November Writing Challenge Day 30: Challenge Completed

I’m blogging every day this month. Some will be game-related, but this challenge is different than my most recent play-a-game-and-blog-about-it challenge. I’m writing a single post every day: no topic guidelines, with some posts being a collection of random thoughts. Click here to read yesterday’s post.

This is my 30th post of the month and my challenge is completed! Thanks for joining me for all or part of my blog-every-day-in-November challenge. I appreciate all of you that shared your feedback via Twitter. For me, this is what the challenge was all about: starting conversations with friends, both new and old.

While I don’t have any pearls of wisdom gained from all of these posts and there’s no Book of Secrets that I gained access to after completing the challenge, there is something to be said for setting a goal and reaching it.

It feels good.

I said I was going to do something and I did it. Following through is always a good thing.

Now I’m asking you to challenge yourself this month. Whether it’s writing a blog post every day or going to the gym every day or just being nicer to others or anything else you’d like to achieve, do it.

Don’t worry if you miss a day or two or more of your challenge. I’ve always looked at my challenges like this: even if I didn’t write a blog every day, I still wrote more than if I wouldn’t have challenged myself.

And, yes, it is all about the journey. Enjoy the ride and then look back and see what kind of progress you’ve made. No matter what the challenge is, celebrate your accomplishments, both big and small. Then challenge yourself again.

Thanks again for reading.

November Writing Challenge Day 28: Thankful

I’m blogging every day this month. Some will be game-related, but this challenge is different than my most recent play-a-game-and-blog-about-it challenge. I’m writing a single post every day: no topic guidelines, with some posts being a collection of random thoughts. Click here to read yesterday’s post.

Today I’m thankful for my family: my wife, my stepdaughter, my parents, my brothers, their wives, and their children.

I’m thankful for the meals I share with my wife. Whether it’s cooked at home or eaten at a local restaurant, I treasure this time. We eat, we talk, we laugh, and we re-connect every time we’re at the table together.

I’m thankful for conversations with my stepdaughter. I always look forward to talking to her when she’s home from school. It never ceases to amaze me how much she’s changed over the years.

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made while playing board games. You never know who you’re going to meet at the tabletop. I’m fortunate to have gotten to know such fantastic people.

I’m thankful for the way the hobby has changed my life. This was one of the first Tabletop videos I watched years ago … and this was the latest episode of Game the Game that I was on. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if you would’ve told me five years ago that I’d be on a YouTube show playing a board game I would’ve thought you were crazy.

And for those who take the time to read my words here and elsewhere on the Internet:

Thank you.

November Writing Challenge Day 24: It’s Bruno!

I’m blogging every day this month. Some will be game-related, but this challenge is different than my most recent play-a-game-and-blog-about-it challenge. I’m writing a single post every day: no topic guidelines, with some posts being a collection of random thoughts. Click here to read yesterday’s post.

I stumbled upon a random Netflix series called It’s Bruno! last night. I’d never heard of it, but after reading the description I was excited to share my discovery with my wife.

Set in Brooklyn, New York, It’s Bruno! is about a guy named Malcolm and his puggle (pug-beagle mix), Bruno. We have a pug named Bruno and couldn’t believe what we found on Netflix!

Of course, the Netflix Bruno’s life is nothing like our Bruno’s life, but it’s a quirky and offbeat comedy. Each episode is about 15 minutes long, with plenty of cute doggos, and features some sort of confrontation with residents of Malcolm’s neighborhood. There’s Harvey and his dog Angie, who serves as Malcolm and Bruno’s nemesis. There’s Crackhead Carl with his shopping cart full of stolen goods on sale for five dollars each, Malcolm’s stoner buddies, the local pet store employees, and a whole assortment of interesting people.

Halfway through the series I started googling the show’s creator and star, Solvan Naim, a young, talented 22-year-old rapper, writer, actor, and director. There’s a quote in a Variety interview that reminded me of our Bruno: “He’s just a loving dog and he always wants to show you attention. He’s never angry or mad. We can all learn a little something from him.”

Pictured above is our Bruno. He may not have his own Netflix series, but if you ever meet him, you’ll see that he has the same loving personality of the more famous Bruno.

November Writing Challenge Day 17: Highlights of the Week

I’m blogging every day this month. Some will be game-related, but this challenge is different than my most recent play-a-game-and-blog-about-it challenge. I’m writing a single post every day: no topic guidelines, with some posts being a collection of random thoughts. Click here to read yesterday’s post.

Three highlights from my last week:

  1. Got to hang out with Meeple Lady and Chris at a local game night. They were traveling back home and I was thrilled that they stopped by for dinner and a coupla games. We played Q.E., which has been a big hit with all of my friends. Check out my Instagram post for more info on Q.E., which is one of my favorite games of 2019.
  2. Continued my Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated campaign. We’re halfway through and it’s been a blast. Read my spoiler-free thoughts here.
  3. Had a wonderful brunch with my family today. We don’t get together as often as I’d like to, but when we do it’s always a good meal highlighted by lots of laughter. I shared some old photos of me and my brothers that I’d scanned recently and everyone was cracking up over them. My stepdaughter, nephew, and nieces laughed at our clothes and haircuts while the rest of us marveled at how much my niece and nephew looked like my brothers. My parents love spending time with their grandchildren and it brings them great joy to see them growing into such good young people.

November Writing Challenge Day 1: Coloring and Better Call Saul

I love how November has become the month for challenges, from growing a mustache to writing a novel. I’ve done monthly challenges before, like when I play a game every day and write about it.

For this month I’m doing two different challenges. First, my wife and I are coloring for at least 10 minutes every day. I don’t remember the last time I colored, but tonight’s session was great. It took me about 15 minutes to color the flower above and I hope to complete the entire oversized page this month. Yes, I’m a slow colorist, but for me it’s all about the relaxation. And it certainly was relaxing.

My second challenge will be posting here every day this month. It won’t be about games necessarily, but just about life in general and other thoughts. Of course, I’m sure gaming will be a big part of what I write about, but I wanted to expand what I write about here.

Photo Credit:

So for this first day of posting, let’s talk Better Call Saul. I’m a huge Breaking Bad fan, but until the other day I’d managed to watch only a few episodes of its prequel. I just couldn’t get into it.

That changed this week, thanks to a day spent in bed due to sickness. As I get older I realize that it takes me much longer to recover from anything, whether it’s a late night out or an illness of any sort. The ol’ bones need their rest.

Funny thing, too, I knew I was due to get sick because I’d been pushing myself recently and not eating regularly. Skipping meals is never a good thing and being laid up for a day (ok, actually two) was my body’s way of slowing me down.

Still, at least I got to dive into Better Call Saul. I watched the first two seasons and enjoyed them. The show certainly has that Breaking Bad feel, thanks to creator Vince Gilligan. Bob Odenkirk is excellent as Jimmy McGill, the man who would become Saul Goodman, the shady lawyer for Walter White. While Saul was a scene-stealer in Breaking Bad, it’s Saul’s right-hand man Mike Ehrmantraut (played by Jonathan Banks) who steals scenes in Better Call Saul.

In fact, I like the story of Ehrmantraut better than Goodman so far. Without giving away too much, the mysterious Mike of Breaking Bad is more fully developed here, along with Goodman and a few other new characters. There are a few surprises, of course, but just like Breaking Bad it’s all about watching these characters develop. Of course, the difference here is that we know what they become in Breaking Bad, but that works in its favor. It’s like working a puzzle backwards, slowly pulling pieces away to see how it all began.

Inside Vs Outside Voice


My wife and I went to the Eat Play Move event in Los Angeles yesterday. It’s the second time they’ve held it and, frankly, we weren’t fans of last year’s event. Not only was it crowded, but the poorly organized entry point at the Eagle Rock Plaza and the nightmare parking exit made for a less-than-stellar first impression.

We loved the idea behind the event, since it celebrates the Filipino and Filipino-American culture, through food (our favorite, of course), play, and exercise, all wrapped up in the L.A. vibe. Although we were worried about another unorganized mess, we wanted to support Eat Play Move because we believe in its mission.

This year, they changed locations and took over a few streets near Boomtown Brewery in the Arts District. We paid $10 for early entry, which was a godsend since the early start allowed us to enjoy ourselves without having to wait hours in line for food.

We also avoided the afternoon heat, getting up early after a late night watching the Dodgers beat the Red Sox in the longest World Series game ever (18 innings).

As we munched on some terrific oysters and mussels, a local news program came up to me to chat.

Interviewer: “Tell us about Eat Play Move.”

Me (inside voice): “With our current political climate, it’s important to have events like these that celebrate the diversity of our communities. Look around you; there are people from all walks of life enjoying Filipino and Filipino-inspired food, music, and culture. There are no walls separating us here. It’s all about love and community and fellowship. We’re not worried about the divisiveness of our current administration. Here, we share food and stories with our neighbors as well as strangers.”

Me (outside voice): “GO DODGERS!!!”

Note to self: Work on ad-libbing skills.

Epilogue: The Dodgers lost a second straight World Series at home. My time on camera is not gonna age well.

Isla Vista

The photo above is the Pacific Ocean as seen from Isla Vista, the tiny beach town that’s synonymous with my alma mater, UC Santa Barbara.

On May 23, 2014, my stepdaughter was a student at UCSB when six of our fellow Gauchos were murdered in Isla Vista.

My wife and I were horrified by the news. Thankfully, our daughter had come home early for the weekend. She and her friends still on campus were safe, but my heart ached for the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We knew it could’ve been us that got the phone call no parent ever wants to receive.

A day after the shootings I pinned the photo to my Twitter profile. It was my way of remembering the Isla Vista of my undergraduate days. It meant my stepdaughter was safe.

It became a silly superstition for me: I wouldn’t unpin the photo until she’d graduated.

Tonight I talked to my stepdaughter about what happened on that day. We’ve talked about it in the past and I know we’ll talk about it in the future.

I remember being proud of how the student and Santa Barbara communities rallied around the university. I remember the chants of “Not one more.” I remember thinking about how we honor the memories of the deceased not by reliving the past, but learning from it in order to make a better present and future.

I unpinned the photo today.

As I see my stepdaughter make her way in the world — having graduated, having worked an internship in the Philippines, and having gotten into graduate school — I remember the students whose lives were cut short, whose dreams were extinguished before they could be realized, and whose family and friends must carry the memories of their unrealized potential.

I remember that as terrible as that day was, there were — and are — plenty of awe-inspiring days, too.

I remember that the evil in this world will always be eclipsed by the good.

I remember:

Weihan Wang
Cheng Yuan Hong
George Chen
Katherine Cooper
Veronika Weiss
Christopher Michaels-Martinez

Most importantly, I remember.

Update 6-4-18: You can listen to me read this post on YouTube.

My Friend Ryan


It’s been a month since my friend Ryan passed away. I’ve thought about him every day since then, shared memories with a few of our friends, and reflected on what he meant — and still means — to me.

Big Ryan was one of the most well-educated and articulate people I’ve ever known, but he wasn’t one of those ivory tower types. He could have serious discussions about race, class, privilege, and more then in the next minute quote passages from Tommy Boy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and The Karate Kid, talk trash about how his beloved Yankees had won an MLB record 27 World Series championships, or let out an infamous Ric Flair “Woooooo!”

He was an absolute blast to be around and I’m grateful to have so many fond memories of him. From Santa Barbara to San Diego, New York to Las Vegas, wherever we were, we had the best time. You couldn’t hang out with him and NOT have fun. He’d talk to anyone at any time and it’s a testament to what kind of man he was when you see that his friends and loved ones came from all walks of life.

Below is a short video of him discussing his experiences abroad. This was years ago when he was the Director of Multicultural and International Student Programs at Hofstra University, before he went to Seattle University, where he was the Director of the International Student Center. I always admired his commitment to social justice and respected the work he did in higher education.

Thinking of my friend on what would’ve been his birthday. I miss and love you, brother. Hoisting a pint of Guinness for you later tonight.