There aren’t many like it, and this one is mine #Sidgl #Organizer @Sidgl


Last year one of my good friends began making bags. Messenger bags, laptop bags, tango bags. I bought one of his laptop bags in January and have been very pleased with it. It has been everything I would want. Durable, flexible, eye catching. In the spring, in a fit of whimsy, I suggested that he make a dice bag. He took that suggestion to heart. He has been very busy making bags (even missed out on our school reunion because he had to sew.)

He has added organizers to his repertoire. Which looked very cool as well. Then about a month ago he asked for my address. A few days later I received an organizer in the mail. I have been busy figuring out what to put where, and how to best utilize all the spaces. Without further ado, here is my review of this fantastic piece of work.

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First, let’s talk about that eye catching cover. At first glance those rivets seem a little odd. Right up until you actually grab it where the hand is. Then that design makes all the sense in the world. The rivets make the grip very natural and feels very secure. The read hand on the dark canvas cover also just pops from a color perspective. Very attractive. Functional and attractive, just what you would want.

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The size seems a little odd at first. Again, until you actually pick it up and use it. Having done my time with the corporate portfolios of the pre-electronic era this is far more manageable. The zipper is very high quality, I am not even reomotely concerned with it beginning to detach with repeated use. And the handy little tag at the top helps you remember which side is which.

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Just lok at all that stuff! That is a composition notebook. An iPad mini. 3 pens of varying sizes. My reading glasses and headphones. And my essential dice. There is more there in the pockets that you don’t see. And room for even more, if I wanted to carry more pens, or a charging cord or similar stuff there is plenty of room for it all.

And that interior is plush! It just feels really nice. I am not even remotely worried about the screen of my iPad getting scratched or smudged. Again, all of this is in the same eye catching, attractive colors as the outside. The catches on the potckets are real heavy duty and solid, no tacky velcro that willl wear out in a few months. Everything is real solid in there, no concerns about losing stuff or having it get loose and roll around inside the organizer.

At heart I am a minimalist. I like to be as self contained as possible. But I also realize that there are times when I might want more stuff that I can keep in my pockets, especially when I am going to a game. And as a gamer you always need a place for your dice. Thus the idea for a dice bag. Well my friend at Sidgl has taken that idea to the next level. This is a dice bag on steroids! I can’t hardly wait for the chance to game again so I can show it off to my friends and make them drool with envy!

 

A weekend that was worth the wait #Broncos #Kids #DnD


I was excited for this weekend, and it was worth the wait in most cases. We got some stuff done. Many cookies were sold. Jimmy had a great wrestling tournament. My own game went very well. And I was able to enjoy the Broncos game in the peace and quiet of my car. Worth the odd week leading up to it.

Kim and I had a productive morning on Saturday before the wrestling tournament. We put the kids to work getting the house picked up, and reclaiming the main rooms from the chaos of the odd week. And we still managed to get our shopping done like we needed to. The kids were pretty good the entire weekend which was nice.

So a week into the sales and Emily is already half way to her goal! And that is not all just sales by Kim and I at work. A lot of those sales have been done by her, as Kim has gotten her out all over the neighborhood, to the many strip malls in our area. She is doing very well. I am proud of her work on this. But I do have to say that as much as this is a family effort I am personally getting a little tired of the wrangling of cookies. But after this initial surge things should calm down a little.

Jimmy had a very good tournament this weekend. He placed fourth in the bracket. Which may not seem all that great, but he was wrestling some of the top wrestlers in the state. And he held his own. Winning his first two matches by pin. Losing two by points, but not a major. And only getting pinned by the top wrestler in the state in their weight bracket. It has been a lot of hard work to get here, and there is definitely work to do. But he is making great strides.

I had a good time at the Denver game. It was a different dynamic without Jimmy there. But it was still good. And it was a truly epic battle, which lasted much alter than we normally play. Which meant that when I was done I just made a brief stop to drop off some cookies at my brothers, but did not stay to watch the game. Electing to get back on the road.

And the game. I am happy with my decision to not stay home and watch it live on TV. From everything I read, and what I did listen to on the radio, which was part of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter, it was a tense game that would have been very stressful to watch. And with a large group of family at our house to watch it I would have been even more stressed. So skipping the first half in order to have fun playing a game, and then just listening to the rest on the radio, was definitely the best way for me to experience it.

Any discussion of the game cannot go by without a mention of the socks, just because it is fun. In August we had a family tie dyeing day. And one of the things I did was a pair of Broncos socks, orange and blue. I then proceeded to make a point to where the socks on almost every Sunday of the season, even if I wasn’t watching the game. By the end of the season they were pretty beat up. And the colors were awfully faded. But I wore them one last time, and when I went to bed I could take them off and throw them away as the season was over. And I can look forward to making another pair next summer.

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A stress free game. Another fun game. And some other good family events and quiet evenings all added up to a good weekend. And now that the weather is partially back to normal and we have a full week, life can hopefully calm down a little.

 

The beauty of it is I can’t lose #Weekend #Football #DnD


This weekend is the Broncos AFC Conference Championship game. And I cannot lose, so no pressure on me. We have Jimmy’s Saturday wrestling tournament. And I am running the boys game on Sunday. Basically a pretty average weekend.

Yeah it is the Conference Championship game, winner goes to the Super Bowl. And I like one team, and dislike the other team. Which means that, according to my logic, this is a game I could watch and care about the outcome. But there is a hidden factor in here. Which will allow me to comfortably ignore the game to some extent, and be happy with either outcome. The thing is that our Denver game is set for February 7. That is the same date as the Super Bowl. While almost everyone in the Denver game does not care about football I still enjoy it. So the group would prefer not to reschedule the game.

Initially I worried about this. Because if the Broncos win this week they will be playing in the Super Bowl. And I imagine that Kim would like to have people over for the game, which means that I would be obligated to stay home and not go to Denver. Because it wouldn’t be right to have her host a Super Bowl party without me there.

Here is where the cool part about this weekend comes in. There are two outcomes. First, the Broncos win and they go to the Super Bowl. I would be happy about that because, you know Broncos win! And that would be cool. Second, Broncos lose which means no Super Bowl and no guilt for going to Denver.

But, I have done some thinking, and the reality is that even if the Broncos do go to the Super Bowl I will probably still go to Denver. Because that game is more important to me, and definitely more so for Jimmy, than watching the Super Bowl. And I am not certain that Kim would really go out of her way to host a party any way. But that is a bridge to be crossed Sunday evening.

So I am so completely at peace with the possible outcomes of Sunday’s game that I will miss at minimum probably the first half. Because I was looking at the calendar, and realized that next weekend would be problematic to run the boys game for me. Because Saturday is super busy, including a late night, so I will be wiped out on that Sunday the 30th. So I decided to run the boys game this weekend. And set it up before realizing that the game is early. But again, no real problem, I might miss the first half. And then if the game is out of control at that point I can just ignore it entirely.

Bottom line, I cannot lose this weekend and I am very happy with that!

In other news Jimmy has his normal tournament on Saturday. He had not yet put on enough weight to move up a weight bracket before this one. But he is at the top, and with at least better nutrition in him maybe he will have better energy this week.

It is nice to have a regular weekend. Next weekend will be extra busy. And the following weekend has the potential to be crazy. But after that life should really begin to settle down. Looking forward to it.

It really is just about joy #Mentalhealth


I wrote a post last night, mainly focused on Star Wars. But I want to dig a little deeper into the key point I made. That is that we need to find things that we enjoy in this life, and celebrate them. And not spend useless time criticizing those things that give people joy.

(Now of course I am not referring to those individuals who find joy in hurting others. Or those who are only able to find joy in things that are physically harmful to themselves. I am not condoning or recommending those actions.) 

People ask me what FreeRangeGeek means. And my simple answer is that I have a lot of things that I geek out on, and there is a wide variety of those things, not just zeroed in on one area. And I recommend that approach to life. But if you focus on just one thing that gives you joy and geek out on it that is okay too.

I geek out on sports, mainly american football and basketball. I am not as focused on those as I once was. But as I sit here at my desk I see multiple objects celebrating sports teams that I follow and cheer for. And while I do not watch as much as I once did, I still make it a point every day to read up on the news in the sports world. I find those things interesting, and watching a good game or watching my team win, gives me joy. Are there elements of sports that are negative, that subtract from that joy? Yes, but I choose not to focus on them. I am aware of them, and that is one of the reasons my focus on sports has lessened over the years. But I do not think less of a person who loves sports and makes following a team or teams a big part of their lives (unless you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan ūüėČ .)

I geek out on my games, role playing games and table top games. Lately that focus has been on role playing games. But that doesn’t mean I think less of the other games. It just means that my attention is currently held by the RPG’s. And I currently wave this geek flag high, I no longer try to hide this part of my life, I tell people that I am going to play D&D, and I arrange my schedule around those games.

I geek out on my TV shows and movies. I talked about Star Wars yesterday, but that same feeling can be turned to my comic book hero movies and TV shows. From the gritty violence of Daredevil to the over the top camp of the Marvel Avenger movies. I love them all. And I make it a point to watch them and enjoy them. And I love that Kim and the kids have begun to share this love with me. We now all look forward to the next Marvel movie, make sure we do not miss our shows.  Are TV and movies on some level passive entertainment? Sure, but it is still entertainment. And more importantly it is fun to talk over it all and understand how all these things interconnect.

I geek out on books, mostly fantasy, some sci fi, and the occasional non-fiction. I am looking at replacing my iPad, and one of the biggest factors is how good do books look. If you catch me at lunch on a work day I am most likely reading. I got the bug at an early stage, from two parents who loved to read, and it has never gone away. One of my most prized possessions is my library card.

And I geek out on music. I love my music. My eclectic musical collection that I have amassed over the years. I am not the type who has to have a high end music device. I just want to be able to listen to something. I probably have music playing in the background for at least a third of my day every day.

That is a very general list of what I love and geek out on. There are other things I love: being a parent (most of the time), eating, hiking (or at least getting out and enjoying nature.) And one of the things that turned me around from where I was a few years ago was turning my focus from the things I could not control and thought I should like to those things I did enjoy and love.

Most importantly, I care less about what other people geek out on than before. If your thing is sports, that’s cool. If your thing is church, then that’s cool too. If your thing is helping others, then by all means do it. So long as what you love to do does not harm you or others than do it. And don’t listen to those who criticize what you do. Oh, there is one other thing I don’t accept, spending your time criticizing those things that people enjoy. I don’t want to listen to someone sit and complain or criticize. I want to sit and listen to someone speak passionately about something they honestly enjoy. That is what being a freerangegeek is to me: passionately enjoying something (or many things) and be willing to share it, and do not criticize others passions.

The fun weekend was… fun #Kids #Life #Mentalhealth


For a full weekend that ended up being one day longer than planned that sure was fun. There were family fun moments. There were proud moments. There was some pure entertainment. And there was even some fun productivity. Yep pretty much fun for me.

Friday night turned into a family movie night. And for a wonder all of the family actually sat still and watched a movie together. It wasn’t the best movie, but it was fun for the whole family, which is what we can hope for. I got off work early to see the doctor about my toe, which resulted in a cortisone shot. And then I felt kind of under the weather the rest of the day. Which was a harbinger of things to come, as every kid in the family was sick by Monday, which is why I ended up staying home on Monday. The main thing though is we all had fun watching the movie together.

Saturday was Jimmy’s wrestling tournament. This was the school district classic, the last tournament of his middle school career as far as school organized wrestling. In addition two of his buddies, boys that are in the D&D game, and who I have watched grow up, were also in the tournament. And there were also a number of other kids that he has wrestled with in his club, so we knew a lot of the wrestlers. So, while Jimmy and his buddies were wrestling for his school, I did as much cheering just for the geographically close kids (Westside!)

Jimmy ended up placing third in his weight bracket. Winning 2 matches and losing one. I was proud of his victories, but it was the loss that made me most proud (and angry.) The thing is, it was clear to us in the stands that the opposing wrestler was hurt. And James told us after the fact that the other kids was in tears, and was apparently suffering from a headache, and very likely a concussion. I was angry to hear that because he should not have even been wrestling in that condition (even if he did beat Jimmy.) But I was very proud to hear Jimmy tell me that he did take it easy, not fighting as hard as he could, because he knows what it is like to suffer from a concussion. Would I have been proud for Jimmy to wrestle for first in his class? Sure, but I am prouder that he showed the class and sportsmanship to avoid hurting a kid just to win.

The day of wrestling was a long one overall. A good 9 hours in the gymnasium, dealing with and talking with other people, and the little ones when boredom kicked in. So I was pretty exhausted when we got home. But I did the right thing, found a movie to relax to. Made sure the kids got to bed. And did not try to do anything else. Even conceding the point and just going to bed and reading when I reached the point of no return.

Sunday was a fun day. Jimmy and I had a good talk on the way to Denver. Worked out some rules for his grades and his ability to go to Denver, and wrestle in Club tournaments. And while we didn’t do a lot during the session it was still fun. And a welcome get away for me. And I didn’t have the expected problems getting home despite the Broncos game.

Monday I woke up with a plan to come in to work, get my computer and go back and work from home while Emily lay around sick. Then it became clear that Danny was sick as well. At which point I just called in. But I didn’t just hang out. I got some stuff done around the house. Even took a walk to test the effectiveness of the cortisone shot (still not 100% but definitely better.) ¬†And played around with some game stuff. Basically I found a way to enjoy being productive while the kids did their thing.

Like I said, what turned out to be a 3 day weekend was fun. Enjoying a number of different things. Family movie fun as a group. Watching kids wrestle was diverting. Taking some time for myself was fun. And the fun of a role playing game. I found the fun in a variety of activities, and did not have any real problems. As in all things, the amount of fun was relative, but what was important to me is I had fun.

A Happy Convergence of Positive Events


Yesterday was a happy convergence of events for my interests and hobbies. I have a very busy weekend on tap, multiple family events. But I am ready for it all and have some good stuff happening to soften the blow as it were.

I had planned on picking up the new Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook on my birthday. But my local game store was out of stock, apparently there was a wist for a second print run. Yes I could have purchased it online, but this is one of the few places where my allegiance to local business and friends takes precedence. After a week or so delay I decided to see if I could at least get a copy from the library, just to read through, before getting a personal copy for the family. Well yesterday the library copy became available on hold for me so I went and picked it up. Of course last night I got a call from the store that my copy is in, so I will go and get that on my lunch. I will keep the library copy for a couple of weeks for myself and let James spend some time with the family copy.

Just in the afternoon and evening of reading through the book I am really impressed and excited. Honestly it wasn’t that long ago that I had pretty much given up on Dungeons & Dragons, figured I would just use GURPS or Savage Worlds for the introduction of Jimmy and kids to gaming. But when I read so many positive things about the Starter set for 5th Edition I figured I would give it a shot. I have been very impressed with the game play so far with the boys. Then getting my hands on the book I am very impressed. It is a very well thought out, well organized and written book. Here are some of the short thoughts in bullet point:

  • The first thing that has struck me is the versatility of the system now. Gone are the old class and race restrictions. If you want to be a Halfling Paladin, or a Dwarven Sorcerer it is now possible. And if you want to be a sword wielding wizard a la Gandalf you can. Just about any fantasy option is now out there.
  • I really like the thinking on the spell lists, gone are the old class spells. Sure there are some spells that only certain classes can get, and every casting class has it’s own list. But you don’t have the old redundancy, trying to come up with a Cleric version of the Light spell, or a Wizard version of Speak to Animals.
  • While I am still figuring out game play (and still keeping to the KISS principle with the boys) it really is a good game flow. And almost elegant flow to everything.

So I am very excited about the book and the game. And I am looking forward to really getting a regular game going with the boys. It is funny, I had also pretty much given up on running games after my last few bad experiences. But running Dungeons & Dragons with the boys has been great so far. And a comment an old friend made on FB last week, about how I was his original DM 35 years ago had me thinking that it was okay to run the game. Sure I wouldn’t mind being in a game as well, but for now this is enough of a fix for me.

Of course I am also on a little bit of a high point after watching the Broncos win another Prime Time game. I was mildly confident going into the game that they should win. But they handled that game very well. And the way that they won, with a strong defense, and hard nosed running game, really impressed me. While last year was fun, it feels better to just handle very game, rather than having to resort to shootout wins every week. And it was fun to sit and read the new book during commercials for a change. A nice convergence of good events.

We have a full weekend planned. Tonight is the Fall Carnival for the kids at school, followed by a short visit with my little brother. Then tomorrow morning I go to Denver to lay my friend to rest. And then home to host a birthday sleepover for Emily, followed by a Sunday party for her, with a bunch of little girls and kids. Then we get to relax a little. So I get some time away from family while driving up to Denver and back (plus the drive time is alone time for me.) It will all be a little crazy but I am ready for it.

Success, fun and an interesting change


I would pronounce this weekend a success. I was fighting the worst part of a cold (those days with the sore throat, tired etc.) but got the rest I needed. The D & D game went very well. And while I did watch some football it clearly doesn’t have the same appeal. And for the most part my plans all worked out.

Today I am mostly symptom free, but not happy about skipping 2 running days. But like I told someone else, you have to think long term with this stuff, losing 2 days of running to fight off an illness that could have ended up lingering and costing me more time and misery was worth the down time from running.

The D & D game was fun and went very well. The boys had a good time, and kept asking me to keep playing or start back up the next day. It might have lasted a little longer had I been healthier. And I did make a tactical error in providing a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew to kids who don’t normally drink much soda (their normally short attention span got much shorter.) It went so well that I have already extended the invite to the next session and follow up adventure in 3 weeks.¬†

And while it wasn’t a great test I can safely say that I was happy with how 5th Edition flowed. It is much better now, everything is modernized and pretty much matches most other games. The concept of just having pretty much be about simple target numbers is so much easier to handle versus the old Thac0 days in many¬†respects. Much easier to explain the basics to new gamers now than it used to be.

Saturday especially I had the opportunity to just soak in nothing but football. The kids were all playing peacefully, Kim was gone. But the thrill of just watching is gone for the most part this year. The average game is just so slow and boring now. And the endless commercials! I guess I was spoiled by the World Cup to some extent, where the games were shorter, not constantly interrupted, and you have to pay attention because something could happen at any time (as opposed to watching a guy run smack into a group of tacklers for a couple of yards over and over again.) So with the exception of the Broncos game I found myself either getting up and doing other stuff (cleaning,  etc.) or just flipping over to another show.  And even with the Broncos game I was losing patience towards the end, just wishing the game would end. I guess losing that OCD level obsession with the game helps.

THe final tally for the weekend: Fun playing games, watching other shows. Success in making sure Kim returned to a mostly clean house while the kids did their part. And success in fending off the worst parts of the cold.