Blog: June 2015

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

About religion and the Supreme Court decision

I'd like to thank Dglenn for bringing this to my attention:

"[...] as an Orthodox rabbi who does not officiate at same-sex marriages [...] My 'side' did not lose, because my side is never defined by any one position on a matter of ritual or liturgy, no matter how important that matter may be. My side, I hope, is God's side, and the God in whom I believe is infinite -- bigger and more complex than can be reduced to any single decision, or even any single tradition, for that matter." -- Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, I am an orthodox rabbi who doesn't perform gay marriages, but I celebrate today's Supreme Court decision, 2015-06-26.

I am heterosexual and religious. The Supreme Court decision to recognize a secular, legal status does not in any way harm my religious rights, nor anybody else's. Why should my gay friends be barred from the legal and financial protections, and obligations, that I and my husband have? (I do wish they'd declared "civil unions for everyone" and taken the term "marriage" completely out of the law, but I presume they can't do that on their own.)

No clergy with objections to gay marriage need officiate. That's proper; most rabbis won't perform marriages between Jews and non-Jews, Catholic priests won't remarry those who are divorced, and I presume there are other examples. The courts continue to uphold your religious rights.

Except for that one some claim of imposing their religious mores on others. That one took a little damage Friday.

Added in a comment:

In the space of "defense of marriage" (sic), churches should be no more concerned with secular gay marriages than they are with secular atheist heterosexual marriages. Religiously speaking they don't recognize either. So what? That shouldn't be new. If they weren't threatened by one class of not-church-recognized marriage, they shouldn't be threatened by another.

Of course, if their goal is something else, like to force their views of what is or isn't proper behavior on a secular nation, then that wouldn't mollify them at all...

First look: Caverna

For his birthday Dani received a copy of Caverna, a worker-placement game in the style of Agricola. We quite enjoy Agricola but hadn't heard of Caverna before.

This was pretty serendipitous; his family knows we like board games, doesn't know very much about the games we like, but found their way to this. They got advice at Snakes and Lattes, which sounds like an interesting place. As a nice coincidence (I don't think they knew to look for this), this game supports seven players, which is unusual in the games we enjoy. (Yes yes, of course Seven Wonders, and if you've got 8-12 hours there are other options.)

Like in Agricola, each player plays a family of workers trying to grow a farm and family. In Caverna you're playing a family of dwarves, and you have both cavern spaces (living quarters, mines, special rooms) and forest (that you clear for crops and pastures). Agricola's occupations and improvements have been replaced by (a smaller number of) special rooms that you can build. Some aspects of production have been expedited; for example, a single action can get you a double tile (field and meadow) and grain that you can later plant in that field. The game has ten turns, a few fewer than Agricola. It's easier to get food to feed your family, but harvests are more frequent so you need more. Harvests occasionally go...wrong.

There are two "wildcard" aspects to the game, rubies and expeditions. Rubies come from one of the possible actions each turn, and you can also dig ruby mines in your cave. Rubies, in turn, can be spent to get one of, well, pretty much anything -- a building resource, a crop to plant, food, an animal, and some special tiles. If you have some rubies, it's much easier to get out of a bind than it is in Agricola -- you can get that last bit of wood to add to your house, or that grain or vegetable to plant, or one more animal to eat.

The other "wildcard" is expeditions. You can spend ore (which you get from actions or from your ore mines) to give a dwarf a weapon, and armed dwarves can take expedition actions. An expedition lets you choose 1-3 items (depending on the type of expedition); how good those items are depend on the quality of the weapon (more ore = better weapon, plus they get better with use). As with rubies, most things in the game are available this way.

We've played two (two-player) games so far and enjoyed them. We'll definitely be pulling this out at the next games day (whenever that is), in addition to playing more games ourselves. The instructions claim the game is 30 minutes per player, but so far we're coming in around 45 minutes per, plus setup and cleanup. I assume we'll get faster as we learn the game better.

There's just one down-side, which we're trying to rectify: the game has a lot of pieces, many of which look similar enough at first glance that you do want to separate them. But they get mixed up in play, so setup and cleanup take a lot of time.

No, really, a lot:

box of many game pieces

That box is 5-6 inches deep.

Dani ordered some sectioned boxes that, with luck, will let us play right out of the trays, instead of having to dump pieces out on the table and try to keep them vaguely sorted.

Fun game, and a nice gift!

This time is different

This entry was originally locked and has comments, so not unlocking.

I've served two terms on my congregation's board of trustees. The first nomination came in my first year of eligibility (I nearly dropped the phone in surprise). The second came after I'd been off for six or seven years. This time I'd only been off for (I think) two years when the nomination came. I somewhat-flippantly consented; I would have preferred to wait a few years for strategic reasons, but there's important stuff going on now too.

So I've been to one meeting so far. And there is a Big Thing happening, and happening quickly. And some of the younger, first-time board members are up in arms, and they asked me for help because "Monica is wise". And I looked around, agreed that there is an Important Thing that needs to happen to feed into the Big Thing, and saw some people going off half-cocked in a way that will impede that cause. What they asked me for was to support a particular request (which I did, and which has been granted), but what they are getting is schooling -- welcome or not -- in the strategy and tactics of getting things done in quasi-corporate organizations.

I've just sent them email about allowing others to save face -- even if they're wrong, if the wrongness is on a tangent that doesn't matter, then for heaven's sake just let it go and focus on the Important Thing you're trying to do instead of having a "he said"/"she said" argument that derails the conversation you should be having. (Come back later if you still need to, but don't lose focus.) I've just corrected some naive assumptions about who actually owns the agenda of a board meeting (that you requested a special meeting doesn't mean you own it). And I explained why limiting how much time each person can speak at a town-hall style meeting is not a violation of your rights. And I gave them some advice about how to use their time most wisely at an upcoming meeting, and reminded them that we're all on the same team, and strongly suggested that nobody try to speak for the group lest you get it wrong and have to be corrected.

I've also had a word with the president, suggesting that certain things about the Big Thing that happened shortly before new members joined the board could do with some review. And I told her that I agree with the direction the Big Thing is going but also agree with the concerns the unhappy people have about the Important Thing. And I helped her plan a sane response to the request about the Important Thing.

I wonder what'll happen after my second meeting?