Sunday, 24 September 2017

Reversing to the Next Level

I like driving. Which is good, because I have to drive about 30,000 km yearly. That’s unavoidable when living in Lapland where distances are long: I usually drive over 100 kms to work, one direction. The closest grocery store is 20 km from home, it’s even one kilometer to the mailbox!

For me, driving means independence. When I first got my driving license, I drove 800 km to visit a friend; just because I could. That’s why it is so difficult for me to understand women who stop driving when they get married. It is so often the man who sits behind the wheel, especially if it is bad weather, or dark, or the car is brand new... Or if you have to reverse.

Just Open The Window!

I got rid of the fear of reversing about 10 years ago when I acquired my truck license. I learned to reverse zigzag between poles with an 8 meter long truck using only mirrors. In the driving test I had to pocket-park with the truck. So I’m not afraid of reversing a car. But I have to admit, I avoid it anyhow. I haven’t done much pocket-parking with any vehicle since that test.

Just recently I upgraded my driving license to be able to tow our caravan. That’s an extension of 10 meters behind my car. And that forced me to do another driving test: reversing a trailer. Now that was clearly trickier! So many backwards things. Turn wheel to opposite direction where you want the trailer to go. But what is ”opposite” when you are watching the movement through a mirror?! My brain just screamed in confusion.

Oh, just open the window and pop your head out!” my driving teacher told me. That simple thing really helped. But there were also moments when Hitchhiker’s Guide’s advice was needed: don’t panic! After some hours of practising, I started to feel I could manage the test.

Become Better

My friend works at a local copper mine, driving a dumper. A BIG one. Mines like to hire female drivers, because they are more careful, take good care of the vehicle and have an economical driving style. Anyone can learn these skills, if motivated enough.

At the moment we have two choices for a car for the tour. We are now comparing fuel consumptions, technical issues, differences with road tax costs etc. On a tour this long some minor details can make a huge difference. A Danish friend of ours teaches economical driving and gave us good hints. Technology also provides many ways to follow economical driving, which I’m planning to take full advantage of on our tour. I like to challenge myself to be a better driver. Not only when reversing, but also while moving forward.

Next Step

In Lapland I’m used to driving in the dark, on icy roads, in the middle of snowstorms avoiding reindeer, elk and flocks of black grouse. I’m not used to heavy traffic. My blood pressure rises immediately if there are more than two lanes on the road or more than three cars at a crossing. Driving through Helsinki feels exhausting. So this whole tour is outside my comfort zone.

That’s why I took the latest driving lessons in Rovaniemi. To collect experience points in driving in a city. I survived - and so did the city of Rovaniemi.

The next step will be a long weekend on the road with the caravan. We will go to Helsinki to install solar panels on the wagon. This means about 2,000 km of driving; sleeping and cooking in the caravan and creating some electrical innovations. Yes, I’m having nightmares... And no, I can’t wait to be on the road!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Big Change

This is not a blog about a miraculous diet and losing weight - even if I might need that, too. It's not about getting rid of junk and cleaning your closets - even if that is going to happen as a side-effect. It's about doing what you really want to do, living like you think it would be cool to live, experiencing things you have never done.

Our family have now run a company for over a decade. It has been more of an "environment-to-do-cool-stuff" than earning a living. We have had our full time jobs elsewhere. Now, though, we have noticed that people like the "cool-stuff" we do. The amount of time and effort needed to take care of customer service and company paperwork is increasing. So it is time for me to jump to the full-time entrepreneur life. Not for the first time in my life, but hopefully for the rest of my life.

Family games

Our company Dragon Dawn Productions is a Finnish board game publisher. We have published four board games (Zanziar, Phantom League, Black Hat and Perdition's Mouth) and a couple of expansions. Even if board games were a part of my childhood, I hadn't played a real (or really good...) board game until I play-tested an early version of Zanziar, a game my husband had designed. Immediately I fell in love with the challenge and strategy variations a good board game offers.

We truly are a gaming family. Our son’s (now 11 years old) second full sentence was ”My turn to roll the dice”. He has been a part of testing and developing Black Hat and Perdition’s Mouth. At the moment we are working on a new product, a trick-taking game called Darwinning, for which I’m one of the designers.

It’s not my first design. Whilst cleaning our pile of board games I found a damaged board for Uusi finanssi. On the other side of the board was the only version of the game ”Hupaisat rosvonuolet” (Hilarious bandit arrows); I remember inventing it one summer in a tent at a neighbor's yard after my neighbor and I got fed up with the original game. I was about the same age my son is now and certainly had no clue I would be running a board game company in the future.

The grand tour of 2018

Since the very beginning our company’s markets have been outside of Finland. We sell games all over the world and have warehouses in three different continents. Yet there are still a lot of customers to be reached, and there’s a lot to be learned from foreign markets. We have decided to pack our family and games in a caravan and make a tour around Europe in order to participate in game fairs and conventions and to meet both gamers and distributors. We will be on the road for the whole of 2018.

Yes, it’s going to be an interesting and challenging year. We will share it with you in this blog. Following this blog you can also follow our route - perhaps we will meet and play a game.

Do come and meet me next month at the Essen Spiel (26th -29th Oct) at our booth 2F131. You can hear more about this tour and test play Darwinning with me!