Tag Archives: technology

High-Tech Hypochondria

Anyone who has ever logged on to WebMD knows that typing in more than one symptom can result in a diagnosis of hypochondria and then side effects from drugs you’re not even taking.

That’s why you have to be careful and make sure you don’t have too many tabs open—on your computer or in your brain—and focus on the website you’re looking at, especially when it concerns your health. To serve as a visual warning, I have created a few Someecards to illustrate my point.

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-the-food-network-site-and-just-diagnosed-myself-as-down-in-the-dumplings-fcd38

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-animal-planet-and-diagnosed-myself-as-a-shitzuphrenic-with-a-reptile-dysfunction-bbe2a

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-the-target-website-and-diagnosed-myself-with-a-broken-budget-c2a01

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-the-weather-channel-and-diagnosed-myself-as-emotionally-frigid-a3fdd

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-pinterest-and-diagnosed-myself-with-creative-constipation--396ec

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-good-housekeeping-and-diagnosed-myself-as-domestically-disabled-33d0c

i-mixed-up-webmd-and-my-bank-and-diagnosed-myself-with-an-earning-disability-4c05e

What would you add to the mix?

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P.S. A reminder that Facebook is limiting what you see, so if you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to subscribe here on the blog and/or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Let’s Get Clicky

Technology makes it so much easier to complain about technology, now doesn’t it? Let’s do that for a minute and then get to the part where I refer you to read an ironic post that I wrote.

Facebook is rivaling the Grinch in terms of seasonal spirit by starting to force blog fan pages to pay in order for their followers to actually see what they post. Now I know it’s annoying that I’m complaining about this again, but seriously?

It’s ridiculous, and I’m not going to pay Facebook to share my nonsense with the masses when that money could be spent buying pesto.

No, instead I’m going to be POSITIVE and invite you to subscribe to my blog via email (see that nice little option on the left side of my blog?), follow me on Twitter (one-liners I should probably keep to myself) and remind you to make sure you’re selecting the “Show in Newsfeed” and “All Updates” on Facebook.

Unless you’re actively trying to avoid me, in which case — carry on as you were. Let’s move on.

I’ll have a new post for you here this later week that doesn’t involve self-promotion that makes me feel uncomfortable and twitchy like this does, but today I’m back over In The Powder Room talking more about technology and cults.

What do those two things have in common?powder-room.jpg I suppose you have to click…HERE to find out.

So let’s summarize:

  • Facebook is lame.
  • I prefer pesto to popularity.
  • You have various options to either interact with or ignore me.
  • The serving size suggestion on hummus is about as useful as a Kindle is to a Kardashian. 
  • Clicking this link will trick In The Powder Room into thinking that I have friends.

One of those things doesn’t belong, but I felt it was valid. Anyway, go forth and read about cults, soak in the irony of that statement and I’ll see you here for my next post.

Unless you’re actively trying to avoid me, in which case — carry on as you were.

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Why I’m Glad I Grew Up When I Did

Children of the ’80s and early ’90s had to endure the mental anguish of trying to manually untwist the insides of  a cassette tape, but all in all, I look back and think we were pretty damn lucky.

trashbags

Now: Pinterest and “vision boards”

Then: A bulletin board filled with color-coordinated push pins, pictures of teen heartthrobs, quotes created from random cutout letters that end up looking more like white trash ransom notes and school pictures of friends that perfectly captured their awkwardness. Speaking of which…

Now: Selfies (for the record, I have never taken a “selfie”)

Then: Cameras. People took pictures when something special happened, not when they ate breakfast. As kids, school picture day was a big deal with the most important decision being what “laser”-color background you wanted. You couldn’t wait to get the free black plastic comb so you could bend that sucker back and forth a few times until it got hot and brand the kid next to you with a touch.

And the anticipation of getting a roll of film developed really can’t be overstated.

Now: Jeggings and skinny jeans

Then: Stirrup pants and stonewashed jeans. Pants today are basically tights, which were something I loathed when forced to wear. Stirrup pants—they’ll stay in place forever!—and stonewashed jeans—they’ll hide any wear and tear!—were designed for function much more than fashion.

Now: Blogs

Then: Diaries, and god save anyone who tried to pick the flimsy lock and read the drama of trying to decide what color rubber bands to get in your braces. Thoughts were private and you didn’t WANT to share every detail of your day, mostly because like pictures taken of yourself in the bathroom—see above—you were aware that no one would care.

haha-dork-i-bet-your-dogs-name-is-ipod

Now: Politically correct “holiday” parties with “refreshments” from Costco or Whole Foods in which there is no trace of sugar, peanuts, lactose, gluten or fun.

Then: Actual Halloween/Valentine’s Day parties with room mothers who would bring in homemade goodies and roller skating parties with a “couples” skate when pre-teens with sweaty hands would shuffle across the rink together with Boyz II Men playing in the background.

Now: Reality TV

Then: The only real slime on TV came from “Double Dare” and we had actual TV shows with actors and a real TGIF lineup. I’m talking about Full House, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Alf, that smart-mouthed, cat-murdering alien we loved.

Now: Smartphones and texting

Then: Landlines and notes. I remember dragging the cord into my room to have what I’m sure was a very important discussion about Punky Brewster or zits. Instead of texting and getting instantly rejected, we were forced to actually write notes, those of which an inordinate amount of time was spent folding into a specific shape for delivery.

he-already-has-a-pencil-but-hes-still-writing-the-note-to-be-nice

Plus, we knew how to spell and how to write—even cursive. OMG. LOL.

Now: Ecards

Then: Because computers were huge monstrosities with a four-color screen, use was relegated to games of Junior Jeopardy or Oregon Trail. While we eventually got Print Shop to make birthday cards and banners, hours were spent cutting out construction paper to create our own cards with scented markers we had to resist the urge to lick.

Also, the joy of getting a card in the mail also can’t be overstated.

Now: Kindles and iPads

Then: Scholastic book orders, Book-It and the smell of library book pages illicitly dog-eared and worn. It was fun to wait for the order or go to the store. True, Book-It rewarded kids for reading with a free personal pan pizza full of grease and devoid of veggies, but we all lived to tell—and read—the tale.

Plus unlike a Kindle, books don’t break when you drop them.

Now: Instant gratification

Then: Patience

Okay, maybe not patience, but we had to wait for our favorite songs to play on the radio, stand in a line without checking a phone and make up games or Mad Libs on car trips instead of watching a DVD on an iPad. We kept ourselves busy by creating things instead of relying on something else to keep us busy.

True, it might have involved law jarts and hypercolor T-shirts—Sweaty armpits? Show them off with your heat-sensitive teal shirt and hot pink pit stains!—but at least no one could take a picture on their phone and share it on Twitter.

Ugh, like, gag me with a spoon.

I’m glad I grew up when I did.

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Be Kind, Rewind

I actually rented a movie a couple weeks ago. This is news because I have the attention span of a manic gnat with ADD and prefer just to watch TV shows that max out at an hour.

And going to a movie? It’s been years.

I judge a movie by whether it’s better than spending two hours watching a squirrel perform Cirque du Soleil moves on the feeder, a ballgame or a “Chopped” marathon on Food Network, and you have to admit that’s pretty hard to beat.

Plus, it doesn’t cost $10 or force you to deal with strangers loudly slurping their pop.

At any rate, because I’m old I can also say that I remember VHS tapes—those things that came before DVDs. When I was younger, my favorites to watch were classics like all the Rocky movies (I still know every word,) Troop Beverly Hills, Camp Cucamonga and Mariah Carey Live.

They were often for research purposes, as I would give elaborate concerts on the front lawn before organizing cut-throat games of the home-version “Double Dare” game show complete with plastic helmets with sticks to throw wet sponge hoops at.

I was a recreational pioneer, people.  

The first time I watched a DVD I remember being amazed that I didn’t have to “be kind and rewind.” Brilliant!

But I soon learned that while DVDs are convenient, there are certain things about them I detest. For one, they don’t always let you fast forward through the FBI warnings anymore, and second, they can skip.

There’s nothing worse than getting into a movie and having the damn thing just stop and the timer vacillate between two numbers before skipping 20 minutes ahead and ruining the flow of the show.

You can bet that after staring at the frozen screen, trying to “scan” back and forth and yelling a stream of words that would earn an “R” rating, I march back to the video store and get a credit on my account (for the $1 movie I rented for five days a year after it was popular.)

Wait.

There is something worse—if it’s an exercise DVD and Jillian Michaels suddenly sounds like she developed a stutter and you end up doing squat jumps for 3 minutes straight before realizing the DVD is just skipping.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I watched a couple movies that didn’t stink and avoided throwing my remote at the DVD player while cursing modern technology.

leyland

And considering baseball season is here, I’m good until October.

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What are the movies you always watched as a kid? I have a bunch, but I’ve already shared too much.

What I’ve Learned from Blogging

Someone asked me how long I’ve been blogging, and just like when asked what my natural hair color is, I kind of blanked out. But long story short, I would say three or four years.

Over that time I’ve come to learn certain things, like I rarely make a long story short and how to make a picture bigger than a thumbnail (this took two years, people.) And while I know it’s boring to write about blogging, I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned (the first one evidently being I can write about whatever I want to.)

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM BLOGGING

Why I Write

I write because I have to. It gets me out of my head and makes me feel productive and creative and useful. When I feel I have nothing to say, I get pissy. When I get on a roll, I get almost annoyingly cheerful. I feel emotion, which is rare, and that’s how I know it’s important to me.

I Can Be Funny

I’ve learned it’s okay to be confident and I think I can be pretty funny. While that will never lead to fame and fortune, I like knowing I make someone laugh or think—even if it’s only my mom. Hi, Mom!

People Are Awesome

I can connect with a bazillion awesome people that I would never have met otherwise, and honestly, you people save my life. I never really thought I “needed” people, but I do. And to those who say “online friends” aren’t real, I will counter with the fact that if cyber bullying can and does exist, so can cyber connections.

So there.

You Can Click Away

Not everyone will like you and you won’t like everyone else. You don’t have to tell everyone all your opinions. People will disappoint you. Their blogs will change, they will sell out or maybe you’ll just grow apart. Don’t take it personally, and don’t begrudge them for choosing their path—even if that path is really annoying and lame.

Social Media Can Rock

On one hand, it’s awesome because you can connect with the bazillion awesome people I mentioned above. When I promote a post, it’s not for validation—it’s because I think you might like it and I want to share. And I love my blog’s Facebook page and comments because people interact and make me laugh or think. Muah! Big cyber air kiss!

Social Media Can Suck

But on the other hand, holy hell with the requests for retweets and sharing and a constant barrage of all the things! It’s come to the point where the writing is no longer enough. Now it’s about getting read, no matter what is written, and getting tweeted, pinned, Facebooked, etc. by the greatest number of people.

The end some posts read like a totem pole with eight different icons of where you can find the blogger who is so busy writing and building a brand that they don’t have time to read your blog but be sure to read theirs, share the post and vote for them in a contest!

No thanks. I don’t understand Instagram, Redditt, etc. and YouTube has a video of a turtle eating a raspberry that I’m pretty cool with.

See “click away” point up above.

It’s a Hobby

I get that there’s a constant blogging popularity contest going on, but when it comes to aggressively pimping myself out, I’ll pass.

It would be great to be able to make a living doing something I love, but not at the expense of authenticity or what minimal sanity I have left. I read blogs I enjoy. I don’t read blogs I don’t enjoy, even if they’re “OHMYGOD the most connected blogger ever.”

At the end of the day, there are millions of blogs out there and only so many eyes to read them, with even fewer dollars to support them. If you’re in it for the money, good luck with that.

I Can Only Be Me

I can be naive. I can be vulnerable. When I can’t write I stress out a bit, but only because I want to entertain you. Or more likely because I  had to wear a “real” bra for more than five hours, which is probably the reason. Let’s be honest.

But long story short, I have issues. So do you.

I’ve learned that that’s more than okay.

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What have you learned from writing or reading blogs?

Take Me To Your Leader

As much as I like blogging and social media, it seems like people are taking this stuff a little too serious at times. To be honest, it’s getting a little creepy.

And while I don’t have personal experience with “traditional” cults, I did a little research and found the following characteristics that apparently define them.

Do any of them sound familiar?

“Cult”ivating Community

The group is focused on a leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.  

“I will read ANYTHING that (insert blogger here) posts—even if they publish a theory that unicorns are the driving force behind global warming—and I will tweet it out multiple times a day despite the fact the “big” blogger has no clue who I am.”

The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

“Do you follow me on Facebook? On Twitter? Do you subscribe to my posts? Have you checked out this page yet? Grab my button!”

The group is preoccupied with making money.

Lately it seems as if blogs are just billboards for ads. “See my sponsors on the side? Your ad could be there! This post was brought to you today by (insert company that has nothing to do with the blog post.)”

Questioning, doubt and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

This is evident when a blogger’s followers take to defending the blogger in the comment sections of posts and are personally appalled when someone questions a point that was made—and then that reader is promptly banned from further comments.  If you’ve never noticed this, try reading healthy living blogs. Trust me.

The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.

People who don’t blog/tweet/Facebook “don’t understand,” which is something people who blog/tweet/Facebook don’t understand.

The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities.

Anyone can blog, which mean anyone can say anything they want at any time without (relatively any) consequence.

The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.

“I’m only two followers away from (insert random number)!  Help me get there by tonight, or else God will kill a kitten!”

Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.

“After you link up, be sure to read at least 35 of the other posts here, leave comments, come back here and tell us that you left a comment, tweet about which post you liked best and then post it to your Facebook page.”

But have no fear!

If you find yourself  taking things too seriously, remember that you have free will!

You don’t have to believe “them” when they say, “if you don’t post a picture, an update or an announcement of everything from your lunch to the cold you’ve been fighting, how will anyone know about your willpower or dedication? How will anyone congratulate, commiserate or validate your feelings or your feats?”

Remember that you will know, and that just because you didn’t post it online, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. After all, one should be posting the best parts of their life that happen authentically and not living life for the best thing to post.

I know the pull is strong, but you can be stronger.

You can break free!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tweet out the link to this post. Oh, and by the way…

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Rage Against the Machine

If you’re reading this, you’re on a computer or at least have online access, which means there is a temporarily symbiotic relationship between you and said technological device.

This is not always the case for me, and I have brought it to my own attention that much like my house, my computer often mocks me.

computerhelp

The passive aggressive nature of this mockery causes me to be much more aggressive than passive, and I often find myself raging against the machine and muttering, now you do what they told ya as I vainly try and do anything other than hit control + alt + delete. 

For example, I will attempt do a simple Google search. After the computer arrogantly tries to read my mind—no, I’m searching for “avocado,” not “Avon,” but thanks for the baseless suggestion—I often click on a link and am told that the page cannot be found.

Well, perhaps you should try a wee bit harder, seeing as it’s your JOB to find the page.

If the page is not available, then don’t offer it as a suggestion. That’s like wafting the smell of pesto pizza under my nose only to tell me that it’s not available. Ever. At that point I’m more emotionally involved with the pizza than I am with most people, so the disappointment could result in a violent outburst unless a suitable replacement is given.

In other words, find the damn page or download a pesto pizza.  Two options. Your call.

But doing a search implies that the computer is willing to at least comply with my request on a basic level. There are many times when my computer won’t even put up a pretense of productivity.

computererror

Instead I am given messages such as: “Not responding,” “The program has unexpectedly quit/stopped working” or the patronizing “Something is technically wrong. Thanks for noticing.”

As if we had a choice? 

I’ve also noticed that it’s become rather possessive and sneaky, often separating me from my friends at times by casting judgment on their messages/comments and labeling them as “Spam” long before I have the opportunity to judge/ignore them for myself.

No one takes away my right to judge/ignore people for myself.

I’ve tried to be nice—gently petting it while whispering soft words of encouragement and then restarting it in hopes it operates a bit more cooperatively, knitting it a little sweater to try and prevent it from freezing up—but no luck. I am pretty much powerless against the spinning beach ball of death that appears whenever the hell it wants to.

Perhaps I’m just jealous and need to model my own behavior after my computer a little bit more.

Not only does it have the option to “sleep” and “hibernate,” but the whole “not responding” thing sounds like something I wouldn’t mind officially implementing into my day.

Then again, the computer still can’t download a pizza while all I have to do is turn on the oven and wait 15 minutes. Well, unless the oven’s in cahoots with my computer.

If that’s the case, I’m screwed.

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The Anti-Social Network

This has nothing to do with The Oscars, as they’re rather boring to me. I haven’t seen the movies and usually like the complete opposite of “The Academy.” However, “The Social Network” was nominated for a few little statues, which brings me to my point today—Facebook.

Let me give you a little background by saying the fact that I have a semi-functional blog is no minor miracle. While I am quite sharp in certain cognitive and creative realms, technology is not one of them. SEO, HTML, JPEGS—to me it all looks like a bad Scrabble draw.

Dump the letters, try again.

So it’s a good thing I hold no delusions of my blog leading to fame and fortune, because I would have no idea how to even attempt to pimp myself out and maximize SEO or cater my writing to keywords. I think I would have to be rich and famous so that I could hire someone to do it for me, at which point it really would serve no purpose other than to feed my ego (or my id, depending on the day.)

I write because I feel like I have something to say and if I don’t get it out, there is the possibility of spontaneous combustion—or at least increased crankiness. Writing is the best way I know how to get things out and for some reason, I like the security of knowing I have the chance to go back and edit before exposing it all to the world.

I often wish for this feature when I open my mouth.

For me, written communication is how I best express myself so I go with it. The fact that I figured out how to start a blog is still kind of amazing to me, even more so is the fact that other people take the time to read it.

So what does this ramble have to do with Facebook?

I’ve been on “The Facebook”—when you hang out with old people they put “the” in front of everything—for years, but have resisted making a blog page. First of all, we know all about my technical difficulties. Second of all, I don’t really get the whole point.

I’m told it’s necessary to socially network these days past a simple Facebook account. But to me, creating a blog page kind of feels like nominating myself for Homecoming Queen or entering into some popularity contest that is rigged to be won by the girl with bigger boobs and talents, both of which  half the football team has witnessed first-hand.

Plus, I know I don’t like feeling obligated to “like” things I kind of just feel “meh” about. If there was a “meh” button, I would feel much more comfortable with the commitment. The last thing I want to do is make anyone feel obligated to “like” my little blog when I probably don’t like half the people who would “like” it anyway.

But I decided to give it a shot.

It ended up taking me a ridiculous amount of time and a bit of trial and error, but there is now an “Abby Has Issues” fan page on Facebook for no reason other than I’m stubborn and my failed attempts simply pissed me off enough that there was no way I was going to NOT make the damn page.

I told you I have issues.

Creating the page was no big deal—a picture and a link—but the Facebook badge thing on the actual website was another story. A few Google searches revealed that it wasn’t operator error—success!—but that certain WordPress blogs do not allow certain Facebook code (blah, blah, blah) for Facebook “Like” boxes.

You can skirt it by putting in a Facebook Page Badge, which is what I did over there on the side.  Consider that my public service to anyone else who might encounter the same issue.

Whatever.

I don’t know how I feel about it. It feels weird and self-serving. I hate advertising and it feels like I’m campaigning for popularity when all I want to do is ramble on about things that are spewing from my overcrowded brain.

 So “like” it if you want. Don’t “like” it if you don’t want. Heck, like it and then “unlike” it just to mess with me if you want. Depending on my mood and level of unwarranted insecurity, I might decide it’s lame and delete it in a week (the Facebook page, not the blog.)

And just for the record, I feel the same exact way about this post. However, after spending the time writing it and sharing my plight through the world of technology, there was no way I was NOT going to publish it.

Like it or not.

Meh.

So enlighten me here. What is the benefit of having a page for your blog on Facebook? Isn’t it essentially the same thing as linking your posts to your own profile?

Can I just delete the thing or does it serve a purpose that I’m missing?

We Got Game

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a curmudgeon in that I get rather annoyed with all the technology  today. Yes, I have a cell phone, but only to make calls and occasionally text—not split the atom and  then post pictures of it on my Facebook page from the bathroom of a restaurant I read good things about while browsing the Internet on my phone as I was forced to wait a whole two minutes in the check-out line of a grocery store.

cartoontwit

And yes, of course I love the Internet and being able to find anything at any time (for better or for worse.) But it seems people today need either batteries of some sort or a charger to keep occupied (no, not in that way.) And when I read that most teens send and receive around 2,200 texts a month, I almost shit a brick.

Really?

Call me old fashioned, but that sounds a bit excessive even to me—the queen of OCD. What happened to genuine creativity and creating fun things to do with our time? Way back when I was little, we didn’t have “apps” for everything. We trudged uphill to school every day with wild mountain lions and rabid pigeons chasing us. But when we came home, we didn’t park it in front of a screen.

We went outside, played some demented form of “school” in which everyone got yelled at or tortured our Barbie’s and G.I. Joe’s with seemingly innocent household appliances and supplies.

And when all else failed, we played board games. I was an only child, so any time I could rope someone with my  into playing a game with me—this might or might not have involved seemingly innocent household appliances and supplies—I did.

Now that the holidays are upon us—fa la la—all the toys and games are plastering the shelves once again. While electronic stuff is big, I was delighted to see that many of the classic games I grew up with are still prominent on the shelves.

This list is far from all-inclusive, but here were a few of my favorites in no particular order.

Sorry

sorry

The point was not just to get all four pieces to your “Home;”  the point was to obliterate your competitor’s game piece with each “Sorry” dealt. You didn’t gently nudge their game piece off their spot and take their place, but rather launch their game piece across the room.

Side note: This created a separate game of “where the hell did my piece go?”

And as anyone who has played this game can attest, the best thing in the world was drawing a “2” followed by the backwards “4.”

Life

the-game-of-life

“This game has paydays, marriages, babies, revenge and chance. Spin the wheel to decide where you go next.” Well, anyone who has ever played this game more than once knows that the biggest challenge wasn’t getting a good job and retiring a millionaire, but rather not losing all the little peg people and cars.

And why is there was no square for spending thousands of dollars on therapy, landing a role in a reality show (go back to “start”) or finding a rich sugar daddy with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel?

Perhaps they should update this “Life” thing.

Connect Four

connect

Just look at the expression on that boy’s face and he realizes he has four-in-a-row with a knock-off Checkers piece! Who could not love this basic game? I’ll tell you who, anyone who had to play more than four “tie” games in a row with someone who refused to change their game plan. But all in all, good times.

Operation

oper

The point of this game was not to only to remove various body parts and disturbing objects from this morbidly obese patient with bad hair, but also to annoy the crap out of anyone not participating in the game itself.

Each time those tweezers hit the sides of the game, lighting up that nose and launching that irritating buzzer, parents everywhere searched for dull objects of their own to poke into their eyes. Smart parents never replaced the batteries.

Twister

twister

“Operation” was a game you could play by yourself, but “Twister” was most certainly a multi-player endeavor. We didn’t play this that often, but I found it much more fun when I got older and “left hand red” was possible only if there wasn’t a beer in it already.

Trouble

trouble

Most of the appeal of this game involved the sound of the Pop-O-Matic and not really the journey around the board. Still, you could send your opponents’ pieces back to the start by landing on them and you could never lose the die.

Clue

clue-game

This detective game involved a bit of thinking, except when it came to the origins of the colored piece’s names—Col. Mustard,  Miss Scarlet, Prof. Plum, etc. It was just good ol’ fun involving various weapons and accusations about which of your competitor’s committed a crime, with what and where.

A great game for those who enjoy reasoning and thinking things out, which is possibly why I could never get people to play with me.

Monopoly

monopoly

Speaking of never getting people to play a game with me…Monopoly. Longest. Game. Ever. This game could seriously take hours and hours, although I don’t really know first-hand that there is an end, as I grew impatient and usually quit before the conclusion.

All I knew was that I loved the Railroads, the banker probably cheated, picking your game piece was of the utmost importance, no one could ever agree on what “Free Parking” entailed and it was ridiculously funny when a boy drew the “You won $10 for second place in a beauty contest” card.

At any rate, my mom did give in and buy me a Game Boy for our trips up north. One of my favorite games? Monopoly, of course.

End Game

So even though I appreciate all the innovations and technologies available to me today, I’m glad I grew up when I did. A lot of creativity and fun can come out of a lack of resources when you’re forced to use your imagination and not your iPod.

In an age of constant electronic headlines, messages and updates, it’s good to see these board games are still around. After all, you need something to do when the power goes out, right?

What was your favorite board game when you were younger?

If you had to pick a board game to represent your personality or life, what would it be and why? Risk? Uno? Candy Land?

 

Handwritten Hugs

As a society, we are inundated with e-options for everything from communication, dating and shopping to flight check-ins, video conferencing and banking. We blog, we Skype (well, I don’t), we forward and delete.

And while some of these options have made life infinitely easier, it’s hard to ignore the fact that something personal seems to have been lost along the way in cyberspace. Where I feel it the most is with correspondence, be it a handwritten thank you, an event invitation or a simple birthday card sent every year.

Maybe it’s because growing up, one of the things I looked forward to most was a card that my grandpa sent me once a week—via snail mail. We were super close and although they spent winters in Florida, when back in Michigan the cards still came.

They were nothing elaborate; they didn’t play music or feature textured, sparkly material or poetic prose. (In fact, most were bought in a box of bulk from the flea market and I received the same card about twice a month.) But what they did have was my grandpa’s handwritten note, scrawled out every week above his shaky signature until well into his 80s.

The message got shorter and harder to read, but really got straight to the point—“Love you, Papa”—and each envelope was sealed with an (extremely random) sticker.

Even in my manic cleaning sprees and compulsion to minimalize, I kept every single one of them.

He died almost eight years ago, so he never really knew me when I was “sick.” Now understand that this man loved his food. We used to joke that we could put his shirt in the fridge and he could eat it for lunch (not the neatest eater, mind you), and I wouldn’t expect him to understand. But I know that today he would be worried—sick with worry—and that kind of makes me sad, even ashamed.

I know my family worries now, but I think they’ve come to accept “this” as me the same way I’ve come to accept that my mom smokes, that my grandma will always refer to African Americans as “the blacks” and that my family basically regards meat, potatoes and dessert as the three basic food groups.

I’ve come to accept that I can’t change others and I can’t change for others—I can only take these steps myself, for myself.  As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Pretty smart dude.

I got off on a bit of a rant, so back to the cards and whatnot.  I’m both addicted to and tired of technology. I don’t want to “Tweet,” I don’t want to get my magazines in digital versions and I don’t want to have to have an iPhone to communicate with everyone in the freaking world. Even my job is changing, and I don’t like it.

I don’t need an app for that, thank you—I am blissfully unaware for now.

Anyway, my grandpa obviously didn’t have e-mail—hell, he called them “flax machines”—but if he had, I’m sure I wouldn’t still have those messages today. I wouldn’t have the envelopes with stickers or the shaky signature. Even today, getting a handwritten note or invitation seems so much more personal to me, so much more…human.

HUGS!

However, there are obviously things that I love about technology, and one of them is that I can just insert this link and tell you that I whipped up a double batch of my little hug treats.

treats2 This time, we’re going with an Easter theme. While I used Hugs, I’ll add that you can switch it up for all kinds of deliciousness—I’ve done Rolos and pecans for a turtle variety, different flavored Kisses, etc.—and all were huge hits.

bags I plan on including a handwritten note on each treat bag and leaving them on the desks of my coworkers tomorrow.  They can’t be deleted, they can’t be ignored and they may just serve as a delicious little reminder that emoticons are not human—Hugs are.

(Probably not, as they’ll most likely just eat them and get chocolate on their iPhones, later Tweeting about how they got chocolate on their iPhones, but whatever.)

Do you still send the occasional handwritten card or note, or have you become completely reliant on the availability of technology for communication?

or

Best thing you ate this weekend?