games that I did not watch. As I progressed in the high school years my schedule began to fill with sports that I was participating in rather than watching. Still, I would make what time I could to watch the Bulls, maintaining a near perfect viewing record of the playoffs.

Then Jordan retired, a second and final time from the Bulls. In the shadow of that, I began to hold onto a feeling that the era of the league was diminishing for me. The influx of European ball players meant more steps (traveling) and a great proliferation of flopping. What ever happened to players who would rather put the other team on their butts rather than end up on their own? It just wasn’t the same game that I grew up loving to watch and play.

Then there was the silent era. I would watch some basketball, mostly playoffs, but the rules kept changing. The defensive 3 seconds, a couple extra steps for everyone, among other rule changes made me feel like all the stats and games I had watched couldn’t be compared to the new game that was being played. I began to dislike the pro game more and more.

Fast forward to this years first round of the Chicago Bulls against the defending champions. It was like life had been breathed back into my passion for the game. Players challenging each other and every shot seemed to be bigger and more clutch than the last. Finally, basketball that was something like what I had remembered. One team, scrambling to maintain their championship status, was trading blows with a young upstart and neither backed down. The flopping was happening but the refs seemed uninterested. The walking was overshadowed by the blocks. The game flowed like a suspense novel with every twist and turn pulling you to the edge of your seat.

Now, mind you that HD helps a great deal when it comes to making sports must see TV but the drama unfolding on the court was so intense that I found myself unable and unwilling to miss even a minute of it. My only two complaints for the series was the Rondo face slap on Miller which cost the bulls the game and possibly the series and the fact that Glenn Davis is called “Big Baby”. Aside from that the series was what the league needed to get me back.

Everyone wants to talk about the potential of a Lebron/Kobe match up but I don’t see it being nearly as compelling as the first round match up. I will take my Ray Allen 3 pointers and Ben Gordon’s domination, please. While it is nice to remember the memories of watching the games with my family growing up, I am excited to watch basketball with my own kids someday, now that I am watching it again.


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Anyone writing anything about Michael Vick these days a required to start off with something similar to this, so here it goes. I am a dog person. I had a dog all growing up that I still miss some times even today. I don’t condone what he did nor do I condone any dog fighting at all.

Okay now I can get to talking about what I wanted to talk about.

How does the league approach reintroducing Michael Vick?

First off, what exactly did he do? He ran a dog fighting ring which is against the law. There was gambling which is against the law. That is what he was tried and convicted of. He paid the price by doing the time and now there is a real question about what to do with him after being out of the league for a while.

As for the crime, the league needs to understand that this is a cultural issue. To be completely honest, at the time when it all came out I didn’t even realize that dog fighting actually occurred on such a large scale. In part because it is so far from the culture I live in. The league needs to understand that Michael Vick grew up and lived in a cultural setting that permitted and probably encouraged this. Whomever he plays for needs to help Michael Vick better understand every aspect of why this is illegal and also make sure that the culture Michael Vick is in does not allow for or tolerate such actions.

Truth be told, the NFL needs to understand that it has a culture problem. If you take young kids and hand them large sums of easily expendable cash they are going to get themselves into trouble unless they are in a cultural climate that can help them make good and sound decisions. Their high school friends are not likely to help them make great decisions about how to spend a few million dollars.

That is why the NFL needs a big brother program. Retired NFL players who made it through are given a paid position to mentor the younger athletes and help them develop quality decision making skills. The mentorship program can also help the players association deal with a serious question they already face; what to do with retired players?

Another step the NFL should consider looking into is a finance class for the NFL youth, a mandatory class. The finances of the average NFL rookie are not going to be finances that most people have ever tried to balance. They need to understand the issues facing the average NFL player and how decisions they make now can drastically affect their own future once football is over.

Until the NFL faces up to the underlying issues that face a young athlete when getting that first big check and working with them to create an atmosphere conducive to a functioning member of society and up to the standards the Roger Goodell has set forth they can expect many more helicopter shots of players’ houses.

Before I set this topic to the side for a moment I do want to address Michael Vick’s return to the league. Many sports commentators view him as a toxic asset right now and that is their right to do so, but I hope that the fans won’t. His crime was against us as humans, his teammates and the owners of the Falcons, but not against us as fans. He made a mistake in part because of his social setting and completely out of poor judgment. I think it would only serve to extend that poor judgment by not permitting him to use his talents and grow from his mistakes. He is a great player and hopefully he can learn to be a great person, but not if we don’t give him the chance. Lets get a number 7 back on him.

BF Forever?

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What is retirement? An interesting question and probably something that if you asked a wide variety of people what they thought you would get a wide variety of answers. If you asked Barbara Streisand… well, I don’t think she would talk to you. There are also people in the professional world who are forced to retire because the company no longer wants them. Neither Barbera nor those forced to retire have a good view of those experiences or at least I think they wouldn’t.

Brett Favre. There, I said it. The only two word phrase which has become as bad as a four letter word in certain circles. But truthfully I am not sure that he has been treated as we would hope to be treated.

The Green Bay Packers got 16 years of his life and a Super Bowl Championship out of this man. They got one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game and a gunslinger that hated to loose. In a word the Green Bay Packers got a Legend in Brett Favre, someone to tell their children about. Then after sixteen years of blood, sweat and tears the Green Bay Packers no longer wanted him.

Green Bay had a new young quarterback and they thought they would be better off without the man who had given himself to and become the face of the organization. Now you might argue that he retired and he did. But doesn’t he have the right to continue playing? Doesn’t Brett Favre have the right to change his mind? In his last year with Green Bay he led them to the threshold of the Super Bowl again. Well, it appears that for someone of Brett Favre’s status the only person who doesn’t get a say in what he should do is himself. Or at least that is the way that everybody has treated him.

The organization that he had spearheaded for a while pushed him out. What more does one man have to do in order to keep his job? The Packers didn’t want him. The fans that he had thrilled for so long didn’t want to see him run off the field, jumping in the air after a touch down any longer. So he went to the Jets.

Brett Favre left the team he had played for over the past 16 years for a team that had finished 4 and 12 the year before. The team couldn’t run the ball, had poor pass protection and we in dire need of a quarterback to lift them up. The team started off the season 8 and 3 before an arm injury limited Brett’s abilities and the interceptions that had followed the gunslinger’s career returned. You would think that doubling the previous years wins would be a feet that would make the team happy. Instead his teammates who couldn’t win without him blamed him for the 1 and 4 finish. Brett admitted it was his fault. No one mentioned the enormous burden he had to carry throwing 40 times a game for the team.

Again number 4 retired. Not as publicly and without the raw emotion he had exhibited before. Who would want to go back to a team that showed so little appreciation for what he had attributed to the team. He got all the blame for their losses and nothing for their victories after the season. Again he was unwanted.

At least he would still have those die hard Green Bay fans to cheer for him. Or at least you think he would because while he was wearing the Green and Gold they revered him like a saint. But as soon as he stated he still wanted to play after first retiring in 2007 the fans abandoned him like a fire wreathed ship. Instead of chanting the name, calls poured into the Wisconsin talk radio condemning the legend for wanting to still play the game he loved. The talk of giving Rogers his turn and that Brett should just stay retired became the rally cry for the same people who cheered for Brett the season before as he led them deep into the playoffs. What more could one man do to deserve the loyalty of his fans?

Well once again the talk of Brett Favre coming out of retirement had surfaced, this time to play for the Minnesota Vikings; a team with a great running back, a solid defense and good receivers. The Vikings need a quarterback to complete a team that could make another playoff run. They have 2 quarterbacks that have not produced to any level. If Brett Favre decides to play for the Vikings isn’t that his right?

The whole of all the conversations seem to miss one point. Who is looking out for Brett Favre? The Packers weren’t when the kicked him to the curb. The fans aren’t when they are calling for him to remain retired. The Jets weren’t when they leveled all the blame and none of the praise for a turn around season on him. If Brett Favre still wants to play and still can why shouldn’t he? Because the sports world says he shouldn’t? Most of us dream of playing in some professional sport. Brett Favre was and still is good enough too. Should he pursue that until he no longer has that desire?

You may not have to like who he plays for and you won’t like what he can do to apposing teams but we all should revel in a man doing what he needs to do for himself while he still can. I doubt any of us will relate the stories of how we treated him in the past few years to our children. It is time we stopped treating Brett Favre like a problem and started treating number 4 like the legend he is.



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