Posts Tagged feelings

Call for Advice

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If you could call any living person for advice today, who would you call?

This is an interesting question, because it really comes down to evaluating the people I know (and know of, as in they are famous) by what I feel most unsure about – and whether those people could help on that subject.  I would say the subject about which I am most unsure is how to integrate my ambition and desire to do something that impacts with the world, with my day-to-day happiness in what I do (day-to-day).  Who might be a subject-matter expert on that subject?

My thoughts came to Bill Gates.  I don’t particularly know whether Gates has had success with day-to-day happiness in his life, but I do know he’s been wildly successful both in the arc of his career and in affecting the world with what he has done.  If the question is how to be impactful, I think he’s a great candidate for expert on that.  In addition, Gates has spent a while now being the head of a large charity organization, so in some sense he also is probably acquainted with how to maintain that impact over a long period and make sure it spreads to those who need it.  My thoughts naturally tended toward solving the impact problem because I am pretty happy right now with my day-to-day (at least, in terms of work – as for personal life, I have my friends to call for advice on that, so I don’t really need to call out “any living person”; they do an excellent job of it!)

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Friends & Family

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Who are you closer to, friends or family?

As evidenced by September’s entire month of posts about friends, and no such month about family, I think it’s pretty obvious I am closer to friends.  I travel the most to visit friends, not family; when I visit a place, I think first of seeing friends, not family; most of all, I keep in best touch with friends, not family.

There are a few reasons for this in my life, and one of the biggest is I didn’t grow up very close to my extended family.  I know a lot of folk whose family is concentrated in one locale, or who have big family events, but we had neither as I was growing up.  My mom and dad are both not super close to their immediate family, and although that’s changed in more recent years (both have become closer to their brothers, and also to their nieces/nephews-in-law), my worldview has been pretty fixed on the point of family since I was younger.  I do enjoy hanging out with family, but I mentally equate them to “friends I am not super close with,” since I have no special “family” category in my brain for closeness (with the slight exception of “mom,” “dad,” and “sister”).

Another big big reason for this is that I chose my friends, and they chose me.  I appreciate the foundation my family gave me for my life, but over time I have realized things about myself I don’t particularly like or that I really want to change.  Those realizations are almost always in part because of interaction with my friends.  Most of my friends are understanding and communicative enough that we get along very well, and yet they see things differently enough from me that I get a lot of insight into the world and myself through them.  With family, I often feel like we think mostly alike, and where others might get comfort from that, I can sometimes find it frustrating.

All that said, I am off to visit with family (Aunt and Uncle) today for Thanksgiving, so closeness might be relative. :)

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Small Purpose

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
What turns you on, excites you, makes life worth living?

Here’s a short list of what I find exciting and worthy of doing:

  • Teach something relevant to a friend, specifically (1) a game that makes them happy or (2) a skill that they find useful
  • Skydiving; also, driving well with a car full of people
  • Travel to new places and discovering things about that place – patterns, people and their idiosyncrasies, unique customs and/or items/locales of note
  • Choosing to embark on a project and completing it, usually creating something in the process (but not always!)
  • Learning something about myself, especially when it’s something I didn’t believe about myself but evidence proves otherwise, and I come to terms with that

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David Guskin: Autobiography

Friday, November 19, 2010
Write the first paragraph of your autobiography.

I spent my life wondering how much I would accomplish, and with whom I would accomplish it.  Now, looking back, I realize how much more straightfoward the path seems from the end of the road than when you are standing on it.  I’ve known a ton of great people in my life, and this is as much a story about my relationships with them as it is about my own accomplishments.  There are a ton of goals I reached successfully with their help – and some I didn’t even know were my goals until I achieved them (secret goals!) – and this is a story of how I did it.  (Spoilers: if you look past the longing for meaning and an ever-present drive to make a mark, there’s a ton of happiness in my life from a day-to-day life of making others happy too.)

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Three Posts

Thursday, November 18, 2010
Link to three posts that you’ve loved this month written by other people, and tell us why.

1. Keridwyn’s Featured Friend: Alida Moore (

I’ve basically told this story already, but when I was down in SF for a trip, Keridwyn chatted me on Facebook and picked my brain for good things to blog about.  I struck upon the idea of writing positive things about friends, and she loved it (as did I – see September!)  Her post this month about Alida was timely – I didn’t know Alida until the day I read her post (Friday) because I met her on an outing to see The Stranger’s Hump.  I love Keridwyn’s post because she is forthright and heartfelt, and when you read what she has to say about Alida, you get kind of inside Keridwyn’s head.  Also Keridwyn put a picture in her post, which is something I wish I had done for all of my friends the month of September, but couldn’t find the energy. :-/

2. Ken Nagle’s Minecraft (

Okay, this one is slightly cheating, because he wrote it in October, but I have re-read it in November while roaming for inspiration about game design, and Ken delivered.  I love this post because (a) it convinced me essentially immediately to play the game, which is impressive for a review, and (b) I think Ken uses bulleted lists judiciously and perfectly in this post, and I love lists.  I have found that one of the best things about being friends with and working with game designers is their perspective on games, which often vary widely from person to person and from myself.  Outside perspectives are excellent for personal growth, and Ken managed to distill his lesson into a single post on a single game.  Love it!

3. Jon Loucks’ GDS2 Tweets (

The 2nd Great Designer Search for Wizards of the Coast Magic R&D is on, and tweets like this:

@JonLoucks: Omg sitting at a bus top I came up with an awesome mechanic that is perfect for my needs. Must get to a computer! #gds2

…have really entertained me and made me more interested in the whole thing from an emotional/experiential point of view.  I have two friends (Jon and Scott Van Essen) who made the top 8, and although I’m basically not part of the machinery of judging at all, I am still extremely interested in (a) who I might be working with in the future and (b) the process by which contestants attack design problems, and their contagious enthusiasm!  Jon’s style of energetic and exciting thoughts put to tweets is inspiring, and the series of thoughts he wrote down as he composed his assignment for round 1 was an excellent use of Twitter as a series of brain-snapshots.

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Difficult People and Hugging Day

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Who’s the most difficult person you’ve known in your life, and what would you like to tell him or her?

It’s interesting – as I was pondering my answer for this question, it really started to come down to a series of friends and acquaintances in my life who I felt got on my nerves, or with whom I constantly felt like I was arguing or struggling.  Honestly, though, that probably reveals that *I* am difficult, not particularly them, and so I don’t feel comfortable singling out any individual and calling them the most difficult.

On the other hand, I did want to relay a little thing that’s stuck with me over the years.  I read somewhere (or maybe heard on the radio?) that there’s a fine line between genius and evil genius.  So, if you are worried about your above-average intelligence child growing up on the maladjusted side of things, the story claimed that ten positive physical interactions (shoulder pat, hug, etc.) a day would be an excellent preventative and way to keep the young “genius” grounded.

Ever since then, I have imagined what it would be like to have a Hugging Day, where I just literally hug every person I interact with that day.  Other than the inevitable harassment problems, I think it would be an interesting social experiment to gauge difference in reaction *after* the hug.  (I imagine there would also be variety of reaction *to* the hug, but I’m less concerned about that.)  I think it’s very hard to be negative towards a person who is making physical contact (in a nonthreatening way).

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God, Faith, and Belief

Monday, November 15, 2010
Are you spiritual, religious, agnostic, or atheist? Do you think there is one path to God, or many?

I would say that I am not religious.  However, I am unwilling to state with certainly that no God exists.  I don’t have faith – that is, I don’t believe without evidence in the existence of a God, Judeo-Christian or otherwise.  But by the same token, I can’t say I have enough (in terms of quantity or quality) evidence to dismiss the idea of divine being.  This position is often hard for my friends to come to terms with, so I thought I’d explore it a bit more in this post.  I think I am best described as an agnostic, and I don’t feel any particularly spiritual devotion except to the idea of human agency (which is itself non-falsifiable).

I believe quite strongly that anything that is imaginable is possible.  Possible doesn’t mean probable, but it does mean not easily dismissed.  So, despite a perfectly reasonable explanation for the universe without divinity, I can’t say for certain that divinity doesn’t exist.  Critics of religion will often draw out Occam’s Razor, the principle that among many hypotheses, the one that requires the fewest assumptions is best, but I don’t trust that line of logic.  I do act in my practical life in accordance with Occam’s Razor –  less assumptions mean less things *have* to be true, and therefore generally those scenarios are more likely.  But that’s a question of predictive power, and I’m not considering divinity or religion to need predictive force to be able to something meaningful.

Since this question is about belief, I believe strongly that the Truth, such as it is, about the structure of reality is certainly not well-known to us simple humans, so the possibility still exists that something non-falsifiable (the existence of God, for example) is True.  I think the most important question about religion, spirituality, and faith is why a person believes the way they do, and I certainly can never have that conversation with a person if I start out by denying their belief.

Anyway, a lot of run-around to say simply, I believe in not discounting what is possible!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010
What do you like most about cold weather? What do you like the least?

Since I grew up in California and Arizona, I had little cause to be around cold weather.  In fact, the few times that I traveled when it was cold elsewhere, I was pretty upset at being elsewhere and not in the vicinity of my warm home.  However, there are a few things I like about cold.  I enjoy wearing hats, and cold weather is a wonderful reason to do so.  I have been especially enjoying the fur “northerner” Fargo-style hat that Mike and Rachel got me.  I also enjoy the silence that cold weather seems to engender… I suppose it’s not exactly a quality of coldness, per se, but they are something I associate together – probably due to spending some winter trips outside away from civilization (like Lake Tahoe, or camping) and enjoying the relative quiet of the wilderness in cold.

I like the deep-set chill the least.  By this I mean when you spend too long outside in the cold without adequate protection, it’s not a state that’s easily remediable.  It takes a long while for heat to penetrate a frosty exterior, and it’s just miserable being cold to the core while that process proceeds.  Blech!

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Songs over the Years

Tuesday, November 9, 2010
What was your favorite song this year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Twenty?

This question reminded me of a service that offers (used to offer?) where they’d make you a chart that looked like this, showing your music listening habits, once you were a subscriber for a couple of years:

Since I have never really moved from Pandora to that service, I am sadly missing such a sweet graph.

As for songs, I think my favorite song this year is King of Anything, by Sara Bareilles.  It’s pop-y, has a strong female singer (generally I am favorable toward repeat listening of such singers), and actually has a real story to tell with the lyrics, not just a fairytale.

Five years ago was 2005 – I was living in Boston, working at Lincoln Laboratories.  Although I believe the song came up previous to that year, one of my favorite songs from that era was Accidentally in Love, by Counting Crows.  Counting Crows has consistently topped my list of bands (probably top 3 overall), in part because of our college association with Round Here, and in part because their lyrics are just absurd.  I remember Accidentally in Love being the iTunes Free Song of the Day the first day I had iTunes installed on my computer.

Ten years ago was 2000 – I was at Caltech as a sophomore.  I don’t think I was doing much driving that year (I could be misremembering, but I recall having a bike, so it’s less likely I had a car), but I do recall hearing Everything You Want, by Vertical Horizon, on the radio.  We’ll call that my favorite from that year.  This does point out the fact that when I am listening to the radio because I am driving a lot, I am much more connected to music than otherwise.

Twenty years ago was 1990 – I was a small child in Phoenix, Arizona.  I recall listening to a lot of my parents’ Oldies but Goodies cassettes, especially since they would play them loud in the house when cleaning was going on.  Let’s go with Rocky Mountain High, by John Denver, since I recall hearing it clearly and I associate it strongly with camping outings we took up in northern Arizona every once in a while.

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Dream Home

Monday, November 7, 2010
What would your dream home/apartment/condo/yurt look like? Where would it be? Who’d live in it with you?

I actually had to look up the definition of “yurt,” which I have previously only heard in the context of a dwelling that is eco-friendly.  Turns out they are kind of like fancy huts?  No thanks!  I remember Nate, Tim and I used to dream of building a castle and moving all our friends into it.  It would have many secret passages, and would probably overlook the coast in the Pacific Northwest.  Alas, regular life gets in the way of lofty dreams like that one, and I’m not even sure that’s the kind of place I dream of these days.

I think my dream home would be within a reasonable drive and a reasonable public commute (subway? light rail?) of an urban center.  I quite like Seattle and its people, but Boston and New York would also be fine.  I want to be within an hour or two drive of the ocean, because being able to take a trip there is important to me.  I think I’d want four bedrooms – one for me and my wife (who is quite smart, elegant and beautiful – applications welcome!), two for our children and one guest room for friends to visit.  A family room, a dining room, and at least one office room are also definite.  I’d love to have a game room style setup in the basement, and some sort of science lab or library at roof level, too.  Back yard for dog is high on the list.  Skylights and big windows are also important.

Maybe what’s above is quite mundane.  Ideally there’d be a treehouse system in the back as well, and a pool! :)

Honestly, the best home would be one where my important friends are not too far away, and I feel safe and comfortable and convenient to the kind of city life I enjoy (bars, coffee shops, bookstores).

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