Jul 012015
 

Maybe I shouldn't complain too quickly, at least I'll never get -this- hot.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain too quickly, at least I’ll never get -this- hot.

On the tube home I happened to catch part of the newspaper of the lady sitting next to me: “Temperature in London underground higher than would be allowed for cattle transport.”

I’m not a cow, so I generally get to make my own choices. Including to get on a tube with an ambient temperature hotter than my own blood.

As sweat trickled in a small river off of my forehead I was seriously doubting the wisdom of that particular free choice. Of course, not getting home isn’t fun either (or walking for three hours through the heat outside. At least underground there was no sun)… So how much choice do you have in the end?

Maybe being a cow isn’t so bad after all…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Jun 232015
 

Last week I was in Edinburgh for a few days. One of the things my girlfriend and me did was do an “escape room”.

An escape room is a real-life adventure game. And Day of the Tentacle was the best of them: Get the fake barf from the ceiling, flush it through the toilet to send it to the future so that the person there can use it to disqualify Harrold from the "best human contest" so that instead your long-dead mummified pall can win (after you give him hair consisting of spaghetti with meatballs of course...)

An escape room is a real-life adventure game. And Day of the Tentacle was the best of them: Get the fake barf from the ceiling, flush it through the toilet to send it to the future so that the person there can use it to disqualify Harold from the “best human contest” so that instead your long-dead mummified pall can win (after you give him hair consisting of spaghetti with meatballs of course…)

For those of you new to the concept: It’s a room filled with puzzles which you have to solve to “escape” the room (e.g. find the key which allows you to open the storage box which contains a riddle that points you towards the code for the vault…). There is a timer, you have exactly one hour to do this. And it’s awesome fun!

So, I was inspired! And having planned to have some friends over last Saturday, I decided to let loose my diabolical creativity and challenge their grey matter to the hilt. Puzzles, locks, numerical series, codes, even playing the saxophone!

The evening was a great success, everybody absolutely loved it! It took slightly longer than planned (2 hours instead of my estimated 1, but we had time so that didn’t matter so much). And they needed quite a few hints and prodding to get everything right.

Which results in a few observations:

One of my friends twittered about how much she enjoyed the escape room. Promptly there were two replies back from companies which would be happy to list my escape room in their index. Maybe this is an interesting career switch?!
  • Some of the clues I thought were blatantly obvious were completely misunderstood by the group. People will think differently…
  • It can be staring in your face, but people won’t see it. An A4 with the code to one of the locks was out in the open and completely ignored. Next time I’ll write next to it: “Secret code”?
  • The group ran with whatever bit of a clue they had. When there were two songs to be played they quickly got the first one (“You can leave your hat on”, sending them off to my collection of hats and removing the pieces of paper from all of them), but completely ignored the second song (“Under the bridge” by All Saints, with the file renamed to “Be original”; it should be obvious that the original of Under the bridge is by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and that they obviously needed the red hat. Right? (Yeah, I made this one too complicated…)), meaning that they they didn’t know anymore which piece of paper came from which hat.

All of the above says nothing about my friends, but it says a lot about me as a game designer (or communicator). One thing I took away from this:
If it isn’t blatantly obvious, people will misunderstand (i.e. hints don’t work (I’m looking at some of my ex girlfriends here! 😉 )).

I think this will help me quite a lot next time I have to give a presentation or write a report (or design an escape room!).


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

May 312015
 

It would happen with some regularity: I’d have a flight from London to the Netherlands, on a Friday, after work. I’d arrive on Dutch soil, tired and hungry. And there was one thing going through my mind: Hamburger!

The reason they always wrap up your burger is so that you can't immediately see that what you're buying is not what you're getting...

The reason they always wrap up your burger is so that you can’t immediately see that what you’re buying is not what you’re getting…

Rushing through customs, off to Burger King, mouth watering at the thought of a big piece of meat.

With my burger and fries in a bag, I’d head down to the train, having half an hour to concentrate on devouring the greasy goodness.

The first two bites would be awesome! Meat, fat (and probably sugar) hitting my tongue and stomach, sending waves of well-being through my brain. Life is good!

Then I get to bit three to five and the awesomeness is already diminishing. Bite six tastes like cardboard and at bite seven I’m feeling positively disgusted. I vow never to fall for this trap again.

But then next time comes round, I’m tired and hungry and again I find myself standing in line…

It’s silly! I see myself as a smart, educated individual. I actively work to optimize my own happiness. And then something as simple as a hamburger defeats me, time and again! It’s a puzzle really! Or better, it was.

Recently I read an article where they explained that the human brain has different centers for pleasure and craving. And that the craving center, the part that makes you want to get things, is many times larger than the pleasure center, the part that makes you enjoy things.

Historically I’m sure that this was a good idea. It can’t hurt to constantly crave sugar, fat, salt (and sex and alcohol) when their supply is very limited. Something you craved led to something you liked. Easy! It’s only been recently that supermarkets and burger joints provide infinite amounts of whatever foodstuff we want (and the internet and bars provide porn and beer respectively). And too much of something is not a problem for the craving center, but it is for the liking one.

Outlawing advertisement would probably make the worlds such a better place!
Burger King (and many other companies) make good use of this. If they only gave us what we liked, we wouldn’t buy as much. But give us something that we crave and the sky’s the limit (especially with a bit of help from advertisement; it’s not hard to get the craving machine running…)

Knowing this I’m hoping it’ll be a bit easier to stay away from hamburgers and the likes. But I’m sure there are many more things where there is a strong disconnect between the wanting and the having (“shopping” as an institution anyone?). If I come across any more I’ll be sure to let you know…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Jan 082015
 

I’m writing this on the train back to my home town. Last weekend my grandmother passed away and today is her funeral.

She lived a full life. She saw her daughter grow up to be a strong woman and have two (grand)sons. She lived in a time when cars where new and she lived in a time when the internet took over the world (can you imagine how cool it is to get an e-mail from your grandmother?). She loved and was loved.

And now she’s gone.

Which is a very strong reminder of my own mortality.

I regularly say that I plan on living forever (it’s easy to plan, perhaps harder to execute; we’ll need a bit more technological progress to make it happen). Recently having had an incentive to think this through a bit more, I’m not sure if immortality is actually a good idea. If I have eternity to do something, why do it now? And if you have all of forever, eventually you will succeed at any goal, no matter how difficult. What is the meaning of striving if there is no failure?

Life being finite on the other hand gives a certain sense of urgency, a directive to make something out of the precious time we have. And at the same time it takes away some of the pressure; being human (mortal) means we are allowed to make mistakes, to try and to be less than perfect.

My grandmother was human, I’m sure she made mistakes and had her share of regrets. But with the shedding of her mortal veil, those things are gone. What is left are memories, in the minds of those who loved her. For me personally that means breakfasts together (with freshly pressed orange juice), a little bit of help with finding that specific Lego brick, playing dice games. And on a more abstract level, a seemingly infinite well of patience and love.

Thank you grandma. You will be missed!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Dec 152014
 

I climbed up the stairs towards the train that I’ve been taking every (work day) morning since moving into my current crib. There was a train standing there and just when I got to the top I saw the doors closing and it driving off. “Lewisham” it said, the one I could have taken to work. No worries though, a new one will leave some time between 3 and 5 minutes from now…

Been there, done that. Now look at the road ahead, you idiot!

Been there, done that. Now look at the road ahead, you idiot!

Except that it didn’t. The next train had a different destination. And though that wasn’t the original plan, it turned out that it would heading to the mechanic’s yard; it took them 30 minutes to get the thing moving at all and it most certainly wouldn’t be transporting passengers any time soon.

30 minutes, during which normally a train per minute would be leaving. That is 30 trains worth of people packed together on a not-overly-large platform. I love people, but that was a bit excessive… I guess we were lucky that it’s getting close to the holidays and there were in fact less people than normal…

And while I was getting up close and personal with a whole lot of strangers, a thought flitted through my mind: “If only I’d left home half a minute earlier…”

Yes, I would have been at work at my normal time. And I wouldn’t have gotten some real-life experience of what a sardine feels like. Definitely preferable.

But, how could I have made that decision? Sure, technically there would have been no problem with leaving half a minute earlier. But I could do that every day and then after a few months I would be arriving at work an hour earlier than need be. Moreover, though I would have sidestepped this particular incident, I still would be presented with other obstructions. There is no avoiding misfortune.

Or is it better to say, “there is no avoiding life”?

It’s impossible to foresee exactly what is going to happen. I made the best choice I could with the information (and assumptions) available at the time: If I leave at my normal time, I’ll probably arrive at my normal time.

Reality proved me wrong. Unfortunately

If someone says “Expect the unexpected”, slap them in the face and say: “I bet you weren’t expecting that!” (This, by the way, is not an invitation to slap me in the face!)
Knowing what I know now, I would have made a different choice. But I didn’t know what I know now. And that is almost always true any time you make a “bad” decision; It’s only bad in retrospect (if it’s a bad decision with the information you have at the moment of making it, it’s a stupid decision).

Life will throw curve-balls. Things will work out differently than expected. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. That however is no reason to start second-guessing yourself.


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!