Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do You Ruzzle?

Dear Readers:

Can't blog anymore, because I'm completely and utterly addicted to Ruzzle.

I'd explain more, but I have another round to play and I'm developing a weird kind of carpal tunnel that's only in my right pointer finger and someone named "MonoBrow123" just requested a game, so as you can see I have a lot on my plate.


Atomic Auntie

Seriously, have you played this game yet?  Ruzzle is this great app for smartphones and notepads (I have it on my iPad, which is the best invention ever in the history of the world but that's another post altogether).  It's kind of like Boggle and Scrabble combined, and there are tens of thousands of other players online at any given time and it's just a big old word party.  Finally, a festival for geeks!  (Aside from Comic Con, of course.)
I've always been a logophile (for you language haters, that's a lover of words/word buff).  Taught myself to read at age four, and haven't stopped since.  I devour books, usually two or three a week.  My tastes vary widely, and I go through phases with my reading -- I'm currently into historical fiction, particularly Civil War stuff and anything related to slavery or Native Americans.  Why?  Dunno.  I also love memoirs, mass-market stuff and some so-called "chick lit."

I'm a former spelling bee wizard, going all the way back to 4th grade (but I was one of those kids who kept it up through 8th grade and went to the county spelling bee and did I mention that I got beat up occasionally and have absolutely no idea why?).  So in essence, words are kind of my thing.

When I first heard about Ruzzle, I thought, "Huh, whatever, another word game."  I downloaded it only so I could play my online buddies who told me about it.  Once.  Because I don't play GAMES on my iPad.  My precious iPad is for important online activities and such.  Well, except for that brief obsession with Disney Fairies Fashion Boutique but that was because one of the niecelets made me play it and hey, did you know you could level up faster if you "liked" other players' boutiques and you get three "likes" a day and there are bonus points if you dress a mannequin from head to toe in winter attire?
Don't ask.
So I guess there's sort of a precedent, if you will, of me being ... interested in gaming.  (Just the fact that I'm using "game" as a verb now is kind of rocking my world at this very moment.)  But I was blissfully unaware of this fact when I launched the Ruzzle app and played my first round, feeling a little smug because hey, I'm a wordsmith, just ask anyone who's ever been on the receiving end of my grammar police baton.
And I promptly got my ass kicked.
You can guess what happened next.  One word: Rematch.  And again.  And again and again and again, until I got this thing figured out.
A Ruzzle match is comprised of three two-minute rounds.  You can stop between rounds for as long as you'd like, but once you're playing a round, there's no pausing.  Time-out?  Uh-uh.  Which is frustrating when you get a good board, and you see a really great long word just as the time expires.
I started like most Ruzzle players, finding mainly two- and three-letter words, gradually moving my way up to seven letters or more.  There are "bonus" letters with a Scrabble-style double or triple letter/word score, which makes focusing on those areas of the board important.  You get to see the words your opponent found after each round, which leads to either a sense of smugness or humility, depending on your own results.  Plurals (i.e. "adding an 'S' to everything") become your friends.
I've learned that you can't judge a Ruzzler by his/her username.  "JuicyLips69" is most likely freakishly smart, and will come up with ZOONOTIC and HOTELIERS while you're plugging away with ZOO and HOTEL and feeling great because you found SMILES.  On the other hand, it's quite possible that you'll put "WordsAreMyLife" to complete and utter shame.

So, how addicted am I?  Let's see.  I've played (on more than occasion) for 6 hours straight.  I've stayed up so late at night that there barely seems to be a point in going to bed before getting up for work.  I've lost 3 or 4 pounds from not snacking in the evenings (because food would just get in the way), which is not something that has spontaneously happened to me, in the history of ever.  And I can't use a decently-sized word in casual conversation without speculating on its Ruzzle value.

Is there therapy for this?  There might be, but if there's a group I'm thinking it would quickly devolve into a great big Ruzzle fest and defeat the whole purpose.

Wanna play?  My username is (surprise!) atomicauntie.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Christmas in ... September?

This morning there was the teensiest autumnal nip in the air, just a whisper really but enough to make my mind leap ahead to dreams of spiced cider, hot chocolate, and roaring fires. (I'm really not much of a summer gal. I melt at temps above 70.) It will probably be a sweltering 95 degrees this weekend, but that little taste of fall was enough to also flash me back to what I was doing at this time last year, when I found myself waist-deep in glitter, musty Santas, and an army of knee-hugger elves. Allow me to explain.

I've never really been what one might consider a "crafty" person. A little here and there, but nothing on the scale of, say, the fabulous Betty Crafter, who I swear could make something amazingly retrotastic from nothing more than duct tape, coat hangers, and, like, a corncob. But still, I have my moments. Last year, when I was off work for 5 months recuperating from brain surgery, I got crafty by necessity. I was bored beyond belief (who knew I'd miss going to work so much?), couldn't drive, and was thoroughly overdosed on daytime television. Reading was still a challenge then, and I had to find something to DO. I'd been stockpiling and hoarding adorable vintage 1950s-1960s Christmas ornaments and ephemera for the last few years. These are just a few of the little lovelies that were rattling around in my collection:

I mean, I had oodles of the things, more than I could ever fit onto even the most heavily bedecked retro tree, and I was also desperate for a way to fill my days. And then magically, I stumbled upon an awesome craft I could make from all this stuff: WREATHS! I (very ambitiously) decided to make wreaths for all the wonderfully caring family and friends who'd helped me through such a difficult year. One hot glue gun and 12 tinsel wreath forms later, I was in business. I turned my mom's dining room table into Craft Central (there was an appalling amount of mess, and I'm so grateful for the tolerance she showed to her deranged and very clumsy post-surgery daughter) and after 5 solid weeks and about 10,000 glue burns (note: this is a conservative estimate), I had a wonderful crop of handmade holiday gifts that I was pretty darn proud of.

Here's one of them on my friend Linda's front door.
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Kind of wonderful, no? I wish I had a better pic that you could zoom in on, because these suckers were just jam-packed with vintage goodness.

So that tease of autumn in the air already has me plotting what this year's holiday craftstravaganza might be, should I opt to go that route. Shhhh! Next week I have my first-ever crochet lesson at a nearby yarn store. On the horizon: AMIGURUMI! If my fingers cooperate and Gidget the Wonder Cat doesn't abscond with all the balls of yarn.  photo image_zps569789ba.jpg

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bubbling Over

I've been a goldfish keeper for many years, and darned if I'm not still fascinated by the delightfully mutated little lovelies. Faithful readers will recall my post last year about my ranchus, featuring photos of the softball-sized darlings who were my pride and joy and the kitschy tiki tank in which they lived.

Alas, I had to re-home those goldfish and that aquarium with a dear friend last year when I had health problems, and I figured I'd be fish-free for a very long time. But not many months had passed before I was absolutely pining for some goldies again. There's just something about them that feeds my soul ... if one's spiritual self can be said to flower in the presence genetically manipulated, garishly colored, glorified carp, that is. But I'm easy that way.

Since I wasn't physically able to maintain such a nice big tank any longer, I set my sights lower this time, finding a nice 30 gallon high tank on Craigslist and scaling down the whole operation to a more manageable level. (The ranchus, incidentally, are alive and well and thriving with my friend. Their growth has been astounding!)

This time around, I went with a goldfish variety that I've never kept before: the bubble eye. I've found that people have a visceral reaction to these fish when they see them, either "Omigod, those are freakish and hideous and why on earth would you keep them?" or "Hey, neat!" but rarely anything in between. And I admit that they're not everyone's cup of ... chowder? But I've always liked them and thought that this aquarium reboot was a good opportunity to give one a test-swim.

This is Hula, a red and white bubble eye of indeterminate (for now, at least) gender. I've had him and his buddy, Astro (a calico butterfly) for about six months now. Once I got over my initial fear every time I walked over to the tank that I'd find him with his bubbles deflated, Hula's been nothing but pure enjoyment. He's downright hilarious to watch, swimming all googly with those bubbles a-shimmyin' away beside him.

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And his sidekick, Astro:
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Did I go ahead and tiki-fy the tank again? Oh my yes.
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Remember, friends -- if it's worth doing, it's worth doing it retro. Best fishes!

Monday, July 22, 2013

That Was the Year That Was

It's been an ... interesting year so far, to say the least.  This week is the one year anniversary of my emergency brain surgery and subsequent recovery process.  If I had to assign a percentage to my wellness, I'd say I'm at about 85% of normal.  Not too shabby, considering the doctors, nurses and everyone else didn't hold out hope for my survival at one point.  Outrageous, huh?

I lost nearly all the hearing in my right ear either as a result of the megadoses of antibiotics I was given, or possibly from scar tissue related to the surgery.  It's a bummer, but if that and being a bit off-kilter balance-wise and having a few short-term memory issues are all I have as souvenirs, then call me happy.  I'll have to be on anti-seizure drugs for a few more years, and they wipe me out, but I wasn't exactly a Type A personality to begin with.  I just take more naps than I used to.  So things are good.

To celebrate my recovery (or, to be perfectly honest, just because I wanted to), I've gotten a couple of new Disney tattoos.  The first is the Peter Pan gang that I was planning on just before all my health wackiness ensued (see the outline of the image a couple posts down).  I finally went ahead and got it in May, and it's lovely.  (Pics of that one coming soon.)

The latest is an Alice in Wonderland piece that I did in two sessions and just finished a few days ago. I wanted to incorporate Disneyland, not just the Alice characters, and I think my artist, the fantabulous Josh Green of the Hemlock Collective, right here in Sacramento, did one heck of a good job.  Five hours of ink time total, spread out over two sessions, and worth every ouchy moment.
Curiouser and curiouser, that I sat for the whole damn thing.

It's larger than I originally intended to get, but when I saw Josh's amazing artwork, I couldn't bring myself to change a thing.  Go big or go home, right?  At least, that became my mantra while lying in the tattoo chair, gritting my teeth.

Just planning to add Tinker Bell and some pixie dust, and I'm gonna call it done with tats for a long while.  They, you know, hurt.  Like, a lot.  I really don't enjoy the process of getting them at all.  But I do like having them.  And I can't wait to hit Disneyland and show them off.  I have this fantasy that I'll get front-of-line privileges on the Alice ride because they'll find my tattoo so totally fab.  (Note: This is completely and utterly unlikely to happen, but I dream about it the same way I like to plan how to spend my lottery millions every time I buy a ticket.  Custom tiki bar with Jungle Julep on tap, I'm talkin' 'bout YOU.)

I'll post some photos of the Peter Pan portion of the whole shebang (all the Disney pieces are on my lower right leg) once I finish the Tink stuff.

I plan to resume regular blog updates now that I'm doing so much better physically and my life is getting more normal again.  One heck of a year, for sure.  But it's been an amazing journey.