Monday, January 31, 2011

Addictions

The thing about being addicted to food — it's an easy addiction to admit to. Other people have the same love/hate relationship with chocolate. There's a camaraderie in the enslavement. It's the less common addictions that I find more embarrassing to admit to. I don't have any habits on the same level as sleeping with a blow-dryer turned on, but I do have my share of unflattering addictions. For one thing, I'm addicted to blogs. I do a lot of blog hopping. In the early days, before I had any idea what an RSS feed was or how to set up a reader, I would mindlessly click through my blog list a ridiculous number of times throughout the day — because there was always the possibility that someone had posted something. It was a red-cheeked day when I learned that all of those little clicks could be tracked and identified by the blog owner. Someone's site meter was very happy. I still click through blogs. A lot.

More recently, I have become addicted to Bejeweled Blitz.

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It started when I was up in the middle of the night feeding the baby. I needed something to look forward to; something to make getting up at 3:30 seem somewhat appealing. So, I kept a stash of Oreo's at the computer (only to be eaten while taking care of the baby at night), and tried out a slew of Facebook games. In the end, I settled on Bejeweled. The 1 minute game was a perfect fit. It was just the right balance of simple yet mentally challenging. I used it to occupy those many moments that required me to be at least somewhat coherent. And, I could be done with it at a moment's notice if needed. (Wow, just realizing how apropos a game like this would have been during my five year stint in a cubicle!)

These days, I play simply because I'm addicted, and because I can't let my friends beat me. (Yes, Jin and Tina, I'm looking at you!!) Some people pace the room when deep in thought. Others may drum their fingers. Bejeweled can't be much worse than those I-need-to-think practices, I say. And it's probably better that, of the two, I gave up the Oreo's instead of the game.

Still — looking at my stats and seeing just how many minutes I've spent playing this game? For shame, Katie. For shame. We're talking thousands of games here.

Do you have addictions that you're not exactly proud of, but not willing to forsake?

It would be a downright tragedy not to have learned something from the hours I've spent on this habit. It would be an even greater shame not to pass that information on to other aspiring Bejeweled addicts who might be searching the internet for guidance.

Fear not, searchers of the internet who have come for tutorial. This is for you.


Seven Habits of Highly Effective Bejeweled Blitz Players


1. Turn the sound off. You can do so by selecting that little gear symbol on the bottom left there.

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No multi-tasking the brain. There may be those out there who prefer to play with the sound on, but I think you all must be nuts. I still love you, even though you're crazy for willingly listening to those sound effects.

Besides; there's possibly some science behind my theory. I heard somewhere (very reliable source, no?) that the brain acts similar to muscles in that there's a "re-load" period. So, for example, if you drive your car while carrying on a conversation, your reaction time may be slowed because your brain, already in use, needs to take a millisecond or two to process new information. If this theory that someone somewhere told me is true, then you may be slowing your reaction time down for Bejeweled, too.

But mostly I think the announcer voice is comically low and enthusiastic, and I can't concentrate because I'm laughing.

2. Go before it says "go." The gems can be moved as soon as they appear.

3. Don't look where you're at. I was guilty of this when I started playing. I'd line my gems up, watch them disappear, then mentally say "oooh, shiny!" as the gem pile shifted. The trick is to look at a different quadrant of the board while you finish dragging your gem into place. This way, you're scanning a section of the board that won't shift on you. If you look only where you're already at, you have to wait till the pile settles before finding your next move. Instead, look for what's next while the gem pile is still falling into place.

4. Throw the gems. Along with looking away from what you're doing and scanning a stable part of the board, move the gem you've clicked on as fast as you can. This way you can get the cursor over to where you're scanning as quickly as possible.

5. Good games come in clusters; use boosts then. I don't know why this happens, but the good games seem to come in groups. I generally don't waste my boosts until I've had a couple of good games in a row.

6. Know what boosts to use. The three I use are the mystery gem, the +5 seconds, and the free multiplier.

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I only use them when I have enough coins to use all three together. I don't like the detonator because your special gems will detonate at the end of the game anyway. And I avoid the scrambler because using it is the equivalent of mixing up the cards in the middle of a game of Memory. Not good; not good at all.

And for heaven's sake, don't ever buy coins!! No wasting good money on this. It's not allowed. If you do so, you'll get a thousand evil side-eyes from everyone you know on Facebook.

7. The hint button is your friend. I still use the hint button from time to time. Theoretically, there will always be a playable option on the board (I've only had two games, ever, when there was no possible move). There's no use wasting valuable seconds when the hint button is right there. Also? If you can't see a playable option, chances are the gem to be moved is next to something flashy, or along the edge of the board. Those two areas seem to throw off the visual recognition pattern that playing this game depends on.

8. (I know; I said seven. But this is more of an afterthought, anyway.) Every once in a while, get up and leave in the middle of a game. Don't push pause. Simply walk away, just to prove that when all is said and done, the game does not own you. You are in charge of your fate. You CAN answer the phone, or even the door. There's a world outside, and it's got some great things to offer.

Plus, you probably need a re-fill on your beverage.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cool pre-migraine visual disturbance

I woke up early this morning to get my daughter ready for crazy hair day. Things started getting a little blurry as I pulled her hair into a barrage of pony tails. Soon, it progressed to full-blown visual disturbance. I took a preemptive dose of excedrine migraine to halt the progression, pushed my husband out of bed, and told him I wouldn't be driving anyone anywhere for a while.

This was a cool migraine; all visual disturbance, little pain — thanks to the early warning signs that looked something like this:

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Tunnel vision, blurred-out spots, and sparkly pixelated bits.

Her hair looked pretty awesome, too. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

For Dad

When I was little, I knew that "guacamole" was some bizarre word my father concocted to go with the strange green chunky goop he had thrown together. It couldn't possibly be a real word; it was too weird. And it was just the sort of silly name he would come up with for such a creation. I remember how shocked I was to find out guacamole was a universally acknowledged word and a legitimate substance.

Dad likes to throw things together. And, he's gotten pretty good at it. He introduced me to this tomato sandwich a year or so ago.

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It's very Dad. And very good. And addictive (assuming you like tomatoes in the first place).

The dill (lots and lots of dill) is the star of this show. I just use the dried kind, along with the freshest vine-laden tomatoes I can find at this time of year.

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Speaking of Dad, he put in a request that I include more pictures of my youngest. He's 11 hours away, my father, so he doesn't get to see the day-to-day changes of the grandchildren. Here's a few recent photos for you, Dad. These will illustrate why this 1 1/2 year old doesn't have many recent pictures.

1. It's been foggy. Which means that for this little flurry of energy, he is going to show up on .jpg looking like a little flurry of energy in this indoor lighting.

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2. Curiosity killed the camera.

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3. To sustain the energy needed to flurry, this kid is eating more than I do. I'm so busy responding to his one word food requests and his plastering of self to my leg that I haven't taken nearly as many pictures as I should. A good half of the pictures I have of him are from this same viewpoint, looking down on him next to my knee.

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4. His mother may or may not be a wee bit lazy.

5. I'm still waiting for the day we finally break down and buy a new camera. When the new camera is part of my life, it will solve all problems. It will be a magic camera capable of alleviating all woes, including world peace and the impossibility of getting said child to sleep through the night on a regular basis.

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6. And finally, it's January. I don't know how that works into all of this, but I'm certain it's at fault somehow.

(Oh - for the record? Dad was shopping at the dollar store decades before I ever set foot in there. I should have paid better attention to his example.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Going to Court!

Today, I'm going to ignore the fact that my family room looks like this. (Keepin' it real, folks.)

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Today, I'm going to pile the children into the car and find somewhere fast and convenient to eat. (Pre-requisite — must have diet Dr Pepper.) Because I'm not doing dishes today, either.

I also have plans to soak in a hot bath, watch my soap, and live the bon-bon/couch dream.

Why?

Because today — today I won something truly special. Royal, even. I was selected as a courtier to HRH, the giver of Martha Points herself.

Check out Miss Lori's fantastic digital rendering of yours truly (my prize):

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Ladies in waiting can't be expected to cook and clean — not when they have this awesome hair to maintain!

Lori has a fabulously funny and bejeweled blog. The woman knows her way around MS Paint, and can tell you how close (or far) you are from being Martha. And if you happen to be the woman down the street from her, the one that decorated her rooftop with mini pumpkins for Halloween? Watch out. There's a frenzy, furrier than you could ever imagine, headed your way. You can read about the intrigue and debacle I had to endure to win this coveted prize here.

Thanks, Lori, for making my day. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Be careful what you ask for.

"Can you raid the freezer for me and bring some Christmas cookies when you come up?" said my husband to his mother, in anticipation of a weekend visit. We knew there would be long evenings around the dining room table, destroying his parents at Pinochle. The cookies would provide the energy needed to stomp them.

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What we failed to anticipate was the magnitude of the cookie offering. These goodies are made and frozen by my mother-in-law each December, to be enjoyed throughout the dark and rainy months. My husband craves these every winter. His eyes sparkled as he showed me his* new stash.

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Think bigger.




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Much, much bigger.




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That's more like it. Please note all the layers in each of those containers. I didn't know they made tupperware that big!

The sad thing? This picture was taken two days into the visit. The other sad thing was my scale this morning. I can't bear to admit what one gluttonous weekend did, eating more butter and sugar than anyone should consume in an entire month. Maybe two months. (*cough* 4 pounds *cough*) (How is that even possible!?) I'd blame the cookies, but there were many other factors that went into this spectacular explosion of my mid-section.

So, while I break out my pregnancy clothes (not pregnant; I simply fail to understand the concept of portion control) and medicate myself through the sugar withdrawals, someone please come over and enjoy these cookies for me!!

*Please note that my husband did not take "his" stash of cookies with him to the fire station. "His" stash is now taunting me from the fridge. Send help! Quick!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Losing it (hopefully)

We have family visiting from both sides this month, which means more holiday fun! I like having a little dose of Christmas in January.

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*Thanks to my brother for the unofficial sanction to use his pictures. I figure he won't mind. He's technically kind of my employer, since I've been doing part-time computer stuff from home for my brothers' company. He just said I've won the coveted employee of the month award. (It's quite an honor, you know, since there's a grand total of four people in the company. Stiff competition!) Anyway, I figure I can steal pictures from him since he never gave me my certificate. I had to make my own:

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Anyway, the official holidays are over, and the unofficial ones are in full swing. I love having something fun to look forward to in January. I love seeing my family. I love the cool muppet they brought for the kids.

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I don't love seeing pictures that so unflatteringly display the holiday pounds from the month(s) before.

My plan of action:

*Eat less.

*Move around.

*Be in denial for one more week before I actually do any of the above.

Here's to losing it!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Oh, January.

What is it about this month that makes it so sleepy and gray and forgotten? I am thinking that the chemical combination of red dye plus butter and carbs and chocolate plus a hint of mint is coma-inducing. Further studies will be conducted.

The January coma manifests itself in me in the form of forgetfulness. This month I've already forgotten to put the bills in the mail box after stuffing them in their envelopes. I've forgotten a doctor's appointment. I completely forgot about an important meeting. I've lost my keys more times than is normal for someone my age.

I forgot to roll down the window to say the ritual final "goodbye" when I dropped my daughter off at school, which resulted in her looking confused, hand half-raised, as I drove away. I remembered just in time to see her forlorn figure in my rear-view mirror. There was no remedy; the circular one-way driveway in front of the school was choked with cars. I couldn't make it back to say a proper goodbye to her. (She said she was fine when I picked her up, by the way. It's simply my mommy guilt that burns into my mind the image of her standing sadly still, while the other children rushed past her to class.)

And last night, I could not remember if I had already taken a shower that day. Today is only the 8th; I'm worried about what my mind may inconveniently glaze over during the rest of the month!

One item I have resolved NOT to allow myself to forget is that tomorrow is my 12th wedding anniversary.

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I had turned 22 just a month prior. Did I really know what I was doing at that point in my young life? Somehow I had managed to find this other person that had the perfect mix of personality and faults to fit comfortably next to me. I knew he was the one by how un-awkward and actually enjoyable the quiet times were during long car rides.

You know what I was doing, first thing in the morning on our wedding day?

Sewing a thin ribbon onto the hem of my veil.

:)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Honorably mentioned

If you subscribe to comments on my blog, you may have seen a less than honorable mention a couple of weeks ago. Rather than engage the writer, I just deleted the comment. (It was too foul for a family blog. Hi, Grandma!) But the email notification of the comment was sitting in my in-box. I shared the fun and sent it to my spouse. You just never know what post or topic is going to hit a nerve. Ah, the perils of blogging!

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My guy decided to defend the honor of his damsel in distress. (Well, okay, I may not have the right to claim the title "damsel" after having birthed three children. And I wasn't in distress. More like, matron in disbelief.) You can read his post here. Please don't click if you're sensitive about shopping at Wal-Mart. To the people who shop there, I meant no disrespect. I myself shop at Wal-Mart! The initial comment was simply a reference to the popular blog. And please forgive my husband for his less than politically correct approach to defending his woman. Believe it or not, this is the watered-down version.

In other news, fellow blogger Jen at Cabin Fever in Vermont brought up the point that the Bloggies are currently accepting nominations. And, she suggested readers submit, among others, my blog as a possible contender for the category Best Kept Secret Blog. Thanks for the mention, Jen! And if you would like to consider my blog for the award, you can do so here. (They want three sites nominated at a time, so if you don't have other blogs you love, you can find some suggestions on Jen's post. Or you can pick from any of the fine options listed on my blog list.)

Thanks, to all of you, for letting me blog so randomly about all aspects of life (including this "other woman" in our marriage, a.k.a the fire department) and for overlooking the occasional inappropriate remark. :o

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Going our separate ways.

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I waited until the children were in bed, took a deep, resigned breath, and headed downstairs to do the task I had been dreading for weeks. This was not going to be a pleasant experience, and the kids didn't need to witness the destruction. It would only break their hearts. Of that I was certain. They could deal with the loss in the morning, after all that needed to be done had already been done.

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"I love you — I really do. You're beautiful, you know that?"

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"But I just can't do this anymore. I'm so sorry. It's time for you to go."

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"I know, I know; we've been having this on-again/off-again relationship for years now. Every time, I realize just how much fun, and joy, and... enlightenment you bring to my life. I end up begging you to come back. And I probably will again, to be honest."

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"But for now, I've come to realize that we want different things, me and you. We're not on the same page anymore. I've moved on — you should too."

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"I hope you find someone who deserves you; who loves and appreciates you every day of your life. Someone who wants the same things you want."

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"Please, don't cry. C'mon, look at you — you're a mess. You had to have known this would happen. Our relationship needed constant nourishment, and it's been eons since I was there for you in a way you deserve."

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"We've both changed. Just not... together."


"I will miss you in the morning, when I wake up to the void that you've left behind. I'll feel a little sad. Your scent will linger and remind me of you. Especially when I vacuum. But it's for the best."

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"I need to move on — to try new things — to experience all that there is to experience. I need to see what there is out there for me, and I'm sorry, but I just can't see clearly with you right there all the time."

"It's not you; it's me."

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"Chin up, kid. We had some great times, didn't we? I will always remember you for that."


"And, trust me on this — you have a bright future ahead of you!"

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