Gaming Thursday: Maps

For the BattleTech game I hosted last weekend, I thought it’d be fun to stomp around our neighbourhood. And it was fun!

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It was also delightfully easy.

It’s amazing what we have at our fingertips these days. I fired up Google Earth, found a spot, and in very short order had us a map to play on. Admittedly, having access to a plotter was super convenient, but Kinkos or blueprinting houses also make it pretty easy to get large-format stuff printed.

Here is the map if you’d like to use it in your own game. The first link is with the hexes, the second without. In the future, I think we’ll go without the hexes – for a “real world” thing like this not everything fit well in the hexes and we had to do some fudging to make it playable, so not having the hexes and using full mini rules would’ve been about as easy.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwWNIxxlcbsvZE1DbEhIWURybkE/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwWNIxxlcbsvTXE3anYxY05hMlU/view?usp=sharing

Be sure to download — the preview makes the hexes look positively uber thick.  Enjoy!

(Humorously, as I didn’t intend for this and didn’t even realize where I was grabbing the map from, one of my gaming buddy’s house is on this map. It survived our battle….)

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

“Pain is mandatory. Suffering is Optional.”

— Haruki Murakami

There is a distinction in our lives, a line, between sadness, pain, frustration, or unhapiness… and suffering.

As humans going through life, we will have periods where we are sad, where there is pain, where we are unhappy, where we are unsure, where we feel alone, where we are frustrated… and that is OK.

We don’t like it! We don’t want it! But that is OK.

Because…

They need something else, something we add, to kick them over into suffering.

Suffering is a different level, a different experience, a different realm. It kicks us in the teeth, it sears, it wallows.

We all know suffering.

The pure emotions, however… like sadness… can instead in many ways be some of the most beautiful, honouring, and healing of human emotions.

When we are suffering, we no longer gain their powerful experiences and their healing abilities. We are miserable. We can become stuck and constrained.

If we let them be, when we can be present with and respect those emotions, we get a powerful experience of being alive.

When others in our lives can be present with and respect those emotions, we both get a powerful experience of being connected and of being alive.

We honour ourselves and we honour others.

We move through the emotions quickly, and we can emerge invigorated.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

“I pledge to pay people what I can.
Not what I can get away with.”

I saw that quote on a business’ webpage recently. The quote is worth sitting with for a few minutes just on itself, as it is almost foreign to the common conversation around buying things, making things, paying people for things. It jostles things up.

After I sat with it for a while, this quote really struck a chord with me. Not only for the economic and ethical possibility it speaks to – one of dignity, fellowship, and business acumen – and that is a remarkable and awesome way to run a business – but also on a grander scale. Because, why not play that way everywhere? To operate in our relationships, to operate on our planet, to operate in our societies, to operate with our actions, and to perform, all from a space and a promise of coming from our utmost, our all, our whole, the fullest expression of whom we create ourselves to be.

Not what I/we think we can get away with.

Architecture Monday

click for more info

The work of Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio is, and I hesitate to use the word from the risk of sounding overblown, legendary. A firm believer in the credos that “everyone, no matter whom, deserves the benefit of good design,” the studio has been producing engaging and conscious work for decades out in the counties of western Alabama. The Glass Chapel is a great example of their work. Using recycled materials, rammed earth, and striking wood beams, the Chapel is a marvelous space within, pulling one upward and forward with a great quality of northern light. It is at once exciting and comforting. Outside, the overlapping forms strike a complex pose, and especially with the rammed earth walls it speaks of an extension of the landscape, as though a rock formation pushed itself up.

It is a locus, a space of gathering.

Architecture is not just window dressing, architecture is not just the plaything of the well-to-dos to be collected and traded amongst themselves, architecture is not an unimportant extravagance, it is the purview of everyone, everywhere, everyday – and the Rural Studio embodies this in spectacular fashion. All with a touch of whimsy, and all done on what might be termed “shoestring” budgets.

Design happens here.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

I’m also unsure what exactly I want to write here. All I know is in reading the recollections of Kevin Vickers on his experience after the events on Parliament Hill of last October, I am in full of admiration and inspiration for his words and his reflections. That day he, in his duty as Sergeant at Arms, killed an assailant that had shot their way into the halls of Parliament. In the aftermath, he did not vilify, he did not celebrate, he did not triumphantly turn it into a talking point. No, he instead recognized it for the tragedy it was, the tragedy for all involved. Including the assailant, and path that led him there. The morning after was one of the “loneliest moments of his life” he said, and he let it in. He chose to forgive, chose to be humble, and chose to feel and grieve at the disjunction it is to take another’s life. And to speak openly, fully, and honestly about it.

He did his duty. He ended a terrible situation. He was well celebrated and well hailed. And he has chosen to keep his humanity and remember the humanity of us all.

That is remarkable and moving and a reminder of whom I want to create myself be.

Architecture Monday

I think it was somewhere around 38 minutes into my first visit to Parc Citroën that I realized the delight, and importance, or the urban park. Not that before then I disliked, or discounted, parks in the middle of a city, but more so realizing that this particular urban form of park (Yerba-Buena Park in SF is another example, and the High Line is one too, of a fashion…) provides a certain je ne sais quoi for the city. They are made of the stuff of the city, but are made unlike the rest of the city. They create space without being confining – a hard border, mixing zones, different forms and abstractions, and places, things, sculptures, delightful follies of form and structure and building and deconstructed building, and events, all to interact with, all while also interacting with your fellow city dwellers.

So there I was, at the Parc Citroën, on the bank of the Seine, walking in for the first time, leaving the city behind but not really leaving the city, being surrounded by the city while simultaneously being in silent stillness, wandering aimlessly, exploring this way and that, discovering nifty little patches of colourful gardens, wandering amongst the waterfalls and fountains, witnessing people at play and at rest. As my friend and I stood within the humid confines of a narrow greenhouse, surrounded by huge leafs and odd flowers, I was hooked.

Years later, on a subsequent trip to Paris, after a long series of overnight flights, my friend and I dropped our bags off at the hotel and immediately headed to the parc, and napped in amongst the paths and the trees and the life. An hour later, we headed back into the city to start our visit, rejuvenated and ready.