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Tuesday
Dec082015

Podcasts

Podcasts have a special place in my heart - I started listening to them during my college days, on my iPod, while working an incredibly boring night-job. Over the years, I’ve come to love many shows - some that are still around and others that are not. Below are a few of my all-time favorites.
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This American Life

A weekly radio show produced out of Chicago, This American Life’s format usually involves picking a theme and then telling three stories related to said theme. Bar none, This American Life is the gold standard in both radio and podcasting. Some of my favorite episodes include 129 Cars, in which they follow a New Jersey Jeep dealership for a month, Harper High School in Chicago, where they interview students and teachers from the violence-torn high school (29 students were shot in 2013 alone), and Regrets, I've Had a Few, which includes a humbling story from a life-long drug addict.

On Being

Winner of the Peabody Award, On Being is a radio broadcast and podcast produced by Krista Tippett that focuses on questions like, “What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?” Hosting hundreds of different guests, with conversations running across the entire religious and philosophical spectrum, this is truly great show. Some of favorite conversations are with Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, Seth Godin, marketing guru, Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament scholar, and David P. Gishee and Frances Kissling, which featured a pro-life, pro-choice debate.

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Saturday
Oct312015

Board Games I Love

In case you haven’t noticed, board games have made a resurgence in the last decade. And I’m not talking about Monopoly or Scrabble - these are serious board games that deliver serious fun. Check them out below!
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Power Grid

The premise of this game sounds incredibly boring - you are an electric company who is trying to provide power to cities throughout the U.S. But the gameplay could not be more fun. There is the fluctuating market for commodities, bidding wars for getting improved power plants, and a land battle to gain market share. And once you’ve outplayed the U.S. map, there are plenty of expansion maps with slight variations on the original rules to keep things interesting. A real classic that I’ll always enjoy playing!

Manhatten Project

Take command of your own ‘manhattan project’ in this fun worker-placement game that ends right before the world blows up. The goal of the game is to build nuclear bombs, which give each you points. Once a certain number of points are reached, the game is over. What I really like about this game is that each player has their own board to build, expand, and play from. And then there is a also the community board, from which everyone must play. But that’s not all - if you don’t like the board you’ve assembled, you can send spies to infiltrate and use other people’s boards! Or, if you really want to be sinister, you can send bombers to damage critical areas of other people’s boards and slow their progress. The game allows for many different winning strategies and requires that you pay attention to what other people are doing and also plan out our next move - so you’re not stuck doing nothing when it isn’t your turn. This is another favorite that I will enjoy playing for years to come.

Resistance

There are so many great things about this game. For starters, it’s dirt cheap, only $13 at the time of this writing, and I promise that your entertainment value will be many times that amount. Serving as a great party game for a larger group of people, it pits “resistance” players against “spy” players. The spies know who each other are from the outset and it is the job of the resistance players to figure out who is who. If you like “Mafia”, The Resistance is a similar, but more structured variation, and to me, much more fun. Get your poker face on! One wrong twitch or one unconvincing plea of innocence and your cover will be blown!

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Saturday
Oct312015

Books That Changed Me

In no particular order, below are the books that have challenged, influenced, and changed me over the last decade. I cannot recommend them enough - read them, enjoy them, and reread them again.
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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

The amazing, almost unbelievable story of Louis Zamperini, an olympian and Army Air Force bomber in the second world war. In an age where the word “persevere” has been grossly overused, Louis was the real deal. At times an exciting adventure and at others a harrowing nightmare, Louis' story will leave you awestruck. Stick around for the ending - you won’t be disappointed.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

When I became a supervisor in a call center environment, this book helped me immensely. My natural inclination has always been to shy away from contentious dialogue, which is not good for a leader, but this book really gave me some tools to stay in conversation and work towards a productive end.

The Explicit Gospel

This book gave me incredible clarity on what the gospel of Jesus Christ actually means. From one of my favorite teachers, this is a highly readable book that you’ll find inspiring, funny, and eye-opening.

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