Ticket to Ride

I started writing for this gaming blog that is my casual take on games. Whether it be video games, board games, or mind games I’ll be commenting on it. Check it out if your interested in game news. Otherwise, stay tuned for more writings on rambles of a madman in a few weeks.

The Filthy Casuals

This is hands down my favorite board game.  At least for the past few years it has been. Ticket to Ride is a railroad themed German style board game.

“The game won the 2004 Spiel des Jahres, the Origins Award for Best Board Game of 2004, the 2005 Diana Jones award, the 2005 As d’Or Jeu de l’année, and placed second in the Schweizer Spielepreis for Family Games.[1]Ticket to Ride: Europe won the 2005 International Gamers Award.”  – Wiki

The goal of the game is to collect cards which allow you to build a train from one check point to another.trains_0

You also collect trip cards.TTR_DestinationsThese trip cards signify the check points that you need to reach with trains in order to obtain the points listed in the corner.  If you own a trip card and do not complete it (build a train…

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Lifestealer Update

The Filthy Casuals

So I’m pretty excited about the lifestealer buff with patch 6.83.  His ultimate infest:

Lifestealer infests the body of a target unit, lying dormant and undetectable inside. He can then explode from the host body, dealing damage to all nearby enemy units. If the infested unit is an enemy or neutral creep, he will consume it and gain health equal to the unit’s current health

He will now also gain the added benefit of:

  • Infest now allows you to control the unit you are in using a sub-ability

Which is pretty sweet especially if you pick up a Helm of the Dominator, imagine running around as a centaur stunning and then BOOM, big scary monster in your face, eating your face, and merrily basking in your demise.

This will be one of the first things I attempt in patch 6.83.

Check out our post about other changes in…

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Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

In my job we come across a lot of confusion around the differences between Assisted Living Communities and Nursing homes. 
Due to the lack of information people have, I’ve decided to write a little something to help clarify the differences.  Because, let’s face it, this is a situation or conversation we will all encounter one day and it’s best to be prepared.

Assisted Living communities are often confused with nursing homes. This is because they both provide a form of senior living and although carry similarities they are quite different. Deciding which is the right fit for you can be a stressful and complicated experience. Let’s try to clear that up shall we?

A common misconception is that Nursing Homes are for those who need healthcare services and Assisted Living is for those who don’t.
While the level of care at a nursing home is higher than most assisted living communities it’s important to remember that assisted living communities DO offer health care services. A nursing home offers round the clock, 24-hour care. Assisted living communities offer a level of care that is catered to each individual’s specific needs. Generally, Assisted Living’s will not accept residents who require a 2 person assist. (When 2 people are needed to transfer from the bed to couch and back into bed) Nursing homes are designed for those who cannot perform most daily activities (bathing, eating, etc) without assistance whereas at an Assisted Living the resident is encouraged to live as independently as possible with assistance when needed.

Not only is the level of care a deciding factor between assisted living and nursing homes but the size of the actual residence varies as well.
Generally speaking, most nursing homes offer a single room, maybe 2, with the bare necessities; bed, sink, restroom etc. The resident is encouraged to bring items from home to decorate and add individuality to the room. An assisted living community however, can vary in size from a small apartment, to a luxurious condo, or even a multi-level house. Each state has different regulations on assisted living communities so be sure to check up on the state you are looking in. Here you can find Nebraska regulations and Iowa Regulations.

Another huge difference between the two involves money; the way services are paid for varies.
Most Nursing homes accept Medicaid while most Assisted Living’s do not. Medicaid pays for care for 7 out of every 10 nursing home residents. It’s important to know if you qualify for Medicaid before the search for long-term care has begun. Assisted Living’s are paid either out of pocket or through a long-term private health insurance policy. If you are between the ages of 30-50 it would be a smart idea to start looking at long-term care insurance policies. You can learn more about long-term care insurance here. For more information on Medicare and Medicaid you can visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-633-4227.

There are similarities between the two as well for example; both probably offer a cafeteria service. For nursing homes this will be the residents main source of nutrition while at an assisted living they may have their own kitchen still and have the independence to choose where they have their meals.

Assisted living communities tend to provide a communal living with lots of planned activities and the freedom to decide which activities the resident wishes to participate in. Nursing home residents are under 24-hour medical supervision and often are not allowed to leave the campus due to mental or physical illnesses.  


Still confused? Check out these two articles for further explanations.




Check out my companies communities as well!






It’s 2014!  A new year! New beginnings, new ends, new stories!  Everything new!


This year will be a year to focus on things that I want to change about myself.  I’ve set two goals for the year. 

1)    Save more money and encourage others to save as well.

2)    Live a healthier lifestyle.


I’ll be documenting my progress on these two goals throughout the year.  Starting with this post. 


Lets start with the money.

I find myself always saying I’ll save more and start putting money away and sometimes I do (once I even had a substantial savings account) but then life happens or some other excuse and I would spend the money I had saved.  It was essentially like losing all your save data on your favorite video game and having to start from scratch and I’m running out of lives.  So I’m doing 4 things to save this year.


1)   I’m investing a separate savings in the stock market.
I’ve set up an automatic deduction from my account for 25 dollars every paycheck, roughly 50-75 dollars a month, and have been purchasing small cap stocks and trading on my mobile phone during downtime.  (waiting in line, doctors office, traffic light, etc.) These stocks are rarely above 5 dollars per stock and don’t make huge gains.  However, the more you buy the more money you make when it increases 10 cents.  Now that 10 cents might not be fantastic but over the course of a year you’re penny profits will add up plus your initial investment.   With a $50.00 a month contribution you should have at least $600.00 in your investment account.  (assuming your stocks don’t tank, I recommend using your downtime to research stocks and companies before purchasing, perhaps you wait to build up 100 dollars and research until that point you’ve still saved and learned something about the market)

2)   I’m participating in what’s been dubbed “the 52 week challenge.”
The rules are simple; you must contribute $1.00 for whatever corresponding week of the year it is.  The first week is $1.00, the second $2.00, the third $3.00 and so on until the 52nd weed which is $52.00 contribution.  At the end its roughly $1,400.00 saved.  To make it fun I’ve invited several friends to join me and to use the saved money to take a group vacation.  I’m thinking the Caribbean!!  You can keep the money in an account or like us we are using jar to visualize the savings on a daily basis.

3)   In my regular savings account I’ve set up to deposit $25.00 per paycheck automatically. 

4)   I started a 401k where I am contributing 1% of my yearly income. 
It is deducted from my paycheck pre-tax and is an excellent idea for anyone whose company offers a 401k program.  If your company does not offer a retirement program I recommend a Roth I.R.A or something similar.  It’s never too early to save for your future.


With these 4 practices throughout the year I’m guaranteed to save at a minimum $2,000.00.
I won’t count the stock investments, as it is technically variable although I anticipate having over $1000.00 balance in my investment account this time next year.
As I learn and adventure in the brand new world of investing I will share my progress, hopefully we can all learn from my journey. 

Another housing collapse?

History repeats itself they say.  It’s cyclical; A pattern to be repeated in a certain amount of time.  Generally, its not for the best either.  Rarely do we hear of pleasant, feel good stories that happened today and 100 years ago.  I find it strange that man has the tendency to repeat mistakes.  One in particular that should still be fresh in the minds of every American today.  The housing collapse of 2008.

The United States likes to encourage home ownership.  It’s an idea that every person is entitled to be able to afford a house whether or not they actually can.  Congress tries to help and support this cause but also tends to create conflicts unintentionally, we hope.  Before 2004 the majority of mortgage-backed securities were issued by government-endorsed agencies.  These agencies were regulated and had a few specific rules they had to follow.  What this means is that the majority of loans secured for a mortgage were insured by agencies selected by Congress.  Congress wanting every American to have a home had the Fed hold interest rates artificially low, something that is also currently happening today.  The problem with artificial interest rates are that the typical American assumes he can afford a low mortgage payment and doesn’t think about the interest hike that will happen 10 years down the road.  Since most mortgage loans are 30 years, a 5% unexpected interest hike left millions of Americans in foreclosure.  More was involved in the housing collapse but most economists will argue that the main reason was that banks were loaning money to people they knew couldn’t afford it.

This past year Congress passed the bill known as Dodd Frank to impose more regulation and requirements on attaining a mortgage in hopes to prevent a housing bubble to burst again.  They required banks to take on 5% of the risk which was a very smart move.  If a bank is required to take on risk selling the mortgage outright to prevent any risk is no longer an option.  However, there were three exemptions allowed that many can easily maneuver around.  This allows the borrower who meets an exemption the option of not providing of a down payment.

Two of the exemptions involve removing the risk.  If a home mortgage is insured by a federal agency they are insured 100%.  This leaves no incentive for the bank to research the borrower’s actual ability to make payments since they’ve taken no risk.  The other removes all risk if the mortgage is sold to either Frannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the two culprits of the first crisis.  The difference is since these companies went bankrupt they are now in federal conservatorships so now when a mortgage is sold to Frannie or Freddie it’s essentially being sold to the Federal government.  And when a person defaults on their loan American tax-payers will be held liable for the losses.

The short end of the stick is that banks were criticized for lending to whimsically and not assuming any risk and therefore never being held liable for when loans defaulted.  Now, instead of holding the banks liable it’s been put through a complex system that puts the risk on to the average American.  Now these are just exemptions and surely the majority won’t be using them right?  Wrong.  Nearly 85% of all loans will fall under these conditions placing 100% risk on the Federal government.  Should these policies go into effect within the next 20 years there will certainly be another crisis like the one in 2008.  Unfortunately, Americans have short-term memories and are more concerned about Republican versus Democrat that they’ll miss the signs; slowly headed toward another economic collapse all because everyone deserves to own a house.

Thank You for Smoking

The American Government is designed to be the collective idea of the people, but no matter what position there will always be an opposing side of the status quo.  The venue in which the opposition gets to voice their opinion is one that is quite favorable.  In Thank you for Smoking, Nick Naylor (Eckhart), subtly replies to his son, “our endless appeals system”, when asked what makes America the greatest country.  Anyone is allowed to play the game, as long as you have money and time.  That means rules and laws can be changed, created, or even eliminated completely based off who cares, or has to gain, the most from a particular outcome: the lobbyists.

Those who have a vested interest in a particular law or a potential law decide they need to do something about it, in the case of the movie the tobacco industry hired a silver-tongued lobbyist, Nick Naylor. This man spins the truth, twists the argument, and dominates the conversation so successfully extremists threaten and attempt to end his life.  He claims everyone needs to pay the mortgage, a thought that may require ‘moral flexibility’.  This is probably the majority thought of most lobbyists, a job is a job.  Regardless of ethics these jobs exist.  There are more than a thousand lobbyists for a thousand different corporations in America today.  Each person or firm is trying to make the law favor his or her business in any way possible.  The scope of influence that is required to make a difference that’s measurable requires money.  The natural thing occurs in this practice; the strong come out on top.  Everyone is allowed to the playing field but not everyone has the same gear.  The more money you have the more likely you can get a candidate elected who favors your position or better yet will owe you one.  Generally the big players can drown out the barely audible noise created by those they harm.

The funny thing is, we criticize and condemn systems for being abused and call out any shortcoming within reach, yet we apply the same principles a lobbyist does for a company to our own lives.  Nick is seen trying to persuade his ex-wife throughout the movie to let his son get to know him better.  The same tactics he uses to convince a court he applies at home, unknowingly.  Unsurprisingly the time the two spend together produces an eerie ‘like father, like son” scenario.  The son manipulates the mother and applies his newfound knowledge to his educational learning’s.  Smart kid.

Now, I know this is a movie and a satire at that.  Obviously these events are overdramatized and exaggerated.  Unfortunately, the shred of truth the story shares with reality is still an unpleasant picture.  The extreme elite of this country has an enormous influence and for the most part goes unnoticed to the public eye.  People all assume the worst; they pretend to understand the scope of corporate corruption; they concoct far-fetched solutions that never come to fruition because they can’t afford to fight the battles.  The average person is not willing to donate the time required to participate nor could most afford it.  The system has been hijacked.

The extremely unfortunate underlying problem that probably goes unnoticed throughout the film is the American collective thought: the public. An idea has been created, long before this film was ever made, that when something goes wrong someone must be held accountable.  Someone must make amends.  What better venue to hold someone accountable than the old fashioned lawsuit?  People expect tobacco companies to pay, or be held responsible for the deaths of lung cancer patients and other health issues associated with tobacco use.   Why?  It’s not an assumption when people say everyone knows the risks of tobacco use.  It is common knowledge yet despite these facts new smokers still arise every year.  As an adult making a conscious decision to smoke regardless of the risks places the responsibility on the individual.  I agree with quite a few of Nick Naylor’s positions and in the end have to support the existence of his job.  It is not the responsibility of the tobacco industry to pay for any damages caused while using their product.

The movie is great at convincing the viewer to root for what would be notoriously known as the bad guys.  It covers a lot of points and is often hysterical dry as it may be.  It leaves a feeling that personal choice in the end is the solution.  These thoughts dissipate within a few days for most viewers but a few just might be inspired to become lobbyists to have their point heard.  Although, the real solution for a smoke-free world could be to change the culture at home in your local community.   Slowly changing the way society views smoking because lets face it, sometimes, laws just don’t work.