Developing Myself

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Me, according to my boss.

You know that song by the Talking Heads that goes, “And you may ask yourself… How did I get here?”  Well, I already wrote a blog post about that. But honestly, not much has changed regarding how I feel about grad school. The other day, my boss actually compared me to a gerbil running on a wheel, because even though I’ve apparently put in a lot of hard work, I haven’t actually gotten anywhere or accomplished anything. Huge compliment, right? And no, of course I didn’t take it personally. It was a great thing to hear the day before my presentation to my mentoring committee about all the things I have accomplished.

Anyways, I’m tired of complaining about that. I know what I need to do to be better, and no amount of rude yet correct metaphors can stop me. What I really want to write is a post in celebration, because I finally finished something I began in June:

MY HOMEMADE CATAN SET.  IS DONE.

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My life’s work.

In case you haven’t heard, Settlers of Catan is an incredibly fun game where you compete for victory points by obtaining the most cities/roads/knights. To build or draw cards, you have to collect resources by rolling dice. Each resource corresponds to a different number, and you can only collect a resource if you have a settlement or a city bordering that tile. It’s half luck and half skill. It ruins friendships, only to make them stronger when the game is complete (lol). I’ve been playing with friends for a few years now, but I’ve only ever won a single game, and that was about a month ago. Catan reminds me of some of the people I love best; my friends and I brought the game along with us during our spring break road trip, and I also used to play it with my friends over at The Little Box. It also reminds me how to lose gracefully.

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A bird’s eye view.

Originally, I wanted to paint the tiles, because putting things on paper seemed a lot easier than building things out of clay, especially when those things happen to be precisely fitting hexagons.  Perfect 120° angles are harder to construct than I thought. However, when I started the actual painting, I realized that a) I’m not that great at painting landscapes, and b) my cheap set of acrylic paints were not going to cut it. So I changed directions, and made the entire thing out of Sculpey clay, as in that stuff crafty moms buy for their children and then use to make crappy jewelry. And honestly, I am incredibly proud of how it turned out, even though you can tell that the hexagons don’t fit together perfectly. I love its imperfections, because they presented an extra task:  human error, in this instance, was inevitable, so I had to account for my own mistakes. I feel like this is a common theme in my life (but in a good way). I know my flaws, but I also know how to live my life in a way that exploits my weaknesses for the better. For instance, I have a ridiculously hard time keeping track of things (like deadlines, and my keys), and this has prompted me to develop rigorous habits and systems so I can stay on top of things. With this set, I had to think of ways to use the imperfections in tile size to my advantage (i.e. thinking about ways to make roads/cities/settlements that won’t fall between tiles, and making individual ocean tiles that can rotate any direction for the best fit).

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Above are all of my resource tiles, and then below are the other pieces you’d need to play. I had to buy a set of cards to go with it because I didn’t want to make my own, which is fine. The hardest part was actually just making the roads, because there are 60 of them, and I wanted them to all have little details. Each road has 7 little rocks lined up on either side, which means I had to make 840 tiny little balls of clay and stick them to the side of a rectangle, which was not tedious at all.

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Trading ports (2 resources for anything, or 3 of anything for 1 of anything).

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Roads/settlements/cities for each of the 4 players.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another (last) picture of the board, this time before painting. I think the clay is still wet here, too.

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