Birth and Death

In the cycles of life are birth and death; points between, milestones, emerge as well, but we often look to these two big points for our deeper meaning even as it is found day to day.

I began my morning in the barn.  Sometime last night our goat, Hannah, gave birth to three babies.  Initially we thought there were two for it was the two does that were dry and romping about the stall learning to steady their legs, heads butting everything in sight as they sought to connect that action to ultimately the one that would find them nursing their mothers full udder.

Kids will butt their mother’s udder to get the milk flowing, but then they need to learn to suckle.  There is something so comical about them attempting to nurse on everything in sight.  But then in the joys of those awkward first moments I noticed what I thought was a placenta in the corner.  My mother said it couldn’t be so I looked closer and found a dead kid.  In disbelief she came over and looked: we discovered the little pile of fur was a still wet, and now cold, buck.  Two are more common than three so we weren’t looking for that body even though eventually I found it.  When it had died or why was uncertain. Continue reading “Birth and Death”

Watching the storm approach

I can see a storm coming from my desk on the third floor of my home overlooking Mt. Tom.

It begins in the distance over the mountain.  As it slowly moves closer the mountain will become more and more invisible until it cannot be seen.  At that point it exists as a white blur of sky.  Depth abandoned. Calling for presence in this instant.

I look forward to these storms and the swirling snow or driving rain.  They put me into my center and let me be with myself gently.  These are the days that I don’t feel compelled to go out.  Inevitably productive as long as you are capable of understanding that sometimes that nap your body is calling for is really essential to the day.

Sitting quietly.

Autumn’s Gold

This is my love letter to autumn.

Dear Autumn,

As I was driving the other day I was struck by your beauty.  I confess that while I’ve always found you beautiful and necessary, I also often think of you as being the death foretold as it relate to the coming winter. But this day as your colors shimmered across the nearby hills I realized that you are not only the harbinger of death, but the precursor of a necessary dormancy; the time to go internally in order to nourish inner seeds. Continue reading “Autumn’s Gold”

Blending in.

When I was heading out to North Dakota I stopped near Fargo at an outdoor gear place.  I was thinking about picking up a few things that I’d need for being at Standing Rock for two or three weeks (a machete, water purification tablets, a bladder for carrying water around, etc.) but I was also curious to see if I noticed something that I otherwise didn’t know I needed.  (This is a horrible idea for me to do.  I’m am notoriously a gear head and LOVE to pick up new things to make my outdoor experience more seamless and lightweight.) Continue reading “Blending in.”

Buried Treasure

This year Halloween falls the day after a new moon: the darkest point of the month and the prime time to set intentions to root down into the Earth new intentions for transformation.  What a perfect time to bury a golden treasure!

The treasure I chose to bury has a lot to do with one of my pastimes, herbal medicine, although it is more akin to the Hippocrates quote ‘Let food be thy medicine.’  Have you guessed yet?   Continue reading “Buried Treasure”

Open Access Week: Editing Wikipedia

I invited by Madeliene Charney to join in on an event at UMASS Amherst to celebrate Open Access Week by bringing together members of the community to edit Wikipedia.  The community was editing and writing articled related to the #NoDAPL protests going on at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.  Being as I’ve just recently returned from the site I elected to use my knowledge to aid in the effort. Continue reading “Open Access Week: Editing Wikipedia”

Getting in the (Gardening) Zone

Every year sometime between when the sap starts to flow, or before, and when the first tree leaves have burst from their buds to encase the natural world in a layer of pollen and chartreuse leaflets I begin to feel the stirring in my blood.  It must be the same inner sense that tells the skunk cabbage to start blossoming, emitting massive amounts of heat and becoming the first food available  to bears as they come out of hibernation because it certainly isn’t the temperature or a massive amount of daylight.  The days are getting longer its true, but that isn’t what makes me reach for the box of seeds stored for the long winter in the basement. Continue reading “Getting in the (Gardening) Zone”

Networking Nightmares

Networking Nightmares and how to solve them.

For someone like me who loves to get out and meet people the idea of networking can still be a nightmare.  Don’t get me wrong.  I find the idea of going out and connecting with new people several times per week exhilarating – as most extroverts do –  but despite the enjoyment I derive there is still something in my systems thinking heart that cringes.  The nightmare is twofold.  First that we think that getting together over drinks is going to help us make deep connections when often people split into groups they already know or breeze through as many conversations as possible to ‘do their job’ for the night.  Second the idea that surface level conversation can possibly develop a relationship that can challenge the deep issues in our society is simply incorrect. Continue reading “Networking Nightmares”

Change is the Norm

I was reading a blog on The Sacred Science website and it got me thinking about resistance to change.  Just as we can not stop the night from following the day, we cannot deny the coming of change from our lives and to try to do so is only going to induce stress.

Change is normal in every day of our lives.  We wash our bodies, change our clothing, finish containers of food in the house…  On a more global scale the sun rises and sets, seasons come and go.  Days give way to weeks, week to months, and months to years…

Seasonal change the type of nourishment that is available from the land.  As years pass our knowledge grows and our lives take on different forms.  Part of the meaning of being alive is to embrace these changes with comfort.

While worry about change can cause feelings of tightness and stress, reframe those changes as inevitable and instead look forward to the changes that come with time.

I was watching After Earth with Eli and the father (Will Smith) was speaking to his son about the moment he stopped being afraid.  It was while the monster that sees through the smell of fear had impaled him and he was fearful about dying.  And then it just changed.  He no longer cared.  There is great freedom in releasing fear.

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” This quote from Confucius reminds us that our flexibility in thought and action are what keep us alive in times of change.

Additionally the women of Port-au-Prince, Haiti have a song that I heard them singing to each other after the earthquake.  The gist of the song was that the women of Haiti are strong in hurricanes; they hold on with their roots and bend when the rain and winds come like a (local tree whose name I don’t remember.)  You get the point.  Dig your roots deep and be solid in who you are, but flexible in that face of anything that comes your way.

The moral of the story is: Embrace change.  It happens.

Theme vs. Mechanics

When I’m thinking about Game Design there are two elements that I’m trying to use in order to make my point, Theme and Mechanics. (For those of you that don’t know, I design games to explain the complicated systems that are involved with aspects of sustainability.)


While there are games out there that are abstract, or have a specific storyline, more often you are going to find that games have a theme.   In Ticket to Ride you are competing to build train routes, Agricola deals with farmers & resource management, and  Battlestar Gallactica deals with… well it follows the plot.

When playing a game that deals with a particular topic you are doing the education through the story or the theme to get your point across.

The other option is to make the mechanic do the teaching.  For example, in a game where I’m trying to teach about recycling I would have an interaction in the game that gave a benefit to recycling.  It wouldn’t have to be called recycling or even have that topic at all, but simple by gaining benefit over and over for that type of action players would become better recyclers.

Habits are practiced actions which is why games are so good at teaching.  If you repeat something over and over again you are more likely to hold on to that habit.  People seek new behaviors in life regularly for purposes such as diet, exercise, et cetera and over the past 10 years we’ve seen a great influx of games for purposes other than just the sake of play.  Gamification of the online portal or website is also on the upswing as the internet becomes crowded and companies are seeking to create a draw to their sites.

The games that I’m working on are didactic because of this.  Having the desire to change is only part of the equation.  Going green means a shift in actions many of which are lifelong ingrained habits.  Those habits worked for us up until now, but with the world on the precipice of wide scale extinction we need to shift into high gear.  So how do you eradicate habits that aren’t good for you?

So when I’m choosing to build a tool and I have to decide between theme or mechanic it really depends on the nuance tat I’m going for.  Am I trying to make someone think about the topic?  Then it’s the theme.  If I’m trying to ingrain a shift in habit?  Then it is mechanic, for sure.