Maps, Rocks, and Places

Geography is about more than the capitals of countries you’ve never heard about.  Geography is about place, and anything that has a place is geography.  Geographers study the distribution and spread of disease.  They study how landforms are changed by the forces of man and nature.  They study the diffusion of slang terms.  They look at the distribution of particular styles of architecture within a community as a surrogate for the origin and culture of the people who live there.  Anything that has a place or a distribution in space is fair game.  Geography is about us and our world.  And most of all, geography is about maps.  Beautiful maps.

Geography is deep in our roots at the Turtlshel Project.  Come in and find out more than you ever knew there was.  And maps.  Beautiful maps.

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Sometimes there’s just nothing better than jeans and a pair of Chucks.  Or a good jacket.  A fine Oxford shirt.  Or a bow tie.  Bow ties are cool.  We’re not high fashion here – we just like to look and feel good.

[image courtesy of Steven Guzzardi on albumarium.com]
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Learn Something New, Be Something More

Version 3.1 of YOU is just around the corner.  Maybe they’ll be announcing it at the next MicroApple Developers’ Conference.  I wonder what kind of FEATURES it will have.  Maybe a new degree, or a bunch of new skills?  Or maybe YOU 3.1 is just totally badass.  Upgrading YOU is up to YOU.  Be what you want to be.

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You have questions.  You do, really, I promise.  Or somebody had a question.  We have answers.  Lots of answers.  We have answers in search of questions.  We have answers in search of answers.  We even have answers that like foreign films and long walks on the beach.

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Are Girls Allowed to Play Soccer, Dad?

Are Girls Allowed to Play Soccer, Dad?

“Are girls allowed to play soccer?”  That is the question my four-year-old daughter asked me this evening while we snuggled watching Costa Rica beat Mexico 1-0 in their FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier.  Like little children do, her question was just exactly the right one, at the right time.  Her question comes in a week that has been filled with ever more sensational news about the hate-group-disguised-as-a-social-movement, #gamergate.  Her question also came just minutes after I, in an eloquent soapbox rant to my wife, had a realization about myself as a “gamer,” as a nerd, as a soccer fan, as a man, and as a father.

It all started with turning on the Costa Rica/Mexico match (CR/M after this because I can see it getting tedious to type repeatedly).  I’ve never been much of a fan of women’s soccer, although I haven’t ever had a specific reason why.  Maybe because it is less physical or because it seems much slower or maybe just because I’m a man.  But with the international break just ending and club play not back on until tomorrow, there wasn’t much of anything on and the CR/M was better than nothing.

The match wasn’t El Clasico-level excitement, but it wasn’t too bad.  I left it on.  And I kept watching – right through the first foul (which took more than 9 minutes – way less aggressive), through Costa Rica’s goal.  Then, sometime near the end of the first half, something happened.  This is where #gamergate comes into all this and where it all relates to my daughter’s question.  This may not make sense until it does.

I play a video game called FIFA Soccer (by EA Sports).  Maybe some of you have heard of it.  The version of I have is the fifth or sixth version I have owned, but regardless of the version, my love of soccer started with FIFA Soccer.  The thing I like the best about FIFA Soccer is that most of the FIFA teams and players are licensed, so I can play my favorite teams and be my favorite players.  Hours playing FIFA 2006 turned into hours watching the 2006 World Cup, which led to hours playing the Kansas City Wizards in FIFA Soccer, which led to a love of Sporting Kansas City when the Wizards changed names, and a subscription to MLS Live so I could watch all the matches.  All of that led finally to me breaking down and getting cable.  Because there is a game where I can be my favorite player.

In spite of more recent claims by the #gamergate supporters that they are all about ethics in game journalism, the movement started out by targeting (and by targeting I mean shouting down, stalking, threatening, etc.) those who dared suggest that they would also like to be able to imagine themselves in games that had people like them – that maybe there could be more games with women, minorities, etc.  An anti-woman movement that does not represent me as a gamer.

In spite of my opposition to #gamergate and what they stand for, I do have to admit to having wondered before what the problem was in preferring that the game industry make games filled with people that I could imagine myself being.  After all, I do buy games.  And what about all this talk about sexist roles of women in games?  I like a game where my character rescues the beautiful girl.  What’s wrong with that?  Those are thoughts that I have had.  But tonight was different.

Sometime late in the first half of the CR/M match, wondering if watching was worth my time or whether I should break out a little FIFA Soccer 2015 action, I had the thought that the women’s teams aren’t in FIFA Soccer.  They are FIFA teams, but they aren’t in the FIFA game.  Wait a minute.  My favorite part of the game is being able to play my favorite players on my favorite teams.  What if my favorite team was the Costa Rica women?  What if my daughters wanted to play?  Would they be forced to by Messi or Neymar or Zussi or Donovan because that is all they have to choose from?  What if they want to be Hope Solo or Carli Lloyd?  What if they want to be someone like them.  I, and others (**cough** #gamergate), have asked what the big deal about the lack of women in games is.  The big deal with the lack of women in games is that I want my daughters to have the same experience that I have had in games – the same experience my sons have had – I want them to be able to play characters that they can see themselves becoming and that they would like to be if games were real.  I want my daughters to be able to play Hope Solo.  That is what the big deal is.  And I said so to my wife.

Several minutes later my youngest daughter came into our room, climbed into my arms, and realizing that it was girls instead of boys play soccer on the screen asked “Are girls allowed to play soccer?”  Yes, sweetie, girls are allowed to play soccer.  Girls are supposed to play soccer.

Congratulations to Sigi Schmid and his Seattle Sounders FC on their 4th US Open Cup Win

Congratulations to Sigi Schmid and his Seattle Sounders FC on their 4th US Open Cup Win

I’m not really behind the times, at least not much.  I just got back from a conference late last night and never had a chance to post this.  Even though I live a couple of hours from Seattle, and spent a lot of time in and around Seattle during my formative years, I have never been a Sounders FC fan.  I just don’t care for their style of play, the X-Box uniforms look like they came from a generic second generation soccer game that couldn’t afford proper licensing, and the camera work for the match broadcasts is horrible.  But they sure do play well in the US Open Cup.  This was their fourth Cup win in six years.  And they’re having a really great season.  That doesn’t, of course, mean that I am going to abandon Sporting Kansas City, who I love, and who (in spite of a freaking horrible losing streak last month) are having a pretty great season of their own.

I remember in high school when the Mariners were in the playoffs, and suddenly everyone in Washington State was a Mariners fan.  Even the people who thought baseball was the one with the hoop.  Or last year when everyone in the state was a Seahawks fan.  It has just never made any sense to me.  You ask one of those people what it is about the team, why they are fans.  Are they going to answer about players they admire or special plays they remember, or maybe going to games as a kid?  No, of course they aren’t.  These are all people who get a glow off of liking the winning team, as if that makes them winners themselves.

I have been a casual Kansas fan back since a time when they were still the Wizards. My dad’s parents came from Kansas.  My great grandfather loved soccer and took my dad to a match of the then Kansas pro team when he was a kid (my dad doesn’t remember, but it was probably a NASL Kansas City Spurs match (and wiki entry here)). The wizards were my team on FIFA 2006 and 2008, 2011 (etc).  I knew all the players, watched the few matches that showed in our area.  When MLS Live came along  we jumped at a subscription.  Now I am an SKC fan because of the beautiful save Jimmy Nielson made in post-overtime penalty shootout – a save made with wet, frozen hands and several broken ribs.  I am an SKC fan because of the day that my two boys asked for haircuts like Chance Myers.  Or the time, with our family gathered around the television, my four-year-old daughter started shouting “Go Zeus!  Go Zusi!” as Graham Zusi streaked across the field, slipping every defender and launching the ball into the corner of the net, far out of the reach of the keeper.

I am a fan of SKC because sometimes they are tired and you can see it and they lose and it matters to me.  I am a fan because of Kei Kamara (who rumors say may return next season?).  And because Dom Dwyer, in addition to being a ball of energy on the field, has the most hilarious tweets.  I watched Claudio Bieler’s first goal for SKC, and was heartbroken when he stopped getting play time at the end of 2013.  I am an SKC fan because of a time (this has actually happened a a number of times, but there is one I remember particularly) that one of the other players was fouled fairly explosively and intentionally and Aurelien Collin got in the offending player’s face.  I was sure we were going to see blood.  And I probably wanted to – because I love these guys, they matter to me.

But see, I don’t have any of these things for the Sounders.  So what they are having a great season?  That’s awesome for their fans.  So what they won the 2014 US Open Cup?  I am happy for them and their fans (especially this one friend of mine who is just shy of being a Sounders die-hard (by which I mean that I don’t think he goes to every single one of the away matches)) – and only wish that it had been SKC.  But not even really that, because I know SKC, and know that they had more important things going, with Champion’s League and star players out with the USMNT at the World Cup and other events, and winning the MLS Cup – must concentrate on that above all else – and so am not too broken up that the were knocked out by a minor contender fairly early on.

So Seattle Sounders, congratulations, but I won’t be joining your fan club.

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