With a virus causing people to stay at home, most people are spending more time with family. While I am getting to spend more time with my family, I’ve also used the time to create a few things to fill the time. Specifically, I’ve self-published two products to make the time a little more enjoyable.
The first product I mentioned before. It is a book that contains puns and jokes that use puns. The book, Punny or Not Book of Puns, is sure to make you groan, laugh, and otherwise be distracted from those around you. If you are a parent, then you can use a different pun each day on your kids to see if they think you are funny or not. In the area of being a Dad, punning the kids is one of the highlights because it can often result in smiles!
The second product is a book I created for my kids and me, but decided to share it on Amazon as well. This is a Dots and Boxes Game book. The book contains the grids used to play the game.
More importantly, the book contains a number of non-standard grids. These grids are in various shapes to make the game a little more interesting. Shapes range from an hourglass to a sailboat. There is a school house, a spider, a jet, a smiley, and even a flower. There other other shaped boards as well. All constructed to make the dots grid a little more fun to play! This book is available now on Amazon for less than $8!
Both of these products can provide distraction from pandemics. If there isn’t a pandemic happening, then they are also good for simple fun or interacting while waiting for food at a restaurant! In fact, these books are great fun regardless of what is happening around you!
The library isn’t just about books anymore. One of the newer resource offerings from the public library within Fishers (The Hamilton East Public Library) is the category of board games. That is correct, the library offers the ability to check out a variety of board games. Note that board games includes a variety of strategy games that include boards as well as card games.
The library system has well over 200 games currently
available to be checked out. More importantly, many of these are more modern,
current games. You can view the games at the library, or search for them
online. If you do an online search, then just like with books, you can place a
hold on a game and the library will set it aside for you. If the game is
currently checked out, then when it is returned and your turn to get it, they
will send you a notice and hold it for you to come get. The only real difference
between checking out a game versus a book is that you must return a game to the
desk inside the library and not try to stick it in the book drop. This should seem
like an obvious difference since many of the games won’t fit in the book drop,
plus you’d want to avoid the risk of a game opening and spilling.
As mentioned, the library has hundreds of games of a wide
variety. I was impressed in seeing that not only are there are a lot of
mainstream games such as Code Word and Ticket to Ride, but the library also
carries a lot of the more abstract games that you’d find at a gaming conference
such as GenCon. Being that many of these games can cost $30 or more, using the
library’s copy, you can check out the game and test it before spending any
money. If you like the game, you can buy a copy. If you don’t, then you aren’t
out anything! Of course, you can always simply check out the game multiple
times, but that would reduce the chance for others to check out games!
My family tends to collect a lot of games. While we have
many that aren’t at the library, a few of our favorites were there. Some of
Catan – a popular game that most people are
aware of. Great for older kids and adults.
Hisss! – This is a color matching card
game that younger kids can play. While my kids have outgrown it, this is a game
we’ve held onto because it is mindless and kind of fun. It is extremely simple.
Carcassonne – The library has this and an
expansion. This is a tile game that isn’t too hard to play and requires a
little strategy, but with randomized results.
Codenames – This is a family and group
game. The library as both the standard edition and the Disney version. My
family is Disney buffs, so we enjoy the Disney version.
Disney Villainous – This is a new game
with a focus on the villains of Disney
Qwirkle – A tile game
Ticket to Ride – the library has the base
games and many of the variants as well
Although it is long, I’ve included a list of games that were
indicated to be at the library. This is pulled from the online catalog and is
not complete (because my kids have checked out a game that I don’t see on the
list). If you see one you like, then I suggest you go to the library site and
see if it is on the shelf. You can also go into either the Fishers or
Noblesville branches and browse what they have. The Noblesville branch tends to
have a lot more games than Fishers. At the end of the day, there are a lot of
great games to choose from!
The Game List:
7 wonders [game]
A game of thrones [game]
A game of thrones: Catan, Brotherhood of the
Above and below [game]
Arkham Horror [game] :the card game
Armageddon [game] : from the ground up
Ascension [game] : deckbuilding game
Axis & allies & zombies
Azul [game] : stained glass of Sintra
Bang! [game]: The Wild West Game
Betrayal at house on the hill [game]
Betrayal at house on the hill. Widow’s walk, an
Between two cities [game]
Blood rage [game]
Bloodborne : the card game [game]
Bob Ross [game] : art of chill game
Boss Monster : the dungeon building card game.
Camel up [game]
Can’t stop [game]
Carcassonne. Expansion 2, Traders & builders
Castelli [game] :
Castles of mad King Ludwig [game]
Catan [game] : Seafarers game expansion.
Catan. Cities & knights [game]
Catan. Explorers & pirates [game]
Catan. Junior [game]
Catan. Trade, build, settle [game]
Century : Golem edition [game]
Century spice road [game]
Champions of Midgard [game] : a game
Chinese checkers [game]
Chupacabra : [game] : survive the night
Cities of splendor [game] : expansions
Clank! [game] : a deck-building game
Clank! In! Space! [game] : a deck-building
Codenames [game] : pictures
Codenames [game] : top secret word game
Codenames [game]: duet
Codenames Disney [game]
Colt express [game] : schemin’ and stealin’ to
Cosmic encounter [game]
Cover image for Exploding kittens [game] 1
Cover image for Go nuts for donuts! [game]
Dead of winter [game] : a Crossroads game
Deluxe Pit [game]
Descent [game] : journeys in the dark
Dice Throne: Season one. [game]
Dinosaur escape game.
Dinosaur tea party [game] : a game of civilized
Disney Villainous : the worst takes it all
Dixit [game] :
Dominion [game] :
Downforce [game] : the game of high stakes speed
Drop it [game]
Dungeon! fantasy board game
Elder sign [game] :
Eldritch horror [game]
Epic spell wars of the Battle Wizards [game] :
Rumble at Castle Tentakill
Ex Libris [game]
Final act [game]
Finn & Gage [game] : the lesson of the lost
Five crowns [game]: the five suited card game.
Five tribes [game] : the Djinns of Nagala
Flash point [game] : fire rescue
Forbidden desert [game] : thirst for survival
Forbidden Island [game]: adventure … if you
Formula D [game]
Fuji Flush [game]
Grand Austria Hotel [game]
Great Western Trail [game]
Hail Hydra [game]
Harry Potter Hogwart’s battle [game]
Herbaceous [game] : a flavorful game
Here, kitty, kitty. A crazy cat collecting game
Heroes & tricks [game]
Hisss [game]: the colorful snake making tile
Hoot owl hoot! [game] : board game
Imhotep [game] : builder of Egypt
Isle of Skye [game]: from chieftain to king.
Jump drive [game]
Kill Doctor Lucky [game]
King of Tokyo [game]
Kingdom Builder [game]
Kings in the corner [game]
Kodama [game] : the tree spirits
Lanterns [game] : the emperor’s gifts
Last Front [game]
Last night on earth [game]: the zombie game
Legendary [game] : a Marvel deck building game
Legends of Andor [game]
Legends of the hidden temple [game]
Lost cities [game] : the board game
Love letter [game]
Machi Koro [game]
Mansions of madness [game]
Memoarrr! : a matching game
Mighty monsters [game]
Monopoly Disney [game].
Monopoly Star Wars [game].
Munchkin deluxe [game]
Murder of crows [game]
Near and far [game]
Nefarious : the mad scientist game [game]
One more lie : a novel
Outfoxed [game] : a cooperative whodunit game
Pandemic [game] :
Pandemic expansion : On the brink [game]
Pandemic. Iberia [game]
Paris connection [game]
Phase 10 [game]
Pina Pirata [game]
Pocket pharma [game]
Potion explosion [game]
Power grid [game]
Power grid [game] Expansion China/Korea
Puerto Rico [game]
Queen domino [game]
Qwirkle [game] : travel size
Qwixx deluxe [game]
Race for the galaxy [game]
Race to the treasure [board game]
Rise of Augustus [game]
Rising sun [game]
San Francisco Cable Car [game]
Secret Hitler [game]
Sentinels of the Multiverse [game] : card game
Shadow Games [game]
Sheriff of Nottingham [game]
Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective [game]
Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. The
Thames murders & other cases [game]
Sleeping queens [game] : a royally rousing card
Smallworld [game] : it’s a world of slaughter
Smallworld [game] : River World.
Smash Up [game]
Snake oil [game] : it cures what ails ya!
Space Alert [game]
Space base [board game]
Spirit Island [game]
Splendor [game] :
Star fluxx [game]
Star Realms [game]
Star wars : outer rim [game]
Star wars : rebellion [game]
Star Wars : rebellion. Rise of the empire [game]
Suburbia : [game]
Super Mario Bros. power up card game [game]
Super tooth [game] : a dino-mite card game
Tales of the Arabian nights [game]
Terra Mystica [game]
Terraforming Mars [game]
The castles of Burgundy [game]
The fox in the forest
The Godfather [game] : Corleone’s empire
The great states of America [game]
The Grizzled [game] : can friendship be stronger
The mind [game]
The quest for El Dorado [game]
The resistance [game]
The resistance: [game] : Avalon
The scrambled states of America [game]
The siblings trouble [game]
The sneaky, snacky squirrel game! [game]
The Tea Dragon Society [game] : card game
The Wimpy Kid 10-second challenge [game]
There’s a moose in the house [game]
Tic Talk [game]
Ticket to ride [game] : Europa 1912
Ticket to ride [game] : Europe
Ticket to ride [game] : first journey
Ticket to ride [game] : Germany
Ticket to ride [game] : India + Switzerland
Ticket to ride [game] : Nordic countries
Ticket to ride [game] : the cross-country train
Ticket to ride [game] : USA 1910
Tiny epic galaxies
Too many monkeys : a totally bananas card game
Treasure hunter [game]
Trivial Pursuit [game] : horror movie edition.
Truck off [game]
Tsuro. of the seas [game]
Tsuro. The game of the path [game]
Twilight struggle : the cold war, 1945-1989
Tzolk’in [game] : the Mayan calendar
Ubongo : sprint to solve the puzzle [game]
Uno moo! [game]
Warhammer quest [game] : The adventure card game
Werewords : the hidden identity word game
Whistle stop. [game]
World’s Fair, 1893 [game]
Yeti in my spaghetti [game]
Zombicide [game] : black plague
This is the first of a series of articles I’m working on that highlight some of the amazing things happening at our library. Our library is way more than just books!
This past week has been extremely busy with two new titles being published from my imprint, Yowza Publishing. Both are available today on Amazon.com in both print and ebook formats. I’m trying something different with these books, so both have also been released on Kindle Unlimited as well.
The first book released was another fun project, Punny or Not Book of Puns. If you follow me on Facebook, then you know I went through a period where I regularly posted puns memes on my Facebook. Additionally, I meet with a group of friends on a regular basis. One of their daughters regularly is tossing out puns to the group. All of this inspired me to see what it would take to pull together a book of puns. The result is not available on Amazon!
The second release this week is the book Small Sins. This book is very different. This book does not contain a lot of text. Rather, its primary focus is to present a list of sins along with a Bible related to each sin. The list is sure to spark controversy because of what is listed as a sin and possibly because of the verse used as justification.
This is a good thing. The reason to buy this book is to use it as a discussion piece. It’s perfect for Bible studies, Sunday School discussions, Church discussions, and even discussion among Christian friends. It’s a chance to build awareness of actions and determine to ponder the actions that could be (or are) not right to be doing as a Christian.
This book came about a long, long time ago, but is finally in print. I suggest you buy a copy and give it to your pastor to see what they think. See if they want to preach on some of the topics included.
It’s worth noting that I also published a book the middle of last month for my Mom called My Journey Through the Charismatic Renewal. This book is her story of life during the Jesus Movement. It’s an interesting read and will give you a little background about the world I grew up within.
The Nickel Plate Trail (NPT) has been a local topic for a
few years now. I’ve published on the status of the trail several times in the
past. On March 3rd, there was a public update meeting on the trail. In short, many
questions remain unresolved and seem to be getting no closer to being answered.
The trail is, however, moving forward – at least part of it.
This post contains my take-away from the meeting. It is an
attempt to reflect what I believe I heard and what seems to be happening. I add
my perspective to what I heard. This is after all a blog post, not a news
article, so I have taken the liberty to editorialize.
For those not wanting to read a lot, the short synopsis is that the downtown section of the trail will be built this summer. The rest of the trail north of 126th and south of 106th remains unbudgeted with no timeline. Building of the downtown trail is to do the asphalt/concrete trial, not the add-on features presented in the 20 year plan.
Nickel Plate Trail Phase 1: The Downtown Nickel Plate District
The downtown section (phase 1) of
the trail is going out for bids. It is targeted to happen this summer. The
focus is on doing asphalt; however, this will include the concrete work that
will need to happen around the underpass at 116th. The initial focus will be
primarily from South Street to North Street (so what is often referred to by
many as “The Fadness District” part of the Nickel Plate District.
After that piece, they will do a
phase 1b, which will be the asphalt from North Street to around 126th Street
and the asphalt from South Street down to 106th Street. This is hoped to be
accomplished this summer as well
The underpass on 116th will be among the most disruptive pieces of the trail construction. It is projected to cost in the range of $3 million for this part of the project, however, we’ll see how much its final bill is. This is getting bids and is expected to start the day HSE School close for the summer (around May 26th). This will cause 116th to be closed at the tracks. There was discussion of a 45 to 50-day timeline, with expectations that this could go as long as 60 days. My assumption is that they will do everything possible to get this done before school is back in session as this would greatly impact busing.
Images such as the following have
been provided for this area of the trail in the Master Plan as well as online.
It is very important to understand
that while these images have all kinds of features included within them such as
the BizKidz area, these are not a part of what is being done right now. It was
stressed more so at this meeting than I’ve heard in the past that these bells
and whistles are not a part of the initial build or spending. Rather the focus
is on the asphalt. The bells and whistles will need to be budgeted for at some
future date and are part of the 20-year plan – meaning that the city isn’t
committing to adding them other than to say that they could happen before 2040.
The expectation is that a majority of the trail will be a 12-foot asphalt trail with 2-foot concrete edges. On the South side of 116th in the downtown area, the trail will be 20 feet wide.
The Other Phases of
the Nickel Plate Trail
For those outside of the downtown
Nickel Plate District, you’ll be interested in knowing the timeline for the
parts of the trail from 106th South and from 126th North to 146th Street. The
answer is that these are currently unbudgeted and untimed. That is correct –
the city indicated that these are not scheduled and won’t be until they
determine the funding to cover their cost.
The initial tax increase of approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cents, which was reported to fund a $12 million dollar bond for the trail will cover the downtown section, which I thought was planned in the $7 to 9 million range (based on the last numbers that were floating around). The tax increase was for a one-year bond; however, my assumption had been that this was an ongoing tax. Being that the property tax rate didn’t go back down by this same amount, the tax seems to be continuing even though it is no longer associated to the trail. It was indicated that they would let me know why the tax rate didn’t get adjusted back down. (Side note: a similar 3 cent tax increase was added to pay for fire stations. If that was a one-time cost as well, then our property tax rate should have gone back down this year by about 4-1/2 cents).
In addition to asking about the tax rate and why it didn’t go back down if it was only for one year (which got a laugh), I also asked about the pavement of the entire trail. I asked why the city didn’t get quotes for doing the entire asphalt since doing the larger project would warrant a better rate. There was no answer to that. With the bond being for $12 million and the first phases being estimated under $9 million, it seems like they could have put pavement down for the rest of the trail (at the estimated cost of $1 million a mile).
I mentioned it earlier, but it is worth noting again that many of the pictures being used to promote and market the trail are considered ideas and are for the long term plan. The long-term plan is a 20-year plan going to 2040. Here are a few of the pictures used in the community presentation:
LED lighting, fancy structures, staging with tables and awnings are add-ons and not the focus of the first stage.
A few other Tidbits
There were a number of topics that came up not only during the meeting but also after the meeting in discussions. I simply ‘buckshot’ some of those here so as to share what I learned or what believe I heard:
* Adjacent Resident Grants
It appeared that a large number of people attending the community meeting were people who live next to the trail. I heard several questions asked after the meeting from homeowners about the Adjacent Resident Screening and Privacy Grant program being offered as well as questions on things such as lighting. One couple was concerned that lighting on the trail would impact them. Being that additional items beyond the asphalt are not currently budgeted, time will tell if this becomes an issue!
The city is offering a grant of up to $2,0000 for property owners that plan to install improvements such as fencing, landscaping, or buffering improvements. If requests for this grant are approved, residents will have 12 months to do the project in order to get the reimbursement check. These grants are available up until three years after the completion of the full Nickel Plate Trail. I’m unsure if this is the trail itself, or when the bells and whistles shown in the 20 year plan are completed. Either way, residents have time to tap into this grant program if they live next to the trail. More information can be found at PlayFishers.com/NPT.
* Stop Signs
I have reported on the stop signs before. The city is working diligently to change the legislation and address the legal issues to be able to remove stops signs and rail crossings. This will be happening.
The one intersection that is not expected to lose the stop signs is 131st Street due to the grade of the road. In the meeting, they specifically
listed several streets that would have the stop signs or railroad crossings removed:
Fishers Point Blvd.
Lantern Road / Commercial Drive
* No Trespassing on
the Nickel Plate Trail
The no trespassing signs were
addressed. In addition to the upcoming construction, it was stated that several
areas of the trail are unsafe due to the grades and such. The commented that police
are enforcing the No Trespassing restriction, so people should stay off the
trails until they are opened.
It was also stated that motorcycles have been seen on the trail. As such, it was indicated that even when the trail is completed, no motorized vehicles will be allowed.
* Library Changes
In the meeting, they stated that a change to the library is coming. Simply put, they are looking to move the entrance to the back. I wrote about this in my post, “Fishers Public Library Collides with the Lorax” so I won’t say more here.
* 116th Street Closing
– Spark / Concerts / etc.
The central portion of Fishers is going to be the land of road construction. As mentioned earlier, with the construction of the 116th Street underpass, it is expected that 116th will be closed for a period of time this summer where the rail crossing currently is located. The plans, however, are to continue to have the concerts, Spark! Fishers, and other events downtown. The city officials stated that parking has increased in the downtown area, and they plan to continue with events even with the construction.
* Head Scratcher –
Journalist from Indy and “Rails versus Trails”
One of the oddest questions raised at the community meeting was from a journalist out of Indianapolis. He asked if the decision had been made to not do rail. This was a head scratching question considering that decision had been determined last year and the fact that the rail has been removed from Noblesville to the state fairgrounds would make it harder to do light rail at this point.
Related to this, however, is the issue of mass transit. It was reiterated that this is a rail banking project, which means the rails could (unlikely) come back at some point. However, it was also stated that research showed that if mass transit were to be done, it would likely make more sense to consider the 37 corridor more so than the current rail location. Granted, for much of Fishers, the rail is near 37.
* Coordinating with Indianapolis and Noblesville
A person in the audience asked if Fishers was coordinating with Noblesville and Indianapolis. The answer included two comments. First, Fishers worked with the other two cities an a grant request. This roughly $9 million dollars that could be used on the trail if it is received.
The other comment was that Fishers would work with Noblesville and Indianapolis “if we proceed with the future phases.” I actually wrote that statement down in my notes because it surprised me due to its use of the word “if”. I would assume the future phases will happen; however, this statement was made as were statements regarding a there being no current source of funding for future phases. This raised a red flag, which leads to the next point….
* Countering “This trail is not for the Community“ Criticism
One of the big criticisms that has been posted by others on social media is that this trail is being done for businesses and not really for the community. This argument has been countered by stating that this is not the case. When you look at the focus and active planning being done between South Street and Lantern Road, combined with no tangible timing or funding for those neighborhood areas along the trail, it does give credence to the argument that this is about downtown and not about a long linear trail for the community.
When it was originally stated that the entire pavement could be done for roughly $4.4 million (a million a mile), you’d think that would be the first step as it would provide the most amount of usable trail in the fastest manner for the community. Rather, the city has focused on the business district where they will deliver the shortest piece of trail for the highest cost, with a 20 year target for completing the rest.
Wrapping Up this Post
This is a long post, and I covered a lot of information. This is quickly written so as to share the information quicker.
At least part of the trail is going to be happening this summer. Hopefully the city figures out that if they didn’t decrease our property taxes, then they are still be collecting millions each year from the residents and thus could do the rest of the trail. In fact, if they keep collecting that cent to cent and a half for park use, then Fishers should end up with the best parks in the state after a few years as we invest millions more. What would be even better is if we invest some of those millions to finish adding sidewalks around town so that residents can actually get to the parks.
Did I mention that there aren’t connecting sidewalks to the trail at 131th and that’s not in the plans. That’s a post for a different day.
I’m a huge (huge) fan of our public library. I’ve an article I’ll be publishing about the library that flaunts many of the great services it provides that are not books. I’m also a fan of green space and especially trees.
One of the cool things about Fishers is that it included local legislation that requires builders to include green space. While those rule were recently reduced in some cases, for the most part, there is an understanding that green space is valuable.
If you look around Fishers, you’ll see a number of huge trees. There are several along Allisonville Road, within our larger parks, and many other areas. In the “downtown” area, there are still a few large trees, with many being around the library.
It was disheartening to see many big trees ripped out with the widening of Allisonville Road, but it was sadder to see the trees ripped out in the downtown Nickel Plate area around the amphitheater and then in the lot next to the library so that a new 3 story building could be built. Some of the trees, however, were left in place behind the library. For now.
A new plan that was mentioned at a Nickel Plate Trail update meeting showed that a change is in the works for the Fishers Public Library (actually called Hamilton East Public Library). The entrance is expected to be shifted to what is currently the back of the building, and parking is going to be adjusted as well. This will allow for a path to be created from the new Nickel Plate Trail to the central amphitheater area of the city center. This is a current parking lot, so converting it to green space means new growth.
But this post is about trees!
Because the parking in the front of the library will be reduced, a new parking lot will be added to the back. This will mean cutting out many more of the remaining trees on the Northwest side of the library. These trees will be removed for progress.
As I hear about the changes being made, the more Dr. Seuss’ story of The Lorax comes to mind. What is ironic, however, is that it is the making of a new city park that seems to be driving the need to make the changes to remove green space.
It would be nice if the city looked closer at how trees could be saved. It often seems that the city strives for green space, but the end result is a bit less green and a lot more grays and browns.
When The Yard (not to be called the Yard, but rather The Fishers District) was initially discussed, there was a lot of talk about how it would not look like the typical strip mall with message parlors, cellular companies, and lots of parking spaces, but would rather feature outdoor green spaces. Clearly paradise was paved over at The Yard. As the library makes changes, let’s hope that we don’t move closer to the world presented in The Lorax.
I end this post with a song I’ve referenced before in regard to Fishers: