Category Archives: play

Free Play Softball League: Ludic Aspirations & the Blue Men Group

Free-Play

Onset: Free Play Softball League winter blues.

FreePlay-November17

As it turned out, the gentle slope in the westward direction of Forest Hills (and its Field #8) allowed us to set up an impromptu diamond in the southeast corner and play in rather decent conditions for the last four weeks.

Last Sunday’s game may well have been our last of a season begun the SUnday after tax day. It was a notable Sunday for several reasons. First, for the second week in a row Jedi Matt launched a ball over 300 feet. This time I paced off the distance when I retrieved a second 300 foot shot into foul territory. Secondly, our cast of characters allowed us once again to play the minimum type of game with at least six to a side, a game in which we slice the outfield in half, give up the right fielder, a second baseman and some times a catcher, yet retain the first baseman to avoid the dreary game dubbed ‘pitcher’s mound.’ Finally, it was our fifth game in a row in which the home team had a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh.

Because I keep track of my own hitting, I can report we played 27 Sundays out of 30. We enjoyed this year the best weather and the most dynamic group relations of any season since I commenced my own participation in 2001.

Those features combine to knock out a data set about, this year and in a nutshell, ‘ludic aspirations, aging, and the interplay of masculinities.’ Ha!

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Free Play Alignment

Free Play

I asked by email for twelve and twelve came.

There’s more to it than that. First: MONSTER SLAM BY JEDI MATT! Estimates as to length of home run varied from 375 feet to a parsec; still, a top five mash for sure.

My research focus is on serendipity and this also means that I am ensnared on a good day with the problem of contingency as it happens in causal chains of human action. I told Dave B. as we departed the parking lot on Sunday that it was his own email to me earlier in the morning that compelled me to bring the equipment and learn whether or not we would gather enough Free Players together for a November game.

Carman

Mike covering second base, Matt on the base, Carman pitching.

Before his email I was ambivalent and leaning toward announcing by email that the field was too wet, the day too cold, and the season too aged, to play. Earlier in the week Francis, acting as our scout, reported the field would be playable on Sunday. Except this was in the middle of the week and Friday came a day-long, soaking, rain.

Marc


Matt running from first on Marc’s line drive.

The Dave’s email arrived in my in-box. I leaned the other way and shot out an email and stated I would be doing my darn duty and hoping we could play with enough forces to have a first baseman for each team. And, my colleagues made it so.

A close game, the fourth in a row, unfolded on a day past the ending of the real world series. Mark us down for one of best seasons whenever we’re playing in November. We tucked our improvised diamond in the southeast corner of the park and except for scattered miniature ponds in left field, the field was in fairly decent shape.

The ball was leaping off the bat. Monster blast! It came down to the last at bat. With one out I laced a shop into the gap, Stacey zoomed and grabbed it, darn kid! It didn’t matter we came up short, but everybody won the day.

Francis


Francis slapping a hit to score Matt.

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Epic Contest

Field #8

Vegans Astronomers

The Free Play Softball season continues apace. In previous posts I have been ‘complexifying’ thoughts about the meta-game and its management. Having abandoned one approach (cum experiment) three weeks ago, and with the help of veteran Francis, this week we had a heckuva game.

It obtained what I’ve suggested is the optimal result of any structural architecture, or in plain terms, is the goal of how teams are chosen. This goal is: a close game at the end and a game in which either team might win at the very end.

The norm is to stop at noon. Several times we’ve stopped with the score tied. This morning, we burst past noon to play two innings to ‘settle things.’

Innings played after the noon hour are for the Free Play paradigm extra innings. I recall in my twelve years only a couple of such games. This game today may have been the most epic of such extended games.


Previous musings.

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Whence It Flows

Mark Jaffe

ball leaving bat

“The ability to play is one of the principal criteria of mental health.” Ashley Montagu

Free Play October 6

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

(excerpt: Ode: Intimations of Immortality from
Recollections of Early Childhood
; William Wordsworth

After last week’s game departed, at its conclusion, from the paradiso, today’s game turned out to be a memorable, crisply played, highlight of the season. With the wind blowing at something like 10-20 knots in swirling gusts, the conditions made fielding fly balls and pitching strikes a challenge. Yet, the pitching was excellent and the outfielders collectively turned in as terrific a morning’s work as I can recall.

I moved to first base, my first and probably my best position, although I haven’t played it much since 1976! Still, with Francis at short stop and Vincent, all of eleven years old, at third, we coalesced into a vacuum cleaner. After the Juniors spotted us a three run lead at the end of the first, the teams played seven innings to a standoff in a 10-7 win for the Chiappas. Fittingly, Vincent snagged a rocketing liner in the hole at third, with his glove on the ground, to end the contest.

After last week, I would guess the temperature of individual enjoyment was high. Good for each and every one of us.


Note to self: there is hardly anything actually objective about our game. It is, after all, play, and thus it is riddled with the human. Oh, heck I’m with George Herbert Mead, there’s nothing objective whatsoever about Freeplay Softball’s social endeavor.

Distinction between propositions or judgments about the way things are and those about how people think or feel about them. The truth of objective claims is presumed to be entirely independent of the merely personal concerns reflected in subjective expressions, even though is difficult to draw the distinction precisely. The legitimacy of this distinction is open to serious question, since it is unclear whether (and how) any knowing subject can achieve genuine objectivity. Nevertheless, because objective truth is supposed to carry undeniable persuasive force, exaggerated claims of objectivity have often been used as tools of intellectual and social oppression. OBJECTIVITY (The Philosophy Pages)

Merleau-Ponty

Merleau-Ponty

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Steampunk (Bonus: Dillard & Clark)

Steampunk_Tendencies_Octopus

Steampunk Examples at Instructibles Guides

steampunk

Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.

In the United States, Steampunk rose to prominence in the latter part of the first decade of the new century. At that time many people began to feel concerned about losing their privacy through a myriad of new security schemes, their security due to a plummeting job market and economy and, though in light of the former, seemingly less serious, increased awareness that a licensing agreement for software and hardware that had given ownership to items purchased by individuals, to the corporations that had manufactured them. The Maker movement also gained traction during this time and it is not unrelated. Many people who were tired of the system and unhappy with the future it indicated, took to their workshops to make their own future. Make it, they did. People began to learn how to grow their own food, raise poultry, keep bees, use gunpowder, cure meat, sew, weld, woodwork, can, preserve and various other skills that had been out of the public production as mainstream knowledge for the better part of a half century.

steampunk-guitar

Steam Punk Lap Guitar:

Steam Punk Lap Guitar Ship

Steampunk movie:

(This is better to me if you turn the dialogue off and put music on; I recommend Dillard & Clark. Turn off the sound on the movie above, hit play on the music below, hit play on the now silent movie above.)

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As A Kite (or Plane) Flies

Slices

“There is an ecology of bad ideas, just as there is an ecology of weeds, and it is characteristic of the system that basic error propagates itself.” -Gregory Bateson

Suggestion

Incarnate in a human body paradoxically aware of itself as a sign of the body–self-conscious as one body and will, thing represented and representation–the originary human person comes into being. I am a body, totally incarnate; but incarnation means that I must be ironically aware of my spirit and will as things separate from my body. Originary Human Personhood, Andrew Bartlett, Anthropoetics, v16.2

Humor

This [second] ++stage begins at the moment when the child receives from outside the example of codified rules, that is to say, some time between the ages of two and five. But though the child imitates this example, he continues to play either by himself without bothering to find play-fellows, or with others, but without trying to win, and therefore without attempting to unify the different ways of playing. In other words, children of this stage, even when they are playing together, play each one “on his own ” (everyone can win at once) and without regard for any codification of rules. This dual character, combining imitation of others with a purely individual use of the examples received, we have designated by the term Egocentrism. – Jean Piaget

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A Record Everybody Helps Set

Free Play September 1st

Yesterday’s Free Play Softball game was epic. For starters, 27 players were on hand. Dave Kolb thought this set the record for turnout in September. It was the best turnout this season, and, the icing was the appearance of both new first timers and some returnees from past seasons.  We ended up with my ideal outcome, a one run game.

When is it beneficial, or necessary, to make the effort to learn more about what each group member’s reflections are about their own experience of the group?

Describe the kinds of Free Play softball games that you enjoy the most.

win win

phenomenological (and social-psychological/anthropological) reflections…

(more…)

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Free Play String Continues

Andre

Andre

Andre

Tom W. 3 hits in 3 at bats; 3 fo’ 3

Free-Play-August-25

The Gang of Summer

I maintain the Free Play Softball ‘league’ is enjoying the greatest string of great weather I’ve seen in the twelve years I’ve been playing; that is playing as we do every Sunday at Field #8, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

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Aiming For the Mat

Ants Win

If the resistance to change depends partly on the value which the group standard has for the individual, the resistance to change should diminish if one diminishes the strength of the value of the group standard or changes the level perceived by the individual as having social value.

This second point is one of the reasons for the effectiveness of “group carried” changes’ resulting from procedures which approach the individuals as part of face-to-face groups. Perhaps one might expect single individuals to be more pliable than groups of like-minded individuals. However, experience in leadership training, in changing of food habits, work production, criminality, alcoholism, prejudices, [calling balls and strikes,] all indicate that it is usual easier to change individuals formed into a group than to change any one of them separately. Kurt Lewin

Free Play Softball league Poster

. . see you there!

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The First and Last Surfing Video of This Summer

Theatre of Sport: Bali from SURFING Magazine on Vimeo.

Hey, while surfing Vimeo…

In prior posts. (here and here,) I tell of my very brief surfing moments during the summers of 1968 and 1969.

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Free Play Perfection

July 21 Free Play

Twenty-three out of twenty-four attendees are in this photo from Sunday’s game. This was our best turnout so far.

Ideal conditions evoked a crisply played game. Just like last week, a single seven run inning staked one of the teams to a big lead. However, this advantage almost completely evaporated during a stirring top-of-the-seventh rally.

Free Play Softball, Sundays, 9:45am, at Forest hills diamond #8, Cleveland Heights.

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Free Play Means Free Plus Play

Free Play Softball league – tag – all historical posts

Free Play Softball league Poster

Findings – The case study suggests that play in a ludic learning space can promote deep learning in the intellectual, physical, spiritual, and moral realms.

The capacity for such integrated judgment seems to be borne out of transcendence, wherein the conflicts that those of us at lowe levels of insight perceive as win-lose are recast into a higher form that can make everyone a winner, or can make winning and losing irrelevant. And finally, with centering comes commitment in the integration of abstract ideals in the concrete here-and-now of one’s life. When we act from our center, the place of truth within us, action is based on the fusion of value and fact, meaning and relevance, and hence is totally committed. Only by personal commitment to the here-and-now of one’s life situation, fully accepting one’s past and taking choiceful responsbility for one’s future, is the dialectic conflict necessary for learning experienced. The dawn of integrity comes with the acceptance of responsibility for the course of own’s own life. For in taking responsibility for the world, we are given back the power to change it. (D.A.Kolb)

Above was originally quoted in the first blog post about the Free Play Softball League, eight years ago.

Learning to play, playing to learn
A case study of a ludic learning space (pdf)

Alice Y. Kolb
Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University,
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

David A. Kolb
Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University,
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

learningfromexperience.com

Abstract
Purpose- In this paper we propose an experiential learning framework for understanding how play can potentially create a unique ludic learning space conducive to deep learning. Design/methodology/approach- The framework is developed by integrating two perspectives. First, we draw from multidisciplinary theories of play to uncover the underlying play principles that contribute to the emergence of the ludic learning space. Then, we examine the formation of a ludic learning space through a case study of a pickup softball league where for fifteen years, a group of individuals diverse in age group, gender, level of education, and ethnic background have come together to play. Findings – The case study suggests that play in a ludic learning space can promote deep learning in the intellectual, physical, spiritual, and moral realms. Originality/value- This paper uses the play literature to inform the experiential learning concept of the learning space.
Citations
755 RK: Case study research: design and methods. 2 edition – Yin – 1994
601 Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development – Kolb – 1984
526 Thought and Language – Vygotsky – 1962
468 Mind in society – Vygotsky – 1978
268 The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding, transl – Maturana, Varela – 1988
219 1872) The Expression of Emotions in Man and the Animals – Darwin
163 R: Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior – Deci, Ryan – 1985
153 How we think – Dewey – 1910
152 1871) The descent of man and selection in relation to sex – Darwin
114 Truth and method – Gadamer – 1960
111 Qualitative Case Studies – Stake
86 Childhood and Society – Erikson – 1950
83 Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being – Ryan, Deci – 2000
73 Play, dreams and imitation in childhood – Piaget – 1999
61 The ambiguity of play – Sutton-Smith – 2001
60 Conflict, arousal, and curiosity – Berlyne – 1960
47 Homo Ludens – Huizinga – 1938
46 The interpretation of dreams – Freud – 1976
34 Playing and Reality – Winnicott – 1971
16 Punished by rewards – Kohn – 1993
15 Animal play behavior – Fagen – 1981
14 Play and its role in the mental development of the child – Vygotsky – 1967
6 Qualitative inquiry and research design – Creswell – 2007
6 The hurried child – Elkind – 1981
6 1898): The play of animals – GROOS
5 Intentional icons: Towards an evolutionary cognitive ethology – Bekoff, Allen – 1992
4 play and games – Callois, Man
4 Man meets dog – Lorenz – 1994
4 S.: Ideas are born in fields of play: Towards a theory of play and creativity in organizational settings – Mainemelis, Ronson
4 Does play matter? Functional and evolutionary aspects of animal and human play – Smith – 1982
3 Liminal to Liminoid, in Play, Flow, and Ritual: An Essay in Comparative Symbology, Rice University Studies, 60(3):53-92. [reprinted, in a slightly changed form – TURNER – 1974
2 The school and society and the child and the curriculum, The University of Chicago – Dewey – 1990
2 Play: An interdisciplinary integration of research. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation – Kolb – 2000
2 The Playful, the Crazy and the Nature of Pretense – Miller, S – 1974
2 Relationship play therapy – Moustakas – 1997
2 Social play in the domestic cat – West – 1974
1 A critical reanalysis of the ontogeny and phylogeny of mammalian social and locomotor play: An ethological hornest’s nest – Bekoff, Byers – 1981
1 Animal play – Bekoff, Byers – 1998
1 Evolution and play – Brown – 1995
1 An ethnographic study about a casual sport context”, Unpublished manuscript – Calhoun – 2007
1 Drawing on the right side of the brain, Tarcher – Edwards – 1989
1 The power of play, Da Capo Lifelong Books – Elkind – 2007
1 Why people play – J – 1973
1 Play and behavioral flexibility – Fagen – 1984
1 Applause for aurora: Sociobiological considerations on exploration and play – Fagen – 1994
1 A team with no name: Winning is not about keeping score”. Unpublished manuscript – Goldman – 2002
1 Chimpanzee and others at play – Goodall – 1995
1 Smart moves, Great Ocean – Hannaford – 1995
1 The endangered minds, Simon and – Healey – 1990
1 A comparative approach to play: Cross-species and cross-cultural perspectives of play in development – Height, Black – 2000

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Screening Needs

Maslow's Internet Needs

 

Ummm, cats.

Last May, when Sonny, our male cat, was five months old and a lithe leaper, I constructed a video and posted it to youtube. Since then 62 people have viewed the video. Thank you. I did my part. The video did not go viral.

Sonny, grown-up, apparently.

Sonny 14 months

Yeah, now he’s a big lad; 15lbs. He cannot really elevate like he used to be able to do, but when he gets up a head of steam he can get himself up five feet. As always, he doesn’t stick the landing as much as try to wrestle his ‘touch-down’ momentum back down to zero.

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Kofa In, Kolb in Hawaii

Boys of Fall

Set-up for autumn play with home plate where 2nd base is; looking north.

just-enough-free-players

Kolb leaves for Hawaii and Kofa shows up for the second time this season. Go figure but once a Freeplayer, always a Freeplayer.

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Free Play Action Shot

Free Play Action Shot

My best moment of timing? You can pick it out in this photograph. Worst moment. Waiting a tad too long in my spot in left field and then being unable to shuffle backward through three inches of mud to pluck a rocket hit by Rick out of the air. Result? Grand slam home run.

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Waning Days of Free Play

Free Play October 8

Action shots, from an ideal fall Sunday morning.

Action Shot #1

Action Shot #2

Action Shot #3

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Free Play Subjectivity

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The Free Play softball aesthetic, or ethos, or model, makes room for negotiation about what really just happened. Such a negotiation often–but not always–arises after whatever did happened is perceived as having happened differently.

Other times potential differences in perception never come to be negotiated. Last season, passing an opposing fielder on my way out to the outfield, he confirmed that the half inning just completed had actually incurred but two outs, rather than the usual three. And so it goes. Francis, in the video refers to the previous inning during which the catcher called a ball fair that some felt differently about. But, in our necessarily minimal system, it’s the catcher’s call to make.

This includes a game several seasons back in which I discovered the numerous disputed calls were due to the catcher believing a fair ball was determined by how long it spent traversing fair territory in the air. Still, so it went and it is at least my article of faith that it all evens out in the free play cosmos.

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Free Play Totem

Diallo's day

Here are Tom, Stacy behind Diallo, Rick, Bill, and, Dave.

As the handicapper, the guy who attempts to forge even teams by making out the line-ups for both teams, my good intentions are normally undermined by not being able to predict which players will under-perform and which will over-perform. My assemblies are supposed to regress to the mean, thus even out, yet, during a summer with lots of lopsided games, I’m reminded ‘suppose’ is related to ‘supposition.’

Inexperienced players are especially hard to evaluate because, every now and then, one will breakout and in one respect, over-perform, and, in another respect, showcase the poverty of my own sense. Such was the case with Diallo, who may be gesturing in this photo to indicate his game changing stature on this particular Sunday. He poked three hits in a row and then tattooed his performance by catching two sizzling line drives at second base to end the game, including a missile I sent his way. Earlier, he did a perfect Robbie Alomar impression, gobbling up a grounder and soft tossing an underhand throw behind his back to the short stop at second, missing the out only because the tie goes to the runner. Some perceived the outcome differently too.

If I correctly understand Diallo’s pedigree, this was the fifth or sixth time he’s played softball.

For me, it’s a pleasure of the game to observe players improve, or to observe new players with skills stick with our sometimes ramshackle game. Keep in mind, with a few exceptions, we don’t know each other much at all. So, it generally is not known whether somebody is picking up the game again after a long hiatus–measured at times in decades–or is literally a so-called newbie.

My own middling skills are rapidly diminishing after forty years. I’m having to freshen up my evaluations, (being the handicapper,) as I note, with delight, improving players passing me on the skills totem.

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Routed!

Free Play turn out

How about this? All summer long the unpredictable weather has conspired to make weekly turnout for our Sunday morning pick-up league–now in its 25th year–as unpredictable as the weather. This last Sunday, overcast, humid, with t-storms in the forecast, eighteen of the free play brethren showed up. This was, something like, the fourth time this season we had enough at game time to populate all the positions.

On the other hand, well, on my writing-the-line-up out hand, I unintentionally configured an awesome and grim rout, in which the score reached 20-0 by the end of the fiftth inning. Really, if not truly, the teams seemed even on the scoresheet, but I didn’t realize my weekly goal of a close game–unless you count the tally over the last three inning, 6-5.

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