Rory’s Story Cubes: The Mystery of the Unmapped Mark

For Russian New Year’s Eve, I got a gift card to a local game store. I went in and found a couple of games to try. I picked up Rory’s Story Cubes (affiliate link) because they reminded me of a game I invented in Malta inspired by “The Decision Hedgehog.” You get nine dice with pictures on them. Roll the dice and tell the story. Story Cubes offers three different game plays officially, though you can probably make up your own versions. They have different styles of cubes, so if you like genre play, you can stick to your favorite. Or you can mix, match and combine them. Here’s the story I came up with on my first roll of the dice:

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Penguin Plushies and Patreon: Joy, Travel, Friendship, Penguins

Jenya makes some amazing penguin plushies. She’s done a variety of designs from the original white and black and white penguins to the more realistic ones. There’s even a penguin pillow and the flat friends. She makes these penguins by hand, and the 3D penguins come with passports. (Flat friends do not.) So, if you’re looking for a unique gift, check out the stuffed penguins we have available here and on Etsy. A portion of the proceeds from each penguin goes to help either the Royal Albatross Centre or the Penguin Place.

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Consecutive Day Post 209: How Did I Come This Far and Will We Fail?

Somewhere along the line, someone challenged me to follow through with blog posting for 365 days. I’m decently certain it was one of those free webinars that said if we could commit to it, we would see our blogs become profitable. There may have been more to it than that, but I decided I would commit to one post a day for 365 days. I had come close before – somewhere in the 200 range, so I thought I would just need to buckle down and get ‘er done. So, here I am, on day 209, struggling for something to write about. There are a lot of reasons for this; most of them have to do with COVID-19. But let’s examine how I got through 208 days.

The First 170-ish Days

Basically, the first several weeks I was ready to go. I wrote one or two blog posts a day, and I scheduled them out. I knew I was going to be on vacation, and that gave me a great subject to write about. New Zealand was awesome and learning more about it made for easy blog topics. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to write while in New Zealand, so I made sure I had enough content to keep publishing even if I didn’t get Internet.

Afterwards, photos and more articles about New Zealand made it super easy to keep writing. I was reading New Zealand related books, including a money management book that made for several articles, and then things went wonky.

COVID-19 and Immigration

The coronavirus hit, and the U.S. downplayed its effects. People were saying it was just another flu. It wasn’t anything to worry about. I kept writing what I could about New Zealand, money management, penguins and the book I was writing: “Tales from an Alaskan Cabin,” which gave me a lot of days published because I was posting each chapter for my Penguinators at Patreon.

My wife and I went to Moscow to get her Green Card visa. That gave me more photos and things to write about. We did some touristy stuff, and we had Wi-Fi, so it was easy to keep up with. When we got back home, we had to wait for her passport. During the week between returning and her passport being delivered, the U.S. had shut down. We weren’t going to be able to get out.

Of course, COVID-19 provided some fodder for writing, especially after watching dumb people do dumb things. Seriously, in the U.S. in cases that have been resolved, a third of the outcomes have been death. It was 36% yesterday and 32% today. Those numbers might not stay that way, but even if everyone else gets well, the mortality rate of those who have tested positive for coronavirus is going to be about 6% for those in the system. Stay the F—k Home and protect your community.

This Evening

Anger and frustration can only take you so far in the writing world. Yeah, I know, Hollywood called Rod Serling “the Angry Young Man,” and he was responsible for an amazing number of great stories in “The Twilight Zone,” “The Night Gallery” and a couple of other TV movies. Still, there’s only so much bile, venom, and stupidity that one person can take. So, I found myself today talking to my mom, writing for money and not in the good way, and without ideas for how I am going to continue posting.

This problem has been coming for a couple of days now. My wife told me to write how I feel. That’s not what this blog is supposed to be about. I want to explore creativity, travel, and joy. Unfortunately, that all seems a little far off. The blog posts I have done with creative intent have fallen flat. Writing about New Zealand or money management seems to ring a little hollow. Why would I give you ideas about going places you can’t get to? Why would I write about money management as the stock market is cratering, and we have no idea what we will emerge to when this is all over?

The Crux of It All

And that’s really the crux of it. We don’t know how this is going to end. All we know is that it can’t go on the way it did before, and those that try are going to end up on the wrong end of another epidemic of illnesses. Even if you’re one of those people who believe this disease will ultimately only kill between .1 and .2% of those who get it, the reality is that it has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide and more than 55,000 people in the U.S. as of April 27. Each of those people was someone who had loved ones. It’s not just a number that you haven’t seen; it’s a person who could be you, your grandma, or your dad.

Change is the only constant, and this is going to require us to change everything. Or we face the consequences of repeating this history. The problem is we don’t have the leadership with the guts to initiate the needed changes. We have a lot of old people that want to go back to the way things were. Even though our supply chains have failed and just-in-time manufacturing practices have shown how they aren’t good for emergencies, with people showing their true colors and profiteering, much like pharma-bro did a couple of years back, and facing the selfishness of millions of scared, over-privileged people whose biggest rallying cry is “I Need a Haircut,” there’s the thought that will be able to reopen like none of this ever happened.

In the End

That’s not how this is going to work. If we ignore what we’ve gone through, we’ll just go through it again. Someone once told me that God (you’re welcome to substitute Karma, Deity, our own choices) keeps giving us the same lesson until we learn it. The time to learn the lesson is now. The time to implement the changes needed is now. We can’t wait for another pandemic or another disaster to teach us again lessons we should’ve learned before. We can either be the initiators of the changes for a better society and world, or we can react to whatever changes other people want to implement. Which would you prefer: To act or to be acted upon? Go out an make a change for the betterment of the world. Let’s let our selfish urges die, and they’ll take this disease and plenty of other problems with them.

Main Street, U.S.A. 2: At the Train Station

(For the first part of the story, click here.) The train station sat atop a berm built by the railroad company when they planned the town. They wanted the train station to be seen from all over the plain. On one side of the tracks, the main street extended perpendicularly from the tracks. On the other side, was prairie as far as the eye could see. At night, the trains could be seen from miles away; their lights shining in the dark.

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Cinnamon Penguin and the Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Penguin waddled into the kitchen and jumped onto a chair. Cinnamon then jumped onto the table. The penguin looked at the stuff on the table; it was the first time Cinnamon had visited another part of the house.

Jenya was at the counter. She saw Cinnamon and knew what was coming, but she didn’t want to rush the penguin. She sifted some flour onto the countertop.

Cinnamon waddled around in a circle. “What’s that?” The penguin pointed at the object on the table.

Jenya put down some dough and kneaded it. She looked up at Cinnamon and said, “That’s a napkin holder. It’s holding napkins.”

“Why?” asked Cinnamon.

Jenya continued kneading the dough while she talked. “Sometimes, our hands or faces get dirty, and we use napkins to clean them.”

Cinnamon nodded. His beak moved up and down with the motion. “What are those?” The penguin pointed at a couple of ceramic pieces with holes in the top.

Jenya rolled out the dough. “Those are salt and pepper shakers.”

“What do they do?” asked Cinnamon.

“They help us spice up our food.” Jenya put the roller down.

Cinnamon sniffed at the pepper shaker and sneezed. The penguin ruffled out its feathers trying to shake the pepper away. “I’m not sure I like pepper or salt.”

Jenya laughed and picked up a spice bottle.

“What’s that?” Cinnamon asked.

“This is cinnamon. It’s the spice you were named after.” She shook it onto the flattened dough.

“What’s it for?” Cinnamon asked.

“It’s for making sweet treats to fill your belly.” Jenya smiled. “In just a little bit, we’ll have cinnamon rolls.”

“Will they have fish?” Cinnamon wanted to know.

“Not this time.”

Cinnamon watched as Jenya rolled the dough in on itself and cut it into circles. Jenya put the rolls on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.

Jenya washed her hands and came over to the table.

Cinnamon wrapped his wings around her. “Those smell so good! Thank you!”

You can adopt Cinnamon Penguin and help Cinnamon learn new things! Cinnamon would love to meet you and make a forever home.

Which Five New Zealanders Would You Invite to Dinner?

When my wife and I went to New Zealand, we were able to see an exhibit on the country designed to bring families together. They handed out a deck of cards that were supposed to be used at home with the family. The fronts of the cards have different photos, and the backs have questions to answer. One of the questions was “Which five New Zealanders would you invite to dinner?”

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How to Improve Your Blog Posts to Get More Readers

If you’re trying to take advantage of additional time that the pandemic has left you with by creating a blog to earn some extra money, you need to get more people reading your blog, subscribing to your email list, and coming to you for important information. Here are some things to consider so that you can get started and be more successful from the beginning. If you are already blogging, use these tips to improve your blog posts.

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Cooperative Democracy: A New Way Forward

What if a country’s highest achievement was measured by cooperation? What if the concept of the country was defined not by competition, but by making sure that everyone had enough to live on? Cooperative Democracy would allow people to move forward together, and instead of rewarding the competitive spirit, it would reward the cooperative spirit.

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