Tag Archives: settlers of catan

Don’t dismiss the power of the fortune cookie

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received has come from the wisdom found inside fortune cookies. Yes, those delicious sugar wafers have come to my rescue on innumerable occasions. It’s often something that I take for granted, finishing up a delicious Chinese takeout dinner, discovering those three or four individually wrapped cookies thrown in between the double-layered paper and plastic bag combination used to deliver my food.


“Why’d they give us five cookies when we only ordered two dinners?” I gave up on even asking, because some things I’m probably just not meant to understand. Like just how do they get those little slips of paper inside the cookies? Are they baked with the fortunes already pressed inside the layers of cookie dough? Or do the bakers have to try and slip the message inside once they’re out of the oven?

And why am I so skeptical? Why, after having had so much secret knowledge revealed to me through the power of the fortune cookie, do I still look upon these treats as mere trinkets? It’s like I can’t get past my reservations, I’m always telling myself, it’s just a little trick, an ancient Chinese gimmick used to boost Chinese food sales.

But it’s not a gimmick. Like one time I opened up a fortune cookie, and it read: “If you are afraid to shake the dice, you will never roll a six.” Ha, I thought as I munched on those lightly sweetened wafers, that’s cute.

Only, later that night, I was playing Settlers of Catan with my brother and a couple of his friends. For the majority of the game, I sat mostly on the sidelines. I don’t know if it was poor settlement placement or just bad luck, but I wound up limping through the session barely even accumulating enough resources to buy a development card.

But late in the game I experienced something of a comeback. “Six,” the player to my left announced after rolling the dice. That was big for me. That was like two sheep. “Six,” again, the next roll was the same, two more sheep. Pretty soon I was knee deep in sheep cards. I had enough to trade for wheat, for ore, I was building cities. Before long, I was back in the game, I had a realistic chance of overcoming my opponents and capturing ten victory points to secure the win.

The dice were in my hands. All I needed was another six and that would be it, game over. But I was so nervous, my hands were sweating, I was worried about rolling the dice. And that’s when the fortune from the fortune cookie popped into my head. It was like I could read it, the visualization was so real: “If you are afraid to shake the dice, you will never roll a six.”

I closed my eyes and told myself, you are not afraid to roll these dice. I said it out loud. Everybody was like, “Rob, what are you talking about?” but I put them out of my head also. With a loose fist on the dice, I tossed them once, twice, and there was the release. Boom, boom, the dice hit the table.

Six. It worked. And then another six. It actually worked too well. Because when you’re playing Settlers, you’re rolling two dice, or die, I always forget which one is plural and singular. But it doesn’t matter. Twelve. No good.

I wound up losing. But not before learning a very valuable lesson: never underestimate the power of the fortune cookie. Maybe I should have examined my fortune a little closer, because what I really needed with those dice wasn’t a six, but a three and a three. Or a two and a four. You know, six total, not six and six.

I thought, you know what? That would be a great fortune cookie fortune: “Never underestimate the power of the fortune cookie.” I went to the Chinese food place and asked them where they bought their fortune cookies from. My search led me to a wholesale distributor in Paramus, NJ. They in turn gave me an address to somewhere in, you guessed it, China.

Let’s just say that negotiations are still ongoing. The people in charge of the factory are reluctant to put me on as a specialist. Even though I feel like I could really breathe some new life into the fortune cookie business. Like, why don’t you ever see fortune cookies outside of Chinese restaurants? Maybe you just need the right marketing and fortune cookies could be something you’d find in the snack aisle, a treat to be enjoyed independently of chow mein or beef and broccoli.

Anyway, heed my advice. The next time you get a fortune cookie, pay attention. There’s a lot to be learned. Plus, these winning numbers have to work eventually. Also, I learned how to say pants in Chinese: ku zeh. Pretty cool, right?

Rob’s day off

I had off today. When I woke up, I made a plan. I’d spend the whole day writing. I’d march right downstairs and sit at the computer and type out a ton of work, volumes of material. But now all of the sudden it’s almost 10:00 pm. I don’t know what happened. What about my plan? I thought it was a pretty decent one, as far as plans go. So now here I am, obviously a little more hurried than I had prepared for, and I want to get something down.

So what did I do with a whole day off by myself? Yeah, I probably should’ve mentioned that it’s not a regular day off, it’s a Monday. I mean, it’s a legitimate day off, but working at a restaurant, I often find myself with days off completely to myself, because everybody else is working. Especially on days like today, where I decided to skip showering and grooming, I always wonder if my neighbors think to themselves stuff like, “What’s this guy’s deal? Does he have a job? Why is his wife always gone but he’s always out walking his dog in his pajamas?” I want to wear a custom t-shirt that say, “In case you’re judging me, I’ll have you know that I work irregular hours at a restaurant, sometimes during the day, sometimes at night.” But to put all of that on a t-shirt? The font would have to be really small for it all to fit. And so if the neighbor that I’m imagining is judging me in his or her head, it’s probably from behind a window, not really close enough to read that whole message screen printed on a shirt.

But yeah, I went out to walk the dog in the morning. So that’s not really explaining where the day went. I drank a ton of coffee. Usually, and knowing that I know this kills me, but if I don’t start writing as soon as I feel the caffeine kick in, the coffee is just going to get wasted. All of that chemical fuel will just get spent wasting time on the Internet, or pacing around in a circle in the living room, something totally unproductive.

So I blew enough time to where all of the sudden I had to make lunch. The morning evaporated. I don’t know what I did really. I read some stuff online. I think I might have played a game of Internet Settlers of Catan. But then it was lunchtime. After lunch, which didn’t take long at all, I got this crazy idea in my head that now would be the perfect time to finally watch Prometheus which, for various reasons, none of them worth mentioning, I never got to see. But this was like one in the afternoon. This idea to watch a whole movie came out of nowhere, like I hadn’t even thought about this movie in forever. And not one part of my brain stepped in to interject an opposing thought. Nothing in me said, “Hey Rob, you know that movie is like three hours, right?” or, “Hey Rob, don’t you think you should maybe do some writing and then watch the movie?” There was no resistance. I thought about the movie, turned on my XBOX, rented the movie, and sat down to watch it, all within sixty seconds. It’s like my day was hijacked by Ridley Scott tag-teaming with my basest instincts of immediate gratification. And seriously, if you’ve seen the movie, well, I’m sure we all at least would have appreciated our money back, seeing as how it’s impossible to refund three hours of a person’s life.

And I had wanted to see this movie so badly that I couldn’t really consciously appreciate actually watching it until like two hours after it had finished. Of course, the movie ate up what should have been the most productive chunk of my day, and the next thing I know, my wife was home from school. “How was your day?” “Good, I finally watched Prometheus.” “Oh wow, didn’t you want to see that like six months ago? How was it?”

And I couldn’t answer. That was my first clue that something was wrong. I even opened my mouth to say something generic, “good, fine,” whatever, but my mouth was frozen. So I started thinking, did I like the movie? And I couldn’t answer that either, because I really didn’t know what was going on. So I went online to search for some basic answers to what I thought must have been elements that I had simply overlooked in the plot. But it turns out that everyone else who saw that movie shared similar frustrations. And in checking out everyone else’s critiques, it dawned on me that I was reluctant to agree with them only because I had been looking forward to watching it for so long.

So after I realized that the movie was terrible, I just kind of felt really deflated, bumming around the house. I was going to go running or something, but I didn’t. I still haven’t showered. I promised my wife I would cook something, because in the morning, before she left, I was all like, “Are you kidding me? I’m going to be so productive today! I have the entire day to myself! I’m going to write, I’m going to cook, I’m going to do the laundry!”

Fuck. Seriously, as I’m typing this out, I’m just now remembering that one of the first things I did in the morning was to throw in a load of laundry. But that’s all I did. I didn’t change it to the dryer. I didn’t get to any of the other loads. And I’m pretty sure that first load was our sheets, so they’re going to smell awful, just cold and damp all day long, and there’s no time right now to rewash them and wait for them to then go through the dryer. Damn.

Oh well, but I did cook. I went to the grocery store to make tacos. I was going to make pork tacos, but in the meat section I saw this package of chicken hearts. And I just heard them calling out to me, “You pansy. You wouldn’t know what to do with us. Keep walking, amateur.” And I was like, oh yeah?

So I bought them. They were like fifty cents. I think I rose to the challenge. I seared them real quick and then braised them in some stock. And I chopped them up and made tacos and told my wife it was just dark meat. I eventually told her, after we were done, but by then she had already finished, “And besides,” I pointed out, “you loved them. You ate every bite and loved it.” And she couldn’t disagree. Still she told me not to do stuff like that anymore without asking, but I don’t understand the problem. She’s living with a culinary mystery box.

So yeah, that’s it, Rob’s day off. Also, my wife bought three giant bags of Halloween candy, but we didn’t have any trick-or-treaters. Not even one. So today I ate all of it. It was the best. Just opening up the bag brought back vivid memories of Halloween as a little kid. But I don’t remember the stomachache being this bad. Maybe I just ate way too much today, heart shaped candies, taco shaped hearts, it’s all too much. Way too much day off with way too little to show for it. Except for this, that is. At least I got to write this. And at least you got to read it.