Saturday, February 21, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Rev. Sensing of One Hand Clapping Wrote several posts this week on same-sex marriage. The issue is really coming to a head here in the United States, with passionate debate on all sides. Rev. Sensing says some thought-provoking things, and though I wholeheartedly disagree with several of his opinions, they're still worth reading:

1. The "gay marriage" controversy: Traditionalists need to get a clue - we lost this fight 40 years ago.

2. Separate the legal and the spiritual in the wedding business: Let the state do the former and the Church the latter; my solution to the "gay marriage" impasse.

3. What makes a thing a thing? The Problem of Universals and defining what is marriage.

4. Answering Andrew Sullivan's "simple question": explaining Jesus' silence on homosexuality.

I don't know how I missed this last week. A Florida newspaper tells the love stories of several local couples.

This is not an endorsement of any disgusting, blasphemous, socially destructive, hilarious, hysterical cartoon, but at the South Park Studios Web site, you can design your own South Park character. This is what I would look like in South Park:

Friday, February 20, 2004

New link  

I've been meaning to update the links in my sidebar for a while now. The URL for Peachwater, Tx. has changed slightly, and now I've updated that. Mainly, though, I'd like to call attention to Ryan's Head, a new link in the Personal Blogs section. I've been reading Ryan's blog for some time now and feeling a sort of kinship since he dearly loves his wife (whom he refers to as Ms. Lovechunk) and says so. Lately, though, I've just been too lazy to mess with my template and add that link.

Ryan has written a couple of recent posts about family that reminded me why I need to link to him. He also said some very kind things about me in a recent post and e-mail message, which made me feel guilty for being so lazy about the link. Plus, I just looked to see how long he's been blogging, and the earliest post in his archives just happens to have been on my birthday (June 26) last year. So now I've finally gotten off my figurative butt and added the link. It's there, now, and should remain there permanently. Please take a look at his site and see how another happy husband lives.

Also, Ryan and his wife are expecting a baby any day now. Very exciting.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Word games  

Yesterday I mentioned some of the games that Mrs. Happy and I play at home. There are a couple of other games we play on the road and away from home, generally while we're in the car or on the train. Today, I thought I'd share those games, and hopefully they can provide entertainment for others as well.

Word Mastermind

This is a take on the traditional game Mastermind that usually involves colored pegs or numerical digits.

  1. Both players agree upon a number (we usually use 5), and one player (hereafter referred to as P1) thinks of a word with that many letters.
  2. Player 2 (P2) thinks of a word with the designated number of letters and says it out loud.
  3. P1 compares P2's word with his own, then tells P2 how many letters the two words have in common and how many letters hold the same position in each word. For example, if P1 is thinking of WITCH and P2 says TINGE, P1 mentally compares them both, finds that both words contain a T and an I and that the I is the second letter in both words. He then tells P2, "There are two letters in common, and one is in the right position."
  4. P2 makes note of the information and guesses again with another word. P1 compares the new word with the word he chose at the beginning and tells P2 the results of the comparison. For example, if P2 guesses GREAT, P1 would then say, "One letter in common, none in the right position."
  5. Players repeat the process until P2 guesses the word correctly.

We generally disallow plural words ending in S. A game might go something like this:

P2: Uh, let's see…how about SPEED.
P1: None in common, none in the right position.
P2: HANDY.
P1: Two and zero.
P2: BRAND.
P1: Three and three.
P2: BLAND.
P1: Four and four.
P2: BLANK.
P1: Well played.
(It actually never goes that quickly, but hopefully you get the idea.)

You can set a limit on the number of guesses, or just play until P2 finds the correct word. You can also try a variation in which both players pick a word, then take turns trying to guess each other's word. That method has the advantage of providing a clear-cut method for determining a winner.

Race to the Finish

This game requires a little more strategy and forethought.

  1. P1 and P2 (this can be played with as many players as you like, but it gets a little hairy if you have more than four) agree on a number, usually no less than five.
  2. P1 thinks of a word containing a number of letters equal to or greater than the agreed upon number, then tells P2 only the first letter of the word.
  3. P2 thinks of a word of sufficient length that begins with the letter spoken by P1. P2 then tells P1 the second letter of that word. P2's word need not be the same as P1's.
  4. P1 thinks of a word of sufficient length that begins with the two letters the players have chosen. P1 then tells P2 the third letter of that word.
  5. The two players continue taking turns adding a letter to the letters already spoken until one of them adds a letter that forms a complete word containing a number of letters equal to or greater than the agreed upon number. The player who does that wins.

That sounds confusing when written out, but in practice it's fairly simple. Here's a typical game in which the two players have agreed to build a word of at least five letters:

P1: A. (thinking of the word ABSTAIN)
P2: B. (thinking of ABJECT)
P1: S. (thinking, "Aha! This is working out!")
P2: O. (forced to abandon ABJECT, considers ABSOLUTE)
P1: L. (thinking, "Crap, ABSTAIN doesn't work now. I'll go for ABSOLVE.")
P2: U. ("ABSOLUTE has eight letters. That would give me the win.")
P1: T. ("Crap again. The only word that starts with ABSOLU is ABSOLUTE. I'm gonna lose.")
P2: E. ABSOLUTE. I win!

It's important to note that players cannot just throw out random letters. They must always be able to complete the word using the letters they have played. At any time, P1 may give up and challenge P2 to complete the word using the last letter played by P2, and vice versa of course.

Both of these games pass the time and stimulate the mind. Try 'em out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The games we play  

My Great Uncle Richard and Aunt Neita used to play at least one card, dice, or board game together every day. I don't know how long they were married before Uncle Richard died, but it was somewhere around 50 years, and they were one of the happiest, sweetest couples I've ever known. I don't know whether game playing was a root or a flower in their relationship, but it was definitely something they loved doing. The infectious humor that infused their marriage spilled over into their games and then back into their daily lives.

After playing a game of Boggle with my wife yesterday (and again today—this time she only beat me 106 to 104, so I'm getting better) I reflected on the fact that we haven't played a game together in quite a while. We used to spend a lot of time playing games, doing jigsaw puzzles, and filling out crosswords together. Somewhere along the way, though, we seem to have become more interested in television than in shared activities. I think now that we have the game juices flowing again, we'll probably make more of an effort to set aside some time for mutual amusement.

These are some of our favorite two-player games:

Mrs. Happy and I love games, due in large part to the fact that we both possess a competitive streak. Some people find it off-putting when they try to play with us. "It's only a game," they say. I believe that too. A game's outcome doesn't affect the world at large, or even my own life beyond the game's duration. But saying "it's only a game" doesn't change the fact that a game exists for the purpose of competition, and that every legitimate competition has a winner, and that I want that winner to be me. Otherwise, what's the point of playing at all? We grow closer and learn more about each other through competition. It's one way we learn not to take ourselves too seriously.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Boggle  

My wife loves word games. Even though she's an artist and I'm a writer, she regularly beats me in Scrabble and Boggle, though there are a couple of other games we play in which I fare slightly better. For a long time, she's been wanting the Deluxe edition of Boggle, which uses letter cubes on a 25-square grid rather than the standard 16-square. I wanted to get it for her for Christmas, but couldn't find it anywhere. Every time I see a toy or game store, I check to see if they have it, always without success. Even Amazon doesn't list it. I was beginning to think that the edition was limited and no longer being made.

Today, however, I went to lunch with my geek friends and we checked out a toy store next to the pizza place where we ate. While they critiqued the selections in the sci-fi action figures section, I looked and found the holy grail of Boggle editions. So I bought it and brought it home. Now Mrs. Happy is itching to play, so RLTB.

Update: Mrs. Happy wins 121 – 78.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Laughter  

I mentioned recently that most successful couples share a similar sense of humor. It's true for Mrs. Happy and me. We don't take ourselves or each other all that seriously, try to keep a playful outlook on life, and laugh at every opportunity. One problem we have, though, is that I don't laugh out loud very much. I tend to say things like, "Heh, that's funny," instead of letting loose with a hearty guffaw.

Not that I never laugh. Sometimes something catches me off guard and tickles me to the point that I laugh both loud and long, and sometimes just one or the other. My wife can't figure out and can never predict what will make me laugh out loud, and usually the thing that makes me laugh (more often than not it's something she herself says or does) is something she doesn't find the least bit funny.

Earlier today we were watching the President's Day Law and Order Marathon on TNT. During a commercial break, an ad came on for a movie called "Bad Apple starring Chris Noth. Brought to you by Cat Chow." My wife, sitting in her green denim bean bag chair, commented, "I'd be embarrassed to star in a movie brought to us by Cat Chow." That was the funniest thing I had heard all day. I laughed out loud, left my seat on the couch, crawled over to her, and kissed her, laughing the whole time.

Sometimes she tries to be funny and I don't notice. Sometimes she says something witty and intelligent and I smile. Sometimes she makes a joke and I say, "Heh, that's funny." But sometimes she makes me laugh out loud, typically when she can't understand and I can't explain the humor I see. It works the other way too. She gets hysterical over Nickelodeon's Ren & Stimpy while I don't understand how it ever became popular. Still, our individual senses of humor overlap enough that we laugh together a lot, and plan to do so for the rest of our lives.