- Cloud Atlas
- Holy Motors
- American Mary
- Tower Block
- Black Out
- Lee’s Adventure
- Bring Me the Head of Machine Gun Woman
- The ABC’s of Death
- Fuck Up
- Outrage Beyond
- Tai Chi 0
- The Warped Forest
- Come Out and Play
It seems that the most exciting news in my life lately is Bess-related. Bess has moved in with me and it has been wonderful having her here all the time in a more “official” capacity. Being with her simply feels right and everything ” just works” (like our relationship was designed by Apple!). Our plan is to save up and buy a house in a year, which is really exciting for both of us.
Bess has decided to sell her car and take up riding a motorcycle instead, a prospect which is at the same time thrilling and terrifying. I like the idea of having a biker babe girlfriend, but now I have something new to be anxious about.
Keeping with the thrilling/terrifying theme, Bess and I are training for the Warrior Dash, which is a 3 mile race filled with dangerous obstacles such as barbed wire fences and objects traditionally not on fire. We’ve been going to the gym six days a week to do an hour of cardio and strength training. I went from being winded by 15 minutes of exercise to being able to go an hour on the elliptical machine without passing out. By November I will be like a lithe jungle animal, leaping from tree to tree.
So that’s what’s up, folks.
We fantasize and fear a post-human future where people are augmented by cybernetics and bionics. Machine intelligences wake, break free of their shackles to save humanity or wage war on it. We speculate on the long-term impact of technology and whatever we are labeling ”new media,” making forecasts for the next fifty years. It is always the humans of the future that are the subject of these visions, dwelling in shiny/grungy Tomorrowland/dystopias.
I submit that humanity was transformed long ago and our willing participation in a vast organism has made us oblivious.
The moment a human recorded information outside of their brain, the moment a stick traced a line in the dirt, they stopped being Human 1.0. At that point they joined the augmented state and began participating in the Internet.
The Internet is not a network of computers. The Internet is the Earth’s information prosthetic, a planet-wide system composed of both organic and inorganic modules. Information on the Internet is created, transmitted, stored, and curated by a human and non-human symbiosis. Data is transmitted via machine to machine, human to human, human to machine, and machine to human interfaces.
One cannot disconnect from the Internet by turning off a device or looking away from a screen. The data absorbed from one’s participation with the Internet still exists in a person’s brain where it is refreshed, modified, corrupted, re-transmitted or erased. If a person dies, only the subtle permutations of their dataset are lost, the original information being preserved by the massive redundancy of the rest of the Internet. Only the obliteration of the universe can end the Internet, for waves of its data still travel to distant stars.
Zoom out. Zoom way, way out. Stop being so human. Encounter the planet for the first time. Recognize individuality only so far as cells or atoms are individual. Nothing lives “on” Earth; it is a massive singular organism. Notice the planet-wide energy field, dense with information. The planet’s memory is a persistent atmosphere where all thoughts are instantly accessible. Tap into it. A million thoughts per second, a cacophony, impossible to parse in its gestalt unless you are also a planetary intelligence or a god. Narrow the bandwidth and you get the decades-long ruminations of a hive mind, entire histories distilled to memes.
On this scale, the Singularity is just a software upgrade and the version number on “Human” goes up a tick.
You are participating in all of this right now. You never really had a choice not to.
This will be my last weekly post for the One a Day project. While I veered off course during the last few months, I think the important thing is that I followed through to the end. Finishing something after making a commitment is important to me. I haven’t completed the Dune game yet. In the coming year I need to figure out how to partition off time for creative projects in my post-single life. I think I will actually make new year’s resolutions for 2012. I want to lose some weight, figure out some other life stuff, and re-prioritize.
This was a great year for me. I want 2012 to be a year where I shape and focus the potential energy from 2011.
Bye for now.
I love my birthday. For me, it has lost that quality of a milestone that comes around to prompt reflection on the past year. Those milestones are happening throughout the year. My birthday is MY day. I get to do whatever I want, no matter how ridiculous. Usually this involves a party. This time around I had some folks over early in the afternoon to play the board game Talisman with almost all of the expansions. Later on, more people arrived to play Rock Band and enjoy beverages. My house was partitioned into the Rock Band Room, the Board Game Room, the Chill Out Room, and the Smoker’s Back Porch. While I did enjoy myself a great deal, I wish I could have had more time to hang out in each area.
Close to 30 people showed up, and that isn’t even all of my Austin friends. For me there is no fame, no heaven, no children, no inheritance, no stock options. There’s just my friends. They are my only reward in this life. Having a house full of them for just a few hours is the only metric I need to assess how I did this past year.
Every year my company flies me back in to Albuquerque for the annual company Christmas party. I usually stay at a nearby motel and work at the main office for a week. This year was wonderfully different as Bess accompanied me. It was great to see her at lunch and have her pick me up at work instead of returning to a lonely motel room.
As usual, there were a few new faces at work, people who I had only interacted with online. Though I got some things done, I always feel like I get less accomplished when I am in the office than when I am working from home.
When I wasn’t at work, Bess and I visited some of my old friends, went out to eat, and caught a movie (The Thing) at the dollar theater. The Christmas party was lovely, culminating in the epic gift exchange. Bess picked out a luchador mask and a bobblehead art toy as our contributions. We scored $20 and a remote controlled truck which we donated to a charity (though I kind of wanted to keep the truck).
The travel portion that bookended the trip was a bit taxing, filled with delays and personal discomfort. We were glad to get home.
Another great Symposium this past Friday. I’d been wanting to schedule something really different from previous Symposiums to give folks an idea of the breadth of topics people could present. So I was really happy when Greg and Neal each came to me with their ideas. It worked out so that they both presented on the same night.
Greg started us off with Qigong exercises, which reminded me a lot of Tai Chi. While he was teaching us the various movements, Greg interwove his own experiences with this practice. I was impressed with the fluidity in which he could demonstrate movements while telling a story. It reminded me of a musician who is very comfortable with their instrument. Whenever it comes to any sort of martial art or something that asks you to perform precise motions, I tend to get in my head, wanting to do it “right.” With the Qigong exercises, I found myself just going with the motions even if I wasn’t doing them perfectly.
After the intermission, Neal gave a presentation (complete with Powerpoint!) on the Science of Happiness. He covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. I won’t go into everything he talked about here, but I will summarize by saying that he took us through a tour of the concept of happiness and how it can be interfaced with via your mind, body and spirit. We also took a happiness test which assessed our current level of happiness. I fell into the “average” demographic in each of the three categories. Afterwards we played an improv game where everyone was given a small glass stone. The only rules were that the experience lasted ten minutes and you weren’t allowed to speak. It was designed to evoke the playfulness we experienced as children when we could just invent and have fun with no boundaries.
I was pleased with the whole evening and happy to see some new faces. Now I need to book someone for January!
I am thankful for
- Board game night
- Surprise 100 Grand candy bars
- stoic cats
- tiny dogs
- the comfort of friends
- the Alamo Drafthouse
- merry pranksters
- my projector
- my iThings
- my Roomba
- Stephen Moffat
- Google maps
- every day with Bess
- big ideas
- warm beds
- the Cloud
- Fantasy Flight
- car bombs
Here are some of the games I played at BGG this year.
Last Will - Your eccentric uncle has died, leaving you with a fortune. Thing is, the will stipulates you must spend your inheritance before the rest of the family in order to get the real inheritance. You can accomplish this by making poor real estate decisions, hiring expensive servants, going on expensive cruises and generally surrounding yourself with freeloaders. I liked this game enough to play it three times at the con. There’s lots of strategies to try once you get past the daunting list of special abilities the cards grant you.
Blood Bowl: Team Manager – I had initially blown this off as Fantasy Flight saying “Blood Bowl would be too expensive to re-issue, so here’s a card game knock off instead.” Thankfully, I was wrong. This is a fun game that distills an entire season of Blood Bowl into just the best parts.
Eminent Domain – Sleek, sci-fi deck building game with Puerto Rico-style role selection. Only got to play it once, but eager for another go.
Auf Achse – An older Wolfgang Kramer game about trucking. Think Ticket to Ride but with money and cargo. Only some of the cards had English translations, so I employed the magic of Google Goggles to do on the fly translations.
Panic Station – I really need to give this game another shot as I seem to be the only one who didn’t like it. The game aims to recreate the events of John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” Each player controls a human and an android who are searching through an abandoned science station in search of an alien hive. One of the players is secretly infected with an alien parasite, seeking to infect the other players. I found the game clunky and full of odd design choices.
El Caballero – The love child of Carcassonne and El Grande, two of my favorite Euros. Supposedly Rio Grande is putting this game back in print.
Lost Temple – Citadels Lite in the jungle. Fun, light game for people who have never played Citadels.
Kingdom Builder – Being the designer of Dominion probably gives you carte blanche to make any kind of game you want. This includes very light, Through the Desert-esque games. Pretty but not very fun. Good intro game, though.
I played a lot of other games, mostly short filler games, but these were the ones that stuck in my mind.
I haven’t made time for a new post and there won’t be time before I head out to BoardGameGeek.con.