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Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
10:35 pm - Questions about what to play
Most of my favorite solo computer games over the years have been RPGs. Ultima IV was a formative experience.

But increasingly, I find I'm not finishing them. I pick good ones to play, and typically enjoy them a lot at the start, but after a while when I sit down to play something I find that the pull to that particular game has faded away. Often it's some form of "it just takes too darned long to *do* things."

So, gamer friends, two questions. What recommendations do you have for me, in light of the of games I finished and loved?

And which, of my unfinished games below, do you heartily recommend I play through to the end?

Finished and loved:
Bioshock Infinite
Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Portal and Portal 2
Rogue Legacy
The Swapper

Started and thought I'd like, but have left unfinished:
Avernum*, Geneforge*, Avadon* (I've started ~10 of Spiderweb's games, and finished 2)
Divine Divinity
Dragon Age: Origins
Half-Life 2
Mass Effect 2
Planescape: Torment
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2
Torchlight, with Synergies mod
The Witcher and The Witcher 2

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Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
9:39 pm - Handfasting!
10 days ago, Katherine and I had our handfasting! It was simply wonderful. We have been sorting through pictures and reliving the myriad delights.

I have just finished neatening up the text of our ceremony for public viewing. It was a blessing to be part of, a blessing that it was so lovingly witnessed, and a blessing to share it with you now.

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Monday, October 12th, 2009
9:21 pm - Rubenfeld course changes
I'm here at Omega again, for the next weeklong module of my Rubenfeld Synergy training. (5th of 12 over 4 years.)

The course directors have engaged "The Goldsmith Group" (healing discipline consultants) to help better realize their mission of making Rubenfeld Synergy an viable, sustainable discipline. Some of their recommendations are now impacting the level of our training group.

GG pointed out that compared to other disciplines, the curriculum of this training has people invest a lot more time and money before they allow us to start practicing for payment as "Rubenfeld Interns". So they are reimplementing the training structure to form three "levels", with a certification process for each level. 2 years of training = level 1, 3 years = level 2, and the full 4 years = level 3. After completing the training requirement for a level we'll be eligible to go through the certification process, which will be run by a new organization separate from the training organization (and will be certifying the trainers as well).

In this new structure, we'll be able to start seeing clients for money as a "Rubenfeld Intern" (with a price cap) after the January weeklong. After two months of that our first two years of training will be complete and we'll be able to get level 1 certified -- if we feel ready and can pass the requirements. They're not clear yet what the certification process will entail but one certain element will be video recording a full session and sending it to the certification board. At that point we'll be empowered to represent ourselves as a "Rubenfled Synergist (level one)" and set our own rates.

I'm really excited about this because I've known going into the training that my greatest challenges in the work were going to be around marketing myself. So, this brings forward in time the point where I have to start doing that, and thus will have the resources of the training available for a longer period while I work on that aspect of things. If it also brings forward in time the point where I have a large enough client base to quit the IT job and go full-time Rubenfeld Synergist, all the better!

They're also upping the frequency of the mentor telephone calls available to us from 1 every 2 months to 1 every 2 weeks, so there'll be a lot more of that resource to draw upon between modules.

At the present, I'm clear that I'm providing a valuable service to my practice clients (affirmed by the fact that they're keen to come back for more), however it'd be better called something like "body awareness building" or "getting into dialogue with your body" than the full "Rubenfeld Synergy". But a major missing piece is being introduced this week -- welcoming and helping contain emotional releases, and the major focus of the following weeklong will be making and following up on possible connections between the body's story and life issues. I've already been sensing the edges in my practice work where those skills would have been called into play had I gone in a different direction with something in a session.

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Thursday, October 1st, 2009
3:13 pm - Anyone on google wave?
...and have an invite to spare? :-)

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
7:24 pm
Here's a video that my course directors just released describing Rubenfeld Synergy. It's 4.5 minutes long.

It gives a fair taste of what the beginning of a session might typically look like. But it doesn't give much of a glimpse of the depth or range of what can follow.

However, my sessions with practice clients in this my second year are likely to look something like what's seen in the video, since we're staying on a simpler level for now.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
10:36 am - The Rubenfeld Synergy student is IN
Now that I'm in my 2nd year of training to practice Rubenfeld Synergy, I'll be needing some volunteers to practice on. This need will be ongoing for the next 3 years so consider this a standing invitation.

Come be a practice client! Or if you can't due to knowing me too well (see below), please think about whom you would refer. During my 2nd and 3rd years of training there will be no fee. During my 4th year the program will have us charge a partial fee for our services, as "Rubenfeld Interns".

Practice clients will receive relaxing and self-awareness-enhancing sessions that include gentle hands-on and dialogue about what you're experiencing in your body, but do not (at this point in my training) explore deep emotions or life issues. The client is always fully clothed and is welcomed to stop or modify the session at any time if they feel uncomfortable.

To be eligible to be a practice client, a person:
- Can't be a "good friend". (eg one of us has been to the other's house, or we're on "hugs hello" terms.)
- Can't have seen me before in either my Massage Therapy or Counseling practices.
- Has not been hospitalized for a mental health issue or recent major injury.

My course requires a screening call where I'll ask the prospective client some questions related to the above, after which I check in with my supervisor for a go/no-go (even if it's an "obvious yes").

My home office is near Ball Square in Somerville, a 12 minute walk NE up the bike path from Davis. Please send an email to [mattryan at pobox dot com] if you or someone you know is interested!

If someone is interested to be a Rubenfeld Synergy practice client but can't or doesn't want to see me for whatever reason, there's another talented student in my training program who also lives near Davis: Kamela Dolinova [kamela dot dolinova at gmail dot com]. I've included her email with permission -- she's looking for practice clients too so feel free to drop her a line.

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Friday, May 22nd, 2009
10:31 am - "I'm in ur milkz wishin' ur happies!"
Wednesday this week was Katherine and my 5th Paperversary (ie, day we "got the piece of paper", ie married).

I giggled all morning as I went about my routine, discovering lolspeak lovenotes on stickies all over the house, such as the subject line above. <3 Katherine <3 !

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Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
9:59 pm - Best Rubenfeld session received to date
Yesterday I received my first of two professional Rubenfeld sessions that are a part of each weeklong training. I went into it expressing my frustration that a) I wasn't getting much personal benefit out of my Rubenfeld sessions (either at the trainings or with my Synergist in the Boston area), and b) I wasn't having an experience of "dialogue with the body as metaphor for self" that happens most Synergy sessions that I've seen and heard about. A lot of the time when I'm asked a question about what's going on in my body it's either "I got nothin'", or I report something very concrete that doesn't lead into that kind of dialogue.

Joan, my Synergist, responded with this excellent question: "Do you feel like you're not being met in some way?" My immediate answer was "Yes, I feel like I'm not being met in my thoughts and ideas." So we agreed that when we go to the table, she would ask about my thoughts or ideas related to something before asking about what was in my body about it.

...and that made all the difference. Sometimes I looked for what was going on in my body to find the answer to her question about what I thought about something. Sometimes I didn't have any ideas, but there was an interesting change in my body so I replied with "well here's what happened when you asked that." Sometimes I had well-formed ideas ready to hand, which led somewhere interesting. We ended up having the kind of dialogue I'd been wondering about -- one leg was ready to go because there I was clear about what I wanted, and the other leg was holding back because there I didn't have enough information about what was going on around me. All of which was feeling pertinent to my life.


-I need a person to respond to my thoughts and ideas in order to feel like they're really meeting me.

-From there I can access anything else.

-The best answer to a Rubenfeld question will sometimes be "here's what happened when you asked that."

-"Reaching for something outside my comfort zone" (and I have a large comfort zone)

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5:46 pm - 3rd Rubenfeld Synergy weeklong
Saw a demo of some new moves this afternoon, followed by skills practice time. Joe (one of the directors) came over and watched as I came out of a hip hold with a sweep down the leg, and pointed out that I had left my arms behind. That's totally how I would do the move as a massage therapist: initiate the move from my hips, and when my arms reach full extension begin to move them down the body for a nice smooth motion.

However as a Rubenfeld Synergist the primary intention is *listening*. If I don't start moving my hands down the body until my arms are at full extension, then I'm committed to the next part of the motion -- it doesn't allow the possibility of pausing in response to what I'm hearing through my hands.

When I bring my arms along with me as soon as I start moving my hips, I'm stable at each moment and able to focus more on "what am I noticing here" as opposed to following through with the movement.

Moving while being able to listen is more important than reproducing the mechanics of any particular technique.

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Friday, October 17th, 2008
2:32 pm - touch and talk
Noel, one of the course leaders, made an interesting point today in a demo. The touch and talk aspects of Rubenfeld Synergy should *not* be understood to be operating merely in parallel.

Back before Ilana Rubenfeld herself was practicing Rubenfeld Synergy, she was studying Gestalt with Fritz Perls, doing Alexander Technique style "listening hands" on clients while Perls did Gestalt Therapy with them. They collaborated in this way for several years, as a result of which Ilana learned a great deal through her hands about what was working and what wasn't, among what the talk therapist was doing.

That was touch and talk operating in parallel. When Ilana brought the touch and talk together in the same person, they began operating as a *weave*, each channel of dialog constantly re-informing the other.

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
5:55 pm - invisibility
maedbh7 asked how the decision to research the textbook industry emerged from that Rubenfeld session. (Thanks, and hi! :-) ) Making a new post of my answer.

I went into the session with the question of why I was consistently getting to work 10-15 minutes late, despite feeling like I'd integrated its current role in my life. Reaching that conclusion just came from the dialogue aspect of the session. The touch aspect of receiving Rubenfeld hasn't been that significant for me personally so far -- except for facilitating me getting into therapeutic trance. Which is actually very significant because I'm so agile enough with talk that I don't get into that trance with pure dialogue.

Back before I picked Rubenfeld to focus on, I also checked out Rosen Method, which is a touch/talk therapy that focuses on breathing as the core element. I received three practice or demo sessions during a Rosen workshop, the theme of which I summarized as "where are you, I can't find you." It seemed like Rosen therapists were having a hard time feeling like they were connecting with what was going on for me.

I'm actually starting to frame how I've been receiving Rubenfeld sessions in a similar way. While cradling my shoulder the therapist will ask Gestalt style questions like "If your shoulder could talk what would it be saying" or "Is there anything you want to say to your shoulder". I open myself to whatever the answer may be to those questions, and often I don't get one. That's unusual, because it appears that most people, when they get into therapeutic trance, find they do have an answer to that kind of question. So I'm starting to think Rubenfeld is running into the same thing that Rosen was -- and the natural thing to do is turn that into content somehow. Work with the lack of an answer. Don't know what that'll look like, but I do have a whiff of the unknown in that direction.

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Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
5:49 pm - Textbook publishing
I received a private Rubenfeld session yesterday, at the end of which I came to the conclusion that I wanted to find out more about the social goods and social ills of the textbook publishing industry.

It's always been important to me that my employer was a *net* social good -- education needs textbooks, and we make good ones. I've also been aware as well that there's an ugly underbelly to the textbook publishing industry. eg new editions printed for the sole purpose of getting students to buy new books rather than used. I've thought that I had integrated that knowledge in my deciding to work where I do, but I don't have an explanation for why I'm always a little late for work rather than simply *on time*, which would would be easy, honestly, and more in accord with living in integrity. I also know I don't contribute my full potential while I'm there. It's certainly more than enough to stay employed amidst staff cuts, and I get a lot of positive feedback, but honestly it would be easy for me to do a lot more, even bearing in mind being a sysadmin is not my calling.

So, I decided I should find out even more about the industry, and make a freshly-informed decision to work there -- or not, if what I learn is too smelly.

I did some fresh research last night and learned the following:
Read more...Collapse )

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2:05 pm - Addendum to yesterday's demonstration report
This morning I had a chance to talk to the fellow who was the principal in the story below. He said his legs have been feeling "delicious" and he's been out walking every chance he can get. He's been aware for many years that his left leg became stronger than his right while he was recovering, and the right leg never seemed to catch up after that. Even though he was trying to exercise it more it always felt weaker. Today he said even the motion of standing up is feeling like it's especially exercising for that leg, like he's putting it fully to use in everyday things for the first time in ages.

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Monday, October 13th, 2008
10:24 pm - 2nd Rubenfeld Synergy weeklong
I'm at week #2 of my Rubenfeld Synergy training, which consists of 3 weeklongs per year for four years, plus a weekend in between each weeklong.

Ilana Rubenfeld is here with us for Monday and Tuesday, which is pretty cool. I'd done a weekend workshop with her back before the program started so I already had a sense of her, but the demo session she did turned out to be pretty powerful.

She worked on a fellow student who (it emerged) had been in a head-on collision with a drunk driver 30 years ago. He'd been asleep in the back seat, and went straight into shock due to his injuries (tibia crushed). He thus had no memory of the accident, only waking up from it a couple days later.

I'm pretty familiar now with Ilana's way of working that homed in on this memory related to that leg. What was new to me was her way of working with it once they were there. She said something like, "I'm going to propose that we rescript that memory so it comes out a different way, would that be ok?" That got a nod and also a positive response she could tell through her hands, so she proceeded. He'd never seen the car or how the other driver looked at the time so she asked him to describe them how he imagined. He filled in various details, including bleary eyes from the intoxication and looking in the wrong direction. There she said let's change that to something not as dangerous, and he changed it to he's sober but half-distracted talking to his passenger and looking at her instead of the road some of the time. Next she asked him to visualize the other car coming towards them, on a collision course, closer, closer, and then WOOSH the other car turns aside just in time. "That was close!" she said, moving her hands down from his hip where they'd been, off the end of his foot and out several times.

It was quite clearly a big release for him, and brought up a lot of feeling in his chest which she attended to as well, alternately rocking his ribcage gently and flowing her hands from there up to the top of his head and off. As he started to settle down from all the stuff going on for him (which I don't know much about yet), she checked again the mobility of his hips by rocking his feet, and they'd become very loose (compared to unmoving / unable to relax before). He also reported feeling surprisingly, welcomely good in the hips.

The first thing I checked out when Ilana asked for questions was whether she'd chosen that intervention because the trauma in question was so old, and that if it had been just earlier this year and he was still upset about it would she have done something different? She said her guiding thought was that this injury was old news and he seemed ready for a change, and yes if he was still processing stuff related with that she would have been following into that instead.

Another student said she was having a hard time with the intervention because especially with rape and incest victims, it can be so important to be clear and strong about the fact that the trauma really did happen. Ilana agreed with that strongly, also adding a key question for her is "Does it serve you?" If a person was handicapping themselves with the burden of an experience, she would look for a way to help them change that. She gave an example of a small woman who'd been raped by a very large man. When invited to change it in a way that gave her more power she visualized him shrinking a la "Honey I Shrunk the Kids". After a bunch more work around that imagery she ultimately put him in a box and offered him to God.

In case it's unclear, there's no question in my mind for either of these stories that the client in question has any confusion after the intervention about what historically happened to them. My fellow student didn't come away with the idea that the accident hadn't happened. But in both those cases the person was still carrying the fact of the accident with them in a way that didn't serve them anymore. The visualization of a different story to it, along with the listening hands, helped their bodies let go what was unneeded.

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Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
1:27 pm - Start from the waist down
This morning we did a movement section focused on how to change our body position while reaching out our arms (to an imaginary person on the table). Keep the back straight but allow movement at the waist and knees, so that as the arms go forward the butt goes a little bit back. As a result the body is still balanced over its center of gravity.

My massage therapy school also started the movement training part of things with the hips and legs. Both feet firmly planted in a lunge (one foot somewhat forward, one somewhat back), shift most of the weight from one foot to the other while keeping the spine upright. As a result the hips glide back and forth while everything above them just comes along for the ride.

Each is appropriate to the intention of the movement. In Rubenfeld the purpose is to reach out from a centered place to just touch and listen. In Massage Therapy the purpose is to facilitate shifting one's body weight into a massage move.

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Monday, May 19th, 2008
9:40 pm - some useful distinctions
A different member of the faulty, whose specialty is movement, led a session this afternoon. She introduced some high-level distinctions about movement and the body's design that I found useful:

-The primary design principles of the body are safety and efficiency, in that order.

-Muscle movements can be divided at a high level by purpose: balance vs. manipulation.

-The guidance system behind a set of movements can be said to be operating in "feedback" or "feed-forward" mode.

That last was the most interesting to me. It's illustrated well by occasions where you mis-judge the number of steps going down stairs -- the jar when you discover the mistake is evidence that you were in a "feed-forward" state, in which a large chunk of muscle movements are planned ahead based on routine and familiarity with the environment. I think also of how horses can't see their feet while they're in motion -- they're continuously mapping the ground ahead for where their feet will land. Most familiar motions are executed in feed-forward mode.

A great contrast from my own experience is the Tia Chi walking I do at Twilight Covening when the ritual involves blindfold walking through the woods. Feedback walking is all about feeling the ground with your foot before you shift weight onto it, as opposed to finding out what's there when you land on it.

This has huge relevance for any kind of touch therapy. If you're touching someone in feed-forward mode any sensations you're receiving through your hands are coming too late to make a difference in your contact. If you're touching someone in feedback mode your contact is fully informed by changes as they occur. It has to be slower, never committed to full follow-through of a given motion because you may get information part-way along that says you should stop the motion sooner than you thought. (Or equally, continue further than you though -- you're always finding out as you go along.)

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Sunday, May 18th, 2008
9:38 pm - Rubenfeld has landed
As some of you reading will know, I've been waiting a long time for my training in Rubenfeld Synergy to start. It was over two years ago that I signed up, thinking the next training would be starting in ~6 months. There were various delays on the organizers' side, but I've just stuck with the plan, whenever the plan manages to catch up with me.

Well I'm here at the Omega institute now, having just finished my first evening session of the first weeklong in the 4-year course. YAY.

I carpooled up with friend-of-a-friend Kamela, to whose journal I should figure out how to link. We had a lot to talk about -- and it was extra good arriving feeling like I had found some solid connection with someone at the outset.

There's 16 students in the class, 5 faculty, and 3 interns. I'm one of two men among the students. There's a great range of ages, from mid-20s to mid-60s.

Each weeklong is going to have a theme, of which this one is Ground. The introductory exercise they did was to have everyone stand and get a sense of their feet on the ground, and expand that to what their ground felt like metaphorically (steady/shaky/loving/leaning/etc) and share a few words about it. Then they invited us to expand on that, to represent our ground on a big sheet of paper, which we then used as a basis for sharing our ground with the group. (Which was a roundabout, but much more effective, way of saying "say a few things about where you're starting from".)

"Ground" got me thinking in an elemental metaphor, and I think of myself as mostly a creature of water and air rather than earth, so I made those the frame. In the middle my ground was a series of concentric platforms with stairs between, being my foundations in philosophy, counselling, and massage therapy. I'm a dot in the middle facing more stairs that lead up further still. Katherine and Tom are dots on the sides supporting me, Katherine on the water side and Tom on the air side. When I spoke to the group I took the opportunity to mention my life-partner and her other partner. When someone spoke up later they said they want to hear more about that -- to some friendly laughter. So I feel good about laying out one of my risky bits early.

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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
5:04 pm - Netbank closed by fed, deopsits bought out by ING Direct
ING Direct Steps In as US Bank Collapses

Summary: Netbank was closed on Friday by the federal government following losses on subprime mortgages, failures to improve underwriting, and exceeding the federal deposit insurance limit. Netbank declared bankruptcy and was promptly bought out by ING Direct (a much bigger online bank).

CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann said, "This is all about confidence in the market. Since we are the largest direct bank we were very pleased to assist and help out and hopefully take on these customers who will continue to do business on the Internet."

NOTE: Netbank deposits are protected by FDIC up to $100,000. Plus, they're officially ING Direct deposits now anyway. A notice on the site reads:

You will still be able to access your money the same way you have in the past, using your ATM card or Visa® check card, checks, online bill pay, wire transfers and standard deposits. Any automated features, such as bill payments or direct deposit, will continue as scheduled. Please Note: As of 5:00 PM EST Sunday, September 30, you will be able to resume all normal account activities via the NetBank website.

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Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
8:02 pm - Course delayed
The start-date of my Rubenfeld Synergy course has been pushed back again, due to a number of factors, to May 2008.

From the sound of things it's a sensible and difficult choice on the part of the organizers. So I hope I have good reason to be optimistic that this isn't a new institutional pattern for them. They *have* been starting a new group every year or two for 20-odd years.

So, 9 more months. *sigh*

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Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
12:07 pm - Things not to do
Remember those volcano pictures we posted last year from our Hawaii trip? Did we mention the lengths the park service went to convince tourists wanting to see lava entering the ocean NOT to walk out on the "new land"?

Here's why.

(Timelapse duration: 1030-1600 on 11/28/05.)

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