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Character Strengths

A while ago, I did a Coursera course called “The Science of Well-Being“, which was super interesting. It wasn’t just interesting from a theoretical perspective, but quite interactive and practical. Part of it was finding out your character strengths on this website.
I found it worthwhile to reflect upon myself in ways I might not have previously. My top 5 strengths are:
Humour: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.
Honesty: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.
Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.
Humility: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
Judgment: Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.
(To compare, my bottom 5 are: Self-regulation, Perspective, Forgiveness, Hope and Spirituality. Huh.)
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It’s weird to take a sort of a quiz and have it spit this stuff out at you. And to be honest, I think these are more strengths that I aim to embody than strengths that drive me. Although I do feel like humour and kindness are a big part of who I am, despite my grumpy feminist ways 🙂
Humour is such an important thing to me. My number one favourite thing in life is making a friend laugh. Well, dogs are probably #1, but as far as things I can do, that’s up there. I’ve never really had aspirations to do stand-up or improv or anything formal, but I do feel like I can bring humour into everyday life. It was so empowering to see this as a character strength.
Kindness isn’t something I can throw out there quite as effortlessly, but it’s definitely something I work at. (Possibly I need to work at it more directed toward myself.) Negativity is hard to shed, and it’s certainly something I carry with me daily whether I know it or not. Aiming to integrate kindness into daily life and the things I do helps. Reaching out to a friend. Grabbing a snack to share with a co-worker. Surprising someone with mail. So much more. There’s a fundamentally positive feedback loop when you act with kindness, and I need to remember that more.
During the Science of Well-Being course, these character strengths were brought up as something to focus on, to be mindful of. They’re not necessarily inherent, but they’re part of us and we can always work on improving them. Coming across my list today reminded me of that, and I’m going to put more effort in.
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Listening the past

Today I went for a walk to get groceries, and decided to listen to music rather than podcasts for a change. Out of nowhere, I figured I’d search for the Giants of Science, a band from Brisbane that were prolific in the early 2000s. As I listened to their album History of Warfare, my brain was on fire with memories and all sorts of emotions about music.

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I knew every single word without fail, and I haven’t listened to this band in a good couple of years now. I remembered all the sweaty shows I went to at the Zoo, the basement at the Alliance, the Healer, all the boat cruise gigs, so many little venues. And the Giants were far from the only Brisbane band I would go to see – I went to a lot of shows back then when I was young and without responsibility – Iron On, Turnpike, Extra Foxx, Gazoonga Attack, Double Chamber.. I saw so many shows I even maintained a website where I’d put photos and the like. It’s long gone now, but the Wayback Machine gives you an idea of how terrible at writing I was then. (And man it was weird having a website blog? I think by this point i’d mostly shifted to Livejournal, but hey.)

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Back to the point – that I feel like, in a lot of ways my music tastes are stuck in the early-mid 2000s. I love all these bands that were never really known outside of Australia (or sometimes even Brisbane) – it’s hard to find them on streaming sites. It’s why I ripped so many of the CDs I had packed up in my mum’s garage. It’s a time capsule of great importance for me.

My early musical tastes were pretty much whatever was top 40. Once the national indie radio station Triple J was available where I lived, I migrated to a lot more “alternative” listening and got big into grunge. By the time I was out of high school, I made friends that had far wider and more interesting musical tastes – my BFF (BF at the time) got me listening to a LOT of punk. And then we moved to Brisbane together and would be at multiple gigs every week seeing these fabulous, loud guitar-driven bands – neither of us drank and I would turn up with my digital camera and be documenting to the Nth degree.

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Every time I listen to any of these bands it feels like Brisbane summer. No matter how much time has passed, how many of these bands are non-existent now (most likely 99% of them), it’s this tangible link to that really formative time in my life. In the mid-2000s I started listening to the CBC Radio 3 podcast, which served up a load of fantastic Canadian independent music for me to learn about. That introduced me to one of my (if not my actual) favourite bands, the Weakerthans – along with Stars, the Stills, New Pornographers, Tokyo Police Club, Sloan and more. I think this is about where I stopped really having the energy to get into a lot of new music. My tastes are narrow, I will admit – I love guitar and rock music and punk. Indie rock more than pop. (I think the Magnetic Fields might be the outlier among this all.)

I don’t feel that struggle to keep up with what is good right now, to feel like I have my finger on the pulse. More than anything music is a comfort for me to fall back on, to be familiar and to be there when I need it. I’ll throw on some Canadian indie playlists while board gaming now, or if I’m cleaning around the house probably some instrumental ambient rock; when I’m reading, it’s jazz, especially. But in the sticky hot days of Toronto summer, I realize that I tend to lean toward the bands of my days of musical passion back in Brisbane. I don’t want to let go of it – and I realize, that probably, it’s always going to be tucked away in the back of my brain when I start up a song and start singing along. I’m happy here.

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Hot New Fashion Trends for Summer Conventions!

Everyone knows that any clothing women wear means that men will stare – gosh, it’s how the world works after all.

But what if you want to attend a convention and play some games? How about walking around an exhibition hall without being groped? You sleeve your cards for protection – why not sleeve yourself for the same reason!

Introducing: SACK COUTURE.

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Using your choice of printing – or none at all – you can show your farming game love as well as hiding all of your bodily form so you can take your turn without being ogled!

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Girl, take control! Be the belle of the convention and be sure to be ignored so you can just sit down and damn well game this summer. You deserve it.

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Attempted design – update #4

Okay so yeah, it’s been a good long while, hasn’t it? At least I did sit down and play my last iteration of the game with real humans!! Wonderful ladies from the board game community here in Toronto. It was a heartwarming experience, and I got amazing feedback. Which I wrote down and sort of forgot about, then did a bit more at some point and now I’m sitting here tonight looking through scraps of notes, print outs of new things, and trying to sort myself out over the written stuff in notebooks versus the typed stuff I have saved online. Good work, self.

I think the two biggest things to come out of the playtest were: scrap the ‘timer track’ and just use the depletion of the food cubes used for bidding to pace the game – and have a game end condition based on # of public goals completed. That, and to have upcoming polyominoes available before you can bid on them, to plan ahead a bit – rather than fishing around in the bag to grab the polyominoes, I’ve made some cards with the shapes on them, and they’ll get flipped to determine which come out for bidding (Castles of Mad King Ludwig style). Otherwise I just needed to come up with more goals, which – by the looks of a Google Doc I just found haha – I have mostly!

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I think streamlining the setup and turns has come a long way, I think just after looking at it so much. And I guess I took a step back and looked at the procedure of the game as a whole, because I’ve thought to add some round bonuses throughout, for people to rearrange their bowers slightly.  This is how it’s going to roll:

GAME SETUP:

  • Deal out 3 public “optical illusion” goals, set the rest aside
  • Deal 3 mates to each player – they keep 2, discard one.
  • Distribute one set of food to each player (valued 1 through 5)
  • Set up tiles for auction this round and upcoming – number of tiles is # of players +1.

TURN REFERENCE:

  • If you have one food token left, refresh your supply to full.
  • Players simultaneously bid a value of food
  • Winner of bid selects their tile, and the rest of the players select theirs by bid amount (ties resolved by player order); bids are spent. Tiles do not have to be placed adjacent to existing pieces.
  • Check public goals for successes, and score. If someone has completed 3 public goals, the game ends.
  • Start player passes

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I suppose it’s time to get my goal cards and mate cards all together and put this in front of people, again. Honestly, my next biggest stumbling blocks are: do I hate this and think it’s not fun, and how can I overcome my impostor syndrome! We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, here I am trying to keep myself accountable. And also mildly panicked about taking part in a board game design panel later this week!

A little vegan giftie for you!

Back in the day when I was baking at a cafe, I developed a recipe for vegan (tofu-based) quiche. I’d been hunting it down for the pastry part of it recently and finally found it, so I figure why not share it with you lovely folks.

To start with, the crust!

Ingredients:

212g flour
113g Earth Balance
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp ice water

How to:

Cut together the flour, salt and Earth Balance until well combined. Add ice water and mix until well combined. Roll out and par-bake for 15 minutes at 350F in a non-stick or well-greased quiche pan. (I like the ones with the removable bottom, makes it all easier to deal with once the whole thing is finished.) When you’re par-baking, make sure to weight down your pastry with baking balls/pie weights – or if you’re cheap like me, pour some dried legumes in there (onto parchment paper!).

Next, the filling!

Ingredients:

One packet of Mori-Nu silken firm tofu (12.3oz/349g)

15g arrowroot starch

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

45g soy mik

8g Nutritional Yeast flakes

35g Daiya mozzarella vegan cheese

18g almond meal

Half a dozen large basil leaves, washed (plus fresh basil to taste for the final step)

2 – 2 ½ cups of diced vegetables (whatever mix!)

Two diced shallots

2 Tbsp Lemon juice

2 Tbsp seasonings/herbs/spices (whatever mix!)

 

How to:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the tofu, arrowroot, salt & pepper, soy milk, Nutritional Yeast, Daiya, almond meal and basil leaves in the food processor and blend well until completely smooth.

Saute your vegetables, shallots, lemon juice and other seasonings until everything is just cooked. Fold into the tofu mixture, along with the fresh basil to taste, and pour into a par-baked quiche crust.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Check the quiche and if the crust and top are nicely browned (not too brown!) then remove for the oven and let cool at room temperature before slicing.

 

Flavour suggestions – Tomato/Olive/Spinach, Red Pepper/Broccoli, Roasted Sweet Potato & Arugula, Spicy Zucchini & Tomato.

Like this post? Buy me a coffee!

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Roasted sweet potato and arugula quiche

It was 2017

I’m going to.. handwave away the personal recap of 2017, because it’s just too much to think about/write/read. SO. Here’s STUFFS WHAT I LIKED, 2017 EDITION!!! And yeah, there’s a couple of days left in the year. But let’s be real. This is close enough.

THE MOVIES

I’ve seen 46 movies this year. I’d hoped to break 50. Being with Evan has meant a shift back to watching more movies (and really, just as much TV), which has been great – being in a long distance relationship sucks, but it’s great to be able to watch movies with each other over that distance. As far as new releases, we didn’t see a lot together, but there were some great movies out in cinemas this year. Highlights for me: The Big Sick, Get Out, The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnorak, Logan, The Shape of Water. I think I need to revisit Blade Runner: 2049, but it might be on that list, too. Recent stuff that’s come out that I want to see, but am waiting for streaming release? Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri are up there! I really did a lot more watching of 2016 and older stuff out of the batch of viewings this year. Best non-2017 one I saw? Probably Hush, or the Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

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THE TELLY

This was the year of new Twin Peaks, so that’s got to be my first mention out of the gate. Oh how I had waited – most of the time, not knowing it’d come. Some of the time itching to have it here. It was a strange ride, full of mystery and horror and humour and nostalgia and straight up weird shit. Can’t wait to go back and rewatch. PS. Thanks for being the reason I got to know Evan better. 

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Notable ongoing fave: Brooklyn 99. I binged because I couldn’t stop: The Good Place. I watched it all and I’m still not sure how I feel about: The Leftovers. My trashy watch: Riverdale. Oh no I need to catch up on: Mr Robot,  Orphan Black. Started, and excited to watch more into the new year: Atlanta. Can’t wait for the new episodes of: Black Mirror, the X-Files!

BOOKY BOOKS

I struggled to hit my goal of 40 books read this year. I just lost steam in the summertime, and it has been tough to get it back. I have tried to do a bit of reading to chat about with Evan – he encouraged me to read the Southern Reach trilogy (so far it’s just been Annihilation, but I’ll get there), plus we got to read Twin Peaks: the Final Dossier to talk about together! Overall, I think Annihilation was my favourite novel read, and as far as comics, Paper Girls was my new favourite read. Onto my backlog now, I guess! Which is full of great recommendations from Liz, whose Science Fiction Double Feature podcast has been a great source of nerding and great sounding books.

GAMEZ OF BOARD AND VID

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first, because I don’t play a lot of video games compared to board games! Much of my time has been all about Stardew Valley and the Sims 4, not to mention recently with Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. You may sense a theme.. Meanwhile, I really need to get back to the Witness for puzzly goodness. And with the new season of the X-Files looming, dive back into my investigation in Thimbleweed Park. I think if I can chip away at what’s in my Steam library after that, it’ll be a 2018 miracle! I was very good and did not bend to the Steam sales, pals.

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As far as games go, well. Here’s a big ol’ article I wrote about this year in games. Bärenpark and Sagrada are my top picks if you don’t feel like clicking through, but there’s lots of stuff in there in many categories. I think my top 10 would be: BärenparkSagrada, Castles of Burgundy Dice, Word Slam, Azul, Avenue/Kokoro, Favelas, NMBR 9, Fox in the Forest, Century Spice Road – Golem edition. What a great year of games. Meanwhile in pure lovely numbers (oh thank you Board Game Stats!):

  • Games played, total: 546
  • Games played, unique titles: 256
  • Games played, new to me: 126

That’s pretty great for me! Plus I got to playtest a number of really great things, including legacy games which I’ve had enormous fun with.

Not to mention, conventions attended: Breakout Con, the Gathering of Friends, Origins Game Fair, Dice Tower Con, SHUX, Fan Expo, BGGcon, ummmm. Wow. That’s ridiculous. 2018 is going to be scaled back a BUNCH.. Actually, that’s a big fat lie. But at least a bunch of these are local or close to local? Flying to the US for cons is so hecking expensive, so that’s going to scale things back.

Also, I’ve been a guest on a bunch of podcasts, kept up my writing on the Daily Worker Placement, and hit a year of Greatway Games! It’s been pretty great, y’all.

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PODCASTINGS

Because of Twin Peaks, I sought out a few related podcasts – ‘Diane‘ was one of the best. Articulate and intelligent, lots of amazing discussion and insights. Plus I love the ongoing series they’re doing now called the “Shadow Trap” all about monsters and whatnot. Good stuff. I have been super enjoying Tanis as always, for more spookies, and 99% Invisible plus Reply All remain general faves. I’ve also just begun listening to Ologies at the recommendation of my friend and co-host Erin, and it’s been a delight. Nerding out about sciences and disciplines is awesome, and the host is fun and has quirky asides and comes at it all with a fabulous attitude and humour. Also I love all of my own podcast’s network pals, so check ’em out: Inside Voices network.

 

SHUX 2017

The Shut Up And Sit Down Board Game Conglomerate (aka a bunch of nerds who make game reviews) had their first convention at the start of October, and I went! It was in Vancouver! YAY!! 3 days (over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend) and about 800 people, and a heckload of fun. WHAT DID I DO??

Panels

There were so many panels. Like, all day every day so many panels. I went to only a few, because I gamed so many games the rest of the time. (See below.) I went to the opening ceremony to see the crew & their guests, and that was nice. The calm before the storm, or at least the calm before the sleep deprivation. The other two I just attended were the Cardboard! with Rich Sommer podcast & Tuesday Knight Games podcast recordings. Both were good fun! Rich had Rodney Smith, Paul Dean & Phillipa Warr up as guests and chatted a bit then did audience Q&A. I can’t find a link, though. Alan from TKG had a quick run through of guests come up and join him, with some chatting about games and sharing spooky stories. So fun! You can listen here.

THEN. I got to take part in a panel/event thing! Designer Grant Rodiek asked some industry friends, which somehow included me, to help out/”judge” his design jam panel “Design With Your Hair on Fire”. It was without a doubt the most fun design event I’ve been a part of. It was a packed room – split into about 8 or so groups of varying sizes. Each group got a stack of cards with words, had to combine two to end up with a title for their game, grab a bag of random components and then had 60 minutes to make a game. YEAAAAHHH!! So great. The overwhelming majority of attendees were gamers with no former experience in game design. They all took to it like naturals. At the end of it there were playable games! Vampire Weekend, Bearistocracy, Volcano Garden, Speedo Oligarchy, Breakfast Treachery.. and more. I was so impressed with so many! And the range of stuff was great – there was a dexterity game, a social negotiation game, some things that veered more towards light strategy. It was fantastic to see the results of this jam.  I kinda want to see this sort of thing run at every convention.

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Games Played

I felt like I played a lot more than this, but BGStats tells me 24 plays, 10 new to me. I suppose for 3 days that’s not too shabby. I played a mix of stuff people had with them, a few titles from the library and a couple of things I brought. Overwhelming fave was Castles of Burgundy Dice Game still, because I am enamoured. Had a lot of fun teaching Broom Service the Card Game to folks too! And getting a game of Capital Lux in at least once that weekend – plus having the artist, Kwanchai Moriya, sign it! YAY.

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So, new to me:

  • London – oh my gosh this is punishing but excellent. Hard decisions and timing in a game of building up London after the great fire.
  • Bruxelles 1893 – possibly the silliest fun I had playing during SHUX, which is kinda ridiculous considering this is a heavy-ish Euro game. But yeah. I love having goofy fun with friends while playing good solid games!! I enjoyed this quite a bit, with the spatial aspect and the worker placement and art sales and the like. Good things.
  • Wind the Film – Evan describes this as Bohnanza meets Lost Cities which seems apt. Hand management to create sets of shots for points. Delightfully good.
  • Okanagan: Valley of the Lakes – Nice mix of tile laying and area control with a bit of resource/goal management. I like the setting, just not keen on the total absence of any mention of indigenous people in that area…?
  • Tokyo Highway – omg this dexterity game is maddeningly hard but also very good??

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  • News @ 11 – Such a fun social/improv game! Cards with random prompts are handed out and you’re then directed to give a quick news segment by the lead anchor using those words. HILARITY ENSUES.
  • A Dog’s Life – of course I was gonna try this one. Delightful art, cute stuff, fun light pick up & deliver game.
  • Between Two Cities – somehow I’d never tried this?? It was really good!

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  • Deadline – ooooh hardboiled cooperative fun! The way this plays out is very Grizzled-y in its card play, but unfolds like a mystery, giving you new leads whenever you successfully investigate. This was awesome. Would play again A++

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Oh, and I also played Twin Peaks the Murder Mystery Game for the first time, and we definitely modified the rules a BUNCH as we played cos, ya know, early 90s roll and move.

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FRANDS

Oh my gosh I saw a lot of great people. I got to introduce Evan to pals of mine, and see good friends at the same time. Friends from other cons I go to, from Twitter, a couple of listeners of Greatway Games (yay JC and Kayla!!) some of the SUSD crew, a couple even from the SUSD forums! I did a rubbish job of the latter in general, considering I was the one that started an “introduce yourself” thread and then just failed at meeting people because i’m terrible at remembering faces, and the like. I did meet the lovely Lisa Pope, one half of the behind the scenes organizing team, plus Alex & Michele a couple of cool volunteers though. The amount of people at the con was great, but I think I still just went “aaaah people everywhere who are they” most of the time. OOPS. Also thanks to Ben for the coffee hookups, hell yes.

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Thinky thoughts to end on

I had a great time, but I have regrets! I wish I’d demo’d more games, seen more panels, had more time etc etc etc. It was all over in a flash, and there were a LOT of people I saw but just never played games with, which is the saddest thing. Sometimes my brain is all “they’re busy!!!” and sometimes it’s like “omg you’re not in the cool club nobody likes you!” which always comes up in the post-con sads. Gonna try and aim for that not to happen for BGGcon. Also on top of that all, saying goodbye to your long-distance sweetie at the same time as the con ends and all that, oof. I don’t recommend. I can.. not avoid that for BGGcon though. Oops.

Anyhow, despite all of that, I look forward to another SHUX. Perhaps next time I’ll do my Calgary/Banff visit in addition to soaking up the Vancouver goodness.

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