Moving about the Gameboard – Charlotte, NC?

Charlotte, NC

Well, Hello Charlotte

Recently, I was traveling back from visiting my family on the East Coast. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, to be exact. That’s where I was born and I grew up not far away in New Jersey. I was on my way back to Portland, Oregon, my home for the past 20 years (7 years in Seattle before that). I love it in Portland and hardly ever think of leaving, but of course, traveling by air puts strange thoughts in one’s mind. On my trip back to Portland, I had a short layover in Charlotte, North Carolina and it kind of moved me.

The flight into Charlotte took us over some very flat terrain and I could see the city clearly from above. It looks like a much smaller place than Portland, Oregon – at least from the air. It turns out that Charlotte and the metropolitan area are maybe even bigger than Portland, Oregon. It looked warm and green and full of lots of suburbias. Kind of like the part of New Jersey that I grew up in – Lawrence, New Jersey. 

The airport was also nice. I ended up sitting down at a restaurant and having a meal. Whereas everyone on the plane and in the airport was wearing masks because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, in the restaurant you were allowed to remove your mask which was a relief and a great break up to the day.

When I think about leaving Portland, I often start with what I love about this place. I was just thinking yesterday about Depave which is an organization that helps people organize work parties where we rent a dumpster and pull up all the asphalt and it’s hauled away. I’ve been doing this type of thing even before I moved to Portland. In Seattle, we rented a large truck to do this, but the dumpster route is much preferred. When I rented a truck – we ended up driving to the transfer station – something that’s fun once, but not something you really want to repeat! I’ll never forget how sore I was pushing the asphalt off the truck and into the pit of the transfer station! 

Anyway, does Charlotte, NC have a Depave group? Do they have a Friends of Trees which works to plant trees in the area? I wonder how I’d do moving to a completely new town.  Whether I still have the energy to start new efforts from scratch or whether I’d just settle in and ignore all that needs to be done. These are big questions that I pose to myself as I consider ever leaving Portland, Oregon.

The big reason I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the first place was for better weather. I grew up in New Jersey which had real winters. Snowy. Cold. After living in Germany from 1991-1994 I realized that I really was through with Winter. That’s why Seattle came next. And I’ve never thought seriously about relocated back to the Northeast even though winters there are becoming warmer due to climate change. Charlotte, North Carolina does look like it’s got a little bit of a humid, tropical feel.  I guess my next step will be to gather with my cousins, brother and sister there one of these days and spend a weekend seeing what it’s really like. If you have any thoughts about Charlotte, NC, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or, where are you eyeing as the next place to live if you are considering relocating?

Thanks for your thoughts. 

Albert 

PS – that’s me at Breitenbush this summer for the summer solstice gathering 2021

Albert at Breitenbush Summer Solstice 2021

Solitaire

More Games

Every once in a while it’s time to play a game of solitaire. I watched my Dad play online solitaire and hearts as a way to pass the time and maybe take his brain off of focusing on programming problems. Or, maybe playing these games helped him with the programming problems. I never asked him.

Solitaire

This version of Solitaire is from https://www.solitaire.org/ which also has other games some of which I’ll talk about below. The game is what you’d expect – though you should know that to refresh the cards at the top right – you have to click on that space even though it’s not obvious that one would do that. But after 20 years of testing software, it only took me a second to figure that out. He says, patting self on back. Also, the sounds are a little cheesy – but you can turn them off if you want.

Also interesting is the history of solitaire which I did not know:

The History Of Solitaire

Solitaire emerged in the 1700s in northern Europe. 

In Germany, Sweden, France and Russia there were references in literature to a game called “Patience”, the earliest recorded name for Solitaire. Although English, the word “patience” is of French origin and indicates that the game required a patient temperament in order to play it well. 

By the mid-19th century, Solitaire was popular in French high society, whilst in England, Prince Albert was known to be an enthusiast. The game didn’t make its way across the Atlantic to the USA until 1870 where it became known as Solitaire. 

Solitaire grew in popularity amongst card players of all walks of life but was given an immense boost following the advent of desktop computers. Microsoft Windows, a leading operating system, included a free version of Solitaire in 1990. 

Many work hours were lost to this challenging game. Office workers the world overplayed the game, no doubt switching surreptitiously between active windows to hide their game playing from supervisors! (ed: oh yeah, I remember doing this!)

Fun fact. As the cards are laid out, you may notice a similarity to the way Fortune Tellers layout their Tarot cards, revealing hidden secrets with each turn. An early version of the Tarot emerged in Italy in 1425. Solitaire was most likely influenced by fortune-telling.

Well, after not winning a few games of solitaire, I thought I’d try out this site’s mahjong game. I’ve always had a sweet spot in my life for mahjong as my next-door neighbor, Barbara Goldberg, used to invite me to join a couple of women she’d invited over to play. I was in my teens and they were all in their 40s or 50s, I’d guess. I loved playing games and they were a hoot, so it was a fun experience for me. Plus, we had an old version of the game that passed through our cabin, Camp Smiley, in Sumneytown, PA when I was growing up. Sadly, I think the tiles all ended up all over the place, but who doesn’t love the look and feel of a mahjong tile?

mahjong

One thing I noticed right off the bat with both the mahjong and solitaire games is that there is a timer. I suppose this can help one see how quickly one can play the game. But it also might be a good reminder for oneself (hello, Albert) as to how much time has gone into playing a game.  I also play chess and usually I play 10 minutes per side so that the game moves along at a clip, and also to keep things competitive. If you’re looking for a game, btw, you can find and challenge me at chess.com.

Well, after 20 minutes I was able to mostly “win” at the mahjong game. And I know where to find it again if I choose to. As to whether online games are useful or not, I was really swayed by Jane McGonigal’s TED talks on the subject. Have a look and see if her insights sway you. I first learned about her research into the topic via Tim Ferris’s podcast interviews with her after she’d had a brain injury. She’s quite amazing. Play on!

 

 

If you have extra fruit or vegetables consider offering it to your neighbor

Share in the Harvest!

Share in the Harvest are social groups that connect people in the area who want to offer homegrown food. You can share veggies, herbs, fruit, eggs, and more! Please feel free to ask for what you’re seeking, too. Here are some new groups I started in the last 3 days. Drive less, grow more food, share with neighbors = building community!

Special thanks to Lauren Peterson of Vancouver for her graphic design.

Which group is right for you? Please share ways this could be better. The video at the end is 6 minutes long and explains how to get one of these up and running in .. about 6 minutes. Enjoy.

Share in the Harvest – Southwest Portland
https://www.facebook.com/groups/southwestportland/

Share in the Harvest Gresham
https://www.facebook.com/groups/shareintheharvestgresham/

Share in the Harvest North Portland
https://www.facebook.com/groups/shareintheharvestnorthportland/

Share in the Harvest SW Washington
https://www.facebook.com/groups/shareintheharvestswwashington/

Share in the Harvest Washington County
https://www.facebook.com/groups/shareintheharvestwashingtoncountyoregon/

Share in the Harvest Montavilla and Mt. Tabor
https://www.facebook.com/groups/montavillaandmounttabor/

Share in the Harvest Clackamas County, Sellwood, Milwaukie, Woodstock
https://www.facebook.com/groups/clackamascountywoodstockmilwaukiesellwood/

Share in the Harvest Portland – Group affiliated with the Portland Fruit Project – includes SE and NE Portland and beyond:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/shareintheharvest/

Portland Fruit Tree Project!
https://www.portlandfruit.org/
Donate: https://www.portlandfruit.org/donate

How to start a Share in the Harvest group where you live
video: https://vimeo.com/583606286

For you DIYers out there: Print and share

 

and

Eugene Area Gleaners

Finances and Debt

Finances and DebtDragon

I got turned onto The 4-hour Work Week years ago. It helped guide me in so many ways and I spent a year closely listening to Tim Ferris as he began an amazing podcast series which has since gone on to be the #1 business podcast many years running, I believe. Tim spent all this time interviewing many people who run the companies we all use every day. This podcast shares all sorts of ideas, but one that regularly comes up is reducing debt and ways to do that.

Really, the key thing I’ve learned is to try to avoid getting into debt in the first place. But if that’s not possible then reducing your debt takes precedence over other things. If you consider the interest one pays for keeping credit card debt you can see that that can quickly add up over time and can definitely weigh on you in many ways. A way I was able to pay off my college and grad school student loans was by taking a job in the high-tech sector for a couple of years. It was boring work, but it paid very well. Once I had my loans paid off I moved away from that sector mostly. I realize this is not possible for everyone, but if you do have debt figuring out ways to reduce and eliminate it will help you out greatly. I’ll never forget the day I paid off my loans and the smile that crept over my face when I realized I was done with the monthly payments.

I wonder if that’s partly why I’ve been unwilling to start down the road to home ownership. Or, home moanership as I hear it referred to, often. I do think I’ll own a home at some point, but up till now the goal as evaded me. I was actually close, once – during the time I was working for those high-tech companies. I qualified for a $400,000 loan, but I was pretty sure my time in Seattle was coming to a close. Had I bought a house then it probably would have doubled in value in the last 20 years, but what can you do?

Back to debt and finances. Another wonderful resource in this area is Mr. Money Mustache. His tagline is “Early Retirement through Badassery”, and he really walks his talk. I think I’ve learned more about life and how to live a good one from Mr. Money Mustache than any other source. I recommend signing up for his newsletter. It comes out very infrequently, but often has something interesting and different to say about living in our society. One of his main themes is about how to live a high-quality life through things like – killing your commute; what kind of car or truck to buy; the types of phones and phone plans that are out there and his encouragement for us all to learn to repair what we own vs. paying someone else to do it or buying new things.

So, what are your thoughts about debt and finances? If you’ve got anything to add please leave a comment below – especially if you have any great stories when it comes to this topic. I’ve learned a lot over the years from peoples’ comments on my writing and I hope that continues as long as I live.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the day!

Sincerely,

Albert Kaufman, 7.19.21

 

Games

Online Games

Ever since I heard Tim Ferris interviewing Jane McGonigal on his podcast, I’ve been curious about online games. Ms. McGonigal is a brain scientist and she had a terrible head injury and ended up coming out of it SuperBetter! She created an app that helped her recover. She also talks a lot about how games can help us stay connected to our loved ones. That has led to me playing Words with Friends with family members and it’s true – I do feel more connected.

The other main online game I play is chess via chess.com. I’m always looking for new challenges and it’s also neat to play people I know – so, come find me @ https://www.chess.com/member/albertkaufman and we can play together. For 10-minute a-side games, I’m generally rated between 1350 and 1410 if that helps you decide whether or not you’d like to play.

There are many places to find new games, of course. Usually, I get recommendations from friends, but after playing a while I usually tire of the game, but some have stayed with me from my childhood. I grew up when pong first came out and I remember our family gathering around the TV to play and how amazed we were to be able to hit a ball back and forth and young children. I imagine even my parents were amazed and amused by pong.

A place I’ve gone looking for games is https://plays.org/games/. They have everything from silly games like one where you throw a banana at apes to lots more complex games. They also have games for children. I eventually have stumbled on a whole set of board games and found Battleship! It looks like you can find ways to play one another or against a computer opponent. I love the sound effects! I’ll have to go and see if they have some of my other childhood favorites like Risk, Stratego, and the Game of Real Life. So, if you’re headed out camping or to a beach house and are seeking ways to keep entertained but not through a TV, this looks like it could be a very useful site.

And now it’s time to get back to the game of my life! How to beat this 100-degree heat in Portland, Oregon. Part of me enjoys the loopy Summer heat, but I know I’ll have to figure out some ways to stay cool, too.  If you decide to jump in, enjoy the games – leave a comment if you find a game you want to play me in or even if you just find something interesting or notable.

Have a great Summer!

Albert

PS – Snakes and Ladders, anyone?

https://plays.org/battleship/

https://plays.org/battleship/

Me by Zen

Magic!

Zen Achilles turns his friends into magic. Here’s the latest version he did for my 60th birthday in 2021.

And here are some more from the past – enjoy!

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