Archive for category Blog2012

Philosophy of Mixology

Tonight I’m co-hosting a party with the amazing Paul Barclay and Erin Alexander, whereby they will make delicious tapas-style food and I will recommend and mix drink pairings for guests. It’s super exciting, and I am woefully underprepared! Just now I am sitting down to take a look at the menu (this stuff looks frickin’ delicious) and wondering about:

  • whether I’ll have access to the appropriate mixers
  • whether I should be pre-determining components rather than full drinks, to better suggest a pairing for the individual
  • what sort of drinkers will be at the party (I’m best at hard liquor mixing, pretty bad at recommending beers and wines)

My general philosophy with mixing drinks for friends is to ask simple questions that help determine taste. For example, do you like drinks on the fruitier side? Or more “fresh”/”clean” tasting (like a martini)? Using a series of these questions (usually no more than three), I can find a tasty drink for the person. Doing pairings will be trickier, since I want to recommend a good drink to go with the dish but I don’t want to be giving tequila-based stuff to a rum drinker. Haven’t quite cracked that chestnut yet.

One thing I know for sure – after about two drinks, everyone’s going to love the third, so that takes the pressure off. :) Also, I’ll probably be taste-testing my creations, so I’m sure I’ll de-stress pretty quickly too! 😮

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On Certainty

I’ve been giving thought to the idea of certainty and how it affects one’s life. In my opinion, certainty is like faith – if you have it, it’s because you believe something so strongly that no doubt remains in your mind. My scientific mind rebels at this, the skeptic in me screaming that you can never KNOW enough to prove beyond doubt using only the evidence of your eyes and your experience. So I remain uncertain, unwilling to commit to only one of many possible outcomes whenever there is even a shadow of a doubt.

There is a hidden cost to uncertainty, though, and that’s insecurity. When you are certain you are doing the right thing, or when you are certain in some aspect of your own future, you are confident and untroubled. Even new information fits into the framework of your certainty, and your faith can remain unshaken. When you are uncertain about your choices and your future, you doubt yourself and wonder how many things lie outside your control or ability to influence. Every new piece of information can trigger a staggering amount of reevaluation and that’s no recipe for confidence.

Is there a middle ground? I wonder about people who “want to believe” – is the desire to have certainty enough to inspire confidence? I feel this way about free will – as many folk I have talked to say, you either have faith in it, or you must live your life like you do, in a “fake it ’til you make it” kind of way. How dishonest is it to fool yourself into certainty? Even if it’s effective, is it worth the cost to open-mindedness?

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Howl like the Wolf and Minigames

So, you probably know that I like dogs. They are so awesome. BUT! What you may not be as keenly aware of is that I also like to howl. Back when Max was a young puppy beagle, I (perhaps unwisely) used to howl quietly at him to try to get him to bay. I also tend to howl as a reflex when I see a full moon. And I noted tonight, while drafting the latest Magic set Innistrad – which among other beasties has a number of Werewolves – that I absolutely love howling when I first pick a Werewolf card in draft. I’m so happy that we made a format where I can proudly howl at my fellow players, especially because with the fact that all the Werewolves are double-faced cards, I don’t just look like a crazy person (well, not all the way) because everyone can see I took the Werewolf.

I also find that it reminds me of the joy of mini-meta-games – that is, using goals outside the primary goal of a game to enhance one’s own enjoyment, like a sidequest or a personal mission. When I am playing a game that is old hat to me (like Magic) and/or I get bored with the primary goal of the game (like in Risk: Legacy), I look for other things to do that fill my attention. The aforementioned games have a plethora of sub-goals to focus on (like synergistic combos, “one big turn,” opening new packets of stickers, etc.) This is one reason I don’t like playing Poker, because once I check out of the main game, the only apparent sub-goals of interest are money-related (blech) and Jedi-mind-trick-related (double blech).

I didn’t realize until recently that I really do need a host of potential mini-meta-games to stay with a game for an extended period of time.

Mistborn and RPGs

I wrote long ago about creating an RPG system based around Sanderson’s fantasy trilogy Mistborn. Since I am quite the procrastinator, it’s not that surprising that Sanderson eventually wrote his own roleplaying system to use with his game and just recently released it. I’m liking what I’m seeing so far – he solved some of the balance issues I had been grappling with using the magic in his world, and the game flow feels nice and casual, which is awesome.

As I was thinking about his system, I got to thinking about the reasons I enjoy roleplaying games, and specifically running campaigns:

  • I really enjoy imagining about 80% of a scenario and then telling my friends and seeing how they fill in the rest. This is basically exactly the blueprint of an RPG adventure. (Percentages may vary.)
  • I love exploring fantasy worlds – the structure of them, the tone and the characterization of their inhabitants, the crazy epic things that can happen in them so different than our world.
  • I like surprising my friends.
  • …and finally, I enjoy the process of creating (or helping to create) a team and the shared sense of accomplishment, even if it is for an imaginative adventure.

It’s been a while since I have participated in any playing or running of an RPG, but I hope that running my short Mistborn campaign will rekindle my interest. (As an aside, I have been playing the first “boardgame campaign” I’ve ever encountered – Risk: Legacy – and OH MAN is it awesome. I’ll be posting about that in some shape or form soon.)

Quick To Do List (now with accountability!)

Things that hooo boy I need to do soon.  Keep me honest, guys!  (I like to-do list posts because they are an interesting snapshot of my brain. Also I get to make snarky comments in parentheticals.)

  • Renew registration (expired December, and they start coming after you in early January!)
  • Transfer direct deposit to BECU (screw you, Bank of America! at least, once I stop procrastinating…)
  • Create a January-February-March rough schedule for my work projects
  • Schedule a karaoke get-together at my house this month (or February)
    • Schedule some dinner parties at my house! Geez! I totally forgot about trying to get these going again!
  • Nail down plan for college friends visiting in about three weeks
  • Examine my expenses and find places to cut expenditures (kind of a goal for 2012)
  • Come up with a new drink when I’m out (nobody seems to have ginger beer, because Dark and Stormy was my first choice) (switching away from Black Russian) (suggestions welcome!)
  • Design lots of Magic cards! 😛

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s off the top of my head.

Year of No Excuses

Back to blogging!  I really have no excuses (more on that later), and also I have had a number of “deep thoughts” I wanted to share and refine through the medium of public writing.  Well, writing to friends.  Well, writing for friends and myself.  You know.  I’m also hoping that this year I can do some more emotional investigation – Brady’s comment on my blog from 2010 where he chastised me for too much hyperlogical and neocortical thinking still rings true, and I’d like to get down into some of emotions I’ve been neglecting, to my sorrow.

Alida and Paul (Levy) introduced me to a new way of resolving for the new year – naming your year with a specific ongoing goal in mind.  You say “this is the year of {blankety blank}” and then that becomes the rallying cry for you in things you do that year.  I am making mine the Year of No Excuses.  It’s something that immediately makes me nervous in how sweeping it seems in its applicability, but the first and foremost way I’m interpreting it is I’ll always be up front about the real reason I opt not to do something.  If I can’t come up with a real reason (only excuses), I’m going to do that thing anyway, over my own protestations.  Additionally, for some of my long-term goals, like figuring out if I want to go back to school, no more procrastinating with a million excuses – time to get it done!  I think it’ll be really great!  Thanks so much to Paul and Alida for the idea. :)

No theme for this month; just getting back into writing and jotting down thoughts.  I’ll definitely get back on themes for February forward, though!