Speaking of Kickstarter (I’ve mentioned it many times). gTar, a guitar-playing learning tool that uses an iPhone to teach you how to play, is a new project on Kickstarter that seems to be a smash-hit right out of the gate. It has surpassed its stated goal of raising $100,000 in less than 24 hours. Who knows where this project will end up in 34 days.
I’m not very much into playing “mindless” board or card games that rely on the right card falling at the right time. Which is probably why I enjoy playing Poker so much. It isn’t about the cards at all, really. Once the game of Poker is learned, and you’ve played a few times to get used to the flow, you begin to play the people instead of the cards.
I’ve only played Bridge twice. It is at the same time both incredibly fun to play and really, really complex to the point of nearly being frustrating. If you do not enjoy games that have a lot of rules, styles, and even unwritten rules – you will not like Bridge.
While Poker is a game of trying your best not to communicate your hand to others Bridge is the opposite. Your primary objective, being a game of partners, is communicating your hand to others using bidding styles. Bidding style choices really matter between team mates but, really, it ends up being critical to anyone playing at the table. If different bidding styles are at play one could easily come to the wrong conclusion about another player’s hand – whether that player is your teammate or opponent. While there is a variety of styles there are some ‘standard styles’ that are typically practiced.
Which, for me, is where a lot of the initial frustration comes in. Playing with someone that is much more skilled and experienced with Bridge means that by communicating the wrong message to your teammate you could, and probably will, sabotage that player’s ability to help you win. Make the wrong bid at the wrong time and, unwittingly, you will tell your partner that you have a strong or weak hand. Are you following the rule of fives? Are you using a point system? Are you bidding based on feel?
Obviously communication is needed between teammates prior to the game even starting. But even then misinterpretation runs rampant. (Or at least it has for this beginner.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken too long to bid and ended up sending the wrong message because of it. Yes, taking too long to bid is a form of communication too.
It is madness!
Again, I’ve only played twice. Which is why I’m not getting into any of the rules about the game here at all. Nor suggesting any type of strategy or gameplay that I could recommend based on results. I’m simply stating that, although it can be frustrating at times, I’m slowly learning to play Bridge and I’m finding it enjoyable.
Thanks to my friend Dave Oberheu for his patience in teaching all of us to play.
I remember one of my favorite activities while in the fourth grade was playing Oregon Trail – on a Macintosh – whenever possible. It forced you to make choices, to read, to do math, to learn a little about geography and the limits of what humans can be asked to do. Oregon Trail, for many people my age, is one of the classic games we’ll never forget.
Well, now you can play Oregon Trail online, for free – right in your browser.
Sadly, the title of this note, is mostly true.
To help quench my perpetual thirst for knowledge about things I know nothing about (the very definition of learning, I’d guess) I read a book (pictured) about Moscow.
This book is not very long, is filled with illustrations, and was written prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, but I still found the book incredibly informative. I learned a few subtle things about Moscow that, I feel, even a trip to the city wouldn’t have awarded.
If you’re following me on Twitter, you may have already read some of these little tidbits, but here are some of the more interesting things I picked up from the book:
- There are no commercial advertisements, billboards, in Moscow.
- Ice cream stalls are as busy in winter as they are in the summer.
- To make streets wider, they literally moved historic buildings backwards 15 yards
- On their very first day of school, children bring flowers for their teachers while those in the final grade, tenth, bring useful gifts for each of the children starting their first day.
- “Red Square” is actually a mistranslation of Beautiful Square.
- The Lenin Central Stadium can seat over 113,000 people.
- Dining out usually consists of eating leisurely, dancing between courses, and occupying a table for the entire night. Â So go out early, or book reservations by phone.
Please note this book was published in 1978. Â Some of the above notes are to have most likely changed slightly over the last 30 years.
This book is part of a series of books called “The World’s Cities” and I’m keen on picking up another edition, about a different city, in the near future.
The Lunchtime Leaders Podcast is a student run podcast where each month a team of students from James H. Moran Middle School, in Wallingford, Connecticut interview leaders about what it will take to be successful in the 21st Century.
I can’t even begin to tell you how privileged I feel to have been considered a “leader”. Of course they must use the term rather loosely to include me in the group of interviewees they’ve had over recent months including a mayor, a mayoral candidate, and the CEO of a Hospital.
Doing the interview was really fun and was recorded via Skype. The students setup this process very well and dare I say even better than other podcasts I’ve had the privilege of being on. I received the invite to be on this podcast at least a month in advance and got the questions that would be asked at least a few days in advance (in fact I think they sent them twice just to make sure I got them). They stream the interview live too, and have a live chat that people can participate in.
The topics of the interview ranged from what type of training students and teachers should strive for to help ensure successful entry into the business/career market, but also on how people enjoy learning and what works and doesn’t. We talked about the importance of being able to learn on your own, while still being able to work as a team. And We discuess the trend of working remotely, how it works at Viddler, and what the future might hold when these students begin their careers.
It was a lot of fun and I’m still incredibly humbled to have been part of the podcast. If you have some time be sure to listen to all of the interviews this team has put together. Thanks to the entire Lunchtime Leaders Podcast team: Liz, Alexis, Jill, Taylor, Sarah, Isabelle, and Mr. Bogush.