On Problems

When I was much less mature, I was fond of bandying about with the phrase, ‘The reward for a job well done is a harder job.’ I used the cliché to signal that I wasn’t a sucker; that all the ways I ‘didn’t try’ were indicative of me ‘sticking it to the man/refusing to play his game’ as opposed to the more honest conclusion that I (often) didn’t give my all to ensure that I could dismiss any failure as not ‘real.’ Nowadays, I’m fond of reframing of the phrase. ‘The consequence of a problem well solved is a better/harder/more interesting problem.’ And that’s an outcome I’m actively working towards.

While I’m alive, there will never be an end to ‘problems’ and, most of the problems I/we have now are due to the solutions of the past. Trying to finish a book is a *much* better problem than figuring out how ingest enough calories so as not to starve (which had been largely ‘solved’ by my ancestors). Trying to figure out how to use my limited financial, political, and emotional resources to nudge my society towards being more just and humane is a *much* better problem than trying to figure out how to keep a larger animal from eating me and –again- my ancestors pretty much took care of that. But even though these are better problems… these are still problems.

Likewise, it’s helpful to remind myself that, as I raise my daughter, I can’t actually protect her from challenge; the *best* I can do is to suitably equip her to solve the problems of her life and (hopefully) give her better and more interesting problems than I myself had to deal with. I’ll give my all, and in so doing I’ll solve so many of problems (some with such completion that I’ll risk being able to even recall that the issue was once a problem for me) but the reward is *never* the cessation of growth and change and hardship – it is only the transmutation of these forces into a different form, possibly even one that would be unrecognizable by the standards of the past.

Composing a Life

I decided to type out my first toastmasters speech aka ‘The Ice-Breaker.’ Note: when speaking publically it is my custom to not properly write a speech, but instead outline one to develop a solid skeleton on which I drape an assortment of examples\anecdotes\facts. This helps me focus on what I want to communicate rather than slavishly trying to recreate the words on page. Also, because I’m practiced, keeping the speech ‘loose’ helps me feel more natural, aids in transitions (as, one missed line won’t hobble a segue) and (most importantly) this helps me expand or contract my talk based on time restraints and audience reaction.

 

Composing a Life

 

One of my favorite podcasts is ‘On Being’ and on a recent episode I heard the guest speak about ‘composing a life.’ I appreciated this metaphor; so often it’s been easy for me to fixate on this or that monolithic aspect of my life and view *that* as the arbiter of everything important… defining myself by a single relationship or a job say. What I like about trying to view my activities\life as a composition is that it brings renewed attention & interest in all the little things I do, it relieves some of the anxiety that any one thread has to be ‘all-fulfilling’ and reassures me that I have innumerable options by which to reach better balance. Today, I wanted to discuss three different practices I engage with to compose my life.

First, I practice Continue reading

Salt in Wounds Kickstarter

I launched a Kickstarter for my Campaign Setting ‘The City of Salt in Wounds’ last week. It’s currently 460% percent funded (ie, it’s raised over $23000 dollars) and in the words of one blogger is ‘Smashing through Stretch Goals like a Tarrasque smashes through a first level party.’ Holy crap, this is awesome.

headerexternal

Link

Some stuff related to the Kickstarter that I haven’t posted here:

Salt in Wounds Actual Play on GMs Showcase Podcast

Salt in Wounds Kickstarter Interview on RPG Academy

Salt in Wounds Kickstarter Interview on Legends of Tabletop (Coming Soon)

Salt in Wounds Kickstarter Interview on DM-Nastics (Coming Soon)

Guest Post on World Builder Blog (Coming Soon)

Pokémon Go and the Invitation to Play

I considered –briefly- writing an essay about why I’m not playing Pokémon Go despite it seeming to be nearly perfectly designed to appeal to me: a breakout, hyper popular Augmented Reality Game (ARG) that is currently dominating the overall geek conversation that all my friends are playing *and* you catch + battle Pokémon? That checks off so many of my ‘interest’ boxes it’s almost obscene. But simply put, I’m not playing because -at this point in my life- I have to be almost Spartan in my selections of past-times & hobbies, and I’ve decided that I don’t want to add any that involve a screen (since so much of my life is staring at one anyway) even if the screen in question is mobile and is actively aimed at getting me to interface with (a mediated version) of the larger world. I can’t do everything, I can’t play every game; and endlessly chasing the new hotness means I’d never get to enjoy anything.

However, I did want to touch upon the great promise of Pokémon Go as the first ARG to hit critical mass and so fully breach into the popular imagination. I also wanted to explain what it is about this promise that I believe makes it one of the most helpful trends I see in the world right now. That is, I wanted to write about Pokémon Go and all the ways we are getting better at inviting ourselves and one another to play. Continue reading

The Second Assault

A couple of weeks back, there was another spectacle of mass murder here in the United States. This one happened to be the worst in the country’s history since the template was established with the University of Texas Clock Tower Sniper shooting in 1966. This particular tragedy plugs into the rampant homophobia of our culture, homophobia that is perhaps in a reactionary uptick following the notable moves towards equal rights of the past few years. Like other televised, firearm enable spree killers, this horror-show incites conversations about mental illness, about toxic masculinity, about ISIS and the potential for self-radicalization (irrelevant to the particular case in my opinion, although absolutely integral to people with radically different fears than mine), about a lot of issues that we’ll argue as to how much they matter and what we should *really* be thinking about Continue reading