Joshua Bennett Vogel, October 27, 1964-December 20, 2017

This is, without a doubt, the hardest news I have had to share.

VOGEL, Joshua Bennett

With great sadness, the family of Josh Vogel announces his passing on December 20, 2017 following a very brief illness. He is survived and remembered with love by his parents, Richard and Patricia Vogel, and his brother Andrew Vogel (Wendy). Josh was 53 years old.

Josh loved music. Josh loved baseball. He loved animals, Budweiser, and pizza, but most of all Josh loved his family and friends. At the age of 18 he left Cincinnati for the west coast, and spent the remainder of his days in the California sun. A Policy Enforcement Specialist at Weebly, Josh will be remembered there for his love of laughter and jokes, once filling a coworker’s desk with dry cat food in response to a prank played on him.

His former wife Allison loved Josh’s Peter Pan sense of humor. His beloved Anna adored his sweet, gentle nature. If you knew Josh Vogel, you knew a kind man. You knew a man who loved a silly joke. You knew a man who, after years of searching, had finally found peace & contentment within his own life.

If you knew Josh Vogel, you knew joy.

A glass will be raised to Josh’s memory at Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA 94609, at 1 PM PST on Saturday, January 6, 2018.

Donations may be made to The Miracle League, helping children with disabilities experience the thrill of baseball.

Rest in peace, Josh. I love you.

That’s right, Josh.

Board Game Compression Experiment

Reading about folks “compressing” their games in preparation for travel, I was inspired.

We just returned from a weekend trip to Indianapolis (about 90 minutes from our home on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio) with a bag full of games (in their boxes) in tow. I thought this would be a good opportunity to experiment to see what could be gained by “compressing” these games for easier transport.

These were the games we took to Indianapolis with us.

These 11 games in their boxes pretty much filled my ‘game garage’, which is an insulated food transportation bag from Gordon Food Service, roughly 21″x12″x12″ (available in-store for $3.50). It’s got ‘good enough’ handles, though with that many games the handles dug into my hands a bit. Still, for the price, it’s a great solution. And if it breaks, who cares? It was $3.50!

I weighed the bag with the games in their boxes and it was 31.5 pounds. Here’s a picture:



  • To gain as much space as feasible by leaving behind the box, inserts, and any other non-gameplay-related pieces.
  • To take the entire game — boards, minis, pieces, parts, manuals, etc. Leave nothing behind but the box (and etc. as detailed above).

I removed all the games (except those marked with an “(*)” above which weren’t “compressed” because they’re already small enough {though I probably could have saved a little space in the Deep Space D-6 box and possibly the Tiny Epic Galaxies box}) from their boxes and put the components into a large Ziplock bag, one game per Ziplock. In the case of real travel, I would label each bags with a Sharpie. Components in most of my games are in small Ziplock bags within their boxes, so this was fairly easy. For card-intensive games like Mystic Vale, Ashes, Dresden, and Aeon’s End I rubber-banded the cards together in their groups as in the box (for example, all Book cards from Dresden were rubber-banded together). Manuals, boards, minis, and etc. were placed together into a stack nearby.

After “compressing” all the games, I put the manuals, boards, minis, etc. into the bottom of the bag. I put the Ziplock-bagged games in next. My ‘game garage’ was less than half full, and the weight was reduced to 23 pounds — a weight savings of 8.5 pounds!

Rubber bands are bad. If I were doing this ‘for real’, I would use something more forgiving than rubber bands to collect my cards together, especially cards with dividers like those in Aeon’s End and Dresden.

It bothered me very little to remove the games from their boxes and put them into easier-to-transport Ziplocks. If I had a proper solution to use instead of rubber bands for card-sets (maybe smaller Ziplocks for a bag-within-a-bag approach), I would not mind transporting games this way.

Every game’s components (except for boards, minis, and manuals) fit inside a standard gallon-sized Ziplock bag — even Delve with its loads of tiles and dice. Even games that feel “bigger” fit into a gallon Ziplock.

Mystic Vale is really heavy for its size.

Mystic Vale’s Advancement cards slice right through rubber bands. Like a hot knife through butter.

Flimsy boards and manuals need support. They can be a little floppy (especially the manuals) and I worry about them getting bent. Consider taking a printout of the manual on 8.5×11 paper — using FinePrint to save paper & space — for travel and store the boards carefully (maybe on top). Or use a piece of cardboard or a binder to provide some ridgity to the boards and manuals.

Consider not including minis to further compress. Or, perhaps more realistically, don’t take mini games (like Scythe) at all because the hotel may not be set up for them. The added bulk of minis and sometimes-difficult play conditions at a hotel make mini games (to me) less-appropriate candidates for travel.

One drawback I noticed was that the ‘game garage’ was less structured without the boxes inside, and it wouldn’t stand up on its own. This was expected, but still noteworthy.

If you’re traveling, don’t be afraid to take your games out of their boxes and put them into labeled Ziplock bags. Consider the boards and manuals as you pack to prevent them from getting wrinkled or buckled.


The manuals and boards.

Board Game Night, 2017-06-25

For many months now, Wendy & I have been quietly hosting Board Game Nights at our house. We try to get folks together for “gaming unplugged” about once a week, though sometimes schedules get in the way and make it less often than we’d prefer.

But once we get folks together, phones are put away (except for the occasional rules clarification and recording of the game on BoardGameGeek.COM), and people begin to interact in meaningful ways, all facilitated by cardboard chits. Laughter happens, drama happens, game-based tensions rise and are resolved, and common experiences are experienced, real-time and together, around a table.

Last night, we had friends over for the first time to play games, and they brought their bright 7-year old daughter with them. Among other games, we played MYSTERIUM, which allows you to vote for or against the selections made by other players. The little girl was very anxious about voting against anyone because “they’re [my] friends!”, she said.

We talked about it with her at the table, helping her to understand that it’s just part of the game and “nothing personal”. While she was still a bit apprehensive about voting against her friends, she embraced the spirit (pun intended) of the game and fully participated.

I hope, if nothing else, that she enjoyed the game. But more so, I hope that she learned that games can be a ‘safe space’ that is non-damaging (and in fact healthy) to relationships. Even if you have to vote against a friend!

RIP Chuck, a great dog

On April 11, 2016, we laid to rest our dear, sweet dog Chuck. He’d been with us a long time — and was a mature dog when we got him — so he was an old fellow.

Chuck’s story is largely unknown… Before we met him, he was brought in to one of the local animal shelters to be euthanized because he had large masses growing out of his ears. However, Leland, one of the animal shelter employees, saw something in Chuck and, instead of euthanizing him, brought him to Wendy’s hospital for treatment.

I don’t think it was love at first sight when Wendy saw Chuck. He was an unremarkable dog — black, skinny, with long gangly legs. Not particularly handsome nor particularly ugly or goofy looking. Just a black dog. Wendy worked on Chuck to surgically remove the growths from his ears and in doing so, found a spark between them.

As Chuck got healthier, Wendy’s fondness for him grew. So we adopted him into our home.

Chuck was, in a word, meek. He never got angry and took delight in simple things like laying in the sun, stretching out just as much as he could to take up as much of our bed as possible, and curling into as tiny a ball as possible when cuddled up on the couch. He enjoyed running with Wendy. But mostly wanted to chill out. Chuck was steadfast in his love for us — his whole adopted family — enjoying the cats as much as the other dogs. He escaped from the back yard a couple times, but came to the front door instead of running away.

Occasionally, he would race around our back yard at great speed. We thought he was a greyhound. When Wendy ran a DNA test on him, we were surprised to discover that Chuck was a mix of Dalmatian and Poodle! His nicknames were “Chuzzle” or “Chuzzlebutt”.

(l to r): Buster, Dolly, and Chuck
(l to r): Buster, Dolly, and Chuck

Such a gentle soul. Wonderful to have around the house because he was solidly present and interested in whatever you were doing, but never nosy or insistent. He just wanted to watch.

One time, Wendy came into our bedroom to find Chuck positively frolicking with a toy — tossing it into the air and catching it (well, trying too — Chuck was never good at that), play bowing, jumping around, and generally having a blast with the toy. Wendy went to see what toy was giving him such delight, she discovered it was a shard from a tennis ball that had been chewed up. Just the tiniest speck of a ball, and Chuck thought he’d won the toy-lottery. We named the top “Speck” and treated it with reverence (until our cleaning lady eventually swept it up with the vacuum).

Chuck was laying on our bed on which I’d tossed some plastic hangers. One of the hangers got hooked around Chuck’s collar in front, acting like a hobble as it bounced against his front legs. Chuck was startled by that, but just sat there, still, because he was confused. I had the time to take a picture of it while he waited patiently for me to rescue him!

Chuck Stuck
Chuck got stuck when this hanger hooked onto his collar.

His health declined and he was “circling the drain”, losing weight (his last several months he wore a doggie sweater to help keep him warm). Wendy and I went out of town briefly and put the animals into Wendy’s hospital for care as we normally do. Sometime during that stay Chuck “crashed” and, while he held on long enough for us to get back and be with him, we knew it was the end of the road for our dear sweet boy.

Chuck Last Pic
Chuck’s last picture, being petted by Andrew.

Chuck was a wonderful companion and a great dog. Rest in peace, faithful friend.

This was a difficult eulogy to write because Chuck is difficult to capture in words. It is hard to express how loyal, loving, and just-plain-nice Chuck was in a way that does justice to it. He was a pleasant dog, and a good boy.

20 Years!?

My calendar reminded me today that my first post on DrewVogel.COM was 20 years ago today… While I’d been writing online for some time before that, this article from April 6, 1996 was the first on this domain name.


While I don’t blog here much anymore, or at all for that matter, I still keep this site up and open because of its history. And it is still significant to me personally. There are many accomplishments documented herein, milestones along my path. I’m glad this site holds them all.

So many changes, challenges, and opportunities occurred in these last 20 years. The adventure is never as I expected, and always bolder and more exciting than I ever imagined.

Super Mario: We love you!

Today, full of energy, Mario is still running, running
Go save Princess Peach! Go!
Today, full of energy, Mario runs
Today, full of energy, jumping!
Today, full of energy, searching for coins
Today, keep going, Mario!
Get a mushroom – it’s Super Mario!
Get a flower – it’s Fire Mario!
Goomba! Troopa! Buzzy Beetle! Beat them all!
Mario is always full of energy and strong!
Today, full of energy, Mario is still running, running
Go and beat the Koopa tribe, go!
Today, full of energy, Mario runs
Today, full of energy, jumping!
Today, full of energy, searching for coins
Today, keep going, Mario!
Get a star – become invincible!
Quickly, go save Princess Peach!
Lakitu! Blooper! Cheep Cheep! Beat them all!
Mario is always full of energy and strong!
Today, full of energy, Mario is still running, running
He’s made it to the castle and gets fireworks!
Lightly sidestepping the Hammer Bros.
Show the last of your power, Mario!
It’s been a long journey but it’s nearly at an end
You’ve done it, you’ve done it! You’ve defeated Bowser!
Princess Peach says “Thank you”
Mario’s got a great big heart!
Mario’s adventure is over for now, but
Mario’s dream lives forever…

Farewell to Buster the wiener dog — RIP 2014-12-22

Buster the Weiner Dog

It was a long time coming, but Buster the wiener dog finally met his end on December 22, 2014.

He was a lucky little fellow… He came into Wendy’s hospital more than 8 years ago, already a mature dog, because he’d hurt his back and was paralyzed from the neck down… He was able to move his head and his tail. That was it. His owners, who were in poor health, felt they couldn’t take care of him and brought him to Wendy’s office to be euthanized. It was three little words that Wendy had written in his chart on a previous visit that extended his life.

“Great little dog”

You see, Wendy very rarely editorializes in her notes, so the presence of those three words struck a chord in Wendy. She asked the people if they would surrender Buster to her care, and we’d take the responsibility for whatever happened with him. The people didn’t want Buster destroyed, so they eagerly agreed.

Wendy called me that day and said, “Come to the hospital to meet you new dog”, and she hung up. I called her back, thinking we were accidentally disconnected. She repeated the instruction, “Come to the hospital to meet your new dog”. And she hung up again.

Intrigued, I went to her hospital! And met a sorry, still little dog. Though he couldn’t move, his tail wagged like mad when I greeted him. My heart was his.

We brought him home with no assurance of his potential to be a fully-functional dog. There were lots of “messes” involved… He couldn’t move to let us know he wanted to go outside and he couldn’t move out of the mess if he pottied inside. We took a yellow car wash sponge (you know the ones that are vaguely bone-shaped) and wrapped it in a plastic bag. We’d prop Buster on this to let him “stand” outside to pee. He’d let us know he was going by raising his tail, and let us know he was finished by unceremoniously rolling off the sponge onto his side on the ground.

He’d sit on the couch with us, cuddling. We gave him lots of drugs, did physical therapy, and even doggie chiropractic.

And slowly, he started to regain the use of his body.

Eventually, he was able to “commando crawl” — pulling himself along with his front paws while his back legs dragged behind. He looked like a little black seal.

I would put Buster on one side of a room then I’d lay on the floor clear across the room. He would commando crawl all the way over to me and nestle along my chest, resting his head on my arm. And we would lay there together as a reward for his hard effort.

After that, his back legs came, unsteadily, back online. He could walk, barely, and fell down a lot. A good aspect was that he was so close to the ground it certainly didn’t hurt for him to take the many tumbles he did. The height difference between a standing weiner dog and a fallen-over weiner dog is only a couple inches.

As he got better, we decided he was a “floor dog” — not allowed on couches, beds, or to go up & down the steps. We constructed a little ramp that helped Buster get to our backyard, rather than having to navigate the steps leading to our patio. It took him trying to go downstairs once and stumbling, falling, and tumbling to the bottom before he fully agreed with our “floor dog” limitation.

Buster was about 85% functional for most of the time he was with us. Not bad for a critter that had been paralyzed!

Buster lived with us for 8 years, and his previous owners estimated that he was 8 or 9 when they brought him in to Wendy’s. So he was a good old dog, and wore down as good old dogs do.

First, he went blind. Followed by doggie dementia and incontinence and a gradual loss of hearing. We were committed to keeping him with us as long as he was happy, and when we’d set food down for him — BOY was he happy! His little tail would whip around and he’d happily munch down whatever we gave him. Buster was always a good eater.

When we got back from our Miami trip in early December, Buster didn’t look so good and he never rallied. He started turning down food, which was a clear sign that he was done. He finally told us, by not eating, that he was ready to go.

Monday, December 22, 2014, I stopped at Arby’s to get him a Roast Beef Sandwich. It’s the traditional Last Meal for our pets. Buster didn’t even finish his sandwich. I think he “left it all on the field”.

We euthanized him around 6:30pm. And, true to form, Buster christened his passing with urine and feces. A disgusting(ly cute) little beast until the very end!