Thursday, October 20, 2016

Viking ship Waterford

While in the "Viking Triangle" of Waterford, Ireland, I turned a corner and ran across this:

Waterford was the last Viking town to fall to the Anglo-Normans. One gets the vague impression that if a few longships were to approach today, not every resident of the town would be displeased.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Running (or slogging) up a ski hill

While at the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs (a ski resort in Western Pennsylvania) I decided to see if I could run/jog/slog my way up a ski slope.  While I managed, it was fairly difficult.  Here is the view from the top.

I guess I just wanted to see what I could still do at age 50.

Friday, April 29, 2016

New and Increased respect for carpenters

I finished a day of carpentry on a Habitat for Humanity project and realized....I was profoundly tired and stiff. How on Earth do people do this day in and day out and do it well? I am not soft - I have been a soldier, a rugby player, and the like. but this was not easy and it was just one day.

Now I know why the shot and a beer places have a lot of tradesmen in them after work. Oh, and Mike Rowe is right - I know I should have more regard for those doing "Dirty Jobs"!

Also, even more respect for Jesus of Nazareth...certainly, he saved me by redeeming my sin (#1) but being a carpenter (#2) AND turning water into wine (#3)....RESPECT for that!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gaming Convention!

Ludophilia VI is on!  May 12-15 at the Country Inn & Suites in Elgin, IL

As we bid adieu to 2015, we turn our hearts and minds to 2016, and with it, Ludophilia VI, coming again in May!  After overcoming a couple of scheduling snafus, I'm happy to say that I finally have a date and site booked!

For any of you who have missed it until now, Ludophilia is the name we've given to our annual 4-day boardgaming (and craft beer sharing) extravaganza in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago!   It's much too friendly and informal to be called a "convention".  It's just an excuse for friends and friends-of-friends to get together in a large-ish hotel conference room with a few hundred board games and have the chance to strategize, socialize, and relax uninterrupted.  I bring a select library of games (and other people bring their favorites, too, of course), and then it's open house at the hotel Thursday through Sunday!  Set up your own lodging plans if you want to stay overnight, and everyone is mostly responsible for their own food and drink.  (Although see below.)

The weekend for Ludophilia VI will be Thursday, May 12th through Sunday, May 15th, 2016.  Please mark your calendars NOW!  I'll be sending out a few reminders and additional information as the time draws nearer. 

We typically play from 8:00am until midnight-ish Thursday through Saturday, but we'll most likely be packing up right after lunch on Sunday.

As I said, I ran into some scheduling issues.  To make a long story short, our hotel from the last two years was actually booked for both of the weekends I tried to get.  So I found a different nearby Country Inn and Suites that can accommodate us with all the same arrangements as last year.  (All day room access, ok to bring to our own food and drink, a good-sized room, and basically the same cost.) 

We'll be at the Country Inn and Suites which is right at I-90 and Randall Road, 2270 Point Boulevard, Elgin, IL  60123.  Phone: 847-426-6400.  This might be a bit less convenient for some, but maybe a bit more convenient for others, particularly those who will be driving in from Chicago or O'Hare - it's right off the highway.

The conference room we'll be using is actually in the office building directly behind the hotel, just a few steps out the door and up an elevator.

Please be sure to NOT confuse this with the Country Inn and Suites in Crystal Lake where we met last year!  This is a different location!

If you will be staying at the hotel as I will, you can call 847-426-6400 or 800-830-5222 for reservations, or look online at  Be sure to ask for the room block for "Ludophliia" or, if that fails, for the "Johnson Game Group" (there could be some confusion over this - I asked for it to be fixed, but you know how that goes.)  I was quoted a rate of $110+tax for the group, which is better than what I see listed online, but if you can find a better rate at priceline or whatever, I say go for it.  Our room block closes after April 14, 2016, so make your reservations early!

Once again, I'll be keeping the admission cost for everyone the same as it's been: $10 per person per day, with a "buy 3 days get the 4th day free" bonus for those who pay in advance. This is strictly to cover our costs. If we collect the same amount as we have the last 2 years, we should be able to cover the cost of the room within our buffer.

You can start registering now by sending check or cash to me at :
Brad Johnson
1517 Driftwood Lane
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

So send just $30 now for full access to the entire 4-day weekend!  I can also accept cash and check during the con, but booking early is the best way to make sure we keep this running.

Since we've built up a small buffer in the bank, there are a few new fun things I'm thinking I'd like to do this year.  If you have additional suggestions, please let me know, but here are possibilities I have in mind:
  • Pizza night - the club may buy pizza for the group on Saturday night
  • Door prize raffle - get a raffle ticket for each paid day of admission and draw Saturday night for some prizes
  • Opponent bingo prize - keep track of how many different unique opponents you play with during the weekend, highest count wins a prize
  • Beer tasting prize - everyone who wants to participate brings a few bottles (or equivalent) of their favorite craft beer (store-bought, or better yet, home-brewed!), judges will be appointed, and top rated beer(s) wins a prize
Prizes (all board games, of course) would be provided by me -- I figure the treasury might be able to handle a budget of a hundred bucks or two, and/or there might be a few selections I could part with from my own trove.

I'm also expecting to do t-shirts again this year, for a nominal fee, if there's enough interest, and if I and my resident artist can come up with a suitable artistic vision.

Details on all of this will follow!  Please stay tuned to email and our blog at

I sincerely hope that you all can make it to Ludophilia VI, May 12-15, 2016.  Whether you can come for one day or the whole weekend, I think you'll find it to be a good time.  It's been really excellent for the last 5 years with so many fun people coming from all over the country (and Canada!) for some focused boardgaming!  If you have any questions or you'd just like to let me know your plans, please don't hesitate to email!  Also, if you have a friend whom you'd like me to add to the invitation and notification email list, please send me their contact information!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day 2015

Looks like a low key day for me. I am going to break out the Dress Blue uniform later (yes, it still fits) so I do have that going for me.

I also remember that "like Father, like Son"

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Near An-Nasiryiah, Iraq

In early 2008, SSG Juantrea Bradley, SPC Tenzin Samten and SPC Dustin Jackson were killed in a rocket attack on the base I was staying at the time.

Memorial Day is about those three, and all others that lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces of this country.

Remember them and their families.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gaming Time!

Get your red hot information on Northern Illinois best named boardgaming convention Ludophilia V !
This year's motto "Ludophilia, its not a disease!" [Seriously, it is Latin for 'love of games' or 'love of play']

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I are..uh, am, umm is(?) an ARe

Finally finished the last requirement to get my "Associate in Reinsurance" or ARe 'designator'

So I can proudly proclaim "I are an ARe!" Well, sort of.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Basil Fawlty had his Moose head, I had a light switch

A recurring scene in the old Fawlty Towers series was seeing Basil trying to get a moose head hung up on the wall near the front desk.  He never seemed to get the job done...

For the past...while, I had a, er, faulty light switch I was trying to change. Oh, to be sure, removing it was fine....but getting the new one, installing it and having it work...well, let us just say I had a bit of John Cleese going on.
Not quite a moose head

Today, I finally got a switch and set to installing it. Didn't work. After several retries, I gave up and had a master electrician we know call me...he figured my error in about 15 seconds. So unlike Basil Fawlty, I finally got my job done.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

You konw what makes you feel good?

Me: "Dad [my Dad/the kids grandfather] is home from the hospital"

Kids (in unison): "Yea!"

They literally cheered.

Yes, that makes you feel good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Now it feels like Veteran's Day

Last year, if you had handed me a new uniform and said "out of the Retired Reserve for you, you are back in", I would have been able (I think) to do it pretty seamlessly.  Today, I thought about the same thing and it would be much more a struggle. I have lost something - some edge or such.

It maybe feeling my age in my knees, the rainy and unpleasant day outside - but I sure feel more like a Veteran than a Soldier, today.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Hooked on Dutch Pop

Niels Littooij (AKA Nielson) has caught my imagination. His song "Kop in Het Zand" (Head in the Sand) is my favorite:

The whimsical animation aside, it is a semi-serious song....and I like it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dank u, Nederland!

Thanks, Netherlands, for the delicious coffee! OK, Douwe Egberts in particular.

Brought to me by my wife and kids from Holland,.............. Michigan.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I'll have a BLT, a mocha and a Time Lord, please

After doing some good service for the community one Saturday morning, I asked the kids where they would like to go for lunch. Both suggested a place in downtown Elgin, IL - the Blue Box Cafe.

Yes, it is that "blue box"

A Doctor Who themed coffee and sandwich place (the chili was good too). It looks like someone had just stopped by...I wonder "Who"?

Maybe I could just wait on the bench out front and see...

Could it be one of the fellows in the pictures hanging on the wall?

Perhaps you should stop by and see for yourself.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Bluff City Cemetery, Elgin IL - Memorial Day 2014 observances

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