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Wonder Wednesday

November 14, 2018

Cute little kitty ramen truck!

by Tim McBurnie

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 13, 2018

If you want to draw water,

You do not dig six one-foot wells.

You dig one six-foot well.

Variations on this phrase have been attributed to many great philosophers and thinkers over the years (be it Sufi or Buddha or some other), but no matter its origin (which I’d wager is more likely to be pedestrian rather than profound), it remains a lovely little didactic parable that nicely encapsulates a number of philosophical hooks to leap from.

For one, it can be taken as a tale of intention and perseverance: “To flit about and abandon things quickly may not always yield that which will slake your thirst.”

It may also be taken as a tale of collaboration and unity: “When we dig only for ourselves, we come up short; when we dig together, we can reach rewards of superabundance.”

And for me, the most profound comes when I take it this way: “Remember that there are many valid paths, and everyone ends up drinking from the same water.  We don’t need to divide ourselves based on the specific well.  The important part is that we are digging our well, that our well aims true, and that we dig deep enough to reach the water of spirit and enlightenment.”

In both martial and philosophical arts, I have found that any “style” or “method” or “philosophy” developed to a high level begins to sound the same.  They start talking about the same things.  They have to.  Because we are all the same human body, and the same human being.  They may talk about things differently, or have different conceptual frameworks, but ultimately they are all pointing to the same thing.  The same water.

Search to find a good spot for a well.  Set yourself down.  And start digging.

When you find another drinking from a different well, revel in the water below.  Look down their well to see what new things might reflect back for you.   Share the experiences of the waters you have reached.

When we cease our flitting, begin our digging, work together to bore downward, and support each other in our well building efforts, we can all reach and revel in that sweet, cool, water below.

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Architecture Monday

November 12, 2018

I’m not going to lie; this post is almost entirely driven by that first image.  Something about that lush greenery (it’s in Indonesia), surrounded by the solidity and blue-grey texture of the surrounding walls, with that pathway emerging to head over a bridge made of that same blue-grey stone over a pool of placid water to mark the boundary before stepping onto a terrazzo floor while a canopy of warm wood floats overhead, all counterpointed by that wood vase… yeah.  I dig it.

I also won’t lie to say I don’t have some concerns for this house’s location and size, perched on a steep hillside in what seems to be spectacular countryside.  So I’m a bit conflicted about this one, not knowing the full context and what may have been taken away to create these beautiful moments — sometimes just because we can build somewhere doesn’t mean we ought to.  And of beautiful moments, this house does indeed have plenty, with lots of lovely interplay between the surrounding vegetation and the built spaces of the house, with vistas and openings and courtyards and hanging gardens, oh my!

Inventive and a great blend of traditional house types with modern sensibilities.

The Chameleon Villa, by Word of Mouth Architecture

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Stompy Day: Heavy Gear Action

November 11, 2018

Finally got in some Heavy Gear gaming, learning the rules and the ropes, as it were…

Also got a chance to try out a nice laser line generator, which was a glorious gift for figuring out line of sight (where has this thing been all my life?).

It was a fun afternoon of stompy action!  We just did a simple scenario with the base subset of the rules and typical front-line units to familiarize ourselves.  We’ll keep adding to the mix* in our next games.  Also will continue to try out using satellite photos as the playing field, and maybe even some 3D printed terrain.  More fun times ahead, I’m looking forward to it.

* Though, as you can see, I’m already way behind in putting together enough minis…

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Gaming Thursday: Conveying the Rules

November 8, 2018

Over the past 6 years or so, I’ve had fun trying out many new game systems.  From role playing to pure tactical, from the crunchy to the more narrative, they’ve run the gamut.  Through this all I’ve been reminded of two very big things:

  • Crafting a smooth, engaging, fun, and enabling game system is an art.
  • Conveying those rules with clarity and structure is an entirely separate art.

Neither of these are revelatory, of course.  But while most of these new systems I’ve come to enjoy and find quite well done, almost all of them suffer greatly in the second department.  Often, horribly so.

It’s a strange phenomenon to me, this consistency to which rulesets these days (in my experience, at any rate) are both poorly explained, with awkward, ambiguous, and poorly worded statements, and poorly laid out, with the most egregious (and, again, common) being interlocking rules elements that are strangely separated in the book by whole chapters and further compounded by meagre, or worse, no index so you can’t readily find things mid-game.  It is one reason I’ve been making so many cheat sheets – designing them allows me to see and learn how the game rules actually fit together*, with the in-play for quick reference being almost a bonus feature.

This may be starting to sound a bit like a rant, and truly I don’t mean it to be.  Instead, these two things have been great reminders for me of the importance of finding and trusting good editors and, even more importantly, being aware of what we’re good at, and what we’re not.  We may be brilliant at designing rules, but we may stink at writing them down (or vice versa).  Hiring people to aid us in those roles where we are weak can be the best thing for us and the game.

It is also a reminder that when I do find a game that excellently handles both bits, celebrate both the rules but even more so the authors/team who wrote them and laid out the book with such elegance.  For it is most certainly not a given.

 

* To which really allows one to see just how strange the organization can be by noting how many times, forty or sixty pages later in the book, you need to go back and add something to a part of the cheat sheet you thought you were done with.

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Wonder Wednesday

November 7, 2018

The astounding beauty of the Faroe Islands…

photo by Karl ‘Shakur’ Ndieli

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 6, 2018

It is like tuning an instrument

 

You cannot expect to do it just once

And have it stay perfect

 

You have to do it ongoingly

Daily

Tuning

And adjusting

So that it sounds better and better

 

So too with life

 

You cannot expect to transform something

Learn something

Gain wonderous insights

And get something, once

And have it stay perfect

 

You need to keep doing it

It is a practice

 

And with practice

You approach that more perfect state

Leading to evermore beautiful harmonies

And to evermore beautiful lives