What is Enough?

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.

William Blake

Serous knitters collect yarn the way nerds collect nerd stuff. They call their yarn collections their “stash.” You might think, as I did when my wife picked up the craft, that knitters would only buy as much yarn as they need for the project they are working on. Only buying as much as you need for your current project might be something one of those van people on Instagram do but most serious knitters collect yarn. They go to shows and shops to hunt for yarn like the most dedicated comics aficionado will sort through long boxes searching for issues they are missing from their run of The Uncanny X-Men.

A knitter may have so much yarn in their stash that even if they were knitting 8 hours every day for the rest of their life, they won’t use it all. Knitters have a funny acronym for this phenomenon. Apparently, it is common.

S.A.B.L.E – Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

I have a lot of comics,books, magazines, games and game modules. I would call my collection respectable. I see shelfie photos on some of the Facebook groups I haunt and show my wife, “See honey? I’m not nearly the kind of insane collector like this guy.” Then she shows me videos of the house plant collections some other people have and says, “See honey? I’m not nearly the lunatic plant lady like this person.”

We have a rule. I don’t talk shit about her plants. She doesn’t talk shit about my books. It is a good rule.

I’m forty six. I’ve been looking at my Appendix N collection, the history books, the comics boxes, my game shelves… I wonder if I’ve achieved or come close to achieving the nerd version of S.A.B.L.E.

Perhaps I’ve achieved G.A.B.L.E – Game Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

Earlier this week, I took some books that the family no longer wanted to Half Price Books. Half of half price is the payout they offer when you take them books. I used to find many good buys at Half Price Books. That’s changed in the last few years.

I only take books to Half Price if they aren’t worth much of anything on eBay and I want to weed a lot of books quickly. I took two boxes of books to the counter. I checked what they had on for sale the game shelf, the fantasy/sci fi shelves, and the CDs, as is my habit.

When they called my name, I took the meager payout and left. I saw a few things that were interesting but I didn’t buy anything. I’ve never done that before. I have always left with a few books or CDs.

I’ve become very picky.

I’ve never been a big Kickstarter participant. When I have pledged, it was for a mid-tier support level with print product rewards. In 2021, I supported four ZineQuest projects and two game projects. Carbon Grey D6 and the Into the Odd. In the two non-ZineQuest projects, I opted for the digital rewards.

I’m contemplating a few of the new LotFP products if they show up in the US webstore. Shipping has become expensive, as anyone not locked inside a magic jar can tell you. How Jimmy is going to get his books to the US without an absurd shipping cost is anyone’s guess. He may be sleeping on that pile of books in his apartment for a while.

No

I have become more and more selective about the games I buy. I don’t have a specific set of criteria for what gets passed by and what gets purchased. At one time, I would have written up a checklist of characteristics a product must have for me to buy it, in the belief that my purchases were rational. I’ve accepted that my purchase decisions are more about emotion and aesthetic than anything that makes logical sense.

A starting place is Derek Sivers’ heuristic; Hell Yeah or No. If something doesn’t make you say, “Hell Yeah!” then say “No.” There is a lot of crap and there is a lot of material that is just not for me.

It is important to say, “No” but there is a balancing point. It is fine to buy games that you will never play. It might be good to buy games that you never read. That last one might be pushing it.

Nassim Taleb, my favorite disagreeable person on the planet, recommends that you own an antilibrary. He writes that there is value in owning a significant number of books that you haven’t read. The antilibrary is a physical manifestation of humility. It is a reminder that you are ignorant.

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have. How many of these books have you read?” and the others—a very small minority—who get the point is that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendages but a research tool. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means … allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. So this tendency to offend Eco’s library sensibility by focusing on the known is a human bias that extends to our mental operations. People don’t walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did. Just as we need to stand library logic on its head, we will work on standing knowledge itself on its head.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb -The Black Swan

I have become very protective of my time. I don’t work overtime at my job unless it is required. I say, “No” to a lot of things. The last time I played a video game was when it was raining sideways on our vacation in August. I limit my TV watching to the weekend. I set aside Friday night for date night with my wife. I try to limit my social media usage. I avoid the “arguing with someone who is clearly wrong” part of the social media experience (Twitter, I’m looking at you!) as much as possible.

I have a full time job that requires my physical presence in the building. I’m married. I have teenaged offspring. We have pets, a house, family events. I have responsibilities.

I want to get as much as I can out of my life time.

The irony is, of course, I’m contributing to the ever growing garbage pile of digital content with this blog, my social media and some YouTube videos in progress.

I have things I want to say. I think they are important and I say them as well as I am able. I attempt give you, my lovely readers, something that you won’t find anywhere else that incites thoughts you’ve never had. I’m sure I fail on the regular. I do my best.

It has become my intention to make things of value for my people. To serve the tribe.

I’m working on a product; Hogwater: Village of Lies. I did a big reassessment of it earlier in the week. Overall, I felt it was going in the right direction. The writing is mostly done. Lots of small details left to be cleaned up.

I’m writing the book for people who like games not interactive narratives; uncertain outcomes; the ugly truth that life is not good vs bad but bad vs worse, and who enjoy classic adventure gaming.

I want it to be something that some of you will look at and say, “HELL YEAH!” If I’ve done my work well, that is what you will do. If not, that’s OK.

For everyone else, I hope you will say, “No.”

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