Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stuff #15: Games

I am a great big nerd.  Alright, good.  Let's just get that out of the way to begin with.  

I love games.  I love games of all shapes and sizes.  In the days to come I will probably be breaking down specific games for you, but right now I just want to talk about games in general, and the many types I love.

Computer Games:

Yes, I play the Sims.  As far as gamers go, I think it's a requisite that female gamers play the Sims.  Go ahead, call me girly, it's a good game.  I've played every computer iteration of it so far, and enjoyed it.  So there. 
That...can't be comfortable.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, I play World of Warcraft. Apparently, no girls play that game, living proof aside.  Still, go ahead, call me nerdy, it's a good game.  I've been playing it for about a year now, and I enjoy it. So there.  

 Fear me!  Fear me and my...underwater mechanical chicken?

I play the games put out by massive companies, I play the indie games like minecraft and Portal (no, I haven't played Portal 2 yet, don't tell me how it ends!).  I game on the computer and I enjoy it, a whole lot.

Video Games:

As if computer gaming wasn't enough, I also console game.  I started off with a PS2 (thanks, parents, for buying it for us.  One of the best Christmas surprises ever.)  In a way, you could say most of this was Final Fantasy VIII's fault.  I played it at a friends house, and that's what got me playing role playing games, and firmly established my aforementioned great big nerd cred.  To date, my favorite games are ones that put my character in the middle of a world and say, "Go, make choices, do stuff, get stronger, save the world."

That's not to say I don't play Rockband.  Rockband is fun.
Some of my favorites, right here.  

Card Games:

Now, I have to admit, when I think of card games, I mostly think of Nerts.  For the uninitiated Nerts is fast paced competitive solitaire, and if that makes no sense come and talk to me.  It's tons of fun. It involves many unusual noises.

Party Games:
My pride and joy with this one is Telephone Pictionary.  I have had the honor of teaching this game to people and watching it spread.  Like a virus.  A virus of fun! (Okay, no, that doesn't work as a catchphrase.  Back to the drawing board.)  

Anyway, it's a game that involves, writing, drawing, hysterical laughter, and many apologies.  If you haven't played it, a good description of it, and some examples, can be found here.  Geek Heaven 

Board Games:

I'll admit, I've been saving this one for last.  Why is that?  Because this is the one area of games that I feel like I have something to share with the world.  I think that there are a lot of people who have gone through life only knowing that board games like Operation, Scrabble, Sorry, and Monopoly exist.  If you don't like those games, board games aren't for you.

The fact is, there are people out there who have been making some really, really amazing board games.  These games are beautiful and fun.  There are games for all different personality types.  I've heard a lot of people complain that the problem with board games is that either you win, and you make other people feel bad, or you loose, and then you feel bad.  Much better to just sit down and have a nice conversation  Have you heard of cooperative games?  These are games where you try to win with other people. You all play together.  It's quite beautiful.  I've collected a good number of these games, allow me to demonstrate.

Here we have a chest.  It sits in our living room, quite docilely, until....drumroll please...

We open it!
Bam!  Chock full of gamey goodness!  Now, I'll probably talk about these games individually as time goes on because I am really passionate about sharing these games with other people.  In fact, a whole group of people are coming over tomorrow to play, and I am excited! 

Hooray for games!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Stuff # 14: Blogs With Pictures

I have come to the conclusion that my blog needs more pictures.  This is because

I think that blogs with pictures are more interesting.  I want to have an interesting blog, therefore, pictures!
I want to take more pictures.  If I have a reason to take them (like, say putting them on a blog) I will take more of them.

I have figured out how to use at least the basics of the blog-picture-upload function.  This is not particularly difficult, but it was a critical step.

So, you should be seeing more pictures in the blogs.  Good?
 Yeah, I thought so.

So, I might have gone a bit overboard with the pictures today.  Well, it's the first day, it's fun.  I won't use so many in the future.  I promise.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stuff # 13: Chocolate

I am a chocolate elitist.  I'm not actually a big fan of Hershey's.  But give me a nice creamy Cadbury, Godiva, or Lindt, or some other fancy overly expensive chocolate and I'm there.  It's sad, but it's true. 

I particularly like chocolate with toffee chunks in it.  It makes me sad, though, that toffee chunks are so often paired with almonds.  Dear chocolate manufacturers, can I have one with just the toffee?  I mean, the nuts aren't terrible, but they are unwanted. Thanks.  Chocolate and caramel are another awesome combination.  Give me a Cadbury caramel egg, and you've got a happy Allison.

Chocolate just makes things taste better.  I like my ice cream with chocolate, my cookies with chocolate , my peanut butter with chocolate, my tea with  chocolate, my milk with chocolate, my salad with chocolate.  Yeah, just checking to make sure you were paying attention.  Not really with the salad (though I do have memories of once eating salad with chocolate syrup on it because I loathed salad dressing.  Parents, can I get a confirmation/denial?). 

Some people might say I'm in a rut.  I should branch out into butterscotch, or enjoy pure vanilla more. Well, I think it is a delicious rut to be in.  Mmm, chocolate. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stuff #12: Water

Water is really great.  I don't drink as much as I should.  I know this because every so often  I get a glass of water, I drink it, and I think, "Oh my gosh this is the best thing EVER."  This has clued me in to the fact that I get dehydrated, and should probably work on fixing that.

Life just goes better when I have enough water.  I feel more alert, I think faster, I have fewer headaches, it's just better.  I love great big glasses or water bottles that I can just leave in front of me and drink absent-mindedly.  My problem isn't drinking the water, it's remembering to get it in the first place, then refill my cup once I drink it.

Water is essential to tea, another of my great loves.  It is also essential to swimming, my favorite form of exercise.  It makes oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, and puddles. It makes plants grow, it makes people grow.  It makes scientists excited when they find it on other planets.  It makes me excited when they find it on other planets.  It makes our own planet pretty when viewed from outer space.  Oodles and oodles of water hangs over our heads, defying gravity.  We look at it all the time and in response to the marvelous phenomenon we usually say, "I think I see a bunny."

Water is cool, and all to often, I don't give it the credit it deserves.  Here's to you, water.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stuff #11: My Immediate Family

This post was supposed to be about my entire family, but about two paragraphs into writing it, I realized it was going to be really really long.  So I'll have to break down these family posts.  Apparently, I really love talking about the people I'm related to, by birth and by marriage.

I grew up in a great family.  I don't say that out of obligation or delusion.  They really are wonderful.  One of the hardest things about being in the navy has been being on the other side of the country from most of them.  And now, if you'll indulge some gushing that will probably sound a lot like bragging, I'm going to tell you about them.

My parents put up with me for eighteen years prior to me going to college.  Then, even after I was not living at home (except over the summer) they still welcomed me whenever I could come visit.  After college, I moved back in with them, and lived with them up until I got married.  So they know me pretty well.  And I'd like to think that I know them pretty well (though not nearly as well as they know me).  And here's what I can tell you about them after spending so much time with them.  They are some of the best people you will ever meet. 

Growing up, my parents somehow managed to walk the line of listening to me, while at the same time making their own opinion known.  I have no memories of feeling like they were treating me unfairly, unjustly, or cruelly, even in my teenage years.  That, I feel, is quite an accomplishment on their part, and they should probably get an award, or at least a great big sticker.  Instead, they get this blog post.  Thanks! 

They are some of the best conversationalists too.   It's been amazing, the more I've grown up, the more interesting they've gotten to talk to!  Though, this probably has more to do with me becoming more interesting, in all honesty.  I love my telephone calls back home, and I love even more getting to visit them.

They also can do the requisite parenty-things.  By that I mean things like cook food just a little bit better than anyone else, fix computer problems by phone, be really good at keeping plants alive, and know how to change a car battery. Basically they are the first people I come to when I'm having a problem, even if it is way outside of their fields of expertise.  Way to go, parents!

Now, even though I had my parents to myself for about seven years, I did have to share them.  Fortunately, the people I share them with are also darn spiffy. 

My sister came along first.  We never really did the sisterly fighting thing  Now, this could be because of the age gap. Still, the closest we came to fighting was when I was about nine and she was about two.  I was complaining that she kept copying everything I did.  My mother informed me that "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."  I think my brilliant retort was something along the lines of, "But it's annoying!"  This was likely followed by sister saying, "But it's annoying!" 

She got over that one really fast though, and it has been one of the great privileges of my life to get to see her grow up into the young woman she is today.  She's going into college next year, and I am so very proud of her.  I'm even more exited for the fact that I get to steal her away over summer.   We are long overdue for some good sisterly time.

And then there's my brother.  He came along about two and a half years after sister did.  There was a ten year age gap between us, and you would think that would lead to some troubles in bonding.  Well, maybe there were some, but if there's one thing a six year old him and sixteen year old me could agree on, it was that video games were cool.  For awhile there I was the great fixer of video games.  If he couldn't beat a boss, understand a quest, or figure out a menu system, I got to be the one who knew how to fix it.  Unfortunately, I have long since given up this title, as he is quite competent in fixing his own video game problems, and can probably thrash me soundly in most games we would play.  Still, it was nice while it lasted.

The older we've both gotten, the better he and I have gotten along as well.  I keep forgetting he has a cell phone I can call, and talk to him WHENEVER I WANT.  Sorry brother.  I will really try to be better at remembering that.  Also, just in the past six months or so, he's gotten really funny.  He's always had a great sense of humor, but now it involves sarcasm, plays on words, hilarious mental images, and timing.  I really like the young man he's growing into.

So that is just a very small drop in the bucket of the wonderful family I've gotten the chance to grow up with.  I know I wasn't always the best daughter or sister, but they seemed to put up with me anyway.  I know I enjoy all the time I get to spend around them, and I look forward to all the times we'll be together in the future.  I love my family.

Stuff #10: Staying Up Way Too Late With Friends

It's 4 am over here.  Need I say more?  Lack of sleep is okay as long as it's temporary, and in pursuit of good things, like fun.  Have a good night, all.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stuff #9: Allergy Medicines

Growing up, I scoffed at people with allergies, especially seasonal ones.  Well, maybe not scoffed, but I didn't have that problem, and that was nice.

Then I moved to the east coast.  Over here, there are these things called "trees."  They grow quite big, and every so often give off a whole lot of yellow stuff.  It makes my blue car green, my clear puddles yellow, and my normal nose a sneezy mess.  Not cool trees, not cool.

I know that a lot of people decry modern medicines, and the medical system.  There's been a whole lot of advances in the way we treat our bodies when they don't do what we want them to do.  I will happily admit that not all of these progresses are so great.

But I love allergy meds.  More to the point, I love a summer spent enjoying the outdoors, not cowering inside because of pollen.  I like not having to choose between being able to breathe through my nose and enjoying a day at the park. 

I find the fact that we have figured out what makes our bodies react the way they do really cool in its own right.   Then, we figured out how to counteract that reaction.  Then, we've managed to put that solution into a pill smaller than my pinky nail amazing.  Way to go scientists.  Way to go.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stuff #8: Spellcheck

I have a terrible, terrible confession to make. I read, I write, but I can't spell.  Well, I can, but it gets dicey quickly.  There are many, many words out there that I would spell wrong all the time and never know it if it weren't for spellcheck.

Let me tell you, you should appreciate spellcheck too.  Without it, you would see many, many misplaced vowels.  I wish it had a list of words that I most frequently misspelled.  Let me see how many I can remember.

Jupitor  - Found this one out while I was writing a Sci-Fi book.

Andriod - Yep, look at the i-o mixup.  Same book, incidentally.

incidently - Yep, that one got saved from the sentence right before this one. 

beutiful - I don't make this one as often now, mostly because I've started saying, "Be-a-uitiful" in my head.

mispell - for a nice bit of irony.

There are many more.  I'll have to keep a sharp eye out for them, so all of you can appreciate my disgrace.  But here is just one more reason to love computers in general, and spellcheck in particular.  Thank you, spellcheck, thanks to you I can write:

The android on Jupiter was frustrated because he couldn't hold the pencil right.  Incidentally, he misspelled everything too.

Ha!  Take that, spelling.  Now, if only I could tame my rogue comma placement.  Then we'd really be in business.

Stuff #7: Having a Blog for a Week

Hey, this is number seven.  It's been a week!  Happy Weekiversary Blog!  Nope, sorry, no cake for you until you reach 365. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stuff #6: Sneaky Book Releases

There are just a few authors whose new books I will buy, no questions asked. One of these authors is Jasper Fforde.  I fell in love with him thanks to my wonderful Grandma Nita.  I'm pretty sure I inherited my love of tea, my love of books, and my height directly from her.  She recommended him, and I really enjoy his work.

But he is only marginally the subject of this post.  About a month ago, maybe a little more, I walked into a Barnes and Noble.  This is not at all unusual.  However, this particular trip I stared at one of the book displays to find a book called "One of our Thursdays is Missing" by JASPER FFORDE.  I know this series, I've read all the other books in the series, and had no freaking clue this book was coming out.  Oh boy, oh boy, that made my day.

Then, just yesterday, on yet another book display, a mostly monochrome book with a few splashes of color caught my eye.  It was "Shades of Grey" by JASPER FFORDE.  This is, in fact, a whole new series.  What the heck, Jasper?  You snuck one over on me twice!  Well played, Mr. Fforde, well played. 

Anyway, having not one, but two days made by Mr. Fforde and his sneaky releases, I think it's safe to say that I love them.  Any other authors feel like spontaneously releasing books without my knowledge?  Anyone?

P.S.  Also, the last name Fforde also falls into the category of things that I love. I mean, Ford is way too boring.  You know it it needs?  An E at the end of it.  Forde.  Well, yes, but even that could be improved upon.  Maybe another o?  Foorde.  No, not good enough.  We could put a rolling R in there.  Forrde.  No.  Wait, guys, I think I've got it.  Another F!  No, it can't be done!  Oh yes it can!  Fforde!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stuff #5: Teas and Tisanes

I've been physically feeling pretty lousy the past couple days.  It's a bunch of little things put together.  One, I've been sleeping terribly.  Two, my nose has decided it really doesn't like pollen, and the only solution to this is to run like crazy and sneeze a whole lot.  Three, I'm probably dehydrated, but I'm working on that. Anyway, long story short, my body is saying owie, and you know what makes it better?


My "Feel Better Now" tea has always been peppermint with some honey.  Though recently a friend introduced a lovely jasmine tisane into my repertoire, which has been doing the job the past couple days.  A black tea with some chocolate or caramel flavoring always hits the sweet spot, especially with some brown sugar. I love white tea's delicate flavor, which goes so great with fruit.  Green tea, when prepared right, is heavenly for a sore throat, and is also apparently quite healthy.  Then there's rooibos, red tea, oolong, and of course, the whole mix of tisanes.  Mmm...

When I was a kid, I thought I liked peppermint tea.  My mother informed me that no, I didn't like tea, I liked peppermint flavored honey.  Since then, I've learned that even without the honey, it still wasn't tea.  Apparently, there actually is a tea plant, and all the other stuff that comes in bags and gets steeped in hot water is called a tisane.  Well, what with the bags and the water, I like them both. 

My tea drinking really took off when I asked for tea one year for Christmas.  People gave me tea.  In the end, I got enough tea to make over a hundred cups.  Awesome.  That one Christmas introduced me to many different kinds of teas, and I started to learn about the differences between them.  Wait, the reason my green tea was bitter was because I was only supposed to steep it for a minute, and I'd been leaving the bag in?  OH!

More recently, I've discovered loose leaf teas.  My kitchen now comes complete with all sorts of wire mesh gadgets for catching tea leaves.  I love the flavor, but I also love how they look. Most loose leaf teas are quite beautiful, in addition to being tasty as all get out.

I've found myself becoming a tea evangelist.  "Welcome to my house, would you like some tea?  Here, smell this, isn't it wonderful?"  It's worked out in my favor, as a few of these friends have come back and said, "Hey, look what I've found, smell this!  Isn't it great!  Mind if we try some?"

Of course I don't mind.  I love tea.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stuff #4: Nanowrimo

If you know don't know what that stands for, don't worry.  I have not, on day four, resorted to putting random letters together and saying I love them.  I'll wait until I'm at least in the twenties before that.  But let me tell you, I'm really looking forward to doing a post on Ghanstafal. 

Nanowrimo stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth.  The creators decided that the only thing stopping them from being an author was the lack of a deadline.  So they decided in November to attempt to write 50,000 words, which would give them a novel about the length of The Great Gatsby.  More importantly, it would also give them permission to strut around, calling themselves authors.  Long story short, the idea eventually made its way to my ears.  In 2008, I tried it for the first time, and I WON!  Which means that I wrote 50,000 words. I also tried in to 2009 (WIN) and 2010 (nope, got to 25k and called it quits).

Out of this insane process, I am now the proud author (strut, strut) of a science fiction novel rough draft.  I am also the author of two fantasy partial drafts.  Thanks to Nanowrimo I have written about flying horses on the sun, an escape scene that consisted of running into old people, a king forced into cross-dressing, and giant squid holograms (well, my husband helped with that one, funny what happens when I leave my computer open).

However, I got a whole lot more than that.  In November of 2008, I had just moved to Virginia, and knew nobody but my husband (who had a rather annoying tendency to be gone for weeks and months on end.  Something about being in the Navy).  In November of 2009, I had just moved to Charleston, and at that point I knew four people.  Both years I did Nano I met so many amazing, wonderful, talented people who just so happened to also be attempting to write many words in a small amount of time.  Because of Nano, I got a whole string of really, really good friends. 

Let me count...right off the top of my head, I got 14 friends who also did Nano (and I know I'm missing some).  Adding to that the people that I know and love because someone who did Nano introduced me to them, and the number balloons to 26.  Again, off the top of my head.  Twenty-six amazing, talented, beautiful people in my life thanks to Nano.  I count that as the biggest win. 

In fact, tonight I'll be getting the chance to write with some of them.  We loved getting together so much we couldn't stop in November.  So here's to deadlines.  If only all of them had such wonderful results.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stuff #3: My Husband

I hope with this third one you have figured out that this blog is not in order of importance.  Husband certainly outranks books, no matter how much I love them.  I was actually hoping to space out the really important sappy posts more, but I this one was on my mind.  I just watched my husband walk out the door, and I'm not too sure when he'll be back.

And if you don't already know why, don't worry.  Nothing like that. 

He's in the Navy, which means his schedule is unpredictable to say the least.  It's hard on me, to tell you all the truth.  I've always been pretty bad at the, "keep calm and carry on" thing.  Gosh darnit, I would really like my husband here, I feel like crying, and I'm not going to pretend otherwise.  Clearly, I am not British enough.  It's a tragic failing.

Alright, get ready to make maple syrup, because I'm about to get quite sappy.

However, I have to say, he's worth the uncertainty.  I've never met anyone who fits better with me.  I can be serious with him, I can laugh with him, I can tell him my dreams (and not just my dreams for the future, also the really weird dream I had one night involving a tent full of parrots and a penguin).  He's not exactly like me, but we're like right and left hands.  We fit together really well, but we also work together really well.

Alright, I think that's good.  Thanks for letting me gush. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stuff #2: Books and Reading

Reading has always been my one superpower.  Maybe that's the wrong word. But you look at some people and go, "Wow, they can Write.  They Write so well it should be capitalized." Or maybe it's Math, or Cook, or Teach, or Teach Goldfish to Dance.  Whatever it is they are stinking good at it, and it comes as easy as breathing to them.  Well, if I were to put my finger on what I do that deserves a capitalization, it would be Read. 

I love, love, love books, and they've been pretty essential to my lifelong education.  Oftentimes when I'm wrestling with a new idea or feeling way over my head on a subject it's been a book that's helped me figure it out.  Go books!

When I read, I'm afraid it's not a neat affair, every word being savored like a gourmet meal.  I read more like a starving person eats, fast, messy, enjoying it so much but always hungry for more.  And you know what?  I wouldn't change it.  Because when I read that way the book stops just being words on a page.  I'm not thinking about what the author wrote, I'm living in the world he created.

Libraries and bookstores are some of the happiest places in the world.  Anyone else get that cozy sigh of happiness just seeing shelf after shelf filled with books?  It's a great feeling, knowing with my twenty-odd years of reading I've barely scratched the surface.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go Read.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuff #1: God

I'll admit, I was nervous putting this one first.  I love the fact that I am friends with people who are very different from each other, and from me (also, I hope it goes without saying, I also love these friends).  Some of you might shake your head, a little disappointed in me for believing in someone invisible.  Others of you might be appalled that I ever considered NOT posting it.  Well, I hope you both will forgive me.

God has always been a part of my life, thanks to my parents.  I don't have any cool story about how when I was seventeen God saved me from the biker gang where I did lots of drugs and killed people.  Let me tell you, I was very frustrated by this fact when I was seven.  All the cool Christians had awesome stories.  Clearly, the fact that I had been on the straight and narrow my whole life was going to count against me.

What has happened has been a lot more gradual, and much harder to describe.  Aside from one or two really dramatic moments, God's been there, slowly pointing me in the right direction.  I can say this with certainty; without him I would not be who I am today. I would like myself a whole lot less.  I have a hunch that you would like me less too.

By the way, those dramatic moments I mentioned never involved a burning bush.  I was frustrated by this, especially back in college.  I had a couple houseplants, and there were times as I tried to figure out what my major was that I really wanted them to catch on fire and just TELL ME.  Sadly, they never did.  Probably for the best, that had to violate some of the dorm's safety code.

The Idea

Yes, I've done it.  I've hopped on the blog bandwagon.  I do realize we are so far into this whole "blogging trend" that now it is less a bandwagon than a bandcruiseliner. 

 I've been wanting to start a blog for awhile now.  The problem was, there were just too many cool things in the world for me to nail down which one I wanted to talk about first.  "Oh, Tea!" I went one day, and the next I was thrilled by the idea of doing a blog on board games.  Could never get it narrowed down.

So clearly, the only logical thing to do was to start a blog on ALL OF THEM!  Well, sort of.  I'm going to try to put down one thing every day that I love. Who knows, maybe I'll be so excited talking about one of these things that it'll spin off and get it's very own blog! I've heard it's the thing that all blog topics aspire to.