Posts Tagged friends

#20: Snail Mail

I kind of loathe receiving mail in the mailbox.  Like, we are in the future now – why waste all that paper?  I appreciate the occasional postcard and envelope from friends, and I definitely enjoy packages that are shipped to me, but there’s a ton more junk in my mailbox than those things… what the heck?  All of the notices that I am receiving because they are important would be better served by being in my email inbox (which I check compulsively) and all of the ads and credit card offers would be better served by being on fire.

So, I want to take on a small mission to eliminate the junk in my mailbox.  It should theoretically be possible to contact and pester the various places that are sending me things and tell me to either (a) send it electronically (where my “spam” filter is much better!) or (b) discontinue sending it at all.  I realize that this will likely be an uphill battle, where even being on the phone with various marketers is likely digging me into a pit, but maybe I can trick them into dropping me from their mailing lists or something.  It may take some thought, but oh how nice it would be to receive only useful mail.

20. I resolve to reduce the waste in my mailbox to as close to zero as possible, while still receiving important mail from friends &c.

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#15: Game On

I wrote previously about the creation of game systems, but I haven’t talked more about the running of game sessions – your classic GM role for role-playing games, although I could imagine other ways to do this, like Mafia Narrator (the classic game of finger-pointing and betrayal), or some sort of Hero Quest-esque run where I set up playthroughs that “basically” play themselves with the group.  In some senses this is like setting up a game day with friends, but I do enjoy putting together stories and worlds in the “shared storytelling” way and I haven’t done it in a while, specifically not from the angle of GM/Narrator.

I think the best way to do this, for people with very busy lives (like me!) is to plan a series of sessions (like three) in what many of us have called a “manyshot” (as opposed to “oneshot” for a single session).  In a 3-4 session game, you can do quite a bit of story development, and play a significant amount of “game” too, for RPGs.  It also ends up feeling episodic if people like it enough – you can always bring back a world/story again later.  This is kind of convincing me to consider what an episodic strategy board game might look like.

15. I resolve to run at least one “manyshot” game campaign of my own design (probably RPG), with an eye toward doing it episodically (so like three-four manyshots over the course of a year).

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#12: Great Outdoors

Living in Seattle, I definitely feel like I haven’t taken advantage of “the Great Northwest” – by which I mean, going out into the wilds and enjoying the environment.  I really like going out away from technology sometimes (but not all the time – just a way to cleanse the pallet) and I also really appreciate seeing green in nature – having spent a lot of my early life in “brown” areas like Phoenix and California.

I also am really excited to take Max outdoors for long periods of time – obviously, he enjoys outside and I generally don’t have enough time to take him for more than an hour or so to the dog park.  Planning and taking a trip with him means he gets a ton of outdoorsy time and I don’t have to worry about where he stays while I’m on vacation.

12. I resolve to take Max on a camping trip at least twice, for a period of two or more days each, possibly with other friends involved on the trip too.

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#10: Leaving on a Jet Plane

On the flip side of yesterday’s post (getting friends to come visit me), there’s a lot I want to do in terms of my own traveling that I haven’t done yet.  For example, if I hadn’t mismanaged my finances a bit this year (see tomorrow’s post), I might have been able to travel to mainland Asia, Africa or Australia like I wanted.  Regardless, although I do mostly travel due to work or friends, I think it would also be a good idea to travel on my own, to nowhere I know anyone.

There are a few benefits to this sort of travel:

  • I get out of my comfort zone, and as long as I am being social, I’ll meet new and interesting people.
  • I can spend as much time as I feel like I want to on the activities I care about (without compromising with others or feeling obligated to do anything I don’t want to)
  • I can see new places and things.

10. I resolve to travel at least once on my own, for a duration of about five days, to a new destination.

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#9: Stay, Friends

I had a resolution from last year that I liked, but didn’t really do much about – get some friends to come to Seattle and stay at my place.  As with most of my resolutions, I didn’t feel like I had the time or energy to do the work required to convince others to come and stay in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t work – I just need to spend more planning energy, in the way that I might prepare a trip (but for them).

I don’t expect a ton of my friends to take me up on this offer, since a flight to Seattle from wherever isn’t the cheapest… but you never know when some might be thinking about coming into the area anyway, unless you get in on the planning level.  I’m down in Long Beach at Todd and Tory’s right now, and it’s awesome that they are able to let me stay with them… I’d love to be awesome like that with my place, too!

9. I resolve to coordinate with friends to make my home a place for them to stay for two weekends next year, or possibly for many friends at once (e.g. for a convention).

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#4: Party in the U.S.A.

I’m about to host a party at my place, so I’m writing this blog powered by the Lemon Drop I mixed myself to warm up on my bartending (too much lemon, but still palatable).  I really enjoy getting groups of my friends together, and despite the troubles and stresses (and sometimes expense) involved, I still accept the role of host and planner when possible.  I am finding with this particular party I am having unique empathy issues because of my space limitations, which is new and interesting and not very pleasant.  Don’t want to focus too much on it, especially right before I’m going to have guests, so I’ll table that thought for a later time.  I’ll have to keep big party space in mind when I find my next place to live.

The core of the parties I like to hold are getting a bunch of my friends together to do some shared activity.  It’s always fun to introduce different friend groups to each other, and a shared activity often lowers the social barrier significantly.  Ideally, I think I’d be happiest if I was getting through my entire friend sphere in a half year, so that I will definitely see and hang with everyone I know and love twice a year (at least!)

#4. I resolve to host or be responsible for the planning of a get-together for friends about once a month.

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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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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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Review: Small World

Small World is a board game that uses a territory-conquering system similar to risk, but has fantasy flavor and special powers for each person’s army.  Once all 1,000 pieces are punched and organized, it’s surprisingly simple to set up and to get going – and the game has only the one core mechanic to make sure play is relatively straightforward.  I thought I’d go through a list of pros and cons:


  • You get a lot of goofy combinations between race and “class” which adds to the hilarity.
  • The core mechanic is straightforward (number of pieces of cardboard in a tile = such a great way to do it!)
  • The core mechanic is fun (send your troops to kill your enemies!)


  • It’s very much an interactive, beat-each-other-up type game.  So if your audience isn’t prepared for that, things might get dicey.
  • Because the only variance is in generation of race-class combos, and I’m positive they aren’t exactly balanced with each other, it can feel like you got outlucked in that respect.
  • There’s a lot of specific rules for stuff that seems extraneous – like, more +1 for territory stuff and less Sorcerer-type abilities would aid this game in its simplicity.

As is, I would recommend this game to any group that can handle Settlers, Dominion or even Carcassone.  It’s lots of fun and once you get the base rules down you can devote free mental energy to the surprisingly complex strategy and the special rules I talk about above.

Overall: A-
Ease of Teaching: B+
Replayability: Medium-High
Brokenness of Dragon Master Skeletons: High

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