Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday Sermon: Do you know what the definition of insanity is?

      
       
If you haven't played Far Cry 3 you really should. Just for Vaas.

Any of you who have played the excellent Far Cry 3 will recognise the question posed in the title to this Sunday Sermon. In Far Cry 3 the rather unhinged and violent bad guy Vaas Montenegro asks the protagonist of this little adventure, Jason Brody, whether he knows what the definition of insanity is. It's actually a rather interesting exchange, and while it doesn't explain why Vaas is as clearly certifiable as he so patently is, it does explain some of his rather 'erratic' decisions. The definition Vaas is referring too is of course that is often thought to have been proposed by Albert Einstein, although it might actually have been coined by American born author Rita Mae Brown:

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results"
 Rita Mae Brown, "sudden Death" (Bantam Books, New York, 1983) p.68

Yet still it is contested whether Rita Mae Brown was the individual who is responsible for this oft misquoted soundbite.

Truth is for my purposes today it doesn't really matter who said it first. Or even that it has become a cliché I myself have tired of hearing. Nope, what is important is that actually there is, as is often the case with these things, a grain of truth in them. For the past couple of years Dr Brainiac and myself have driven ourselves mad trying to make ends meet, and eek a living out of doing the same things again, and again. Telling ourselves things would get better. I've applied to countless jobs that quite frankly only a few years ago I was considered far too qualified for, and been knocked back again and again. Each time I've dusted myself off, put on a smile and carried on stoically because that's what us Brits do. It has though been slowly grinding us both down.


Well more precisely it's probably been grinding me down more than Dr Brainiac actually. In short for the past 12 months I've been sick and tired of life in the UK. I've grown to despise my own country and the way it is being run. I've grown tired of seeing often well meaning, but inept individuals 'get on' in life, while many others I hold the deepest of respects for have struggled seemingly with 'British' culture. Well perhaps for Dr Brainiac and I that insanity is possibly coming to an end. You see my better half has managed to snag herself a pretty decent job at Copenhagen University, and it has opened a window of opportunity for the two of us to try something different, and hope to God that it works out. The simple truth is that for me personally I can't think it could be any worse than the state I am in here in the UK. So I'm jumping at the opportunity.

The Øresund Bridge, where every Nordic serial killers dump their bodies if I believe TV shows

So we have to now decide whether we choose to move to the insanely expensive city of Copenhagen, or across the Øresund Bridge (or if your Swedish the Öresundsbron, and if you're Danish the Øresundsbroen) into the Skåne region and look at living in either the slightly cheaper Malmö or Lund. It's an insanely big move for us, and the cats, but it's one that we're happy to make. For the past 12 months I've felt like my nation of birth has turned its back on me, and quite frankly would rather I just disappeared anyway. It's not like I've been offered any help to become a more productive member of society. On the contrary, at every turn it has felt like barriers have been actively thrown in my way... and at every turn I've felt myself becoming more frustrated. So my take on it is this, perhaps some other country could make use of my many skills, and would want me as a productive member of their society. I'm more than willing to contribute, in fact I desperately want to.

Don't worry, I am going to get this back on track and talking about 'hobby' at some point soon. So bear with me. This big step is exciting to me. Yeah it's scary too, I mean I speak neither Danish nor Swedish, but the languages I can speak roughly, German and Dutch do seemingly have a little crossover with the Scandinavian tongues. So that has been a sort of help, and besides, I've learned two languages already so I've proved I can do it. The thing is I'm the sort of person that relishes adventure and thrives on change. I also love a good challenge. Sure I could be well and truly out of my depth, but I'm willing to make a good fist of it. Mainly because I'm not willing to go through the motions anymore in the UK, hoping that something might change, that I might get a lucky break. That somehow things will magically get better for me. They won't.

This is where I get back on my hobby kick. Often many of us end up playing the same games, or banging the same drum in our hobby in the hope things will 'get better', when they obviously wont. You see although my productivity level on here have been 'low' I've still been responding to emails. Talking to friends I've made while blogging, and a number of them are quite frankly displaying signs of insanity. Sorry guys, but you are. In short I've been talking to people who are clearly unhappy in their hobby. Be it the hobby itself, or a specific wargame. I've heard people tell me that maybe things will miraculously get better. How? I often ask. Seems they don't know, maybe it'll get better if they switch faction, start collecting a new army. Maybe, they need to find a new gaming club, maybe they... maybe they just come up with lots of possibilities for their own personal hobby malaise, but fail to honestly address the issues they each individually face. And their problems are all individual.

No game is suitable for everyone

No, I'm not turning this into a 'quit Games Workshop games' rant if that's what you are thinking,  because that's not what this is about at all. It's more general than that. There's an Infinity player who clearly doesn't like the game, guess what buddy it's not for you. You actually prefer big games, you liked the scale of Warhammer Fantasy, but not the game itself. Consider looking at other larger scale games, and hell given half of your club apparently plays historical wargames perhaps you should look towards the Napoleonic era or Ancients. Another is not enjoying HoMachine because he hasn't got any opponents... well he has one. Guess what buddy, you've gone from being able to play 4 to 5 games of 40k a week to struggling to play 1 game of HoMachine. Maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't sell your Space Wolves just yet... at least until you can convince a few others to try HoMachine.

Change isn't always easy, if it was we'd all be doing it I guess. But, if I can decide to up sticks and leave everything I know behind to move to another country, how hard can it be for you guys to honestly change your gaming habits to improve your hobby time? Learning a new game system isn't that hard, playing games you already know isn't that bad. You just have to look at what it is that is genuinely making you unhappy in your hobby and fix it. Only you can make those changes, you can't expect others to make the changes for you. Good things do sometimes come to those who wait, but more often than not you have to get off of your arse and do something about it yourself. Sure it might not be perfect, but the world rarely is. Sometimes you have to compromise, or take a few steps back and try taking a different route to your ultimate goal... and if it's not fun anymore, the why are you still doing it?

Sometimes it's not your life, but the way you are leading it. Sometimes you need to make the changes.

I think that's the end of my advice for today. We're capable of incredibly self deception us humans, we sometimes refuse to acknowledge the truth of the situation we find ourselves in because it's less distressing to fabricate external reasons for our own misery. I've done it now for two years, truth is the region I've worked hard to improve, and better as a public servant is actually on a downward spiral right now. It's not going to get any better, and on a broader sense the sort of things I have done in the past and the skills I've amassed are no longer wanted in the UK, and it's time to jump ship. I love the West Midlands and it has been a good home to me and I'll be sad to leave it, but it's just not going to get any better for me here. So if any of you out there are from Denmark or Sweden and have any advice for me I'm all ears... because trust me, I need advice as I haven't got the foggiest idea what the hell I'm doing. But at least it's exciting.

This has though forced me to look harder at myself and what I do and don't want in my life, and more specifically my hobby. Because one thing is for certain, whichever Scandinavian country we end up living in, there is no way on Gods good green earth we're going to end up with a living space that is even half the size of the large family house we currently live in and own. In fact half of the weird crap you see in Ikea that makes no sense to us Brits is starting to make perfect sense to me. Because Swedes and Danes seem to be starved of space in their homes. I certainly won't be able to have my own games rooms... and I'm probably going to have to sell a lot of my stuff. This is the cause of much angst and pain, but I'm not sure Dr Brainiac would be happy selling her handbag and shoe collection so I could keep all of my toy soldiers. So if there's stuff you've seen on these pages you like the look of drop me a email, it's all up for sale at the right price I guess. Peace out!

48 comments:

  1. excellent post i completely agree with you in regards to the uk at the min and i hope the move works out for you, trying to fashion a decent lifestyle in the uk and even more so up north, it is nearly impossible to find work so best wishes on your new adventure and keep up the good work

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    1. Well Luke I've had enough. Prior to this current lot getting power I was considered one of this nations foremost experts on emerging housing strategy trends and had advised Government on many issues. Including developing some pretty radical solutions to housing problems here in the UK. The current lot come in, throw out all the good work and get rid of anyone who actually values the well being of their fellow Brit... so that would be me. Caring for your fellow human it seems is unfashionable now in UK politics, and sadly that attitude is seeping out into British society. Britain doesn't 'feel' like home anymore. I hope you have luck with your job search soon.

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  2. Good luck with the move abroad! I was forced to return to the UK after 3 years in Canada,earlier is year, and I know I'd rather be somewhere else now too!

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    1. That must have been exceedingly depressing for you. Not too sure I'll ever want to come back to the UK.

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  3. Good luck with the move. I've visited Scandinavia and Finland a fair few times and been to both Copenhagen and Malmo. Copenhagen is a much nicer city, I didn't like Malmo particularly, its a rather unattractive disordered sprawl with some very rough areas. Even though I have friends in Malmo I'd rather stay in Copenhagen if I had the choice!

    Sweden is actually very nice, but Malmo is the worst bit perhaps.

    Don't worry about the language, almost everyone has very good English. It will actually be hard to practise Danhish/Swedish as they will switch to English as soon as they detect your accent.

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    1. Malmö gets a lot of bad press like a lot of post industrial cities within Europe. Birmingham, Hamburg, Malmö and many more have a stigma attached to them that quite frankly bears little resemblance to the realities as they are today. I know that Rosengard in Malmö has a lot of bad press, but if you were to compare it to somewhere like Tower Hamlets London it'd be a paradise in comparison. Malmö is undergoing a massive transformation, and although I'd possibly prefer Lund, Goteborg or Stockholm I don't think by other European city standards Malmö is actually that bad.

      I know Copenhagen is a beautiful place, I've visited it before and it is a lovely city. Unfortunately because of that the cost of living is utterly insane there. Rental and purchase prices for homes is scaring the living bejesus out of me. As is the standard stuff like food and other things. Sweden is the cheaper option, no question about it. We'll see what suits I guess.

      As for speaking the language? It's not a matter of 'getting by' for me. I think it is a massively important thing to do if you are living or indeed visiting another nation. It's only right you try to learn a bit of the local language. It's just good manners, and it'll probably give me far better job prospects as well.

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  4. I completely agree with you about the difficulty of finding work nowadays, and the irritation of finding that services supposedly dedicated to helping one find a job do no such thing. Good luck!

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    1. It's not just that. attempting to set your own business up is made bloody hard here in the UK by some pretty stupid rules and some terribly unhelpful banks / potential backers. Yes why of course you should have 50% of my business idea when stumping up 25% of the cash. That totally seem reasonable to me... especially as I'll be the one doing all the work and coming up with the ideas... bloody genius. Nobody wanted to give me a straight up business loan, they just wanted a huge share in my business.

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  5. I wish you good luck with the move.

    For the gaming space, you can decide to do without a big gaming table, and use for the time being a foldable table top or a simple felt mat on top of a standard table.
    You can store boardgames with nice covers as paintings (http://neatfeatures.com/feature/2010/03/10/save-space-by-hanging-board-games/), and play wargames at the local store.

    To further save space you can use a Norden table. http://www.ikea.com/it/it/catalog/products/20104718/
    I own one, and it's really a space-saving solution.

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    1. Cheers Rob. I'm told if I move to Sweden I better acquire a taste for Herrings... now don't get me wrong, I'm British, so we have a love affair with sea food, but Herrings? Really? Of all the fish to venerate and turn into a national delicacy... Herrings?!?!?!

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  6. Veel succes met jullie nieuwe leven en ik hoop dat je niet teveel van je collectie games en figuren moet verkopen

    (you did say you know Dutch :-)

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    1. Mijn Nederlands is slecht. Ik kan vragen voor een biertje en een broodje kaas en niet veel anders.

      As you can see my Dutch isn't all that good, and no doubt I've butchered the sentence structure something awful. I didn't say I was any good at speaking Dutch did I? A few years ago now I ended up doing a joint report with some Dutch Housing experts and I felt awful they were always speaking to me in English. So I tried teaching myself some basic Dutch. After two years dabbling I wasn't too bad. Not quite at conversational level, but enough to get by I guess. Any way, I think you just said you wished me luck and that you hoped I didn't have to sell too many of my toy soldiers... correct? If so cheers. But I think I am going to have to sell quite a bit I'm afraid.

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  7. Easy choice.

    Denmark has better and cheaper beer the Sweden. Also the swedes are abit...... You know :-)

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    1. As a Swede, I take no offense whatsoever at that. We ARE a bit... you know :-)
      And Copenhagen is nicer than Malmö.

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    2. To be honest the alcohol situation in both countries is a tad disappointing. You're all supposed to be Vikings and what you drink... well... lets just say I'm going to miss the British Real Ale and microbreweries we have over here. Just loads more quality and choice.

      Also... marjedi, my biological father was Swedish... so watch it you!!! Genuinely though I've tended to find I get on pretty well with most Scandinavians I've met, I've only really had 'cultural' issues with some Finnish lads I met... but I think they were just a bunch of grade A dicks and in no way representative. :P

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  8. Oh and i live close to copenhagen, so you have a gaming nerd close by allready!

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    1. Oh excellent. Could you email me at TheFrontlineGamerBlog at gmail dot com as I'd love to pick your brains about the gaming scene over there and maybe some other things. The Danish housing market runs like no other I've seen in Western Europe and is starting to totally baffle me.

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  9. Hi frontline I'd just like to say good luck with the move, It sounds like a positive step and one hell of an opportunity!

    Even if your gaming stockpile takes a hit on the way out, I don't see you regretting it in the long run. :)

    So again I think I can comfortably speak for everyone in wishing you all the luck in the world in what your about to embark on.

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    1. Cheers... and if anyone is interested in miniatures just let me know, I've got a shed load I'll probably need to get rid of, and I want them to go to decent homes.

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  10. I've got no advice for you on moving, given that I've never done it, but you're right about changing your gaming habits. I had problems with Codex Creep rendering my armies too good and thus boring to play with, and was sick of waiting for the next ones to come out. So I stopped. Problem solved.

    Also I'm pretty sure the answer to the question posed in the title is "my mother" because she's god-damned nuts.

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    1. My mother is also slightly bonkers... well... maybe 100% certifiable, so I guess we have that in common. She's lovely and I wouldn't change her for the world, but she is as mad as a fish on a bike.

      As to switching up your gaming habits if you are unhappy? Absolutely. I don't get why people in this day an age don't just realise that they sometimes need to make a change. It's not like they can't is it?

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    2. I suspect it's because there's great gamercred to be gained from having played this game back when it was good/before it sold out/back when there was SPORTSMANSHIP DAMMIT! or whatever other thing you feel is lacking currently but having the fortitude to soldier on, just like the legions of tiny men you send to get eaten by aliens every week.

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    3. You're probably right in some cases that's what it is. In others the games have long since changed massively from what they once were.

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  11. I'm in Stockholm so if you move to Copenhagen you're only half-way, but I'd be happy to help answer questions about life in Sweden in general. You can reach me via my gmail addy, thomas.nissvik.


    Fellow blogger Anatoli is in Skåne, though, and they have a very active club. Might be worth getting in touch with him.

    Cheers/Thomas

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    1. Oh, and the link to his blog:
      http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.se/

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    2. Cheers for the offer of help. I think for me personally I'll need help finding work. I can't imagine there is much call in Sweden or Denmark for an independent English speaking research consultant... so my own personal business is probably dying a death with the move. I'll need something to keep me occupied all I'll be going mad and dumping bodies off of the Øresund Bridge myself. Even knowing what volunteering opportunities I might have would be helpful as I like to at least give something of myself to the community I'm living in.

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    3. So, time to start looking. You on LinkedIn?
      Monster has a Swedish site, but only in Swedish, UK site: http://www.monster.co.uk/.
      Manpower are big:http://www.manpower.se/MPNet3/Content.asp?Ref=SWEDEN_NORDIC&NodeRef=55604&
      You have Metro in the UK as well:http://www.metrojobb.se/
      Stepstone do recruiting:http://www.stepstone.se/en/

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    4. Thanks for the links, I'll check them out.

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  12. Embrace the change, change is good. Denmark, Sweden, who cares. As you say it's only a bridge between. But when you say Malmö is cheaper, have you factored in the cost of commuting across the bridge? I'm not sure it's that cheap. And then there is the time factor.

    But yes, absolutely, do the move. Sometimes you have to throw all your pieces up in the air and see how they land.

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    1. Yeah I'm embracing it Leif. Like I always do. I'm an adventurous person by nature. As to Copenhagen or Malmö... it's a difficult one. I know Malmö isn't as 'nice' as Copenhagen, and I know to avoid Rosengard like the plague, but even so, compared to many UK cities Malmö is a utopia of crime free living. Also Malmö would be significantly cheaper than living in Copenhagen even factoring in taxes, living expenses and traveling. Copenhagen is way more expensive than London to live in, which to me seem utterly insane.

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  13. In 2001 I immigrated to California, USA (The sate, not the tiny village near Yarmouth, Norfolk.) and I haven’t felt the need to head back on a permanent basis at all. At the time, I was 24 and feeling very much as you describe your own situation, although I was employed in a well paying job, but I despised it to the core of my being. I also despised the person I was becoming in my social life. So a new venue was required, one where I could re-invent myself and start afresh. I needed to get away from the British attitude to everything – it’s a bloody miserable country with bloody miserable weather. (I now just visit to see family every year or two.)

    I was very lucky to have kind friends that I’d met through the internet who were more than happy to host me and so didn’t have to worry about my housing and so was ready for my upcoming adventures. To be honest, in the almost 12 years of living in Northern California, I’ve yet to feel I made a mistake in moving here.

    Do it sir, Copenhagen is a beautiful, clean city with wonderful history and landmarks and Denmark is a relatively small nation, meaning car trips about the European mainland are SOOOO accessible.

    As to games, yeah - Not happy with the one you’re playing, move on, don’t expect the game to move for you.

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    1. The trouble with your car trips idea is that in Denmark to own a car you need to be a millionaire!!! It's insane how expensive owning a car is in Denmark. I have no problems with moving though. The UK just isn't the place to be right now, and I fear it is only going to get worse. Nobody I know right now is happy living here. That's got to be a concern... but lets be honest here, I'm not going to be moving to Sweden or Denmark for the weather am I? lol.

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  14. Change for changes sake is never good but it looks like you have a golden opportunity here so congratulations. My father has told me many time in regards to business If you are green you are growing if you are rip you rot." Over the years I have found that this also applies to your personal life as well. Take advantage of your opportunities. Congratulations again and hope for the best to you.

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    1. Change is often needed in life, to keep you interested and moving forward. I can't think of anything worse than stagnating. I feel like I've been going through the pointless motions here in the UK for far too long and I need a change, and this just feels like the right one for me personally.

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  15. ripe you rot sorry missed that

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  16. You lucky bastard!

    I quite agree, most of us as individuals would be better off anywhere but here. I'm watching our country change, become something haughty and petty-minded and mean, a nation run by spivs in the name of some mad imaginary thing called 'economy' which, frankly, sounds more mental than anything I've come up with for an RPG. I'd be gone already but as Hark said to me, "you shacked up with the wrong troll if you want to emigrate", so I guess I'll have to stick it out.

    If you want to make the experience any easier for me, you could always sell me some Freebooter's Fate stuff? I'm sure that would make life in the UK a little more tolerable... ^^

    (It's Von, by the way. OpenID seems to be having some Technical Difficulties.)

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    1. Von my good man, I could tell it was you by the words you had typed. You know I have sympathies with your political views, and I too am dismayed and upset to see our nation in effect 'turn on itself'. We're all in this together indeed! We're all in the shit together maybe, except for the elite few who this lot seem intent on protecting from the shit the rest of us have to go through... even though it is them who caused the shit we're all paying for now. In short Great Britain needs to lose the 'Great'.

      This country is going down the pan very rapidly. I'm seeing things I helped build that saved lives improved lives and increased economic prosperity for people slowly dismantled. It's heartbreaking to see a nation implode and decide to punish the weak, the elderly and the sick. Because that is what we are doing, we are turning our backs on those in our society who need our help the most. For what? To help millionaires get richer? No thank you, this nation has gone bat shit crazy and I'm off.

      As to Freebooters Fate, I'll see what I have Von, but it is arguably one of the games me and Dr Brainiac might be able to play in Sweden, and the other half does enjoy it.

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    2. Ah, well. No pressure then.

      I'll totally have your Retribution if I can get the cash together, though.

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  17. Well at least you'll be in good company with this guy:

    http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.com/?m=1

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    1. So I see, I might need to drop them a line.

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