Friday, August 31, 2007

A Letter

Hey Everyone,
I will be out of town for the Labor Day weekend, which means probably a late blog on Tuesday.
Also, I got a letter last week that was so wonderful I wanted to share it.  I took out the names but here it is:
Dear Mr. Montgomery,

It was my hope to share with you a brief story.  During my childhood, I was
only a modest reader.  There was the desire to read, but I found that if I
wasn't hooked immediately into the story, then all was lost.

My eight year old son, unfortunately, suffers from the same problem.

The other day I was pulling down boxes from storage and I came across the
collection of CYOA books from my youth.  I recalled how these books helped
me through that time, by engrossing me through interaction in the storyline.

I decided to try the same process with my son.  As we've read together,
to my delight, it seems to be working.  I've recounted to him my love for
these books and we decided to look on the Internet and found, to my
surprise, you are a Vermont resident as well!

So please accept my thanks, not just for your influence in my desire to read
(and write), but my son's as well.  As a parent this has been a blessing.

Thank you.

All the best,
Thank you as well

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ockham's Razor At Work

Vote Glass is both very strong and very fragile.  So is democracy.  We must never forget to defend democracy every day. I don’t mean with wars;  I mean with holding the feet to the fire of those elected officials who help run our country for us.  Remember, we don’t work for them.  They work for us.  Democracy is a living thing.
Do you know what Ockham’s Razor is or means?   In general it means: the simplest explanation tends to be the right one . (Thank you Wikipedia  -- my constant companion.)  So, don’t let the lawyers and the politicians fool you by saying, “We know more than you, so don’t question our decisions.”  When you hear that kind of approach, hold their feet even closer to the fire.
Look up the term democracy.  Look up the isms that are all around us. Our system works well; but it is fragile.
Without being too paranoid, remember this: one must walk with the perpetual qui vive of a paratrooper deep in enemy territory.
Oh, and as my old friend Bill Coffin said, “Always a patriot; never a nationalist.”  Think on that.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Food For Thought...Or For Your Belly

Zucchini_2 THIS is about food.  Zucchinis are all over the place.  My garden at home has tomatoes, zukes, cukes, basil and lettuce.  The zukes are really good now for PASTA.  Yes, I mean PASTA.  Tastes great and has no wheat. After all, pasta is usually only a carrier for the sauce.  So, here goes:
•    A big zuke ( or several small ones)  peeled
•    Slice thin.  Then cut thin strips from the slice about the size of fettucini pasta
•    Boil in salted water for ONE MINUTE.  NO MORE.
•    Put on sauce, salt, pepper, whatever.
Wheat free, fresh pasta.  You will love it.  Don’t over-boil  -- it gets mushy quickly.
         You can make lasagna out of zukes, too.  Just slice big, wide, thin slices.  Use instead of wheat pasta.  Fabulous.
My tomato sauce (actually my wife’s, she’s a great chef).
•    Lots of tomatoes, cut in chunks
•    Olive oil
•    Salt and pepper
•    Garlic cloves mashed
•    Anchovies if you like them
•    Capers if you like them,
•    Mushrooms
Cook over 275 degrees  until the consistency is like a paste.  Enjoy.
I forgot!!!   Put fresh basil chopped up on all things---well, not ice cream, but then again…..who knows.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On Boats.

Lake Champlain Boats have a personality all of their own.  Mine likes to approach a heavy chop with my hand light---very light---on the wheel.  Too much fussing with the wheel and she gets     feisty.  So, the other day with a chop that soon became 3-4’ waves and a 5 footer every fifth or sixth wave, she took me for a ride.  Water over the port side; dark glasses so wet I couldn’t see, and hanging on for all it was worth.  I was alone.
The water was that blue that comes in the early fall; the mountains were already puckered with maroon on their upper shoulders.
Fall, so full of promise and yet so close to the end.  What a contrast.  I feel strangely sad in the fall and try to avoid the late fall days of intense color.  But the boat was good today.
What portentous times we face. Russia and China such huge powers where totalitarian governments see over robust and quickly growing market economies  That sounds inconsistent; but it isn’t.  Don’t think for one moment that democracy is the only system capable of supporting a capitalist market system.  A lot of the ‘isms support such economies and grow rapidly. 
So, you might ask. So, what?  Well, economics is about how societies deal with scarcity.  Allocation of scarce resources is the standard definition of Econ 101. It’s all about choices.  I’ve been fascinated with choices and decision-making for years. It’s how we define ourselves --- in part.
With globalization are we the US in trouble?  I don’t know. I’ve got some ideas and I’m no isolationist. Certainly the world has changed. What do you think?  Come back at me.  Don’t forget that 70% of the world lives in poverty.
Why am I so grim and heavy handed today?  I should listen to some music. But what?  Any suggestions?
Another day, all. 
PS. Photo is from

Friday, August 17, 2007

Goodbye Summer

Summer is on the wane here in northern Vermont.  The morning clouds are long and flat and their underbellies are dark.  Gone are the popcorn clouds in blue skies of early summer. The tomatoes are just beginning to turn red. I love the smell of the tomato plants. It’s musky and redolent of hot days and promise of rich sauces and just plain slices and salt.  Birds are beginning to gather. It’s getting chill at night, time for a sweater. I light a fire--small, just kindling—in the morning in our bedroom fireplace. Fall brings a different kind of promise than spring or summer, but it is promise nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Love of the Choice

9781933390017_2 I love writing CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE. It’s more than 30 years now.  What a trip and still going.
What is it about CHOOSE that makes it so engaging, so exciting, so powerful?  It’s simple:  YOU are at the heart of the whole thing---the story, the adventure, the experiment, the crisis, the development of society.  CHOOSE is simulation design and game theory and story-telling all wrapped into one.
I want to talk about all these things and about the history of CHOOSE.  So, here goes  (if you get bored, skip it and look at the random pictures I post). Ask me questions.  Tell me things: what you think, like, dislike, want, believe. We are all in this together.
First off, simulation design is all about creating a model of reality and putting that model through its paces without the risk of the real world. Examples:  boat models in wave tanks, aircraft designs in wind tunnels, architects models of house or buildings, sand box war games, moot court trials in law school, case study in business schools.  And then interactive fiction in which the YOU ( reader) make choices leading to different outcomes. The YOU is totally in control of his/her choices and can go back and do it over or re-do it if the choices selected don’t work out to their liking.  What a powerful experience!
Role-playing simulation games are quite similar and go even further because there are no pre-determined outcomes.  I wrote and developed a batch of role-playing simulation games in the 70’s for such diverse clients as the US PEACE Corps to help overseas staff prepare for their assignments, for school curriculum projects about energy and the environment, legal systems, history etc.  More about simulations later, but they are powerful teaching/learning tools for people of all ages---kids to re-tirees.
Oh, oh!  Got to go. Later, dudes.