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Gaming Thursday: Top Secret NWO Review

April 19, 2018

Here we go!  Some 33 years after I bought my first RPG, Top Secret, the newly minted (and Kickstartered) Top Secret NWO arrived on my doorstep!  Written by the same author it promised a return to super sweet spycraftian action.  I ripped open the package to find a box sporting the deliciously familiar motif of gadgets and secret documents and money and IDs.

Ahh, wonderful nostalgia, both for the cover but also for a boxed RPG!

Inside awaited the rulebook, a set of bog standard dice, a pad of nicely done character sheets (albeit a bit odd in that they present a “folder” motif but since they’re one page it isn’t much of a folder…), a very nice looking and heavy duty screen, an introductory module (perfectly done up with prominent bands of yellow on the cover, again reminiscent of the module included in the original Top Secret box, good ol’ Sprechenhaltestelle), and a gaggle of play aids:  some die-cut counters (of artwork I am not that fond of), a series of vehicle cards, and a kind of secondary character sheet table card thing.

The intel is set.  The mission is clear.  Let’s dive into the debrief… Read the rest of this entry »

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Wonder Wednesday

April 18, 2018

There’s so much story that just drips out of this image… in addition to the undeniable beauty.

Wonderful photo by Piriya Wongkongkathep!

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 17, 2018

Our deep human yearning for certainty

Our deep craving to know

Our deep need for agency

Can all lead us

To great places

And great creativity

Spawning deep musings

Wonderful art

And beautiful acts of community

But they can also lead us

Down dark paths

Of arrogance

Of righteousness

Of hatred

And of force

Ways that are most harmful

 

The desire is real

It will set us off

to travel down those paths

It is only clinging

That can lead us astray

 

Part of being human

Is learning to live with

And dance within

The spaces of uncertainty

 

For there will always be some

And that’s ok

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Architecture Monday

April 16, 2018

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture looms almost as large as his reputation (a reputation built upon both his architecture and his ego and actions therein…).  One of the few architects to invent and develop four distinct “styles” during his tenure, each fully developed from a rigorous set of concepts, he designed over 1000 buildings (over 500 of which were built!) over a career that spanned 70 years:  homes, commercial spaces, landscapes, industrial buildings, and, as it turns out, infrastructure.

His design for a trans-bay bridge here in the San Francisco Bay area has been making the rounds of late – perhaps surprisingly this is the first I’ve seen of it (from the wonderful 99pi).  But I’m already quite smitten by it.  Called the Butterfly Bride, it’s sculptural and sensuous, with fluid lines that belie its highway-sized scale.

At the apex of the bridge, required for ship passage, Wright placed a large park in the form of the eponymous butterfly, from which to stop, relax, and observe the water and surrounding hillsides. Truthfully, I can’t see that feature being more than a novelty for longer than a year before it falls mostly into disuse, what with all the whirling traffic (folk were much more sanguine about the highway back then).  But the arcing forms are nice on their own and could be the starting point for a sculptural feature (which could still be adorned with greenery) as a focal point of the bride and something cool to drive through.

Quite the grandiose (though we should expect no less from Wright) and darn good-looking bridge.   And, quite oddly, one that shows up in one of the best christmas movies of all time:

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Wonder Wednesday

April 11, 2018

Aurora aurora burning bright…

sorry no real poem here,

you’re just a jaw dropping incredible sight

taking our breath away

across the inky blackness of night

photo of the “Dragon Aurora” by Marco Bastoni

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 10, 2018

we don’t talk about our foibles,

we don’t go looking for our hidden biases,

we don’t dig deep into our barriers,

we don’t examine our realities,

we don’t cop to our actions,

because it reminds us

that we’re human

in the ways

we don’t like

to be human

* * * *

it doesn’t have to be

about blame or shame

but rather

about being human

* * * *

we can dig deep into things

in order to become

extraordinary humans

and radiate all the best

humanity has to offer

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Architecture Monday

April 9, 2018

I first saw the Strawberry Vale school while I was in university, and I fell in love with it immediately.  There’s a lot of great stuff going on here, an inventive take on the idea of an elementary school that creates an amazing array of spaces that I certainly would have enjoyed the heck out of during my primary school days.  A playground of geometry that, if it seems like it erupted from the ground, it is because, in a way, it did; situated near a rock outcropping, the school follows the forms and contours to organize itself in a nifty way.

The key to the whole composition is in that winding hallway (although it almost feels pejorative to call such a big feature a mere hallway) off which classrooms, libraries, gyms, and more jut out into the landscape.  Full of level changes as it follows the land outside, it’s a visual treat and a logical way to organize a school.

The images speak well for themselves.  Ramps, stairs, corners, and more make for niches and protected alcoves that can be taken over by teachers and classrooms, while at the same time encompassing larger and enclosed spaces for many of the school’s shared functions.

The creative geometry of that central spine also allows for an abundance of light to enter every room, often in multiple ways and from multiple directions.  This is a dynamic building, with all the angles and jungle-gym like structure and the changing light throughout the day.  In addition, there’s a focus towards the woodlands that surround the school, tying nature back into the learning experience.

This is one cool and exciting school.  I don’t doubt the kids here gain a whole lot from the building and their environment as from the teachers themselves, there’s enough here to keep the mind engaged and amused.  Really great stuff.

Strawberry Vale Elementary School by Patkau Architects