Tuesday, March 05, 2013


"... the 'pursuit of happiness' is not equivalent to the 'avoidance of unhappiness.'"  -- Nassim Taleb, Antifragile.

I read this quote today, and I was struck by how simple this idea is, yet how easy it is to lose sight of it.  Sometimes we act as though we believe that happiness will result once we can somehow eliminate every possible reason for unhappiness.

There are several problems with this.  First, it isn't really possible to remove every possible justification for unhappiness, so the desire to do so sets up an impossible ideal that we can never meet.  Second, the mere absence of unhappiness would only create a neutral state, not happiness.  Finally, by observing happy people, we see that they did not eliminate every possible problem from their lives, rather they are happy even though there are still many imperfections in life.  They just care more about the good things than the bad.

I'm reminded of an experience I had many years ago when I was wandering around in a small town in Costa Rica.  I saw a man who was standing behind a little table where he was selling some crafts.  He saw me walking by, and he struck up a conversation.  He obviously really wanted to tell me something, but even though we both spoke English, at first we had a bit of trouble understanding each other's accents.  He spoke with a strong Jamaican accent, and I have a west-coast U.S. accent.  And I was also suspicious at first that he was trying to give me some sort of sales pitch so I would buy what he was selling, but actually that wasn't the point he was trying to make.

He pointed to the table, and pressed down on it, and the legs wobbled.   He said, "You see how bad this table is?"  (I thought: you're right, it looks like it is about to fall apart.)  He said, "I could say, oh no, this is no good, I need a new table.  But really, this is OK, a different table wouldn't change anything.  It's a good day, we can be happy just like this."

That was over 15 years ago, but I still think about it.  Would a better table change anything?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Better Homes and Pixels

As I explore the world of LINE Play, I enjoy seeing my friends' virtual homes and noticing how their creations reflect their personalities.  And who could resist the chance to step into the houses of random strangers and take a look around without fear of arrest?  Yes, the "Random" button provides a tempting gateway into the glory and the madness of LINE Play.

One of my first random journeys took me into a pretty over-the-top house:

I sense a real dedication to collecting here, but there isn't a lot of room to move around in this house.  There's really two or three houses worth of stuff here competing for attention.  This lineplayer needs a storage unit or two.

Now let's look at an example of a balanced design:

This charming house uses a well-realized nature theme, and also provides plenty of open space.  I love the couch and table area.  The record player and tea set suggest a cozy afternoon in the country, and the leaf-patterned rug brings it all together as a special space.  

Gothic themes are pretty common in lineplay, but I especially liked the one below:

This person used colored tiles to make a custom design.  There seems to be a flaming pentagram in front of the wine cabinet.  Let's hope the wines stay properly chilled.  And is the black coffin a refrigerator?  This may not be the most practical house, but it would be a fun party space.

The guy above seems to like to take photos of his bathtub, while relaxing with a glass of wine.  Like many lineplay houses, it makes me wonder what goes on there.

I was stunned to see this amazing rock 'n' roll house by a lineplayer whose diary says she is in a band in real life.  Half the house is a perfect club/bar area.

This issue's award for the most romantic house goes to the one pictured above.  The grand piano near the tub is a beautiful touch.  This house makes me imagine a luxurious lifestyle filled with amazing music, food, and drinks.

Sometimes I can't tell what's going on in lineplay.  Why is this girl blue?  Is it a makeup trend?

This "Choco Cafe House" impressed me the moment I walked in.  The theme is fully realized in every part of the house.  It made me hungry to walk around in here.

Finally, after exploring random places, I usually stop by a friend's house to see how they're doing.  Here I am visiting the friend who originally introduced me to LINE Play.  Her house is cute!

That's all for this installment of Better Homes and Pixels.   Have you found any especially interesting LINE Play houses?  Please share your discoveries.