Well played, Mother Nature…

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Mornin’ all.

I can’t believe it’s April already. Where does the time go?

I know, I know. Only old folks say that, and they say it a lot. I’m not all that old, but I get it. I blinked for a hot minute somewhere around Groundhog Day, and we fast forwarded in time to April.

Well, we humans did. Mother Nature? Eh, not so much. She’s still stuck in an endless loop of snow and ice and sadness. I just want spring. That’s all.

I’m not alone, either. I was out shoveling the insanely heavy slurpee she dumped on us yesterday morning and I overheard this exchange from two miserable song birds sitting in the tree across the way:

“I told you we should wait another couple weeks, Harold. But noooooo. No-o-o-o-o. You HAD to beat the traffic.”

“Shut up, Phyllis.”

“We could have stayed with the Jensons in that four star mangrove, if you were so itchy to get away from my mother…”

“YOU’RE the one that wanted to get away from your mother!”

“I can’t think in that place! Everything’s so cluttered and…”

“I’d take your mother’s cramped nest over Enid’s cooking! I said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s no way in hell I’m going to spend two weeks choking down stink bugs just because they’re some hipster foodie trend. I don’t care how old fashioned it makes me sound, but give me a plain worm any day.”

“*arches eyebrow* *nods toward snow piles* And how’s that working out for ya?”

“*sniff*…shut up, Phyllis.”

I think the only thing those early birds are catching is a cold.

*author’s note: Yes, I’m fully aware that you don’t actually catch a cold from being cold. Sheesh. It’s just for comedic value. Is that really your line? Really? In everything you read, THAT’S your objection? Hmm??*

It’s a spring snow, though. Heavy. Arm, back, leg achingly heavy. A real shovel-breaker. BUT, it shouldn’t last long. The beauty of the spring snow is exactly the same thing that causes the misery at the shovel. It’s warm enough outside to ensure that whatever accumulates won’t be around for long.

April.

Did anyone do any April Fooling? I did not. I generally don’t. I know people who love the…holiday? I mean, I don’t think it’s an actual holiday, is it? It’s a day of resigned annoyance borne from a bygone era of lifelong serfdom misery. Their lives sucked so badly that for one day- ONE DAY- they just needed a way to laugh at the misfortune of others, to trick someone into being the fool so they could feel just a tad superior for a single shining moment of glory.

If it is actually considered a holiday, it’s a shit one.

I don’t mind mild pranks where no one gets hurt. A guilty pleasure of mine is the show Impractical Jokers. It’s funny to watch someone get tricked, have a harmless giggle, move on.

What I don’t get, though, are the pranks that take it to the next level. I cannot wrap my head around wanting to cause your friends pain for laughs, be it physical or emotional. I don’t get what’s funny about buttering the floor so someone falls and cracks their head open, and I don’t understand why anyone would dream up staging a kidnapping where the friend/victim honestly believes one of his buddies was killed (actual YouTube prank by a hideous human being). The kid now has legit PTSD. Oh, yeah. That’s a fucking laugh riot.

I think anyone who could do stuff like that is a true sadist.

“Bethie, I think that’s a little harsh.”

Is it? I’m not saying they go out and torture the neighbor’s kittens. I’m saying that a mind that thinks, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we abducted Jeff, put a pillow sack over his head, threw him in the back of a van, drove around awhile, shoved him to the ground, shot off a gun, and then ripped off the sack so he could see his best friend face down on the ground in a pool of fake blood,” is not a healthy person. That dude absolutely tortured someone who was supposed to be a close friend, someone he supposedly cared about. He not only tortured him in the moment, but gave the kid lifelong mental problems. For a laugh. And DEFENDED the content when the internet said, “Not cool, bro.”
Think about that. It was bad enough that the internet– the greatest hive of villainy and deceit ever conceived- thought it went too far. The same juggernaut of debauchery that give uninhibited access to Two Girls One Cup drew the line at this “prank”.

That is not someone I would be comfortable being around. And it’s not someone whose “work” I want to watch for shits and giggles. I honestly cannot understand the people who do.

But, a good old rubber band around the sprayer nozzle on the kitchen sink? Comedy gold.

My kids didn’t prank, either. Maybe because they’ve grown up aware of all the idiotic pranks on the internet? None of them ever really got into it at all *knock wood*. The only one that’s really tried is the youngest pup, and his are so benign that the very innocence of it all is what gets the laugh.

I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who is a Spongebob survivor. If you had kids in the early 2000s, you know what I’m talking about. There’s an April Fools episode where Spongebob spends his day pulling off pranks like giving a customer a large drink when he ordered a medium, adding an extra ice cube, etc. The littlest pup does stuff like that, then stands there with twinkling eyes waiting to see if you notice. It is extremely cute, and since he doesn’t read this blog, I can say “cute” free from fear of repercussions. I guess he’s my little April Fool. His birthday is this month, so that really works.

But shh, because he’d be SO pissed if he knew I said that.

It’s supposed to be 50 today. At the moment, my driveway looks like a spring break mud wrestling match is about to begin. Er, minus the drunk girls in bikinis and “bros” in board shorts shouting “what’s good, fam?” in a desperate attempt to sound cool and force people to like them.

The 50 degree day will, in no way, make the situation any better. I’m a bit worried. I drive a heavy clunker, and if the snow melts too fast, it might just succumb like Artax.

*NeverEnding Story fistbump*

It’s happened before. My driveway has honestly eaten a car. Tried its best to, anyway, until the tow pulled the Nissan from the brink of death.

It was right around this time of year in a funky spring not unlike this one. There was late season snow piled high from a storm, and I was having family over after a funeral.

Now, I live in an area with a lot of underground springs, and I’m right by a river. None of my yard is what I would consider stable. In fact, every year, there are new bumps and dips and outright trenches from the shifting water underneath. Our driveway stretches across a large section of this unstable land. Every spring there’s a large area of the driveway that gets squishy and mushy and awful. Usually it’s no big deal to just not park there for a few weeks, but, as I said, we were having people over and the driveway filled up fast.

We had been carefully placing cars away from the suck zone, but ran out of room. The little Nissan Sentra was the lightest car, and we figured, “Eh, seems solid enough,” when the wheels didn’t immediately start sinking. We partied as the Polish do when someone kicks off, and as the day was fading, people started to leave. As soon as the Nissan tried to move, the driveway let it be known that action was not allowed. The tires dug right down into that mud and in seconds the whole car was bumper-deep.

Now, that car was being driven by my mother.

“Oh, Bethie. Tell me you didn’t laugh.”

Oh, how I wish I could!

Was it the nice thing to do? No. Did we try everything to get it unstuck? Yes. We helped. It took a hired tow truck to move the car in the end, but we got covered in mud trying. I think that made up for the laughter.

Maybe?

But come on, people. Things turned out okay in the end, and I’m only human. You weren’t there to see just how quickly things went south. One second, perfectly normal car about to turn out of the drive. The next? Snarlax victim. It was as if the earth itself decided to suck in the rear end of the car like a spaghetti noodle. I’m sorry, Mum, but that shit’s funny. I still laugh about it today.

Maybe none of us should do April Fools tricks. We can’t possibly compete with Mother Nature.

Thus concludes the first April Musing for Sunday, Mass Effect Andromeda Day, 2017. I’m going to be playing. All day. I have been waiting for this game forever and now my screw off day is here. I’ve got soda and chips. I’ve got some kind of meat to throw in the crock pot for dinner. I’ve downloaded the updates, designed and named my character, and I am about to embark on the long awaited adventure. …so what am I still doing here???

There’s a reason walruses live in arctic climates…

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Mornin’ all.

Boy, it’s been awhile, eh? What can I say? I’ve always been a summertime slacker. I just don’t handle the heat very well at all. My body isn’t style like a gazelle, sleek and cool even in the worst conditions the Serengeti can throw at it. No, sadly if I had to pick my wildlife doppleganger, it would probably be a walrus. Big, cumbersome, not a fan of heat or humidity. The only thing I’m missing are the whiskers, and since I’ve got a healthy dose of Polish ancestry, I’m sure that’s just a matter of time…

It’s been hot, and I’ve been SO over it on my time off. It takes far more effort to communicate my thoughts than it does to fire up Halo and do a campaign with the youngest pup. It’s not you. I wanted to chat. But my gaming seat is riiiiight in front of the a/c…

I would LOVE to have No Man’s Sky. Oh that would be the best! Hours and hours of low key exploration of an observationally limitless galaxy in the cool comfort right in front of the a/c… I don’t have it yet, though, and I’m waffling back and forth on laying out the moula. If I get it, we’re having hot dogs or chicken legs for dinner for the next couple weeks. I mean, they can totally live if I do. There were many hot dog or chicken leg nights in my house growing up. But I can’t help this nagging feeling like that’s perhaps not the best parenting choice I could make.

Gaming was a whole lot easier when I didn’t have to feed other humans. #fact

I’ve also been working. Making cakes for the city of Metropolis to ensure the parties of my homeland were not ruined by a crooked icing border or a careless “Hapy Birday” scrawled in the minds of the guests and humiliated host for all eternity.

I got to play with my favorite bakery tool, too. I had a couple cakes that required the use of the airbrush.

Yes, we use an airbrush for some cakes.

Yes, it IS as fun as it sounds!

The only drawback is that we do so few of them that we don’t wear a mask when spraying. It would be silly. Even for the most complicated airbrush jobs, we actually spray for less than five minutes, in a large, open space. We skip the masks. But, let me tell you, it’s a weird moment the first time you get home, sneeze, and pull the tissue away to see purple.

So, the Olympics, huh?

What a shit show. Fortunately, it’s not the type of shit show everyone feared. I haven’t heard about zika infected zombie athletes roaming the streets of Rio looking for gold, silver, or brooooonze. I suppose that’s a long-play situation, though. I mean, given the incubation period, I don’t think we’ll know if the Zompocalypse has officially begun for a couple weeks, after they’ve all gone back to their respective homes and sneezed on two friends, who’ll sneeze on two friends, who’ll…

I also haven’t heard many stories of athletes getting kidnapped, stabbed, punched, picked of pocket… I mean, there have been like half a dozen, but that is WAY below what folks were estimating. So…win?

NBC is also doing a pretty good job ignoring any teeming masses of disadvantaged locals on their coverage, too. I was worried that if I tuned in to watch an event, I’d see the downtrodden masses crying for a shred of humanity. Nope. NBC is actually showing so little coverage of the events that it’s almost statistically impossible for them to catch a glimpse of the real Rio. Shit, they’re barely catching a glimpse of the Olympics themselves. Good on them for that! Who wants to see poor people, amiright?

Only one of their showcase pools turned green and potentially toxic. Now, some people made a big deal about that, but dude, they had another one RIGHT there next to it. And they only had athletes swim in the green pool for like two or three events before they were like, “Nah, let’s just use the other pool.” Fifty percent isn’t a passing grade, but it’s not really a hard fail, either. I mean, they got one right. Glass half full, people.

Less than a dozen top athletes have been kicked out for doping. That seems like a good number, considering all the people that are there. I know, I know…some of the medals will be pulled in the coming weeks and months, with China and Russia being especially scrutinized. I suppose it was the right call to let them compete at all in spite of the failed tests. Can’t have gaping holes in the athletic roster that might tarnish the perfect Olympic image, can we?

“…not a fan of the Olympics, Bethie?”

I am…in theory. I love what they are supposed to be about and represent. I actually worked at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. What a trip, man. It was so exciting to be a part of that.

But I have grown up, and the IOC has not. The past few Olympics have been travesties of corruption and greed without a thought or care for the millions of lives they bulldozed over to make the games happen. Doping scandals, payoffs for officials, razing the homes of people who had no money to fight for their property in order to spend millions of dollars on a complex that’ll be used for three weeks and then never, ever again…

And don’t EVEN get me started on the humiliating athletes themselves. I’m not talking about the doping. That’s already been said. I’m talking about the modern addiction to Twitter that lets people see the sore losers in real time.

No one likes to lose. I get that. Most people who lose have a brief moment of adrenaline-fueled “FUCK THAT GUY!!!” However, in the normal course of events, the athlete loses, shakes the hand while internally grumbling, and has a chance to cool off in a shower before they give an interview. They have time for the bitter sting of defeat to temper a little before airing their opinions.

Not with Twitter, though. The first thing they do when they get out of the pool or limp off the tumbling floor is to grab that cellphone and let ‘er rip. One of our premier female soccer players called her rivals “cowards” when she was defeated. What a baby.

Another athlete tweeted about an old doping rumor of the person who bested him. Just a rumor, mind. But, that will now follow the other dude forever. It’s out there. It’s been said. And maybe the other guy WAS doping. But, maybe he was just better.

It’s not just the athletes using Twitter and other social media to ruin the sport, either. Fans are doing what fans do on the internet, and it’s making the entire deal exhausting. Every single day, some news outlet is having to apologize for something they’ve said.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the papers that just said, “African American Wins Gold,” instead of using Simone Manuel’s name, especially since the athletes in the other Olympics news were all named in the headlines. That shit’s messed up.

But, people are being way too sensitive and looking for ways to pick the press apart. Guys, they’re just people trying to report on sports. If you’re really going to get pissed because in an effort to explain the family dynamic of an athlete they’re doing a bio piece on, the reporter says she was raised by her grandparents “whom she calls Mom and Dad,” then you really missed the whole point of the article.

It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting having everyone’s stupid opinion be turned into news. It’s not news. YOUR OPINION IS NOT NEWS. My opinion is not news. And when the press muddles that water by responding to every. single. opinion., it gets old quick.

I guess that last gripe is more about society in general than the Olympics, huh? It just carries over though and adds to the pile. I just can’t get into them, not even the gymnastics, my favorite summer Olympic genre. I just can’t do it, and that sucks.

Sorry. I didn’t mean to spend so much time venting about the Olympics. I hopped on to vent about something different entirely. See, there’s a post on Ye Olde Booke of Faces that’s making the rounds. It’s a different version of an old classic, the “I dealt with blah blah as a kid and I turned out just fine.” Are you familiar with these? The entire point of the post is to prove how wimpy modern kids are in comparison to their own childhood.

I hate these posts. I absolutely hate them.

Here’s the one that’s going around right now:

“I survived

Spankings

Lead Paint

Wooden Playgrounds

Second-hand Smoke

Toy guns

No seatbelts of helmets

Play without supervision

Drinking from the hose

‘Share’ if you did too”

Well shit. I didn’t share it. I must not have survived, huh?

That’s the thing with posts like this. The people who did NOT survive these things can’t possibly argue. They didn’t survive. They ain’t here n’more, as folks in my neck of the woods would say. Dead men tell no tales and dead kids can’t refute your flawed logic.

But I can.

ANYONE who shares this clearly lived. They have fingers that move, therefore, they survived. But that does not mean YOUR childhood was BETTER. It just means that you got lucky. You weren’t one of the thousands of kids who died every year until basic safety features were added to life.

You lived through spankings, but were taught the way to handle a situation is by beating the tar out of someone instead of thinking. You ate lead paint and lost IQ points, while others suffered lifelong neurological problems or flat out died. Wood rots. Changing over to plastic is just financially sound. You’ve lived through second-hand smoke exposure SO FAR. Better knock that wood fast before the longterm effects start showing up, asshole. You cannot CAN NOT send a child to a park with a toy gun today. Not because kids are wimpy, but because our generation and the one before created a policing system and violent society that makes that critically stupid and dangerous. Maybe it was all the lead paint and beatings we took…? The only reason you didn’t die from not wearing a seatbelt is because your mum, dad, or other adult chauffeur of the era was fortunate enough not to get in a wreck, idiot. That had nothing to do with you being tough. You played without supervision and have how many scars? Had how many trips to the ER? Knew a kid who didn’t live through that? You drank from the hose and lived. Well good for you for living in a community where the water from the hose wasn’t contaminated. I do, too. I still do. And the fact that it’s a matter of pride for my town to have clean drinking water tells you how rare that is. Again, that’s on us for not fixing our broken water infrastructures that cannot handle the boom in population. It’s not at ALL a reflection on the kids whose parents know they could get a disease from drinking hose water.

Look, you got lucky. YOU GOT LUCKY. I got lucky. The people still alive today who lived through all this GOT. LUCKY. Luck. That’s it. How about you think about the kids that were NOT lucky?

If that doesn’t do it for ya, think about what the older generation says about you and your childhood. They say the same damn thing. I’m a child of the 80’s and 90’s. If we had the internet back in, say, 85, this post would be going around:

I survived

Lawn jarts

Walking around town at night alone

Taking candy from strangers

Hitchhiking

No child proofing on prescription bottles

Cars without air bags

Legal whippings with belts and other household objects

And if the internet was around in the 60s, the post would be:

I survived

Radioactive science kits

Polio

No emergency cutoffs on gas lines

No safety switches on industrial equipment

Smoke filled hospitals

No stupid “domestic abuse” laws

In the 50s:

I survived

WWII

…because really, would you have to say anything other than that?

In the 40’s:

I survived

Lard as a staple food source

Measles and tetanus

Rumble seats

Corporal punishment in schools, churches, stores, public streets…

Working in factories by the time I was 11

…and on and on and on.

Every single generation can look at their childhood and compare it to a modern one and see ways a modern childhood is safer. That’s the ENTIRE point of humanity. To grow. To learn. To make things safer and better for the next generation. It is not a point of weakness that kids today wear seatbelts and helmets. It’s SUCCESS. It means that we learned from the past and found ways to make sure that as many kids as possible make it through to adulthood.

You know what? I bet in twenty years, we’re going to see a post that starts with,

I survived

Zika without a fancy vaccine

Actually, I hope we’ll be around to see that post. Still too early to tell, isn’t it? I figure we need to give it about three weeks before we should start paying attention to the obscure international news sites for signs of the end of humanity as we know it. Three weeks for the Olympic athletes, trainers, and staff to wrap up their summer games, return home, and spread their zika spores.

I just thought of something.

With the impending mass contagion looming over us, I can’t see any logical reason NOT to spend the end days playing No Man’s Sky. I mean, if we’re going down, then now is not the time to hold back. Live whatever life we’ve got left to the fullest! We’re facing an apocalypse, folks. Doomsday. Zika is about to play out across the globe like some hack, tired sci-fi story. Life is about to imitate art.

I suppose there’s only one thing left to be said.

Filiorum, carpe pullum crura!

Thus concludes a long winded rant for Sunday, August 14, 2016. Nah, just kidding. I’m not really going to buy No Man’s Sky. One of the teens is bound to cave to the hype and pick it up. Let the kids dispose of their disposable income. Walrus can sit back and bide her time.

Walrus is patient. Walrus is wise.

When life gives you lemons, play video games.

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Mornin’ all.

“Ooooh, look who decided to grace us with her presence.”

…*sigh* Okay, okay. I earned that. It’s been an incommunicado week. I wasn’t shunning you. I was simply busy with car repairs and gaming. My asshole car continues to be an asshole. It’s currently in cahoots with a wiring gremlin. It’s giving the bastard sanctuary and tracking down a problem that could literally be in any single hot wire in the entire car is turning me gray before my time.

…er…gray-ER.

Thank god the car crap was tempered by awesome Teen Prime being awesome. He got me Fallout 4 for Christmas…and didn’t even make me wait to play it!!!

Raised that one right, folks. *sniff*

So Fallout 4, probably one of the most anticipated games to come down the pike in a long time. Teen Prime got it for me on the PS4. I’m told the PC version is smooth as butter, though I have serious doubts about that one. I think it’s more likely that people can easily patch the PC game if they’ve got an issue, whereas you’re at the mercy of the developers for updates on the consoles. I have a very hard time believing that all the bugs I’m getting aren’t also an issue on the PC.

How buggy? Dialogue skips. Those seem to happen a lot and suddenly I’m supposed to answer a question the NPC never actually asked. There are consequences for the answers you give, too, so knowing what I’m saying would probably help. In one area of the part of the map I’ve explored, I can’t shoot two of my weapons unless I draw the enemy back into a different corridor.

And top tip for anyone else playing on the PS4…save frequently. Crashes, man. *sigh* Crashes.

Oh, but don’t think your “quicksave” will be good. That’s a feel good gauge at best.

“Sounds like the game’s a real dud.”

Not at all! Not to me, anyway. Look, this game is huge. Absolutely MASSIVE. The game is so expansive with so many different things to do that I’ve already put in a full-time-job level of commitment and still have not started the second major quest in the story line. I love a game that lets me roam free and fart around.

But something that size is going to have its issues. Does that make the game unplayable? No. Does it really make it less enjoyable? To me, not really, but I’ve got an odd sense of humor. I love glitches. They spice up digital life. And when you get right down to it, it’s a game. It’s just a game. Does it really make it worse if you’re laughing your ass off at an NPC suddenly appearing on your shoulders for absolutely no discernible reason? No. It makes it SO much better.

So far, I’m going with a 4.7/5.00 rating. We’ll see if that changes over time.

Okay, that’s enough of a book report. I guess I should try out Real Life for a little bit, eh?

“US to Target ISIS Leader”

Um…like…shouldn’t we have been doing that all along?

I mean, for real. Either this really is a new plan, which I seriously doubt, or we’re just putting it in the paper to scare the dude, which is ALSO really stupid. Anyone reading it really should be like, “We already knew that…”

C’mon, CIA. THIS is the best propaganda you’ve got right now? Those budget cuts must have hit harder than we thought. Someone get the CIA enough funding to hire a better sociolinguist immediately. If I’m going to be brainwashed, I’d at least like a little effort put into it. Stop half-assing it, CIA.

*Author’s note: Welp, if that doesn’t get me flagged, I don’t know what will!*

Let’s look at some other news.

“14 Dead in California Mass Shooting”

My heart goes out to the families that are suffering such a loss. Anything else I could possibly say would piss at least one of you off. I don’t want to piss anyone off. I want everyone to feel sad that 14 more people were murdered. It’s getting harder and harder to feel sad about it though, isn’t it? It’s becoming numbers. People are becoming numbers.

That’s a problem.

“Stone Temple Pilots Singer Scott Weiland Dead at 48”

That’s going to get more honest tears than the story above. I’m not dissin’ Scott or his memory. He made some damn fine songs that weave themselves through my teenage memories and it’s too bad he went so young.

Maybe one of these mass shootings will have to happen to a famous person before something’s actually done?

THIS IS NOT AT ALL A THREAT TO ANYONE. I just want to make it clear that I am NOT calling for or in any way planning anything against any famous person. I don’t want ANY people murdered! I’m just saying, the way our society is going these days, I just don’t know what it’s going to take for people to actually get off their asses and DO something about the problem.

“Day After San Bernadino, Republicans Line Up to Crush Gun Control”

Of fucking course they did. Because ANY reasonable compromise that might actually help make it harder for crack pots to get their hands on mass murder machines is just utterly insane.

…oops. Guess I forgot the “not pissing you off” promise. Not sorry. Needed sayin’.

Let’s see if we can find something in real life that’s less contentious to discuss.

“Nielsen: Smartphones and the Internet Are Eating Our TV Time”

This one is interesting. Nielsen is basically an information marketing company. You younger ones might not have heard of a “Nielsen family,” but before the internet, it was the only way that tv stations could track the popularity of their shows. A box was installed in randomly selected homes to track what tv shows the viewers were into. For decades, the Nielsen numbers were almost solely responsible for deciding which shows continued and which were cancelled.

Oh, I know it’s more involved than that. I was nutshelling it.

Now, they’re getting pissy. The internet is killin’ their buzz in a lot of ways. Their services are becoming less relevant across the board. It’s interesting if you’re at all into the business side of television.

“I’m not.”

…*blink**blink*…okay then. Uh…moving on.

“New Form of Carbon Is Harder Than Diamonds, and Glows”

Screw diamonds. I want a ring made out of THIS!

“Fallout 4 Superfan Creates 3D Printed Mini Nuke”

Aw shit. I want that, too!

“A Surprisingly Small Team Created 2015 Game of the Year”

Wanna guess what game?

“Fallout 4 Sales Shatter Records”

BOOM suck it Call of Duty!! Told you it was highly anticipated.

“How to Make Your XBox One Faster (And Make Fallout 4 Better)”

Pfft. Who’s playing on the XBox One?! Newbs. That’s who. I tell ya…

“…uh, Bethie?”

Yeah?

“I’m sensing a theme in your news viewing.”

Hey. I gave the Real Life thing a try. Aside from glowing diamonds, it pretty much sucks right now.

“How Accurate is Fallout 4 to Boston and Boston’s History?”

I don’t write the news. Is it really my fault if the Fates keep leading me down a particular path?

“Fallout 4 Player Accidentally Falls into Sea, Finds Mysterious Structure”

WHAT!?!?!!! Uh, sorry, but, uh, something just came up and I…just…uh…bye!

*empty computer chair spins*

*papers flutter to the ground from the whirlwind*

*you awkwardly sit there, staring at the cat and wondering if you should show yourself out*

Thus concludes a quick Musing for Friday, December 4, 2015. I’d pen a closing quip, but it’s hard to type with one hand on the controller. You understand.

I know what I *won’t* be having for dinner tonight…

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Mornin’ all.

I was a brave mum yesterday. The eldest teenager (we’ll call him Teen Prime) decided that the electronic gadgets and games he’d acquired through the past few birthdays and Christmases were old news. Can’t blame him. He’d played most of the games through at least twice. He said, “Say, would you feel like taking me up to Game Stop real quick so I can trade a few things in?”

Ah, I just heard it: The collective groan of sympathy from other mums of gamers…and the knowing “mmm-hmms” from gamers who’ve been there. For those not in either group, let me explain: One does not simply walk into a Game Stop. There is no such thing in the gaming lexicon as a “real quick” trip to a gaming store when trading is involved.

Knowing this, but trying to be awesome anyway, I said, “Sure. Why not?”

Those three little words set into motion a veritable tornado of teenage activity. The others hopped into action and the games piled high on the table. I was imagining a couple games, maybe the system they didn’t really play anymore. It certainly wasn’t presented to me as An Ordeal. And yet, as the bags filled and the excitement amongst the herd grew, An Ordeal is exactly what it became.

I let myself get suckered, folks. In fairness to Teen Prime, I had an idea of what I was in for. In fairness to me, though, I didn’t realize that they were going to scour every corner of the house to scrape up every possible trade dollar.

I’ll say this…Game Stop does a fair trade if you’re a club member. The teens walked in there with old games and a PlayStation 3, and walked out with a PS4, extra controller, two games, and three Wii games for the youngest cub. Not shabby. It only took about an hour, which in fairness to the clerk was far less time than I expected.

And now I am awesome.

…or was. I mean, they’re teenagers, right? Who knows how long that’ll last? I got them a watermelon, too, so maybe that bought me a little extra time high up on the list.

Speaking of lists, I have a lot on my “to do” today, but I just read an article while I was drinking my morning joe and since I nearly spat the coffee across my screen, I figured there was something juicy to sink our teeth into* before jumping into chores.

* You’re going to hate me for saying that. Just wait….

I was reading my FB feed and a friend posted a link to what has to be one of the most epically WTF articles ever written. How’s your stomach this morning? Are you rock solid?

“Yeah, I’m feeling fine.”

Best grab a bottle of Tums to have on hand just in case.

“Bethie, it can’t possibly be that bad.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A man in Wyoming was stopped for a routine traffic violation. The cop noticed he smelled a little boozy, so he asked the dude to step out for a field sobriety test. The man got out, stood there while the cop asked him questions, and pretended not to see the eyeballs falling out of the leg of his pants.

Read that sentence again.

THERE WERE EYEBALLS FALLING OUT OF HIS PANTS.

Here’s the deal. Mr. Roy Tilbott works for a meat packing plant. Roy likes himself some bovine eyeball soup. However, the packing plant does not sell eyeballs, nor does it allow the employees to take the scraps home for personal use.

Clearly Roy was backed into a corner. They practically forced him to smuggle eyeballs. There was no other option. Not wanting to get caught by his bosses and fired, he figured the best way to get those tasty, juicy eyeballs out of there was to shove them up his ass.

Now, the ass has been used to smuggle many a’thing. Drugs. Weapons. The odd light bulb. But in all of those instances, NO ONE WAS GOING TO FUCKING EAT WHAT WAS SHAT OUT!!!

Guys, he didn’t even wrap them. He just took the freshly de-skulled eyeballs and pushed them up his butt. While at work chopping your steaks and grinding your hamburger.

So there he was, with THIRTY eyeballs crammed up his ass, and just his luck, a cop pulls over his El Camino. Of *course* he drives an El Camino, because he just wasn’t creepy enough with the ass eye soup fetish. He gets pulled over, stands there with the cop, and was scared of being caught smuggling. Folks, you know what Nature makes people do when they’re scared…he shit his pants. Only instead of shit, out came his dinner.

You know.

EYEBALLS.

I can’t help but wonder just what was going through the cop’s head when goddamn eyeballs started dropping out of Roy’s pants and rolling on the ground. That poor, poor cop.

This wasn’t a one time deal, either. Roy has smuggled “several thousand” eyeballs during his employment with the meat plant. Along with absolutely no taste, Roy seems to also have no shame. He gladly shared the details with the press. “I enjoy eating bovine eyeballs and smuggling them out in my colon was the only way I knew how to get them out without potentially getting caught and fired. I put them in soups. They’re beneficial for erectile dysfunction, which I currently battle, but I also just like the texture and taste.”

He says it like it’s so reasonable. Roy, no. If you’re reading this, NO. Just….no.

The cops have no idea what to charge him with RE: the eyeballs. They consulted with the meat packing plant*…

*doesn’t that term just take on a new meaning now?

…to see if they want to charge Roy with theft. He also had in his possession a few large, professional quality knives that the cops aren’t sure if Roy stole. And Roy was drunk at the time of the stop, so there’s a nice DUI for him. I guess in light of the rest of the crimes, eyeballs up the ass is actually the lesser offense.

So what’s going on in Wyoming? Oh, not much. Just a drunk, knife-wielding, limp-dicked El Camino driver shoving eyeballs up his ass to shit out later for his dinner.

Same old.

Thus concludes the most disgusting Musing ever for Saturday, July 25, 2015. It’s Saturday. It’s the weekend! And maybe your life isn’t going the best at the moment. But hopefully, after reading this, you’ll at least be able to thank your lucky stars you never ate dinner at the Tilbotts. Always find the silver lining in life.

Even a hippie has an off day once in awhile…

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Mornin’ all.

The funk continues.

Hang on, sit back down. I’m in the fifth stage of a bad mood: acceptance. I’m not going to yell or snark. I’m not going to moan and groan. I’m not even going to bother trying to deny the facts. I’ve accepted it. My funk is here, and I accept that.

Hello, my name is Beth, and I am grouchy.

I popped on some non-Christmas music. One of my favorite calming hippie songs, Daniel’s Jojk, the Jonassi remix. I highly recommend it. You can find it on YouTube. Go on. Go check it out right now. I’ll wait.

Nice, huh?

Don’t worry, I didn’t break out any crystals and I totally washed my hair and put on a bra today, so I’m not going full hippie or anything. Besides, I call it hippie music, but it’s actually traditional Sami chanting. Totally different.

…really.

I’ve been working on crafts the past few days. Usually that makes me feel better, like writing. If I’m in a funk, nothing beats it like creating something. I got two interesting needle point samplers and some cool bead work out of the deal, but I STILL couldn’t stifle my brain and get some sleep last night.

I said bead work, NOT macrame. I am NOT a hippie.

Though really, I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with macrame, per se. A neighbor we had when I was growing up was a macrame freak and she made some really killer stuff with nothing more than rope and beads. I’m talking next level shit here, patterns so complicated that I gave up trying to duplicate them and stuck with…

…oh. Uh…heh heh…did I say that out loud?

Okay, so maybe I’ve dabbled in macrame. It’s not like I’m sitting on my back deck, barefoot and listening to folk music while I twist and knot hemp fibers in yet another hanging plant basket while Mother Sun shines rainbows through my prisms. That would be ridiculous. I only bring the prisms outside in the spring, sillies.

….

I said prisms, not crystals.

….

*sigh* FINE.

Hello, my name is Beth, and I am a grouchy hippie. But I’m still going to wash my hair and wear a bra. Guess I’m still partially in the hippie closet. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps.

It’s been rainy here. The boys had their first “snow” day which really turned into nothing major. I think it was still good to cancel, because it was just a few degrees of temperature away from the roads turning into skating rinks. For those of you who don’t live in a colder climate, there is nothing more dangerous than “maybe” for road conditions. If the temperature is hovering right around freezing, the wet roads could be just wet…or they could be icy. At that temp, the ice looks the same as water. I would greatly prefer that the kiddies go an extra day in the summer than risk their bus suddenly trying a Michelle Kwan routine on a side road.

…and if I wasn’t too busy grooving on this sweet, sweet folk music, I’d find the axel/axle pun in there.

That was Tuesday, and since then, it’s just kept right on raining. Not heavy rains, but drizzle yucky rains that feel like a million little sprites are gently spitting cold water in your face. I’m going to be honest…that’s not helping the mood. According to the weather report, on Sunday we might just have a bit of sun. If there is any possibility of soaking up a few rays, you can bet your ass I’ll be out there. Mama needs some vitamin D.

So we’re gamers, as I’ve mentioned. The whole lot of us. My littlest is 8-going-on-42, and he came home from school yesterday talking about a game his friend plays. It’s a horror shooter, meaning exactly what you think. You’re playing in the middle of a horror movie and you shoot things. I know the title, I’m familiar with the series, though I’ve never played it myself. Horror games get me too het up. I get sweaty-palmed and have to pause often to get a drink and cool the adrenaline. One time I got so startled that I actually jumped and hit myself in the face with the controller. True story.

Yes, these “games” can feel that real.

My dad was a gamer. He was absolutely blown away by Myst.

*gaming reference fistbump*

For those who are suddenly lost, Myst was a ground breaking game. Released in 1993, it was one of the first computer games that put people in a visually stunning 3D world. It had all the things we take for granted now: full music score, ambient environmental sounds, more than 16 colors… If you’ve never seen it and you looked at it for the first time now, you’d say, “…so?” But take my word for it…when it came out, Myst shattered what people thought of “gaming”. It honestly did feel like being in a movie, being part of it instead of an outside user.

Interesting side note: the system requirements to play this epic game were Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, 386DX 33MHz, 4 MB RAM for Win 3.1 or 8MB for Win 95, Super VGA running a resolution of 640×480 with 256 color mode enabled, and a CD-ROM drive. I can say this for fact because I just pulled out my nostalgia copy from the bowels of my gaming desk and read them directly from the user’s manual. Ah. Myst. Good times.

To put this in terms even non-geeks can understand: When Myst came out, you needed a fairly decent computer to run it. Not top of the line exactly, but not that far off. Today, this game could be run by your phone, in the background, as an on screen gadget, taking up little more for resources than your clock.

Now it’s lame, but back in the day, Myst kicked off a trend. Before Myst, there were great games, and I’m not saying any different. But Myst was pretty. Really, really pretty. Pretty enough so that if you stretched your imagination just a bit, you could pretend you were really on that island solving the admittedly easy clues. It was beautiful…but the game itself, meh. I was 15 when it came out and I beat it in no time. The game play was not the best.

That wasn’t the point, though. The point was to prove an idea, to make a gamer actually part of the game, to prove that there was now a medium that could combine story line, gaming, action, and sound in a way that had been yet unseen but often imagined.

It worked. It worked so well, in fact, that it fueled a technology race that has just finally begun to slow. Gamers saw the possibilities in Myst and demanded more of the same, but with a decent story line. They got it, then wanted better game play. I mean, making things look and sound pretty is only part of gaming. Let’s have some difficult, innovative maneuvers through this new terrain of beauty! Game houses turned their attentions towards the gaming aspects, but then noticed that, while three dimensional, the trees still looked flat, the mountains were papery planes that disappeared when people started to trek past… The graphics and processor companies saw there was an eager market and spent the rest of the 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s (so far) trying to up the game.

Yes, gamers are responsible for your speedy phones and pretty desktop slide shows. You’re welcome.

…what? Don’t think so?

Look, the vast majority of computer users in the 90’s were using their rigs for typing. TYPING. Data entry, accounting, ordering, writing, taxes… That was what the bulk of computer users did on their electronic work machines. Hell, that’s STILL what the overwhelming majority of computer users do on their machines…that and surf the internet. I have an old electric typewriter in my closet that’ll pretty much type as well as this program I’m using right now, and you could easily surf the ‘net in 2D. If there were no gamers, we’d still have work machines and nothing more. Gamers DEMANDED more, and were willing to pay. Companies like Intel, nVidia, and AMD decided to out-think each other to fill this demand.

Now we have video games that feel so real I need to ice my eye and promise people that the only person abusing me is Bethesda. Damn nazi zombies.

**NEWS FLASH: We interrupt this Musing for a weather update: The rain has stopped. It is now snowing. *eye twitch* *spasm* We now return you to your regularly scheduled Musing… **

These games are real. They are really happening while you’re playing them. The sound of a floor board squeaking when your character steps on it is exactly the same as one would make if you stepped on a half-rotten floor in real life, and the directional sound programmed into the game honestly makes it sound like someone is maniacally snickering juuuuuust behind you. The graphics have come so far that many times it’s nearly impossible to tell if a cut scene is live action footage or CGI. The blood dripping off the fangs of a monster looks so real you can almost smell the metallic tang, and it doesn’t matter a bit that your ass is actually firmly on the couch of your mother’s living room. Games are so well done that in those moments, the experience is real. To your brain and body, it’s real.

My son asked if he could check that game out. There is no way in hell that’s going to happen. I’ve mentioned before that I’m the daughter of a librarian. As such, I’m not big on censorship. However, there really are some things for big kids that are not for little kids. It’s not like he’s an advanced reader asking if he can take a stab at Catcher in the Rye. He’s a little kid asking if I’ll let him play a game where the sole purpose is to make the user truly feel like they are being hunted.

Nope.

I can’t believe other parents let their 8 year olds play that, either. It boggles the mind.

The Grand Theft Auto series. That’s another one I don’t understand parents letting kids play. In that series, you’re basically a thug going about a thug life. Killing, selling drugs, running over prostitutes. The whole point of the game is to be a thug. I support the series, though it’s not my cup of tea. I’m all for people creating it and adults getting enjoyment out of playing it. It’s entertainment, not reality. It’s an escape, an exploration of something different, not real life. I can’t support one art form and piss on another. It doesn’t work like that.

I just don’t support kids playing it. Really, what’s the harm in waiting until your kid even knows what a hooker is before you let them run one over with a car?

Wait a second. I support a game that allows users to mow down prostitutes, rob little old ladies, and sell stolen goods to amass a pile of stinky, materialistic money. You know what this means, right?

Hello, my name is Beth and I am NOT a hippie.

Maybe today holds a ray of sunshine after all.

Thus concludes a rather rambly Musing for Thursday, December 11, 2014. I’m going to go do some more beading and ignore the snow. It’ll go away if I ignore it. Right?

RIGHT?!

All quiet on the wild western front…

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Mornin’ all.

There’s a dank feeling in the air this morning. I feel it in me bones. I almost need a sweater. God, I sound like a little old lady, huh?

As I’m typing this, I’m uploading the second book in my Great Mother series. BOOM.

…er…only about three months after I planned to get it out. *embarrassed face* Ah well. It got out, didn’t it? Right! And I can’t believe there would be too many people who really took that little blip at the end of the first one seriously.

**If you happen to be one of those people who really were waiting for this book, first…wow…thank you! And second, I’m actually really sorry I didn’t meet my own deadline. If it’s any consolation, the third one is already written and should be out pretty fast.**

While I was waiting for it to come back from final editing, I decided to kill some time by firing up a video game, Red Dead Redemption. Whoo baby, you want to talk about good games? For those reading this who know it *fist bump*. For those who don’t…

Have you ever watched a really good wild west movie or tv show, or read Lonesome Dove and thought, “Man! I wish I could get on a bronc and rustle up some cattle and join a posse to track down a lily-livered scoundrel and hop a train and shoot me some cougars for the pelts and lope around the unsettled country side while tumbleweeds roll across my path?” That’s what this game is. All of that, and so much more.

It’s one of those games where you can choose to strictly follow the story line, or go off on your own for side quests and general roaming. I like those games. They pack a lot of value into game. Yeah, yeah, I know the old argument, so save your breath.

“I can’t. I’m a gamer, Bethie. I think it’s impossible for me to let it go.”

*sigh* Fine. Go ahead and…

“HOW CAN YOU CALL THAT VALUE?? It’s just a cheap ploy to artificially extend the hours of game play with meaningless little side tasks that serve absolutely no purpose or plausible function to the story line. You’re falling for it. You’re willingly taking the bait and being a mindless drone who wants to keep hitting the same button for literally no reward.”

…are you done?

“And how can you even pretend to be okay with the hunting aspect of the game? I mean, seriously, YOU are the reason that the buffalo and mountain lion populations dipped to such dangerously low levels. The amount of bloody, skinned bodies you leave in your wake…for what? Nothing. Not a single thing! You can sell them to buy more ammo to kill more animals…GAMER LOGIC!!”

*tap**tap* Go on. Get it allll out of your system.

“See, what really kills me is that you think that by adding these stupid time wasters, the folks over at Rockstar actually made a long and comprehensive game. They didn’t. They simply added a shit load of mini games to keep you from seeing that they ran out of quality ideas to make the story longer and better.”

I heard you take a breath. Does that mean you’re done?

“Hacks.”

Ah, there we go. Feel better? Now, let me address your concerns.

I know.

A lot of games use these type of mindless tricks to make the game feel longer. In Red Dead, you’ve got hunting challenges, silly survivalist challenges that see a hardened bounty hunter stop to pick flowers (FLOWERS!!), side quests about cannibals, endless bounty hunting jobs for extra cash…. As you do these things, you do rank up, and your abilities do grow. However, I am pretty sure even if I did none of the extra challenges and none of the ranking up, I could beat the game just fine. I get money. I get extra outfits (boy, does Rockstar make you work for those!). I get mindless and ridiculous rewards that really make no measurable difference in the game.

I know this. I get this. And guess what?

I don’t care.

I GET TO HUNT COUGARS!! I get to heya my horse next to a herd of buffalo. I get to lope on down to the river and hope to heroically stop an assault on a poor little lady in a covered wagon along the way. I get to rustle up a band of outlaws, and look kick ass in any hard-earned outfit while doing it. When in my life will that ever actually happen?

I live in NH. The closest thing we have to a tumbleweed is when the maples sneeze on a windy day and the whirligigs create little tornadoes in the streets. I don’t own a horse, and never would…

**clarification: I would if the zombie apocalypse happened and gas was in short supply, but ONLY because a bicycle is ineffective for zombie evasion, especially when I’m panicked because ZOMBIES**

…and even if I did own a horse, I wouldn’t ride it. I would never, ever roam a countryside and shoot animals to skin for sale because…just no. And ME? In a POSSE?? BAHAHAHAHA! Yeah. The bad guys would point and laugh.

I would run around and collect flowers, though. That’s pretty spot on.

My point is that I don’t care if they just put these silly elements in to give you more time with the game. That’s what I like. I LIKE all that side stuff. I like to escape from the not-at-all-wilds of NH and pretend I’m John Marston, former wild west bad ass. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: A good video game is like a good book, a good movie, and a good album all rolled into one. A GREAT video game pulls you in and makes you feel like you’re part of the story, part of the adventure. It’s an escape, to me the ultimate form of entertainment. If they want to give me a reason, even a mindless one, to stay in that world a little longer, to lope my horse to the far reaches and explore for a few more hours, I’ll take it! As long as the game is great, I’m in.

Mass Effect did this, too, and it ended up being one of my favorites.

MASS EFFECT? Did you really just pour lemon juice in that still-fresh wound, Bethie?” *twitchy eye*

Whoa, buddy. Calm down. Deep breath…I’m with you on the ending. I totally get it and agree. But a shit ass ending does not negate the other hundred hours of enjoyment. It’s still in my top five.

The Fallout series was another one with added mindless content. Loved that. Again, though, crap ending. I think the developers get so into the game that they don’t want to see it end. I bet the meetings about how these expansive games wrap up are some of the most heated and contentious discussions in the whole game-making process. I think what happens is that everyone involved is SO involved, has so much personally invested that it’s impossible to find an ending that everyone can agree on. Ah, but there’s a deadline, right? It’s got to end.

In my head, the final decision happens in an epic darts shootout, with every possible ending people came up with in place of the numbers. Because even the non-gamers can YouTube the “ending” to the Fallout series and say, “You just push a button? That’s IT?” There’s no logic, so it absolutely must be a result of a bad dart throw.

Anyway, Red Dead does not have a crap ending. Well, it does, if you consider tears, feels, and emotions “bad”. But, it’s how the story has to play out. It fits. As painful and gut wrenching as it is, you know through the whole game that any other ending would be bullshit. But, like I said, there’s so much side stuff that you could literally just keep playing those things and avoid the ending for as long as you want.

I popped this one back in the console and fired it up because I got into a convo with my boys about best video game memories, and they soundly agreed that my initial play through of Red Dead rated high on the list. Why? Because for some reason, I could not keep a horse alive for the life of me. Cougar attacks, hidden rattlesnakes, horse suicides…

“Horse suicides? Oh yeaaah, Bethie. The game cheats. Riiiight.”

DUDE FOR REAL. Listen to me. One horse, Cocoa (yes they were named. Of course they were. Don’t even tell me you didn’t name your horses when you played this game, liar.) was grazing while I was picking feverfew. The next thing I know, a fine mist of red wafted in front of me and the train whistled. The horse went and stood in front of a train. Another horse jumped to his demise off a cliff. HE JUMPED OFF A CLIFF. Hell, I must have gone through a few dozen horses…and those were just the ones I named. If I was on a horse for less than five minutes or so, I didn’t bother to name it. Cougar attack, call up a new horse, second cougar comes out from behind the rock and suddenly nameless horse #143 joins the great horsey cemetery.

There was the horse I may have accidentally shot with my own gun. Another could not, in fact, get down the side of the arroyo safely. Oops. There was a skinned horse that…well, we won’t go into details on that one. I’m still traumatized. And then there was the epic double-bear attack of ’11. Poor Jingles.

The boys gave me such crap about it that I brazenly made the statement that I could keep a horse alive on the second play through. After blank stares followed by gut-grabbing guffaws, they decided I needed to prove it. Now, you don’t know my boys. You’re reading this and saying, “Okay, sounds like a little bet.”

They made me a set of rules. They know me well enough to make a set of guidelines, saying that I must name every horse I sit on this time, so I can’t weasel out of the death toll by saying a wild horse I grabbed for a hot second didn’t count. One of the rules is that I can’t respawn at my last save just because my horse got killed. They even shut that loophole down! If I get off my horse and it commits suicide, that counts as neglect on my part and that horse must be added to the tally.

So they made this list, and then they made me sign a contract. My word wasn’t enough. They took it to that next level, just to be sure I absolutely could not find a way around.

*sniff* I’m so damn proud. Now THOSE are gamers!

You know, I’m guessing the non-gamers reading this will be horrified. I’m betting some of them will even wonder about my sanity, though to be fair, they should have had doubts about that a long time ago. But you gamers, you get how awesome this is.

My boys are rad, even if I’m totally winning this bet. 14 hours into gameplay and haven’t had a single horse killed yet.

…er…just one, but I died in the same attack, so they said that didn’t count as a “horse death”.

Damn cougars.

I’m going to win this bet. I’m bound and determined. I just hope my horse isn’t in a depressed mood when I hop off to pick flowers.

Thus concludes a gamey Musing for Saturday, July 26, 2014. Shameless self promotion time? Why not. Head over to Smashwords.com and look up The Great Mother series.

Too early for such great music…

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Mornin’ all.

My resident coffee pro is back! Right now I’m sipping on an iced coffee and it’s delicious. Things just run better when my boy’s here. What in the hell am I going to do when he goes to college?!

Time to start training the others!

*sip* Ahhh.

Music this morning, too. The kids sacked out in the living room to watch a movie last night. It’s summer, so why not? They left the tv on one of the music channels. We get cable, and in the 400s there are music stations, all different kinds. They fell asleep to “Classic 90’s.” Boo yeah! My childhood memories. Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” is on. The only drawback is that you cannot, CAN NOT listen to that song without singing, and most of the kiddies are still sleeping.

Must…fight…urge to sing…

“I’m gonna free fall…out into nothin’…”

I tell you what, folks. This is some epic self control. And I’m not usually big on that.

I finally wrapped up a short story book I’ve been working on for what feels like forever. There’s so much to do in the nice weather that I’ve relegated my writing to certain slots. That’s fine, it just drags it out. In the winter there’s nothing TO do but sit and write. Well, I mean, I suppose I *could* play in the snow.

*snort*

Write and shovel and shovel and write. Not a bad way to pass the winter, actually. And boy, did I get a lot written.

Short stories are fun, but in some ways, far more difficult to write than a book. In a book, you’ve got plenty of time to nail the details. You can let the intricacies of character personalities unfold slowly, emerge in a gradual adventure of discovery. In a short story, you’ve got a few pages to make the reader get the picture.

OH MY GOD! “I Would Do Anything for Love” just came on!!! This not-singing torture just kicked up another notch. Why you gotta torture me, Meatloaf??

I sent the short stories to be edited, and started cleaning up the second book in my Mother series. Now that’s the kind of stuff I cruise through. Because I put more into novel-length stories, it’s so much easier to let my fingers fly. I spend so much time with those characters, in those worlds, that I don’t have to think about what this person would say or what that person would do in a situation. I’ve got time to make the characters friends, and you always know what your good friends are going to do.

“And I would do any-thing for looooove….”

I’m not going to get to do much writing today. Our floor pans for the rust we lovingly call a station wagon are on the docket to be installed today. I spent the other day making a body panel out of sheet metal with those fancy new hammers, then yesterday welding it in place, fiberglassing, and sanding. I must say, while initially daunting, this body work stuff is actually pretty fun. And my right arm is starting to give Popeye a run for his money. Screw spinach…you want strong arms, hammer, angle grinder, and sander. Surefire method.

Meatloaf, you’re killin’ me, man…

My kids always sleep with the radio on. I could never do that, to the dismay of my older sister. We shared a room, and she liked the radio at night. We compromised and listened until the top twenty count down on the local station was done. After the top song, the tunes went off. I just can’t shut my mind off and go to sleep if a good song comes on. And I get the weirdest damn dreams if a song I don’t like plays.

My boys love it, though. Studies have shown that listening to music in your sleep is a good thing, that it’s kind of a passive stimulant that helps neurons keep firing without making you tired. I don’t know how much validity those studies carry, but I do know that all four of my kids are smart cookies.

GOO GOO DOLLS!!! Holy smokes. Haven’t heard “Iris” in forever! I’m going to have to put this channel on more often.

I’ve mentioned that my kids are LARPers and gamers. They’re also very creative. Perhaps the music at night really does help. I’m sorry to their future loves. I hope they can find people who also like listening to the radio at night.

Shoot. Maybe I’m screwing them up. Maybe I’m making it harder for them in the future.

Bah. If the biggest relationship hurdle any of them has is a “to radio or not to radio” debate, I’d say they’d be doing pretty darn good.

Now that they’ve had the first week off from school, I’m going to institute the summer electronics rule. I don’t think I’m going to be very popular for a couple days. No electronics, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, unless it’s rainy or too dangerously hot to go outside. While I do allow them their gaming, I’ve also got to be a mom, not just a competitor. We can game Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekends.

At my boy’s oncology check up last week, the doc talked about screen limits. “Two hours a day for children. That includes tv, video games, computers, cell phones…”

I’ve heard this before. And I’ve ignored it before, so that’s nothing new. I don’t think pediatricians understand how much technology is in the life of a kid these days. My boys use their tablets, computers, and smart phones at school. AT school. The school knows the benefits of the amazing little hand-held screens.

HOLY SHIT is my resolve being tested right now. “Pump Up the Jam” just came on. No way I’m keeping quiet through this whole song!

…what was I saying? Oh, right. Screen time.

After the kids come home from a school day filled with screens, they have to do homework. Research and typing must be done on a computer. So does any of this count in the “screen time rule”?

See, even if we weren’t a gaming family, the kids would get three times the amount of time in front of a screen just doing what we adults have set before them to get accomplished. We’re then supposed to tell them the only thing they can do on these fantastic little gadgets is work? Sorry. I can’t do it.

Or, more accurately, I won’t.

One of my kids wants to be a programmer. Another wants to be an app designer, and the third teen wants to join a game house and create the next huge franchise. These career choices are not only interesting to the kids, they are very wise decisions in this day and age. The technology path is one of the most secure paths they could take. If they have the skills to program, create apps, code games, then they’ve got a wide variety of choices open to them when they get into the work force.

But, to do a job you love, you have to love the job. Right now is the time for them to fall in love with the careers they want. Now, before they realize the hard work involved. They won’t love all this great tech if all they ever use it for is looking up facts and typing papers.

I didn’t tell the doctor that I was going to once again blow off her recommendations. I know what she’s trying to avoid. She’s trying to avoid the kids becoming fat little shut-ins who can’t function outside the nest of empty Mt. Dew bottles and Cheetos bags that surround their screens in the safety of my basement. Trust me, Doc, I don’t want that, either. But the medical community is once again going about things the wrong way.

“You Learn”. Ah, Alanis. What a great song for this discussion! Timely indeed, tv radio…

The doctors are still focusing on an old statistic, on a number, as if the issue is as simple as a two hour guideline. By doing that, they are not saying the important part of the equation: involvement. Maybe it’s uncomfortable for a doctor to have to look at a parent and say, “Do you know what your son’s favorite book is? Who are his teachers? What subjects is he struggling with? What’s his favorite type of humor?” THAT’S what they should be saying. And there’s no way anyone can answer that if they let the electronics raise their kids.

Screw the two hours. I’m having them disconnect and play, but in a time table that works for them, for us. I’ll let them play their games all day. But the next, they’re going to get up and join me in the world outside the digital realm. Get yer eyeballs off the screen and make stuff. Do things. Help me outside. Take a walk. Realize that life is a balance between the fun little gadgets and everything else. There are so many great things in the world, and digital geekery is just part of that.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Sunday, June 29, 2014. I made it through without waking any kids up! I think that means I deserve a reward for my efforts. I’ll take cash. Pass around the hat. Thanks.