Civ VI second response

Today is Sunday.

Day before yesterday, Friday the 21st, I received delivery of my copy of Civilization VI. I played it that afternoon and evening, and again yesterday and last night, and again this morning, Sunday the 23rd.

There are significant differences between this new version and those which came before. After my first ten or twenty hours of play, I am beginning to understand these changes, to appreciate them, and to manipulate them, as well as to look back with fondness toward certain classic touches which have been left behind, as well as to look forward, already, toward future versions, and to wonder where the Civilization franchise will take us, next time, and beyond.

Perhaps the biggest change, the one that most people were talking about in previews and comments I was reading (mostly at yutub) even before I got my game package, is the new use of “districts” – where certain city buildings can be built outside of the original city location, but still within its zone of immediate control. Military, religious, and several different cultural districts can be dedicated and constructed and certain specialized buildings can then be added to those districts: e.g. either a barracks or a stable can be built in the military encampment (which so far looks like an ancient Roman legion camp); a library and then a university can be built on the educational campus; a shrine and temple, on the holy site; and there are also theater and entertainment districts, economic and industrial, etcetera.

Certain requirements and benefits are associated with the physical siting of the districts. For example, today I began to build a campus (education/science district) near my capital city of Kyoto, and after  reviewing the possible sites, chose one with mountains on three sides of the hexagon (the world map is constructed as a matrix of joined hexagonal tiles), because each neighboring mountain raises the basic science output by one point.

I must confess, however, that it feels good to step away from the machine, and just sit down and write for a little while. In a few minutes I am going to go watch TV, or, if I find nothing good to watch, maybe read some more of a book I have studying recently, about religious practices in the Roman empire.

My mother, meanwhile, is playing solitaire on the desktop machine while I am using my less powerful laptop to write, and upload, this small text.

More to come later or tomorrow.


First Civ Six Comment

I have only been playing for a few hours now, and only last night until eleven.

Civ Six, I mean.

I play the long game, which goes on for hours and hours and hours and days and days and weeks and well now I think the program calls it “marathon” so I am barely out of the stone ages by now, moving into the classical era (next will come medieval and after that renaissance etc.).

My first complaint, from the very beginning, was that this new version does not have a “real” Earth map – all the previous versions I played from two through five – no, I never played the first game, although I had heard about it but until that fateful day when I found a used version two game in the Otay Tijuana street market until that day I had really known nothing nor experienced nothing but I must admit I had played sim city before, three different versions, I think it was, between 1994 and two thousand something yes… the first one (sim city) was on an old nintendo – the same machine I won as a consolation prize for losing on wheel of fortune I think it was… ah, gaming memories. Yes. Wait a minute, maybe that was a different nintendo I forget now… shoot. Dang. Flushlinger memory fritz. Zap.

Now it is the morning after my first night with civ six and I am avoiding the game, instead sitting in the kitchen next to my stepfather’s lovely windows looking out onto his front yard. I have been watering his plants a little more. The roses have come back from their stunting in the drought. They are beautiful. The little white whatever it is called that covers the ground is also doing well. And my stepbrothers have not cut off the big limb of the ancient tree they keep threatening to amputate.

The dog’s ashes were also delivered yesterday, a few hours before my new game got here. Mom and I had a martini and said a prayer for her blessed spirit. Somewhere yesterday on the computer I saw a quote from Will Rogers I think it was that if dogs don’t go to heaven then he would rather go somewhere else, where-ever it is that they go.

I should google it.


This is the time of year when Orion begins to rise up out of the west and rule the night sky.

I have always gazed at stars, even in the city where you can hardly see them at all for the glare of streetlights and such.

And as such, as a stargazer, however amateur I may be – and I am – stargazer and amateur – Orion is one of the most important landmarks in the heavens. For me, and for many others, too.

Orion rules the autumn and the winter skies. His most sublime moment must be on the evening of the Epiphany, January 5th, when the three stars of his belt – Alnilam, Alnitak, Mintaka – are celebrated as the three kings, bringing gifts to the Christ child, and through him, to all the children of the world.

Frankincense, Myrrh, Gold.

Three, and three.


Mona’s death yesterday

Saturday 15 October 2016.

I am not sure why, but I have some ideas why, I mean, that is, why it is so much harder today, than it was yesterday.

Today was the first day I began to miss her regular routine, the little details, those many and separate events which used to measure every day of life, here at home, in recent years: feeding her breakfast, making sure she can go out when she needs to, giving her dog cookies and praise, taking her out myself, feeding her dinner – all these things that used to measure every day, day after day, now they are no more.

We came home from a drive today, Mom and I, and she was not there to greet us, to be happy to see us, to wag her tail and smile and say I love you.


Today is the first day I noticed how much there is an empty space where she used to live, how much I miss those little chores and details, how much I miss her.

Today it seems somehow harder than it did yesterday. Today I had nothing left from her routine. Yesterday I was all bound up in closing the immediate wound of her death. Calling the vet to ask for a recommendation. Calling the pet mortuary to arrange for them to come pick her up a little later, asking them to wait an hour and a half until I could wake Mom and tell her and she could say goodbye. Then telling Mom. That was hard. Going out with her to see her. Saying goodbye to her. Waiting for the pet mortician to come and pick her up. Helping them. Saying goodbye to the body that had once been alive and full of dog love and personality. Saying goodbye to our animal friend.

Yesterday I had too much to do to, I could not just sit back and realize how much I miss all those little details of everyday life with a dog. Today she is not here.

Today I miss her more than I did yesterday.

Yesterday. Yesterday I was in some kind of shock. Yesterday I found  her dead, in the morning, lying in her favorite spot next to the gate by the side of the house.

That was where I last saw her alive, night before last, Thursday night. Inside the gate, resting in her favorite spot. I went out and bent down, that night, around eleven, and pet her neck and shoulders and chest and asked her if she did not want to come in. Maybe have something to eat?

I confess I was a little worried. She had not asked for dinner. That should have been enough to warn me, and it was, but I thought no, she will get over it. She has gotten over such stomach discomforts before. Before.

Before. But this was not before. This was a thirteen year old dog, under treatment for an ulcerated cornea, scheduled to visit the vet the next day to see how she was doing – already having taken too long to recover from such a wound – and I should have understood, should have known, that maybe her immune system was gravely damaged, maybe she would not recover from whatever it was that took away her usually robust appetite… no, I turned away, convinced that she would recover, and well, we were going to see the vet tomorrow anyway, that should be… enough. Well enough. Good enough.

But it was not.

And now she is gone.

Making coffee .

11 October 2016

I am making coffee this afternoon. I did not have any in the morning. I drank a cup of tea, however. Earl Grey, with honey. I shall, God willing and I live for the next few minutes and the coffee percolates well and safe, I shall take honey in my coffee. In just a few minutes from now. God willing and the creek don’t rise, as the saying goes. Yes. As. The saying. Goes.

13:20 daylight savings time in Southern California.


13:22. The perking has started. I get up to turn down the heat on the gas stove. The gas range. The cook top. Only a hundred and some years ago and my great grandmother was cooking on a wood burning stove. That is an art I would like to learn some day.

For many years I have day-dreamed of cooking on a big wood-burning stove. Like the ones I saw for sale in those old Sears Roebuck catalogues that were so fashionable thirty years ago, when I was younger and still day dreaming every bit as much as I am nowadays. Now. A. Days.


Percolate for six minutes. I understand now why everyone switched over to drip and filter coffee makers thirty years ago. Mr. Coffee and all the rest have conquered the home-brewing world. I understand. It is so much easier. Just fill it up and push the button. No need to watch the clock to make sure it does not perk – or percolate – too long. No worries about the coffee getting over-done, and taste rotten burnt ugh no no no no worries about that.

But I like the old ways. I do not have a wood-burning stove, but when it came time to buy another “coffee maker” I decided to get an old-style percolator, like my parents had in the 1950s, before Mr. Coffee conquered the world with his filter-drip ease-of-lifestyle.

Well, you can even pre-set the coffee makers with a built-in digital clock and go to bed at night knowing that when you wake up tomorrow at X-hundred hours, your coffee will be ready and waiting for you.

But no.

13:32. I sip my first cup. Dark and sweet.

Like my soul.


Katharsis – Catharsis – κάθαρση

5 October 2017

Katharsis – Catharsis – κάθαρση

It is now a few minutes past 11:30 p.m., at night, Wednesday, shortly before midnight.

I went to bed early this evening, before eight. Slept a bit, woke, slept again. Then, just before I woke up, a few minutes before eleven thirty, I had a dream. A vivid dream, full of music and emotion.

I was performing in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Specifically, we were singing the lyrics leading up to the crucifiction.

I cannot tell you exactly what scene, what words, what moment it was in the text of that famous rock opera, but I knew what it was while we – several other people and I – were singing and performing and acting. It was those last hours of the day before he was killed.

In my dream I saw words written before me in the air, words that were like they were being briefly spelled by small twigs and sticks forming letters that floated and then vanished, like titles in a movie, words that hung in the air before me, while we were singing. Along with the sound of our singing and the simple instrumental music behind us, there was also a voice in my mind, that said, follow the words. Just follow the words.

Half an hour later, now, awake in these minutes before midnight, I cannot remember exactly what the words were that we were singing, but I remember seeing them and singing them and experiencing the rising current of emotion as we performed and as we realized what was happening, as we re-lived, like actors do, the events and movements we were re-creating. As we interpreted that story and song. The passion play, in its post-modern, 20th century, incarnation.

Transfigured into a simple dream before midnight.

I awoke with the immediate understanding that this has so much, everything, to do with my struggle to write the words of Nikos.

I also believe, now, as I write these words, my diary words, down on my little qwerty keyboard, that I was singing the role of Judas. I woke up just before –

. .  .   .