Coaster Wednesday!

So, this happened:

IMG_20150720_132104558_HDR

Or, more accurately, a lot of those things happened!

Yes indeed, just over a week ago I satisfied my itch for awesome roller coaster action by hitting up Six Flags Magic Mountain for 10 hours of nearly non-stop coaster riding action. Longish lines meant that those 10 hours resulted in “only” 19 coaster rides – and yet what glorious rides those were.

Ready? Secure yourself in and DO NOT STAND UP! Continue reading

Philosophy Tuesday

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

Remy:  “Oh, please. I’m sick of pretending. I pretend to be a rat for my father, I pretend to be a human for Linguini. I pretend you exist so I have someone to talk to! You only tell me stuff I already know! I know who I am! Why do I need you to tell me? Why do I need to pretend?”

Gusteau: “Ahhh, but you don’t Remy. You never did.

— Ratatouille

Architecture Monday

Note… this is not a Frank Lloyd Wright building:

not a textile block house

But it is perhaps one of the classiest restroom facades around.

(Just back from an amazing week in LA!  Sorry for the week of silence.  The above was taken within California Adventure at the Disneyland resort;  I laughed so hard when I saw this, I wonder if the cast members looked at me with worry that perhaps I had lost my mind…)

VidCon is over

Wow. Vidcon 2015 has been an absolutely amazing experience for me. I went in with a curious mind and came away with so much more than I imagined. I learned many things, discovered kinsmanship on a whole new level, met delightful new friends (hi everyone!), received a tonne of support and love, delighted in Art Assignment projects, juiced up my excitement for my designs, met many wonderful people, shared in our individual and collective passions, interacted with wonderful YouTube personalities and mentors, and rocked the night away with the Driftless Pony Club as well as Hank and the Perfect Strangers.  A wicked three days. I come away totally happy.

Thank you everyone for a completely fantastic time.   I am so looking forward to our continued journeys together.

Gaming Thursday: Rabbits!

Ever since I bought Bunnies and Burrows, many moons ago, I’ve always considered that it would be one of the toughest RPGs to run. For one, everyone is a rabbit, an everyday, ordinary rabbit who can count to four and maybe knows a bit of herbalism or bun-fu. I figured you would need a very good group of players, fully invested in the idea and willing to really get into character and drive the game through the everyday bunny type adventures you’d have. Oh, there could be the epic quests like those in Watership Down, but the game suggested revolving the campaign more around the trials and tribulations of keeping the warren safe, exploring the local area, some mischief with local farms. You’d need a lot of support to carry that.

Plus, I never owned the original version, only the GURPS remake of it, and I’m really questioning now if that type of system would have supported the play well, making the job even more of a challenge to run.

With my recent exploration into FATE and the playstyle it encourages, I’m now much more confident that such a game would be runnable. Sure, invested players would still be indispensible, but the way the systems are set up for that kind of a game style it nudges the players and lends itself to the freewheeling nature of that kind of story as well as the ingenuity of the bunnies.

‘Course there are other systems that also fall into that category, and now there’s a chance to find out how it’d run in the Apocalypse World Engine. And of course it’s another Kickstarter! $10 bucks gets you the completed PDF!

I’ve jumped in. Though I’ve never seen how hard, or easy, it is to run B&B, with this I might just.

(As an amusing side note, I bought Bunnies and Burrows before I read Watership Down, and somehow it was through the reading list at the back of B&B that I ended up learning about and reading Watership Down, a book that I still read chunks of on a semi-yearly basis…)

Philosophy Tuesday

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

We may not like our history, but it’s history.

History, however, need not define us.

Nor how things will go.

Creating the future begins by taking responsibility for our history.

All of it.

Be present to the what happened.

Get all the unsaids,

all the hidden views,

all the truths we’ve been telling ourselves for years.

Be responsible for those too.

Be willing to accept the consequences.

Clean up the messes made.

And get responsible and involved for charting where we want to go.

Get in action.

It may not be easy.

It may not be quick.

But if we want to live and be who we say we are…

It’s what we have to do.

Architecture Monday

Even the simplest briefs (aka “the program” in architecture) can be a source for wonderful space (and why shouldn’t they?). Here’s a little writer’s shed, created by WSD Architecture for a client in London. Nestled in amongst well aged and somewhat monotone neighbours, this wood folly gleams like a lantern through the clever use of its fenestration and simple wood slatting. Inside it is organized to bring in high quality light within its playful volume and whimsical forms.

A few moves is all it takes; adding design and not dollars.

Fancy some writing?

Automata

This ought to be cool… the Penny Arcade folks are shooting to get a digitally-distributed mini-series of their Automata storyline produced, funding it through Kickstarter.  Of all their “side” projects, this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most, I like the premise (film noir prohibition era gangster detective story with “thinking machines”-style robots) and the stories they’ve told so far have been very evocative and always leaving just enough uncertainty at the end to keep one hungry for more.  I’d recommend checking out the stories they’ve done, and check out the Kickstarter too:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pennyarcade/bring-penny-arcades-automata-to-life/

(Kickstarter — making it possible yet again for me to support things I like.)

Philosophy Tuesday

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

It is also a conversation about the context in which companies can operate, and the context in which they are currently operating.

“How do we love all the children, of all species, for all time?”

— William McDonough

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and about the ways that companies and our businesses act, or don’t act, how we judge companies, and how that influences their decisions on how to act. There’s a lot to say here, a lot of interconnected pieces, I’m not sure how to say it all succinctly, or how to encompass it all.

Still, if I were to start from first principles – from intentions – then I would state my view this way:

A company ought to provide a great service/product while providing a great living to as many people as they can.

That, I would say, is and would be a wonderful metric by which to judge the performance a company.

I assert we as a society have gotten myopic in our assessment of companies, especially as they get “bigger”, looking primarily through the lenses of how “profitable” they are, or whether they are “growing”, as the measure of their success. Further, we have misjudged what profitable means: A company needs to produce enough revenue (money coming in from sales, etc, thus it needs to have a customer base to supply this revenue) to cover its expenses (salaries, production costs, taxes, location costs, R&D, loans, etc).   If a company has been in business for 20 years while employing and providing a good living to 10 people , while enough of the populous likes its products enough to support the company and its operations, then I doubt most of us would ever hear about it, much less hear it touted as a “successful” company. It isn’t growing its market base. It isn’t being more “profitable” year in and year out. It isn’t “crushing” the market.

But let’s look at this.

This is a company that employs a gaggle of people, people who may well love what they do, enjoy the product or service being provided, and are being supported in their livelihoods. And if the company’s been around for 20 years, then whatever it’s providing is clearly wanted, even if it’s not on the front page of every paper.

Inside the view that a company’s sole metric ought to be, or if by law it should only pay attention to, turning the maximum amount of profit, year in and year out, many things, such as paying minimal wages, externalizing costs into society or into the environment, making shoddy and disposable products, having lousy customer service, egregious contracts, low pay, slick marketing, and etc, make perfect sense. It is what we are demanding they do, because all else is supposed to be secondary to making the biggest profit or biggest gains possible.

That race for the bottom becomes weird: you pay your employees as little as possible, but then you have to externalize costs as much as possible to make the products cheap enough to actually let those same employees be able to buy things, so that the profit can be made. Low, lower, lowest. Meanwhile, the profits all get drained off to… somewhere. At best, to the workers; at worst, not the workers, or the consumers, or society.

But if life is for the living, then why can’t our companies operate that way as well? There’s nothing that says (and indeed historically they haven’t operated this way) that a company need muck over as much as possible to get the biggest buck as the only way to operate or survive. They could survive quite well without that.* And still thrive and still endure and still provide.

Rather than this zero-sum game, what would it be like to have companies operating where they are maximising the honouring of its employees? Maximising the honouring of society and the planet? Maximising the honouring of its clients? Companies focussed on living and making a living and providing (a) living/life? **

 

* – And, in fact, might well be much better off…

** – And I know there are some companies that do indeed operate this way (and hats off to them!), and I also get that, due to the current context, there is less money flowing which makes it difficult and more of a context of survival for many businesses.