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What Jenni Said About “The Body”: Glorious Detail

With "The Body", Bryson has done for our flesh houses within which we reside what he previously did for our brick and mortar ones in his book "At Home".  We have been treated to a full walk-through of the entire human body and all its functionality, in glorious detail. Bryson's language is beautiful and at times also mystical in its descriptiveness: "You have a meter of it [DNA] packed into every cell, and so many cells that if you formed all the DNA in your body into a single strand, it would stretch ten billion miles, to beyond Pluto. Think of it: there is enough of you to leave the solar system. You are in the most literal sense cosmic." Perhaps what I love most about "The Body" is the detailed narrative Bryson provides on so many key people in the history of medicine, infectious diseases, anatomy, etc. Many of these people I'd never heard of before and it was enlightening to read their fascinating (and often sad) stories. It seems
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What Jenni Said About The Art of The Gathering: Fantastic

Priya Parker's book The Art of The Gathering (TAoG) was recommended to me by a friend from church who knows how much I enjoy putting together events for others. As I began reading TAoF, I was quite inspired by the rich meaning Parker ascribes to gathering, and the significant possibilities of making a concrete difference in the world through our gatherings. Yes, I nodded to myself, the events I put together do matter. Nice ego stroke. But as she laid out a step by step methodology for ensuring those gatherings have purpose and are effective, my kneejerk reaction was that her approach felt overly controlling and I worried my guests would resent the kind of manipulative engineering she describes. What happened to organic gatherings that are completely open and free from any sort of direction? Isn't that where happiness and change can take root? Turns out, not so much. She makes a very good case for why proper planning and execution of gatherings under thoughtful leadership mak

Gamers Ranch

Last week, I was invited, along with my husband, to join a group of board gamers from our local Iowa City area on their annual gaming retreat. For this event, they gather at the Gamers Ranch, for day after day of board games and fellowship. If you’re not familiar with the Gamers Ranch , it’s a short term rental/vacation property in the countryside, nestled among farms and open pastures, just outside of Bland, Missouri.  The site can accommodate groups of up to 20 people at a time and offers activities for indoors (frequently updated board game library with thousands of games including the BGG Top 100, arcade, LAN gaming pc area, Lego library, MTG library, miniature painting workshop area, reading nooks, and several large screen tvs for streaming) and outdoors (disc golf course, miles of hiking trails, a lake with boating, geocaching, fire pits, etc). The sleeping areas inside are well appointed with linens, toiletries, and wifi. Bonus for foodies: the kitchen is fantastic, offering a

Board Game Review: Anno 1800

Whenever Martin Wallace designs a new game, I am all over it. This is because I absolutely love Brass Birmingham (another MW designed game); in fact Brass Birmingham is my #1 board game of all time. Over the years, his other games I've tried have been pretty good, but not necessarily amazing must-buys. Still, I keep trying each new release of his, searching for that next star performer. That's why I'm excited to report that Anno 1800 is, in fact, a star performer, and an amazing must-buy board game. Anno 1800 was adapted by the publisher (Kosmos) from a Ubisoft video game of the same name. In the board game, players take on the role of industrialists, charged with developing their island economies and exploring other islands. Each player begins the game with a personal industry board with trade & exploration ships, a shipyard, and industrial goods tiles printed on the board. A starting collection of workers (wooden cubes) of various types to produce the goods is a

Board Game Review: Obsessed with Obsession

I'm completely obsessed with Obsession! I received a review copy of the updated second edition along with all the expansions (Wessex, Useful Man, Upstairs Downstairs) and from the moment I took everything out of the boxes, my excitement was over the top. Actually, that's not even the half of it - I remember I was already quite excited before the game even arrived. I'd wanted to get my hands on a copy as soon as I learned there was a game that brought the lifestyle that we all fell in love with watching Downton Abbey to the gaming table. Back in 2021, I was having a great time at the Dice Tower Summer Retreat and a new friend Bonnie sang the praises of Obsession. She had seen me eyeing the box on the shelf and gave me a summary of the game mechanics as she owned the first edition. She explained that the theme is centered on running an estate in Derbyshire and competing against others to have the best home, reputation, gentry guests, etc. Based on her enthusiasm and descripti

Board Game Review: Tapestry Arts & Architecture Expansion

The good folks at Stonemaier Games sent us a review copy of the newest expansion for Tapestry recently. We have the base game and the previous expansion, Plans and Ploys, in our game library. Arts & Architecture is designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Mike Young, with artwork by Andrew Bosley and landmark sculptures by Rom Brown. The expansion adds more of the familiar components: five new civilizations, six new capital city mats, 5 new landmark cards with landmarks, twenty new tapestry cards, and eleven new tech cards. Arts & Architecture also adds completely new features to the game, including an arts track with accompanying landmarks, twenty masterpiece cards, twenty inspiration tiles, and an upgraded science die to include iconography referencing the arts track. The new arts development track is quite useful and thematically blends well with the overall concept of the game. It gives you the opportunity to place more of your income buildings, score victory points for tech c

Board Game Review: Rolling Realms

At every company, there’s some guy trying desperately to figure out a way to harness a current wave of consumer demand and somehow direct it right onto the doorstep of the company. “Even better…”, that guy explains to rest of management, “If we can deliver something on *that* demand that our customers will gobble up and that will drive their demand up for our *other* established products, we’ve gone above and beyond! A cross-promotional windfall!”  Well, it looks like someone at Stonemaier put that guy in charge of roll and write game development and Rolling Realms was the result. It’s meta game of sorts that mostly serves as an advertisement for the rest of the Stonemaier product line, as each card in this roll and write game is named after a different Stonemaier game title.    On the plus side, Rolling Realms is a pandemic friendly, easy to learn, and quick to play roll and write that plays as easily over zoom with 20 people as it plays in person with a few people around a table.