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Walkin'

As I write this the inauguration of our new president is on the television, and it’s hard to hold back tears as history unfolds.
More than a few times in this space I have– with more than a little vitriol–lamented the state of affairs of our country and world. Today, however, it’s impossible for me to have anything but hope and pride as the peaceful and ordered transition of leadership transpires.
I recollect at this time the often-quoted sentiment credited to Winston Churchill, “Democracy is a poor form of government but all the others so much worse,” or something to that effect.
In the spirit of this good will, I can even offer praise and thanks to the person I’ve derided many times: outgoing President George Bush. I still disagree vehemently with almost every decision made during his term, but it is a respectful disagreement nevertheless. Someone has to be in charge, and that someone was chosen by a popular vote (at least once, anyway). While I believe him to be wrong on issue upon issue, I do allow that his intentions were good.
He was the decider.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at a nearby elementary after-school program teaching math. One thing that strikes me again and again is how few families play games any more.
Maybe my family as a youth was an anomaly, but I don’t think so.
By the time I was in sixth grade I could play a dozen card games including: pinochle, rummy, hearts, spades, solitaire, war, casino and more. Every game involved some kind of counting and calculating, and I’m sure it gave me a head start on mathematical and logical thinking.
We also played many board games, starting with Chutes and Ladders and progressing up and through checkers, chess, Parcheesi, Sorry, Scrabble, Risk, Life, Stratego and others.
My least favorite was Monopoly. The game took forever and seemed to always end in a fight as greed overtook civility.
One of my favorites was Careers, a game that went out of production for a few years but now is back (it’s sold at the game kiosk at Coral Ridge and is available on-line). If you’re looking for a game to play with children eight and up I highly recommend it.
Like most games, the end results rely on luck but the player with a well executed strategy has a leg up.
The premise of the game is that there are three components of a successful career: fame, fortune and happiness. Through the play of the game participants learn that the three are interconnected, sometimes positively and other times negatively.
Discovering ancient ruins while exploring, for example, earns both fame and happiness but no money. Getting involved in a Hollywood scandal earns fame, but you can lose your happiness.
It’s thought provoking and a good conversation starter as to what success really means.
The game also requires elementary math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division– plus a little work with percentages. It’s a great educational game that’s fun to boot.
The first game may take more than a couple of hours as players become familiar with the rules, but only an hour or so after, everyone becomes familiar.