#BixbyFifty #Day13 – Boardgames

Well, today I am really going to lighten things up. I love boardgames. I think I would like to explore some of the reasons today and see what takes shape. Time to look back over the years…

I have always been a “thinky” person. Even as a kid, I was overly analytical. I liked to see what made things work. I took apart clocks and watches, built stuff, destroyed stuff, the whole nine yards. I enjoyed playing games as a young lad too, but then again, I think all children enjoy the act of play. When I was young, I got to play games like Monopoly, Clue, Payday, Careers, Masterpiece, Billionaire. All of the Parker Brothers classics. Most of the time, I played these games with other  kids in my neighbourhood, and occasional games with mom or a brother. When I was 11 years old, I remember visiting my brother Phil in Alberta (I was living in Nova Scotia). He introduced me to the game Stratego and I was blown away. It was not a roll and move game like Monopoly or Payday. It had elements of strategy I had not seen in other games. I really liked a game that made you use your mind. This was an important paving stone on my road to enjoying this hobby.

A couple of years later I made my own version of Stratego that had air units, naval units, and land units. I made the units by hand by sawing a large number of dominoes in half and applying stickers to denote the unit. The front of each unit had a color sticker on it telling your opponent whether it was a land, naval, or air unit. I hand drew a grid map with water and land to play on. One of the cool attributes of the game was that air units could spawn from an aircraft carrier and just show up on the board. If you had a lot of naval units in play, your opponent was left to try to figure out which unit was the aircraft carrier. Lots of fun. I still have the pieces to that game. I have fond memories of thinking about strategy then. Little did I know back then, how deep the rabbit hole would go…

…Let’s fast forward a few years…

When I was in my early teens, I went to Halifax with my older brother Charlie to spend the day. We stopped at a house in town where his buddy Peter Horne lived. Peter had a war game set up on his dining room table and I remember looking at the wonderful map with all of the cardboard chits with tanks and army men depicted on them. I was quite mesmerized. I always had a fascination with maps and to me, this game was an object of beauty. Years later, Peter and I would become gaming buddies although I never did get to play any of the old Avalon Hill classic Hex & Counter war games with him. We did play Supremacy, a session or two of Star Fleet Battles, and a few other games whose names I can’t remember.

Many years later I moved to Halifax to go to community college and that is when I bought the Dungeons & Dragons basic set. I opened it, read through the description of the game, and was really taken with the thought that a game could be a narrative without a board. That is what really got me to take the plunge and start buying / acquiring material and pursuing gaming as a hobby. Peter Horne joined the D&D group I started and we had a good D&D game going for many years.

During the tail end of my D&D years I got into Magic: the Gathering in a big way. Another interesting design that completed captivated me. As a Collectible Card Game it was expensive though. I did acquire a very large collection of cards in the early to mid nineties.

At this point, if you are still reading along, if you are not a gamer than your eyes have probably glazed over and you are questioning why you are even reading this. No worries, this is pretty geeky stuff. In essence this was all just background information for where I am at with the hobby today.

So, in the early 2000’s, I found myself living in Saskatchewan with a huge collection of Dungeons & Dragons materials and an even bigger collection of Magic: The Gathering cards. Neither game really resonated with me anymore. The demands of career and family took precedence. During these years, we would play a periodic game with friends, but nothing regular. This was a dormant period. I sold or gave away all of my Dungeons & Dragons books, modules, miniatures and magazines. Next on the list to get rid of were all of the Magic: The Gathering cards.

It was around this time that I discovered modern “Euro” games. They are very well designed and have so many advantages over the games I knew from my youth. Nothing against Parker Brothers, but this new style of game was much more socially engaging. These games were quick to play, all of the players were involved in the game and not eliminated part way through, the themes and mechanics were fresh and inviting. The European Designer style boardgames were designed with families and social engagement in mind.

I decided that I would turn in my entire collection of Magic: The Gathering cards to a local boardgame store for a large store credit. I figured it would be enough for me to buy 20 to 50 boardgames and that would be more than I would ever need in my lifetime. A perfect collection of games spanning many styles and variety of play.

What happened next was my full immersion into the hobby. In 2005 I started into the hobby in earnest; I acquired a number of games and started hosting regular boardgame nights for friends. Many of my friends were very taken with these new designs and our collection of games grew. It was around this time that I started to meet a lot of very cool people. This hobby attracts some of the most thoughtful and interesting people. Most of my close friends in Regina I owe to meeting through this hobby. Truth be told, I have met many cool people around the world, and many of them I call friend today. That, to me is damn awesome.

I could go on and on, but I really should bring this back to gratitude.

I really crave intellectual stimulation. The hobby in general allows me to focus my attention on some interesting challenges, mental contests, puzzles, or however else you would like to describe the mental immersion. I guess in some ways it is a means to side step some of the daily stresses we encounter and enter a microcosm that takes us away on a journey. Some games are full of theme. You can be part of a team of scientists trying to save the world from a host of deadly diseases, you can be a formula one race car driver burning around the track at high speeds. How about you are great leader in the midst of building the civilization of Egypt, Rome, China, Persia etc. In another game you could be expanding the lands around the walled city of Carcassonne putting your meeples to work as Knights, Monks, Farmers, or Thieves. It could be that you would like to test your mettle with the tension of the cold war as you embark on a Twilight Struggle.

All of these things are much more appealing to me than television. I do not mean to completely eschew television or movies, but I can only handle them in small doses these days. I much prefer an active form of entertainment to a passive one. I want to be a part of the journey or story. One could say that video games offer this, but they lack another important ingredient for me; people.

Games are a fantastic way to socialize. Like I mentioned above, I owe many of my friendships to this hobby.

Today, I am very grateful for this hobby. The countless hours of entertainment and the rich friendships I have formed. I owe a lot to the hobby that has given me so much. It is the enduring gratitude I have for the hobby that was the idea and energy behind www.saskgames.com The website is now 650 members strong and weekly gatherings indicate many other people derive a lot of pleasure from the hobby too. That warms my heart.

“Life is Short; Play Games!”

#BixbyFifty #Day12 – Dark Clouds

I was not in a very good mood yesterday. I felt annoyed. Not sure why, perhaps it is some more detritus of the April 15th events working their way to the surface. That is okay.

I want to walk a fine line. I do not want to dwell or fixate on the events of that day; I do not want those events to own or define me. That said, I also do not want to stuff any thoughts or feelings about them into a dark closet either. Any feelings have a welcome home in my heart, I will calmly inform some of them that they only have a visitor’s pass though.

On Saturday, Kathy and I pruned the mayday tree, cutting out various sections of black knot. We raked some of the tell tale signs of winter past from the back yard. We gave the barbeque a thorough cleaning. We removed last year’s apples from the tree as they had become perilous apple-sauce bombs just waiting to fall. The patio furniture was placed around the fire pit. Our backyard was prepared to herald in a new season of gatherings.

As if to mirror my mood of yesterday, we received 3 inches of snow last night. Thank you nature for providing metaphors for me. It is interesting to think of dark moods in this manner. Just like the new fallen snow, my mood of yesterday is temporary. The inevitability of the warm spring sun will take the snow away, the commitment to an attitude of gratitude will dissipate the clouds of any dark mood. I am constantly reminded how wonderful life is and how many blessings we have. In an odd way, it makes me grateful for passing dark moods. It allows me to own them without them owning me. So, in a strange yet sincere way, I am grateful for being out of sorts yesterday. It came and went much like the fleeting nature of the snow on my lawn.

#BixbyFifty #Day11 – Time of the Season

Given the nature of my last entries on this blog, I think I need to lighten it up a bit. Mostly, I woke up this morning feeling lighter and more akin to my normal self. I just saw the lovely Lady Lew off to work, walked her to her car, and sent her off with a kiss. The morning is quite cool, but the sun is shining and it casts a strong warmth. The yard is showing a strong desire to put winter behind and focus on the spring chore of growth. I do believe the yard is telling me something.

There are a multitude of things to be grateful for today, but I think I will focus on the changing of the seasons. For whatever reason, I view seasonal changes as opportunities to pause and think of my own changes.

Autumn is my favourite season and it represents opportunity to learn and grow. It is the time when universities start back up and city streets are full of autumn leaves. People are shuffling around with books under their arm on a journey to learn and ponder life’s mysteries. The air is crisp and fresh and sweet with the smell of autumn leaves. There are those leaves again. Most of this imagery is from when I lived in Halifax. Halifax is a university town and there is such a vibrant energy in the fall that the air is electric. Ideas, philosophies, and new beginnings are discussed at length in coffee houses. Autumn is about new ideas.

Winter is a time for redefinition. With all of the ponderings of fall fresh under our belt, we can put in motion our plans to change our lives. I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but it generally is in the winter that I make some choices for new habits, new plans, new adventures. Winter is about selecting ideas and making plans.

Spring is a call to action for me. It is when the thoughts from winter need to germinate and grow into deeds. Ideas by themselves are not much good without some inertia. Spring is a time to connect action to intention. As the world throws off the cold blanket of winter, I too view this as a time to enact, grow, move, do. I have noticed in recent years that the transition to spring officially occurs for me when I rake the back yard and prepare it for a new season of gatherings, fire pits, and basically add the backyard to our house as another functional room to enjoy and spend time in. Spring is about putting plans into motion.

Summer is a time to be active. I tend to spend a lot of time in my head throughout the year, I guess summer is when I spend time in my body. I generally set aside many of the abstract musings that occupy my thoughts in the other months. This is a season to canoe, hike, camp, throw darts, bike, play bocce, and enjoy the various gatherings of friends over large tables replete with food and drink. Summer is about being active and enjoying the fruits of plans made earlier in the year.

I know that is a great over simplification, but it mostly rings true for me. It is aptly timed for me to move into spring now. Given recent events, I need to focus on renewal and growth. I feel stronger today, more myself. Perhaps the blogging and interactions I have had with friends and family over the last few days have been the warm sun that I needed. Thank you.

“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!”
– Sitting Bull

#BixbyFifty #Day10 – Sharing Burdens

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Yesterday’s entry was tough for me to write. I am very glad that I did write it though, it was a great release for me. The amount of comments and outpouring of support and love has been phenomenal. Thank you. I cannot begin to tell you how important those words have been.

It strikes me as sounding cliché to say that all of the posts and words are a great support, but truthfully, they are. Knowing that there are people out there that empathize with our pain somehow lessens that pain.

I remember a long time ago thinking about social media and that it was very difficult to post or say anything when someone shared the loss of a loved one or other personal tragedy. I used to spend a lot of time searching for the perfect thing to say, and quite often would not say anything. I realize now that any words that are gently and lovingly spoken/written are the perfect words. It was when mom passed away and many people wrote words of love and support; I cherished everything people said. I realized then the power of support is in those small gestures and simple words. I realized the power of sharing burdens.

The events of last week will be with us for a long time. They will be with Teri a long time. The healing process will take awhile. My natural tendencies have always been to withdraw and face my challenges alone. Faced with a problem, I would steel my nerves, and find a quiet place to chew on my problem in isolation. That is fine for intellectual problems, but not so effective for matters of the spirit or heart. It has been a lesson for me, and still is. I try to be more open with my challenges these days and in doing so I find that their power over me is diminished.

Today, I am grateful for the lessons I have received about sharing burdens, but more importantly, I am grateful for the love, support, and kindness from family and friends.

#BixbyFifty #Day09 – Sometimes Gratitude is Difficult

This is going to be a cathartic entry. I am not sure how to begin to write today. So many emotions, so much pain, so much anger.

On the drive home from Calgary, I made that decision that I was going to make an entry in the blog about the events of last week. I have no idea what I am about to say. This entry is completely free-flowing and as words form in my mind, I will type them.

I am angry right now. Part of the grief cycle. I have been angry for a many days now.

On Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 at 6:33am, I woke up and answered the phone. It was our daughter Teri; she was distraught. I quickly woke up Kathy and Teri informed us that there was a mass homicide at her residence early that morning. She is at the police station and she is physically safe. Emotionally, she is a wreck as she informs us that five people were stabbed to death at a small quiet house party. She has four roommates and most of them are going to university. This was a small gathering to celebrate the end of the school year. At this point we are stunned and grasping to understand what Teri just told us. She went to bed at 11pm that night. Around 1:30am she phoned 911 saying that it sounded like trouble and they should send someone over to break up the party. Little did she know the horror of what occurred. I will not write anymore about the horror of her discovery.

I have no details of what happened, and even if I did, I would not share them. I am not equipped to understand why someone would do something like this. This is all beyond my scope to understand.

We told Teri that we would be coming to Calgary right away. Our little girl sounded so fragile and broken on the phone, our hearts were breaking. We got in touch with Krystal and she immediately made the decision to drive to Calgary with me, we booked Kathy a flight for early evening.

It was a long seven hour drive. A drive that was filled with questions and emotions. Teri was so close to being one of the victims. My eyes tear up again just writing that. For all of the emotions I feel, Teri must be completely overwhelmed. I look at her and want to erase the memories and visions from her mind. I want to give her peace, but I can’t. I am helpless as I look at her distant stare as she grapples with the horror of what she has experienced. No-one should have to go through something like that, no-one.

The four of us stayed at a hotel in Calgary and started the process of picking ourselves up from the shock and severity of this event. We bonded as a family, we cried a lot, we had periods of extended silence as we privately reflected or chewed on the bile of the emotions brewing inside. We met with Victim Services and they offered help for all of us as we work through our process of dealing with this. We managed to get a moving company on Easter weekend that could go into the house and get all of Teri’s things.

One of the deceased was a roommate of Teri’s; Jordan Segura. We attended a visitation for Jordan and his funeral. So tragic, such a senseless loss. All five victims were young, full of dreams and hopes. All taken much too soon. I cannot even comprehend the depth of the grief for those families.

I really do not have much more to say. I am pissed off. I am grief stricken. I am numb. I am all of those things at various points through the day. At various points through the day, I just tear up and let a wave of emotion wash over me. I feel other things too. I feel like I do not even have a right to feel these things, that my rights to these feelings are nothing compared to the feelings of the families who have lost a son or daughter. I know it is silly, but I think that my feelings should be subordinate to theirs. I also feel inadequate. It is a parent’s job to protect their children and for whatever reason I feel like I have failed in that role. I also know that it is silly to think I can protect the girls now that they are adults, but you never really set down the mantle of being a parent. Their pain is my pain, and I can only imagine it is more vivid for Kathy. I know that the intensity of my feelings will diminish over time, I just don’t know when.

Today I am grateful that Teri is alive and with us. I am grateful that she is alive, I am so absolutely grateful for that. I will try to allow that feeling to wash over me without the guilt of feeling grateful when there are five sets of parents that do not get to feel that way. I am grateful for the support that Dan has given Teri. It will be so very hard for Kathy and I to let her go back to Calgary in a few weeks. Knowing that Dan is there is a great comfort. I greatly respect Dan for the support and caring he has given Teri. Lastly, I am grateful that Krystal, Kathy, and I were able to be with Teri in the aftermath of this tragedy. The bonds of family grow stronger in times of great sorrow. I have an amazing family. I love all of them dearly, I love all of them deeply.

#BixbyFifty #Day08 – Technology

Well, this entry on the journey will label me as an “old man”. I guess I will start to embrace the mantle of curmudgeon. Only, it is not a rant. It is a moment to ponder a few things that I have seen develop. Bear with me…

I was born in 1964 in a small town in Alberta. I remember seeing TV for the first time when I was probably about 5 or 6. In the early afternoon, an episode of Sesame Street was on TV and for whatever reason, the television was turned off before I could finish watching the show. Later that day when the television was turned back on, I was greatly dismayed that sesame street did not pick up from where it left off. I thought the show was stopped when the device was turned off and would resume again when turned back on. I was sad. Back then, those were adult devices, they were for news and other boring adult things. It was my first memory of paying attention to technology.

Fast forward to 1975 when I was 11years old. We moved to Nova Scotia in 1970, but I went with dad on a trip to Alberta for a few weeks. That strikes me as odd in itself, because dad never really fancied spending time with young kids. While in Pincher Creek, I saw a Telstar video game at a store. I spent all of my money and some of dad’s to get it. It was a wonder of amazing technological ability.

Four games could be played with this wonderful device. I was the luckiest kid around. Then a few years went buy and I played around with stereos, cassette tape recorders, 8 track players, short wave radios, etc. Another amazing day in my appreciation of technology came when I was in grade 10 or 11. I got a TRS-80 Pocket Computer.

This device was simply amazing. It was a calculator on steroids. I learned how to program in basic, which is pretty easy actually, and was quite impressed with now only what the device could do, but what I could do with it. Wow. I guess this is the point in my life where I started to embrace geekdom without even knowing what that was.

Now we are going to go ahead a bit further. At this point, I am out of high school and I am attending Halifax Regional Vocational School for a 2 year program on Data Processing. The first year we used an IBM System 3 Model 10.

Back then I actually wrote programs on Herman Hollerith 80 column punched cards. Your program was a box of these cards that had to be loaded in sequence in the machine to run. There was enough memory in these computers to hold a lot of programs so they were stored and loaded from cards. 🙂

From this point, technological advances started to pick up a bit. I was around for a number of innovations. Photocopiers, Fax Machines, Laser Disk Players, Beta Format Movies, VHS Movies, Video Recording Machines, Music CDs, Personal Computer Advancements, The Computer Mouse, Television Remotes (connected with a wire), Wireless Television Remotes, The Sony Walkman, Handheld Video Game Machines, LED Watches, LCD Watches, The Sony Diskman, Dolby 5.1, MP3 Players, Digital Cameras, Digital Video Recorders, Microwave Ovens, Computer Modems, Cellular Telephones, The Internet, Scanners, Inkjet Printers, Laser Printers, Satellite TV, Handheld GPS Devices, Laser Pointers, Memory Sticks, Bluetooth, WIFI,  Wireless Speakers, Digital Picture Frames, Rear Projection TV, Flat Screen TV,  Blu-Ray Disk Players, Video Game Consoles, Smartphones…
…just to name a few.

Some of those items are some heavy hitters. Some of them became mainstream and obsolete again during my brief journey so far. I think about how many of them have been incorporated into my smartphone. It kinda blows me away. As technology advances there are those that must rush out and embrace it blindly and there are also those who pine for simpler times with less technology. I would like to think I take a path between these two extremes. All of these things are merely tools. They have an opportunity to add value to your life or add distraction, perhaps a bit of both. I am thankful for the advances I have seen in my lifetime. It is very very humbling and truly amazing.

If you had tried to explain to the 12 year old version of me, that I would be writing a blog entry on a wireless keyboard connected to a laptop computer that is connected to a worldwide network of interconnected devices… well, I would have been confused to say the least. It would have been incredulous. I am grateful for the connectedness that technology affords me. 40 years ago, it would have been quite difficult to keep in touch with friends and family around the globe. I hope that I can always appreciate technological advances and harvest the benefit from them to enrich my life experiences. Mr. Toad’s wild ride ain’t over yet…

 

#BixbyFifty #Day07 – Youthful Joy

Okay, today’s entry is on a much lighter vein than some of the previous days. I was at home minding my own business on Saturday morning when I heard a knock at the door. It was a young boy of about 12 or so. He asked: “Excuse me mister, would you have any bottles you could donate for our bottle drive? We are raising money for a school trip to Quebec.” I indicated that I might have something to donate and instructed him to meet me at the garage. We had a box of bottles and a blue bin of cans in the basement and I grabbed those and met him in the back. I instructed him to tell his father to back the truck into the driveway. He smiled and indicated he could carry what I was holding in my hands. That is when I opened the overhead garage door.

Queue the sound of an angelic choir and blissful light shining from within the garage as he gazed upon the mother lode. He ran excitedly down the driveway calling for his father. At that point a host of other kids on the bottle drive appeared and the flurry of excitement began. The truck backed into the driveway and a host of excited preteen boys started carrying and loading boxes of bottles and bags of cans. They were going to fill the truck with one stop. The number of heartfelt “thank yous” was amazing.

Now before you pick up the phone and call the crew from the show “intervention”, let me explain. I host a poker league, weekly boardgame nights, the annual BixCON gaming convention, and a number of other events. Sure, I like my beer and Kathy enjoys a glass of wine, but these empties were not all ours. Okay? We good on that? We stage recyclables for months until such a young enterprising person happens to knock on our door. It is fun to see their reaction.

Today I am thankful for the unbridled joy and enthusiasm of youth. May we as adults draw a lesson from the purity of happiness that is experienced and expressed without reserve, without hesitation.

#BixbyFifty #Day06 – Photography

Today I am feeling a bit reflective and nostalgic. I just set up a Flickr account for SaskGames. Basically, it will be for pictures I have taken of boardgames or people playing games. As the SaskGames News Bulletin progresses, it will become more important to have a central repository of stock images. If you are interested in a bunch of game related pictures, the account is:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/saskgames/

That is not the reason for today’s post though. I went through my folders of digital pictures from 2014, 2013, 2012 looking for gaming pictures. By doing that I was wading through all of my pictures of the last couple of years. Lots of memories came flooding back to me of various people, events, and travels. It was quite a pleasant task. We have so many digital pictures… I can hardly venture a guess as to how many. Perhaps 20,000 or so. Thankfully they are in folders by year, month, and event so they are “largely” organized.

I feel like it is a blessing to have these in digital format. We mostly use our TV as a large picture frame and have the xBox 360 stream pictures to it in a slide show. It allows us to enjoy our pictures on a regular basis. Going through the folders looking for specific images has sparked another project for me. I think I will go through all of our digital pictures and clean up some of the organization and folders. It is a task I am really looking forward to as it will be a very rewarding stroll through the strata of the last 14 years. Yep, 14 years of digital pictures. I starting using a digital camera in 2000. Aside from that, we have had a very large portion of our older photographs scanned and they will need to be organized into folders. This task will take a long time to complete as it is fairly large in scope. I have no problem with that. I can savour this project and pick away at it in small chunks. That will allow me to have bite size chunks of nostalgia.

I am grateful for these pictures. These captured moments in time and space. I look forward to visiting and reliving various canoe trips, backpacking excursions, family visits, outings with friends, backyard gatherings, poker games, boardgame events, travel, snowshoeing expeditions, and many other zany things we have ventured to try over the years. These pictures will be yet another reminder of a number of other blessings in my life.

DSC_4023I am truly thankful for the photographs and how they are a catalyst for a flood of wonderful memories.

 

#BixbyFifty #Day05 – Tolerance & Middle Ground

I am grateful for my own views of tolerance and inclusion. I am thankful that my world view is one of peaceful cohabitation. Today’s entry in the gratitude journey is going to wade into the murky waters of beliefs and extremes. Careful, you may not like what you read.

Gratitude-05POLITICS
Are you right? Are you left? In the end, are you so stuck to an ideology that it blinds you or clouds your judgement? These are provocative questions. Am I trying to incite a conflict? Heavens no. I have people in my life that span the whole spectrum of political beliefs. The far right hard line conservative to the leftist leaning hippie. (Note, I am not placing a value judgement on those labels). For me, the whole thing gets frustrating when someone buys into the entirety of one side or the other. These are the people that discount any idea or initiative if it happens to be endorsed by the opposite ideology. Wow. Really? Does that mean what is good in our society is a Venn diagram where the two circles have NO OVERLAP at all. To me that is ludicrous. This deep entrenchment in either the right or the left precludes a phenomenal amount of unexplored middle ground. It is sometimes painful for me to engage in conversation with either extreme due to all of the blanket judgements that have to be overcome before you can even have a meaningful discourse on the subject. My own political beliefs have spent time exploring the far right and the left. There are some great ideas on both sides of the polarized spectrum, trouble is that they will have a hard time gaining traction by the other side. Many times the best course of action is held hostage to maintaining a hard line stance on an ideology where compromise or movement would be construed as weakness or a failing of their cause.

RELIGION
This is another touchy subject. I want to make this perfectly clear. I respect everyone’s right to choose and follow and practice their beliefs. That is important. I also include atheists and agnostics. There is room for all views and all beliefs. I do not think I need to say this, but I will anyways. I do not include people who engage in destructive or extreme practices in the “name of” their belief system. They are just fanatics trying to rationalize their own despicable behaviour by hitching to a cause.

My spiritual beliefs are very unique. I never feel the need to broadcast them to the world as they are personal to me. However, if you are truly curious, feel free to ask me. I am not opposed to discussing my beliefs. Here is the rub though… most people only want to know what you believe so they can construct arguments to dismantle your beliefs. They want to do this to “convert” you to their beliefs. That is where I lose respect for people quite quickly. I think I am okay, I do not need to be “fixed”.

“I have most respect for the person who is so confident with what they believe that they do not feel a need to convert others. They have a path of private conviction that allows them to interact with the world more respectfully.”

Over the years I have met religious zealots and over-zealous atheists alike. I do not need to be converted. I do not need to be educated. If I am curious, I will ask. Mine is a path of tolerance. In all sincerity, I am more interested in the conduct of the person I am interacting with, not their beliefs. In the last few years, I have to say that the most annoying are the atheists who are passionately trying to dismantle or refute the belief systems of others. I am an advocate of science and the scientific method, I am all for the progression of our collective understanding of the universe, but I do not understand the need to dismantle someone’s belief system to progress. And some of the arguments about the harm of religion are getting old. Yes, we all understand their were very bad things done by people of various institutions. The same could be said of any demographic or organization though. Religious organizations do not hold a monopoly in this regard. Just for the record and by way of disclosure, I never attended church growing up and I do not attend church now. That does not mean I cannot see the value in it. On another note, I am the event chair person for an annual charity that feeds those in need. They happen to be a faith based charity. I have had a few people take issue with supporting a Christian charity. Really? They are feeding those in need. I judge the organization based on what it DOES not by what it BELIEVES. They are doing good in the community and that is the yardstick by which I measure things.

In the name of tolerance, let us quietly, with grace and confidence, walk a path of our own beliefs while allowing others to do the same. Each person should feel free to own and practice their beliefs without the fear of persecution.

PHILOSOPHY
This is a bit more esoteric for me, but is closely linked to the other two sections I wrote above. Live and let live. Be who you are and allow others the same courtesy. I cherish the variety of views, knowledge, beliefs, ideas, cultures, and values of others. They all provide opportunities to learn and grow. My views are largely an amalgamation of the bits I have borrowed from the world around me, ergo, the more tolerant and open I am to that world, the more I can continue to shape and mold myself.

 

My gratitude today goes to all of the people I have connected with over the years, you have all helped shape me. Tolerance leads to understanding, learning, and growth.

#BixbyFifty #Day04 – Planning Events

I cannot help myself. I think it is an addiction. I love to plan events, and apparently I am fairly good at it. Where does this fit in with a journey of gratitude though? Let me tells ya…

Bringing people together is a joyous thing. Events are quite often a catalyst for new friendships and lasting memories.  If a gathering can create a legacy of friendship, then it is indeed a worthy pursuit. It is very rewarding to have a hand in that.

I host a couple of leagues at home. The BSOP (Bixby Series of Poker) and the BFD (Bixby’s Formula De League). The BSOP is an eight game series of Texas Hold’em Poker Games and the BFD is a 6 game series for a racing simulation boardgame. They are both replete with camaraderie, laughter and trash-talk. They are full of friends.

Additionally we host a number of gatherings in our backyard. The firepit is a magical thing. Everyone loves a fire. It is a center point for a host of other gatherings. Lobster boils, dart games, werewolf games, meals, or simple gatherings to sit and enjoy friends and while away the evening.

Then there are the host of boardgame events with SaskGames and the 24 Hours to Play with Your Food charity event. The list goes on…

There is a common theme to most of these events, they are centered around an activity. That makes sense when you consider that I am socially awkward. One of the things that surprises people about me is that I am an introvert. I am awkward when it comes to small talk or conversation. I struggle to connect to people. I enjoy talking with people, but my conversation skills are lacking when it comes to small talk. I tend to talk about abstract things, ideas, plans, and concepts. I also like to talk with people about matters of the heart. Deeper things such as what motivates them or brings them joy, what are their fears. What are their struggles, their triumphs? I call that “big” talk. Those are things that most people are not really comfortable discussing. When you consider that I am not good at small talk and big talk is generally something that is difficult to achieve in most social interactions, what is left?

…activities.

That is why events are magical. They can accommodate a broad spectrum of people and conversational styles. Introverts and extroverts alike can come together and co-mingle in an environment where the focus is on the activity. The activity provides a context for interaction. It is the catalyst that allows people to get to know each other in steps and on their own terms.

I watch very little TV, I do not watch many movies, I do not follow sports, I am not an armchair meteorologist. That leaves out a whole lot of conversational fodder. I can, however, plan an event where we come together to engage in some eccentric activity. Hopefully, in that space we establish some common bonds for friendship and maybe pave the way for some “big” talk. I am thankful for the opportunity this give me to get to know some very interesting people, some of whom I am honoured to have as friends.