Dominion redux

The Dominion Gang continues to grow. This morning I connected with Dirk, Derek, and Morgan for a few online games of Dominion. We all jumped on Hangouts and had a great time playing, and of course heckling each other.

With Hangouts, I was able to see Derek laughing diabolically…

Morgan enjoying himself as he took the lead…

And Dirk standing up to show off his dance skills by “flossing”…

All in all, it was a fun morning with old friends.


Well, it’s official: the roofing truck stopped by today and stacked a bunch of shingles on the top of our house.

Now we look like all the other houses in the neighborhood, ready to have a new roof installed. After the Great Hailstorm of mid-September, pretty much everyone is having their houses upgraded. Of course, our roof is 16 years old and was doubtless getting pretty worn anyway, so the hailstorm was a convenient way to get the insurance company to cover the bulk of the replacement. They even included allowances to repaint part of the house and fence due to hail damage, so by next spring everything will be all fresh. Thanks, hail!

A mystery

Last night I came home from work around 6:00, picked up the mail from the mailbox, and went up to the front porch. Imagine my surprise when I saw my Amazon package:

I’d purchased a pair of Levi’s, which you can see covered in snow on the lower step. The box is torn open.

My first thought was “Gee, thanks Mr. Mail Delivery Person!” I suspected the mail carrier had just thrown the box at the front porch, and upon impact it had burst open and flung the jeans out. But that doesn’t really make sense with the positions of both. (Physics!)

The mystery deepened when I brought it inside and noticed there was blood dripped all over it. It’s not clear in the photo, but the box had a bunch of blood on the open side, and there was more blood on the plastic bag encasing the jeans. You might say, “Come on, Jeff, it was probably just… raspberry jam or something”. But Laralee dripped some hydrogen peroxide on it, and it fizzed and bubbled… just like blood would do. (As a test, we put some H2O2 on jam, ketchup, etc. and none of them reacted in the same way. So we’re pretty sure it was blood.)

Then I checked the USPS web site and discovered (according to the tracking number) that the package had been delivered the night before. It was sitting on our front porch for around 24 hours before I found it. If the blood had been on the box when the mail carrier left it, surely it would’ve been dried and black. But no, it was definitely fresh, wet, red blood. Maybe an animal? We have a lot of rabbits and squirrels around the neighborhood. But there weren’t any animal tracks in the surrounding snow.

I find the whole thing completely mysterious. Laralee says she was “pretty freaked out” by the whole thing, and intends to call the Postal Service to get to the bottom of it. But honestly, I can’t think of what they might possibly tell her that would explain all this. In fact, I can’t even come up with a plausible story. (For example, a squirrel was digging at the box for some reason, then a hawk swooped down and grabbed him, spraying blood? Because yeah, that’s realistic.)

La says we should get one of those porch cameras. Normally I’d shrug that off, but heck, in this case I’m definitely interested to see what happened.

By Jove!

NASA’s Juno spacecraft continues to whirl around Jupiter, snapping photos that are absolutely amazing. Here’s the latest they published:

Juno was orbiting around 7,000km above the clouds when it took this particular photo. You can even see some detail in the clouds. The large white oval in the top left corner is an enormous cyclone.

Here’s one from May, showing more of the beautiful clouds on the giant planet.

Although we can’t see anything below the clouds (which are likely hundreds or thousands of kilometers deep), they’re fascinating and mysterious. Another reason to love science.

Fire in the hole

For lunch today, I reheated a piece of homemade pizza from last night. Of course I used the toaster oven, since the microwave leaves it soggy.

Imagine my surprise when the smoke alarm went off, and I looked into the toaster oven to see flames!

This photo doesn’t really do it justice– most of the oven was on fire, and only when I got most of it out did I snap a photo with my phone.

The result: wood-fired pizza! Not the plan, but hey.

Yeah, we needed this

Yesterday I saw a little rubber brush sitting on the kitchen countertop:

It’s about 1×2″. I asked Laralee what the heck it was. It’s a mushroom brush. Yeah, really. When we make pizza on the weekends, she likes mushrooms on hers, so she slices whole mushrooms and apparently felt like she was missing a way to lightly remove some of the dust from them before slicing. Enter the mushroom brush.

Who knew there was such a thing? And isn’t it marvelous that we live in a world where such things exist to bring joy to my wife?

(My follow-up question to her was whether we’re going to pack that away when we shut down the house and move next year…)


You sell one kidney and you’re a hero.

You sell three kidneys and you’re put on a watch list.

Dominion Online

Dominion is my favorite board game (well, card game), and with Kyra off on a mission, I don’t have a worthy opponent to play against. Luckily at Gen Con, Dirk caught the bug and decided he loves Dominion as much as I do. Unfortunately we live 800 miles apart, so we can’t get together often.

Enter Dominion Online, which is a web-based version of Dominion that does a great job with the game mechanics. Of course it’s not quite like playing face-to-face over a table, but it’s about as close as you can get. So Dirk and I have been spending a few Saturday mornings here and there playing against one another.

Today we connected via Google Hangouts (after trying Discord, which had horrible echo problems), so I was able to see his thoughtful expression as he considered what to play.

(He admits his webcam is terrible, which is why he looks all blurry.) It’s fun to taunt one another during the games, or scream occasionally at a really good– or really bad– turn. Both of us have sons who spend time in video game chats where they do exactly that.

Unfortunately I can no longer crush Dirk in every game. The padawan has learned much from the master, and now we’re more evenly matched. That’s more fun anyway. I should point out, however, that in the worldwide Dominion rankings, I’m in 6,364th (level 43 player, whatever that means) place while Dirk languishes back in 13,170th place and level 39…


This year for Halloween, I was stumped. I couldn’t think of a great costume, and since I love dressing up, it was kind of unnerving. I toyed with the idea of being Han Solo, but I’m blond. I thought about being Death, but don’t have a scythe (and they don’t sell them on Amazon). And I re-considered being Kevin Flynn of Tron fame, but the costume simply becomes too expensive when you put together all the glowing LED strips.

In the end, I decided to do a reprise of the Dread Pirate Roberts costume from four years ago. I still have all the goods, so it was easy to bring it together.

In a stunning coincidence, one of the teenagers in seminary also dressed up as the Dread Pirate!

I say “stunning” because I’ve found that most teens not only don’t recognize my costume (which I think is a pretty good likeness), but don’t even know who the character is. They’ve never seen The Princess Bride, or they’ve forgotten it. Even adults tend to mistake me for Zorro, which is inexcusable since Zorro always wears a hat.

Zaque grabbed a bedsheet and a couple of pillowcases, and masqueraded as a disciple. Here he is with Jesus:

Continuing tradition, my fellow seminary teachers and I all came to class in costume. Lyle was a pioneer farmer, and Jodi was an identity thief (get it? she’s clever with those puns).